15 December, 2017

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Enemies Of The President’s Promise: Sleepy

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Perhaps the saddest influence on President Rajapaksa was his Foreign Minister, G L Peiris. There were two main reasons for this influence. One, commonly known, was the hold he had on the President’s eldest son, Namal, who had been elected to Parliament in 2010 and who saw himself as his father’s successor – a prospect made possible when, soon after that Parliament was elected, after a few crossovers from the opposition made a two thirds majority possible, the Constitution was changed to remove term limits with regard to the Presidency.

In principle this made sense, since otherwise the lame duck syndrome would have set in almost immediately. There would then have been internecine warfare between Basil, who had previously assumed he would succeed, and the old guard of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. This was inevitable given Basil’s political history, even though they had a healthy regard for Mahinda Rajapaksa, who had remained faithful to the party during the dark days when President Jayewardene was using all the powers of government to split and destroy it, and also when he was treated with disfavor, despite his seniority, by President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

The latter had left the SLFP because of disagreements with her mother over the succession. When she felt sidelined in favour of her more right wing brother Anura, she set up her own left wing group together with her husband. Basil however, in the darkest days for the SLFP, had actually joined Jayewardene’s UNP. His elder brother indeed did not entirely trust him, but found him a hard worker and a capable strategist, and hardly ever spoke ill of him to others.

Namal GL PeirisWith Namal the situation was very different. The intensity of his dislike and perhaps nervousness with regard to Basil became clear when he attempted to get a group of young Members of Parliament to send a petition to the President requesting that GL be appointed Prime Minister. That post was held by a senior and very old member of the SLFP, D M Jayaratne, who seemed at death’s door a year or two after he was appointed. This led to the memorable quip by the President that he was the only senior member of the government who was praying for the man to live, whereas his colleagues were all dashing coconuts (a formula to invoke both blessings and curses) for his death. Members of the opposition indeed claimed, when the Prime Minister was in the United States for treatment it was doubted would be successful, that there had been seven aspirants for his post.

The most junior of these, but also closest to the President, were Basil and GL. Though the application of the latter seemed preposterous, Namal’s effort to dragoon support for him made it clear that his ambitions were not without hope of success.

His influence with Namal lay in the fact that he had coached him for his Bar Exams. The boy had been sent to university in England, but had dropped out. Though incapacity was alleged, it was more likely that he had been unable to resist returning to Sri Lanka when his father was elected President, and working towards a political career. His father, who had been mentored in his youth – having been elected to Parliament at the tender age of 24 in 1970 – by the then Secretary General of Parliament, one of the few from his home District of Hambantota to have received a good education in the days before the Second World War, had been encouraged to enter Law College and qualify as a barrister. He pushed his son into the same course, and the boy passed out before the 2010 General Election, albeit to claims that special arrangements had been made for him to take the examination.

This was likely, given security considerations and the reach of the Tigers before the war concluded. Less plausible was the claim that GL had in fact answered the papers himself. However it was no secret that GL’s support had helped Namal to qualify, and Namal, a cheerful and good-natured soul, was deeply grateful. His gratitude also increased when GL, as Foreign Minister, took Namal on many official trips, and gave him pride of place. His father, wiser than both GL and his son, occasionally put his foot down about the former’s obsequious suggestions, but on the whole he was pleased that he had taken his preferred successor under his wing.

This was due to the other reason for GL’s influence, which was not generally recognized. The Rajapaksa government saw itself as home grown, and took pride in this, but this did mean that it was not very sophisticated. Of the seven aspirants to the Prime Minister’s post, only GL was seen as Westernized, and able to deal with important players in the rest of the world on their own terms.

Though a Buddhist himself, he had after all been educated at S. Thomas’, the leading Christian school for boys in the country. Having got a law degree from Colombo University, he had won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, where he obtained a doctorate in three years. Back at Colombo University, he had risen rapidly to become Professor of Law, and then Vice-Chancellor, a position he gave up to join the SLFP and enter Parliament in 1994.

President Chandrika Kumaratunga too had had great faith in him, and put him in charge of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, with great hopes of achieving agreement with the Tamil parties, who had warmly welcomed her election. GL however was not an effective negotiator, and the talks collapsed. He however went on from strength to strength, being used by the President also as her Deputy in the Ministry of Finance, which she headed. This meant that often he had to present the budget in Parliament, and answer questions, which gave him even more prominence.

However, as things began to go wrong for the Kumaratunga government, he found himself the butt end of the President’s criticism. So in 2001, a year after the Parliamentary election at which the government had again won a clear majority, he crossed over to the Opposition. The government lost its majority, so the President dissolved Parliament, whereupon the UNP won the election that followed. RanilWickremesinghe, the long standing Leader of the Opposition (seven years, followed by another 10 from 2004 onward) became Prime Minister and GL became his chief negotiator in the talks with the LTTE that government embarked upon, following a Cease Fire Agreement.

Needless to say, these talks too came to nothing, though this was mainly because of Tiger intransigence. Government in fact granted almost everything the Tigers wanted and, perhaps because of this, they demanded more and more. Thus even an agreement to explore a solution in the context of a federal Sri Lanka (a concept that was anathema to a majority of politicians as well as people in the country) was repudiated by Prabhakaran, who seems indeed to have fallen out with his chief negotiator Anton Balasingham about this. Contrariwise,  the latter had probably thought he had achieved a great deal in getting the government team, led by GL, to agree to this.

As it became apparent that the Wickremesinghe government was ready to do anything to keep the Tigers happy and maintain the Cease Fire Agreement, there were signs of increasing dissatisfaction in the country. Emboldened by this, President Kumaratunga dissolved Parliament early in 2004, and won the election that followed. Against her will, given massive support for him in the Party, following his performance as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, she had to make Mahinda Rajapaksa Prime Minister.

The following year, after a Supreme Court judgment which in effect deprived her of a year of her Presidency, she had to hold a Presidential election which she could not contest, given the term limits then in place. Her efforts to suggest that her brother Anura be the candidate came to naught, and Mahinda Rajapaksa stood on behalf of the SLFP and its coalition partners, and was duly elected. This was in part because the Tigers made the Tamils in areas they controlled boycott the election, perhaps in the belief that they would have a pretext of going back to war against Rajapaksa. Wickremesinghe on the contrary had given in to them in every particular during negotiations, which would make a renewal of hostilities on their part less acceptable to the world.

Early in 2007, GL crossed back to the SLFP along with almost all those who had gone over in 2001, and also many others. He had been preceded before the Presidential election by three UNP stalwarts, Rohitha Bogollagama before the Presidential election, and Mahinda Samarasinghe and Keheliya Rambukwella in 2006. The first of these was appointed Foreign Minister by President Rajapaksa in 2007, following the resignation of Mangala Samaraweera, a confidante of President Kumaratunga who had nevertheless supported Rajapaksa for the 2005 Presidential election. He had been rewarded with two important Ministries, Shipping and Aviation in addition to Foreign Affairs. However he continued close to the former President, which contributed to distrust on the part of her successor. In a Cabinet reshuffle in 2007, following the access to the government of GL and the others who had crossed over, Samaraweera was asked to choose just one portfolio. He opted for Shipping and Aviation over Foreign Affairs, since that allowed patronage with regard to appointments, thought essential for electoral purposes.

So Bogollagama became Foreign Minister, a position he had hoped for immediately after the 2005 Presidential election. This was a possibility because, just a few months earlier, the Tigers had killed President Kumaratunga’s long-standing Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar. A Tamil who had worked for the UN before retiring to Sri Lanka when he was 60, he was easily Sri Lanka’s most competent Foreign Minister ever. Having joined the SLFP in 1994, he served President Kumaratunga with intelligence and independence which she appreciated, so that in 2004 she had hoped to make him Prime Minister.

The pressure from Mahinda Rajapaksa and his supporters however proved too strong, but Kadirgamar and Rajapaksa then began to work well together, which led to some animosity from the President. It is almost certain then that Rajapaksa would have made Kadirgamar his Prime Minister, but the Tigers were wise to the possibility, which would have been a disaster for them. In August 2005, they shot him.

Rajapaksa was compelled then to bring back President Kumaratunga’s first Prime Minister, and then, after the 2010 election, to appoint an equally senior, and far less effective, party stalwart. Tragically, he has not since seen the necessity of putting in place an effective Deputy, which he was, if briefly, to President Kumaratunga, and which the future President Premadasa was, as President Jayewardene’s Prime Minister. Perhaps his own success, and that of Premadasa, put him off, given the desire to have a family member succeed. That, the continuing curse of Sri Lankan politics, is one of the principal reasons for the disasters that have piled up in President Rajapaksa’s second term.

To be continued..

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Latest comments

  • 11
    1

    Rajiva,

    You and the rest of the now infamous trio screamed for Nonis to resign chest-beating that Vass had insulted the office of the Ambassador, not just the person.

    So, now what? Nonis has resigned and Vass remains absolutely unaffected? Do you have any further responsibility in this?

    Are you planning to take that issue up at the Parliament?

    Shouldn’t Tamara, if any residual respect is left behind, follow in protest? Just a year or two ago, while in Europe, Tamara vowed she will not return to her original, token posting – and then obviously changed her mind as no other source of income seemed in the offing?

    How about the king of the trio – shouldn’t he stop directly or indirectly begging for assignment, now that Vass has gravely insulted the office of a compatriot?

    Or, was the rage you guys expressed merely and opportunistically faked one in an attempt to avenge G.L, on personal grounds? Please grow up!

    • 8
      1

      NO, he would not grow up as he is looking for cheap publicity at other people expenses. he does not have any compassion the people in the county but he only cares about his next career promotion.

    • 7
      1

      Rajiva, and Kumar R.

      All this is part of the Shilling business.

      In the shilling business they lie, deceive, lick, etc. etc.

      So, there is no surprise.

    • 5
      1

      This is the very first time that a govt handled things so silly even if their diplomats are being attacked by unqualified goons that have been appointed by uneducated bunch ruling the country.
      As Karu Jayasooriya and the many others have explained it – Govt is not able to handle this kind of issue – nor had they managed to do so at Hambantota incident in which decent UNP fact finding mission were openly attacked both verbally and physically (Ajith Perera was physcially attacked) – nothing like justice is given to any of the incident.
      Lawlessness and the president s continuance as nothing occured is entwined in the recent indicents. Either president is a FICTIOUS figure rather than honest charactor or he intentionally does so to stay in power. Even CBK would have reacted accordingly if her Ambassadors were fallen to this kind of physical harassments.

      • 4
        0

        Supun,

        If “unqualified goons” are able to outsmart the educated, politically mature and internationally experienced academics and intellects, then who exactly is more successful or effective? Why do you expect the goons to change – after all they are being successful in what they are doing – why would they want that reversed. So don’t blame or whine about the goons if the intellects have no clue how to neutralize those goons – are they then truly intellects, in any objective measure?

        Yes this is the first time for an event this horrific, but it seems certain more will come!

        It is the trend that matters – things have been going downhill not just from 2009, but in fact since SWRD – steadily but surely. Can you think of any upward movement democracy-wise that the country has seen since Banda? How about in the last 7 years under MR – can you name any sign, even one single sign of a reversal in the deterioration of human dignity and democracy?

        It is because politicians have been able and willing to increasingly hoodwink both domestic population with distractions, and the internationals with falsehood. Some academics in particular, prime examples being this ”dirty-trio”, have continued to prop-up if not prod, assist and facilitate such hoodwinking for personal gains, under the sheep-skin cover. That is where the blame falls. We need academics and intellects of integrity, not ones seeking to just wine & dine. Just take the example of the Nonis – Sagin encounter – aside from faking rage, what have these dirty-trio done objectively to stop the vulgarization of the office? Vass goes scot-free and Nonis jobless – who exactly was punished?

        If the intellects and the population cannot open their eyes even now, there are many more “first times” to come – only more rapid, and more horrific!

    • 4
      1

      Only good news.

      Family animosity within the Hamba Clan is real. Betweenn Regent Basil and Crown Prince Namal. May that develop from strength to strength.

      May Sri Lanka be blessed with a specatcular Hamba Clan implosion.

      Cheers!

      • 2
        0

        If the presidency would be passed to Namal baby, ours will automatically be one another NORTH KOREA to the world or not ?

        Namal baby is rumoured to spend hours in clubs, have not won the hearts and minds of the people though it is made to believe other way around. Those who would get punished first will be close ones to him. Mervin Silva should be very cautious these days considering all these. Not only starved dogs, but starved hamba people would be used to eat out their enemies when it goes to defend them. There will be no rule of law at all in this banana republic since MR is in power. Those who have forogtten things clearly, in CBK days, people enjoyed at least some respect and dignity as human beings, today, those guys LIKE baggage BOY Sajin are forcely bred by them for their survivial.

  • 8
    2

    The writer has now realised that he would not be offered any serious roll in current government. He is now working on a new project which is licking Namal’s boot whom likely to be the next president.
    We can foward the writer’s name for boot licking competition, if there was one.

  • 12
    1

    Complaining and complaining but still in the bosom of the president ?

  • 8
    2

    Does this Professor want the FM post ?…

    Or is he giving free kicks to the Opposition hoping he would have a chance if Ranil does a Lazarus?….

    • 6
      1

      aathal sumanaya i dont care if the good proffesori wants the FM post but I certainly want you to be the next SL High Commissioner in UK

      now let me go look for my notebook and dig up some old boy network and try use influence to get you that athal job in UK ok K A Sumansekera!

      • 3
        1

        Peace Lover

        “I certainly want you to be the next SL High Commissioner in UK”

        I support your proposal on condition that Sajin Vass Gunawardena remains the monitoring MP of the ministry.

        I will be right behind K.A Sumanasekera as long as we have a monitoring MP at the Ministry of External Affairs.

        I wish him well.

        • 1
          0

          Dear Native & P. Lover,

          Appreciate your kindness,

          Please if you can, put me on your National List , TNA or UNP, so that I can help Keselwatta Kid to save our Dalits from Ranil, Vellalas and the Anglicans, in case Ranil does a Lazarus…..

          • 2
            0

            K.A Sumanasekera

            “Please if you can, put me on your National List , TNA or UNP, …”

            Sorry we want you to work for MR under Vaas as closely as possible, hand in glow.

            You will do well to remember you might feel an iron fist in the velvet glow.

          • 1
            0

            Aathal K A S ;
            IT is good that, Still you REMEMMBER THE KICK you got to the arse given by a Vellala,
            but do not keep that to take revenge, man.
            always You will reap , What you sow!!!!.

  • 9
    1

    What should have gone wrong with GLP if he was then a professor of Law ?

    The best he could have done if he could was to teach the bunch of Rajapakshe thugs how to obey rule of law. In that way GLP could have won the hearts and minds of the many in this 91% literate nation.
    Today, without having law and order, MR regime is subjected to everyone s criticism.

  • 7
    1

    This man is a lost cause

    • 5
      1

      Dont you feel that he finally has opened his mouth wider ?

    • 2
      1

      At least he expresses himself in that way, but Vasudewa and other seniors stay as if their balls were stolen by Rajapakshes.. Or not ? Be honest to you man, i dont sympathise wit this or DJ guy but theirs have a point.

  • 7
    1

    Hi the so called Prof,

    What are you trying say? What is the purpose of your article? Did you have an introduction to your essay and define it. What are you going to say to the reader? Do you have any critical input or any analysis?

    What you have done in this part of your essay is lined up some incidents one by one?

    When did you become a foreign policy analyst?

    You, Dr. DJ, Tamara K and now Dr. Chris are trying to project an image that only you all can protect the country by keeping it in your shoulders.

    You all are simply forgetting that for last sixty years (from the independence) SL’s foreign policy was conducted without any damage and tigers (LTTE) was banned in many countries without You, Dr. DJ, Tamara K and Dr. Chris.

    I can tell you something Prof. Since you are in the parliament, your students at the university can have some good time and learn something?

    Hope you will spend rest of your life time in politics and allow the students in the university to learn something useful. Won’t you Prof?

    • 3
      1

      Podi Appuwo,
      what I feel by reading yours and the related comments on this forums – Rajiva and several others are caught by dragon as escape is no possible. There are almost many of this kind incl. that evil mouth Mervin Silva not being able to leave the virulent coalition easily. They were part of them, today only Rajaapkshes are obviously controlling every ministry by all unethical and incedent means. This particular man to have assualted to the Dr has no whatsover ever education to even get on with the educated but how come such a person made possible giving monitoring powers. It is Mahinda Rajapakshes who personally organised these things to fall in this way -not anybody else. People attack CBK or other previous presidents, but none of them failed to run ministries to this curseful manner.
      Now with increasing majority openly sees the issue – if there would be no change in the govt, what would be consequence for the country in near future ? UNP and other parties are being blamed for their silence but do they have any other options than doing so, in the made enviroments that we all face today? Things seem to be running on democratic tracks but nothing is there democratic because people or majoirty parlimentarians are not well informed, nor have the Rajapakshe oligarchs respect the views given by many. It is an authoritarian govt – and this should be sent home by the UNIVERSAL franchise of the island nation soon.

  • 7
    1

    This so called Professor in his many articles appearing on CT, makes out that the President has not been advised properly or has been influenced.
    Are we dealing with ” dumb” President who cannot think on his own?
    Isn’t the Prof in making such statements “sucking up” to the President for his own survival?.

  • 4
    1

    Good one Rajva., keep it all coming, all looks like the rats are running out of its survival from the sinking Medamulana ship and Uva elections have done so much panicking for the regime boot lickers.

    K.M Sumanasekera now have very serious competition from guys like Rajiva and dont worry., you cannot jump the ship yet. as you may be a victim of a sudden traffic accident or any other misfortune.

    So better get few millions of loot from the regime as happened in all these years and wait the peoples uprising to send the rogue regime in a Mihin Air plane never to return. Rajiva., please beg the baggage boy to make sure you have you seat reserved.

  • 2
    0

    Rajiva, the downfall of Sri Lanka began with the 18th amendment. Everything else that happened before is due to democratic actions taken by various parties.But the 18th amendment was not a democratic one, although people like you who voted in favour of the 18th amendment knowing too well (as you all are educated) that you all can personally benefit form the 18th amendment voted for it. Shame on you guys for continuing to hold positions in the Government. I hope and pray that UNP when they come to power do not include traitors like you into their fold.

  • 2
    0

    Rajiva is giving good insight into the governance of Rajapakse & Co.

    This is much welcome. Dirty linen needs to be washed in public to show the world the extent of dirt.

    Mahinda & Co., tried everything to stop truth leaking out.

    Colombo Telegraph, despite being banned in Sri Lanka, is doing a yeoman service. Exposure of Sajin Vass bashing Dr Nonis by CT has found its way into Sri Lanka and it is clear the govt. clamp down is not working.

    Mahinda Rajya is going through anti-climax now and losing grounds in many fronts. Any amount of negative efforts will not work. In that even the good things the govt. does will turn savour.

    We have reached the climax of failures in governance since independence. We need a big change – a change that will make Sri Lanka a responsible state much to be loved by everyone.

    Will it happen? It is hopeless think even ………..

  • 1
    1

    I do not why Rajapakses have given this foul mouthed Professor a M.P. post. This man can not obtain at least 1000 votes if he contest an electorate. He has not done any serious research work and I do not know how he obtained his Chair. What I know is this man is a serious UNPer. His Excellency please beware of this Moda Mahachariya!

  • 0
    0

    When people have money and power they forget everything. GLP and Nonis are like that. GLP thinks that people believe all his dirty political tricks. He will mortgage his wife even for his petty political gains. Hope very soon Sajin Sir will mete out justice to him. People call GLP as “SMILE Peiris” as he is all the time going after travel people asking whether they have correctly credited his SMILE bonuses. Without any shame Peiris will join the next UNP government. As Professor Rajiv says GLP is the problem at the Ministry of External Affairs. Whatever said and done like GLP and Nonis, Sajin has a back bone.

  • 1
    0

    Yes, Prof.Rajiva, you and other ex.seniors at FM should take back the Foreign Ministry from the Crooks, Thugs and Alibabas.

    How come a Law Professor write the answer Paper of Baby Namal the synthetic Lawyer. Is it the same thing what his father did when Jayaraj Fernandopulle wrote his father’s Law test paper…….

    How can you call GLP a Honest Law Professor became Minister of Foreign Affairs, other than call him a cheater. No wonder Namal baby worship him.

    Yes we agree with you when you said both Sajin and Kshenuka should be interdicted until proper investigation conducted and completed. Let’s see how Pres.handle the investigation.

    Yes, Keep educating and updating the public and let the readers be the Judges.
    They will comment based on the facts and figures you give and the news they receive from other source, when others are trying to hide and suppress the truth been published. Sri Lanka still a Democratic country.

    Thank you Prof.Rajiva and thank you CT.

    Sorry for GLP, the bird with no feathers.

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