We’re so used to it that it ceases to be surprising, but it is actually quite weird that there are no scandals that can unseat a Sri Lankan politician. Being implicated in traffic violations or extra-marital affairs is enough to unseat many western politicians, but in Sri Lanka not even murder or rape will force you to resign. Think about, when have you ever seen a Sri Lankan politician be shamed enough to resign?
In recent memories we’ve seen
- A politician involved in a street shoot-out, where another politician was killed
- A politician’s driver run over a bunch of people with his Hummer
- Someone in the Prime Ministers office trying to clear a container full of heroin
- An MP allegedly assaulting the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK
In most countries even being involved in a scandal of this sort would cause enough damage to the government that the person would resign. Note that I said being involved, not necessarily being legally liable. In mature democracies politicians – when they’re caught and publicly exposed – actually resign.
In Sri Lanka and India and younger democracies, people seem to give less of a shit. There is, in my memory, no scandal severe enough to make a politician resign. You can have affairs (with any gender or age-group really), kill people, take money, sell drugs, whatever. The only punishable offense is disloyalty to whoever’s in charge.
What we get is thus mafia democracy, wherein once you’re made you can get away with murder, and we make these guys by voting for them. The biggest scandal in Sri Lankan politics is that there are no scandals.