21 April, 2018

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A Pitiful Apologist For The UNP

By Rajiva Wijesinha

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha

A very jolly looking man who lives in Australia, Shyamon Jayasinghe, has emerged as the leading apologist for the UNP with intellectual pretensions. Sadly his passion is not twinned with any regard for truth or facts. I suppose that is understandable in a man with what seems a commitment to a capitalist perspective, but it is regrettable that he does not also assess the contribution of his chosen standard bearers to populist politics.

For instance, in a recent article, he claims that it was the SLFP that sowed communal tensions in 1956. He forgets or ignores it was the UNP which repudiated John Kotelawala’s announcement in Jaffna that the UNP stood for parity of status for Sinhala and Tamil. At the party sessions held early in 1956 in Kelaniya, J R Jayewardene’s stronghold, the UNP declared that it stood for Sinhala only and also passed a resolution that Parliament should be dissolved straight away and the UNP seek a mandate to implement Sinhala only.

Jayasinghe claims that Bandaranaike left the UNP because he felt he was being deprived of the succession, which Jayasinghe grants was through maneuvering by D S Senanayake to have his son succeed him. But Jayasinghe’s claim that the ideology Bandaranaike developed was an afterthought is ridiculous, in that the latter had in fact earlier led the Sinhala Maha Sabha, and had only joined the UNP when he thought it would accept at least some of his policies. And in those days his championing of Sinhala was as opposed to English, which he thought deprived the majority of people in this country of a say in governance. It should not be forgotten that his Language Act of 1956 dethroned English, though it was silly of him to introduce simply a one sentence Act without thinking of how it would be implemented, and to leave out Tamil altogether.

Similar gung ho opposition to English also motivated Jayewardene, which Shyamon Jayasinghe conveniently forgets. In blaming the SLFP for getting rid of English as a medium of instruction, he ignores too, or deliberately forgets, that Kannangara’s English medium Central Colleges were destroyed by Jayewardene long before there was an SLFP government. As soon as he got into the State Council, Jayewardene proposed a motion to make Sinhala compulsorily the medium of education. After expostulations by the Congress leadership, he then added Tamil as an afterthought, and declared in his speech on the proposal that in Sri Lanka there were ‘two different nations; one nation learning Sinhalese and Tamil and speaking in Sinhalese and Tamil, and the other speaking and learning English.’

The State Council amended Jayewardene’s original proposal so as to make Sinhala or Tamil the compulsory medium only at primary level. But then in the early fifties Eddie Nugawela as Minister of Education extended this to secondary school too through a gazette notification, not a law. The only contribution of the SLFP to stopping English as a medium of education was when science stream studies were also converted into mother tongue from 1964 onward. Thus, whereas from the early fifties most children did their Ordinary Level examination in Sinhala or Tamil, from 1965 this was also the case with science stream students. Given that very few schools offered science at ordinary level in those days, this was an egalitarian move, though it would obviously have been better had the government equalized upward by making English medium available in more schools, rather than equalizing downward, an endemic disease of this country.

It took an SLFP led government to extend opportunities for English medium, though I can claim credit for this by persuading Tara de Mel to start this islandwide, and then fulfilling her request to take charge of the programme. I did so only part time since I was at the same time coordinating the new degree programme of the Sri Lanka Military Academy while acting as Dean of my Faculty at Sabaragamuwa University. But Tara obviously agreed with the view of the students of the Faculty when they came en masse asking me to take up the position of Dean, which I had resigned from some years earlier, that even a part of my time was worth more than full time work by anyone else.

Shyamon Jayasinghe, so enthusiastic about English medium, does not ask why Jayewardene did not reintroduce it along with the open economy in 1977. And he totally ignores Ranil’s efforts when he was Prime Minister to sabotage English medium, telling Karunasena Kodituwakku (who proved a tower of strength in this regard) that he should stop it. His mother – whose property another Ranil acolyte accuses me of weaseling out of her, obviously not understanding the limits of Wijewardene wealth – used, my father told me, to complain that I was obsessed with English medium whereas both Ranil and I, who had studied in Sinhala medium, had excellent English.

Her assumption that all others straitjacketed in Sinhala or Tamil medium could achieve the same, whatever their family background, was symptomatic of a utterly insensitive aristocracy. Worse, she had forgotten how her youngest son could barely function in English, and only achieved fluency when his father sent him to England to study printing so that he could take over his father’s firm. That son Channa was over the moon that his son, a delightful youngster now, was selected for English medium at Royal College in 2003, but then six months later began belabouring me to tell his brother that English medium was collapsing.

That had happened because Ranil had stopped Kodituwakku from extending my contract. Kodituwakku had hastened to assure me, when explaining why the extension he had requested had been denied, that it was nothing personal, but that Ranil had said he should get someone fulltime. But even the Cabinet Secretary Mr Weragoda smiled wryly when giving me this excuse, and admitted that, after my contract expired, they had not bothered to find anyone to replace me fulltime.

So, hearing from elsewhere too how the programme was suffering, I succumbed on October 2nd 2003 when Channa pleaded with me yet again, obviously unwilling to speak to Ranil himself. But when I spoke to Ranil, he told me that he had told Karunasena not to start, and he would now have to stop. When I asked him whether he was opposed to English medium, he said no, but he had no time to attend to this himself, since he was concentrating on the economy. He claimed that no one else was capable of doing it, except possibly for his first Permanent Secretary at Education, Eric de Silva, but he had refused to take on any position.

Why then he got rid of me, when obviously I had been doing a good job, was not something I thought to ask him. But I did ask Tara to arrange for me to speak to Chandrika, and after a long rambling but delightful conversation, she promised to act and indeed convened a meeting on education at President’s house. The consensus in favour of English medium, including Cabinet Ministers, I think overwhelmed Ranil, and English medium was saved, to be made better functional after Ranil lost the 2004 election.

Sometimes I think Ranil’s opposition to English medium springs from his adulation of J R Jayewardene, though I should note that in some respects he has thrown Jayewardene’s less full-blooded approach to capitalism to the winds. In that regard I find Jayasinghe’s account simplistic. His headlong attack on socialism is understandable, and one cannot expect him to make allowance for the need to promote equity, though certainly there was much mismanagement and cronyism in state institutions meant to serve the people, instead serving politicians. But he fails to explain why his hero Jayewardene in 1977, when introducing an open economy, kept so much in state hands and further entrenched cronyism.

Jayasinghe criticizes Jayewardene for entrenching socialism by renaming us the Democratic Socialism republic, but fails to assess why he instead extended cronyism also to the private sector, with his daughter in law for instance and his Secretary’s son getting lucrative contracts. In that regard Ranil has gone even further. Arjuna Mahendran as Governor of the Central Bank, kept on despite obvious misdemeanours, Aruni Wijewardene as High Commissioner in London, Suren Ratwatte as CEO of Sri Lankan Airlines, are all examples of friends and relations in high places that require professional input and cutting edge capacity.

Jayasinghe is incapable of, or unwilling, to look into these matters. But in presenting half truths, he helps us to understand the extent of sanctimonious hypocrisy in an elite that still thinks the UNP the only acceptable party of governance. His article concludes with an attack on President Sirisena, for accepting crossovers, which Jayasinghe declares celebrates ‘opportunism, incompetence and an implied element of promised corruption’.

He has evidently forgotten Ranil’s own claim that he had to discuss what Rauff Hakeem wanted to cross over, way back in December 2015. He has forgotten the bribery that Nahil Wijesuriya has laid bare in late 2001, the Rs 60 million Ravi arranged for to bring down Chandrika’s government. He has forgotted the appointment to Parliament of Sarath Fonseka though he was not a UNP candidate at the 2015 election. He has forgotten the appointment to a vital Ministry, following in Basil Rajapaksa’s footsteps, of Rishard Bathiudeen.

But all this is part of UNP history. Shyamon Jayasinghe, who claims to have worked for the election of one of Mr Bandaranaike’s MPs, cannot be ignorant of the way in which Mrs Bandaranaike’s government was brought down in 1964. And he should also remember the way in which Dudley Senanayake’s efforts to solve the national problem were stymied by that section of the UNP which Ranil adulates, Cyril Mathew and D B Wijetunge and, lurking behind them, J R Jayewardene.

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Latest comments

  • 10
    5

    Who signed Indo-Lanka accord?

    Who signed 13, 13A?

    Who gave citizenships to 650,000+ estate Tamils who were prepared to go to Tamil Nadu under Sirima-Shastri Pact?

    Who turned a blind eye to LTTE?

    Who gave one third of the country on a plate to Prabhakaran?

    Who sent 600+ policemen to LTTE bullets?

    Who sent millennium city intelligent officers to be butchered by LTTE?

    UNP

    Yet some stupid Sinhalese keep on supporting these traitors because they have the ‘kepuwath kola’ mentality.

    • 6
      2

      Eagle eye,

      I would like to add my two cents also.

      Who gave weapons to LTTE?
      Who betrayed the LRRP team in Athurugiriya?
      Who halted the execution order on Prabha back in 2001 for LRRP?
      Who signed the Norway backed cease fire aggrement?
      Who ridiculed the war effort in 4th Eelam war just to see the army fail again?

      The “kapuwath kola” mentality is actually a slave mentality which originated back in colonial times. These people cannot shed their serfdom even in the 21st century. They still believe that white man is good and his policies are god sent.

      • 3
        2

        Shenali

        “Who gave weapons to LTTE?”

        Hindia, and Premadasa gave them weapons, then of course KP the mule (who is free to roam around the island) bought the LTTE some weapons, and LTTE collected the rest from armed forces when they ran away from theater of war and hidden behind their women folks, or some entrepreneurial members of armed forces sold them whatever and whenever it was possible to smuggle from the camp/warehouse.

        Well rest of your typing does not warrant response as its already been adequately dealt with several times in the past.

        Where is nuisance?

        • 5
          1

          Veddha,

          India supplied weapons to every type of Tamil terrorist organization. I don’t find that India specifically provide LTTE with weapons. Infact LTTE wasn’t even India’s chosen pets.

          Premadasa did give weapons. But it was during the time UNP government. We talk about UNP not about Premadasa specifically.

          I don’t know where did our army ran away and hid behind women folk? It was simply a manipulation of facts.

          • 3
            4

            “Who gave weapons to LTTE?”

            Hindia, and Premadasa gave them weapons, then of course KP the mule (who is free to roam around the island) bought the LTTE some weapons, and LTTE collected the rest from armed forces when they ran away from theater of war and hidden behind their women folks, or some entrepreneurial members of armed forces sold them whatever and whenever it was possible to smuggle from the camp/warehouse.

            I can’t confirm whether LTTE bought any weapons with Dr Mahinda’s bribe.

    • 4
      2

      Rajiva Wijesinha,

      Simply put, you are on a futile mission ………….. for the simple reason ye are no better than the people you are criticizing. …….. Guilty of the good ol’ irrational-partiality! …………Crooks who were in bed with the exemplary Rajapakses criticizing the other crooks who are in bed with Ranil/UNP ………settle your quarrels in private …………don’t spoil us plebs’ brand new year……………….

      50% agrees – depends on the tint of the glasses ye are wearing – that the UNP is crap ……….and the other 50% agrees that the SLFP is crap……………

      They are both right if the past 70 years of UNP/SLFP governance is any indication …………. So, what else is new? why waste precious time on the bleeding bloody obvious?

      Now, let me go and celebrate the New Year …….and my good fortune that I don’t have to live in the dump ………….buddy, it’s the pits. ……. But you, Dayan, ….. and who-ever-else ……….have to live in it; gotta sleep in the bed you’ve made!

      Just the thought wanna make me pop the good ol’ bubbly………….

    • 0
      1

      Well said.[edited out] JR sabotaged Banda-Chelva pact. Banda was weak no doubt; but it was JR who sabotaged it.

  • 12
    4

    Shyamon and Vishwamitra, two peas in a pod!

    Shyamon, why did you move to Australia? Why not now come back since Ranil has made SL into paradise again?

    By the way, do you think Ranil opposes the English medium because he fears students will be more fluent than him one day? He wants to be “top dog”?…

    • 3
      4

      Perriamama

      “By the way, do you think Ranil opposes the English medium because he fears students will be more fluent than him one day?”

      The chances are that by the time students catch up with Ranil, he would have long been dead and gone.

  • 5
    3

    Man, man, all two leg useless buffaloes, at least the four legged ones are useful for meat, hide and good to plough the field. I for one, even for hundred years not vote for the SLFP. During their rule in the early seventies we were starving, people were eating leaves, barks and yams. Instead of studying in the school, we were cultivating manioc in our school grounds for food Endless queues and ration for every thing, for dry fish, sadine, dhal, milk powder, kerosene smelling clothes, rice and wheat flour with insects, medicines, funeral clothes, bicycle tires etc. People’s entire day from dawn to dusk was spent on waiting in the queues. Paddy and rice not allowed to transport between districts. Only 50 guest for weddings. The 50 and 100 rupees notes were demonetized and lot of people suffered. My God what a time people had. When I first left for abroad, no exchange given for the tickets but had to begged prepaid ticket advise from a relation in abroad. No exchange given for the travel expenses, on the way I took some beetle leaves, arecanuts, spices etc sold them in Karachi, and got some money for the expenses. Even after getting a passport which required high government servant to signed a bond, one had to get an exit permit from the police which was valid only for two weeks. So this is the record of your bloody SLFP, still they haven’t learnt any thing, and continuing most of those policies. I’ll ask even my next generations to come, not to vote for them. They totally ruined the country for good. At that time, their pandam karyas the co-operative managers were in big demand and got dowries. Man I could go on but only 300 words allowed.

    • 3
      2

      Nimal forget the past. What do you about the fact that Sri lanka has PM and Ex-finance minister (forget other MPs who got houses and money bags in their houses), that is a world’s first who emptied the banks that they are heading and they talk to the press and smile to the camera without any SHAME. Thailand has send one scammer to 13500 years to jail. Malaysia wants to open a new budget airlines which will have 24 air planes in 5 years. Sri lanka can not run less than 24 planes profitably. Ranil has active businessmen to that and his friends and henchmen. Ranil is silent.

  • 2
    0

    “in Sri Lanka there were ‘two different nations; one nation learning Sinhalese and Tamil and speaking in Sinhalese and Tamil, and the other speaking and learning English.’”

    How true! …………….. if the medium of instruction was English, it gives/gave some with less intelligence/ability but with greater English language skills an unfair advantage ………… Rajiva, Dayan, ……….. and who-ever-else-is-honest ……..stand up and take a bow.

    Teaching – especially science – in one’s vernacular language has nullified the unfair advantage ………… wanna some world-wide Lankan examples, eh?

    Why do people always get bogged down in “conventional wisdom” and fail to see beyond ………….. How many times should a man look up before he sees the sky?


    Now, I better go and shutter up my glass house before the stones start flying ……………………

  • 4
    1

    Yes Rajiva. ‘Apologist’ is a new line of profession.
    Those who apologises on behalf of MR/GR lot are in fact looking for better jobs or dreaming of the perks etc. etc. .
    The ‘other’ apologists are usually retired and comfy.

  • 3
    3

    Forget everything in the past. Just consider the present. After the first bond scam, they did not allow the COPE report to be published. Instead, got the govt dissolved and continued the scam twice after the general election. Ravi the LIAR or the cabinet changed the foreign Exchange control act and they made them selves acquitted because now the laws are different. Under the new act, even if they bring money undeclared (who will open the suitcase of a cabinet minister) ministers have to pay only 1.0%. Then what about the FCID . It was a farce. They talk about 79 files but nothing happened. Just president and the PM passes remarks about inaction. that is all. How about Orumittha nadu. It is just forgotten now. I herd, sumanthiran was given a house in rosmid Place for a meagre rent even though he has another house in colombo. Sri lankan airlines is a mess with all the Ranil appointed management some of whom are doing business and not their jobs. Pilots are fighting the CEO who is also a pilot. Airlines is losing money everyday. Banks and Employee funds lost billions. Some left the country and there was no one to take the passport or to arrest them. Ranil is issuing press releases for the new year and talk about GOOD GOVERNANCE and political changes. It is game which involves president and Prime minister. All the other UNP rats are silent probably they are scared of something but less likely by the law enforcement. They may study it until the elections are over after that neglected or report missing. Voters are stuck.

  • 4
    2

    Mr. Wijesinha,

    Since you and DJ are known to take more positions than there are in the Kama Sutra, even where you are right about the UNP and Ranil on issues like their past role in catalyzing communal riots against Tamils, you sound hollow.

    It was you who became an apologist for the Rajapaksa regime during and the immediate aftermath of the war in the Vanni, even saying something outrageously offensive to the victims about the military’s sexual harassment of women in the Menik Farm internment camps.

    And it is well known that you and Ranil have had some sort of a cousin feud.

    I think Shyamon indeed shows a certain partiality to the UNP and Ranil; but outside that weakness, he has been very rational and humane in his writings, unlike you and DJ.

  • 1
    0

    What ever it is Ranil and the gang of other bank robbers do not seem to be arrested, quit politics or step down. What a way to govern Sri lanka. Instead issue new year news releases valuing the importance of GOOD GOVERNENCE. I think, Sri lankan newspapers are not informing the public and keep them in the dark because santhosams they get from the govt.

  • 2
    1

    Have you ever heard of a more boastful pair of twins than this Rajiwa and Dayan J??

    See here in this article ‘…when I had been obviously doing a good job.’!!

    Who says that you were doing a good job, Mr Prof? The educators at Sabaragamuwa and those on the Council say the opposite! That you messed everything up because you are – frankly – eccentric and have no idea of practicalities!

    Painful.

  • 1
    3

    What happened to Rajiv’s Liberal Party joke? It became an adjunct to Rajapakse’s corrupt decade. Shyamon is right in exposing MR corruption. He is right in showing the growing stupidity of Sirisena. Rajiv you didn not utter a single word when SF was chained and dragged away to prison by a bogus case. You said nothing when Lasantha, man of your elite class but an honourable one had been murdered. You are a fool among educated men like your budy Professor GL

  • 0
    0

    Prof Wijesinha, Spot on. [Edited out]

  • 0
    0

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  • 0
    0

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  • 1
    0

    We didn’t get much of a English education at Royal. We had some great teachers in the Junior School and I managed to write and read well. I was even able to read Churchill’s war memoirs as a kid with the help of a Dictionary. But as you point out, neither I nor Channa were exposed to good conversational English and we basically all used a mixed version of both languages. The top English teachers in the higher grades like Late A.N Perera(son served in the Army), DDR were replaced by Govt. Teaching school English teachers in Grades 10 through 12. Sad results. I too did not have confidence in my spoken English until I left Sri Lanka. I always thought of this because we never had the confidence we needed to speak in English in family circles where everyone spoke English but we were the first generation of the disastrous failed Sinhala Only policies.

    As for Dr. Karunasena Kodituwakku. I had a lot of respect for him. He definitely was interested in education in English at USJ. By 2nd year Science majors had a mixture of lectures in Sinhala and English and by the third year, senior classes were in English. It was challenging but I think it was the right thing to do at that time. Not sure what role Hon PM played but I think he was the minister of Education so perhaps he was responsible too?

  • 0
    0

    Not only apologists for the UNP but also those for the SLFP the JO and the rest of the aspirants for parliamentary political power are a pitiful lot. That applies to the author as well.
    We have changed regimes many times over since independence. has any government lived up to expectations?
    Apologists for one regime or another cannot come to terms with the reality that they have backed the wrong horse, not realizing that all the horses in the race are wrong horses to deliver the goods for the people.

    • 0
      0

      SJ

      “We have changed regimes many times over since independence. has any government lived up to expectations?”

      Certainly governments during 1956 – 1960, 1960 – 1965, 1970 -1977, and 1994 – 2000 not only did live up to expectations exceeded expectations.

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