18 October, 2017

A Presidency Under Threat – Information Gaps

By Rajiva Wijesinha

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

In my student days I had a great friend who simplified Wittgenstein into the theory that people simply created their own mythology. That was a satirical idea, used about the more obsessive amongst us, but I fear it is the most suitable image for what is now happening in government. And the saddest aspect of such personal mythologies is that those who create them begin to believe them, and become enthralled by their own vision of the world, even if it has no connection with reality.

This phenomenon seems to lie behind some of the confusion that has beset the country in the last few weeks. And it is compounded by what seems the sheer ignorance of government about the information revolution that has taken place in recent times. A simple understanding of the world, as it actually is, would have prevented the efforts to give a positive spin to the President’s meetings with other leaders, while he was in New York. But there were immensely optimistic pronouncements, which came an absolute cropper. This was not only because of the immediate response of the American Government, but also because several news outlets that Sri Lankans read with ease today cited that response.

Mahinda ShavendraThe manner in which the Americans corrected the spin ‘government sources’ had tried to put on the meeting the President had with John Kerry was pretty shaming. Their spokesman said, about the report that had appeared in a Sri Lankan paper, to the effect that the American position was softening, that ‘The only thing that was right was that the Secretary did speak with the Sri Lankan President on the margins of the UN General Assembly. He did so with the express purpose of conveying that US policy with regard to Sri Lanka has not changed’. In effect, she made it clear that the report had got everything else wrong, so that she was able to assert clearly the opposition of the American Government to what is going on in Sri Lanka. Had we not tried to lie about that, it would not have become known so widely.

A further reflection on what can only be described as the idiocy of those who are interpreting what goes on internationally is that we have been here before. I remember being confidently assured by someone in the Ministry of External Affairs early in 2013 that the Americans were softening, and that there would be no resolution about us in Geneva that year. But even an idiot reading what the Americans were saying would have realized that they were not happy.

It is sad to think that those who are now running our foreign policy and advising the poor President are worse than idiots. But it would be sadder to think that they are deliberately misleading him, so that they can fulfil their own nefarious agendas. But that seems to be the truth. Given how clever they have been in getting rid of anyone sensible who might have brought some sense into our actions, one has to conclude that they are not really idiots, but instead devilishly clever.

Certainly to have bamboozled someone I had thought of as one of the shrewdest political minds in the business shows great skill. And what is worse is that they have actually persuaded him to deploy all his own skills to fulfil their own agendas. The efforts to black out the story of what happened in New York might indeed have succeeded, given the persuasive powers of the President, were it not for the immense power now of social media. But the way in which that works, the fact that one cannot limit access to websites, the immense ease with which a story spreads if just a few people with social media capacity and skills are determined to get their message across, all seem to be unknown in the corridors of power in Sri Lanka.

And of course, once a story breaks, no one can afford to keep quiet about it. This may not be entirely true in Sri Lanka but, despite the determination of the State media to suppress anything that does not conform to the vision they are propagating, we now have enough and more outlets that will keep the people informed.

So it is astonishing that the President does not seem to understand this. His anger when the story he had tried to suppress broke, and he found out that it would overshadow his visit to the Pope, indicates a mind that is no longer in touch with reality. This is contrary to the hope of one of the few sensible people still in close contact with the President who had hoped, since he had ‘my ears to the ground; in every district, little groups have been talking to me’ that there could be some sort of a reality check. But he too seems to have been overborne by those he described in nothing that ‘Not many speak the truth today and all I hear are blatant lies.’

The tragedy about this excessive myopia is that a man who achieved so much in 2009, who was practically worshipped by a majority of people in this country, is going to risk not just his political future, but his whole legacy, on a mythical assumption that he must have a Presidential Election immediately, so as to secure an even brighter future for the oligarchy, or kleptocracy, or whatever one might call it that now surrounds him. If however, he stopped to think, instead of being dragooned into exhausting himself again, as being the only selling point the government has, he would realize that he has time to engage in reforms that might actually convince a clear majority to vote for him again.

As it is, everyone else who cares about the country and the party has seen the writing on the wall, they have seen the polls that indicate that even now it would be touch and go as to whether Mahinda Rajapaksa will win a clear majority. The Left parties have put the case eloquently, and publicly, and senior figures in the SLFP, who are sick and tired of being bullied into endless electioneering by a Minister of Economic Development who has used his position to bestow massive funds upon his favourites, have also voiced their objections.

Of course, in one sense it may be understandable that the President wants to run for election immediately. This is because he has realized that he no longer has control over the forces in his entourage who are determined to further erode support for him in the country. Though he claims that the BBS is funded by foreigners, part of the conspiracy he believes is in train to topple him, he has no answer to the question as to why the Secretary of Defence then falls into the traps these conspirators are preparing. Perhaps he does not want to think about the answer to that question, knowing that he no longer has the ability to take a stand in favour of the values he had so successfully asserted at the time he won the war.

That may seem a generous explanation, but I still cannot believe, a charge that is flung in my face now, that the President was lying when he put forward a pluralistic vision in 2009, with a commitment to resettle the displaced. I cannot believe that he lied deliberately when he agreed on certain policy lines with the Indian Government, nor that he was crossing his fingers behind his back when he signed the joint communique with the Secretary General of the United Nations.

Rather, the situation has changed, and with it the upright figure of the first term in office, who listened to other points of view, has been altered beyond belief by those who have used him for their own purposes. That some of these are those closest to him by blood is something he realizes, and in one case at least he made a sensible replacement in selecting one of our ablest professionals to be Sri Lanka’s Ambassador in Washington. But even that appointment is in jeopardy now, with authority given to the egregious Monitoring Member to over-ride him. This was indeed made clear, graphically and shamelessly, to the Americans, with a vivid description of the luxury apartment hired for the purpose.

It is said that the fact that some people are paranoid does not mean they do not have enemies. Indeed one must recognize that President Rajapaksa has had to deal with many enemies with double standards and a readiness to stoop low to bring him down. But what has now become increasingly clear is that, with friends such as those who surround him, the Seven Dwarfs of legend, he needs no enemies.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    0

    He seems so preoccupied with micro-managing things. He does not want to reform the system either. JHU has taken the correct stance.

    • 2
      1

      All most all the commentators are against RW and his writings , yes it’s true he had lied before the international main stream media and tried to protect MR temporarily and still continues ,but think carefully , this is a very clever method which DJ,Tamara, Dr CN and RW have adopted to expose MR’s inner circle endless blunders ,there is no way, any one can directly accuse MR and stays in his government , is there any other mechanism where one can expose MR’s inner circle than this strategy ? i reckon all of them are doing a splendid job here , think if RW were to directly accuse MR , he wouldn’t live another day to see the sun rise , say he resigns from his MP post and start attacking MR and his government , not many people would take much notice after a while as he would be in opposition , examples Hemakumara Nanyakkrara, Wijedasa Rajapakse ,Arjuna Ranatunga etc , where are they today ? , it’s customary and expected opposition parties to attack MR dawn to dusk , after a while it will be just another opposition attack and that’s it , but under the current circumstances Rajiv’s criticism carries a lot of weight and credibility than a mere opposition MP’s criticism ,same thing applies for Rathana Thero and Patali champika , their opposition is much more stronger than our permanent opposition leader’s lukewarm reactions , Rathana thero and Patali must remain in the government and lead by example , at least their brave stand against MR will be a wake up call for the other sleeping beauties.

  • 17
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    I fear it is the most suitable image for what is now happening in government. And the saddest aspect of such personal mythologies is that those who create them begin to believe them, and become enthralled by their own vision of the world, even if it has no connection with reality.

    Only yesterday I told something along these lines to YOU and Dayan, and I quote:
    “I have heard people in power lose their sense of reality, Dayan and Rajiva have spent so much time praising one another they start believing it”

    I think what you have written applies more to you.

    Why this continuous attack on the FM by you and Dayan (Dayan going for it in a local paper)? Is Dayan really making a go at trying for the ministry?

    It is indeed sad and pathetic that the truth had to hit close to home before you three (Tamara included) woke up this reality. Remind’s me of Martin Niemöller’s poem…

  • 9
    0

    Your are right to the dot here Prof.

    This president is messed up everything on the table. Likewise, he over-estimated his political prowess utterly wrong too. He tried to play a game of Alibaba and Forty Thieves as the theory to govern. But the end result of this pantomime has turn out to be Forty Thieves and A Punchibaba. I assert this as a person who wanted to save him from falling into this honey coated trap with my proposal to him on 01/01/12 morning at TT. Democracy does not allow this. He just laughed me off!

    However barely 3yrs after that, what is happening to MR today is a very good lesson to be learnt by those who are aiming to come to politics. No leader will survive or will have a peace of mind, if they make the country’s people sad by injustice, robberies, mistreating them. Literally, such people will live a life in hell in every minute are alive.

  • 3
    1

    Whoever initiated the nonsense about the ‘softening American stance’ not only annoyed the Americans, and led them swiftly to correct that view, but also made Sri Lanka the laughing stock (again!) in the international community. Par for the course, given that for some years now the international community have looked askance at anything coming out of the SL Government and its many ministers/diplomats/spokesmen/’mouthpieces’.

  • 5
    1

    Now this PHD for hire sang the tune of MR when he paid for his foreign trips to lie for MR

    now that MR is not willing to send him on foreign field trips now he is changing his tune

    This is what is wrong with this country even Educated people can be bought not just the village idiots.

    Don’t know how many educated people have sold their country (including DR Nonis) just to get a few months in government paid holidays and trips
    can understand uneducated rats like the Silvas doing it but people who are educated and have other options like working for these perks just rather kiss A** to get them

  • 4
    2

    “This may not be entirely true in Sri Lanka but, despite the determination of the State media to suppress anything that does not conform to the vision they are propagating”

    What the State media is biased jeez weez has anybody else figured this out yet thank god for educated people like the prof. to point things to us understand or I would have never figured it out

    So while you were singing the governments tune was the state media fai BTW

  • 9
    2

    Rajiva,

    When the Tamil people were discarded and spat upon by this government you went about defending this government and its actions to the hilt. Dayan did the same. Today you and Dayan have been discarded like the Tamil people and you want us Sri Lankans to believe and support what you say? No sooner MR appoints both of you to the foreign service you will change sides in a flash. integrity has no place in this country.

    • 2
      3

      You mean, tamil discarded the government?
      They did that, (i.e, discarded the govt) in 1949 with their Arasu manifesto.
      They did that in 1976 with their Vaddukkodai manifesto.
      They did that when the Tamil leaders refused to accept the plan (13 A etc) proposed by Raeev Ghandhi and even fought the IPKF.
      They did that everyday with Prabhakaran’s acts, and pronouncements every Maaavir day.
      They did that when they destroyed the CFA with assassinations of kadirgamar and thousands of CFA-infractions.
      They discarded the government and its proposals when they discarded the Oslo agreement for Fderalism.
      More recently, when Wiggie refused accept MRs invitation to attend the investiture of Narendra Modi, they discarded the govt, and a great opportunity for three-head tête-à-têteste.
      More recently, Wigggie and the tamils discarded the government by even refusing to get on the Yaal Devi.

      The Tamils will always miss the boat, or the Train, as long as they are led by the rich Colombo tamils who have every thing, and so only want the crown (ARASU).

  • 7
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    dear prof rajive, essence of your essay can be summed up “president was messed up by the people around him, and president is sinless, god-like man”

  • 8
    1

    The Professor may well be right about the poor advice the President may be getting from those around him and those whose job is to provide him with good counsel. But one thing that I cannot understand is how the Professor – like others – seems to want to ‘quarantine’ the President from any blame or criticism for this state of affairs. They seem to all make out that the President is misled/ill-advised/let down/misinformed, and so on, and that he himself, the ‘poor fellow’ is the ‘honda miniha’ and free of any blame. I am afraid I cannot accept that.

    It is the President’s responsibility to ensure that he has the right people to advise him. If he has chosen the wrong ones, or permits the wrong people to be in those roles, that reflects on the quality of his judgement. And let us remember, he cannot merely take the credit for the good news stories, he has also to take the flak when things go awry. As President Truman so eloquently noted on the sign on his desk, ‘The buck stops here’. In the final analysis, by the time things reach the President, the blame game has to stop.

    • 0
      0

      “But one thing that I cannot understand is how the Professor – like others – seems to want to ‘quarantine’ the President from any blame or criticism for this state of affairs.”

      Rajiva Wijesinha, Dayan Jeyathilake are the one or two of the few peoples who know what type of the consultation The King keep with him.

      As soon as a customer who received a wrong product calls the company, the shipping clerk who shipped the wrong produced would pick up the phone and defend the company with his a long lecture of the commendable past of his company. He never reveal that he was one shipped the wrong product. Some time he would add a word like this, ” I saw all the the wrong one was being packed, but before I stop the man, he had put it in the mail box”

  • 5
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    Oh Professor Professor, thou art indeed a Professor for it seems you are a perfect fit for the role as defined by two people you must have heard of: H. L. Mencken who said, “A professor must have a theory as a dog must have fleas,” and W. H. Auden who said, “A professor is someone who talks in someone else’s sleep.”
    To use a another metaphor, you ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ dear Professor. Let me elaborate.
    Firstly, the PRESIDENT (the individual) is under threat, not the PRESIDENCY (the Institution), unless you are referring to the mere words being uttered by various folks about abolishing the Presidential System of Government. But hey, we’ve been there, NOT done that. CBK and MR both promised to do just that, and in writing mind you, when neither of them had any intention whatsoever of keeping their promises. It was merely an expedient lie to win over the support of, amongst others, the ever gullible and foolhardy JVP.
    Secondly, dear Professor, you are being kind, (the unkind would say you are being blind, not kind) when you say you say you cannot believe that Machiavelli was lying. To use your own phrase, this belief has ‘no connection with reality’.
    Thirdly, you fail to mention the devastation caused to Sri Lanka when propaganda tailored or cooked for the local village idiots’ consumption is used by the PRESIDENCY to deal with the international community, i.e. the UN, UNHRC, USA, UK, EU et al. I say devastation for Sri Lanka because of the unilateral sanctions by the US, UK, and EU which will follow the final UNHRC report in March 2015. There are two elements at play here: The fact that people who constantly propagate false propaganda eventually begin to believe their own propaganda as happened to Goebbels, and the fact that the old ‘Emperor has no Clothes’ story still holds true, where dictators do away with anyone who contradicts them, and in due course are surrounded only by ‘yes-men’ and sycophants. In every case, megalomania surrounded by sycophancy has gone before the fall; and throughout mankind’s history, every dictatorship has fallen, and spectacularly fallen.

  • 4
    0

    Oh Professor Professor, thou art indeed a Professor for it seems you are a perfect fit for the role as defined by two people you must have heard of: H. L. Mencken who said, “A professor must have a theory as a dog must have fleas,” and W. H. Auden who said, “A professor is someone who talks in someone else’s sleep.”

    To use a another metaphor, you ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ dear Professor. Let me elaborate.

    Firstly, the PRESIDENT (the individual) is under threat, not the PRESIDENCY (the Institution), unless you are referring to the mere words being uttered by various folks about abolishing the Presidential System of Government. But hey, we’ve been there, NOT done that. CBK and MR both promised to do just that, and in writing mind you, when neither of them had any intention whatsoever of keeping their promises. It was merely an expedient lie to win over the support of, amongst others, the ever gullible and foolhardy JVP.

    Secondly, dear Professor, you are being kind, (the unkind would say you are being blind, not kind) when you say you say you cannot believe that Machiavelli was lying. To use your own phrase, this belief has ‘no connection with reality’.

    Thirdly, you fail to mention the devastation caused to Sri Lanka when propaganda tailored or cooked for the local village idiots’ consumption is used by the PRESIDENCY to deal with the international community, i.e. the UN, UNHRC, USA, UK, EU et al. I say devastation for Sri Lanka because of the unilateral sanctions by the US, UK, and EU which will follow the final UNHRC report in March 2015. There are two elements at play here: The fact that people who constantly propagate false propaganda eventually begin to believe their own propaganda as happened to Goebbels, and the fact that the old ‘Emperor has no Clothes’ story still holds true, where dictators do away with anyone who contradicts them, and in due course are surrounded only by ‘yes-men’ and sycophants. In every case, megalomania surrounded by sycophancy has gone before the fall; and throughout mankind’s history, every dictatorship has fallen, and spectacularly fallen.

  • 3
    1

    Prof.Rajiv,

    Your articles are always sucking up to the President. You carefully avoid casting blame on the President. Either you are fearful of him or sucking up to him. Which one is it? Please elaborate.

  • 3
    0

    Rajiva
    How about an article about King Mahinda suggesting that “the buck stops with him”?

    Why are you pussy-footing around him, blaming everyone else for his sinking hopes when the King himself is spoken of by you as the archetypical and consummate politician who can charm the knickers off a whore and a lot more?

    Why can you not write about the King needing to do the right thing by the citizens of this fair country and put a stop to those sick slime-balls who he surrounds himself with, who think the country and its resources are there for their taking? Why can you not write that the King should acting like a goat and start taking responsibility for good governance? Why cannot you ask hard questions of the king to explain all the (mostly) sadly true stories about the amassing of wealth by his brothers, relatives, in-laws, hangers on and novo rich cronies, including how they got the money to purchase all those properties on the East coast, the former Australian High Commission, the Marriott Hotel in Dubai, those fancy Lamborghinis and much, much more? Why don’t you ask him why he need an entourage of 70+ to take with him to the UNGA sessions and worse, stay at the Waldorf Astoria, the plushest of hotels in NYC?

    You also say: “The efforts to black out the story of what happened in New York might indeed have succeeded, given the persuasive powers of the President, were it not for the immense power now of social media. But the way in which that works, the fact that one cannot limit access to websites, the immense ease with which a story spreads if just a few people with social media capacity and skills are determined to get their message across, all seem to be unknown in the corridors of power in Sri Lanka”

    Why pray do you imply that it is OK for the King to ‘black out a story’ of national interest which exposes one of his thugs (I won’t say pimp because I have no evidence) who assaults the HC in the UK (never mind that the young doc now probably repents for his actions in defending the regime at CHOGM time). Why do you seem to lament that shameful and unlawful acts such as blocking of mainstream news media did not succeed because of the power of social media that fast outs with the truth?

    Finally, Rajiva, why don’t you now join forces with the combined army of forces that are gathering to vanquish this scumbag regime for all time? You can tread the moral high ground and unlike traditional politiccas in Lanka, ask not for your pound of flesh for your services towards creating much-needed change in this thrice blessed land. Asking too much Rajiva? Hope not.

  • 3
    0

    Both Rajiv and Dayan who actually do not know where they are presently ride in the same boat. Tey are guys who lost golden opportunities by being a little naughty and haughty once in a way and now regret perhaps too late. It is true we could never have a President so charismatic,fearlessly anti and pro Western and never ever will
    bow to the vicious wishes of the rusty rumps of Tamil terrorists.Can he contest. Yes.Can he win. NO. despite there is none to VOTE FOR.

  • 1
    0

    ” He Lied ” to all n sunry that there will be an honorable solution to our long standing domestic issue. Now he is bn asked to deliver while his political partners threaten to destroy him.

    Nonis, DJ, Rajiva all LIED. Too bad they have been discarded like a ” karapincha ” leaf.

  • 1
    1

    Shameless!

    Resign from your MP post if you have any dignity.

  • 2
    1

    Dont you worry Prof. Your President is doing just fine because the Yakkos dont care what the Yanks think as long as they can send thier women to the middle east to earn some $

  • 2
    0

    “It is sad to think that those who are now running our foreign policy and advising the poor President are worse than idiots.”

    ‘Sour grapes’. Poor President, my foot.

  • 2
    1

    Who is the liar? Is it Mahinda? Is it Gota? no,
    The real liars are: Rajiv and Dayan.

    The truth is Mahinda played the game with full knowledge and he knows that he ordered the massacre of Tamils. Gota carried out the massacre and these pundits noded their heads.
    They think that Mahinda is a fool?

  • 3
    0

    “A Presidency under Threat”
    During the period this President has been in power he has made Sri Lanka the laughing stock of the world. It’s time for him to go in the best interest of the people of Sri Lanka. He and his minions have brought the country to such a low level that we cannot see how anybody can undo the damage and. bring the country back to its former glory.

  • 5
    0

    Prof. Rajiv,

    Why do you praise a President who cannot listen to good advice? If a President is that dumb, we should dump him at the next elections.

  • 3
    0

    Professori
    I stand in awe of your genius as you valiantly try to wriggle out of your cocoon of comfort, push your antennae out to get a whiff of the ground realities as they are today, and wonder which side to take at the impending hustings. During this exercise, you see (and report) a lot of BS happening around King Mahinda, the doer of no wrong, the innocent one, the whiter than white and the only one unsullied by evil.

    Poor King Mahinda….. it bemuses me (by extrapolating your frequent narratives) that he while remaining so innocent, is being sold dummy after dummy by his brothers, relatives, in-laws and cronies.

    Poor King. So many misdeeds have been done in his name – no need to bore you and the other readers with all gory details as plenty of commentators have enlightened us before.

    What a travesty it will be when he is eventually defeated. Mother Lanka will have lost its only truly capable son.

    I fear that the hubris that is rampant today is about to be followed by nemesis of gargantuan proportions, through no fault of the King. What a shame.

    Amen.

  • 0
    5

    One would have thought , the Professor already got a place in the National List of the UNP TNA, Diaspora Troika to become an MP from Colombo.

    Why would he be so worried if the President is on shaky grounds,

    Shouldn’t he be joyful and ecstatic like Keselwatta Kid who joined the Christian Faction recently..

    Keselwatta Kid is going to whip them up and make sure the Dalits vote for his now undisputed Leader and the Common candidate of the Troika.

    Shouldn’t Rajiva also do something like that, instead of making the readers bored shitless by telling them that Kerry’s crowd never tell tell lies..

    Sorry never deliver spin.

    Instead shouldn’t Rajiv focus on good Law and Order practice and Good Governance like the ex LTTE Supporters do nowadays.

    For example our neighbour Malaysian Opposition Leader now faces a new court case for having consensual sex with a male partner.

    This is after doing 5 years RI for Sodomy on his Driving partner.

    Our Opposition Leader and his “Chief Whip” Mangala have done worse things, like betraying the Military Intelligence Officers and denigrating the President and his family on international Web publications.

    Singapore which is our other important neighbour sue their citizens for even calling their Govt leaders liers or cheats and fine them big time, and or even put them behind bars.

    My Elders tell me that one of the Diaspora dudes who is a Singaporean Politician got this rough end of the stick and went bankrupt.

    In contrast , Opposition Leader and his Chief Whip have not only gone scot free but most likely will be the next President and the PM of our beloved motherland.

    What a difference in Srilanka…..

  • 0
    0

    Rajiva most these advisers around President Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya RAJAPAKSA are retired public servants getting paid Rs100,000 plus a vehicle and a mobile phone for official and private use. If they give the correct advice to them they loose their jobs. I worked for the Rajapaksa regime as a Volunteer Consultant and all my expenses for travelling from Australia to Sri Lanka, my accomodation and the cost of my temporary visa to work, as I am not a Sri Lankan residence was born by me. Because I was independent I had a good opportunity to give the best advice and if they refused to act on that advice, I did the. Best to help my country as I was ready to leave within 24 hours.
    But most other need this extra income and they collect it by giving mi-information to President as well as the DS, to keep their job. By the time they come out from this Yes Minister syndrome what can happened to them has taken root and they get the boot. President is mislead by theseVandi Battayas since 2005 November, and a good example is the cost of construction of a 850 sq. ft house for Tri-service was fixed at Rs 1,400 million with a loan on 15.5 PC interest. The person who mislead the President was well rewarded, but the construction cost forced the contractors to abandoned the project.

    As you are a relation and a government MP, why not meet the President and give all these bad news about all around him including Sajin the Bag Boy.

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