21 May, 2019

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After The Sisyphean Labours Of 100 Days

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Now strike while the iron is hot!

One would need to be preposterously naïve or a wacky babe in the woods to miss the obvious. A fat section of the SLFP (40 MPs), Nimal Siripala and Anura Priyadashana included and the four scumbags (Wimal, Vasu, Dinesh, Gampits) have but one objective. They care not what 19th Amendment says, nor are they concerned about electoral reform (20A); they would have damned 19A if they dared. Their long-term venture is a single minded campaign to inflict defeat on Sirisena-Ranil (R&S), bring them into ridicule, and clear the way for the return of some version of debauched despotic Rajapaksa rule. They would have defeated 19A if they could have survived the ensuing political storm.

This is not the end of the matter. Its serious defects, and contemptible last minute capitulation on the Constitutional Council notwithstanding, 19A is a step forward; but that is no longer the point. The crunch point now is carrying mobilisation in support of this albeit castrated instrument forward to defeat the pro-Mahinda pestilence floated by scumbags, SLFP conspirators, BBS and assorted racists. As 19A becomes a part of history, the chips are down and the real struggle is getting underway. The challenge now is who will control the political spaces? It is imperative to move fast; this is a second chance after the missed post 8 January opportunities; strike while the iron is hot, inflicted a decisive defeat on proto-fascism, on the streets, and in the forthcoming elections.

[The Constitutional Council (CC) which vets high appointments (Judges, IGP, AG, Elections and Bribery Commissioners, UGC and others] was to include seven persons of repute appointed by the President on the advice of PM, Leader of Opposition and political leaders. Now in a contemptible capitulation it will have seven MPs instead! This incestuous relationship between CC and Parliament destroys the balance between the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches. Do not confuse this with the US Senate’s vetting of high appointments which is different in powers and traditions – actually we have no traditions in this respect].

Before undertaking what I reckon is reasonable criticism, fairness demands that I enumerate four achievements of the government. The pall of fear, intimidation and white vans has been lifted; we breathe freer air. Second and no less important, there is less racial and religious animosity in the country since any time post-1960s. Lanka’s soiled and tarnished international image has been repaired and its good name restored. Fourth the leaders of this government are not leeches fattening on the public purse; a shameful period of statecraft has ended and the decency bar in public life has been raised. What I have not mentioned, you will observe, are abolition of the Executive Presidency as pledged, a robust drive to lock-up corrupt politicians, and notable economic achievements. These then are the debit side of the balance sheet.

Now for the not so good news

R&S, the Cabinet and the ranks of the government at one stage seemed mesmerised, dazed by events; outfoxed, they lurched around a bramble of thorn. Is this criticism fair and productive? It is fair; the government missed many opportunities. It was infuriating to watch it hurtling to suicide by holding back prosecutions and dragging the rest of us down with it. The President declared in his 100-day statement that he is not a weak leader but did not wish to overuse his powers. Excellent! But the point is that police and prosecutors have so far been reluctant to use legitimate power against high criminals of the previous regime. When they do act, remanded crooked politicos cultivate life threatening heart ailments; Durdans can profitably open an emergency cardiac unit in Hulftsdorp. Anger has been rife; President and PM have been imprudent to disregard public resentment.

Is this harsh criticism productive when the current task is to stop suicide? Well it may not be productive, but like millions of others I needed to get this off my chest. Having worked off this exasperation, the next priority is quick dissolution of parliament and denial of nomination to SLFPers who have not been 100% on board (even if they voted for 19A) and the UPFA scum (Get nomination from Mahinda!) Sirisena must stand tall, not fear crisis in the SLFP and secure electoral agreements with the UNP, TNA, SLMC and JVP. Leaders must not shrink from leading, inspiring and mobilising.

It is said of the French Revolution that before the Jacobins and their incorruptible leaders took the helm, the Girondists and moderate bourgeois feared the masses more than they feared Monarchy. Hence the rise of Jacobinism and “The Terror” completed history’s tasks; crisis is not a time for faint hearted leaders who fear the masses whose activism escapes their control. R&S must either grasp the nettle, the prickly pear of confronting proto-fascism, or be extinguished with a whimper.

July 4 1789 shook the world and its last and lasting tremors are still not past (that yarn about Chou En Lai and Henry Kissinger could well be true). It sent the Enlightenment and modernity on the bayonets of Napoleon’s soldiers all over Europe. Here in Lanka however soothsayers lead kings by the nose into a precipice; my nephew scorches his hand and burns down half the house bucketing high volatility fuel on a fire in a mumbo-jumbo Avurudhu ritual (boiling milk to spite a cow?) Folks decant water on the scalps of the new born, risking pneumonia, just to give the creature a label. (They did it to me, twice, the Catholic side and the Protestant side; no wonder I ended up like this!)

Consider its first two years (Bastille to Valmy); the Revolution abolished feudalism (4 August), adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen (26 August), a Women’s March on Versailles defeated a Monarchist coup (October) and confiscated church lands (November), all in 1789, and adopted a new constitution (First Republic) in 1791. Horrified all the powers of old Europe (Holy Roman Empire) armed to crush it, but at the Battle of Valmy (September 1792) the young Republic repulsed its enemies. Ok, ok it’s more like a thousand days than 100, but the speed at which history laid the foundations for the transformation of Europe in the next 25 years is astonishing. Strike while the iron is hot, or repent. “The voyage of their life (will be) bound in shallows and in miseries”, or to be prosaic, if favourable opportunity is allowed to slip away, it will not return.

The first post-revolutionary phase had its natural and class limits. Led by the Girondists (many came from Gironde Province) who supported a republic and the abolition of the monarchy, they could not adapt to the intensity of the Montegrads (mountain), the Jacobins, who sought total change and a transformation of the state. The Jacobins mobilised Paris to repulse the monarchist backlash on the streets, abolished the monarchy, put the King on trial and chopped off his dome, and forced through extensive land reform – that is completed the agrarian revolution.

Analogy with today’s Lanka will be clear, here and there, to those who seek it, but more important is that the narrative has the advantage of historical distance. The blaze of great events animates some points that are not much different but happen in dimmer corners. R&S are constrained, they be Girondists! Our erstwhile royal family, rogues in tow, are surely a caricature Louis XVI, his court and retinue; the howling “Bring Back Mahinda” pantaloons are they not Thermidor, the counterrevolution? What’s missing? Of course, Robespierre and the Jacobins whose doppelganger shoes are too big for the JVP to fill! Never mind, thankfully we are not burdened with a mission to carry the Enlightenment message and a promise of liberty (albeit its bourgeois democratic dwarf version) across continents, nor to bequeath its piquant aroma to posterity.

Homespun obligations

Ok then let’s cut the jock-straps to fit the cloth and set the government doable tasks within its means; Ranil, we have been told, calls it “the art of the possible”. I am not ambitious; this is only a list of five very doable tasks.

What has happened to the alleged coup on January 8-9 night? The story was well publicised, PM and Foreign Minister were outspoken. And now its hush. That won’t do; if after investigation the case for prosecution is not strong, ok that’s fine. Just let the public know.

The Sri Lankan Airlines probe has shown up what has NOT been done elsewhere. The glaring and inexplicable omission is the Highways Ministry (of Mahinda Rajapaksa) and expressway projects where, I allege with the support of expert collaborators and study of such facts as outsiders can lay hands on, billions were robbed. And why no probe of the Petroleum Corporation or Foreign Service? Impending dissolution of parliament is no impediment to such investigations since the President can appoint panels to report back to him.

Continuing, yes, it is contrary to good governance to exert pressure on the police, bribery department and AG to expedite prosecution on the mountain of cases of bribery, robbery and drug peddling, if it is done for political gain. But so many cases are hanging in the air; it is obligatory for the government to provide resources for expeditious action.

The return of military occupied lands has to be expedited; up to now it has been merely a cosmetic exercise.
What about the thousands languishing in prison under the Prevention of Terrorism and similar draconian anti-democratic laws? Why can’t everybody who has been detained for more than one year be released on bail, forthwith?

This is neither a ‘dream list’ nor a revolutionary wish-list requiring Robespierren/Justian incorruptibility and Jacobin ruthlessness; why even good Girondists can do it. Maybe this is why I am reminded of a fabled African proverb: “If a mosquito settles on your testicles, learn that there are better ways to solve a problem than to resort to violence”. I make no calls for ferocity, only resolute action within the full force of the law. If Sirisena and Ranil dither again for a second time, they will be crushed by counterrevolution.

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Latest comments

  • 0
    1

    But time which 8th January 2015 Sri lanka often stand still on political democracy and Economic development and Social progress does not work at all.. This is an obviously counter revolution led by MS CBK and UNP which that Ruling class and Party change by Presendintal election.

    This emerge shifting power form Sri lanka, other than political classes and parties back by Separatist of Eealm of TNA & MC, anarchist of Terrorism of JVP, which undermined that whole very foundation of 67 years old values of democratic structure of Parliamentary democracy and its norms.

    I delighted to hear that.If we wanted do to do right thing for political democracy and its good governances ,we couldn’t keep placating the hawks for the sake of consensus.
    Unfortunately ,MS UNP-Ranil .W. & CBK first move after MR ruling party defeated 2015 January 8th that shift into assertive mode of politics did not go as well as People of Sri Lankan hoped.

    When it came to the expectations game of economic policy it was how important country like Sri lanka, get the theater right as well as the substance of monetary policy. In my view was that we had botched the theater ,which undermine ongoing development and growth of national economy .After 100 days MS UNP-Ranil and CBK assurances of hope political dream of ‘good governances and rule of law made’ things look worse than people were expected ,which undermined confidence.

    The verdict of voters, ignorant of so-called political propaganda agitation and organization against ‘corruptions of MR family’ oriented campaign that impact to misled whole recently won democratic task that the balance of risk had shifted dramatically towards politically econimally and socially weakness and financial distress.

  • 1
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    Prof. Kumar David

    RE: Now strike while the iron is hot!

    1. “Their long-term venture is a single minded campaign to inflict defeat on Sirisena-Ranil (R&S), bring them into ridicule, and clear the way for the return of some version of debauched despotic Rajapaksa rule. They would have defeated 19A if they could have survived the ensuing political storm.”

    This is no surprise. Yes, strike while the iron is hot. Expose, expose and expose these Liars, Crooks, Robbers and criminals.

    2. “The pall of fear, intimidation and white vans has been lifted; we breathe freer air. Second and no less important, there is less racial and religious animosity in the country since any time post-1960s. Lanka’s soiled and tarnished international image has been repaired and its good name restored. Fourth the leaders of this government are not leeches fattening on the public purse; a shameful period of statecraft has ended and the decency bar in public life has been raised. What I have not mentioned, you will observe, are abolition of the Executive Presidency as pledged, a robust drive to lock-up corrupt politicians, and notable economic achievements. These then are the debit side of the balance sheet.”

    However, the Culprits and criminals must be apprehended and punished. It may incarceration, hanging or rolling of heads. Thre should be judgement.

    Why are they still waiting?

    Do they want to talk, or do they want to shoot?

    When You Have To Shoot, Shoot, Don’t Talk!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqy0mw84iPo

  • 0
    1

    But time which 8th January 2015 Sri lanka often stand still on political democracy and Economic development and Social progress does not work at all.. This is an obviously counter revolution led by MS CBK and UNP which that Ruling class and Party change by Presendintal election.

    This emerge shifting power form Sri lanka, other than political classes and parties back by Separatist of Eealm of TNA & MC, anarchist of Terrorism of JVP, which undermined that whole very foundation of 67 years old values of democratic structure of Parliamentary democracy and its norms has been disappear.

    I delighted to hear that.If we wanted do to do right thing for political democracy and its good governances ,we couldn’t keep placating the hawks for the sake of consensus.
    Unfortunately ,MS UNP-Ranil .W. & CBK first move after MR ruling party defeated 2015 January 8th that shift into assertive mode of politics did not go as well as People of Sri Lankan hoped.

    When it came to the expectations game of economic policy it was how important country like Sri lanka, get the theater right as well as the substance of monetary policy. In my view was that we had botched the theater ,which undermine ongoing development and growth of national economy .

    After 100 days MS UNP-Ranil and CBK assurances of hope political dream of ‘good governances and rule of law made’ things look worse than people were expected ,which undermined confidence.

    The verdict of voters, ignorant of so-called political propaganda agitation and organization against ‘corruptions of MR family’ oriented campaign that impact to misled whole recently won democratic task setback. Indeed that is the balance of risk had shifted dramatically towards politically, econimally and socially weakness and financial distress.

    In these circumstance ,opposition national forces don’t have perfect foresight. Actually they shock to LEARN counter-revolution has taken place by MS,CBK ally with UNP-Ranil 2015 January.
    People do not know what make mistake and you have got to decided ,which kind of mistake are less damage. It would not be easier to correct the mistake of doing too much, I think escalate too slowly let the situation burn out of control and have to correct the mistake of doing too little. People have no idea how hard this was.
    We have understands that MS, UNP and CBK be crossing a line of previous democratic values and norms by forceful hands behind foreign powers, people lost whole range of democratic rights inside and outside Parliament democracy.

    This new reality counter revolution of democratic task had been covered by so-called corruptions allegations against MR family.
    It become political risk and moral hazard was real too.

    The opposition had no idea how much exposure their counterparties had. During a political panic they would be inclined to assume the worst and pull back from every one potentially exposed national democratic elements to default.

    While that counter revolution of political coup which had direct impact of ours national Sovereignty ,Territorial Integrity and Democracy that failure would be bad to worse, the real danger was that it would spark.

    The National democratic forces perceived to have similar vulnerabilities ,triggering a chain reaction of fear and uncertainty that could imperil the entire Sri lanka’s soil.

  • 1
    1

    Prof David,

    Ranil is not a practitioner of “the art of the possible” because he CANNOT. For the principle to be functional one has to be dealing with intelligent and strategic minds. We know that is not happening in our lifetimes.

    He has learnt the art of doing the minimum required, and letting the impatience of others create a momentum towards an end. At those moments, he steps in and takes advantage. Unfortunately for him, it was 20 years in the making the last time round because there were just too characters messing up plans. And, (give where credit is due) the Rajapakse’s were very clever to thwart his strategy with their double-speak.

    One of the primary reasons we are at the cusp of significant possibilities for Sri Lanka is that the Rajapakse’s DID NOT KNOW until it was too late to change plans. For that simple but difficult to execute strategy there are many fathers and mothers, today.

    Hopefully someone will write a memoir one day that will detail the chronology of events that lead to a President Sirisena.

  • 2
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    Previous regime made hundreds of billions of Rupees through the highway projects. Some companies also made billions.

    Unfortunately no probe on any of these todate.

    Some areas of outer circular is costing Rs 5 billion per km and that is Rs 5 million for one meter of road!!!

  • 0
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    Prof Kum, as usual has written an essay throwing out his feelings. The summary of his first few paragraphs is that the composition of the CC which had 7 non-MPs, now has 7 MPs & 3 outsiders. Even the Prime Minister, Ranil W, conceded in Parliament that he understood that there was something amiss in appointing a majority of non-MPs. Alas that statement was made in the language of the majority and a translation of the same may not be readily be available. Prof Kum cannot be an idealist and he must take into consideration the effect of entrenched clauses where the sovreignity lies and how it is exercised. Alas, vital activities of the state has to be taken into the hands of those who exercise that power of sovreignity and it is clear to anybody that 19A was passed after a good discussion and consensus.

    With respect to allegations and preliminary inquiries conducted, including the one at Central Bank, it must stand up to the test of admisibility. Evidence must be rock solid. As it is no public servant worth his salt would now say that something was wrong when there is no rock solid evidence. GET THE FACTS OUT AND THAT ALONE SHOULD SET THE BALL ROLLING.

    What is of interest in Prof Kum’s essay is the contents of the penultimate paragraph. The government must publish a detailed progress report every fortninght on the matters raised indicating what is done and what is to be done and the time frame of completion of each micro-activity.

    Finally I don’t expect a man of Prof Kum’s sagacity and standing to quote African proverbs to be in the border line with unparliamentary content.

  • 0
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    Beside the points interesting reading. What were you drinking while writing this piece. Give us a shot! Life getting lively after long time since French Revolution! Thank you.

  • 2
    0

    Prof:

    “United States Secretary of State John Kerry delivering an address at the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute during his brief visit to Colombo last Saturday revealed that the Sri Lankan Government would conduct a general election during summer. Kerry’s cat jumped out of the bag during that address. America calls for an early general election to save Sri Lanka at the September UNHRC session. When the war crimes report was to be tabled at the last sessions of the UNHRC, Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera persuaded Kerry to postpone it.”

    The above is a speech by Mr.Kerry and that has a resonance with the unfolding events in Sinhala Lanka to tell the World that left unchecked Sinhala Lanka is not capable of breaking free from the clutches of Racists who form the majority.

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