18 April, 2024


A Rabbit Painted On Moon Surface

By Sarath De Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

This is a response to Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka’s critique of Mangala’s Budget. He describes it as a “social war”

Globalization is not global hegemony. It can be so construed by Wimal Weerawansa who has not read a book written in any language other than Sinhala. That is understandable. Some regard globalism with suspicion or absolute aversion due to a perceived threat of cultural oppression. A fear proven wrong by history.   

When Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka adopts that position it is pure political hypocrisy. Globalization is global connectivity. Resisting global connectivity is isolation in the 21st Century.

If some Mahanayake thero claims that the moon has a rabbit painted on it, we can let it be. When a political scientist claims to have seen the rabbit painted on the lunar surface, through a   planetary telescope in Cuba he has lost his marbles or is playing games.    

What the Budget does is to open avenues for universal interconnectedness. Globalism is not a doctrine. It is an ancient process that is now driven by technology. Its politics is determined and dependent on the eye of the beholder. Globalism, is nothing more and nothing less than a world that is today covered with multiple networks of connections that allow us to reach multicontinental distances in seconds. The Spaniards started the business with Sails. The Chinese and Arabs did it on camels and caravans.

The contrived indignation he summons in denouncing the budget, that a more learned economist Dr. W.A Wijewardena has described in these columns as promising and committed, deserves a rebuttal.     

Novelist and Philosopher C.S Lewis in his ‘The Great Divorce” creates a fictional allegory of a man’s experience traveling to another-world place which he takes to be heaven. The man then discovers that it is not at all consistent with his opinion of heaven. That in a nutshell is the predicament of Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka.

As C.S. Lewis observes our opinions are not honestly arrived at. We simply find ourselves saddled with a certain current of ideas. Then we plunge in to them, because it seems modern and successful.

Mangala is talking about linking with global progress. Dr. Jayatlilleka is propounding a tribalism. He describes his tribalism as Sri Lankan exceptionalism. He is right. It is exceptionalism that keeps a tribe together. He talks of property rights. He is guided by Basil Rajapaksa who owns property and disowns property in Malwana and Browns Hill,  Matara. We don’t have to buy it.

Touchscreens, today are integrated into our lives at a speed and pace that is light years away from the speed and pace that integrated the steam driven train in to our lives, when the British introduced it in the 19th century and globalized Ceylon now Sri Lanka.

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka is not an economist. He is a political scientist but a biased one. He is not an independent commentator. He is a backer of Gotabaya Rajapaksa for the 2020 Presidential stakes.

Now, we cannot underrate Gotabaya’s determination to modernize Sri Lanka. The man has class. See what he has done to the lunatic asylum that the British built down Buller’s road now Baudhdhaloka Mawatha. It is today the Arcade and home to’ Kaema Sutra’ owned by Global Star Jacqueline Fernandez and Global Chef Dharshana Munidasa. It is a globally competitive restaurant where you can eat Hoppers and wash it down with chilled Thambili water with lime and pay by credit card.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the first to introduce ‘robotics’ and ‘artificial intelligence’ in to law enforcement. That is why Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and Ranil Wickremesignhe did not act on the Nambuwasam report on the Welikada prison massacre.

Surely, we should understand that ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is not defined in the penal code. ‘Robots’ cannot be prosecuted even if they have exotic names as ‘Betel Leaf Estate’. Keith Noyahr now in Australia will vouch for that.

Don’t be surprised if Satya Nadella of Microsoft comes here looking for the father of ‘artificial intelligence ‘in Sri Lanka. Perhaps, it is this possibility that deters the candidate from turning in his passport with the Great seal of the Eagle on its cover.       

Now let us return to Mangala’s ‘Social War Budget’ and how it has laid ‘Siege on our Social Contract’. 

The claim that R. Premadasa moved an amendment to the Land Reform Act to bring the ceiling down to five acres and that it was not a theatrical gesture is absolute hogwash. Premadasa owned some forty acres in some remote corner in Mahawa which he tended with meticulous care.

In Steinbeck’s Mice and Men, George and Lennie dream of a self-sufficient homestead where they can plant vegetables and raise animals. Born in to a lower middleclass family, city councilor Premadasa shared their dream and obtained an allotment of land from the government in the Mahawa dryzone. If in fact, as President, he claimed that ‘Land is the patrimony of the whole people’, this writer will dare not dispute it. He would have meant it.

When this writer knew Premadasa he was driving an Austin Cambridge and most times relied on Sirisena Cooray’s Morris Minor to get about. Much water has flowed down the Mahaweli river and in to reservoirs created by its diversion telescoped in to six years. Under JRJ’s executive presidency politics became a business that made millionaires.

President Premadasa also minded the treasury as a patrimony.    Paskeralingam was his trusted and absolute caretaker.  That is the problem that haunts us today. Paskeralingam is Ranil’s Rasputin today.

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka has discovered a developmental paradigm that Sri Lanka has adhered to since independence and a Sri Lankan exceptionalism’.

His problem is that he has served two Presidents – R. Premadasa and  Mahinda Rajapakae who more or less shared mental paradigms  and perhaps even developmental.

Premadasa left us clock towers that don’t tell you the time, and model villages which are model aberrations of imposed pseudo urban facades that created a dependency syndrome undermining the innovative genius of our rural folk. He disoriented our rural landscape and distorted our urban environment.

Mahinda has left us an airport that is not functional, a sea port that is idle and a stadium that now keeps cattle. Indeed Dr. Jayatilleka is somewhat correct when he talks of a Sri Lankan exceptionalism.

It is an exceptionalism of two Presidents R. Premadasa and Mahinda Rajapaksa. An exceptionalism promoted by sycophants bent on crediting Mahinda and Premadasa with achievements beyond the real.

Dr.Jayatilake’s expressed anguish is either imagined or fictitious. He cries “What will befall local industry when foreign industries enter the local market unimpeded?”

He should instead ask ‘what has befallen our local industry?’ In any event what local industries is he talking about? Is he talking about the steel fabricating outfit that the Rajapaksa brothers set up with a Sri Lanka expatriate who owns a Marriott Hotel in Dubai?  Do we have a manufacturing sector that we can talk about?

He demands to know “what happens when having decimated our local manufacturing base, they- the foreign industries move away as they have done in many countries.” That is putting a whole train of carts before a single solitary horse.

Should we not bring in the foreign industries before we speculate on the likelihood of their leaving. Trumping up Trumpian logic trumps no body. 

Dr. Jayatilleka extols the virtues of the Premadasa doctrine of  creating a pastoral paradise with the Little Bo Peep slogan of ‘Five acres and a cow.’

Continuing this patently misleading theme, he complains that Mangala Samaraweera has not explained what’s ‘improper’ about the ownership of land and property in the

Country. He then links the statement in the budget speech “we will remove restrictions that limit the land ownership rights of listed companies with foreign ownership” with a plan to disembowel the Paddy Lands Act (1958) and the two Land Reform Acts of 1972 and 1975.

We have traversed considerable terrain since the paddy lands act which we greeted as the great deed of the father of Marxism Philip Gunawardena. The Marxist messiah who turned counterrevolutionary Judas is remembered for his stupidity in setting up a plywood’s factory in the back garden of his Boralugoda Walawwe at Kosgama. It initiated the rape of the Sinharaja Rain forest with Rumanian aid and opened the processes of denuding our pristine forest cover.

This writer confesses to some preferences not fastidious but sensible. CIC Gourmet Rice is a little expensive but offers a tasty meal with one vegetable curry and ‘Parippu.

The company has titled its annual report as Progress with Purpose. Progress with purpose is not what Premadasa tried. Go to Maradana Junction.

It is not progresses with purpose that Mahinda pursued with greater determination. Go to Hambanthota. It is such purpose less progress that Mangala attempts to arrest.

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka possess an intellect that is undoubtedly exceptional.  As Tolstoy observes in Anna Karenina, in addition to pride in intellect, there is also an aspect of stupidity in intellect. “And, above all, the dishonesty, yes, the dishonesty of intellect. Yes, indeed, the dishonesty and trickery”. Oh! the priceless wisdom in the Russian novel!

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  • 3

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

    I though it was very clear that was I was opposed to what not globalization as such, but precisely neoliberal globalization. Mangala Samaraweera has just said that ‘ free enterprise, liberalization and globalization are non-negotiable’. I am opposed to that model of globalization which holds that free enterprise and liberalization are non-negotiable.

    This is free-market fundamentalism. China has an alternative model of globalization, as does the rest of East Asia. Premadasa’s wa close to tat model. If Sarath asked Susil Sirivardhana he’d confirm that the 1988 manifesto New vision, New Deal was drafted in a Hong Kong hotel and inspired by Deng Hsiao Peng’s economic doctrine which premadasa had absorbed on a tour of China just weeks before.

    Mangala has just decried the ” the nanny state”. That’s plagiarization of a very old slogan of a very dead Maggie Thatcher. The world, including the West, has moved on.

  • 4

    Mr.Sarath De Alwis, I suppose people identify you as a senior journalists. Yet the things you write. TRUMP is against globalization and Only china wants globalization because they are still developing. Trump wants to stop cheap goods coming into the country. Sri lanka is only importing. So, what else to globalize. We even send out women (Tamils and muslims say it is all sinhala women that goes to the middle east to earn a buck in order to feed the lazy husbands. See we have a vison 2025. Yet the prime minister is the lead thief who made big holes in all the banks. they are bleeding. We have to import coconut, rice, chillie, onion. Ancient agricultural nation can not grow our own foods. Ranil talks about vision 2025. All harsher than the ancient story about PUrindada drawing a hare on the moon. Mangala recently got a grant for $ 750 million from Millinium challeng corporation for Politics, Land reforms and ports. that is why Mangala want to livberliaze ports so, the US buyers can buy. DUBAI port corporation came to buy an american port. they said no (they asked not to do it0. LAnd reforms for growing alternative crops instead of paddy. So, we destroy our old culture. Coconut lands already gone, we import coconuts. NExt rice from vietnam. So, they earn a transaction fee from internationalized dollar.

  • 4

    About the expatriates owning foreign hotels. check their history to see how they earned that money. MAcaw, Mauritius are some of the safe heavns for foreign money. Recently, one british company (director was the dead ghanam guy) wanted to buy a sri lankan company with Mauritius money. that should be the money of a sri lankan politician, they are buying sri lankan companeis laundered (Raj rajarathnam, Avant guard) or stolen (commis from lans and construction or buying goods) money buying sri lankan companies. there are many politicians, I heard looking for such friends. Another well known story. that Gamini dissanayaka or probably LAlith Athulath mudali had money in Californian bank account and they transferred it to a sri lankan’s name in california. A story that is true. Even in Sri lanka, I heard some politicians have ASSETS like that. Basil has in Sri lanka which he transferred the case to a friendly court and will postpne until the next govt comes, bengal (ins ome other name), and in america.

  • 1

    Couldn’t we restate Tolstoy’s observations as “pride in intellect” or pride of knowing people believe & respect unconditionally, one could develop “habits” of “dishonesty and trickery”…
    Udaya Gammanpila who was our national number one in Year 12 exams in his time, shows similar symptoms, perhaps more severe than Dayan. However, “intellect” is one who can reason & understand objectively especially, abstract matters… Then if these guys develop “habit’ of dishonesty & trickery, could we still call them “intellects” ??? Can they see “objectively”?
    By the way, Sarath De Alwis, you are a gem and real intellect in my view…

  • 4

    Thank you very much.very well written.

  • 2

    you nave exposed dayan for what he is
    he cant take it so he gives a selective response
    he has burnt his boats so hoping for a rajapaksa win in2020 to justify his daily diatribes
    have pity on him in the meantime

  • 1

    I suggest that Sarath read the incisive critique (‘Budget 2018 and the Failure of Neo-liberalism’) of Mangala’s Budget and his policy perspective by Dr Sumanasiri Liyanage, an economist who never worked with either Premadasa or Mahinda…:)

    By the way, Sumanasiri was a fellow Trotskyist comrade of Sarath’s brilliant cousin Prof Prasahantha de Alwis.

    The critique makes nonsense of Sarath’s contentions and broadly confirms my own.

    • 2

      I did read Dr.Sumanasiri Liyanage on Budget 2018. I read what ever he writes on and whenever he writes. He considers globalisation and heartless neoliberalism two sides of the same coin. I am commenting on universal interconnectivity. I do not know if Dr. Liyanage has grand children. I have six grand children. Five grand daughters and one grand son. They do not converse. They are connected.
      I do not want them to be dumbos trapped in an interventionist state in their new world.
      That said I have not abandoned my belief in social justice and equity. “Being human means throwing your whole life on the scales of destiny when need be , all the while rejoicing in every sunny day and every beautiful cloud” Do you know who said it? Rosa Luxemburg!

      Please do not tell me that China is a socialist state.

    • 3

      A spin Doctor and a Phony Political scientist. Stay out without being a rabble rouser

  • 2

    I was told Biththara appa was selling at 400/= and pol rotti at 450/= at gota’s kaema sutra.

  • 3

    State intervention (especially in Sri Lanka) has been to our detriment, whereas Globalisation has resulted in cross-fertilisation of ideas and an increase in opportunity. For too long, in the face of incontrovertible evidence, have we persisted in shielding our local industries. They have not grown up, they have not delivered. What might we be, if we were brave enough to bite the bullet and break free of those with vested interests and living off fat commissions? Do we not have enough administrative talent to guide us through the challenges that opening up to the outside word would bring?

    Our DJ looked at the moon from Red Square and saw fields of beet; when he looked up at that silver disk from the Malecon he saw acres of sugar cane. DJ should stop looking at the moon and come down back to earth where the future is cooperation across borders and over bridges, not hiding behind fences defending that old frog in the well.

    • 0

      Spring Koha, I agree with every thing you have said except – State industries -they have not grown up, they have not delivered”

      Till JRJ unfortunately came our way, there were many state industries that delivered.CPC was one, Sugar Corp was another, Paper Corp was still another.They were destroyed by Lalith A, Ronnie De Mel and others.Those facts are forgotten in the sands of history and the Gobbelian hoodwinking by JRJ’s followers.

      Today we talk about the state of the Public Administration.Mrs B initiated the decline but it was JRJ who hit the final nails by calling the members of the Public Administration BOORUCRATS.

  • 1

    Dayan in his replies insists “The rabbit painted on the moon has three legs”

  • 2

    Dayan Jayatileka is a political sycophant/catcher waiting for his chance to get a post from the next Rajapaksa govt.(believe me this is coming). This tribe of sycophants and their political masters (DS, Dudley, SWRD, Mrs. B, JRJ, RP, CBK, MR, RW/MS) have destroyed the future of many generations of Sri Lankans. Sadly the only sane avenue open to young people is to migrate (like the children of past politicians). Unfortunately people are lulled in to the belief that things will get better and leaving is not considered an option. What a tragedy…

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