10 December, 2019

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Defeat Of The Oppressed

By Harsha Gunasena

Harsha Gunasena

New President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has taken his oaths at Ruwanveliseya symbolizing his way forward. He is the President of all including those who voted against him. He emphasized this at his address to the nation and when he made a brief speech at the Election Secretariat. He also said that he knew he could win with solely the Sinhala votes.  I sincerely hope that the new President would have the vision and the strength to neutralize the ethnic disharmony of our motherland which is mandatory to achieve an economic growth. 

In respect of the presidential election, although there were opinions expressed that there can be a second count of preference votes of the candidates other than the first and second, it was an easy victory for Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Anura Kumara Dissanayake was blamed for contesting separately rather than joining Sajith Premadasa as JVP did in 2015 since it was expected that there would be a division of votes in the pro democratic block paving the way for Rajapaksa victory. Majority of Rajapakse amounting to 1.3 Mn votes were more than thrice of the votes obtained by Dissanayake amounting to 418,000. Therefore, there was hardly any possibility of filling such a big gap with the synergetic effect of campaigning together. Other independent candidates would have realized that there is hardly any possibility in Sri Lanka to emerge as a third force under the current political scenario. In 2010 presidential election which was held after the end of the war, Mahinda Rajapaksa claimed victory without the support of the minority parties. Same thing happened in this instance as well.

In the presidential election 2015 all the minorities supported Maithripala Sirisena. North and East mainly occupied by Tamils and Muslims; West coast where Christians are; Nuwara Eliya and Kandy where there is a concentration of Upcountry Tamils and Muslims; Urbanized Colombo and Kandy; and his base Polonnaruwa supported Sirisena. The rest of the country supported Rajapaksa. However, Sirisena obtained a considerable number of votes from the rest of the country in order to secure the victory. 

In this presidential election Tamils and Muslims supported Premadasa. There was a slight division of the votes of upcountry Tamils. Christians of the west coast voted for Rajapaksa and Premadasa lost even Colombo and Kandy. Many expected his appeal towards the poor supported by considerable work he has done towards them would fetch adequate number of votes from the rural areas for him. It did not work. Also, there was an expectation that he would fetch considerable number of votes from the members of the castes suppressed by the social system. It also did not work.

The present government imposed certain taxes on the rich in order to increase government revenue which was a necessity and as a result the rich may have voted against Premadasa but for  the vast majority of the rural population, the main issue may have been the national security and related issues connected to nationality.

Nation state is a recently developed concept. India was able to adopt it at the time of the independence due to the foresight of the leaders of the Indian independence struggle. In Sri Lanka among the majority Sinhala Buddhists the term nationality is confined to identify their own ethnocentric group. They consider the members of the other ethnicities as outsiders. 

However, history teaches us a totally different story. Over centuries in Sri Lanka there were no clashes between Sinhalese and Tamils as ethnic groups. The clashes were among the kings and princes. They were concerned about their power and not the ethnicity. In Elara’s army there were considerable number of Sinhalese.  Magha, who ruined our civilization in 13th century, was not a Tamil. Sinhala kings got support from the Pandyans  to attack Chola invaders, both were South Indians.

Sinhalese and Muslims lived in Sri Lanka with harmony over a millennium. Muslims served as officials in the administration of the state as well as of the Buddhist monasteries during the time of the Sinhala kings. They were settled in the Kandyan districts by the kings in order to save them from the European invaders. Roman Catholics were saved from the Protestant Dutch by the Sinhala Kings.

This situation was changed with the Buddhist revival in the late 19th century which was aimed against the hegemonic Christian authority prevalent at that time and unfortunately it worked against the other ethnicities as well. That was the beginning of the ethnic disharmony of this country.

This is reflected in the election results as well. In all the districts voting percentage had gone up compared to 2015 presidential election. In Jaffna,Vanni, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Digamadulla districts voters have given more votes to Premadasa compared to Sirisena in 2015. In Trincomalee and Digamadulla districts there were two predominantly Sinhala electorates, Seruwila and Ampara respectively. In those two electorates, which were won by Rajapaksa, voters gave more votes to Rajapaksa compared to 2015 election. However, in Kalmunai electorate in Digamadulla, there was a shift of votes from UNP block to Rajapaksa from 2015 to 2019. Voters did not give any respect to their ethnic candidates such as Shivajilingam in the North or Hizbullah in the East. In Nuwara Eliya majority of Premadasa was reduced compared to 2015 due to the fact that Thondaman was with Rajapaksa. Premadasa lost the majority Muslim electorates Harispattuwa in Kandy and Beruwala in Kaluthara. In Kandy, Premadasa managed to secure a reduced majority in the electorates Patha Dumbara, Hewaheta, Mahanuwara, Udunuwara, Gampola and Nawalapitiya but he lost the district.

In the West coast all the Christian majority electorates were shifted towards Rajapaksa except for Negombo and Wattala. Premadasa got a reduced majority of those two electorates compared to 2015. This is mainly due the Easter Sunday attack. Premadasa maintained the majority in the electorates of Colombo city but he lost the suburbs. He lost the district as well.

Rest of the country dominated by the Sinhala Buddhists was for Rajapaksa. His majority was increased compared to 2015 election. Voter turnout also was increased in all the districts. Therefore, the division of the ethnic line was clearly visible in this election.

This is not healthy for the country. Gotabaya Rajapaksa said at the Election Secretariat that he is mindful that he is the president of all the citizens of the country and not only of the people who voted for him. This is the only way forward. The Opposition Leader said they may have to change even the constitution referring to the 19th amendment. 19th amendment was a temporary move and the intention was to have a new constitution altogether to address the problems of the center as well as the periphery.

National security is best achieved by creating an atmosphere for all the communities to live in harmony and not by strengthening the military. If the people are concerned of national security, they should be mindful not to create tensions among the ethnic groups. Results of the presidential election in 2015 revealed a dividing line among the different ethnicities and by the results of this election it was established. It is the duty of all of us led by the new President to neutralize this trend without being too late.

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Latest comments

  • 23
    6

    This is not a good sign at all, To marginalise more and more: Sinhalese will never learn from history.

    • 6
      2

      Instead of obsessing about past minority issues, Civil Society should move on and ask Gota to deliver good governance and Economic Justice for ALL communities in the country and end corruption and nepotism and the culture of debt and begging from foreign countries.

      The Cabinet should have only 10 MPs and none should have duty free cars.
      The political rent seekers in the corrupt cesspit called Parliament need to be held accountable and Gota because he has a big majority does not need a massive cabinet of 50 corrupt clowns.

    • 4
      0

      I think the ground reality is different to that of writers opinion. Not to forget that GR also got some votes from the minorities as well. So this is the time to set aside all political views and build OUR COUNTRY .

      • 1
        0

        Fernando,
        Thank you. Yes GR got some votes from the minorities. I my article i have mentioned the instances where GR got minority vote. But the treand is otherway around. Yes, all of us should focus on building our country.

  • 3
    6

    [edited out]
    Wait and see what is happening.

    People have given the verdict and that is democracy.

    • 0
      0

      Thanks Sunil. Please refer my comment below to Real Revolutionist.

  • 6
    7

    Following Gotabhaya’s victory did you see the riots as Tamil and Muslim businesses were stoned, looted and set on fire by the cheering crowds and the Police stood by and did nothing?

    No? No, of course not, Gota would not tolerate such behaviour. If such a thing were to happen he would crush it immediately. The minorities have nothing to fear from him. In fact he will defend them well because his reputation depends on it.

    • 0
      1

      EA, Thanks for your comment. Not only Gota at Aluthgama during the MR regime but also S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in 1958, J.R.Jayewardene in 1977 and 1983 and the two leaders of last regime at Digana and at Minuwangoda area after Ester attack tolerated that behaviour. That is the tragedy Sri Lanka is facing.

      • 0
        0

        Yes Harsha you are right, perhaps I expect too much. I live in hope that the Rajapakses have learned their lesson but …….

      • 1
        0

        EA, yes no riots took place. But if Gota had lost there would have been as majority of hoodlums, police, army and public servants would have committed it.

  • 3
    2

    Has GR taken oaths at Ruwanvalisaya to symbolise his way forward or is he implying some sort of ‘greatness’ from the past as we were taught as children in history classes? Wouldn’t a ceremony at the Presidential Secretariat convey the same message? If I am not mistaken, in the same way, Premadasa Snr took oaths at the Dalada Maigawa, the symbol of the last SL Kingdom. I am no psycho analyst but I can’t see the purpose of taking oaths at historical sights other than an indication of personal triumph due to some deep rooted image problem.

    Anyway, now that it’s all done & dusted, I would like to see the man of action getting on with the job. I am sure the old cronies & the usual bum suckers, not to mention the relatives, are queuing up with their felicitations & well wishes, so I am curious to know how he will fill the bloated cabinet & the plum jobs, starting with a new PM. Maybe he should pass a Buddhist Law, equivalent to Sharia law enforced in Muslim countries, enforced by a Buddhist Police headed by Gnanasara to ensure we start the day by chanting the 5 precepts & observe sil on poya days. Then there is his pledge to release the ‘ranawiruvo’ languishing in jail the following day after the inauguration & while at it, maybe a few others like Duminda Silva, just to ease the prison over crowding. Obviously the past is history (after all, allegations do not indicate guilt unless proven & a person is innocent until proven guilty), so we should not waste time & money investigating the past but look to the future by moving forward (& it would be much easier without baggage). Only time will tell.

  • 4
    17

    Its is fine for Gotaby to say that he is the President of all Lanka. But I am sure he will remember that it is the Sinhalese who voted him in and no matter what he does, it is only the Sinhalese who will ever make it possible for him to secure other wins, including re-election. Moslems are brainwashed beyond redemption and only the Chinese Uighur style intervention can prevent more and more Easter Sunday type attacks. Tamils sadly dislike him, in spite of the fact that is he who saved them from LTTE. These are facts and Gotaby must be loyal to the Sinhalese and put them first in all strategic decisions at all times. Otherwise all will be lost for him and for Lanka.

  • 4
    7

    “In Sri Lanka among the majority Sinhala Buddhists the term nationality is confined to identify their own ethnocentric group. They consider the members of the other ethnicities as outsiders.”

    This is sheer BS! The main obstacle to harmony between Sinhalayo and Demala people is Wellala elite politicians whose survival depends on depicting Sinhalayo as the enemy of Demala people.

    President Gotabhaya Rajapakse should sideline these Wellala elite politicians and address the problems of low caste Demala people who are about 70%. The top priority of these ordinary folks is development that will create job opportunities for them but the top priority of elite Wellala politicians is creating a Federal System so that they can continue to keep the low caste Demala people oppressed.

    Scrap ‘Thesawalamei’ and give land to Daliths.

    • 1
      0

      Eagle Eye
      Thanks for the comment. Well it is not simply BS. I agree not only Sinhala Buddhists but also Tamils are thinking in the same line.
      You have seen what happened when the vellala politicians were by Karayar militants in the North and as a result we have to engage in a 30 year war.
      It is not only the thinking of the politicians alone but also the thinking of the ordinaty Tamils. Please put yourself in their shoes. Then only you will realise.

  • 7
    9

    Defeated by the Oppressed!
    Who was defeated? Sajith backed by ugly forces was defeated.
    Who are those ugly forces defeated? Those who say one to the North and another to the South were defeated.
    Open your eyes! Look around and listen to the average man in the streets. You will learn a lot about Sri Lankan politics. For them Gota’s citizenship was not an issue at all! The issue was lack of democracy in the country; no elections! no law!! no answers to people’s day to day burning problems.
    Northern Tamils have their diaspora to help them! Eastern Muslims have their ancestral nations in the middle east!! They both go to their respective relatives with their grievances and for financial help! The majority Sinhalese had none to go to; none to make even a simple complaint to! Under Yahapalanaya the majority Sinhalese had become like refugees in their own country!
    So they were the Oppressed, and they defeated the forces that made them the Oppressed!
    No need to write tons of articles using political science theories. That’s the simple truth that I learnt from the results of the 2019 Presidential election!

    • 4
      2

      Richmond Peiris,
      :
      “They both go to their respective relatives with their grievances and for financial help!”
      :
      Is it that easy? Last time when I spoke to Samusa Mohideen who has put up a ‘petti kade’ to sell Samusas from 7am to 9pm to make less than Rs. 1000 profit a day, said he wasn’t able to get into a simple peon job with lots of tries. I will help him with your tip here to uplift his life.

    • 0
      2

      Richmond Peiris,
      Thanks for the comment. You have given the crux of the problem faced by Sinhalese, inferiority complex. Both the Tamils and Muslims are Sri Lankans. Muslims were in Sri Lanka from 10th century and the Tamils were there over two millennia. We have lived harmoniously until the Buddhist revival of late 19th century. 17 Million Sinhalese in this country are not facing extinction. Much smaller nations are thriving in the world. Under the scenario Sinhalese are thinking that they are oppressed and in order to defend they oppress the others.

  • 10
    3

    Gota paying lip service to uniting the nation means nothing. Have people forgotten all the sweet talking Mahinda did in 2009? He even spoke a few lines in tamil saying he will unite the country. He didnt! Infact he did the exact opposite and alienated minorities further.
    There are many sinhalese who want gota to pursue racism. I have seen the disturbing social media posts urging gota to take revenge on minorities who dared to vote in huge numbers for sajith.
    Even if gota undergoes some magical spiritual awakening and really does try to unite the nation, he will be branded as a traitor by the sinhala population.

  • 6
    2

    In 2019 Presidential poll, over 70 % of the Sinhala votes went to support Rajapakse family and over 80% of the North East Tamil speaking communities did not support MR family. In democratic principles both Sinhalese and NE Tamils won. Both communities have expressed their needs. Sinhalese people need a country for their security and NE Tamil speaking people need a country for their security. If Gotabaya wants to rule North East in his own way he did not get any mandate from North East people. In the past, before 2010 Muslims did not show any fear of their security but after 2010 they felt their security is not guaranteed under Mahinda Rajapakse regime.
    Every Sinhala leadership tells that they will not only serve to those who voted for them but also to those noted for him. But in real they mostly serve for themselves during the period of their governance. Mahinda Rajapakse or Ranil Wickremasinghe were not exception, They did the same thing and Gota is not exceptional to accept that he ordered the murder of Lasantha and to go to jail.

  • 4
    2

    Recent election results shows most of the non Sinhalese population preferred Sajith. If the country is rich and the people are well off there will be no racism or any civil disturbances. Therefore the right way forward is to look at how the other countries such as Switzerland, a small land locked with multi ethnic population with steady growth to become the 2nd richest , stable nation in the world. .Switzerland has 26 cantons and 4 official languages.

  • 2
    6

    We should not blame Tamils or Muslims for anything. It is the Tamil and muslim politicians who should be blamed. FOR /Nuwara eliya, Navin dissnayake had campiagned for Sajith.
    Anti-Buddhist forces worked hard to divide the Buddhist votes by presenting many different candidates in the disguise of democracy. but, all those did not work. Anti-buddhist forces wanted to oppress the buddhists. but, their democracy has worked against them and they are not happy.

  • 7
    3

    I agree with the author of the article that by taking his oath of office before the Ruvanweli Saya in Anuradhapura he was reminding others about the glorious past. How his ancestors defeated the Tamils and regained Anuradhapura. But historically the war between Duttu Gemenu (a Naga prince related to Devanampiya Tissa the first convert to Buddhism) and Ellara was not an ethnic war. Nor a religious war. It was a war to regain Anuradhapura the capital city of his forefathers. The author of Mahavamsa wanted to glorify and champion Buddhism as a faith. The battle cry of Duttu Gemenu (BC 101 – BC 77) was “not for the kingdom but for Buddhism”. These words were invented and put into the mouth of Duttu Gemenu by Mahanama author of Mahavamsa in the 6th century AD.

    Another book similar to Mahavamsa is Mein Campf authored by Adolf Hitler in which he tried to establish the racial theory that Aryans are a superior race destined to rule the world after the destruction of their racial arch-foe, the Jews.

    Eagle Eye, as usual, is suffering from Vellala phobia. He forgets the fact that both the Asgiriya and Malwatta Buddhist Chapters were caste (Govigama) based. So is Amarapura and Ramanna (Salagama, Karava) Buddhist chapters.

    The election results show that the divide between the Sinhalese and the Tamils have widened. President Gotabaya’s boast that the country is a Buddhist country and he himself comes from a traditional Buddhist family, This destroys his claim he is a technocrat, modernist and IT savvy politician. Technocrats don’t speak of religion a feudal concept.

    “Mixing religion and politics is a lethal cocktail. It is also like mixing ice cream and manure. It doesn’t do much to the manure but it sure does ruin the ice cream”

  • 5
    3

    with the arrival of india”s external minister while ago the political cricket match between srilanka,india,and china has already started.whether it is going to be a test match or 50 over or 20-20 all depend in political weather condition going to prevail in srilanaka in coming days.both indian and chinese captains are very smart.the new captain of srilanka GOTHAPAYA has no fielding experience all depends on srilanakn balling coch MAHINDA.FINAL RESULT MAY GO TO THIRD UMPIRE AMERICA.sri lanakn fans local match victory celebration will not last long as team mates WIAML,GONPULLE,JONSTON,ALUTHGAMAGE,VICE CAPTAIN BASIL ALL HAVE SUSPECTED BALLING ACTION AND MATCH FIXING ALLEGATIONS AGAINST THEM.HOPE WHETHER CONDITION WILL CO-OPERATIVE TO SRI-LANAKA.

  • 12
    4

    when buddhist majority with low iq levels vote for a president who has been charged for stealing,and his passport is in courts. we as a country have no intelligence. American citizen and family is American. The reason the guy is not in jail is due to support of ranil and sira. And now this guy becomes the saviour of the buddhist. funny when he was stealing, he never thought of buddhism.
    Lets face it,the country is screwed.

  • 0
    0

    It is in the “NEWS” that Ranil W will resign and the President will “Appoint” a “Caretaker Cabinet” of “!5” to run the Government. Is this “Possible”? In Sri Lanka, “ANYTHING & EVERYTHING” is possible. If the present PM resigns, who should decide the next PM? Isn’t that “NEXT” PM the proper authority to appoint the “Cabinet” and carry on with the Government? If that does not happen, then the “Government”stands dissolved and then only the President will call upon the “NEXT” who can show a “Majority” in Parliament to form a Government. If that too fails, the entire Parliament by 2/3rd majority decides to “Dissolve” the Parliament. Next step will be a “Parliamentary Election”. Why this is not done? Both the present PM and the President do not want to take that course of action, because there are more than “FORTY” (40) MPs who would lose the “PENSION”, if by 2/3rd Majority Parliament is dissolved. Now do you see how this “DEAL” is made between the PM and the President. All these “Resignations” of Ministers and PM and “Caretaker Cabinet” “ROAD SHOWS” and that would be very “PLEASING” to the million voters.

  • 2
    1

    It’s high time politicians stop marginalizing Sinhalese and Buddhist folk.

    While rest of the country voted FOR Gotabaya North and East voted “AGAINST” him. It’s quite clear that northern and eastern people’s vote was motivated by racialism. They voted for 13 sepereratist demands.

    It’s high time timils and Muslims see through their politicians drama and start to think as “Sri Lankans”.

    • 2
      1

      Doug
      Thanks for the comment.
      Be mindful. North and East did not vote for Shivajilingam and Hizbullah. I have mentioned that in my article. Therefore you cannot blame them for the racial bias.
      All of them have voted for Sinhala Buddhists. They even not boycotted the election. They did not vote for 13 separatist demands and those are not separatist demands either. You should not just throw words.
      Issue I have pointed out is that the country is divided on the racial lines as a result of the voting pattern.

  • 2
    2

    What’s strange here is the so called oppressed represent terrorists, they want the majority to listen to their voice & not ready to listen to the voice of majority.

    Before all these so called oppressed should know what’s democracy is.

    The new president re-iterated the fact that he is the president for everybody in the country.

    • 0
      1

      Real Revolutionst,
      Thanks for your comment. Democracy is not only the rule of majority but also the protection of the rights of minority. In the absence of the latter democracy would detiriorate to dictatorship of the majority. When once Gandhi visited Sri Lanka after travelling throughout Sri Lanka he told our leaders that the state of governance here can be judged by the way we treat the members of the lowest ranked caste or else the way we treat the oppressed.

  • 3
    0

    People have voted with emotion and along ethnic lines rather than on the merits of economic policy manifestos or other factors that are centrally important in developing a country. This has always been the pattern. People usually become very “patriotic” and love to show their identity (especially supremacist) during election time. Then, with their millstones around their necks as usual, they trudge to their pathetic lives, living with eternal hope. This has always been the scenario for many decades, if not all the way from 1948. After some years, they become disillusioned, unless and until a real or manufactured enemy emerges, when all eyes are turned towards “saving” the nation. (This is a diversionary tactic adopted by cunning politicians). All real woes are submerged until a winner with promises emerges from the ashes, to lead them again down the garden path. It is this cycle that needs to be dismantled. There don’t seem to be any indications that people have awoken to these facts.

    • 1
      1

      Lasantha,
      Thank you for your comment. This trend is being aggravated form election to election.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Harsha Gunasena, I am at a loss to understand why you had to remind readers that GR also said that he knew he could win with solely the Sinhala votes, in the introductory passage. I’ll tell what I distil out of that. Sinhalese voters would confirm to the nation that Tamil votes do not matter to us, at all. Please tell me if I am reading wrong. I understand the psyche. I understand the significance. Is that good for peace and harmony. If there is anything needed more urgently than any other, it is the hand of friendship of the majority community to the minority communities. That hand never extends! When it remains the fact, how would you say, ‘I hope that the new President would have the vision and the strength to neutralise the ethnic disharmony’, with any sincerity. Please try to make yourself believable. Thank you. (I ended my reading, then and there.)

    • 0
      0

      Thappu
      I agree, the word sincerely may be bit too much. I invite you to read the whole article, comments and the responses I have given.
      The point is this. Politicians want power and they are less concerned about the country. Ranil W did not take adequate actions to resolve the ethnic issue we are facing since he was afraid of the Sinhala public opinion. Bandaranaike came to power with arousing similar sentiments like Gotabhaya and later he tried to resolve the problem, but he was not strong enough to stand by his position. Gotabhaya is having the capacity to resolve this issue once and for all because he is having the support of the majority. If he is willing he can convince the majority and he is not weak like Bandaranaike. If there is a brave political leadership, mindset of the Sinhalese can be changed. Chandrika did by Sudu Nelum movement to a great extent. Non-existent fear in the minds of the Sinhalese was created by the power- hungry politicians for power.
      I believe Gotabhaya like Bandaranaike is not thinking the way average mis-guided Sinhalese thinks. Gotabhaya should know that if he can resolve this issue he will be praised eternally. That is way I said that piece.

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