Of late, there has been a musical tingle creeping into the chorus of corruption. It is not to do with the amount of funds in foreign countries, the misuse of public funds for political advantage, the capture of elephants for the glory of private and political power, or even the bribery of political office.
The music of corruption that is now taking a bow before the public comes from the sound of pianos. The original score for this symphony of corruption is said to have been written in Korea. It has come in the form of several thousand pianos that came to our country for our students to have more music in the school syllabus.
The piano is certainly not one of our traditional musical instruments. Yet, through the colonial days and thereafter, the piano has become a very popular instrument among the middle and upper classes, producing musicians who have achieved fame both here and abroad. Today the interest in piano music is widespread and it is not seen as a solely western instrument; its sound adding to much to Sinhala song and music.
It is, therefore, not surprising that Korea, with its close association with western music today, seen so well with the Gangnam style that made waves over here too, and the popularity of the piano there, decided to gift 3,000 or more quality pianos to be given to our schools, for the musical education and pleasure of our pupils.
But the Korean donors had no idea of the musical score that is part of the corrupt politics of this country. They did not know that politicians who have power here, have a great desire to please themselves or those close to them, with whatever objects of value or progress that would come their way, especially in an official capacity. It was not the sound of music they are interested in, but in the value of what produces the music. So, pianos have a great attraction.
So, now we have Mr. Joseph Stalin, not to be confused with the person with the same name in the former Soviet Union, who played his own devilish music to the thousands of suffering people in the gulags, labour camps or concentration camps. This Stalin is a trade union leader in the field of education in Sri Lanka. He has heard of and is now talking about an ugly tune played on the pianos of political power in the days of Carlton supremacy in everything from pre-school education to rugby and sports telecasting.
The first beneficiaries of these Korean gifts of pianos are said to be the Carlton educators, with its rich and musical centre at Tangalle in the Hambantota District.
Mr. Stalin wants the Ministry of Education to launch a probe into how 35 pianos (each worth several thousands of rupees) are said to have been moved to provide profitable music to the Carlton ears. Such an inquiry would be most interesting; because of the many tunes we have been hearing of the Carlton power that prevailed in recent years.
With the current rush to the Bribery Commission, there seems little purpose in Mr. Joseph Stalin or anyone else complaining to it about this piano music to the tune of many millions.
It would be much better if the current Minister of Education takes some steps to remove the curtains that cover the Carlton Chorus today, and announce a public concert where the highlight will be performances with Korean pianos that have gone the wrong way, and did not reach the students they were meant for.
This can be a truly grand concert, with even the former Minister of Education, in whose time these pianos arrived from Korea, being invited to be chief guest, and the once reigning forces of the Carlton era given a special place as guests of honour.
I am sure there will be many excellent piano players who will be ready to perform at this show, and there will also be good singers who can sing a lot about Carlton Corruption, producing big new hits in the world of clean music. So, let’s await the Sound of Carlton Music. (Lucien Rajakarunanayake)