18 May, 2024

Blog

A Journey Down The Memory Lane, Flouters Of Democracy Have Got It In The Neck

By M. M. Janapriya –

Dr M. M. Janapriya

Democracy is usually defined as a government by the people, of the people and for the people. This was how the definition of democracy was coined from the speech delivered by Abraham Lincoln, standing in the war memorial cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania at the conclusion of American civil war in 1863. This is true to a greater or lesser extent solely determined by the prosperity, wisdom, and the inclusiveness of the people of the country, in politics. The lesser the above virtues, the lesser will be the chances that the countrymen elect a good enough government. The biggest bugbear of the so called democratically elected governments of the ever developing but never developed part of the world is, the majority community is either duped or frightened into voting one of the two major parties to power at elections. Unfortunately, we have watched ourselves plunge into this category over the years. This aberration of democracy is called a majoritarian system in which politicians, before every election, drive a wedge between main ethnic groups to garner the support of the ethnic majority. 

Majoritarian democracy 

Majoritarian democracy is acceptable if the people who seek power are decent, educated, come from respectable backgrounds, get the blessings of the ethnic majority on their own merits, and once elected, govern in a way that is fair by all ethnic groups. This happened for a very short period since 1947 when the colonial rulers, the British, handed over the power of self-governance, back to the Ceylonese. The honeymoon ended with SWRD Bandaranaike instituting the ‘pancha maha bala wegaya’ campaign of 1956 to turn tables on the UNP which party he abandoned, to make his own, in his quest for power.

Early Signs of Nepotism 

During the nine years from 1947, many things happened in the then Ceylon. The first ever prime minister of the country just 5 years into his premiership fell from a horse and died, at least this is what I, as a 5-year-old, was made to believe. The cause of his fall off the horse was later blamed on a stroke he had suffered on horseback. His son then became the PM after a tussle with his nephew Sir John Kotelawala. Lord Soulbury as the Queen’s representative in Ceylon, a dominion state, decided in favour of the former. A few months later a general election was held which returned Dudley to Parliament as the head of the largest party, so he continued to be the Premier. 

Dudley Senanayake, the last Gentleman Politician 

Bandaranaike’s coalition Mahajana Eksath Peramuna became the main opposition party following the 1952 general election. Dudley being from a very respectable family with sterling upbringing was a gentleman in politics. A hartal was organized in 1953 by the leftists, mainly the LSSP, in which the main slogan was,

“Sadukin pelenenawun, den ithin nagitiyaw, (සාදුකින් පෙළෙනවුන්, දැන් ඉතින් නැගිටියව්

Anthima satanata sarasiayaw” (අන්තිම සටනට සැරසියවූ)

(“for those who are being tormented with immense hardship, this is the time to rise and get ready for the fight unto death”) This was because the rice subsidy was cut off and the price of a measure of rice shot up from 25cts to seventy cents. Advisors advise and the politicians decide. Decide he did. Dudley stepped down from his Premiership adducing ill health as the reason for doing so when in fact the real reason was his reluctance to sign an order to use fire power to quell the march, coming under heavy criticism by his party members. Sir Oliver Gunatilleke (very much a UNPer) the Governor General(GG) took over the reins of the country and quelled the protest march. By then 10 people had died in confrontations with the cops and armed forces. Sir John Kotelawala, an army volunteer colonel of Kandawala fame stepped into Dudley’s boots as the official successor.

Beginning of the UNP Decline 

Kotelawala in many people’s minds knew nothing about running a country even though he had been in politics for a few years. After spending five long years in the west and returning to the country back to planting and mining with no conceivable academic achievements didn’t make him the best at higher education. Shoot to kill seemed all he knew as an army man very much like the ones in more recent memory. Hartal was already under control when he was sworn in and life went on, it was said, with him enjoying a stuffed calf stomach (Tripe) and a whisky at the Kandawela walawwa during the weekends. (the story went, sweet little adorable calves were killed at his palace to sate his lopsided hunger and conventional upper-class thirst). His insatiable desire for the poor calf’s stomach was well known. So much so when he came to address a political meeting down Dangedera street, Galle, the opposition activists had hung cattle hooves from ropes drawn from lamp post to lamp post. As an eight-year-old kid I knew his time as head of the country was up. 

From a very young age I was very interested in politics which appeared to me at that time a game played by two main parties to outwit the other. I remember the 1956 election campaign quite well. Too little to be able to see what was going on, on the stage, standing amid the crowd, my father sat me on his shoulder, so I got a good view. Strangely none of the other brothers of mine were as much interested in politics. When Bandaranaike came to Galle for his campaign I remember as if his meeting was held inside the town hall. Again, thanks to the position on my dad’s shoulder I managed to get a good view of the man. Small made man in off white nationals and Ghandian style glasses had been nicknamed silver bell of south-east Asia not for nothing. He managed to keep me a little kid almost glued to his speech.

Transformation of A Majoritarian Democracy to Majoritarianism 

Bandaranaike was a man in a hurry. He realized it was going to be a very long haul to get to the top of the UNP with Senanayakes abound and JR waiting to grab the cheese tumbling down from the former. He broke ranks with the party and went his own way to form the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) with the help of the Oxford educated contemporary legislator H.Sri Nissanka. SWRD was a shrewd politician who knew how to garner support from all walks of life. To this end he made five powerful forces from, Buddhist clergy, Native healers, Teachers, Peasantry, and the blue-collar workers. (Sanga, Weda, Guru, Govi and Kamkaru) The numbers might still have been insufficient to see him through. So, he had vouched to make Sinhala the official language of the country if he was voted to power. This was in a milieu of post-colonial cold ethnic discontent, brought to the fore by G.G. Ponnambalam at the very lengthy submission he made, before Lord Soulbury, on the eve of Ceylon getting independence and hence, went down well with the voting majority. This is the beginning of divisive politics.  This move saw a majoritarian democracy (a simple majority often by the main ethnic group forms the government but could still rule the country in a fair manner) undergoing a considered and a well-orchestrated transformation into majoritarianism. In the latter the rulers elected by the majority did not need to pay heed to the sensitivities of the minorities. The war of wits of discontent with the Tamils which hitherto remained cold has now become an open battle.

Banda’s election slogan was “ 

Horagolle gahuwa gete (හොරගොල්ලේ ගැහුවා ගැටේ)

Meda pote denawa bete (මෙදා පොටේ දෙනවා බැටේ)

This together with the other mechanisms in place went down well with the masses and the SLFP romped home victorious totally crushing the UNP that was reduced to 8 seats. Post-election slogan became, 

“Meda sare dunna bete (මෙදා සැරේ දුන්න බැටේ)

John maama hitiya ate  (ජෝන් මාම හිටිය අටේ  ) John maama was Sir John Kotelawala who spearheaded the UNP election campaign as their leader.

The unprecedented election success of SWRD was because he touched the correct notes with the masses. This had been a Sinhala Buddhist campaign and hence very sectarian. Banda was a born Anglican Christian who, it seems, embraced Buddhism for convenience. It was told at that time that he became a Buddhist just to give air to his political aspirations which may well be the case. Banda’s well intentioned left leaning policies were marred by the dissension he created amongst the Tamils by bringing in the Sinhala only act of 1956.

Buddhist Monks in Modern Sri Lankan Politics  

The one force out of the five great forces created by Banda turned out to be a Frankenstein monster. The Sanga force led by Buddharakkhitha (BR, yet another) was a formidable force that contributed significantly to Banda’s victory, so the monk felt entitled to get personal favours from the Prime Minister (PM). Banda was a clever man. He only wanted the monks’ help till he clinched power. Thereafter he didn’t feel it necessary to accede to any unfair requests by the monks. Once BR had gone to see the PM to get the Kelaniya Vihara complex declared a sacred area that would have made the premises entitled to some state perks. This is how the conversation had gone on, between the two, in Sinhala of course.

සර්, මං ආවේ කැලණි පන්සල් භූමිය ශුද්ධ භූමියක් බවට ප්රකාශයට පත්කරව ගන්න (Sir the purpose of my visit to you today, is to see if I could get the Kelaniya Temple premises, declared as a sacred area) Banda was a well-spoken and a witty man. He is supposed to have replied “හාමුදුරුවනේ ඔබ වහන්සේ සිවුරු ඇරලා ගියානම් පන්සල් භූමිය ඉබේ ශුද්ධ භූමියක් වේවි” (If you disrobed yourself, the temple premises would automatically become a sacred place) This was in a backdrop of an alleged love affair between the monk and the lady minister of health, Wimala Wijewardena. The irate monk is alleged to have stormed out of the Rosemead Place residence, threatening Banda “ඒකත් එහෙමද? හොඳයි මං බලාගන්නම් ”(Is that it. Just you wait) A few days later, Banda was shot at point blank range by a Buddhist monk, when the former bent down to worship the latter. The Prime Minister, despite having heroic surgery done on him during which his heart had stopped a few times, survived for a day, addressed the nation from his hospital bed, but succumbed to the trauma shortly afterwards. An unprecedented number attended Mr.Bandaranaike’s funeral. The criminal case that followed, found the Buddhist monk Thalduwe Somarama guilty of murder and was executed by hanging, while BR and his alleged lover Wimala were imprisoned for life for aiding and abetting the murder. 

Mr. Charles Percival De Silva (CP) the Minister of Agriculture, Lands and Land Development, a learned man should have been appointed the PM by the GG. Unfortunately, he was away in England recovering from ingesting a poisoned cup of tea intended for Bandaranaike. MP for Galle (my hometown) a cunning fox got appointed instead. He made a 13-hour speech (got to the Guinness book of records) in parliament during which, ‘he couldn’t’ hold back his tears several times. However, people called them crocodile tears. It was murmured, that Bunis Mama was in the know of the conspiracy, but was never tried in court for this perhaps because of paucity of evidence. This brought the SWRD era to a conclusion. 

Dahanayake Caretaker Government and Loss of Media Freedom

Daha’s 6 months of Premiership was a disaster. Unlike today’s chaps in power, Daha had a clean pair of hands as per financial dealings but was a political fraud. His own cabinet didn’t trust him much. He was ‘a people’s man’, but people didn’t know how far away that was from the truth. While sitting beside the roadside betel vendor and having a chew of her packed betel chew, (betel leaves, arecanut, tobacco and chunam) when she comes to his residence for help that necessitated talking to a bureaucrat, the story goes, he often dialled with the receiver still resting on the machine, lifted the receiver and had a ‘fierce dialogue with the man at the other end’. Highly impressed the poor woman goes away believing Daha told the man at the other end off for delaying attending to her problem when indeed Daha only had a monologue. Such a mean and a wily man was he.

Why the cabinet lost faith in him was not the wonder; it was indeed how they stuck with him even for a few months. He shed his cabinet, one after another, in quick succession. The press became very critical of him. Editorials of mainly Sinhala morning broadsheets carried scathing attacks on his premiership. Daha was the first PM to use undemocratic or dictatorial powers to smother the press. I remember the Dinamina coming out with the entire allocated editorial box still in place, inside front cover, but completely blank. In a staggered manner, he sacked 13 of his ministers and dissolved the parliament. He destroyed the SLFP, and made his own party called the Lanka Prajathanthrawadee Pakshaya, (LPP) which contested elections under the symbol umbrella, only to lose his own seat at the election that ensued. 

Aftermath of SWRD Death

Bandaraniake was assassinated in Sept 1959, and a general election ensued in March 1960. Dudley spearheaded the UNP campaign, while C.P.De Silva headed the SLFP. SWRD coalition called the MEP by now has fallen apart and the partners, Lanka Samasamaja Pakshaya (LSSP), Communist Party (CP) had gone their own ways. Name MEP was taken over by Philip Gunawardene’s party. Dahanayake broke off and made LDP (or LPP). K.M.P. Rajaratne, his wife Kusuma and a few others formed a party, called Bosath Bandaranaike Peramuna. There were few other splinter groups too. Even with such a degree of fragmentation, SLFP managed to garner 46 seats thanks to the weeping widow, Sirimavo, who addressed SLFP rallies, whereas the UNP only managed 50 seats. So, Dudley could not form a stable enough government, which crashed after a few days. Even though CP de Silva showed numbers with which he could form a coalition government, either with the once estranged members, or indeed with the Federal Party (FP) of S.J.V. Chelvanayagam and a few others, the Governor General manipulated in such a way as to call fresh elections to prevent a non Goyigama man, (though amply qualified to do so. He was the Government Agent of the North Central province before joining politics with Banda. He had done so much work for the irrigation system and agriculture in the province he was popularly known as ‘Minneriya Deyyio’) becoming the Prime Minister. He hailed from the Salagama caste. The pioneer Paediatrician Stella De Silva, LRH Colombo, was his only sister and the two brothers A.H and Merryl were lawyers. As it often happens in Asian politics, the brothers too entered the arena later. Elections were held again in July 1960. I remember this very vividly as a 12-year-old kid because of my intense interest in Politics of Ceylon

Nepotism and Caste discrimination Continues 

Fearing a second defeat for not wanting a Salagama man to be PM, CP himself invited Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, the slain PM’s widow to be the head of the SLFP. It worked and worked well. July 1960 saw SLFP get an outright majority in parliament, to form a government in which Sirimavo became not only the PM of Ceylon, but also the first ever Prime Minister of the whole world. Sirima’s success was mainly on her pledge to carry forward her slain husband’s policies, and to get the Singhala only act passed in parliament, which her late hubby fell short of doing. She also promised to strike a compromise deal with Chevanayakam’s Federal Party, on the ethnic issue and promised the voters, a socialist economy with nationalisation of big companies, private schools etc. All these reverberated well in the public domain, but in my opinion, what worked best for her was the ocean of tears she shed at campaign meetings. Not infrequently, I have seen her reaching for the fall of her saree, to wipe her tears, which often tricked down her cheeks, whenever she broached a topic that entailed the work of her late husband. She was only a year older than my own mother and many times I, as a 12-year-old kid in the crowd, shed sympathetic tears with her. Election slogan this time around was, 

මෙදාපොටේ දුන්න බැටේ,

සාරි පොටෙන් ගැහුවා ගැටේWhat this meant was “this time around we tricked you guys with the fall of the Saree, which was indeed a dead accurate description of what happened.

SLFP secured 76 seats while the UNP got only 35 or something similar. The left LSSP, CP and MEP in total clocked a significant number of seats. Sirima only had a slim majority in Parliament, the leftists were prowling in the fringes, and appeared very ominous. Kissing the hand one cannot cut off, Sirima entered in to an alliance with the LSSP and CP. Some from those parties were sworn in as ministers.

Sirima was a very caste conscious woman. After her cousin Felix Dias Bandaranaike, became her confidant, the experienced and educated gentleman politician CP, was gradually being side-lined. Signing the pact with the leftists, and giving away some key portfolios, further distanced C.P. De Silva from Sirima. 

Around 18 months into her Premiership Sirima faced a coup d’etat by the Christian hierarchy of the armed forces. It was believed that the Air Force was not involved. It was an abortive coup, and all the culprits were arrested tried and jailed. It was the opinion of the CID of the time that some disenfranchised by the replacement of Christian Army and Navy higher officers by Buddhist ones, fearing, Sirima would continue the trend had masterminded the coup.

It was barely six years after Bunis mama learnt his bitter lesson, trying to smother press freedom, that the SLFP probably under the tutelage of the leftists, tried to take over the press for being very critical of the government. When the press acquisition bill came up for voting in Dec 1964 C.P. de S with 13 others crossed over and voted with the opposition, bringing the government down, and an election followed in early 1965.

Dudley back in the driving seat and a good run  

March 1965 brought UNP back to power, with Gentleman Dudley as the Prime Minister. He was the first ever prime minister of Ceylon, to have completed a full term in office up to then. He was a Barrister at law and was a reluctant politician, who was almost forced into it by his beloved father DS. Though born into Ceylon aristocracy he was a peoples’ man. As a backbencher in his father’s government, he often disagreed with his father, and voted against some of his dad’s bills in parliament. As PM he continued to be a people friendly man. Never enjoyed life with people’s money. He was the founder of technical education and Bhikku universities in Ceylon. 

With all those good qualities as a human being there was a coup attempt against his government by 30 people including army officers, monks, civil servant like N.Q. Dias, and ordinary members of the public such as famous Dodampe mudalali,  in 1966, headed by Major General Richard Udugama. Dodampe mudalali died in the CID HQ allegedly jumping from the fourth floor but later was adjudged to be murder in police custody. This coup d’etat was supposedly because some factions didn’t like certain pro-Sinhala steps taken by Sirima being undone by Dudley.

One of Dudley’s main policies was, to make the country self-sufficient in rice. During his regime if you saw his picture in a newspaper, you could rest assured that he would appear, in his trademark bush coat and the camera around his neck, standing in a well grown paddy field with plants submerging almost the lower half of his body. If I am not mistaken, his was the only regime after Parakramabahu the great, during which we became self-sufficient in rice. You could see from his face that he felt quite at home there, felt proud to be there standing in the middle of a paddy field, amongst those plants that seemed silently, to love him too. He had no economic problems facing the country. Foreign policy was pro-western but had friendly relations with China with which country, the famous rubber rice trade pact was signed.

Unlike other political top-brass he was a temperance man. He never drank alcohol, but liked his pipe and sometimes cigarettes. Pappadam and water were his favourite snack, which he indulged in, in a big way. Due to heavy smoking and habitually eating oily food his heart started playing up. From 1966 when he went to Washington for treatment till April 1972, he remained a cardiac patient.

He lost the next election to Sirima in 1970 and gave away the leadership of the opposition to JR, due to his ill health. He died in April 1973, almost a pauper, with less than Rs 1000 left in his bank account. I was an intern House Officer at General Hospital, Colombo then, and the Woodlands, his family residence was within walking distance for me.  So, I joined a long serpentine queue to pay my respects to this honest and selfless leader. One of my patients who happened to be someone close to Dudley identified me, took me off the queue right away to the lounge where Dudley’s body was lying. I paid my respects to the first honest leader in politics of Ceylon. I didn’t know then, he was going to be the last too for another 50 years. 

Bandaranaike resurgence     

Being a reluctant man brought to the fore in politics by his old man, Dudley was an honest leader who might have considered, shining in state plumes a shameful thing. He was not a schemer either. His inclusive government had 6 other parties, 4 Tamil and 2 Sinhalese, and was nick named ‘Hath Hawula’. UNP went it alone in 1965 to win elections, but fell short of an outright majority in Parliament. Dudleys government was a ship cruising forwards in tranquil waters. Didn’t encounter major problems. As such did not proactively tackle inflation (which wasn’t too bad at that time) unemployment, feudal style land ownership, agrarian reforms etc. Though Dudley was a people friendly man UNP in general was regarded as a rich man’s party.

Mrs. B made a coalition with the leftists at the very outset, which was nick-named ‘thun hawla’ by the UNPers. They came out with a people friendly manifesto including, mass nationalisation, extensive land reforms, national pharmaceutical policy etc. with restriction of imports that would make local industry blossom. This resonated well with the public, and she romped home victorious with an outright majority in parliament, at the 1970 parliamentary elections. 

Sirimavo regime and it’s precipitous fall      

The country Sirimavo took over from Dudley was not an economic wreck though inflation, and unemployment levels had gone up. Sirima followed a path of nationalisation, restriction of imports and developing local production. During her tenure, Sri Lanka produced her own, sugar, steel, leather products, textiles, and many other items which we needed daily. 

I remember as if it was yesterday, how we proudly donned trousers made of local material, locally produced shirts and DI shoes, a product of leather corporation because they were of good quality. As the demand was high and the supply couldn’t keep pace, there was a bit of rationing of these products. If we were patient enough this economic policy would have seen us through. One of the main snags of this policy was, that we didn’t produce things that we could export, and earn foreign exchange. We became dollar trapped so to speak and had to severely restrict imports. The death blow to governments popularity was when restriction on the importation of infant milk foods was imposed. As a young doctor working at the accident service Colombo, I stood in the SMA queue with another colleague, at Bayers in front of the National anti-Tuberculosis Institute (NTI), present health ministry building, to buy rationed SMA for the newborn baby of a colleague.  Foreign debt left by Dudley was 4.36 billion in 1970, which rose to 11.4 billion in 1977. For quite some time, since declaring an emergency state to crush the JVP uprising, the country was run under a state of emergency.  

By now Sirma Government had faced a coup de ’tat and a Marxist insurrection, that held the country back significantly. Fairly soon after the 4th of April 1971 insurrection by the Che Guerra insurgents, Sirima took steps to amend the constitution of Ceylon, to make it a Democratic Republic, cutting away last bits of the umbilical cord it had, with the UK. She also extended the life of her party in parliament, by 2 years through the new constitution by undemocratic means. 

By 1975 the honeymoon with the LSSP was over and had been disbanded. Communist Party had already left. The chain of public sector strikes that followed were by the blue-collar workers. It was the strike by the white collared that pushed a tree to the ground, which was already falling. I was an unfortunate Secretary of the GMOA, (a junior doctor) to witness how we were being led by the nose, by a Charismatic, nonetheless a UNP leaning leader of a tea party medical trade union, (called so because they lacked industrial muscle) the Association of Medical Specialists, Dr. Rienzie Pieris. The Government fell with a thud and elections ensued.

JRJ Government that started the rot of Mother Lanka  

JR was spoken of as a cunning fox. He didn’t have to do much to win. Sirima had by now been politically half dead, courtesy ‘Hara Kiri’ she, herself, had committed. The strikes by the blue-collar workers, ably supported by the GMOA & AMS, and the UNP led copious anti propaganda funded by big businesses helped. A man, Dr. N.M. Perera denounced as one who should never be allowed to sit in the Prime Minister’s chair, for, he would not be able to be removed, did indeed sit in that chair and lived up to those expectations.

UNP was returned to power with a landslide win, of 5 sixth of the total parliamentary seats. ‘Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ is an age-old adage in political parlance. JR Jayawardene was the first man to have proved its absolute truth in Sri Lanka politics, with the Rajapaksas confirming it repeatedly.

One of the first amongst many undemocratic things he did, was to amend the constitution to create the office for an Executive President. If I remember right, his election manifesto never declared directly or indirectly, that he needed a mandate to create such office with unlimited powers. I remember him saying, having become the first uncrowned king of Sri Lanka, “the only thing I am not capable of doing is to make a man, a woman”.

When compared to what he did in office, Mrs. Bandaranaike’s abuse of power was a Kindergarten child’s exercise. Nonetheless, she was stripped off her civic rights for 7 years, to prevent her contesting the next Presidential elections, thus converting it to a one-horse race. He held the Presidential elections before the parliamentary elections in Oct 1982 and romped home victorious. He garnered the support of 52.9% of the population which meant 47.1% were opposed to him and his party. With this kind of vote base the 5/6th parliamentary majority was going to be consigned to history books had he held parliamentary elections in any format, i.e. first-past-the-post system or proportional representation and hence he manipulated in a way to circumvent elections, by holding a referendum just 2 months after the presidential elections, adducing the need for continuity to reap the benefits of policies he had deployed, as the logic behind the ugly exercise. Life of parliament and its 5/6th majority was thus extended for another 6 years by crooked means.

JRJ Government opened Sri Lanka to anything and everything, and salaciously watched it become almost a house of ill fame. Any sellable national asset was sold for a song. Foreign investors were invited along a red carpet. Private enterprise was encouraged with low taxes easy bank loans etc. As a result, big businesses sprang up. Private buses started plying up and down the road network, (like a driven swarm of hornets stinging all and sundry on their way) mowing down men women and children, even on distinctly painted pedestrian crossings with the greatest impunity. Invaluable human lives became worthless. 

Government undertook big projects like the Mahaweli diversion etc. and paved way for Ministers and officials to play out large sums of money, in many ways including commissions which, in developed countries, would have either been illegal or indeed gone to the national coffers. One might remember the tabloid press splashing as headline news, how one such minister came to own apple orchards in Australia. In short, the ‘live and let die’ policy saw light of day, and blossomed under the apparent tutelage and patronage of the JRJ government.

Premadasa becomes the President 

Jayewardene had juggled with electoral maths so well, he not only ensured his own safety by getting rid of the first passed the post system so that his successor from the UNP had a high chance of getting elected president, and also of his party getting a majority in parliament. This also meant, had the SLFP been returned to parliament as the biggest party, they would lack the kind of mandate needed to make the necessary constitutional amendments, to strip him of his civil rights. In most people’s minds JR deserved this treatment a lot more than Sirima did in 1978.  

After a well-known internal turmoil in the party, the belligerent Premadasa managed to plunder the candidacy to run for President. The proposer and seconder of a move to bring in JR as the presidential candidate, for a third time in succession, were gunned down and it was blamed on the JVP. One of the victims was my good friend’s father-in-law, Lionel Jayatilleke who was a very innocent man indeed. UNP government was burning the candle at both ends, fighting the LTTE in the north and the DJV in the south. The defence minister Ranjan Wijeratne spearheaded the attacks against the two rebel groups. UNP has now, long been very unpopular having got into the bad books of the Tamils, because of allegedly state sponsoring anti-Tamil violence of July 1983, followed by scapegoating the JVP for it, and re-proscribing the party, which led to the latter going underground again, only to relaunch an arms struggle through their purpose created armed wing called the Deshapremi Janatha Vyaparaya (DJV).

DJV’s alleged armed intervention at the selection of UNP presidential candidate made the public speculate and for some to believe that Premadasa may have had a secret pact with the JVP. Both the Presidential and Parliamentary elections were held in an atmosphere of fear amongst the voters which helped the ruling party for some reason. Like the UNP idol Lee Kuan Yew, he seemed to have used the ultra-left to climb the power ladder and then annihilated all its leadership.  

Premadasa Presidency was a mixed bag. He brought in some good and people friendly projects like the garment industry, Gam Udawa etc but he curtailed liberty of speech, and other forms of democratic expression of discontent. During the regime, some journalists were threatened, manhandled and even murdered. The country seemed to have had him held responsible for the killings of the singer Sagarika Gomez, the journalists Premakeerthi de Alwis and Richard De Zoysa and many others. So much so, when Premadasa himself was finally blasted into smithereens at a May day rally in 1993 allegedly by an LTTE plant (a Premadasa confidant) Babu, many parts of the country breathed a sigh of relief and some even celebrated by eating milk rice. 

Chandrika Bandranaike Kumaratunga Regime    

After the landslide victory of the UNP in 1977, the SLFP that could not even garner enough seats to become the opposition, was virtually pushed away into political oblivion. A lot of sweat and some blood had to be shed to pull her out of the rubble. To this end, a man named Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR) made it his business, to infuse fresh blood into the party. By now, the only contender who could have given a run for his money for the party leadership after Chandrika, Anura, has already left the party and joined the UNP. Mahinda was as crafty as JR, his nephew and even good old Daha. Mahinda accompanied Anura out of the SLFP, and once it was more than evident that the latter was comfortable in his newfound abode, the UNP, Mahinda rejoined the SLFP; Therefore, Mahinda had more than enough incentive, to go hammer and tongs to do what he set out to do. Amongst a galaxy of things, he did to revive the party, was a procession called paada yaathra he had organised to start from Colombo and end at Kataragama some time in 1992. He held public meetings on route. One such was held in Galle. By this time the procession has gathered enough momentum to get the powers that be worried and adding insult to injury, the Galle meeting was mammoth. Orders came from above, it was said, to disrupt this. Even though the meeting was held near the butterfly bridge, quite a bit away from the main road police apparently opened fire to oblige the masters. As it was school closing time quite a few school children got shot and some seriously injured. I was the surgeon on emergency take at General Hospital (Teaching) Karapitiya, so I remember this incident very well. With the help of my team, I operated into the wee hours of the morning and managed to save all the victims of indiscriminate shooting by the police. Mahinda came to see them almost daily but being an opposition MP, no one took any notice of him. I have got this uncanny habit of supporting the underdog specially at cricket, if Sri Lanka was not playing. The underdog in this incident was Mahinda, so I took him around and showed him all the victims who were slowly but surely coming out of the woods. The SLFP and Chandrika, owe a lot to MR for the success of hers in 1994 Presidential elections and the party, in subsequent Parliamentary elections respectively. 

Chandrika’s Peoples’ Alliance won the 1994 elections, and she became the Prime Minister. A few months later, Presidential elections were called, and she beat the grieving widow of Gamini Dissanayake comfortably, to become the first ever woman President in the world.  

Chandrika was President for 11 years from 1994, and apart from taking over some key ministries from the UNP government, for allegedly being too lenient with the LTTE there wasn’t any major acts of contravention of the constitution or indeed any juggles with democracy. 

The Rajapaksa Dynasty                

Having entered politics and parliament at the young age of 24, in the year 1970 after his father’s demise in 1965, he was not going to leave the political arena empty handed. Only gentlemen politicians like Dudley would be such selfless. Rajapaksa it is alleged, schemed from ground zero all the way to the President’s House. His ascension to the party leadership by promoting and abetting Anura’s exit from the SLFP, seems a job well done by a master schemer. The ‘live and let die’ policy adopted by his regime of letting people do what they needed to do to survive, and in some cases, to flourish is what we are paying for, now, living in a country of rogues. His type of politics made him understand, it is easier to rule a bunch of uneducated crooks, than a group of honest intellectuals. 

One needs more than a trilogy to describe the doings and nots of the Rajapaksa dynasty, and as such I am not going to go through the entire history of Mahinda Rajapaksa et. al. but will try to get away with a few sentences before I summarise the essay. Chandrika could be President only twice according to the constitution of the time. She led the UPFA to yet another victory in 2005 Parliamentary elections, after which MR became the Prime Minister and left the party leadership and the country, adducing harassment by MR as the reason to do so some time in 2006. 

MR is now firmly rooted in the leadership of the party, and the Premiership of the country. He contested the next Presidential elections held in 2005, apparently under some inexplicable and a clandestine pact with the LTTE, which prevented Tamils from voting. He beat his arch rival, Ranil Wickremasinghe by a slim majority, thanks to the Tamil votes that were never cast. He was re-elected President in 2010, hailing him almost to a re-incarnation of Dutu-Gemunu, after crushing the Tamil Terrorist organisation LTTE totally in 2009, although he was an unwilling Commander-in-chief who was churned into, fight to a finish action by the JVP and the JHU, when indeed Prabhakaran made the suicidal mistake of closing the sluice gates of ‘Mawil Aru’.

From that point onwards till he was chased out by the peoples’ unarmed uprising in April 2022 he behaved like an uncrowned king. Electorate believed his regime was well known for favouritism, nepotism, dishonesty, and corruption. This is what Wikipedia says about Rajapaksha’s allegedly looted wealth. “

Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera received intelligence reports on 7 May 2015, from four foreign nations that involved tracing billions of dollars stashed abroad, stating that the Rajapaksa family holds $18 billion (approximate Rs. 238,000,000,000) worth of assets in foreign countries”.

President’s Counsel S.L. Gunasekera in an article Colombo Telegraph titled Family Bandyism and Meritocracy dated 19-01-2012, writes 

Today, we have Mahinda Rajapaksa, whom the Bandaranaike family did not want as President and with him a whole host of members of the Rajapaksa family in various high positions. It is no secret that even ministers pay unctuous obeisance to the Rajapaksa family whether they are technically higher or lower in precedence to them. They pay obeisance not because of any table of precedence or genuine respect but purely and simply because they realize that as things look today, it is only through the Rajapaksa family that one could get anywhere in politics. Is this over simplifying matters? I think not”.  

There is no need to write more about the way in which the entire Rajapaksa family left their positions and went in to hiding in the face of mounting animosity from virtually the whole country.

Tryst With Destiny-Ranil Becomes The President    

Wast it an aberration of democracy, stupidity of the legal pundits who drew the 1972 constitution or just a tryst with destiny that made a man rejected wholesale by the electorate, the all-powerful 9th President of the so called Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

Ranil descends from an aristocratic family. Having been born with a silver spoon in the mouth, life has been a bed of roses for him and indeed his political career was prefabricated and served to him on a platter, by his uncle JR often known as the old fox, not for nothing. He entered parliament having been ‘washed ashore by the UNP tsunami of 1977’ from a safe UNP seat Biyagama. He has, been in Parliament for 46 years, been the PM five times but a meagre total of only 8 years and run for president twice with disastrous consequences. 

Allegedly, because of his inability to avert serial electoral defeats and the dictatorial attitude adopted in managing party affairs, bulk of the UNP broke off before the 2019 Presidential elections and formed a group called the Samagi Jana Balawegaya, headed by another Premadasa. Ranil went it alone at the parliamentary elections to be totally rejected by the electorate. This is how he destroyed the oldest and the most powerful political party of Sri Lanka, the United National Party. After a latent period of about a year Ranil entered Parliament as the only MP, UNP could nominate as per the number voted for them.

Country’s economy nose-dived courtesy the Rajapaksa maladministration and limitless corruption. Sky high cost of living, long serpentine queues for petrol and LP gas etc. made people rise against the regime. Rajapaksas ran for their lives and hid in safe havens like the Trincomalee Navy camp.  Gotabaya, the President relinquished duties in writing to the speaker. There was a pretence at inviting someone from the NPP or the SJB to take over Premiership when indeed they had done all the groundwork needed to install the man they always wanted. So Ranil, whose party obtained only 249,435 (2.15%) of a total of (11,598,929 ) 11.59 million became the Prime Minister and then as per section 40. (1) (a) of the constitution an election was held amongst the MPs, which chose a man from a totally different party, Ranil as the President. For those who are interested, I have copied and pasted the relevant section of the Constitution below.  

40. (1) (a) If the office of President shall become vacant prior to the expiration of his term of office, Parliament shall elect as President one of its Members who is qualified to be elected to the office of President. Any person so succeeding to the office of President shall hold office only for the unexpired period of the term of office of the President vacating office.   

This is an apology to a properly drawn, all important Constitution of a sovereign country compiled by the so called legal pundits. Neither the preceding sections, nor the sections that follow define who a qualified person is. It only talks about a person not being qualified to run for a third term. To preserve democratic rights of the people it was not least necessary but mandatory for the section 40 of the constitution to have stated, Parliament shall elect as President one of its Members from the Governing Party or its coalition partners.  Experienced and respected counsels who drew the Constitution, some of whom were politicians too, should have foreseen the kind of situation country has plunged into because of electing a man to save the Rajapaksas and not the country. 

The saga that followed is too recent a memory to delve in long and bore you readers out there. Hence, I am going to conclude my essay here. 

Summary and Discussion    

From the foregoing it is evident that the Sri Lankan rulers from the very outset, i.e. from 1947 to date have not had a clear plan for future development of the country. At the beginning it looks that they have concentrated on reversing some of the things their colonial masters had done. In my mind I am not sure as to how much blame could be apportioned or indeed any blame whatsoever could be apportioned to those early leaders.

Almost all top politicians of the post-independence parliament both on the right and on the left had worked tirelessly and selflessly to win independence for Sri Lanka from British rule. They have been instrumental in launching resistance movements of different kinds, to show their disapproval of the way the British Raj ruled Ceylon. During these battles D.S. Senanayake and brothers, NM, Colvin, Philip Gunawardena and brothers, Edmund Samarakkody, Anagarika Dharmapala, Dr C A Hewavitharana, Arthur V Dias, H M Amarasuriya, Dr. W A De Silva, Baron Jayatilaka, Edwin Wijeyeratne, A E Goonasinghe, John Silva and Piyadasa Sirisena are some of the well-known names who participated in these activities which had gone on for over a decade during which period most if not all were imprisoned by the British for varying periods. 

In this backdrop I consider the ensuing decade as the period spent ‘licking their wounds’ and would exonerate DS and his government up to the beginning of SWRD regime from any blame for not having a long-term plan to develop the country. However, any attempt by anyone including any of the above, to drive a wedge between different ethnicities to gain political mileage is by no means pardonable.

Most post-independence governments of Ceylon and later Sri Lanka are guilty of atrocious responses to people’s democratic dissent and have been subject to rejection at the very next election by the electorate. Given below is a list of such happenings.

1. The Harthal of 1953, against the removal of rice subsidy, was crushed by the Governor General during the UNP regime of Sir John Kotelawala, by using brute force of the Police and the military during which 10 people died.                                                                               

At the election that followed in 1956 Sir John’s UNP was trounced and reduced to 8 seats   

2. Wijeyananda Dahanayake became the head of the government after the assassination of SWRD. His disastrous behaviour almost like a paranoid schizophrenic, by raising the parapet wall of Temple Trees, the PM’s official residence, and enforcing press censorship saw him lose his own parliamentary seat No 62, Galle. His newly formed party LDP (Lanka Prajathanthrawadee Pakshaya) contested 101 seats but, only 4 were returned to parliament. Most of the losers lost even their deposits. 

3. Sirima’s SLFP government of 1960 July probably under the tutelage of the leftists tried to take over the press for being very critical of the government. C.P. de Silva with 13 others crossed over and voted with the opposition in Dec 1964 bringing the government down. At the elections held in March 1965 Sirima lost her parliamentary majority to the UNP getting only 41 seats against 66 of the UNP

4. The coalition Government of Sirima between 1970-77 was rejected by the voting masses for i) some of her economic policies ii) Ruling the country under emergency regulations and iii) extending the life of parliament by 2 years by undemocratic means. Her party was reduced to only 8 seats in the Parliament at the 1977 general election.  

5. JRJ presidency and the UNP government from 1977 to 1989 was well insulated from extraneous influences courtesy his juggling with electoral maths and substituting the parliamentary election with a referendum to maintain 5/6th majority. Brunt of this was felt during the next parliament of Premadasa.   

6. Premadasa’s Presidential election in 1988 and the Parliamentary election in 1989 were held in a tremulous atmosphere with LTTE at large in the north and the DJV in the south. Voter turnout was low. He curtailed press freedom and people blamed him for the abduction and murder of some journalist and others. When he got killed in a bomb blast many people had a sigh of relief and some even celebrated the event by cooking milk rice.    

7. Chandrika had a decent but an ineffective run of 11 years but was unfortunate to have lost an eye at the very last election rally in 1994.  

8. In the eyes of the electorate, Rajapaksa regime was autocratic and corrupt to the core dragging the country in to economic doldrums. People reacted as never before to get the entire family and the extended family on the run for their lives. They all resigned. To their luck there was a mockery of a constitution in waiting to save them. They got their slaves to elect Ranil Wickremesinghe as their saviour. 

9. The current president has no mandate from the electorate to be President. He seems to have a legislative right but has no moral right. Some of his doings, most people believe, are clearly undemocratic. History has been repeating itself one way or another. To me it seems just a matter of time before he learns his bitter lesson. 

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Latest comments

  • 15
    0

    JANA PRIYA , I had been lately thinking about your absence from this forum and here you are. I liked your article only because it’s your own opinion without much political leaning, ( how you saw and felt) . I prefer people giving their own than quoting others, politicians, social media ……hearsay ……. In this you have taken us down the lane of post in- depence Lankan politics orchestrated by our very own selfish, exploiting manipulative , political crooks/ criminals, seeds of racism, corruption, bad economics, family kleptocracy. ……… and many more, leaving SB racism.( for all the right reasons).

    • 8
      0

      Doctor, I’m aware that you frequently respond to questions.I just have a simple one.You told , all about the rogue politicians we had since independence. What’s your opinion on our informed voting public who keeps electing them again and again??? We still have oldest KAPUTAS, MS , MR and Ranil in parliament. There are many more waiting for their turn.. Is race , religion driving our Democrazy ????

    • 2
      0

      Dear chiv,
      .
      Yes, De Janapriya is his own man, and he sometimes surprises some of us with his articles, because he’s his own man, and lives his life as he thinks is fittest. I sometimes disagree with him, but I always respect him. Three days ago I knew that we could expect this long article, provided CT approved it.
      .
      [edited out]

  • 6
    0

    A good historical review of what went wrong in SL. Growing up during Mrs B’s austerity regime, how I envied those living abroad in developed countries. No sugar for a birthday cake & Astra margarine, the only spread available for weevil ridden unhygienically prepared unappetising bread, advertised as healthy. The sticky rice was imported from China, although my family cultivated rice but unable to bring to Colombo for our own consumption. The long queues for the megre weekly rations, even the cloth for a trouser being a ‘lucky dip’, having to select without seeing even the colour, from the local Co-op. I still remember the horror after opening the bag & seeing the cloth, a locally made shiny polyester material in a pinkish white colour. The only shirts available were nylon, made by political lacky, ‘Dasa’ mudalali. The most sad incident I will never forget was when 2 small burgher girls about my age, knocking on our door & asking my mother for something to eat & all we could offer was a piece of left over stale bread, spread with margarine & some bananas from the garden. An era best forgotten but seems to be round the corner again, thanks to our politicians who enjoy the goodlife with generous pensions.
    Cont.

    • 4
      0

      “I am not mistaken, his was the only regime after Parakramabahu the great, during which we became self-sufficient in rice. You could see from his face that he felt quite at home there, felt proud to be there standing in the middle of a paddy field, amongst those plants that seemed silently, to love him too. He had no economic problems facing the country. “
      I remember rather differently.
      The country only became self-sufficient by 2005, though various governments made various claims earlier. Even now, the slightest drought brings in a flood of imports.
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4815756/#:~:text=With%20rice%20comprising%20approximately%2040,%2C%20national%20self%2Dsufficiency%20policy.
      As to economic problems, if Dudley didn’t have these, why did his UNP lose the election in 1970? Also, the causes of the 1971 JVP insurrection predated the UF government of 1970.

  • 4
    0

    Cont.
    Dudley seems to be the only gentleman in politics & he is still remembered fondly decades after his death, immortal in our minds for good reasons but the rest of our politicians, particularly, the more recent, are not bothered, even though cursed for generations to come for ruining the country. They have armour plated hides & probably sleep soundly at night without sleeping pills. As small children, when others called us names, we used to sing ‘sticks & stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me”. I suppose its true for politicians.

    I don’t believe in divine retribution or karma, although, I would like to, but I get satisfaction by hoping all these politicians who stole public funds will rot in hell.

    • 1
      1

      Dudley seems to be the only gentleman?
      This gentleman was responsible for the racist pamphlet with a cartoon suggesting that Mrs B was ready to give a good slice of the country to SJVC in July 1960.
      He introduced the now forgotten ‘Poya week’ (following Burma) in 1965.
      He allocated reserved seats for the clergy in buses and trains, but none for frail passengers.
      I can list some more of his gentlemanly deeds.
      (But compared to JRJ he could even be called an angel.)

      • 3
        0

        ” But compared to JRJ he could even be called an angel.”
        .
        Human beings are not perfectionists..
        .
        Mahendra Rajapakse is the worst of all that came after Premadasa Bhiesanaya era. We vowed not to repeat extra judicial crimes but he licenced it by placing Safronists as front runners of their misleading parades. Can the kind of mlechcha acts ever be pardonable ? Aiyoooooo😳😳😳😳😳

      • 4
        0

        SJ

        Dudley was before my time but from what I have heard & reading this article, I have come to the conclusion that he was a cut above the rest. I suppose after SWRD’s strategy of giving prominence to Buddhist monks, others had to follow suit, the genii was out & it would be committing hara kiri to put it back in the bottle.
        Whatever Dudley’s faults were, he was honest & sincere. That much is quite plain from this unbiased article & compared to the current bunch, in particular, he was a gentleman. The same can’t be said to the Bandaranayakas, Oxford educated SWRD, Sorbonne educated CBK & uneducated Mrs B

  • 3
    10

    I like the way the Bikkhu organizations are actually speaking up and trying to get their country back. All blessings on their brave and courageous efforts. 🗽

    Terrible to know that people’s generations of hard work and suffering have come to this: The Sinhala Supremacy of solely Mahinda Rajapaksa and co. via Ranil on Port City Colombo, so as to cater for the likes of King Charles, King Saudi and their wealth (with greater extensions of the Islamic state on Lankan soil).

    Traditional farming and fishing occupations to be no more – to be sold for Chinese, Indian, Saudi and other developmental enterprise, to experiment on how to factory-make money to alliance with those artificial levels of wealth. But we can’t be surprised, for this is what the over 70 years of Sinhala political megalomania has done to our precious land.

    • 8
      0

      RTF,
      .“I like the way the Bikkhu organizations are actually speaking up and trying to get their country back. All blessings on their brave and courageous efforts. 🗽”
      /
      Don’t you know that the sinhala buddhist monks and their overestimation have led the nation to a precipice? or are u still in an ICU ?
      /
      At least today, you should think again before making such public statements.
      If SB monks are unbelievably ignorant, they should stay out of lanken politics, regardless of what false academic titles they hold. THEY SHOULD BE DEROBED IF THEY CANT DO THEIR JOB PROPERLY WHICH IS TO SPREAD DHARMA AS BUDDHA EXPECTED FROM THEM. They should not go after V8 Culture that MAHENDRA RAJAPAKSHE infected in them.
      /
      That Sorbonne-educated fake monk from Kelaniya Raja Maha viharaya tied a pirit string on my left wrist when I went to the temple about 8 years ago, but how the robed man supported false fiction based on “real relics” and destroyed respect maintained upto then, like that. such betrayals while in robes are similar to A glass wall shattered into small pieces.
      /
      However, the sacred temple turned out to be a dilapidated TEMPLE by July 2023 * I visited last* is not visited by large crowds today, however it has become a place for young monks and their flirting grounds.

      • 6
        0

        Cont.
        Some teenage monks asked me to give them SMART phones as a “property”. Can you imagine?
        /
        Did I share u what those GATE KEEPING SOLDIERS said to me about “FAKE RELICS”. They confirmed, over millions of people struggled to worship those relics regardless of it being fake. Each of them turned to be a Gota~s voter.

        However, the sacred temple turned out to be a dilapidated TEMPLE by July 2023 * I visited last* is not visited by large crowds today, however it has become a place for young monks and their flirting grounds. . Some teenage monks asked me to give them SMART phones as a “property”. Can you imagine?
        /
        Did I share u what those GATE KEEPING SOLDIERS said to me about “FAKE RELICS”. They confirmed, over millions of people struggled to worship those relics regardless of it being fake. Each of them turned to be a Gota~s voter

        • 3
          9

          leelagemalli ,…..those are only the useless monks. Most of the monks are intelligent and care for the land and people.

          • 6
            0

            RTF
            Are u dreaming? .
            .
            Good luck!!!😕😕😕😕😕

        • 0
          0

          . When the reality is this, how dare you clowns point fingers at our people who are easily held as human shields by a criminal gang?
          /
          are people to blame ?
          are politicians to blame ?
          are media prostitutes to blame?
          are religious fanatists *SINHALA BUDDHIST MONK PARASITES * to blame ?
          are sinhala buddhists real buddhists? NOT EVEN 1 % OF THEM ARE BUDDHISTS
          /
          thsouands of questions converge but who would give answers ?
          BUDUHAMUDURUWANE API ASARANAWELA ?????
          /
          SINHALA SELF AGGRANDIZEMENT IS TO BLAME ? WE ARE DOOMED BUT WE STILL BEAR THE MENTALITY TO BE SINHALA SUPREMACISTS ? Grrrrrr
          “Some teenage monks asked me to give them SMART phones as “PIRIKARA”. Can you imagine?”
          /

    • 7
      0

      Ramona,
      “I like the way the Bikkhu organizations are actually speaking up and trying to get their country back. All blessings on their brave and courageous efforts”
      Oh yes, the patriotic monks, as well as the bishops and poosaris (not the high caste ones found in the palaces of King Ravana ) , like King HenryVII, will sense their Achilles heel in the fishing and farming of the Islamic State of Bandarawela with its plotted land-bridge to Pakistan despite its ancient Indus culture destroyed by cheap Chinese factory-made money, so as to cater for Sinhala supremacists like Sumanthiran and Pillayan, to be found in the Hogwarts express on platform 12-3/4 , spurned by Gota though implied by Japan, through generations of suffering in Hiroshima………Terrible!

      • 0
        8

        Get over it oc…..hard pill to swallow for you, I know. Perish the sinful thoughts of grandeur and riches over the suffering masses. Pray for redemption.

        • 6
          0

          Ramona,
          I can mumble as well as you…….🤣🤣🤣

        • 6
          0

          RTF
          .
          When did u visit Sri Lanka last? .
          15 years ago?

  • 0
    12

    ” the main slogan was, “Sadukin pelenenawun,”
    Sorry, it was no slogan it was a Sinhala adaptation of ‘the Internationale’

  • 1
    9

    “It was murmured, that Bunis Mama was in the know of the conspiracy, but was never tried in court for this perhaps because of paucity of evidence.”
    ‘Murmered” by whom?
    We will never understand political events by relying on gossip and rumor.
    *
    Yet another conspiracy theory!

    • 8
      10

      SJ ,what about the Thajudeen conspiracy theory ? Or since you have special knowledge about it, is it proved beyond all doubt !

  • 10
    11

    A half baked and sentimental type of article giving a biased opinion. Many things said here are disputable.

    It seems nearly every body over there are below par. Not the kind of people who can build a developed society or a strong economy.

    But when it comes to theorising and big talk, they shine !

    Even some comment writers are so one-sided, you cannot expect any fairness from them .

    I don’t think there is any hope for countries like this.

    • 9
      5

      DS,
      “I don’t think there is any hope for countries like this…..It seems nearly every body over there are below par. Not the kind of people who can build a developed society or a strong economy.”
      Wow! Which country are you contributing your genius to? Do the above-par citizens really appreciate your heroic efforts at the municipal sewage works? Keep it up!

      • 7
        11

        OC, it is not what your ego or words say that matter., look at the results . How many Sri Lankans are trying to creep into Developed countries or even other countries like in Africa ?

        Do you not see the difference between developed countries and South India ? No standards, no class, broken-down, dirty and corrupt.

        From your tone and words I can see you are superficially Western but push you a little the petty and nasty self shows. Also a big ego created by a little reading ( know all) -one eyed an is king among the blind.!

        In developed countries you will not have a low grade family like the Rajapksaes or a devious pretender to genteel standards like RW in public life. They will be found out .In reality of that culture such people will withdraw from public life. There is a depth in the awareness of both self and the outside (philosophically).

        In Sri Lanakn upbringing such awareness is destroyed. They are made into selfish, clan men or virulent racists , caste guys or even religious bigots.And most important, overall incompetent and unable to produce anything good

        • 7
          3

          DS,
          “How many Sri Lankans are trying to creep into Developed countries or even other countries like in Africa ?”
          Haven’t you already crept into one? I am quite happy here.

          • 3
            9

            What I say does not depend on where my bread is buttered or who appreciates me.

            What you are saying is to support your own kind whether right or wrong, write in favour of those that appreciate you-in other words pretend that your own kind has the truth, are better and just.

            I say regardless there is a greater truth. There are achievers and failures. There are aid givers and aid receivers. There are good countries and bad. I like to find the truth.

            And all those truths may go against my kind, my race and my religion. So be it. Everybody who migrates has accepted it. Everybody who wears coat and tie at every formal meeting has accepted it (( they love to attend meetings in London, Paris, Washington).

            Everybody who votes at a parliamentary election has accepted it. Every one who exercises his right of vote and even all the freedoms in your JR constitution have accepted it ( they all have one source)

            At least I tried to find an objective truth and increasingly I think it is not in south Asia.

            • 9
              3

              DS,
              “Everybody who wears coat and tie at every formal meeting has accepted it (( they love to attend meetings in London,”
              So, you wear a Kandyan osariya to your place of work in the superior West? So cute!

              • 2
                7

                OC like your RW you seem to be a champion of small debating points-Royal college English debating team !

                Grow up dirty old man !

                In England wearing Western attire to do western things is natural like day and night.

                Is it the same in boiling Sri Lanka ,especially from a guy who does not like Western attitude ?

                What do you think of these cheap mimics going to a school boy Cricket match every year to sing vulgar songs and get drunk ? ( entire cabinet in there I am told, even Dayasiri Jayasekera, fellow and that jack in the box Harsha silva)

                Perhaps a misunderstanding of the English sense of fun ? What other British ways have they understood ?

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                  DS,
                  “Is it the same in boiling Sri Lanka ,especially from a guy who does not like Western attitude ? What other British ways have they understood ?
                  So you think the Chinese are aping the British when they wear suits? Singapore is hotter than Sri Lanka, but do their leaders wear batik sarongs?
                  Why are you so fixated on “vulgarity “? Is there something you’re not getting in London?

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                    OC,yes Western colonization has done its work . At least be aware how coat and tie came to be symbolic.

                    We can say Singapore and Chinese leaders have not robbed their central banks.

                    Although these two countries are not democracies , at least their economies can justify their coat and tie.

                    Has Mrs RW explored the possibility of sending our English teachers to China to teach them good English ? ( a job opportunity for you OC ! )

                    Do “you all” think our power couple are native English speakers ? Hope Peking Duck on the menu for visiting Third World “leaders”

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          DS,
          “Do you not see the difference between developed countries and South India ? No standards, no class, broken-down, dirty and corrupt.”
          Why south India outperforms the north (Published 21 September 2022)
          https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-62951951

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          Dear D.S.
          You , botox baby, may live in London, but do you think you feel better than most expats? Is it fair to compare your or people’s lives in developed countries with those in developing countries? is that not comparing apples with pears ? As a lanken expat who travels in DACH region and to UK very often, i have seenit by my eyes the diachotomy.
          /
          From what we hear, the standard of living in current Germany is multiple times better than in the UK. EU citizens know it better than anyone else. It is only the history of the United Kingdom that is unique, but not all people today are in favor of improving the monarchy.
          /
          Once you enter that world, isolated in ghettos like the Turkish community in Germany and Holland, you speak with pride. Since South Asians and South Americans and Africans are similar to people in medieval Europe, we can nt compare the South Asian mentality with the current European or other western world mentality.
          /
          Recently I was surprised to watch a video of south asians in a haunted town in Italy. Many poor people of our country come to that country and live like that in Vanni or Mahianganaya areas of our country, just for few bucks of dollars.

      • 2
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        Dear OC,
        Some of our entrephenuers *agronomists* from EU countries intend to invest in sl food and herbal industry.
        I am thinking of giving them the idea of investing more in grass *THANAKOLA* consumption instead of rice. I hhave also investors from NZ in agronomy industry to help hand.
        .
        We can do this in a form of a “Smoothie” packaged in a recyclable bottle. Can you help me with this? As testers, I would like to invite RTF and DS. Can you help promote this in our country? ?

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    Good piece. …….Very interesting reading Mahinda’s early history ………. didn’t know any of that.

    Thanks Dr J.

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    Various anecdotes of these characters like Mahinda may be considered broadly historical , but these are trivial matters of trivial personalities.( also remember this is just a version of a writer, unverified and subject to bias and faulty observation

    Real history is what happened to 23 million people and their progress from 1948 .

    That is where history writers must go- DS, SWRD, Srima, Chandrika, JR,Mahinda, Premadasa, Ranil, Wijeweera, Prabakaran -they all show the poverty of human resources available in this country.

    If these characters looked big to the people, how humble are the people !

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    Thanks Dr Janapriya.

    Dudley’s photo is not in https://tamilnation.org/indictment/ . Others ( up to MR) contribution to the mess is well written on this link.

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