By Darshanie Ratnawalli –
The sixth Executive President has become known for his note-less, teleprompter-less, stream of consciousness style of speechifying. Reports suggest that in the aftermath of the controversial ‘I have nothing to do with Mahinda’ speech, the need for some sort of notes has occurred to his political allies and even to the President himself. According to some Sunday political commentaries he admitted to Ranil Wickremesinghe in a telephone conversation that even things he hadn’t planned to say came out.
In this speech the President forgot to hold up the official version that after assuming office he had met the former President only twice. After starting to say at 25.31 of the speech, “as all of you know, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa and I met three times” Sirisena seems to recollect the official version and proceeds to validate only the first two meetings through description. After hearing the revelation ‘three times’ a viewer’s excitement would mount because media reports of the third meeting had been firmly denied by both parties earlier. He or she would listen breathlessly between 25.31 and 28.58, only to be disappointed when the President moves on to another topic after saying that the second meeting concluded without any result.
The second inadvertent revelation by President Sirisena comes around 39.53 in his speech when he declares “Mahinda Rajapaksa who was defeated on January 8th will be defeated again.” Less than a minute later however there is a seeming contradiction when Sirisena makes the definitive prediction (40.48-41.04) that if Rajapaksa and Co “did not receive nominations from the UPFA they will come to Parliament from another party. And that coming to parliament cannot be stopped.” There seems to be a certain attempt (perhaps unconscious) in the English translation provided by the President’s Media Division to dilute the definitiveness of this statement when they translate “ethakota sandhanayen nama yojana nolebuna nam e golla wenath pakshekin parlimenthu enawa. Ethakota e parlimenthuwata ena eka walakwanna behe” as “if they did not receive nominations from the UPFA still they could have contested from another party and come to Parliament and it could not have been stopped.”
If I had been a news editor, I would have placed the following headlines side by side to illustrate the seeming contradiction. “Even without nominations from UPFA, Rajapaksa coming to Parliament cannot be stopped-President” “Rajapaksa who was defeated on 8 January will lose again-President” Both the headlines would have been accurate and represented faithfully two strands of the Presidential thought process. It is when one tries to reconcile these two apparently contradicting strands that one strikes gold. For there is only one way that a Mahinda Rajapaksa nominated by the UPFA and whose coming to Parliament cannot be stopped according to the President, could lose: by having his Prime Ministerial aspirations crushed by a UPFA loss.
Subsequently, UPFA contestant, deputy minister, and Sirisena loyalist Thilanga Sumathipala came forward to say that President Sirisena did not say that the UPFA will lose merely that Mahinda Rajapaksa will. The meaning of the word loss/defeat applied to a person depends on his aspiration. When a person’s aspiration is to mobilise his party to win a majority of seats (at least more seats than the main opposition party) in Parliament so that he can become Prime Minister, then that person’s win or loss becomes conflated with the party’s win or loss. Did Sirisena conflate? Did he fail to properly distinguish or keep separate the destinies of Rajapaksa and the UPFA at this election? Did he treat them as equivalent? Yes he did. By effectively communicating in a televised address to the Nation that Mahinda Rajapaksa who lost on 8th January will lose again, even though his coming to Parliament cannot be stopped. Sirisena forces us to question the meaning of ‘losing’ as applied to Rajapaksa. He helpfully narrows down the definition. It’s not by failing to come to parliament that Rajapaksa will lose. In the special way of ‘losing’ assigned by the President Sirisena to the former President, Rajapaksa’s losing is dependent on the UPFA’s losing.
So it is that kind of Parliamentary election fight and not the other kind that Mahinda Rajapaksa will face. In the Sri Lankan tradition Parliamentary elections are contests between two leaders, only one of whom actually contests the election as the clear Prime Ministerial candidate. The other leader remains as Executive President and drives a team of his or her party towards victory without naming a PM candidate before the election. Thus even though he was appointed as PM after it, Mahinda Rajapaksa didn’t win the 2004 Parliamentary election. Chandrika Kumaratunga did because it was in her name the UPFA mobilised to win that election. In reality it was a contest between Ranil and Chandrika. Ranil Wickremesinghe lost that election. If during the campaign Chandrika had predicted ‘Mahinda will lose’, it could only have meant ‘Mahinda will not be elected to Parliament’. At the 2004 Parliamentary election a UPFA defeat was equivalent to a CBK defeat. Perhaps that’s why whichever party has the Executive Presidency refrains from naming a PM candidate. It would divide the mobilising spirit of the party and dilute the drive.
What happens when an Executive President cum leader of a party is unwilling or not sufficiently powerful to mobilise the party towards victory in a Parliamentary election? In the 1994 Parliamentary elections we may have an example of a leader who lacked sufficient vim or motivation. This election was a contest between Chandrika Kumaratunga and D. B Wijetunga, an unelected UNP Executive President who had been appointed by Parliament after President Premadasa was assassinated. As the incumbent Executive President and leader of UNP he was expected to mobilise his party’s team to win the election. Despite the UNP team containing both Gamini Dissanayake and Ranil Wickremesinghe, a Prime Ministerial candidate was not named and neither of them was Chandrika’s opponent in this election. If President Wijetunga had announced ‘Gamini Dissanayake will lose, but his coming to Parliament cannot be stopped’, it would have been taken as nonsense. There was no other way for Dissanayaka to lose that election except by failing to get elected to Parliament. Ditto with Ranil. But Chandrika stood to lose if the PA did not get a higher number of seats even if she was elected to Parliament. Because her win or loss had become equivalent with the PA’s win or loss. If Mahinda will lose even though his coming to Parliament cannot be stopped, it’s because Mahinda’s loss or win has become equivalent with the UPFA’s win or loss. In that case it is Mahinda who is mobilising the UPFA towards victory. In the event of a UPFA win, it wouldn’t matter if the UPFA was choc a bloc with seniors.
It’s not the kind of Parliamentary election fight in which the Executive President can say; “even if my party wins, there are enough seniors in my party other than Mr. So and so to appoint as PM”. President Premadasa was entitled to say that in the 1989 Parliamentary election. He did not say ‘In the case of a UNP win there are enough people to appoint as PM other than Lalith or Gamini” but must have thought it. He appointed D.B Wijetunga, a nonentity compared to Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayaka. He was entitled because the UNP win in that election was his. His was the leadership spirit and the mobilising force behind his party’s victory. Chandrika Kumaratunga could have said a similar thing in both 2001 and 2004 when she acted as the mobilising spirit. The only Executive President of Sri Lanka to actually say it isn’t entitled to say it.
@ http://ratnawalli.com / and firstname.lastname@example.org
Native Vedda / July 26, 2015
Child are you looking for a job at the Daily Noise probably as the editor or the senior International Diplomatic Correspondent?
If you need a job please approach Wee Thamihz Senior Journalist Siva Sankaran Sarma Menon who has his finger on the pulse as to who gets what where and how.
Point of View / July 26, 2015
Hi Native, where have you been ?
You just could’nt resist the temptation right …… had to come out of hibernation to respond to our Ms. Walli !
Native Vedda / July 26, 2015
Point of View
However I am not a pedophile.
Keep an eye on Jamis Muthu Banda for he is up to something naughty.
By the way Siva Sankaran Sarma Menon is after him.
Amarasiri / July 28, 2015
RE: Does President Sirisena Require A Professional Speech Writer?
He needs Diapers sp that when Mahinda Rajapaksa gets tantrums, he pees, and prevent him from getting well all all over.
MaRa MaRa Chatu MaRa Amansa MaRa HoOA MaRa..
S,Sivathasan / July 26, 2015
Secret of successful oratory, said William James, lies in sincerity. Hitler the world’s most powerful orator and Gandhi among the mildest of men, lived in contemporary times that were as tempestuous as ever. Who left the most enduring impact? Robert Emmet’s brilliant extempore speech delivered in 1805 continues to inspire freedom fighters to this day. Sincerity was their sheet anchor. Out of the abundance in their hearts their mouth spoke.
Who but Nehru could have spoken “At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps India awakes to freedom….”. He alone had the mastery to start the tribute to Gandhi “The light has gone out of our lives and there is darkness everywhere….”. No speechwriter can capture the sense of occasion or sculpt the turn of phrase to sway an audience.
Closer home would SWRD or GGP have taken kindly to the suggestion of a speechwriter; the prefix ‘Professional’ notwithstanding? It is neither wit nor words that are endearing in President Sirisena, but the power of honesty and patent sincerity.
Kettikaran / August 1, 2015
In recent times, some of the more illustrious and enduring speeches came during the tenure of President John Kennedy. One recalls the many – including the “ask not” speeches – generally attributed to the pen of
Ted Sorensen. I believe McGeorge Bundy too made valuable inputs during the period of Jack Kennedy. Copy writers in the BBC news network too
contribute very much to enriching the English language, if one cares to watch the headlines carefully. Yesterday, referring to the slaying of the Lion in Zimbabwe at the behest of an American Vet, the BBC declared “the hunter becomes the hunted”
Above average quality of speech making and the production of it are
indispensable to global political leaders is empirical wisdom. It is a priceless talent – or more to the point a rare gift.
Saman / July 26, 2015
Even with teleprompter and note, Mahinda Rajapaksa failed to give a proper and meaningful speech.
Even though MR is a Sinhala man he was unable to articulate and pronounce sinhala language properly.
What I know about President Maithreepala Sirisena is a well versed and well read gentlemen. He never use dirty word like MR. President MS clearly articulates his words in his speeches.
Do not compare President Maithreepala Sirisena with well corrupted Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Mahinda is good for gallery but Maithreepala is good for well cultured and well mannered people.
AVB / July 26, 2015
In a country where lying is norm, and when it get to politicians, they lie everyday and lie for everything.. This is a country where journalists are disgrace to journalism… Now you journalist try to analyse and criticise some different quality, honesty to some extent, we noticed in the new President…
dcn / July 26, 2015
President Mythree speaks from his heart as he is honest and sincere person. He cannot act with notes or teleprompters as the previous one used to do.
We appreciate him in This manner and wish he does not change.
Navin / July 26, 2015
There is a saying, an idle barber caught and shaved the cat. This Article is something like that.
Jim softy / July 26, 2015
I think,he is talking his mind. Only job he has to do is take decisions if the country’s security is in trouble. It is not like Mahinda rajapakse who tried to micromanage every thing, lied and dithered as much as he could.
I don’t think, the present president needs speech writer as he speaks his mind.
Just a short piece of paper with his speech in point form would be enough.
Abhaya / July 26, 2015
This [Edited out] from polonnruwa is the worst president after deaf and dumb wijethunge . and I did not think it was possible to find one like that fool .
Native Vedda / July 26, 2015
bla, bla blAbhaya
“This [Edited out] from polonnruwa is the worst president after deaf and dumb wijethunge”
Why don’t you contest the next presidential to fill the vacuum left by Wijetunge? You will aptly fit into the role.
Abhaya / July 27, 2015
Wijethunge did not leave a vacuum since he never did anything just like [Edited out] sira .
Nari-bana / July 26, 2015
President Sirisena talks from his heart. He is not in the business of conning people like his predecessor. So he says what comes to his mind. True, there may be contradictions but beneath those contradictions there rings an honesty that is absent in many a politician.
It is by a fluke that Sirisena became the president. Probably it is some divine gift to this blessed island that had suffered for so long. Let us hope that he can bring about the change he promised in January and pray that the avatar of the past would not come back to haunt the future of Sri Lankans.
Afzal / July 26, 2015
Since no one gave much adore to Nagas and Yakas DR started with a article on MARA. That was the pretext for this attack on MS.
Forever in the wilderness.
What DR is suggesting is she is a better speech write than whoever is writing Presidents speech.
This is a sickness of Pro MARA clan, unfortunately this sickness has no remedy. They think they are better than rest of the Lankans.
Add 1 more person to list of Baiyo. Exact count of Baiyo will be known by the dawn of 18th August. DR will be surely one of them.
Ben Dover / July 26, 2015
What is this woman ratting on about? Does she have nothing better on her hands to do? She sounds like she has kerosene oil in her brain, poor thing.
Patriot / July 26, 2015
Breath of fresh air in CT compared to all the Diaspora and INGO funded coolies that contribute. Keep writing girl in Sri Lanka we Sinhalese should be proud to stand tall.
Native Vedda / July 26, 2015
“Keep writing girl in Sri Lanka we Sinhalese should be proud to stand tall.”
Beauty fades, dumb is forever.
― Judy Sheindlin
J.MUTHU / July 26, 2015
Damn fool u vedda…she is good looking gorgeous…must be very good in bed man….
Native Vedda / July 26, 2015
JAMIS MUTHU BANDA
Senior Journalist Siva Sankaran Sarma Menon is looking for you. What were you doing in his bedroom while he was away on Wee Thamihz assignment.
He is going to break your neck, back and legs. Run for cover. I told him you are partial to anything that wears female clothes and able to move/walk.
Nimal / July 26, 2015
This is what jobless vagabond do when they have nothing to do, Cherry picking. What a waste of cyberspace. Obviously, CT should be having better things to publish, why stooping low?
Jaymon / July 26, 2015
why dont you send your CV through to him? might just land a job ….fairly obvious your jockeying for it. good luck to you
Snowden Edward Asange / July 26, 2015
DR…u may have the gift of the pen, MS has the gift of the brain… which u seem to sit on.. isn’t he country breating a sigh of relief after the Jan 8th? Yes it is… lets keep MR out and for the country to move forward even though we may face turbulence… WE teh citizens can buckle up and ride teh tide IF we could have buckled up for 10 long years under MR…
MR had a Tsunami which he used to the best advantage, even depositing the money that were sent to the victims… Sarath N.De Silva the loser is the reason MR still runs his mouth and now Sarath is kissing MR’s behind after apologizing to the whole country…
Sarath is a shame to all learned Judges and legal eagles…so is DR to the Journos…and people who have an iota of common sense..
JULAMPITIYE AMARAYA / July 26, 2015
“Does President Sirisena Require A Professional Speech Writer?”.
Young lady, you are mistaken!.
I do not Think So as The President Sirisena is Neither a cheater,nor a liar and
He is having good memory to do his speeches on his own oratory.
Unlike Hiwalwangsa or Mahindran, He is not a Katawaachalaya with a Shit bucket, Kabara mouth, but a real orator
Asaipillai / July 27, 2015
Did not anyone tell you that you look like (your photo) someone who just had a bath to wash away the memories after a long night of debauchery (with your unkempt wet hair!)
In case you wonder – this not a compliment lol!!
EDWIN RODRIGO / July 27, 2015
I prefer the natural and impromptu style of MS, which is like a cool breeze after the blistering summer that was MR.
EDWIN RODRIGO / July 27, 2015
I would like to compare Al Gore’s speech (excerpts given below) in 2000, where he concedes defeat to Bush, with the utterly boorish rubbish that comes out of Mahinda’s mouth.
MS is adecent person with a special style of speech oozing honesty.
Now here is Al Gore……
…….I offered to meet with him (Bush) as soon as possible so that we can start to heal the divisions of the campaign and the contest through which we just passed. …..
Almost a century and a half ago, Senator Stephen Douglas told Abraham Lincoln, who had just defeated him for the presidency, “Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.” …. Well, in that same spirit, I say to President-elect Bush that what remains of partisan rancor must now be put aside..
Indeed, that history gives us many examples of contests as hotly debated, as fiercely fought, with their own challenges to the popular will. And each time, both the victor and the vanquished have accepted the result peacefully and in the spirit of reconciliation. So let it be with us.
While we yet hold and do not yield our opposing beliefs, there is a higher duty than the one we owe to political party. This is America and we put country before party. We will stand together behind our new president.
As for what I’ll do next, I don’t know the answer to that one yet. Like many of you, I’m looking forward to spending the holidays with family and old friends. I know I’ll spend time in Tennessee and mend some fences, literally and figuratively.
As for the battle that ends tonight, I do believe as my father once said, that no matter how hard the loss, defeat might serve as well as victory to shape the soul and let the glory out.
And now, my friends, in a phrase I once addressed to others, it’s time for me to go.
Thank you and good night, and God bless America.
Al Gore – December 13, 2000
Sylvia Haik / July 27, 2015
We should learn to appreciate a politician who speaks without notes. This man speaks his mind without a spin doctor or a schemer crafting out on paper what to say to please the audience. It’s only when you tell lies that you need a good memory.
Jaymon / July 27, 2015
Did you get the job yet or? if not hurry up….. not much time left …good luck!