25 February, 2018

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Feb4th/Feb10th 70th Independence: Choices At The Crossroads

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

As the country celebrates 70 years of Independence, Sri Lanka stands at the crossroads. We have a choice of two trajectories: that of furthering our Independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and self-determination, or retreating from it.

Where one road is taking us was clear as Feb 4th dawned. The leader of the TNA, appointed by the Government as the official Leader of the Opposition, declared his abstention from Sri Lanka’s 70th Independence Day celebrations, thereby using his undeserved, illegitimate, Government-gifted official status to send a quasi-separatist signal to the world. In 2015 the Yahapalana dispensation installed the so-called Tamil National Alliance (TNA), a regional party with 16 seats, as the Parliamentary Opposition, bypassing Mahinda Rajapaksa and his 50 plus MPs.

The choice of a chief guest at our Independence celebrations was symbolic. The members of the British Royalty who were invited to grace the occasion are a nice enough couple, but utterly inappropriate for the occasion itself. We were celebrating our Independence from Britain, the colonial power which occupied and oppressed us for a century and a half. If not for World War 2, the weakening of colonialism and the rise of the USSR as the main power that defeated Fascism, the world would not have been able to shake off colonial rule. It was a great betrayal of our martyrs and heroes of the anti-colonial resistance wars, Keppitipola and Puran Appu, to invite British Royalty to be chief guests at our Independence celebrations.

The British had to bring troops in from India to suppress the 1848 rebellion led by Puran Appu. The post-rebellion repression was so brutal, severe and quasi-genocidal (in today’s parlance) that a progressive Irish journalist who was in Ceylon petitioned the British parliament for two years and (as noted by Karl Marx himself) it came up in Westminster in 1850. The presence of the British Royalty on Feb 4th this year was an insult to the memory of the martyrs of 1848 and even the progressive Irishman who campaigned for us in London in 1848-1850.

As proudly disclosed by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in an after-dinner speech in 2015, it was at the intimation of UK High Commissioner James Dauris that he, Mr. Wickremesinghe, who instructed that Sri Lanka uncritically co-sponsor the UK-US sponsored Geneva resolution of October 2015. This was an Anglo-American ‘Atlanticist’ move, with the former colonial power as the driving force. The 2015 Resolution was the embryo of a Balfour Declaration, this time made to the Tamil Diaspora voters in Britain. Its early precursor was the accord drafted by British Cabinet Minister Liam Fox and signed by President Kumaratunga and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe in 1997. 

By accepting, welcoming and basing itself on the unprecedented OISL report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the 2015 Geneva resolution was a falsification of the history of our victorious and just Great Patriotic War. The Special Courts that are to be set up for corruption ‘show trials’ resulting in the possible removal of Mahinda’s civil rights are but a camouflaged method of establishing the Special Courts that were promised in the 2015 Geneva resolution for war crimes trials.

Already in 1948, the Ceylonese Left which had militantly agitated for Independence, was raising questions as to whether the Independence we had obtained was authentic– so supinely imitative was the conduct of the UNP which took over. Some on the Left did more than agitate. Harry Abeygunawardena, the father of Asoka Abeygunawardena, an advisor to President Sirisena, presided over the 3rd Congress of the Communist Party of Ceylon in the southern township of Athureliya in 1948, adopted a resolution that described Independence obtained that year as fake, and called for armed rebellion. In furtherance of that call, he and a detachment of Communists militants, shotguns in hand, laid siege to and occupied a large estate. That revolutionary activism was abandoned at the 4th Congress of the Communist Party in 1950 in Matara, at which the slogan of a broad anti-imperialist, anti-UNP front which included the nationalistic sections of the bourgeoisie, was adopted.

The idea that our Independence was incomplete remained in the political consciousness and went mainstream. The MEP’s ‘Silent Revolution’ of 1956 was seen as a completion of Independence and a struggle which should have but did not take place in 1948; a belated fulfilment of Independence. SWRD Bandaranaike called for the nationalization of British owned tea plantations, the removal of British Air Force and Naval bases including from Trincomalee. Some parts of the manifesto were implemented but others had to await the victory of the United Front in 1970. The peak of achievement was the rupture from the Soulbury Constitution and more pointedly the British Crown, with the promulgation of the First Republican Constitution of May 1972. But now, the old UNP mentality is reincarnated in Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, and so is the British Royalty, on Sri Lanka’s Independence Day of all days.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said at a recent election rally that his government is trying to install the “European model” – what he said is also translatable as “a system as in Europe”. Now, every politically literate person knows that the European system is in crisis, which is why the UK is escaping from it, why the pro-Russian, pro-Chinese, populist candidate won the recent Czech Presidential election, and why the very civilizational fount of Europe, Greece is sinking not due to its own fault but the impositions from the European hegemonic model. Every rational person also knows that Sri Lanka is in the global South in general, and in Asia in particular, which makes the European model incapable of sustainable transfer and taking root, and also that there are far more feasible, successful and newer models closer at hand.

The PM has frankly laid out his plans for Sri Lanka 70 years after Independence. It is we the citizens who do not seem to connect the dots and see the shape of the future the UNP offers us. India is to be given footholds in KKS, Trincomalee, Mannar, Colombo port (Eastern terminal) and Mattala. The same point that India’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman makes about China’s presence in Hambantota, must surely apply to India’s footholds in Sri Lanka. The Hindu reports: “Whether China will confine itself to only port activities in Hambantota port is a question and I do not want to say anything further,” she has told reporters after a meeting on the implementation on “New India vision 2022” at the Collectorate in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday…Further, she said, “whether China will use the port only for port activities is a question mark and my reply answers all your queries”.

If we apply the Indian Defence Minister’s suspicions about possible dual use (civil/military) by China of its facility in Hambantota to Indian facilities too– as we logically must– it is evident that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe intends to permit India to establish a strategic ring which encircles the island of Sri Lanka, embedded on the soil of the island itself. Which island can retain its Independence with such a ring around it, on its very territory? If this is not a return to the colonial model of suffocating strategic control, then what is?

Furthermore, in our case, one cannot equate a Chinese facility with an Indian one. India is our giant neighbor, China isn’t. China has one episode of coercive interaction with Sri Lanka, while this island’s history has been scarred by many such incursions and occupations from the neighboring power. Even more pertinently, China doesn’t have a Tamil Nadu within it, while India does, and that Tamil Nadu is separated from us by a mere narrow strip of water. All this is self-evident but Prime Minister Wickremesinghe proposed a land bridge with Tamil Nadu when he was PM in 2001 and renewed the conversation with Minister Nitin Gadkari adding an underwater tunnel to the plan, when he became PM in 2015.

What is truly scary and reprehensible is that the UNP leader and the country’s Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe knows full well the implications of what he is planning. Speaking at an election rally in Vavuniya last week, he told his audience that “with the rapid development of neighboring Tamil Nadu, the development of the Trincomalee area with Singaporean assistance, will empower the island’s North and East, including Vavuniya”. So he envisages and proposes a Tamil Nadu-Trincomalee-Vavuniya axis.

Add to this the envisaged federal or supra-federal constitutional changes (going by MA Sumanthiran’s Jaffna speech) that the UNP envisages after February 10th, and the Budgetary proposals of Mangala Samaraweera which proposes lifting the land ceilings so that foreign companies, including Indian, Tamil Nadu and Tamil Diaspora ones, can buy up land in the North-East, and island-wide, what is the picture that emerges? With or without federal powers, a North-East with a Tamil Nadu-Trinco axis and an Indian foothold in the Port and Oil tank farm, will be a de facto Tamil Eelam or a Greater Tamil Nadu, which is the same thing. The North and East will be an Indian enclave, a beachhead on the island in the Indo-US axis against China. The North and East will be easily convertible either into a separate state, or annexed to India.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe is thus making three moves, each of which has the most seriously dangerous existential implications imaginable:

  1. He is establishing an Indian sphere of influence in the North East of our small island home
  2. The dagger of the Tamilnadu-Trincomalee-Vavuniya axis poised at the Sinhala heartland of this island will provide a potential platform for Tamil ‘national’ self-determination
  3. The chokehold of Indian enclaves ringing the island (KKS-Trinco-Mannar-Colombo-Mattala) will constrict the exercise of Sri Lanka’s self-determination as a nation, a country, a state.

The utterly unpardonable consequence of the Prime Minister’s enterprise is that the KKS-Trincomalee-Mannar-Mattala Indian holdings—enclaves/fortresses–within this island will mean nothing less than a shift of the Indian defence perimeter and in effect, India’s border, far southwards onto and into this island itself, abolishing the natural separation and distinct identity afforded by the strip of water—the natural moat—surrounding us and making us an island. Ranil’s strategic, economic and constitutional plan amounts to abolishing our distinctive island character and building a second Hanuman Bridge which affords India a permanent foothold and fortress here.

Like Ranasinghe Premadasa before him, Mahinda Rajapaksa is not only in the tradition of Dutugemunu, the Great State Re-unifier (Premadasa as PM wrote a novel about Gemunu entitled ‘Golu Muhuda’—The Silent Sea) but is in the tradition of an great ancient mythic hero and resistance leader, the keeper of the island of Lanka’s distinctive identity and heritage: Ravana. In the starkest contradistinction, the Prime Minister we have as we celebrate our 70th Independence is a politico-historic reincarnation, so to speak, of the traitor and collaborator Vibheeshana. His policy is a neo-Vibheeshana paradigm.

The Ranil road for Sri Lanka 70 years after Independence ends in Sri Lanka losing its Independence. It offers us the status, role, function and mentality of a colony, albeit of India and the US, of which we have never been a possession.

The UNP-TNA project, supported by the West and India, for a Westminster-model parliamentary (as distinct from an executive-Presidential) central government, de jure or de facto federal provincial governments in the strategic Northeast periphery, and a neoliberal economic policy which sells off public assets, would hollow-out and weaken the central state and facilitate the ownership and control of this geo-strategically nodal island as a base. The Ranil Wickremesinghe-Mangala Samaraweera UNP offers a compliant government that will shrink the Lankan state to the extent that such foreign control is feasible and facilitated, while acting as manager and caretaker of the island on behalf of foreign powers for a fat rental fee. On Feb 10th, we, the sovereign people, have the power to take back our country, our dignity and our destiny from these arrogant, pompous, neocolonial marionettes.

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Latest comments

  • 10
    5

    Hi Dayan,
    I just want to know if you are in Colombo? Because I heard that the government recently banned begging in Colombo. Instead of begging for votes for the SLPP here, perhaps you should take your begging bowl and go to the rehabilitation centre in Rideegama.

    I heard they even give job postings for people paying a staggering Rs 1,500 per day. That would probably be a higher job position than you currently have

    • 4
      1

      Dayan,

      “We were celebrating our Independence from Britain”

      Buddy you think too highly of us Lankans!

      I had a good ol’ pow wow with the “nice enough couple” yesterday ………..they are here to celebrate Britain’s independence from us Lankans ………….that they were able to ditch us and get away…………..

      They are looking back and thanking their lucky stars! …………Imagine if they had to give all the Lankans British passports! ……….No Lankans will be left in Lanka…………

      Sitting here ……..just the thought of me alone in beautiful Lanka……….makes with whoop with joy ………..

      That is, if you were born in North Korea to harass the little Rocket Boy……… and not the rare Lankan forward-thinker Ranil the Great! :))

      • 2
        1

        nimal fernando

        Tell us the truth.
        Did you really read Dayan’s typing?
        If you did you are indeed insane.

    • 11
      1

      M.Basnayake
      Even though true, it’s very unkind of you to identify this guy for what he is. After all, the Rajapaksas kicked him around a great deal and, being the masochist he is, he has been back with his begging bowl at Medamulana again.
      I hope you accept the fact that DJ cannot be faulted in the matter of persistence and his belief in the Robert Bruce dictum of “Try, try and try again.”

    • 1
      0

      Dr. Dayan Jayatillaka,

      Para- Independence: 70 Years Later

      Interesting article. Should the Para-British must apologize for trying introduce Westminster style democracy? What about Para-Mahinda Rajapaksa (Just check out his Para-DNA)?

      Yes, the Para-British must apologise for the mess they left behind for the Para-Sinhala, Para-Tamils, Para-Muslims and other Paras in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, illegally occupied by the Paras. Besides apologizing to the Paras in Lanka, the Para-British have a host of other apologies to be offered in the Middle East, Egypt, Afghanistan, India, Africa, Americas and Australia, and a few other locations.

      Yes, the Para-British made serious errors, by introducing Westminster style democracy to the Paras in Lanka, whose average IQ is 79, compared to 100 for the Para-British. It is like giving a razor to a bunch of monkeys, Para-Sinhala and Para-Tamil monkeys, who have been slashing themselves for the past 70 years.

      Para-Mahinda Rajapaksa was no different. However, the other Paras are not any worse than Para-Mahinda. Is that your problem? Isn’t it time to say good bye to Para-Mahinda Rajapaksa? Is it the Para-Mahinda stolen public loot that keeps you funded and going?

    • 0
      3

      Bassa, get a life man instead of writing crap! Respond to DJ’s points if you have a thing call a ‘backbone’!

      • 0
        0

        max

        I call you Moron only as a last resort. It hurts me to call you moron however you deserve the title because you type like one.

        “Respond to DJ’s points if you have a thing call a ‘backbone’!”

        Seriously could you point out his points if you can in the interest of educating all of us.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 5
    0

    I have yet to hear such bias and BS from any writer.
    Mr Vasudewa Nanayakkara used the word “pakaya” on the wrong person, it should be on this loathsome hyena.
    Fear mongering is this fools number one tool. His grossly misguided essays deserve to be dumped into the garbage immediately.
    Personally any joker who can’t first run his family life properly should have no say at all regarding the status of this wonderful country.
    Since independence this wonderful country has been spiralling downwards because of selfish, greedy and downright crooked people in politics and wannabes who think they know it all.

  • 10
    1

    He writes about dignity but posses none. He refers to the British as arrogant pompous neo colonial marionettes. But, I understand when invited for a function hosted by them , this shameless gunk is there first, licking his glass.

  • 5
    1

    dont worry dayan
    sri lanka has gone through these phases during its long history and survived
    we dont need the jarapaksas to save us
    what ever happens to us whether by india or china we will overcome in the end
    as we have done in the past
    havent you seen a pschiatrist yet to ascertain the cause of your anger and frustration

  • 3
    0

    Dayan: If the British and the Monarchy is that bad, why did you go after Lord Naseby?
    Or have you forgotten that you tried to lead all of us to Lord Naseby?

  • 2
    5

    100% correct Dr. Dayan!!! Dreadful tidings about what Ranil is about to do! Sinhala race is lost.

  • 1
    5

    Nothing to do with current US admin either. Trump has quite a different view of the Global Order. China’s rise will be allowed (albeit controlled in lines of US interests, of course) – its rise being good for the Trumpian business model, and saviour of the US dollar. India and Ranil are sorely outdated, and live in the colonial rag-time dance melody- not too bright (what do you get when you are surrounded by a sea of untouchables). That Sri Lanka has allowed this man to go on for so long is unbelievable!

  • 0
    0

    Politicisation of Village/urban/munipal council election is a great tragedy. Many people thik, that is a good opportunity have an employment position lucrative benfits. Some have pawned their Jewellery, Leased their printing shop etc., to get into the race. What would be their fate once they lose this fight and, their need to take bribes and steal in order to recover their losses.
    I heard, Batticaloa muslims are waiting to ask NAsirishthan after the election. How will the govt address that.

    • 1
      2

      Jim softly,…..trapped in a snare of no escape, has Yapalan lured its citizens.

  • 0
    0

    Thero doesn’t write to Modaya, but it is well established Thero is the imbecile. That is why his writings are so Chaff.

    He is writing, writing and writing …sadly he does not know why Britain left EU.
    But first, we cannot get deeper into discussion of European Model. Yet, if Grease wants to be the Lankawe of Europe, European Model will not be able to help Greece. Further it is Thero’s government knowingly invested in Greece. The comedy there was, the master Imbecile Thero did know the EU was killing Greece. But the Communist’s Coolies invested in Greece. But these Coolies’ s master China, the real communist, invested in America because it has some real Economists and Financial Experts , who think it is American bonds are stable. What the problems is, Lankawe Communist Coolies yet to see a Thruikkai vaal.

    The Truth is Britain was not leaving EU on economic issues. Deep economic issues normally discussed within the educated policymakers and decided. Britain is leaving by the Brexit referendum. The man who conducted the referendum resigned because, he thinks it is bad for British Economy. America advised Britain not to leave EU. Britain left EU because of that what the new Populist movements want. This comes out of un-Economics advocacy of immigrants stealing British Whites’ jobs. English is a worldwide league. Many undesirable countries to this populist, including South East and Middle East and African Muslim take advantage of relaxed refugees policy of Germany and other countries then hop into British boat, using the EU passport. The Populist wants to cut this off by separating from EU. Thero like imbeciles, who do not have 1/1000000 of the expertise in Economics to discuss the EU’s economic failure, write election flops for Slap Party.

    The dogs bark at the moon always. What to do.

    • 0
      0

      Mallaiyuran: Whole europe including Britain are bankrupt. what Politicians do is just doing political manoevers. they expect it would work for their benefit. Politicians can support the system by introducing right policies. In Sri lanka, they do not have politicis. IT is depending the govt and on the minister. Besides, every govt, every miinisgter work for they themselves and not for the country. They have become eternal beggars. do not thin of developing a self sufficient and independant. West is babkrupt. they are fighting for existence. they can not develop as fast as the developing countries develop but not Sri lanka. For the west world, they knew how to exploit non-european countries as well as they supported each other. Other countries do not have the same alliences. Besides, Western agencies such as IMF, World bank, NATO etc., are ruining Greece like countries by trying to control those. Sri lanka is a different cfase. It startd with colonial – kalusuddas. Still a family oligarchy called Parliament run the country. Existing partyies do not allow capable nd intelligent people to come up. System is highly corrupt, incompetatn and support only the family oligarchy. Many political analysrts supports that system and they do not have any feeling about the country. Dayaan Jayathilake is one who is willing to take any chances as long as it helps his chances of his success. Otgerwsem, what he is suggesting is the family oligarchy. Most probably, if Mahinda Rajapakse comes, slowly and step wise, side line any one educated. Because non educated who likes power do not like educated looking for power.

  • 1
    2

    Cumulative total of nationally counted votes of SLFP, UPFA and SLPP will be greater than that of UNP and UNF definitely. That justifies the removal of the mastermind of Bond scam and “slash and burn” economic policies; RW. He and his cohorts say “If people cannot eat coconut they should eat Canned Fish”. Time is right to change the government lead by RW and arrest all the cronies supporting the former junta and family lead by MR.

  • 2
    0

    Shyamon Jayasinghe why don’t you give this man DJ another dressing down?

  • 0
    0

    Dr DJ,
    [Edited out] I suppose you are proposing that we bring the Rajapakses back so that he will be able to bump off the treacherous TNA etc. & do some ethnic cleansing to make SL truly the land of Sinhala Buddhists.

    Pardon my ignorance but I thought SL is still a member of the Commonwealth (of which your lord & master in his day proudly proclaimed to be the leader) & isn’t it only customary & politically correct that SL extends an invitation, even though they were our colonial masters? Maybe you know better, after all you were a diplomat but thanks to your former illustrious boss, SL seem to be more of nuance to the British too because they sent only a minor royal to represent the monarchy. Incidentally, didn’t SWRD’s old man suck up the the British Raj? I suppose SWRD, after his Oxford education, became very patriotic & kicked the British out but actually, did it turn out to be beneficial to SL at all? Of course, SWRD was long before my time but from what I gather, he started the rot with his nationalistic revival for his own selfish gain that has crippled the country now.

    I am not an intellectual like you, so I maybe wrong but I think many will agree with me that it’s time you packed up & enjoy your retirement with dignity (or what is left of it), otherwise, you might get sores on your tongue with all that licking.

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