By Vishwamithra1984 –
“Familiocracy” (Pavulvaadaya) is reaching a crescendo in Sri Lanka; It’s high time it was challenged
“The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy, but the best weapon of a democracy should be the weapon of openness.” ~Niels Bohr
A couple of weeks ago this columnist wrote about the socio-political disaster that is looming on the horizon. Although much hackneyed phrases and clichés have described what has been happening in Sri Lanka, especially in the last ten years, the dramatically accelerated tide of affairs of politics has lent itself for scrupulous probe by all those who think rationally and reasonably about politics and matters of governance. It is rather redundant to hanker over the harsh repercussions of family-centered rule of a country in the Twenty First Century. What is more pertinent and desirable is a close look at the way that family-rule has eaten into the body politic of Sri Lanka, depths it has gone into in order to fortify itself, the extent to which it has stretched its powers to protect itself against would-be invaders and the kind of armor it is using to shield itself and above all, how a totally diabolical and dishonest ideology and a distorted and fraudulent political philosophy are being preached by the Family Patriarch while posing himself as the savior of the Nation. Yet the stranger spectacle is how a people or for that matter, a vibrant literate community of men and women, is enduring the shame and indignity of an enslaved subject people.
In mundane terms, the dimensions and scope of that rule are immense and immeasurable; its reach is astronomical; its spread is all pervasive and deliberate and its perverse attempt at concealing the true nature of the rule is mind-boggling. The most obvious-looking lies are being told as gospel truths; any opposition to the “Family-rule” is ruthlessly suppressed; any criticism of the rule is branded as unpatriotic and unrighteous, sinful and unholy. The lingo that is being used and abused by their cohorts and cronies has been carefully crafted and appropriately enunciated on various platforms, fora and corners. The State-controlled media outlets, manned by paid but thoroughly skilled cronies in their chosen professions, are playing an equally critical role in brainwashing the listening and viewing public.
A brand new form of governance with a brand new set of rules and regulations- of the ‘one for them and another for us’ type- is coming into being. It defies definition and explanation; it discards truth and embraces blatant lies as a matter of course; it practices corruption and nepotism as an ancestral inheritance while preaching righteous living at the same time; it treats the people as serfs and the stranglehold it has on the captive serfs is invisible and but ever so gripping and strangling; its falsehood is obvious but nobody dares to defy that or condemn it as if it’s their, the subject people’s, privilege to be under such a dishonorable living. When one mixes into the potpourri, the shameful element of the main Opposition party’s inaction (although some semblance of opposition is visible after the creation of the Leadership Council in the United National Party and particularly in timely articulation of opinions and views by its Chairman, Karu Jayasuriya), the ruling Family has taken the total subservience of the subject people for granted.
If the government of the people, for the people and by the people is called ‘Democracy” then how and by what can one describe this government of the ‘Family’, for the ‘Family’ and by the ‘Family’?
So is born “Familiocracy”, the government of the ‘Family’, for the ‘Family’ and by the ‘Family’. However, I do concede that the term “Familiocracy”, especially in the context of Sri Lanka, has already been used by one of my sister columnists and quite effectively too. Kudos to her!
Those who man each branch and each sphere of influence in government can be easily recognized and named, specially in the backdrop of fading lines of separation of powers among the three branches of government- Legislature, Judiciary and Executive. The country’s treasures, money and coffers are spread among these three branches although not equally by any stretch of imagination, with the Executive directing and managing the fiscal policies and implementation, the legislature acting merely as a spectator cheering and supporting each and every move and stroke-play that includes sixes and sevens among others and the judiciary being less than an unbiased umpire whose very existence in the exalted position of being the referee is entirely dependent on the whims and fancies of the Executive. Thus “Familiocracy” is in full swing, capturing and captivating the gullible voter who, in his hearts of hearts, is reasonably aware that “Familiocracy” is physically demeaning to the subject people, psychologically damning and morally indefensible as a system of governance.
Yet, some so-called educated academics, members of the intelligentsia and high-powered private sector executives have opted to pay unqualified puja to the one who occupies the ‘throne’ for the returns of servility to power are so lucrative and indeclinable.
In such a negative atmosphere of civil governance, how can a reasonable person reconcile himself to the shameful machinations of “Familiocracy”? The intrigues of “Familiocracy”, when one is enraptured in its seemingly non-invasive advance, are extremely intricate and a maze of inner webbing of subtle baits and sugar-coated bones of greed and it is almost impossible for a dull mind to understand the powers that reside beyond the superficially visible thresholds. Nevertheless, the challenge is to isolate the “Family” from the rest. Only extremely clever, crafty and creative minds could spell out the mechanics of isolating the Family from the rest and gain political advantage for the Opposition so that a very promising and formidable political platform could be built around and against the “Familiocracy” junta. Such creative persons who are extraordinarily capable of ‘thinking on their feet’ and who are clearly identified with the reasonability of a fight against “Familiocracy” are still with us today. Their counsel and advice and their vast experience should be harnessed by the Opposition today. They had been successful in the past and there is no reason whatsoever that they could not be successful in the future.
The basic prerequisites for this campaign could be spelt out as follows:
- Identify ten members of the “Family”
- Focus political attacks on them and them alone
- Stay away from personal attacks and character assassination
- But anything and everything on politics is on the table
- All leaders of the ‘joint opposition’ (if there is such an entity) should be engaged in this campaign.
- Use each and every platform available, such as Parliament, public functions, press conferences, press statements, media interviews and both print and electronic articles etc.
- Keep for the last minute exposure a “surprise announcement”
- This “surprise announcement” could be communicated via appropriate media in due course.
However, the above is exclusively related to the ‘negative’ campaign that any political party runs during an election season. The most critical and decisive factor in the forthcoming elections is the “Common Candidate”/ “Common Issue”.
Potential Common Candidate:
- Venerable Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thero
- Ranil Wickremesinghe
- Karu Jayasuriya
- Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
- Anura Kumara Dissanayake
- General Sarath Fonseka
- Abolition of Executive Presidency
- Abolition of Executive Presidency
- Abolition of Executive Presidency
In other words it should be the only issue.
Why did I mention only one single common issue? As a campaign pledge, that is the easiest pledge (although it has been reneged by both Chandrika Kumaratunga and the present incumbent Mahinda Rajapaksa after the elections), to keep if the elected candidate chooses to do so. Then one has to compare and contrast the plus and minus factors of those whose names have been mentioned as “potential common candidate”. Issues and slogans such as ‘good governance’, ‘freedom from corruption’, ‘country first, family second’ are not necessarily relegated to a second place but would be all embedded in the single issue platform as ‘sub issues’.
To make it even easier for the reader, I give below a spreadsheet whose blanks, if filled with discern and prudence and without any personal biases, would indicate the sum total of the exercise.
- Points can be assigned from 0 to 10, 0 being the lowest and 10 the highest
- Names have been arranged in random order
- No significance whatsoever should be attached to the order in which the names appear
- Empty Closet refers to the amount of past baggage and negatives accumulated over the past era by each candidate. If no negatives, points assigned would be maximum and otherwise (a lot of negatives, both personal and political), points would be low.
Let’s try our hand.