19 September, 2020

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Election 2020: The War Dividend

By Sachithanandam Sathananthan

Dr. Sachithanandam Sathananthan

Political astrologers and soothsayers are crawling out of the woodwork: it must be election time!

They are busy crying themselves hoarse exhorting voters to deny a two-thirds majority to the SLPP in this week’s parliamentary elections. One strand within the Sinhalese anti-2/3rd group wishes to stop the electoral ‘landslide’ to arrest the general authoritarian drift, ensure a strong parliament and preserve 19A. The other miniscule Sinhalese one, apparently impressed by arithmetic, is urging ‘vote tactically’ to oppose the 2/3rd and block the President acquiring more power but is apparently scheming to prop up powers of the Prime Minister (against the President) in return for the usual acolyte’s perks. What could they be? Another diplomat’s post? A perch in the Foreign Ministry via a national list? Time will tell.

The pro-2/3rd majority Sinhalese group unabashedly looks forward to the mailed fist coming down on all who oppose the President’s endeavour to build a virtuous and disciplined society in ‘the nation and our motherland’. Another Pohuttuwa devotee eagerly expects the new SLPP government to clean up ‘the Augean Stables’.

Let’s try to make some sense of this feverish discord.

Up-Country Tamil, Ceylon Tamil and Muslim Peoples don’t need prodding. They together with residual Sinhalese (UNP?) voters had decisively cast their votes to rescue democracy from the jaws of autocracy in the 2015 presidential election. We expected them to restate their commitment to democracy in 2019; Tamils and Muslim Peoples did but Sinhalese voters, drawn by ethno-religious calls to present a common front to the ‘enemy’ by and large defected to the SLPP. As one Sinhalese analyst explained, the ‘down trodden, persecuted, humiliated majority community’ backed Rajapaksa’s victory. Whether or not to grant a 2/3rd majority to the SLPP is a matter for the ‘down trodden’ Sinhalese People to decide. 

The support for Premadasa in the 2019 presidential election was based overwhelmingly on Up-Country/Ceylon Tamil and Muslim Peoples’ votes. In the parliamentary election due in three days, most of Premadasa’s non-Sinhalese votes will dribble into the respective Up-Country, Tamil and Muslim parties. To influence the Sinhalese constituency he would need to supplement UNP’s remaining but divided votes by clawing back some from SLPP’s ‘down trodden’ Sinhalese vote bank – predominantly Buddhists reinforced by their clergy – or form electoral alliances with the Up-Country, Tamil and Muslim political forces. Short of a miracle within the next 72 hours, neither option is likely.

Apologetic assertions that Premadasa is the ‘progressive centre’ possessing a ‘social base’ reaching back to his father’s time and evidenced in the 2019 presidential election are delusional at best. Bluster about ‘organic opposition’, ‘populist pluralism’ and so on is hogwash!

Lastly, a word about blocking the lurch towards autocracy. During the run-up to the November 2019 presidential election some painted an almost doomsday scenario. One Sinhalese analyst alleged the choice is between dictatorship and democracy, between SLPP’s Gotabaya Rajapaksa and NDF’s Sajith Premadasa. Our astrologers and soothsayers, many with titles in front and alphabets behind their names, beseeched Sinhalese voters to manipulate their preferential votes to deny victory to Rajapaksa. But the Sinhalese constituency willingly voted for a ‘strong’ leader. Our political science ‘pundits’ failed to see it coming although the writing was clearly on the wall! 

The Sinhalese anti-2/3rd ‘democracy’ group blames mainly the Rajapaksa brothers for the drift towards authoritarianism. But they are merely continuing a tradition former President JR Jayewardene introduced and accelerated with his 1978 Constitution, buttressed by his Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and Emergency Rule. Jayawardene’s ‘Dharmishta’ government is reflected in Rajapakse’s ‘Virtuous’ society; Jayawardene brutally ‘disciplined’ the working classes and their trade unions while Rajapakse is instilling ‘discipline’ in society. Coffee table liberals and democrats in the South cheerfully welcomed (albeit with occasional bleats) the sorely needed stability Jayewardene’s Constitution promised; Rajapaksa has similarly assured a stable government. As Jayewardene’s army intensified militarisation first against Tamils in 1979 and later in the rest in the country, most southern liberals and democrats patriotically muted their opposition (‘Terrorists have to be killed, no?’) in order not to hinder the war against ‘terrorism’ in the north. The militarised administration in the north and east post-2009 and the Task Forces Rajapaksa is installing are integral parts of, and are deeply rooted in, Jayewardene’s authoritarian tradition. Southern liberals and democrats who supported, condoned or were deafeningly silent about the above are complicit in the authoritarianism they so abhor. They are compelled to live the dividends of their opportunism and should relish the rewards.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    2

    The danger is Rajapaksas turning SL into another India, Japan or Russia. Ultra racists continue to win elections in these countries and others are simply too weak to show any resistance. They have built a business and military empire around them. They cannot be dislodged. It is assured in SL if Rajapaksas get to 2/3 after the election. Stopping it is everyone’s responsibility.

    Ghetto parties like TNA, SLMC, ACMA and SLPP have won. Moderates have lost their way.

    • 7
      4

      The author has sketched the lurch of Sinhalese mainstream politics to one of authoritarianism and fear. But has failed to represent the pathology in Tamil politics to which it is closely linked. The rhetoric of Tamil politics is still fatefully linked to Tigerism, with rival Tamil nationalist parties heatedly laying claim to the legacy of Prabhakaran. This also suits Sinhalese extremist politics, which needs its Tamil counterpart. Look at the fate of the University of Jaffna and appointments made at UGC level, that have protected the Tigers’ narrow nationalism and intolerance in university life.

      • 2
        0

        They both need the other to fool their respective tribes. Wolf calls are made by both political camps. Sad plight of SL.

      • 2
        0

        “Look at the fate of the University of Jaffna and appointments made at UGC level, that have protected the Tigers’ narrow nationalism and intolerance in university life.”
        *
        I wonder how “the Tigers’ narrow nationalism and intolerance in university life” has been protected by UGC appointments.
        *
        Did not the disgraceful canvassing that denied a good man the post of VC that he most deserved by blackening his name on these very pages do far more harm to the university?

        • 0
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          SJ: //canvassing that denied a good man the post //
          All’s well that ends well! You may be pleased that we haven’t heard any canvassing this round, no chair of committee with spouse as candidate tasked with searching, and no bloody foreigner in the boxing ring also.

  • 8
    8

    Who are these ‘Up-Country Tamils’? Never heard such a category. Probably, in future these guys might come out with another term called ‘Low-country Tamils’ to refer to Tamils who live in Colombo.
    Tamils are Tamils irrespective of the place of residence. Malabar Vellala Tamils want to keep this distinction ‘Ceylon Tamils’ and ‘Indian Tamils/Up-country Tamils’ to give the impression that they are not from India. All Tamils in Sri Lanka are from Hindusthan brought to Sinhale by colonial parasites. So, there is no need to make a distinction as ‘Ceylon Tamils’ and ‘Indian Tamils/Up-country Tamils’.

    “Up-Country Tamil, Ceylon Tamil and Muslim Peoples don’t need prodding.”

    • 3
      1

      Eager less Puntak –
      You sleep with a Tamil have 51% Demala kids but in your inferiority complexes take sadistic pleasure in looking down upon the race that gives you all sorts of bliss and pleasure.
      #
      What an ungrateful sod of a pig.?
      =
      I accept that we Tamils came from Southern India.
      #
      Where did the yaks or as they are better known worldwide as the uncouth unruly YAKKO Sinhalese come from.?
      #
      A little birdy num numb told me that they were forcibly shipped out of Mother India’s Andaman and Orissa islands for their unsavoury criminal activities.?
      Am I right or wrong.?
      #
      In the event of your not being able to respond or are too shy/inferior to accept the fact of life, I will understand.

    • 4
      0

      Eagle,
      “All Tamils in Sri Lanka are from Hindusthan brought to Sinhale by colonial parasites. “
      Why do you keep repeating this utter rubbish? Do you not know that the latest DNA research shows that Jaffna Tamils are more closely related to Upcountry Sinhalese than to Indian Tamils?

      https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.nature.com/articles/jhg2013112%23:~:text%3DThe%2520majority%2520of%2520Sinhalese%2520and,themselves%2520on%2520both%2520PC%2520axes.%26text%3DIt%2520was%2520evident%2520that%2520Up,when%2520compared%2520with%2520Indian%2520Tamils.&ved=2ahUKEwiU-Nmwq__qAhWIWisKHVsTCyMQFjAEegQIChAJ&usg=AOvVaw1L1e6KQQ2r11Hh_RsBffru

      Quote: “The majority of Sinhalese and Tamil subgroups form close genetic proximities among themselves on both PC axes. … It was evident that Up-country Sinhalese are genetically closer to Sri Lankan Tamils. On the other hand, Sri Lankan Tamil subgroups were closer to each other when compared with Indian Tamils”
      Even a racist like you should be able to understand that this disproves your theories about colonial parasites.

    • 0
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      I agree there is only one ethnic group called Tamils. 90% of them live in India. 4% in SL. 3% in Malaysia. The rest dispersed.

      Time to shed this false classification in 2021. Tell your “sir”.

  • 4
    0

    JRJ whilst Dudley Senanayaka was alive gave him hell and drove that high classed quality gentleman to premature death.
    #
    JRJ was another petty-minded racist who had a great affection towards his first daughter in law a society damsel who was a Tamil from the north.
    She gave birth to 3 sons who sadly were left homeless due to the breakdown in the matrimonial alliance of his only offspring the paternal grandparents adopted and brought them up with finesse.
    #
    When JRJ became the first executive president he appointed his ex daughter in law to be the first executive housekeeper of the Janadhipathi Mandaraya formerly till the fateful year of 1972 was known globally as the Queen’s House.
    #
    Mahindan Rajapuka whilst he occupied the royal latrines when he crookedly shamelessly by heavily bribing the LTTE in 2005 not only occupied the Queen’s House but also forcefully occupied the Araliya Medura known before as Temple Trees which was the residence of the Prime Minister of the day.
    The Galle Road as well as the connecting roads out of Fort were during the days of the war and even after that till Mahindan got booted out by egg hoppers in January 2015 from 2005 onwards were strictly blocked and were no-entry zones for the common man/woman who had to go all around the mulberry bush.

  • 2
    0

    I being a straight shooter wish to give the Kalla kallathoni war criminal if he’s still parked himself along with his frightened, terrified timid concubine of a wife at his other in law’s simple residence in Mirihana a well-done plaudit.
    #
    When he travels as the kingpin, he has a two motor-bicycle police escort about 3 to 4 army commando cum presidential security police motorcades.
    The other heads of state have two similar looking bulletproof motor vehicles in convoy, but he goes only in one.
    #
    He and his concubine dress in simple common folks clothing are 100% even not eggs eating vegetarians and being an egg consuming due to medical reasons sort of vegan for 42 years applaud this couple for living a simple way of like, unlike his elder brother who will not even let 5 cents to pass him by.
    #
    My qualms with him are for his arrogant way of conducting himself, his track record as a mass killer of the innocents and his hot temper.?
    I am reliably told that she was very close to the late, leading surgeon Dr P.R.Anthonis with whom he had a very close rapport he is afraid to let any other surgeon even to examine his hammer rods better known in Asian atmosphere as piles.

    rk with the minorities to make this country the MECCAof the indian ocean.

  • 2
    0

    Sachi, you had explained in volumes “How we came to this pass”. The seeds were sown from the time of independence and now Lankans are compelled to live the dividends of their opportunitism and should relish the rewards”. Denial, avoiding (from commenting), bargaining, depression/destitute, anger/ frustration , excuses are stages of GRIEF. The ones who have realized and accepted the fact ,are moving towards closure (there is no healing). Thanks again.

    • 1
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      C
      The seeds were sown early the 20th Century. Tamil leaders fertilized them.
      P Ramanathan sided with Sinhala chauvinists when the Muslims were attacked in 1915.
      C Sutharaligam reportedly helped DS Senanayake to create a pan Sinhalese cabinet in the State Council.
      Of course we like to forget the great betrayal by the chief Tamil leader in 1948.

      • 0
        0

        “C Sutharaligam reportedly helped DS Senanayake to create a pan Sinhalese cabinet in the State Council.

        I don’t understand how you always standing behind others buttock and watch watch when ugly things go on and become the witness to “reportedly”.
        An ugly liar calls others cheater. Don’t try to cheat me with another
        “ZZZZZZZZZZZZ”

      • 0
        0

        “P Ramanathan sided with Sinhala chauvinists when the Muslims were attacked in 1915.” Your venomous tongue tell all stories. Can you explain why, when Sir P.R sided with Sinhala Chauvinist, Britain left Sinhala leaders out though Britain was with Muslims that time. , Please don’t invent history; Read the history. Why didn’t Britain arrest and punish those disturbed the Perahera by stoning the peaceful walkers? Do you write with the side wherever the drug keep spinning it.

  • 2
    0

    “All Tamils in Sri Lanka are from Hindusthan brought to Sinhale by colonial parasites. “
    Eagle Eye

    Existence of Tamils from at least 3rd century BC is authenticated by Mahavamsa. A total of 8 kings ruled from Anuradhapura for a period of 81 years ending with Ellalan (BC 145 – BC 101).

    All Tamils in Sri Lanka are from Hindusthan brought to Sinhale by colonial parasites are now Sinhalese like the Karava, Salagama and Durawa. Eagle Eye is one of them.

    • 2
      1

      Thanga,

      “All Tamils in Sri Lanka are from Hindusthan brought to Sinhale by colonial parasites are now Sinhalese like the Karava, Salagama and Durawa. Eagle Eye is one of them.”

      Whilst acknowledging that the Karava, Salagama and Durawa are important segments in the sinhala community these groups make up less than 9% of the sinhala population.
      According to Prof K M De Silva these groups came from Kerala. They are the most enterprising people and are rabidly anti tamil. This strengthens the argument further about their Kerala Origins. But the fact is these groups are fully assimilated as well.
      There are some sinhalayas who show the bad qualities of Tamils. May be these few are actually Tamils

      • 1
        0

        Ravi P.
        The caste groups that you referred to are politically the most articulate, and two notoriously communal.
        What about the craftsmen?
        Whatever happened to the mercenaries from Pandya country that were brought in to fight alongside ‘Sinhalese’ soldiers.
        *
        It is good to be clear in our minds that Tamils and Sinhalese here are a thoroughly mixed lot. In rude language, we a nation of mongrels.

        • 0
          0

          ps.
          The Salasgama distanced themselves from the Sinhalese in 1915.
          Their ceremonial customs remain different from those of other Sinhalese. Many preserve their vasagama with Tamil names (not Malayalam as Prof. Kingsley de Silva would like to have).

          • 0
            0

            Many people with Salagama Vasagama have munis in the name. There are many like this in Kerala. Wether what you say or prof K M De Silva says is correct is a matter for a debate. Anyway as you quite rightly said earlier the the 3 sinhala caste groups are the most anti tamil. In India it is the same withe Keralites.

        • 0
          0

          “It is good to be clear in our minds that Tamils and Sinhalese here are a thoroughly mixed lot. In rude language, we a nation of mongrels.”

          This is common to all races today. Most people who call themselves English in England have different european ancestry, including the Royal family. Once you assimilate into a race you are identified with that race.

    • 0
      0

      Thanga,
      There were Dravidians in Sinhale from 3rd Century BC who came as invaders. They are not Tamils and Sinhalayo called them ‘Demalu’. They occupied Sinhala Kingdoms in Anuradhapura and Pollonnaruwa in the North-East and ruled for short periods but Sinhala Kings chased them away and never gave a chance for them to have a foothold in this country.
      There could be few remnants of those invaders but large majority of Demala population in Sinhale are the descendants of Dravida slaves brought by colonial parasites.

  • 3
    0

    OMG, Ravi Perera, you mean to say evil eagle is actually a Tamil. Thanks for pointing out the bad apples among you. I guess then you must be a hybrid of all.

    • 0
      1

      Eagle eye is a straight shooter. He has the guts to tell openly what the sinhalayas think of tamils

  • 1
    0

    Lankans include Sinhalese, Tamils ,Muslims and all others.Unless you thought it is Sinhalese only.

  • 0
    0

    Many thanks for your article. You have given us many perceptive articles over the last year or so.
    .
    My comments made while the sad results were coming in are to be found here:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/after-the-elections-2/comment-page-1/#comment-2354480
    .
    The person most to blame is Ranil Wickremasinghe. I wonder whether realisation of the horrors he has forced future generations to undergo will drive him to suicide tomorrow.
    .
    No, may he, like his Uncle, linger on a decade to understand the crimes he wittingly committed.
    .
    Let uws weep for our poor country.

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