The life of Colombo princelings. Rehan Wijeratne, Malaka Silva obscured in white and red shirt.
Minister Mervyn Silva is widely despised in Sri Lanka, what for his thuggery, crude language and general air of corruption. Malaka Silva, however, if possible, is despised even more. He has his father’s violent and anti-social tendencies without actually doing anything that even vaguely resembles work. Both, however, are a major boon to the Sri Lankan media. Any time the Silvas say or do anything, you can be guaranteed that papers will sell and TVs will be on.
On this blog, also, if there’s ever news about the Silvas, traffic will spike. They are, in a way, the mascots for everything wrong with government in Sri Lanka – the incompetence, violence and corruption – and what they perform is like public theatre, a metaphor for the whole. Yet their position seems charmed. Mervyn Silva – despite video documentation of assault – continues rising through the ranks, now serving as Minister Of Public Relations, in what must be a joke. Or maybe not. Mervyn is a bit like Sri Lanka’s first major celebrity. He truly swims in the media, converting bad press to any press to ultimate rewards for himself.
People keep asking why Mahinda doesn’t sack him, but he probably can’t (know where too many bodies are buried) and doesn’t want to. If I was Mahinda I’d trot Mervyn out anything something deeply dodgy was going on. Whatever antics the sociopathic court jester got up to would immediately swamp the media and anything else would go unnoticed.
Malaka, however, is another story, and a real liability. In China, for example, kids can sink their parents. Ling Gu, son of a then member of the Politburo, killed himself in a horrific Ferrari clash, severely injuring two women. They were found, reportedly, in various stages of undress. Now his father seems to have been blocked for promotion, or even demoted.
It is difficult, however, for Malaka to make his father look much worse, and it seems unlikely that Mervyn will suffer any ill effects. He does, however, draw unwanted attention on Sri Lanka’s other princelings, including the Rajapaksa boys, who Mahinda is trying to groom for power. They notably stay out of public trouble, but Malaka as a public face for them is not good.
But that’s all speculation. Mahinda and the government honestly don’t seem to care that Mervyn and Malaka go around terrorizing ordinary people and even government servants. Malaka has assaulted police doing a drug raid before and Mervyn has attacked staff at state TV and tied government officials to trees. And yet he keeps getting promoted. Recently he asked the government for Rs. 298 million to build resthouses, because he was bored. The cabinet thankfully rejected the proposal. Malaka Silva still has supporters, somehow, and his violence is seen as a childish phase, even though he’s well over 30. I honestly don’t think this even registers as bad to the government, or as anything beyond amusing. The violence will likely go on until someone gets killed, or perhaps even after.