13 December, 2019

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A Presidency Under Threat: Alienating The Catholics

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

One of the reasons I still continued to have hopes about Mahinda Rajapaksa was that his instincts have always been sound. This was exemplified when I called him to complain about what the Bodhu Bala Sena had been up to in Aluthgama. Instead of attempting to defend them, as I had feared, he promptly declared that they were involved in a conspiracy to bring his government into disrepute. He claimed that they were funded by the Americans and the Norwegians, and that they were determined to alienate him from the Muslims.

The story seemed to me implausible, even though I knew there was some basis for his allegations. What had been the precursor of the BBS had received funds from the Norwegians, and though I believe the Norwegian government as represented by its regular diplomats in Colombo acts in good faith, I have no similar confidence in Mr Solheim and his acolytes. One of them, who once boasted to me of his acquaintance with Mr Solheim, was Arne Fjiatoff, who had been the godfather of, if not the BBS, its principal lay spokesman Dilanthe Withanage. I have little doubt, given that he has also recently been fishing in troubled waters in Burma, that he had a shrewd inkling of what they were up to.

Mahinda Vatican PopeWith regard to the Americans, we have long known that they will recruit anyone to bring down what they are most worried about at any point, with no concern for possible consequences. At one stage I thought their sublime ignorance was to blame, but there is a certain callousness too, and a confidence in their own strength which leads them not to worry about catastrophes for other people. I find this wicked, and the fact that Americans claim that such behavior is only response to (other) evil empires is no excuse.

Recently, at the Congress of Liberal International in Hong Kong, I voted against a resolution urging immediate action against ISIS, not because I do not acknowledge the danger it represents, but because there was no mention in the text of the American adventurism that had led to the rise of ISIS. Unless that is registered, the world is in grave danger of similar blunders that can lead only to anarchy. I am happy to say that the British Liberal Democrats whom I upbraided agreed with me about the responsibility of the Americans for what had occurred, beginning with the illegal invasion of Iraq. But unlike the Liberals in the days of my youth, who were able to call a spade, the modern generation is wrapped up in trying to achieve a European consensus, and that consensus is swept away by the American penchant for othering – which requires total devotion to the Americans, whether promoting democracy or anarchy.

So I can sympathize with Mahinda Rajapaksa’s paranoia. But that does not excuse the fact that his brother seemed to fall into all the traps that, in his version of events, were being set by the Western conspirators through the Bodhu Bala Sena. I was able to cite statements that suggested that his own more optimistic view of how Gotabhaya had gone to a BBS meeting was erroneous – but I suspect, in the private world into which he has now begun to retreat, he would not have bothered to check on the statement of the BBS that I cited, nor to trace the foreign sympathizer who had suggested drawing Gotabaya in.

The President instead went on to claim that the next step in the conspiracy was to draw him into conflict with the Catholics. It seemed clear that he was conscious now of possible dangers arising from what had earlier seemed a masterstroke, the invitation to the Pope around the time of a possible bid for re-election. But what he could not have anticipated was that a possible catalyst would be his closest confidante, Sajin Vass Gunawardena.

A recent article in a website gave an account of Sajin’s explanation to a friend about what had happened with regard to Chris Nonis. Though the website is I believe one that is opposed to government, the account squares with what I heard from Chris himself. The stress was on Sajin’s anger that Chris seemed to have a close relationship with the President, exemplified by his regular visits to Colombo, which were informed only to the President. This, Chris told me, was in accordance with the agreement he had reached when he decided to accept the post of High Commissioner, which he had earlier said he could not do, primarily because of his need to be in Colombo regularly. That agreement had not however caused problems, until Chris became prominent, because of his work over the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and the manner in which he dealt with the international media, which no one else had been able to do successfully after Dayan Jayatilleka and I were cut out.

After much muttering by G L Pieris – which had led the President to draw attention to his complaints in public – Chris was formally asked for an explanation, to which his answer, after consulting the President, was that the matter had been discussed with him. This was too much for Sajin, who then asked for a meeting, but Chris, being an equable sort, had agreed to Sajin’s suggestion that he should be kept informed of visits. But that too does not seem to have been enough for Sajin, who had made it clear that what he saw as insubordination was what had – in consultation with the Foreign Secretary, he had indicated – prompted the move to get rid of Chris.

But there was another element in his tale which explains how he managed to get the President on board. He mentioned in his tale that he had ridiculed Chris by calling him a Portuguese. What he did not mention was that he had tried to compare Chris to the Portuguese of an earlier period who had been the enemies of Sinhala Buddhists. This, it will be noticed by those who follow the writings of those favoured now by the Defence Ministry and the government press, is a popular theme, extending to efforts to claim that Joseph Vaz was a foreign agent.

The President should ask himself why Sajin too is playing this game. Following the logic of his instincts, he should wonder whether Sajin, or whoever is pulling Sajin’s strings, is not an agent of the Americans or the Norwegians. But instead of thinking for a moment, the President fell straight into the trap, and accepted Chris’s resignation the minute he heard that the insult about the Portuguese had been conveyed to the Cardinal. Instead of wondering why Sajin had said such a thing, he affected to believe that Chris had made it all up, and was also part of the conspiracy to destroy his electoral prospects.

Certainly a Cabinet Minister who was present when he rang up Chris to check on what had transpired between him and the Cardinal told me that he had never heard the President lose his cool to such an extent. The tirade seemed symptomatic of someone in a state of imbalance, which is not unlikely given how easy it now seems to play on his feelings if only the word ‘conspiracy’ is mentioned. But what is astounding, given that the President also tends to cool down quickly and reflect on what has really happened, is that he did not do this in the current situation, and did not bother to wonder as to why Sajin had brought up the matter. Even if it was assumed that Chris is a gentleman and would not talk, this detail gives the lie to the claim that the whole matter was resentment at the independence Chris had shown being exacerbated by alcohol.

I cannot believe though that Sajin is actively planning to bring about the downfall of the President, for he must realize that he would not be considered a great asset to anyone else. The other possible explanation then is that he is working with those who do believe the President must present himself as the representative of a majoritarian outlook, and who therefore believe that alienating all minorities is essential, since otherwise the generally urbane Mahinda Rajapapaksa will see himself as the President of all Sri Lankans, as he has tended to do in the past.

One of the consequences of the last election was that the President felt more beholden to the champions of extremism who had been his most vociferous supporters against Sarath Fonseka. Such individuals may feel that the present election offers the best hope of winning the President over completely, and will therefore support the polarizing campaign of the BBS, whether or not this is supported by shadowy elements from outside the country.

The President should realize that this is a win-win situation for extremists, both those who want to remodel him as their champion, and those who want to get rid of him without worrying about the long-term effects of polarization. But I feel increasingly that the President is past caring. Like Barack Obama, who did not have the strength to break loose from the war mentality that dominates policy making in Washington, Mahinda Rajapaksa too it seems will take the easy way out, and disappoint the hopes of those who voted for him.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    1

    [Alienating The Catholics]
    Malcolm Rangith will do his best to support MR.

    • 0
      0

      Rajiva is right in that Sajin , the high school drop out and Wharf Clerk , gets terribly jittery when some in the realm of foreign affairs gets closer to the President. Sajin claims sole ownership to that turf. K Amunugama, when he was Foreign Secretary ,was consistently kept out of presidential delegation due to his closeness to the President.But his successor Shenuka is always included because Sajin feels safe with her as the President really hates her and only gave her the job on account of a a word put in by by ……you guessed right ,Sajin .Dayan Jayatillke was another such victim.

      This is because of Sajin’s own inadequacies both in terms of lacking personality and very importantly intellectual ability.After all what can you expect from a moron like Sajin who as a rule takes a stiff drink before he speaks.Recall,how Sajin failed to turn up at a meeting he was to preside at( oh dear who chose him?) where Commonwelath Secretary General Sharma was in attendance.Sajin was after a desperate search found utterly drunk by his baggage boy Majintha Jayasinghe of the Ministry.Later Jayasinhe had told this to friend, just as he did when Sajin signed agreements with the US based public relations firms that earned Sajin so many million dollars in commission.Majintha had leaked it to the Sunday Times Editor whom he had come to know when he worked for Mrs.Sughandhi Kadirgamar , again as a virtual baggage boy .Ratnatunga and she were very close friends.

      But the question is why does the President still keep Sajin? The answer my friend Rajiva is blowing in the wind!!! Now will Sajin be sacked for what Rajiva has pointed out are clearly designed attempts by Sajin to ruin the President ?.On that too , the answer my friend Rajiva is blowing in the wind!!!

  • 2
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    When you see Gnansara with his foul mouth still goes in front of media, cruising the streets with his entrougé and defence Ministry covoy and enjoy all kind of immunity from murder of innocent civilians to insult the law enforcement agencies will NOT believe Rajiv’s statement- ”They were involved in a conspiracy to bring his government into disrepute”.

    No,no, it’s with the fullest blessing of MaRa and GoRa carnage of fear unleashed by Gnansara and BBS or otherwise this moran will be behind bars by this time.

  • 7
    1

    The establishment took pliant Malcolm Ranjith et al for a jolly good ride. Sinhala Catholics realize they were next. Sinhala Catholics didn’t give a damn when their Tamil Brothers and Sisters were getting hammered. Will the Sinhala Catholics turn the other cheek,as the Bible wants them to do and go to bed with those waiting to sort them out ?

  • 7
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    Why did the Pope change the longstanding practice of not visiting a country just before, during and soon after an election? Did the President offer the Pope something that made the Pope to change the longstanding practice?

    Sri Lanka being a Buddhist country refused visa to Dalailama. Pope as the leader of the Catholic church should have taken note of this and should have not changed the longstanding practice as a respect to another religious leader Dalailama. When religious leaders do not respect each other what can you expect from the civilians!

  • 2
    0

    Rajiva Wijesinha

    Do you why Mahinda Rajapaksa visits Italy, especially Rome frequently? Even he never visited his home town Habantota so frequently!

    You must be knowing the inside story.

    Recently I saw some photographs in one of the websites. Dring his last visit to Rome he was surrended by very young Sri Lankan girls. They were in a distance which can be intepreted…… He must be upto some michive in Italy.

    The time will come and someone will tell us the story.

    Lucky President. Let him enjoy!

    • 3
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      Over to the Catholic First Lady – this has more to do than LTTE Gold!

      • 0
        1

        punchinilame aka Antany Peter and plethora of other pseudo names

        Problem for you what ever you say is not taken seriously because of your past connections to LTTE. And the that you are now recognize as a LTTE sympathizer and a West hater.

  • 2
    1

    Any day, I’d rather be surrounded by pretty, young girls than unattractive older women. So, regarding that, I say ‘Good for you, Mr President’.

    Sunil, are you putting 2 and 2 together and coming up with 5?

    As to what you suggest MR is up to in Rome, I remember some great advice that the late Kenneth Horne once gave, over his weekly radio show on the BBC. He said, ‘When you are in Rome, do as the Romans do – only don’t let your wife find out!’

  • 0
    1

    Defector Professor seems a bit slow here here.

    May be he doesn’t read CT.

    Otherwise how could he miss the ground breaking news that Gnanissara is already in his own camp,

    Transforming the Alliance now to UNP, TNA, Diaspora and BBS. officially.
    .

  • 3
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    It is a bit inaccurate to say that it is no excuse for Americans to claim that such behavior of bringing down others irrespective of catastrophes is only in response to (other) evil empires.

    It is a very good reason that they do so. World, pre-World wars, was a belligerent place leading up to the world wars. America was forced into participation of ending these wars. Post 1958 through the Bretton Woods Conference, America set up a financial and monetary system that has had a great sway over the world, thus preventing a further World war and also other lesser large-scale-wars.

    If this system is disrupted by those desiring narrow dominance away from established status quo, there is going to surely be dire effects on a greater part of the globe. Naturally then, will the Americans and her allied nations want to preserve the autonomy for the greater part of the globe of 4.325 billion persons (7.125 billion of the globe minus 2.8 of the BRICK countries).

    Taking the lesson from Gadhafi’s Libya, we hope Sri Lanka will not make the same blunder, however enticing it may be to development – development which is however misshapen, when taken in a wider and more established context of the current global axiom.

  • 1
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    “Alienating The Catholics”

    Is there anyone that gota and mahinda have not alienated yet? With buffalo hides like that they will cruise on merrily insensitive to the environment until they end up in a train crash like that other one with a buffalo hide VP.

  • 3
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    Catholics awaiting Popes visit eagerly. It is possible Vatican being accurately advised about the elections on 8th just only 5 days prior to his arrival, which is very tricky there could be recounts and delays in the announcement of the results by the election commissioner. It would not be practical for a most important dignatory to visit a country in this instance.

    It would be better to evaluate the practical side and inform Vatican the true picture and cancel his visit. This may dissappoint the catholics but the church could explain to its congregation through their priests.
    Further, using his visit for political purposes would not at all be good……

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