Sri Lanka is a country like no other, and so is our Speaker in the Parliament. Consequently, leading a shameless and dishonourable life has become the new normal for many. The recent revelations in the hallowed halls of the Sri Lankan Parliament have thrust into the spotlight the disgraceful conduct of Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardena and his parasitic clan. In an institution where the citizens of Sri Lanka have invested their blood and sweat to safeguard democratic values, the exposure of the Speaker’s nepotistic machinations is an affront to the very essence of democracy.
The stark truth articulated by an MP reverberates with an undeniable force: “There is no point expecting this Speaker to pay attention to our interests because he is concerned with his family’s interests.” The shocking display of nepotism within the Speaker’s office, laid bare for all to witness, is an outright betrayal of the trust reposed in the democratic process.
A disconcerting list has been brought to light – a catalogue of shame that outlines the unabashed exploitation of public funds for personal gain. The Speaker’s relatives have insidiously embedded themselves in taxpayer-funded positions, with brother Wasantha Yapa Abeywardena as a private secretary, another brother Sarath Yapa Abeywardena as a Coordinating Secretary, brother-in-law Premananda Kumasaru as yet another Coordinating Secretary, and brother Indunil Yapa Abeywardena as the Media Secretary. The list continues, revealing that 33 other relatives of the Speaker occupy various roles within the parliament, all at the expense of the very people they are meant to serve.
The resounding silence from the mainstream media on this matter is as deafening as the actions of the Speaker and his clan. The absence of journalistic scrutiny is a betrayal of the ethical responsibility to expose corruption and hold those in power accountable. Where is the dedication to the principles of truth and transparency?
Equally confounding is the conspicuous absence of condemnation from Western embassies and other organizations that hypocritically espouse concerns about “human rights and ethical conduct,” notably the United States, a so-called champion for Sri Lanka’s accountability. Shockingly, reports have surfaced indicating that the American Ambassador of Korean origin was implicated in a plot to orchestrate the appointment of Yapa Abeywardena as the President of Sri Lanka. Astonishingly, this reprehensible senior individual has failed to deny these allegations anywhere, laying bare the unabashed audacity of his actions. Such nefarious activities undeniably expose the glaring hypocrisy inherent in those who purportedly stood for fairness and justice, revealing a disconcerting chasm between their professed principles and their duplicitous conduct.
The revelation of a parliamentary delegation sponsored by the Indian Parliament, including the Speaker’s wife Nelum Lalana Yapa Abeywardana and son Chameera Yapa Abeywardana, adds another layer of shame. The expenditure of Indian taxpayers’ money on what appears to be a thinly veiled family vacation under the guise of official business is an international embarrassment that demands scrutiny.
Adding to the distress is the satisfaction expressed by SLPP MPs in parliament over the Speaker’s increased discretionary powers to impose bans on MPs. The suggestion to follow the Indian example of mass suspension of opposition MPs raises serious concerns about the erosion of democratic values in Sri Lanka.
Amid claims of being the oldest democracy, Sri Lanka stands at a critical juncture. While attention has been diverted to other political figures and their nepotistic practices, the rot within the Speaker’s office cannot be overlooked. This is a “Thuk Nodakin” moment, a time to expose and condemn the disguising practices of ugly personalities within the democratic framework.
The despicable Speaker and his clan have not only betrayed the trust of the people but have also tarnished the very foundation of democracy. For the sake of the nation, and for the preservation of democratic values, Yapa Abeywardena and his kin must go home. Their departure is not just a demand; it is a necessity for the restoration of faith in the democratic principles that Sri Lanka claims to uphold.