The circus is in town

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We all have our favourite circus acts. Mine is a very silly one when two clowns walk onto the arena and start ‘accidentally’ bumping into each other repeatedly, driving the audience to hysterical chuckles. You have probably all seen it before, but each time it’s even more funny.

I can’t help but feel a bit of déjà vu as similar seemingly endless parades of characters file into and out of the Independent Commission against Corruption building and the various commissions of inquiry. Characters who were allowed to game the system, rip off the general public and get away with murder when they were in the relevant good books, in spite of the repeated warning of the press, are now called to make a show that would have been funny had it not been at our expense and the expense of the country. And, considering the kind of people the government rallied around, there has been no shortage of shady, greedy characters prepared to give us a good run for our money.

So this week, we sat and watched the State House clowns taking on each other head on again. The picture that has transpired is that first, the most highly paid woman in the country, who was pompously entrusted with the very noble and serious task of safeguarding our constitution and the interests of our country, by her own admission knows nothing about either. So for all the reprehensible acts she committed, she pleaded ignorance and the absence of advice from everyone around her. And the one who was supposed to advise her, Dass Appadu, claimed he did but she did not listen. In the latest hearings, both attempted to blame one another for organising VIP treatment, lunches between the FSC and Sobrinho’s people and tried to pass the buck between each other about sending requests for VIP access at the airport for Sobrinho and his associates, who showered them with gifts, credit cards and jobs. And for that, even after they eventually had to pick up their marbles and go home, both will continue to live at our expense like the worst parasites. Appadu will continue to draw a handsome pension as a civil servant who did not hesitate to leave the civil service when he saw the greener colour of the grass on the other side and then to come back home when the cash cow was dry. The other will spend the rest of her life and ever after enjoying a lifestyle she had never dreamt possible… at our expense.

While I enjoyed the clown show that reminded me of my childhood, I cannot really blame the two protagonists alone. Corruption has become not just a series of isolated incidents but a system in itself. For that to happen, you need more than just corrupt politicians concocting insalubrious recipes in their kitchen. You also need a coterie of roder bouttes (morsel seekers) drooling at the idea of eating them with absolutely no consideration for others. These roder bouttes are the ones providing the major ingredient to make corruption look legitimate, either by justifying it or simply by keeping quiet and by condoning it.

When the lunches and dinners we are now discovering were being concocted at the State House, there was another chef announcing laws in the budget tailor-made for the main guest to have a great meal. At the same time, a head waiter and his helpers were preparing the tables at the Financial Services Commission on a Saturday to make sure the full course is served hot and without any delay.

So enjoy the show but don’t forget the contribution of the ringmasters. The deputy prime minister who fell in love with a clean businessman and the minister of finance and prime minister who changed the law to make the country benefit from his clean money. Without them, the circus would not have been that much fun.

For more views and in-depth analysis of current issues, Weekly magazine (Price: Rs 25) or subscribe to Weekly for Rs110 a month. (Free delivery to your doorstep). Email us on: [email protected]


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