10 August, 2022


Daya Master For NPC Chief, Lake House Vituperation Of SJV Chelvanayakam

By Rajan Philips

Rajan Philips

As expected the President threw manna at the ‘official’ May Day rally in the form of electricity tariff relief.  The President disposed in public what he and his government had earlier put in place without even having a proper cabinet discussion on the matter.  It is not just that the electricity tariffs have been poorly handled politically, they are also a botched-up product professionally.  The President’s May Day manna may mitigate the political damage somewhat but will do nothing to correct the fundamentally flawed premise and methodology of the tariffs, let alone the crisis in the power sector.  Rupees  Eight billion is the price tag on the President’s relief promise.  What’s a billion for the brotherhood government with a superrich mindset?

But don’t call this subsidy, which is the opposite of tax.  Government collects taxes and pays out subsidy.  It would be subsidy if the government pays the CEB the shortfall due to reduced rates from its other revenues.  But the government has no revenue to pay from, when its debt payments are more than its revenues.  The result would be a continual increase of the CEB’s debt.  And between them the CEB and CPC will make sure that there is little money left in the banks for any other business to borrow.  The tariff fiasco is another example of misfiring government and 2013 is becoming a remarkable year for it.

The year began judgmentally with rulings by the apex Courts on the unconstitutionality of the impeachment of CJ Shirani Bandaranayake.  The government is now constrained to end the year by hosting the Commonwealth Conference in November.  The summit is seven months away but speculations about RSVPs have already started.  And before the summit, by its own miscalculated commitment the government has to showcase to Sri Lankans, the Commonwealth and others the holding of a free and fair election to the Northern Provincial Council in September.

In other achievements this year, a new airport was opened in deep south but it requires bowsers shipping aviation fuel by road from Colombo to pump a plane fly back from Hambantota.  There is more marketing than managing the economy.  The chief salesman happens to be the Central Bank Governor under whose stewardship the Bank is investing in advertising GOSL in the US and has turned its Annual Report into a glossy show-and-tell political affair from what used to be a credible and independent assessment of the economy.  The parliament is sidelined without formally receiving or questioning the Bank’s Annual Report.  MPs need not bother for it is no longer the Bank’s Annual Report but “Cabraal Report” according to UNP MP Eran Wickremeratne.  In any event, MPs can keep themselves busy by staging candle light fights and not doing anything worthwhile.

Mistakes in governing do not go away or diminish but keep multiplying and returning.  Nothing illustrates this more than the continuing harassment of Shirani Bandaranayake.  The government cannot and will not let go of her, nor could it leave alone the January rulings of the apex courts.  A repacked bench is now set to revisit the verdict of a bench of its own brothers.  The judicial pyramid is being stripped away from top to bottom.  Thanks to the rot at the bottom level, an accused like Duminda Silva is allowed to rise and walk like Lazarus and be saluted by a state policeman.  The government apologists will say to independent lawyers in Colombo that they should not protest too much and in fact they should be happy that they are not in Islamabad where gunmen just this Friday killed Pakistan’s main prosecutor.

Commonwealth Summit and the NPC election

From now till November political preoccupation will be with the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) election in September and the Commonwealth Summit in November.  The government fought hard to get the Commonwealth to meet in Sri Lanka as it was scheduled at the last summit in Australia.  Now many in the government are fighting hard to have the NPC election canceled.  The President is in a pickle because he knows that his government cannot successfully host the summit without holding the NPC election first.  He must be regretting now for his grand promise to hold the NPC election in September 2013.  Just as he would have been regretting for talking about 13A plus to the Indians.  The government can dance around 13A, but canceling the NPC election set for September will have consequences for the attendance at and the success of the summit in November.

Strategically, the government could have skipped hosting the Commonwealth summit for a few years instead of insisting on hosting it this year when it has too many global detractions going against it.  Sri Lanka is by no means a pariah country but the Sri Lankan government has fences to mend in countries that the government can ill afford to ignore.  And the broken overseas fences are on account of lingering problems at home – involving the political solution to the Tamil problem, the organized harassment of the Muslims, and continuing violations of human and democratic rights.  The government’s dilemma is that it wants to be liked abroad without doing even the minimum to address the concerns that others have about the government’s record on postwar reconciliation, campaign against the Muslims, and crackdown on political opponents.

Holding the NPC election in September is not going to address all the problems facing the people in the Northern Province.  But canceling the election will only send the message that the government is not interested in solving any of them.  The government and the President are also the reason for the rising calls to cancel the election and to repeal 13A.  If the President wants he can put an end to these calls in no time.  On the other hand, if the President is as convinced as the doubters that 13A and the PC system have no place in Sri Lanka, he should say that openly and unambiguously.  He should have the courage of his conviction to cancel the NPC election and deal with the fallout at the Commonwealth Summit. In fact, he should use the occasion of the Commonwealth Summit to clearly indicate why he cancelled the election and where he stands on 13A, the Provincial Council system and the LLRC recommendations.

By all appearances, the President is not a convinced supporter of 13A and the PC system, but he is a shrewd politician who would keep them in place and cynically muddle through to serve his own ends.  Rather than canceling the NPC, the President is reportedly planning to field a relic from the LTTE past as the UPFA candidate for the Chief Minister post.  The coopted candidate is Daya Master (Velayutham Dayanidhi), who was LTTE’s media spokesman in Kilinochchi before his surrender and rehabilitation.  If the news reports are true, the President and his advisers have learnt nothing from what happened electorally in Tamil politics before the LTTE and have forgotten everything about the LTTE experience.  More to the point, elections were anathema to the LTTE and now a former LTTE operative is going contest an election for the UPFA.  And by some governmental alchemy, every LTTE operative who surrendered to the government is now a good Sri Lankan citizen and any Tamil who does not support the government is a Tiger, unarmed but dangerous!  This is hardly the way for the government to win the hearts and minds of the Tamils.

Daya Master will not even win many Tamil votes if he were to translate and use the strident Daily News editorials in his election campaign.  One such editorial last week called SJV Chelvanayakam “that original unadulterated Tamil racist” and “that arch original racist bigot.”  The quoted words say a great deal about the person who wrote them and nothing at all about Mr. Chelvanayakam.  But the question is whether a state-owned paper should carry such vituperation if the state is sincere about winning the hearts and minds of the Tamils, not to mention their votes in the NPC election.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    Daya Master as a politician… what a joke. The so-called ‘patriots’ of our land get their blood boiling for halal and burqas, but when the man who bombed the Dalada Maligaawa is a government politician being paid for by the taxpayers’ money, no one gives a rat’s arse.

    Aisey Sumane, whither art thou? Make some more excuses will you for your darling Rajapakse.

  • 0

    If I were to think like a well esteemed ‘public servant’ with top military background, Daya Master may be presented a bullet before the ballot and accuse new LTTE and postpone the NPC election.

  • 0

    I don’t remember the exact circumstances but SJV had reportedly said that only God can save the Tamils at some point in time. When one reads exposés of this nature, one is tempted to repeat his words but of course beseeching the gods to save Sri Lanka. It is incredibly sad when young and old professionals of Sri Lankan heritage are making a mark all over the world, Sri Lanka is becoming the laughing stock diplomatically, politically and economically in the eyes of professionals.

    • 0

      SJV said that in 1970 while addressing his supporters at the Jaffna Kachcheri after being declared the winner of the KKS seat in the 1970 General Election. The statement was in the context of the election results in the south: the rout of the UNP and the UF’s landslide victory. SJV and the Federal Party were hoping for a more balanced verdict in the south. The UF victory eventually led to the 1972 Constitution. The rest is history. But as I have argued elsewhere, while the greater part of the blame for the consequences of the 1972 Constitution rests with the makers of the 1972 Constitution, the Federal Party and SJV must share a proportionate blame for the sequence of events that started with the FP joining the UNP in the 1965 National Government. Until then the FP had maintained a moral equi-distance between the SLFP and the UNP. Siding with the UNP was the start of a slippery slope and the final insult came when JR failed to honour his commitment to SJV’s successors that he would rectify the errors of the 1972 Constitution in the 1978 Constitution. The inuslt was followed by injury on both sides, and inavriably against the Muslims as well.

  • 0

    Rajan seems to be very upset that his ‘God’ SJV has been called what he was!

    • 0

      No, I am not upset. And SJV is not my god. In fact, I have no god and I do not think of the term without remembering at the sametime GK Chesterton’s crack about spelling the word ‘god’ backwards!

      I have criticized SJV politically. My point in the artice is that it is politically stupid for the government to have its official English daily call SJV names and expect to win the hearts and minds as well as the votes of the Tamils.

      At another level – as far as I know, and if you know better you can correct me – I can think of only two frontline Sri Lankan parliamentarians whoes personal honesty and basic decency have never been questioned in any way. One was SJV Chelvanayakm QC, and the other was Dr SA Wickremasinghe.

  • 0

    If Pilaiyan can Karuna Can KP can why not Daya master. Who is next?

  • 0


    For honesty and integrity and the most courageous approach to the Tamil Problem, the name of Edmund Samakkody can never be forgotten.

  • 0

    Rajan Philips,

    Thanks for clarifying the context when SJV made that pessimistic statement.

    Let us go back a little further into history.

    when the March 1960 election resulted in a hung Parliament the Fereral Party and SJV became the king makers.

    The policy or strategy of FP at that time was blackmailing or bargaining for Tamil rights for supporting either of the main political parties for forming the government.

    When Dudly refused to accept Federal Party’s demands, the Federal Party was able to defeat Dudly’s minority government in April 1960 resulted in MRS B forming the government after 1960 July elections with absolute majority.

    But the opportunity came towards SJV’s way again in 1965, and this time Federal Party opted to support Dudly in forming the government after entering into the famous Dudly – Chevanayagam Pact.

    But like in any blackmail Dudly could not keep to his word and as a result, the Federal Party had to withdraw their support by 1969.

    However the Dudley’s government did not fall but survived and completed their full term.

    When the election time came for the 1970 election, irrespective of his bitter experience Chelva again in the 1970 elections,wanted a hung parliament to win the rights of the Tamils as a result of another bargaining.

    SJV like many UNPers at that time believed that UNP will sweep the polls with a comfortable majority as a result of misjudgment and therefore he appealed to the Tamil voters to vote to ensure a hung Parliament and thereby provide Federal Party another opportunity to be king makers.

    Actually he indirectly wanted the Tamils to vote for the united front in a clear instance of incorrect assesmant of the ground situation.

    Despite all expectations when the United Front swept the polls SJV was so disappointed that he made that ill fated statement that”Only God can save the Tamils”.

    This admission of impotency was the indicator for the Tamil militants to take the upper hand and the rest is history as they say!

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