Colombo Telegraph

Dumb Criticism Of Smart Patriotism: Response To Mahendra De Silva

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

To begin with the least of his transgressions, Mahendra De Silva, whoever he may be, obviously has a problem comprehending the language even in the very paragraph he has quoted! He alleges the following:

“My main disagreement with Dayan’s views on patriotism is that he failed to distinguish the difference between love for the country and love for the rulers of the country. He has taken the position that that defending the country and defending the rulers of country are the same.”

The paragraph he has quoted from my article contains a sentence which categorically says exactly the opposite of what he alleges. I write:

“He will not defend everything its government or state does; but defend the country, he will…”

The paragraph from my article goes on to say: “The smart patriot is constructively critical about his country but is fiercely loyal to it all the same. He will criticize it but will unconditionally defend his country from the hypocritical criticism of foreign powers and institutions responsible for or blind to far worse crimes.”

What is worse is that Mahendra de Silva also utters demonstrable inaccuracies. He writes:

“When Dayan was defending Sri Lanka at the Human rights commission in Geneva, just after the war in 2010, I believed that he was an intelligent patriot… He assured on behalf the Sri Lankan government that a proper investigation would take place regarding alleged war crimes.”

I did no such thing, as the record would show, and I would challenge Mahendra de Silva to prove it. I left Geneva in 2009, not 2010. I did no such thing because the only inquiry I approve and am still approving of is the strictly selective and limited one recommended by the LLRC. There was no LLRC when I was in Geneva. I pointed out then as I have throughout, that no country conducts, still less submits to such an inquiry when it happens to be a legitimate state that has waged a war within its internationally recognized borders against a terrorist foe and won, just recently. I also pointed out repeatedly, in Geneva and France, that the countries that have conducted inquiries have done so decades later, after the wounds have healed.

“He also assured normalcy would be restored soon. He requested more time for the work to be done.” Nonsense! When and where did I ever say this?

“I personally believe that Dayan is not a racist, and he appreciated the recommendations of LLRT commission. But he kept quiet when recommendations were not implemented.”

That again is pure piffle because even while Ambassador to France, I wrote and spoke in support of the LLRC and criticized the tardiness of implementation. Mine was perhaps the first article (initially posted on Groundviews) to defend the LLRC and argue for its full and expeditious implementation.

Now here comes an outright lie by Mahendra de Silva, who asks:

“Is it because he is a “Smart Patriotic” that he did not make a strong voice against   extremist agendas of the then government including BBS?”

I was the first to call the BBS “religio-fascist” in print and marched in demonstrations and addressed public seminars against it. The BBC World Service had a story by Charlie Havilland in which I was interviewed on the street. I was also the first to criticize Gotabaya Rapajaksa in the media for his apparent endorsement of the BBS at the launch of a so-called Political Academy.

De Silva goes on to say: “I do not believe that Dayan appreciated 18th Amendment which expands the powers of executive Precedency. (sic) Yet he did not raise a voice against it.”

I made the point that while the 18th amendment can be legitimately criticized, it certainly did not turn the country into a dictatorship and that it could be reversed in parliament with a majority, just as it was endorsed. That is exactly what has been proved today!

More outright falsehoods follow, proving that this chap is not merely a dumb critic of Smart Patriotism, but also a dishonest critic:

“I am sure that Dayan did not approve the unlawful and ruthless infringement of 43rd CJ Shrani Bandaranayke or jailing of the war hero General Sarath Fonseka at an unfair military trial. But Dayan did not raise a voice on any of these occasions.”

My criticism of the incarceration of General Fonseka was in sharp contrast to some of those in the present government who were either silent or endorsed it. My criticism, listing ten points, appeared in an article prominently displayed in the Daily Mirror of Feb 15th 2010 and in an interview in the mid-page of the Lankadeepa in the same week!

As for the Shirani Bandaranaike affair, my public criticism commenced mere hours after I returned to Sri Lanka after my term as Ambassador to France, Spain, Portgual and the UNESCO, in the first days of January. Before I had reached my residence from the airport, the website Sri Lanka Mirror had carried a long interview in which I commenced my criticism of the abrupt removal and the conduct of the Government MPs – some of whom are in Cabinet today!

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