16 May, 2022

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After Gotabaya, The Deluge?

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Slip slidin’ away, Slip slidin’ away…” ~ Paul Simon

No astrologer in Sri Lanka reached such dizzy heights as Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena. He predicted for the Rajapaksas the future they wanted and was rewarded with power and riches at public expense.

Rajapaksas’ astrologer Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena with Rajapaksas

When the ‘royal astrologer’ foretold that the next half century would belong to the Rajapaksas and that Mahinda Rajapaksa, after a fourth and perhaps even a fifth term, will be succeeded by a son or a brother, he was reinterpreting in cosmic terms the reality the Rajapaksas were creating on the ground. The prediction made soon after winning the Eelam War was the first hint of the coming of the 18th Amendment.

The 2015 defeat derailed this dynastic project but didn’t destroy it. The journey resumed with renewed vigour with Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s spectacular victory at the 2019 presidential election. It seemed as if the Rajapaksa dynasty was here to stay for a long time, just as Sumanadasa Abeygunawardena had predicted.

During the run up to the presidential election, Basil Rajapaksa, in semi-jocular vein, referred to older brother Gotabaya as a terminator (of corruption). Terminator seems the most fitting political sobriquet for President Gotabaya. A trail of ruins would be his presidential legacy. The most consequential amongst them may well be the Rajapaksa dynastic project.

President Gotabaya seems to be occupying a Sri Lanka in a parallel universe, a land rapidly moving not towards economic bankruptcy, institutional dysfunction, and social collapse but prosperity and splendour. Brothers Mahinda and Basil would be more in touch with reality, more cognizant of how close to disaster the familial project is. If they have any consolation in these hard times, it would be the chaos in the oppositional space.

Oppositional disarray was one of the logical reasons that made Mahinda Rajapaksa go for an early presidential election in 2014. The potential for a Rajapaksa defeat had been building up slowly, at least from 2011. But it became a reality only after the fractious opposition gathered into a broad anti-Rajapaksa front. This oppositional coalescence provided the stage on which mounting economic woes and dissent within the governing coalition could develop into a massive electoral defeat for the Rajapaksas.

Today Sri Lanka is facing an economic collapse unprecedented in her modern history. Cracks are forming within governing coalition from top to bottom. In the latest in a string of grassroots level defeats, the UNP ousted the SLPP to gain power in the Lahugala Pradesheeya Sabha. At the heights of their unpopularity in late 2014/early 2015, the Rajapaksas were objects of fear. Today they are objects of hate and ridicule.

The situation is propitious. Oppositional unity is the only missing ingredient.

The of 2015-2019: the need for an honest assessment

Mahinda Rajapaksa, unlike brother Gotabaya, is believed to have the pulse of the people. That does not stop him from indulging his outrageous whims in a distastefully insensitive manner, as the recent trip to Tirupathi in a private jet demonstrates.

Had this private jet incident happened during the previous Rajapaksa rule, the story would have had a stillbirth or succumbed to infanticide. Traditional media had been silenced and alternate spaces hemmed in with legal and illegal measures (such as the banning of several websites, including the Colombo Telegraph). The illegal (and thuggish) impeachment of the chief justice and subsequent cooption of the upper judiciary rendered any relief via courts a near impossibility. The Rajapaksas enjoyed total impunity.

Perhaps Mahinda Rajapaksa too occupies a slightly different reality, not a parallel universe, but the past. Perhaps he thought he could junket in a private jet with total impunity because the story would never become public knowledge. But thanks to the vibrancy in the alternate media spaces, the story exploded, forcing the Rajapaksas to scramble for excuses and explanations.

Most of the constitutional and institutional achievements of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration have been rolled back. But the psycho-political ones remain and have expanded. One example suffices. During the first Rajapaksa rule, no cartoonist dared to draw Gotabaya Rajapaksa. When a newspaper made a harmless quip about his wife, the editor was summoned to the CID and the subeditor responsible for the funny caption interdicted. While Defence Secretary Rajapaksa was a no-go zone for humorists, President Rajapaksa has become their daily fare. The Rajapaksa defeat and their years out of power freed minds and stiffened backs. The radical break between 2015 and 2019 is the reason for today’s vibrancy of alternate media, especially social media.

The Rajapaksas’ ham-handed attempts to silence critics are boomeranging. When villagers of Meemure complained to a You Tube channel about officials not implementing promises made by President Gotabaya during his Gama samaga pilisandara (Conversation with Village), the police were sent to question them. That attempt to cow the villagers into silence bloomed into another news story, this time about Rajapaksa intolerance and repression. According to the internet, there is to be a police inquiry about the ‘hooting- incident’ outside the milk powder outlet in Jubilee Post. If the inquiry is actually held, its sole achievement would be to confirm that irate customers queuing for the milk powder queue did hoot at the president.

Most of this vocal expression of dissent, this derisive laughter would have been possible if the 2015-2019 democratic hiatus did not happen,

Recently, President Gotabaya complained that the opposition speaks as if it was never in government. He has a point. The attempt to create a Chinese wall between the opposition of today and the years of 2015-2019 is both unrealistic and unintelligent. Even at its very worst, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration was far better than the Gotabaya-Mahinda-Basil-Namal rule. It would make more sense to come up with an honest assessment of the previous administration, owning its successes, admitting its failures, and explaining what concrete measures would be taken to evade the errors and build on the achievements.

Currently, the Southern opposition is busy turning itself into a ‘circular firing squad’ (a phrase coined by Barack Obama). The reason is its obsession with a presidential election which will not be held until late 2024. No thought is being given to the possibility of using intervening non-national elections to weaken the Rajapaksas regime beyond the point of recovery. After all, the Rajapaksas’ not-so-stellar performance at PC polls provided one of the earliest hints about their growing electoral vulnerability. This was particularly evident in its squeaky victory at the Uva PC poll, thanks to an energetic campaign by Harin Fernando and the UNP. Today’s opposition has a far greater chance of giving the Rajapaksas a serious drubbing in a PC or LG poll, provided its various components can find some common ground. This is impossible so long as various leading figures of the Southern opposition remain obsessed with the presidential election.

The Rajapaksas

The Rajapaksas have lost the floating voter, but their base remains, attached to the ruling family by the glue of Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism and minority-hatred. While the floating voters have abandoned the Rajapaksas, they have not embraced any opposition party in sufficient numbers. A segment may back some oppositional candidate at the next presidential election. Many may abstain, driving down the turnout. A low poll may decide the election in Rajapaksa favour.

Opportunities and dangers

The Gotabaya-Mahinda-Basil-Namal rule has almost unmoored the system. The unthinkable has become normal every day realities. The exceptionality of this regime-failure is creating unprecedented opportunities for transformative change.

Take the presidential system, or rather its quasi-monarchical version that operates here. The disaster that is the Gotabaya presidency is the clearest possible warning of the danger of placing unlimited and untrammelled power in the hands of one individual. Lankan presidential system was created not to fulfil a national need but to satisfy the long held ambitions of one individual. JR Jayewardene’s boast about lacking the power only to effect a sex change was indicative of the hubristic infantilism that would drive him error to crime and back in an unending vicious cycle.

Now is the time to renew the discussion about the presidential system, to initiate a rational dialogue about a system of governance that is suited to national needs rather than to the ambitions and vanities of individual politicians.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa tries to blame all his failures on the pandemic. But the original sin of his regime was his disastrous tax policy. His tax cutting fiesta caused massive erosion in the tax base between 2019 and 2020. For example, replacement of the compulsory PAYE tax with a voluntary APIT system led to a 42.2% decrease in the direct tax base while increasing of the registration threshold for VAT caused a 71.8% decline in the indirect tax base. If the seminal role played by this tax policy in the subsequent disasters is not understood, the necessary corrective measures would not be instituted even by a post-Rajapaksa administration.

Pulling Sri Lanka out of the economic morass of Rajapaksa creation would entail massive burdens, whether we go to the IMF or not. A critical question is how these burdens should be apportioned. Or to put it another way, who would be forced to gulp the bitter core of the pill and who would make off with the sweet coating. This would be determined to a large extent on where and how income increases and cost cutting happen.

For example, how should a post-Rajapaksa administration rebuild the tax base denuded by the Rajapaksas? Should the easy way out be taken, by relying mostly on indirect taxes? Or should a future government address the difficult challenge of creating a more just tax regimen by lessening the extreme imbalance between direct and indirect taxes? In cost cutting where should the axe fall most? If the defence budget is left untouched or allowed to grow, if the mania for showy infrastructure projects (with their potential for huge kickbacks) continues, the cuts will have to come from areas such as education and health etc.

If the already overtaxed low income owners are burdened still further, how will that impact on political stability? If critical social spending is slashed in order to keep the bloated military budget intact, how would that impact on educational and health prospects of future generations?

Martin Luther King once warned about politicians who feed their constituents with “the stale bread of hatred and the spoiled meat of racism”. As a number of recent incidents (from holding the state Wesak festival in Kuragala to the tragicomic affair of the ‘church bomb – the police initially offered a ‘Muslim mastermind’ and are now blaming a retired physician of catholic faith) indicate, the Rajapaksas will rely on the race card to stay in power.

The racist vote is not a canard. These are ordinary Sinhala-Buddhists who do not necessarily gain anything material from Rajapaksa rule. They still remain loyal to the Rajapaksas, because their true aim is a Sri Lanka where the minorities are kept down, literally. They are the Lankan equivalents of Make America Great Again crowd. This constituency is a global phenomenon. They hark back to an imaginary golden past, when the country was made in their own preferred image. This constituency is unhappy with democracy, prefers a strong leader, a king or a Hitler.

This constituency cannot be won over by pandering so Sinhala-Buddhist supremascism. As long as Mahinda Rajapaksa is living, it will stay with the Rajapaksas. Post-Mahinda, this constituency is likely to fracture. Some will stay with the remaining Rajapkasas. The more ideological others will seek extra-racist alternatives. It is from this segment the impulse and drive for coup solutions will emerge.

Just as a post-Rajapaksa future (assuming that the opposition can cease drawing daggers against each other until the Rajapaksas are really gone) presents unprecedented opportunities it also contains equally unprecedented dangers. If the opposition fails to provide a viable alternative to the Rajapaksas before and after polls, it may open the flood gates to a truly elemental force that is more extremist and intolerant than even the Rajapaksas.

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Latest comments

  • 46
    3

    I love the picture never seen them together so happy , amused by an astrologer. To be honest no political miracle in future can save this country. I am sure even the astroger knows that. We are beyond recovery and Lankans well deserve it. Any who replace this Mafia family will inturn face mounting debts, bankruptcy and peoples wrath..Not to forget there is 3 more years of sir fail .

    • 17
      1

      Astrologers always know that it is easy to twist 🐃mind set of modayas/ this came clearer at the time SLRC telecasted a weekly program called ” yatharupa” which went viral ironing out doubtful 🐃thinking of the masses in this country/ but the resistance grew exponentially against it because so called astro predictors all together had protested that their occupations could be destroyed if the program would continue further/ we perfectly know those astro programs being telecasted by each TV channel are done by paying lacks or millions for ther telecasts / can u imagine/? 🐃🐕☹🐃🐕☹🐃🐕☹🐃☹☹ this media men spread lies from dawn to dusk so long their avenues for revenues becomes their main motive/ this is I do believe that media institutions of that nature should be demolished for a better future for all🐃☹🐕😡😡😡😡

    • 37
      2

      To be frank, why should ANY political party or bunch of people ever get organize salvage this banana republic from the current mess? It was more than 67% adult population of the republic that vehemently voted for these cattle thieves 2 years ago knowing very well that they were world class pirates, starting with the great 2004 Tsunami robbery. But they voted for ‘deshapremaya’! Any misery they go through now whether it is gas explosions or kerosene oil queues, it all started with themselves only so let them eat their own humble ‘deshapremaya’ pie!!

      • 2
        40

        Mr Jit

        I dont know where you live but I am sure it is also running like a banana republic. just that you have no clue.

        I feel like Sri Lanka has managed as well as they could. and I see no sagathaya in the April or anytime soon. This is all SJB JVP propagandada.

        Even in these dark times, there is so much being done for this country which the yahapalanaya never did. I told my good friend this and his brother the Minister. and they are not my friends anymore.

        But it does not matter I love my country more than my friends. I have been telling my friends that most of what we hear about Sri Lanka is propaganda. 95% of the countries in the world would like leaders who tell it like it is.

        We could not have had a better leader than GR through this spell. as he will be the first to admit where he went wrong.

        our lovely SBG and Sajith would love to invite Elon musk. ? why . this is a leech who is bleeding capitalism dry? why not invite Nio or Xpeng or BYD . these are the leading companies in the forefront of the electric revolution?

        our so called leaders would love aparthield leader like musk rather than other options. Shame on them. Shame

        • 28
          0

          A14455,
          “This is all SJB JVP propagandada.Even in these dark times, there is so much being done for this country which the yahapalanaya never did. “
          Quite true. Let’s list out some of it:
          1. Making vegetables more expensive than chicken.
          2. Making petrol cheaper than coconut oil.
          3. Sending an LPG bomb into every kitchen.
          4. Selling everything while swearing not to.
          5. Firing the Litro chairman and re-hiring him on the same day.
          6. Begging oil from LIOC .
          7. Going from the highest income in South Asia to zero .
          8. Importing rice instead of fertilizer.
          I don’t know where you live either. Probably in a deep well, smoking dope. But please , if you wanna troll, do it properly.

          • 12
            0

            OC/
            you and I would see it the way our moronic /brain dead A14455 dors/ if we too sat on our head/
            .
            Either he should be totally mad or a brother of that backlicker Thissakutti/
            .
            How stupid these men should be to protect the Rajapakshe bps further????,🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔🤔😡😡😡

          • 11
            2

            OC
            .
            We are reaping the effects of karma for what we have done in the past.
            .
            It is inevitable, for us to suffer we need leaders like Gota / Mara and we need buffalos like A14455, EE, Soma, and the likes to follow.
            .
            I don’t know to what further depth we need to sink to pay for our sins?
            .
            Left to A14455 we couldn’t be doing better. He reminds me of a video clip of a crab being boiled in a pot of soup, the crab was busy picking the corn from the corn cob and eating while half of his body was in boiling water. A14455 is like that crab.

            • 7
              0

              Dear Human Touch,
              .
              I agree with all that you say, except the bit about karma.
              .
              And doesn’t old codgers list seem pretty convincing?
              .
              Panini Edirisinhe

              • 6
                0

                Dear SM
                .
                Thanks for bringing this up about Karma.
                .
                I will start with Causality. It is a term used in mathematics, and the sciences to relate one event to another according to the laws of science or broadly speaking laws of nature.
                .
                Causality is in every aspect of engineering, economics, mathematics, science, medicine, and every sphere of life.
                .
                Causality is the mathematical or scientific term for cause and effect.
                .
                Lots of laws have been established, all based on causality, like the law of gravity, law of conservation of energy, laws motion, law of relativity, etc
                .
                Karma is another word for causality. It is the we asians describe cause and effect.
                .
                We accept that causality is true for peoples actions as well. We are bound to get a reaction.
                .
                For instance, after voting for a known family of crooks, we got what we deserved, a catastrophe.
                .
                Sinhala only policy cut off our youth from the rest of the world.
                .
                VP collected a bribe from Mara and acted against the will of the Tamil people, you know the rest.
                .
                The cardinal was a mara supporter, against every norm, now look at them…
                .
                The Muslims teamed up with Mara to victimise a fellow minority, they got the reward 2011 onwards.
                .
                I hope you are beginning to get the picture.

                • 3
                  0

                  Dear HT,
                  .
                  Of course there is cause and effect
                  . What I meant was that I have little truck with re-incarnation.
                  .
                  I don’t want to get bogged down in a discussion of this. You are free to believe in it, but it should have little bearing on social interactions.
                  .
                  I would say almost the same about belief by Christians in an after-life. It doesn’t usually influence the way people look on life and death. Death is treated as final. However, many Evangelical Christians today are going back to Calvinistic teachings and getting quite passionate in those beliefs. The Lutherans are different. I suggest that you read up! I just don’t want to get caught up in meaningless religious debate. It may get discussed in greater detail in Jayantha Somasunderam’s article, which is more recent than this:
                  .
                  https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/legacy-of-the-sixty-two-coup/
                  .
                  Muslims tend to believe far more strongly in an after life; that is why there are suicide bombers! However, this is an area in which we must be extra-careful in throwing words around. There are “moderate Muslims”, and I would certainly be happy if there were more such, but I don’t think it sensible to dabble in all this.
                  .
                  Religion is a personal affair, and I don’t want to get embroiled in controversies over this.
                  .
                  I’m agnostic.

            • 1
              0

              HT,
              .
              Karmic retribution is a greater question. If Karma worked on Gadafi and Sadam H, why not the same Karma is backward about srilanken counterparts ?
              :
              Looking at Rajapkashes the manner they survive in srilanken politics – fooling the very same people again and again – how could it be possible if Karma would exist.
              .
              It is pointless to add anything about A14455- I think he would be stoned to death within his circles sooner than later.

              • 1
                0

                Dear LM
                As long as we allow the Rajapaksas to fool us every time they will continue to do so.
                .
                It is our bad Karma that we are not learning.
                .
                Perhaps it is because our intentions for electing the Rajapaksa bastards is for no good reason. We are made to pay for our mistakes.
                .
                Let’s face it, it is true, we are not thinking straight, instead we are using our instinct of racial hatred to decide, can it work?

        • 17
          0

          a14455, Such a wretched, miserable life living far away from the land you ‘love so much’ and ‘devoted to’!!! I feel very sorry for you man!!

          • 6
            1

            We the ones work diehars in health care /Pharma should find GM MEDICINE to give a life to the kind of men/that is the urgent need of the hour /🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥🤥.
            .
            Almost 10 year olds grasp it but the kind of ultra fools?🐃🐃🐃🐃🐃🐃🐃

          • 1
            0

            Jit,
            .
            This is the reason why Prof. Kovoor made it very clear that srilankens would not see it away from the seeds that were planted by their elders during adolesence.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._T._Kovoor
            :
            If the kind of men and women would be asked to ” eat cowdung” 3 times a day, these men would easily line up – or return form amy land to srilanka to collect it.
            :
            Unfortunately, the mindset of our majority sinhalayas :(
            And dont forget this guy would go on praising ” TRUMP” yet today. All that proves his is more pathological right ?

            • 2
              0

              Dear LM
              .
              As long as we allow the Rajapaksas to fool us every time they will continue to do so.
              .
              It is our bad Karma that we are not learning.
              .
              Perhaps it is because our intentions for electing the Rajapaksa bastards is for no good reason. We are made to pay for our mistakes.
              .
              Let’s face it, it is true, we are not thinking straight, instead we are using our instinct of racial hatred to decide, can it work?

        • 0
          1

          a14455,
          Good Morning and Greetings.
          “We could not have had a better leader than GR through this spell. as he will be the first to admit where he went wrong”
          Admit he does?!!!!!!!!!
          How very true!!!
          Mystifying truth brought out to be seen by all!!
          Thanks for the enlightenment, probably the first significant such after that of Prince Siddhartha, the Gautama the Buddha!
          If not for GR, how will it occur that we have to change Dudley S, who was known as, “Dudley Bath Piya” to ‘Xi Jing Piya’ for donating 1 million tons/Kgs of Chinese rice to stave off famine in SL.
          This did not occur in recent history because the Foolish SL state had over production of rice and exporting to boot too!!!!!.
          Anyway, it is good, because Dudley S (Senanayake and not Maru Sira’s brother) was a UNPer!!! They are good for nothing fellas!!!
          I agree with you that Yahapalanaya would never have achieved that qualification, which is ‘sine quo non’ of this regime!!!!!!!!!!!!
          You think, I am talking ‘tongue in cheek’.
          No but I respect your fertile minds’ imaginative ability as a free thinker!!!
          All good.

      • 4
        0

        Jit,
        .
        That we, as a country, have brought it all on ourselves is true. However, please remember that not all resident citizens voted for the Rajapaksas.
        .
        That the future of this country is probably worse than most fear is something that I know. However, you’d do well to remember that it is this land that nurtured you. I appreciate the many comments from you that have appeared in the Sinhala Section of CT.
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/uvindu-kurukulasuriya-7-january-2022/
        .
        This is a powerful speech,
        .
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7gdWDtnxjg
        .
        but I don’t trust Champika Patali Ranawaka. It is not easy to know whom one can trust, but we make it extra difficult for the foolish and uninformed guys who throng our streets to analyse accurately. Despite my best efforts, and despite certain advantages that I have inherited, I still make many mistakes. I’m submitting this comment after finding that those I made earlier today are being displayed to you.
        .
        I know that not all who comment here can be as open as I, but I tell you again, that we must continue to strive, and I’m placing my faith in the NPP. If it is far from perfect, then we must improve it.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela
        .

        • 3
          0

          Thank you SM, I appreciate your sincere thoughts :)!
          I have no disputes, that given the current situation and the mockery of all other major parties and their leaders such as useless Sajith P, NPP looks the better choice for you. No issues there, I understand. However, having gone through years of agony due to JVP/UNP guerilla warfare in the late 80s while struggling to finish my degree at the uni, I know most in-depth realities/stories of both parties and their lead members. So I do NOT trust any of them! AND about my contemporary Champika R. as well! True, he is very intelligent and WISE as well, probably is one better option at the moment in a land where ex- cattle thieves running the country, yet I have reservations about his policies in the past. Does a katussa reminds you of anything?? Anyways, I’d leave it to you at this point ;)

  • 43
    1

    The only reason Rajapakshas are in power unencumbered not merely due to oppositional disarray but no one can manifest tangible solutions to the economic woes.

    The close minded religious hegemonic state is entering its initial phase of crumbling. Rajapakshas pandering to the populace are mere actors of the hegemonist state. The deep fissures of the state are upon us & them. JVP, SJB, UNP or any other party’s pegs won’t work since the breathing tube or the sinew of the state; money market credit facilities have side stepped Sri Lanka.

    The religious hegemony is so dumb founded they don’t even feel the glimpse of bleak future they will be thrown into.

    The curse started in 1956 and we are reaching its pinnacle. Real traitors are not actors such as Rajapakshas but the religious hegemony.

    • 14
      28

      Ekithsiri, it started long before 1956. It is common to point to SWRD and 1956 as the origin of all problems but it is wrong. 1956 was not the start it was the result of earlier problems.
      .
      Sinhala Only would not have happened if not for English Only.
      .
      ‘Sinhala-Buddhism’ would not have arisen so violently if not for Christian evangelisation. (Almost all the nations schools were run by Churches and Christian teachers though the majority of pupils were Buddhist and Hindu. The mercantile sector, professions Government departments were all dominated by Christians. The Catholic Action Movement ensured this).
      .
      Tamil separatism started with the FP in the Thirties. As with the Christians, Tamils dominated Government organisations.
      .
      All this continued through the Thirties to Independence to 1956. In fact so powerful were these groups that even SWRD was afraid to tackle them. For example the running of schools was only dealt with years later by his widow. Fearful of losing their positions of power Christian military officers attempted a coup to oust her in 1962 which fortunately failed.

      • 17
        0

        S
        Many think that ‘Sinhala Only’ Brought SWRDB to power. Even the UNP flogged thge same policy.
        There were other issues that found expression in the 1953 Hartal.
        Not many of us are concerned with them.
        There was also an anti-colonial mood sweeping Asia and Africa. People saw (not entirely wrongly) the UNP rule as a continuation of colonial rule.
        I think that there was a Buddhist among the plotters of the coup. It is not the army officers alone but other interest is in operation.
        It was not a religious matter.
        Let us not forget the SWRDB and JRJ were closet Christians.

        • 10
          3

          SJ: I think the people who lived through 1948 to 1956 are not speaking the power struggle that existed in the UNP headed by DS. Where were all these SWRD, JRJ, Dudley, Sir John, Sir Oliver – the then stalwarts of the ruling UNP headed by DS? It was after the “Fall” off of DS from horseback, at “Galle Face Green” the “Struggle” for “Who must succeed DS and who should be the PM” invaded UNP. That was the starting step from “Father to Son” in politics really started and hasn’t that “Psychology” (Familial) continued in politics up to now?

          My question based on the above “Glimpse” of political history is: If the then (after the accidental death of DS) the most “Senior” in the UNP and the Minister of Local Government, SWRD was allowed to succeed as the PM, would there have been an SLFP? That was the “Turning Point” for SWRD to put on “Sinhala/Buddhist” under the umbrella of “Sanga, Weda, Guru, Govi, Kamkaru balavegaya”. An analytical, but unbiased answer to this question would reason out the “Disaster” that started from then to now and continued in all its strength to the future. Over to you Sir.

          • 7
            0

            One should not confuse what happens in a party with what happens in society.
            SWRDB’s resignation was triggered by his awareness of intrigue to keep him out of premiership.
            But Hartal 1953 was a social event that reflected public resentment of the UNP.
            that brought to the fore a number of issues that SWRDB and SLFP (in a sense the continuation of the Sinhala Mahasabha).
            Sanga, Weda, Guru, Govi, Kamkaru alliance was not really SB. It represented an alliance of forces and grievances of the lower strata of Sinhala society.
            There were Tamils in the SLFP at the time who left the party after the language act of 1956.
            The RC Church was hostile to anything even vaguely left until much after 1956.
            Muslims were attracted to the SLFP even as early as 1951.
            What I objected to was oversimplification of the 1956 election outcome.
            If you still think it was all about ‘Sinhala Only’ that is your belief and there are plenty around to share it with, who stubbornly hold on to that belief.
            I only tried to offer a clarification.

            • 3
              1

              SJ: Thanks for your input. I needed only to point out: (1) The political hypocrisy within parties in the selection of “Leaders” when one leader finishes his/her tenure. (2) How “Undemocratic” and “Hypocritical” of “Majority” to venture out to bring in immediate “Family” to succeed – e.g. Mrs. Sirimovo Bandaranayake to succeed her husband SWRD. (3) The “Dirty” tricks played by “Political Leaders” with the support of their “Cohorts” to “Introduce” family members (Sons, Daughters, Nephews, Nieces, and so on). Examples of these maneuvers are very many in the entire history of the “Political Culture” of S/L from 1948 onwards.(4) The introduction of “Ethno/Religious” plus “Caste/Creed/class” psychosis to S/L politics from very early stages of “Sinhala Maha Saba” and such “Organizations” even much before independence and consorted efforts to continue and maintain to this day. All these and many more meanings were the “read between the lines” intended in my comment forwarded to you.

          • 4
            0

            Thanks, Simon.
            .
            I was no more than a toddler when D.S.S. succumbed after he fell off his horse on Galle Face Green.
            .
            We’ve had to read up on these events.
            .
            I hope that it is clear to all that SWRDB had crossed the floor of parliament some months BEFORE all that happened, since he correctly sensed what was happening. He was an intelligent opportunist, but lacked the wisdom to realise that he would be slain by those whom he empowered.

        • 5
          0

          SJ,
          Are you referring to ASP Jirasinghe, who was instructed by DIG CCD to take care of Sirima at temple trees and allow the army collaborators under FC de S to take over the location with Sirimavo captive?

          • 3
            0

            Mahila,
            .
            You seem to know what you’re talking about! By the time of the aborted 1962 coup attempt, I was older than when D.S.S. fell off his horse.
            .
            ASP Jirasinghe’s brother, George, was then the vicar in the Bandarawela Church. They were second cousins of my father, I think.
            .
            Anyway, there was a special service held in the Church every Wednesday evening to pray for the coup plotters. I’m sure that such idiotic actions, augmented by what was then happening in South Vietnam got the Sinhalese-Buddhists understandably mad at what Anglicised elements in society were plotting. Mind, I’m not justifying how it was not only the bath-water that was thrown out.
            .
            Would a military government then have been much better than we now see with Gota? I doubt it, but I don’t think that they would have bungled as badly as “the terminator” has by banning fertiliser.
            .
            On Sunday at the Fair, a vendor solemnly weighed the luscious pineapple that I selected and announced its price as Rs 510/=. He seemed to understand when I cursed Gota and bought two woodapples instead.

        • 7
          0

          Thank you SJ for pointing this out.

      • 7
        7

        This is why you have now run to the Christian west and taken on a Viking name

      • 19
        1

        Svenson – We really need to stop looking to the past to justify the present, and especially we need to leave religion alone. A person’s religion is nobody else’s business is it, and at the same time nobody has a right to rub their religion in other’s faces. We have examples of other colonized, multicultural countries who have developed, left their past behind and moved forward. We are stuck in the past because it suits certain agendas. We need to change that.

        • 15
          3

          You are correct Fernando. Contrary to what most Sinhalese state, the British never favoured anyone. if they did it may have been the part European origin Burghers. The Sinhalese Christians and the Tamil ( Hindu and Christian) took advantage of the western education that was offered by these schools and improved their position. The British opened schools in all areas and most of the education in the Tamil areas actually was not provided by the British but by American missionaries and later after the Saivite revival by Hindu organizations and individuals. The Sinhala Buddhist society was far more feudal than the Tamil society and the Sinhalese Christian society. Lots of rich landholders owned thousands of acres of land and the Buddhist monks had a stranglehold on the Sinhalese peasant society and prevented them from getting a modern western education, stating it is a lure to convert poor Sinhalese Buddhists to Christianity. The Tamils came from the more arid parts of the island, and therefore their need to get a western education, to earn a living was more than the Sinhalese who lived in the more fertile parts of the island. Moreover, the Tamils had no aversion towards Christianity, which has been with them since the time of St. Thomas’s arrival in ancient Tamil Chera Nadu, modern-day Kerlala.

          • 7
            1

            Rohan, “…….Contrary to what most Sinhalese state, the British never favoured anyone….” you are spot on!! British ONLY favoured those who worked hard, not the braggers who wasted everybody’s time unleashing old yarns sitting ‘bokku uda’ while chewing beetle nuts!

        • 8
          2

          Correct even after 70 years of independence trying to use this lame excuse as a tool to marginalize the Tamils, Christians, and Muslims. The British never favoured anyone. They recruited the most qualified and able to the public service and it was the Tamils, Sinhalese Christians, and the Burghers as they availed themselves to the quality western education that was then provided by the British largely in the Sinhalese areas and the American missionaries and Hindu organizations in the Tamil areas. The Sinhalese Buddhists largely did not. Therefore we’re not largely qualified to be recruited. to these services.

          • 12
            2

            The Tamil Brahmin priests had no influence on the ordinary Tamils and did not even try to influence them. You should also realize the British had to compensate the Eelam Tamils, as they had merged their lands with the Sinhalese lands down south to create a new colony called Ceylon in 1833, thereby turning them from a 100% majority in their land to a minority on the island. As stated before the Sinhalese Christians and the Tamils ( Hindu and Christian) were recruited by the British, not because of anything else, but because they were qualified, which most Sinhalese Buddhists were not. Even after 70 years of independence trying to use this as an excuse to marginalize and discriminate against the Tamils, Muslims, and Christians has not worked. With all the disadvantages these people still thrive and prevail and largely excel.

          • 8
            2

            It was not the fault of the Tamils or the Sinhalese Christians that the Sinhalese Buddhist society was more feudal than theirs, having rich landowning aristocratic and upper-middle-class families owning thousands of acres of private land and the Buddhist monks having a stranglehold on ordinary Sinhalese Buddhists, preventing them from having a western education, stating it was a ruse to convert them to Christianity. Further, the Tamils came from the arider parts of the island and good western education and a government job were means of escaping poverty and hard life as a farmer. Moreover, the British also had to compensate the Tamils, as they had merged their homeland with the Sinhalese lands down south to create a new colony called Ceylon , thereby changing their status from a 100% majority to a minority in their own land.

      • 6
        7

        Stevenson,

        You are right on this one. The Dutch and the British brought a million slaves from South India and left them behind when they left in 1948. Tamil Elam was invented in 1922. Please read 100 Tamils by AJ Wilson. Ceylon Tamil ethnicity was created in 1911. Check earlier censuses and you don’t find it.

        This was the start of all hell.

        But the solution is not to blame each other.

        Unfortunately SL people are only good at blaming each other ethnic groups while living in hell. Racism at its worst.

        Let’s work towards a respectable and equitable solution. Split the island into 3 mono ethnic nations equitably and relocate people. All problems will be history!

        Until then, nothing will save SL. A disaster of a nation.

        • 7
          1

          The hundreds of thousands of low caste South Indian Thamizh who were imported into the island by the Portuguese and later the Dutch were settled along the western and southern littorals to do low menial service work and to work as indentured slave labour on the huge southern spice estates. Hardly anyone of them was settled in the north or east. Their descendants have all now converted to themselves to either Chingkalla Buddhist or Catholics and now makeup half the present-day so-called Chingkalla population. Please Google and read the history and origin of the so-called Chingkalla Karawa, Durawa, Salagama, Hali, Hunu , Berewa and many other castes. Even most of your so-called Chingkalla aristocratic and upper Govigamma families have a recent South Indian origin. Thamizh or Thamizh speaking Telugu origin Naickers from Madurai and Thanjavur. Similarly, the South Indian labour brought in by the British to work on the coffee and later tea estates again were never settled in the native indigenous Eezham Thamizh north or east but largely in the Kandyan central highlands and the surrounding areas. Unlike the previous South Indian iThamizh imports, these people did not convert to the Chingkalla identity but remained as Thamizh but as a separate Thamizh community from the native Eezham Thamizh from the north and east. Just like the way the Dravidian Thamizh South Indian origin Muslims who migrated into the island do.

          • 6
            1

            As per you Thamizh Muslims who arrived from South India a few centuries ago, largely as refugees or traders deserve a homeland on ethnically cleansed Eezham Thamizh land in the east but not the native Tahmizh who have lived on the island and have owned all this land and ruled it prior to European colonization.

      • 5
        2

        S
        Tamil separatism started with the FP in the Thirties.
        There was no FP until after the Citizenship Act of 1948.
        You should be adequately informed to know that federation is the opposite of secession.

      • 2
        3

        Dear Svenson,
        .
        Not many seem to have liked what you’ve said, but I’ve altered that score slightly, because you’re right.
        .
        Jit is right to take the odious “a14455” to task, but he had been voicing to me what Ekithsiri has said above. That also is true, but when their salad days are over, it may be that they will realise that what we have been doing on this paradise island for more than a century is responsible for the present state of affairs. It may be that heinous crimes were perpetrated even earlier, but they didn’t seem to matter with a manageable population and all the blessings that Nature had showered on us.
        .
        Most of you spout these things living in other climes. I’m here in Bandarawela waiting for death.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe

        • 4
          2

          He is not right as he is a racist and apologist for Sri Lankan state racism against the island’s Thamizh minorities and Christians. You can agree with him, that is your right too but you are now showing your true colours

        • 4
          1

          SM, stop talking about death! You are far away from that….do you wanna be that average Sri Lankan pessimist who start talking about death soon after they turn 40?? Don’t be…..NIGHT IS STILL YOUNG!!! :)

        • 1
          1

          PE, Whether Bandarawela or any other clime, “waiting for death” is a shocking statement for anyone who knows the truth that God breathes creation life into humans called spirit. 1 John 3,14 says we have passed from death to life manifested when we love our brethren. Jesus came to destroy death due to sin which is the works of the devil 1 John 3,8, and he resurrected after death and ascended to heaven and gave us the gift of resurrection life. He will come again and restore, regardless of the beliefs of humans. So why not get on the positive side with eternal life.

    • 4
      5

      The curse started in 1948 if not earlier. Tamil Elam was declared in 1922. Ceylon Tamil ethnicity was created in 1911.

      SL people were never united on anything. It was wrong to create one nation in the island.

      In effect there are 3 nations and that is the solution. 3 mono-ethnic nations for the 3 tribes with relocation of people. Tamil Elam, Muslim Elam and Sinhala Only Elam.

      Until that is done whether it is Senanayakes, Bandranayakes, Chelvanayagams, Prabakarans, Rajapaksas, etc. it is the same old disastrous story.

      Treat the real underlying sickness, not symptoms. SL people and their vote winning politicians are only good at treating symptoms.

    • 4
      1

      Honourable Mr ekithsiri
      .
      This is the most accurate summary of our situation, so eloquently illustrated. Thanks.
      .
      CT readers: These are the kind of reader we need on CT, people with finesse, intellectual people, people who are sincere, people who are human, people who make us proud.
      .
      We don’t need crazz types like EE, Soma, Champa, A14455, svenson shallow-minded racist bigots, who are like broken records, saying the same thing over and over, not contributing even the slightest bit on CT. People like them make me feel so embarrassed for being a Sinhala Buddhist.
      .
      I hope that on the day Rajapaksas are facing their doom, the above mentioned block-headed idiots will be lined up and made to face their deserved punishment alongside with their treacherous overlords.
      .
      If it were up to me, I will deal with these scavenging dogs first. I will give them the traditional punishment from the time of the kings – puka ula thiannawa.

  • 27
    5

    Well done as usual another brilliant article by Tisaranee

  • 30
    5

    Tisaranee you are the Queen of Rational Thinking.
    .
    Your articles are always a breath of fresh air. Thank you.
    .
    So refined and articulate. Your way with words speaks volumes of a highly intellectual individual.
    .
    Are you willing to join us in a drive to route out ignorance in our society and help us build a new and better Sri Lanka where everyone can live in happiness whilst contributing their maximum towards a prosperous Sri Lanka 🇱🇰.
    .
    Like you have correctly stated, things can spiral out of control if care is not taken. We need to act now, we need to act as humans.

  • 24
    4

    Dear Tisaranee
    .
    Your message is loud and clear, let us not jump for the frying pan to the fire, in a bid find Rajapaksa replacements in a hurry.
    .
    That has been our modus operandi since 1948.
    .
    Democracy in the hands of a fool is like a razor blade in the hand of a monkey. 🐵🐒🙈🙉🙊

    • 0
      0

      Dear Human Touch,
      .
      We will be right to be cautious, but when it comes to the crunch, we’ve got to cast votes. I know that theoretically it is two/ three years ahead, depending on whether you think the real need is to get rid of Gota or most of the 225.
      .
      We talked so long on whatsApp yesterday; I’m sorry to see you deserting the JVP (after supporting it through all its violent years) when it is trying so hard, through the NPP to forget its violent ways. I’m not going to be like the cynically horrid Sepal Amarasinghe who will ask his dumb follower to “NOTA” just before a crucial election is due.
      .
      After that perfidy, I tell you, I will listen to him only to see what evil such fellows are plotting.
      .
      Panini

      • 3
        0

        Dear SM
        .
        You may have serious reservations about Sepal Amarasinghe. But ironically both of you are on the same team as far as JVP/NFF is concerned.
        .
        I am beginning to ponder seriously what the future of NFF when the supporters at loggerheads. 😂😂😂😂😂😂

        • 1
          1

          Dear Human Touch,
          .
          How can Sepal Amarasinghe be “on the same team” as the NPP (please get that right; in Sinhalese it will be JJB) if he asks people to boycott elections, with his seemingly clever, NOTA.
          .
          I say this unambiguously: I will vote NPP. Future tense, of course. One can’t predict with 100% certainty that tomorrow the sun will rise in the East. I expect it, but there cannot be absolute certainty about anything empirical.
          .
          Is there hard evidence (never mind it being only 99% reliability) that this professional “confuser” is a supporter of the NPP?

          • 0
            1

            SM,

            You are too early to make your final decisions SM. Please wait. There were times, that you were promoting NK and all of sudden you changed your support. Why to hurry ?
            .
            Btw, Sepal s boycott elections with NOTA is no longer in his videos. And I dont think many understood even the meaning of ” NOTA”.
            :
            And we all know today that Sepal and Sudda were both the front men of GOTA s eleciton campaigns.

            And both men have now u turned and stand against Rajapakshes.
            .
            Right atht moement almost many would be clear, that Sepal is not at all honest but his YT videos are to earn some dollars – for his living.

  • 12
    2

    Is not the ‘Make America Great Again crowd’ deciding US foreign policy even after Trump?
    Similarly, despite the declaration that “this constituency cannot be won over by pandering so Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism”, SB chauvinism has won elections and the SJB and JVP too pander to it.

    • 5
      0

      S.J
      “SB chauvinism has won elections and the SJB and JVP too pander to it.”
      Sadly, that says a lot about the electorate too.

  • 11
    0

    The ONLY way to get rid of this crime family, is for the opposition to unite, put away their ego’s, and unite this country, including the minority, and get them out of office.
    That is indeed a gigantic task, because every opposition party, have over ambitious leaders, totally selfish, and who put their self interests above the best interests of the country. The next elections are far away, and meanwhile we have to deal with nepotism, mismanagement, failures, cronyism, racism, and corruption in unprecedented proportions.

    There is no hope of things changing in the near future, so perhaps we should stop our wishful thinking and accept that there is no strong leader, who can be honest, and have the best interests of the country.

  • 15
    2

    Rajapaksas have no other weapon racism and Buddhist Fundamentalism because they knew that there is not a single political party or politician are talented to speak against Buddhist Fundamentalism or racism. Even after all the evidences suggest that there is a master mind behind the attack and most probably the attack was planned to strengthen the hands of one candidate in the presidential election, and the failure of Rajapaksas to protect the economy or national resources, they can still influence the Buddhist Sinhala majority in the next election using the same tactics. The opposition parties like SJB/UNP or JVP are still fighting for power rather than for the benefit of the people and country. Even though SLFP lead by Sirisena is shouting loudly against Rajapaksas because of the threat forced by Rajapaksas against Sirisena, Sirisena can’t leave them or open his mouth about Easter Bombing mastermind or how he promised to allow the Easter bombing to happen. They all must have had some connection with the Easter Bombing. Even Ranil must helped Rajapaksas because he didn’t like Premadasa for known reason. So, Racism will continue until the whole country comes under the Control of China or India.

  • 17
    0

    It’s a niche market ………. the Rajapakses saw the opportunity and grabbed it.

    Life is about grabbing opportunities.

    The rest is history.

  • 6
    0

    A
    “…the opposition to unite”
    Is ours an ego problem?
    Do you think that the parties will unite to unite the people by the wave of a wand?
    Will the parties shed their parochial attitudes, even if they ‘unite’?
    Will they be free of external manipulation?
    *
    We have seen it all once. Do you want a replay?
    People need to unite under a programme and a policy for the benefit of all, the downtrodden, especially.
    Are we ready?
    *
    Have you come across the book “How to Unite Nations?” by George Mikes? That was about the UN of course. It can help to bring one down to earth and face reality.

    • 2
      0

      Dear SJ,
      .
      I’m glad
      that you are around to correct many of the mistakes that you see; your memory is good, and your expression pithy.
      .
      Yet, when you were asked to act, I can’t help but remember how you didn’t allow even consideration of Professor Sam Thiagalingam of Boston as VC, Jaffna.
      .
      What happens in the North can hardly be understood by a guy like me who knows no Tamil, but on this we agree: all citizens of Lanka must have rights.

  • 11
    2

    I agree with Tisaranee. Unless the opposition parties and the various civic activist movements get their act together, the inevitable fall of the Rajapaksas will be followed by a swift takeover by an even more ruthless authoritarian regime backed by the military and the Sangha. This Sinhala Alt-Right regime will rule suspending the constitution and elections for a period of time claiming it is necessary to save the country from total destruction due to the Covid mayhem and the economic collapse. As Tisaranee alludes, an even more virulent form of Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism than that of the Rajapaksas will be employed as the legitimizing ideology for the total power grab. Only history will tell whether democracy would be eventually restored or whether it would be a long night into the hell of a ‘national security state.’

    • 3
      3

      The opposition cannot unite. Simple as that.

      They united for Sirisena in January 2015 but within months they collapsed into their racist dens. JVP fell out from the UNP and Sirisena. TNA fell out with Sirisena and UNP and went to the Opposition after that!

      Then they contested alone at the 2015 August parliamentary election.

      Their unity didn’t last even 6 months (to nominations day!!)

      This made Rajapaksas win the 2018 grassroots level election easily. A thumping win that was. UNP-Sirisena war resulted in SLFP joining Rajapaksas.

      This is what happened and what will happen again after Rajapaksas lose in 2024. A far worse dynasty will use the same social problems and win elections. A SL Modi is very likely in 2030 after repeating Gujarat 2001 a few years before that.

      Ever wondered why since 2004, Sinhala people in Colombo district vote like Tamil people in Jaffna district voted since 1947? Sinhala ultra nationalists and Tamil ultra nationalists. Same reasons. Perceived threat to life and actual threat to opportunities.

      Until this is permanently fixed with 3 mono ethnic nations, the island will only produce racist politicians in the north, east, south, west and the middle.

      • 2
        1

        GATAM
        Your insistence on 3 instead of 2 needs a new marketing campaign.
        One party you have included in the equation have never asked for it. They wish to remain parasites is my guess.

        Soma

        • 2
          0

          soman

          “They wish to remain parasites is my guess.”

          Wrong.
          The real parasites are the public racist Anagarika concocted Sinhala/Buddhists, the laziest dumb asses with least work or no sweat enjoy not only large share of political powers and other rights but enjoys impunity from all aspect of their criminal acts, lives on ordinary people’s hard work.

          The Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, ….. and others are indeed forced to work hard so that the Sinhala/Buddhists numbering at least 6.9 Million at the last count believe they are entitle to ….. everything from A to Z.

          Aren’t you one of the 6.9, the majority of the majority as the war crime denier and war monger Dayan defined?

  • 4
    1

    It’s good to have all these family members together so that when they embark to the United States, they could be easily traceable and caught by the C.I.A: even other countries that have issued loans, lines of credits, overdue debts, and liabilities arising from food, oil, and other imports – particularly China, India, Japan, Pakistan,U.K , Australia, and other Arabian Countries awaiting to honour their Debts and agreements.

  • 3
    2

    Rajapaksas are not the sickness but a symptom. Not the cause but an outcome of racist, disunited Sri Lanka.

    If not for Rajapaksas, another dynasty will take over SL because the ground realities are the same.

    Only solution is one-island-three-mono-ethnic-nations with relocation of people into their respective nations within the island.

    Until then we will be discussing about Senanayakes, Bandranayakes, Chelvanayagams. Jayawardhenas, Rajapaksas, etc., etc.

    Same old story. Isn’t it?

    • 6
      0

      Never in the history of this country have we ever had such blatant nepotism. The President, Prime Minister, and Finance Minister, the highest offices in the country, being held by members of the same family, and in control of the country’s money.
      There might have been other corrupt families, but they were elected to office, and they never had over 200 members of their family in the administration. The Rajapaksas have turned this country into a banana republic, and made a mockery of our democracy, and a joke around the world.

    • 0
      0

      GATAM, You say, same old story and offer a solution of division into 3, like the trinity. But the trinity is in absolute Union without division. Ecclesiates 1,9 says thus “That which has been is what will be. That which is done is what will be done. And there is nothing new under the sun” This is written by king Solomon, the wisest, richest and successful king that ever lived on earth. He tried worldly life under the sun, which was all vanity and finally got back to God. If we can be reconciled with all around us after being reconciled to God, we can live in harmony without relocating needing houses to live in, schools for children, worship places for religion.

      • 2
        0

        He is one of these southern Muslims, who hate their actual immigrant South Indian Dravidian Tamil origin and in my opinion, for reasons known only to him and his likes, wants to use religion and the small amount of Western Asian and other non-Tamil origin found amongst a few hundred Sri Lankan Tamil Muslim families largely living in the south, to claim a different ethnicity from the rest of the Tamils and agitate for a Muslim state, strangely only in the Tamil areas, especially in the east where only 28% of the island’s Muslims live.

        • 2
          0

          Arrived as refugees fleeing persecution in these areas and were granted refuge as fellow Tamils, and share the same language and ethnicity as the rest of the Tamils. Note all his comments have the same theme repeating and demanding the same thing again and again, Always running the island’s Tamils down at times the Sinhalese but never the Muslims and always demanding a three-state solution, when from ancient times the island only had two nations and ethnicities. There is no valid or historical claim but he keeps on demanding this. That is ok it is his right to demand but will never be granted. This means West Indian and South Asian immigrants to Britain are also entitled to a homeland in Britain in addition to the native Welsh and Scotts.

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