23 September, 2023


Either One Lives For Politics Or Lives Off Politics

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely”  – Franklin Roosevelt

President Maithripala Sirisena has decided to preserve the unity of the UPFA at the expense of the ‘rainbow’ coalition that installed him in office.

The Sinhala idiom ‘ Koka pennuwa’ eloquently and evocatively encapsulates the volte face of our ‘good governance’ President. He held the promise of epochal change. He has now delivered an elephantine shocker to us simpletons who hoped for clear skies over our benighted land after the rainbow of 8th January.

He remains to hold out some hope. We express our views, fearing no white vans. We roam Cyber space with no help from Ninjas. Yet, we cannot help but remain apprehensive of a return to the times of dusk if not darkness at noon. Both Mohan Pieris and Sarath N. Silva were looming large at the Medamulna conclave. They too are waiting in the wings, no doubt in the hopes of the spotlights moving in their direction.

The writing was on the walls of Bawa’s edifice in the Diyawanna waters now awaiting either fresh faces or the same old. The latter is now the more likely possibility.
We should have known better. The script of the unfolding drama was out there and yet one noticed. The report of the parliamentary select committee on the impeachment of the 43rd Chief Justice is a public document. There in hangs not just another tale but the principal tale. There are six signatories – Anura Priyadharshana Yapa, Nimal Siripala Silva, Susil Premajayantha as Chairman, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Wimal Weerawansa, Dilan Perera and Neomal Perera”

Mahinda June 13 2015 MataraWith the exception of Dr. Rajitha Senaratatne, the other five signatories have shown a disturbing consistency in defining their own version of good governance and a just society. These five former parliamentarians, deeply committed to the restoration of the Rajapaksa dispensation have persuaded President Sirisena to put their political survival ahead of any mandate he received last January.

In his essay ‘Politics as Vocation’ Max Weber has explained how the minds of politicians zigzags through avarice and ambition. He questions “If the state is to exist, the dominated must obey the authority claimed by the powers that be. When and why do men obey? “

Responding to his own rhetoric he offers the explanation. “ the authority of the ‘eternal yesterday or rather the ‘traditional’ domination exercised by the patriarch and the patrimonial prince of yore. There is the authority of the extraordinary and personal gift of grace (charisma), the absolutely personal devotion and personal confidence in revelation, heroism, or other qualities of individual leadership.

The leadership of the UPFA gravy train was never in doubt. The unelected occupant of Temple Trees threatened to get the new Boss to administer a few ‘Tokkas’ to the signatories to the signatories of the report on the impeachment of the Chief Justice. Now he himself has been administered with a much sharper ‘Tokka’ ! As Weber points out in the same essay “obedience is determined by highly robust motives of fear and hope–fear of the vengeance of magical powers or of the power-holder, hope for reward in this world or in the beyond… “

What made the President blink? He blinked because deep down he remains a politician and thinks as a politician. The two General Secretaries, who wielded the power of deciding the trajectory of the SLFP and the UPFA in the next general election were staunch Rajapaksa loyalists. Priyadarashan Yapa was ‘Shogun Mahinda’s’ chosen ‘Samurai’ to replace the general secretary who decamped. Coincidentally they were trusted members of the Rajapaksa Cabinet who took turns in holding the “Petroleum Ministry. In the short window available their removal was not an option. That is not unless he was ready to split the SLFP and seek a remedy for the impasse at the pending elections.

While his chosen option is abhorrent to the idealist it makes sense to the realist. It seems he was silently suffocating in the grip of the mismanaged UNP administration. It never attempted even pretend that there’s was an interim administration focused on a specific agenda. In particular three ministers John Amaratunge, Lukshman Kiriella and Akila Viraj Kariyawasam together with their leader the Prime Minster ignored the necessary and focused on the trivial in needling and provoking an opposition that quietly but surely recovered itself and gave notice that 8th January was only a battle lost but the war was on.

Politicians rarely see a link between strategy and credibility. Instead they rely on strategy to make up for their credibility deficits.

The temporary eclipse of the Rajapaksa reign did not change the rules of political competition. Ours is a game where politicians pay greater attention to resources and less to their reputations.

The Rajapaksa machine remains intact. The patron client networks are well entrenched in solid cultural and psychological nurseries. The mind manipulators who know their business are at work. Abhayaramaya is more than a temple.

President Maithripala Sirsena told us at the swearing in ceremony at Independence square that it was his first and the last searing in as President. Though defeated Mahinda has made no promises. Max Webber says that there are two ways of making politics one’s vocation. “Either one lives ‘for’ politics or one lives ‘off’ politics.”

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Latest comments

  • 5

    You are right, you are a simpleton!

    Othersise, being from the Third World, you would not have quoted a Roosevelt, one of the most blood thirsty imperialists (like his fifth cousin Theodore). He is the man who started interpreting America’s “goal as to make America the “Arsenal of Democracy”, which would supply munitions to the Allies.

    And here we are, quoting such people.
    G-D, give them brains and a conscience.

    • 2

      Sarath de Alwis

      RE: Either One Lives For Politics Or Lives Off Politics

      Wimpy Spineless Sira Excuses from the grape wine..

      “Justifying the decision to give nominations to his predecessor Mahinda Rajapaksa, president Maithripala Sirisena says that without strengthening the UPFA by accepting Rajapaksa, the UNP would be likely to gain more than two-third parliamentary majority.”

      Let’s see Who this President Maitripala Sirisena is based on what has transpired over the past 6 months.

      1. A Spineless person
      2. A Wimp and a Liar
      3. A Coward
      4. A Traitor to 6.25 million voters.

      He called it a “compromise”. A ‘compromise” with the Devil, Satan, MaRa. Iblis, Shaitan. Lucifer and MaRa.

      So, Maitripala Sirisena has helped form a new Word.
      “compromise”, now means Wimpromise.

      Maitripala Siridena, the spineless, wimp, coward and traitor wimpromised with the Liar, Crook, Robber and criminal Mahinda Rajapaksa.

      MaRa MaRa Chatu MaRa Amana MaRa, Wimpy Sira

      Sira Sira Wimpy Sira Wimpromised With MaRa Chatu SiRa

      The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) on Sunday (05) described the President’s decision to grant nominations for the former President to contest under the UPFA ticket as the ‘greatest betrayal’ in the recent past.
      The observation was made by JVP General Secretary Tilvin Silva at a press conference held in Colombo.

      “With the move to give nomination for the former President, President Maithripala Sirisena has betrayed the public.

      Specially, those who voted for his at the January polls,” Tilvin Silva said.

      He also pointed out that not only the voters but Sirisena has also betrayed his allies who assisted him to become the president at the last election.

  • 3


    Human dignity is neither third nor first world. Your amazing grasp of American political history is conceded.

  • 4

    There is yet a big question mark as to what MS would do about the MR nomination. MS’s image stands some what tarnished today. He may lose his halo altogether, if MR is nominated in the coming week.

    There is much public disgust at MR’s antics. His vote base appears to have shrunk since Jan 8th’ 2015. The UNP may gain from this. The mud thrown at the UNP has not struck, as the issues, such as that in the Central Bank, whether true, false or exaggerated, are too complicated and beyond the comprehension of most people. The people have a feeling the MR iceberg of corruption and other vileness, is much bigger than they thought. What has been revealed so far, has shocked most people. It will be difficult for MR to turn this tide in a General Election and in the face of the fact that he cannot misuse the presidency and government mechanisms any more.

    The next week- the week of nominations- will define the contours of what we can expect of a new government and what we can expect of MS.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 0

      Mud did NOT have to thrown at the UNP. It was quite capable of destroying itself within days of being appointed to govern. The biggest perp is still busy protesting that he did not do this, that and the other, while his boss is doing his best to protect him, even to the extent of dissolving Parliament. Even in Sri Lanka we now know why banksters are held in such low regard.

      Neither did the ‘Common Candidate’ disappoint. He proved himself to be all too common.

  • 1

    Democracy can only succeed when the choice before the elector is much more than the two sides of the same coin.

  • 1

    It is very simple. Al politicians live off politics because they have all the comforts and money in politics. There is no exception.

  • 1

    All these guys commenting in these columns hate Mahinda.

    I am very sad and hurt and feel like committing suicide.

    • 2


      “All these guys commenting in these columns hate Mahinda.”

      The commentators love the people more than the war criminals.

      ” I am very sad and hurt and feel like committing suicide.”

      I don’t think any of our fellow commentators would want to stop you from what you proposed to do. In fact some may assist you in your endeavour.

      • 3

        ” I am very sad and hurt and feel like committing suicide.”

        Please Go ahead!

        Do yourself and the CT readership a favour.

  • 0

    A “Political Come Back” was and is a MUST for Rajapakse and his “Clan”. The campaign at the last Presidential election mainly evolved around the “Abolition” of the Presidency Rule and “Rounding” all those involved in corruption and swindling of Public Property during the “Regime” of Rajapakse. We saw how the ball started rolling and the complains galore into the relevant “investigative apparatus” set up under Yahapalanaya. But for some “unknown” and perhaps “hidden” reasons the Investigative machinery did not or most probably could not run maintaining the same “speed” at which started. As “reported” and more clearly “exposed” the investigations stalled and got and more appropriately “directed” to recording “statements” but did not reach the “Judiciary”.

    However the fact remains that the “Complaints” have been made and “Investigations” are in the process. It is therefore obvious that at any point of time this “Volcano” could “erupt”. If that “erupts” at any time, “Rajapakse & Co”(Unlimited) will be made “Accountable” and “Answerable” to most of such corruptions and swindling of Public Property. Already, we have the cases of Mr Sajun Vas Gunawardane, Mr Senarath (the Chief of Staff of ex President Rajapakse), Mr. Weeratunga (the Secretary to the ex President) and MANY MORE that will implicate Mr Rajapakse & Co. directly. So: “What is the WAY OUT”? Nothing else, other than that to STAGE A COME BACK along with all those implicated in those complaints and CRIPPLE the MECHANISMS that are in progress. The present Government has already SHOWN the way to do it and Rajapakse & Co. will definitely get that “PROMISED” help by all those who are vowing to claim victory at the next elections. They have already issued “instructions” NOT TO CRITICIZE the President and some who said “Aiyoh Sirisena”; “Maru Sira” etc. have started the slogan: “Sira Maru Man” (Sira is a fine man).

    So in the end there is no case of “EITHER”, it will be ONLY live off Politics. It is a ONE WAY STREET. Very strange Mr. Sarath de Alwis could not grasp this REALITY in Sri Lanka Politics.

  • 2

    Vote for Ranil vote for Arjun Mahendran !

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