30 June, 2022


Emergence Of Sinhala Chauvinism At The Top Layer Of The Ruling Elite

By Vickramabahu Karunaratne –

Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne

The campaign started by those who are very close to the President, to remove the 13th amendment, shows that Constitution making process in the coming period could become arbitrary and carried out at the whims and fancies of the chauvinist elements within the regime. If it really takes place, this will go into history as yet another effort to cater to the popular majoritarian impulses in Lanka. As all powerful Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa called for the abrogation of the 13th Amendment and the chauvinists JHU and pseudo nationalistic Wimal Weerawansa’s NFF jumped the bandwagon, there were fears that the political leadership in the country was to indulge in another crazy attempt to change the supreme law of the land. Of course the remarks by Keheliya Rambukwella that the government does not have plans to abrogate the 13th Amendment for the ‘time being ‘ change the mood. As Trotsky pointed out in the permanent revolution thesis, the bourgeoisie leaders who ruled Lanka too, failed to improve on the semblance of liberal democracy left behind by the British. It is this inability of local capitalists that compels the proletarian movement to intervene to carry out the tasks of democratic reorganization of the society. The 13th amendment came with a strong intervention of the left movement in this country. In the course of that struggle left parties lost nearly thousand national and local leaders including Vijaya , Vimala sena, Panditha and Chandra Vimala.

It is claimed that the provincial council system established under the 13th Amendment itself turned out to be a white elephant. In particular the short-lived Northern Provincial Council collapsed and there after no government were able hold elections there. So the people, for whom the devolution on nationality basis was proposed, are virtually shut out from the system. At the same time, the incomplete provincial council system in the south, turned out to be a white elephant.

However, the failure of the 13th Amendment should primarily be attributed to the dislike of the Central government to devolve powers to the existing provincial councils. This problem has been discussed extensively since the time of Chandrika, and LLRC has indicated in detail the nature of the improvement that could satisfy the Tamil people. In short the solution to the current deficiencies of the 13th Amendment lies in strengthening the power sharing structure stipulated by the amendment.

However, the willingness on the part of the current regime to share power with national minorities is most important. Clearly Mahinda regime has failed even to initiate a truly national dialogue to seek a political solution. Hence the Tamil leaders question the genuineness on the part of the government.  Set against latter’s rush to enact the 18th Amendment, which dismantled all salient achievements of the 17th Amendment, no one can blame the Tamil leaders for their mistrust. On the other hand the inability of the government to seek a political solution is glaring. Inspite of populist acts made to show their loyalty to the voice of the oppressed,

Mahinda regime’s steady march towards

authoritarianism cannot be hidden. All attempts to change the constitution, except the 13th amendment, can be proved to be reactionary.  This includes the republican constitution of comrade Colvin. Unfortunately he was a prisoner of a bourgeoisie government dominated by majoritism.  He claimed that the parliament as the representative of the people was empowered by his constitution. But it was passed by an assembly without the Tamil leaders. Hence it inherited majoritism by birth. As many pointed out the tampering with the Constitution in this manner began by D.S. Senanayake who disenfranchised the Tamils of Indian origin under the Citizenship Act. The true intention of DS was to manipulate the electorate and eliminate an electoral challenge emanating from the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and the Communist Party. “Liberal” leaders have failed to go beyond the chauvinist limitations created by themselves. They have come to an apex in this process with the creation of Mahinda regime. It is based on the ideology of patriotic war to establish a unitary constitution. War was interpreted as a patriotic war against an international conspiracy conducted by an alien power, probably western based, to take over Lanka. Having defeated the alien force the government is, step by step removing all remaining tentacles of the alien power. One of the most important shackles left behind by the conspirators is the 13th amendment! Accordingly the campaign for the removal of 13th amendment is a continuation of the war in the domain of politics. This is the story of the chauvinists.

What is going to happen? This is the question raised by concerned people. They are surprised to see the emergence of Sinhala chauvinism at the top layer of the ruling elite. However it is still at the apex and there is no corresponding mass activity at the bottom. At the bottom we see the campaigns of workers, fishers, peasants and students demanding higher payments and better wages. These mostly led by left leaders who support devolution as a way out to the national problem. Thus, one can say safely that if the conflict flows over to the streets, this time chauvinists will be defeated.

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  • 0

    Comrade Babu, a left-over of the romantic Marxist-Troskyite grouping of the 1970s carries on the social dream “if the conflict flows over to the streets, this time chauvinists will be defeated..” This group he identifies as the Chauvinists have had several avatars since 1948. Their ranks have kept growing – and has reached super-potent proportions. In recent years they entered the ranks of the armed forces – the Army in particular. In any democratic society if the army comes out of the barracks and enters the portals of political power, usually obli1quely, slowly but surely – that society is in trouble. If that particular society happens to be multi-racial/religious then bloodshed is not far off. Usually a marriage between the State and the armed forces is a sure prescription to mortal disaster. Like in theocratic Pakistan the cabal, with blessings from the semi-literate clerical heirarchy, is encouraged to grow in influence and stregth by the day. Therefore, the title of the article “Emergence of Sinhala Chauvinism” needs correction. It is no more emergence but gathering
    consolidation in all spheres.

    From the time of that pseudo-patriot Anagarika Dharmapala Majoritarianism was trying to assert itselt for political domination in the plural country. It was kept at bay by the process of Law and Order in the dominating presence of the British and thereafter by the
    Brown Sahibs – the Wogs, if you like. 1952 saw the assertion of this emerging political culture which hit home in 1956 when the Pancha Balavegaya found a willing tool in SWRD to broadcast its divisive credo in the Buddhist majority country. SWRD was its 1st major casualty. Banda yielded, but like Colvin in 1972, had the progressive thought of changing the State from within. Both failed but Lee Kuan Yew in his nascent State (1965) made up his mind not to yield to Majoritarianism (Singapore was over 95% Chinese) The liberal seeds within him gathered in his Cambridge days and a free-thinking culture made him structure a different plural path. Singapore – sans natural resources – is the most prosperous country outside the G7. Gandhi and Nehru too lead their giant sub-continent away from the suicidal affects of religious fanaticsm in the post-1947 years.

    Majoritarianism of the Sri Lankan variety has grown into a self-destructing monster. It divided a once united plural country along language and religious lines. The MEP, SLFP,PA, JHU are all different manifestations of the same malady – Buddhist Sinhala Majoritarianism.
    It is this toxic cabal that fanned the flames of such labels as
    Federalism, to be followed by, DC’s/RCs, Separatism, Tamil Terrorism,
    ant-Indianism and the lastest bogey the Tamil Diaspora – all of which are delusional and products of conceited racial politics.
    This is something the more thinking part of the Lankan society must understand and recognise. The sooner the industrial-agricultural working class and the clergy realise this and take steps to readjust the path in its politico-economic-social journey the better for all.

    The 13th Amendment, bitterly opposed both by the LTTE and Sinhala extremism for different reasons, has more benign features. It is not that of the merger alone – which seethese in racism. If the Tamils had a chance of running their own affairs from 1987 at least for 10 years they would have settled for a form of diluted peaceful co-existence. But VP/LTTE and Sinhala Majoritarianism – now working hand in glove with the Army – came in between. Sri Lanka’s further dis-advantage, compared to plural India and Singapore – is the under current of a powerful Buddhist clergy that enjoys more political clout than Parliament itself. Both Dudley and JRJ suffered by this when they rejected, in the interest of the country, overtures were made to them. CBK and MR are too weak to face them head-on – and that is Sri Lanka’s tragedy.


  • 0

    Mr Senguttvean anylsis of politicl history chavinism in brife is batter than Dr Bahu so-called Torostkist-orinted policy of exasperation.

  • 0

    Hi Dr Wickremabahu
    I met you for the first time in Singapore many years ago, when you came with a team of Colombo Municipal Council members to study how Singapore was developed. You and your team had 3 days to spend for the project. Instead, you went on a shopping spree at the Serangoon road with us, buying sarees, shirts, shoes, cosmetics etc.

    People like you wasted sri lankan government resources. You are nothing less than a puppet of Prbhakaran.

  • 0

    Dr Bahu,how you talk and act as Socialist Leader of Trostkism in deeds?

  • 0

    DD you should not judge Dr W in a way which will demean his standing in the country. Dr W is a fighter, man with superior intellect than most of the ruling elites, especially those who are bend to abrogate the 13th amendment. Support him to bring sense to the Govt., than bring up cheap events which happened decades ago.

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