18 August, 2017

Does Ranil Have An Opposition Card To Play?

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Is the cat out of the bag or is there an elephant in the (Opposition) room? Mahinda Pathirana is a young academic and activist known to be one of a handful of academics close to Mr. Basil Rajapaksa. His reply (‘Who is the Real Enemy?) to my article (‘May Day 2017- SLPP & SLPP: Enemies, Rivals or Allies?’) is an effective illustration of the conflicting perspectives in the Opposition camp: on the one hand, the line that his mastermind “political manipulator” urges on the Opposition, and on the other, the line of the JO parliamentary leadership.

The Mayor of Matale, Mr. Mohamed Hilmy never tires of relating the story of which he was eyewitness and participant, of my conversation with ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa on January 10th 2015 at the official residence of his brother, speaker Chamal Rajapaksa, where I advocated a strategy for resistance and recovery, centering specifically on Dinesh Gunawardene. My endgame was a reprise of 1956 headed by the sons of DA Rajapaksa and Philip Gunawardene, perhaps using the MEP symbol. My chat with Mahinda had been facilitated by Dullas Alahapperuma who was aware that I had a political idea and project to propose in the context of the defeat.

The Feb 18th Nugegoda rally which kicked off the ‘Mahinda Movement’ was the result of  dinner-discussions that a handful of us, including Udaya Gammanpila and Wimal Weerawansa, had at private residences, after the defeat. These discussions also involved the reliance on Dinesh as a respected center of regroupment until Mahinda was ready to step forward directly, and as the Deputy once the latter did so. I believe Mr. Basil Rajapaksa was overseas then. From January to August 2015 I spoke at grassroots meetings all over the country and one of the things I kept hearing from SLFPers was that Basil Rajapaksa was responsible for the defeat—which I didn’t agree with because I didn’t know whether it was true. I also heard at firsthand about his arrogant rejection, pre-January 2015 election, of the views and suggestions of the young, dynamic owner of a highly influential media organization—a rejection that arguably cost us that decisive election.

Going by what Mahinda Pathirana writes, there is now a clear difference in the principled political strategy skilfully adopted so far by Dinesh Gunawardene, the Parliamentary leader of the Joint Opposition, and the line urged by Mr. Basil Rajapaksa of the SLPP. Will the new “Basil line” (as reported by Mahinda Pathirana) remain, or be rectified? Will it be imposed as it is, on the SLPP? And will the SLPP line be imposed on the JO? If so, what consequence will follow?

Pathirana’s article has nine paragraphs. Each of the nine paragraphs contain and constitute an attack on Maithripala Sirisena by name, while not a single one of the nine paragraphs is devoted to an attack on or a critique of Ranil Wickremesinghe! In fact there isn’t one single, solitary sentence devoted to a critique of Ranil Wickremesinghe! A non-Sri Lankan stranger reading Mahinda Pathirana’s article would think that everything bad in this country since January 8th 2015 is done or has been done or is being done by Maithripala Sirisena and nothing specific has been done wrong by Ranil Wickremesinghe!

Pathirana interestingly reveals that “Basil’s argument for abolishing the executive presidency does not derive from his identification of political enemies, but by the conveniently forgotten question; what if that omnipotent presidency goes to a person like Ranil Wickremesinghe, much in the same way, Mr. Wickremesinghe got more than half of the powers vested in it through Mr. Sirisena? His other obvious intention might be giving Mahinda the opportunity to run for prime ministerial candidate in the 2020 elections!”

If, as Mahinda Pathirana says, Mr. Basil Rajapaksa’s “argument” is “for the abolition of the executive presidency”, what will he and the SLPP prodded by him do at a Referendum when the abolition of the EP is presented to the nation in a single package, inextricably intertwined with the quasi-federalization content? Vote YES? Vote NO? Abstain? Run a weak, token campaign for a NO vote because he really wants the abolition to go through and that can only happen if the new Constitution is voted in at the Referendum? Is that’s what’s coming and what this is all about?

Let’s get this clear: is Mahinda Pathirana saying that Basil is on the same page as the UNP and TNA, as Ranil Wickremesinghe and Sumanthiran, in supporting the abolition of the executive Presidency and transferring executive powers to the PM, which at this moment, means transferring executive power to Ranil from Sirisena? On this vital issue of the power shift from the Executive Presidency to the PM, from Sirisena to Ranil, what then is the difference between the positions of Basil and Ranil?

If the Executive Presidency is abolished (which Mahinda Pathirana confirms is Basil’s view), it means that the UNP’s Ranil Wickremesinghe as the empowered Prime Minister becomes the center of political gravity and the de facto leader of Sri Lanka. This is certainly what Ranil wants. It is what the TNA and perhaps the SLMC want. It is what the civil society NGOs, the Tamil diaspora and the West want. And it seems to be what Basil wants or is willing to settle for. Is this also the SLPP’s view? Is it or will it become the JO view?

What happens when Ranil presents the quasi-federalization bullet coated in the sugar of the abolition of the Executive Presidency, to the nation at a referendum? Does Basil and/or the SLPP advocate that we lick the sugar coating and swallow the bullet? Or do we unambiguously campaign flat-out for a NO vote, as we should?

Pathirana says that “His [Basil Rajapaksa’s] other obvious intention might be giving Mahinda the opportunity to run for prime ministerial candidate in the 2020 elections!” Well, what on earth has “Basil’s argument for the abolition of the executive presidency” to do with “giving Mahinda the opportunity to run for prime ministerial candidate in the 2020 elections!”? Who or what is preventing Mahinda from running as Prime Ministerial candidate as things stand? I am sure he will and I certainly hope to support him in so doing, just as I campaigned for him in 2005, 2010, and 2015 (at both elections). Since the Prime Ministership has no term limits, so long as he keeps running and winning he can continue to be the PM, and a PM who is more powerful than any since 1978, because the 19th amendment strengthened the post. 

If Basil were all that worried about the omnipotent Presidency going to a “person like” Ranil, why didn’t he push for the abolition of the Presidency during his elder brother’s second term? Why did that administration instead strengthen the executive Presidency by abolishing term limits? What if a “person like” Ranil became President with the 18th amendment still in effect? And if Basil is for abolition at this time (as Pathirana reports), where does he think those executive powers will go but to the sitting PM, Ranil Wickremesinghe? What if a “person like” Ranil Wickremesinghe, indeed very much like Ranil Wickremesinghe—namely Mr. Wickremesinghe himself–becomes the Executive Prime Minister with no term limits?

Shouldn’t Basil and everyone else be far more worried about what will happen with vastly strengthened Provincial Councils, minus the Executive Presidency and therefore the Governor’s powers and role?

If one is to de-code Mahinda Pathirana, Basil’s line is actually one of isolating Sirisena rather than Ranil. It is no point in saying that Sirisena and Ranil are one, or two sides of the same coin, and that it is all one Government, and then saying that one supports the abolition of the Executive Presidency which in reality means shifting power from the President to the PM, meaning from Sirisena to Ranil and inter alia, from the SLFP to the UNP. Thus Basil’s position already puts him on the side of Ranil and the TNA, rather than being a position of regarding Sirisena and Ranil as one. By contrast, the line of veteran anti-UNP leaders Dinesh Gunawardene, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and their co-thinkers in the JO, is that they will not support anything that strengthens Ranil even if it weakens Sirisena. They are not willing either to club Sirisena and Ranil together and save Ranil from isolation, or to isolate Sirisena rather than Ranil.

All Sirisena’s misdeeds are irrelevant to the question of identifying the main enemy. Chiang Kai Shek betrayed the Chinese liberation struggle, turned on his Communist allies and massacred them, and even murdered Mao’s second wife. But when the Japanese invaded, it was Mao who proposed a united front with Chiang Kai Shek against them. When Chiang was captured by two warlords, it is Mao who sent Zhou en Lai to save his life and sign an agreement with the Communists to fight the Japanese—despite his earlier bloody betrayals.

Only the Presidency can be leveraged to stop, delay or dilute the present treachery such as the proposed sell-off of Trincomalee, the federalist Constitution, the full implementation of the Geneva Resolution etc. If not for Sirisena, Arjuna Mahendran would still be the Governor of the central bank and the bond scam would have been ongoing! There certainly would not have been a transparent Commission of Inquiry ongoing.

The effort may not work, but it must be tried, and it cannot be tried by seeing (a) the President and the PM as one and (b) ‘the government’ as an undifferentiated entity, a monolithic enemy—rather than an ensemble replete with contradictions and therefore a terrain of contestation.

Today, in Sri Lanka, the main enemy is that faction which is initiating and driving the worst of the policies; the most reactionary, rightwing, pro-imperialist faction of the government; the closest allies of imperialism and the Diaspora. It is the faction that is driving the implementation of the Geneva resolution and the project of the new, quasi-federalist Constitution. That faction is NOT the Sirisena faction of the SLFP. It is clearly the Ranil Wickemesinghe faction of the UNP and its main ally in the SLFP, namely Chandrika. In short it is the Ranil-Mangala-Chandrika junta. That is where the main blow has to be aimed.

Mahinda Pathirana says “I see a contradiction here. Why can’t Basil Rajapaksa and SLPP see Sirisena as the main enemy, when “the CBK and President Sirisena push the line that the main enemy is Mahinda Rajapaksa?” Obviously Mr. Pathirana hasn’t been taught that “two wrongs don’t make a right”. The answer to Mr. Sirisena or anyone’s wrong line is not to mirror or mimic it, but to oppose it with the correct line. For example, simply because the LTTE thought it was OK to massacre innocent civilians, the Sri Lankan military did not think likewise and engage in tit-for-tat.

Given that the JO has only 50 MPs, the bi-polar character, faction-ridden nature, and resultant unstable equilibrium of the government is far better than if it had a solid, monolithic, unipolar, Ranilist UNP character, with an Executive PM to boot.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has learned from his father, Esmond, and his distant uncle JR Jayewardene, the strategic value of a split in the center-Left and especially within the SLFP –and how best to exploit it. He would love to use the SLPP as part of a pincer move on President Sirisena so as to grab the executive power that the electorate has so far deprived him. By arguing at this time for the abolition of the Executive Presidency, Basil Rajapaksa seems willing to grant him that, and even assist him tacitly in that ghastly enterprise.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    1

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 11
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      This bugger should see it to give us a break at least in the holiday season.

      I really dont know the man is this much interested in searching better solutions to lanken political problems. DJ has proved enough to be the looser of last 30 years. Let others to report or analyse it better. You may be fit to rabblerousing but for nothing else.

      • 5
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        Please don’t stop the joker. He keeps most entertained. They don’t read what he writes. They read only the very interesting comments exposing his hypocrisy.

  • 5
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    I think Basil Rajapakse is getting money from some where and also he wants to take revenge from Maithripala Sirisena.

    • 8
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      Why do the current regime fail to get cornered Basil in the States ? Are there no any means to achieve it ? It is reported that the buggers have bought properties in the states abusing billions of funds grabed by previous regime ? Why the international affairs and diplomatic relations between countries cant work on getting all the truths on the allegations levelled at them ?
      Not even MIG deal related international support have been improved …. that Udayanga is still in Ukraine – no law is effective on him ? Why ?

  • 4
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    What is wrong in promoting quasi federal state structure for a country consist of a multi ethnic, multi religious, multi linguistic and multi cultural population. Isn’t it the best way to give power to the people rather than to a family. If you are commited to treat all Srilankans equally you will see more benefits than harm by such quasi federal distribution of power in Srilankan. LTTE should not dictate what is good for Srilankan people. I hope you agree that we should be bold to embrace all our people as srilankan and share power so they all can feel they are represented in the government, As Mandela said ..because every national group would like to see that the people of their flesh and blood are in the government. The ordinary man must look at our structures and say I am represented… We may have to do something to show that the system has got in built mechanism which make it impossible for one group to suppress the other. Isn’t is the best way for national unity. Genuine power sharing is essential for national reconciliation and national unity. Don’t you think we should have this transformation in our thoughts to bring all Srilankan people together than worrying about CK and RW or privileges of the few. This may be less than perfect but definitely much better for a government of national unity. Let go of the privileged few share power with people strive for national unity and trust each other. Be bold.

    • 1
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      No need. India is already federal and has a dedicated state for Tamils called Tamil Nadu.

      • 0
        5

        ..and for Muslims there is Saudi Arabia where women are not recognised as humans , so why don’t you lot o there and get beaten or stoned to death by your male folks.

      • 0
        1

        “No need. India is already federal and has a dedicated state for Tamils called Tamil Nadu.”

        you are absolutely right and the Sri Lankan Tamils also have a dedicated state.

        I visited your fake website

        surprise surprise the language of the web site is Tamil.

        watch Asath Sali speaking in fluent Tamil with a funny dialect

    • 1
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      Sajith “LTTE should not dictate what is good for Srilankan people”

      LTTE is dead and gone man. VP’s ghost still dictating politics in Sri Lanka

      LTTE came about because the Buddhist Monks were dictating what is good for Sri Lanka

      Having said that I agree with the rest of your comments

  • 5
    2

    As usual Selective memory and selective polemics by a brain in a scrambled position. Only talks about Chiang Kai Shek

    Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China, qualifies as the greatest mass murderer in world history. Mao was enforcing the Great Leap Forward in 1958, in an effort to catch up with the economy of the Western world, he was responsible for overseeing “one of the worst catastrophes the world has ever known”.

    In Chinese rural history from 1958 to 1962, when the nation was facing a famine, compared the systematic torture, brutality, starvation and killing of Chinese peasants to the Second World War in its magnitude. At least 45 million people were worked, starved or beaten to death in China over these four years; the worldwide death toll of the Second World War was 55 million.

    I await this sick angry twisted man to defend that too. He is silent about how many people Stalin massacred by sending them off the Gulags. As bad as Hitler’s but in the name of paranoid communism.

  • 3
    3

    BR is being used by the US to split the SLFP at Ranil’s behest. He was originally a UNP clerk and file carrier for Gamini D. Even contested from the UNP. Always had an inferiority complex over the staunchly loyal to the SLFP MR and the brother Chamal who was persecuted by the UNP when he was in the Police force for being a bodyguard to Anura B.

    BR is known to be ten percent and even 30 percent plus plus. US is using his bank account information to blackmail him and the deal is to not prosecute him if he helps split the MR loyal SLFP voters.

  • 4
    1

    What is wrong in promoting quasi federal state structure for a country consist of a multi ethnic, multi religious, multi linguistic and multi cultural population. Isn’t it the best way to give power to the people rather than to a family. If you are commited to treat all Srilankans equally you will see more benefits than harm by such quasi federal distribution of power in Srilanka.

    I hope you agree that we should be bold to embrace all our people as srilankan and share power so they all can feel they are represented in the government, As Mandela said ..because every national group would like to see that the people of their flesh and blood are in the government. …The ordinary man must look at our structures and say I am represented… We may have to do something to show that the system has got in built mechanism which make it impossible for one group to suppress the other. Isn’t is the best way for national unity.

    Genuine power sharing is essential for national reconciliation and national unity. Quasi federal means unitary and federal in either side of the coin of governance. Secure unitary state with secure shared powers. Looking at the price we have paid for our constitutional crisis Isn’t it could be a way froward?
    DJ
    Don’t you think we should have this transformation in our thoughts to bring all Srilankan people together than worrying about CK and RW or privileges of the few. This may be less than perfect but definitely much better than other options for a government of national unity. Let go of the privileged few and share power with people. Strive for national unity and trust each other. Be BOLD. Look to the future with hope and confidence in our people.
    Sajith

    • 4
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      Sajith, majority folks have not the least knoweldge on federal systems. They the idiots would never want to inform them either. They hand on partitioning the country whenever Federal system or the like are even proposed as the solution.

      Lack of proper information can help them fall even deeper. THat is the problem in the country. I heard one good historian adding his valuable comments to the question – if we the folks will want sustainable peace in the country, they he said, people are far from being ready to work for real peace. He reiterated, we the folks have to stay discussing it for another few decades. Majority in the country just get shocked whenever federalism or the like models are introduced. Dr Nalin De Silva or others paint the picture infavour of idiotic extremists that even today seem to have no the least knowledge on the definition. Lack of knoweldge make us everyone blind.

  • 2
    1

    We do not know why the wholesale robber barons of the country-Mahinda, Basil and Gota-have not been prosecuted. Obviously there has been some deal that has been done. DJ was not a party to it despite all his wanton display of inner knowledge of what is happening. All he says is based on surmise and keeping with the times, he gives the impression that he understands everything when he knows absolutely nothing.

    It is strange that for a man who worked for an Eelam group, he now does not want even federalism to be given to the Tamils. He is a hypocrite who wants a little bit of sugar or a few bones with some meat on them to be thrown his way as in the past by the Rajapakkas. This is his only hope and he is singing mightily so that this would eventuate. Poor fellow. The only vehicle he finds is the Colombo Telegraph.

    As regards federalism, devolution is the way to settle ethnic problems. This is the way it has been done in Africa and elsewhere where such problems have arisen. The ethnic problem will continue to affect the politics of the country as long as it remains unsettled. The battle may have been won by the great “heroes” of the army but the war is yet to be won. It is better to settle things in the interests of everyone concerned in a peaceful way.

  • 3
    3

    DJ again! How can a person (considered as an intellectual) try so hard to bring back a regime rejected by people after they were given two terms of which the last one was full of corruption, family bandism, murders.

    • 6
      1

      B Perera

      “How can a person (considered as an intellectual)”

      Please let us know when, where and who considered him an intellectual? Please don’t put ideas into his head. He will begin to believe in it.

  • 0
    2

    The democratic revolutionary masses has lost all political power since 1956 under the SWRD leadership of SLFP led by Petty bourgeoisies, workers, peasants, intelligence and youth & students, the task in unfinished, the revolution failure, end the since then.

    The key issues of the task of revolutionary democratic were not addressed by LSSP and CPC leadership they betray interest of masses line of Political Power of the people; the result of that they had passes the politics of masses leadership into SLFP led by SWRD and later SRB CBK and MR.@

    The SLFP political forces were gradually engaged with certain reforms to extent of which that the Political’ Economic and social changes has turn into TWO PARTY system of politics a Westminster “democracy”.

    The SLFP has been shifted into alternatives to UNP politics of Comprador-bourgeoisie classes interest side by side.

    Task of 1956 forces political-democratic interest has lost during SLFP engaging politics of Parliamentary-democracy by as a UNP altanativite.

    Its(SLFP) lost decolonization task undertaken by SLFP leadership to be totally wipe out Imperialist political system from ours soil.

    Yes, we need unfinished task of revolution to be completed new Social forces in Sri Lanka?

    Is that a New Political Party ?

    Or goes back to “compromised” with Mathriplal Sirisen’s SLFP ?

  • 3
    0

    secret life of dayan mitty

    dayan riding on a horse named basil sword in hand with a jo army follwing him
    charges into ranils palace and finds him lying on a couch like a roman emperor
    with maithree feeding him grapes.
    he rushes up to him and shouts damn you i offered my help and you rejected it so take this and plunges the sword into his breast

  • 2
    0

    All that WE the people want is a country that works.

    Jobs that mean our women do not have to go into service in foreign countries.
    Affordable sustenance. An education system that does not need to propped up by exorbitant tuition fees. A further education system that has places for all who qualify, and want to progress. A cleaner environment with an efficient waste management that delivers. Public service free from bribery and corruption, and so on.

    With DJ and his lot all we will get is big-time politicking, back stabbing and bizarre public administration. They will encourage our communities to divide so they can rule in glorious inefficiency.

    Dear voter, be on guard. These buggers will screw us like never before.

  • 2
    1

    Same old Rajafucksa crooks living beyond average life expectancy.

    When will Thajudeen get justice?

    • 0
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      I thought you only supported Rajapakshes right ? now you to turn out to be a clean person ? Why, did you loose the contracts being given to by Rajapakshes ?

  • 0
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    Does Ranil Have An Opposition Card To Play? YES. With the PM of Vietnam.

    Quote;Why do the current regime fail to get cornered Basil in the States ? Are there no any means to achieve it ? Don’t worry Darunawathie, Ranil has sought assistance from Vietnam for that purpose.

  • 0
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    Given the unstable nature of Sri Lankan politics, it would be interesting to see the abolition of the Executive Presidency, that would leave the field wide open to secure a parliamentary majority which will surely now shift in the favor of the UPFA.

    It will be a fair test of UNP popularity. Hopefully the populace will exercise a sanity they do not poses and elect some worthwhile statesmen.

    Maybe DJ from the national list if he loses?

    What ever said and done I prefer SLFP men.

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