22 June, 2021

Blog

Genuine Confessions Are Better For The Nation Than Fake Triumphalism

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Anura Kumara Dissanayake, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) Leader did something noteworthy when he stated in a public speech made in the Parliament that his Party admits that they have made serious mistakes in the past and that they have been consciously trying to admit to these mistakes and also not repeat them in the future. For the development of an enlightened political culture, it is always better for those who engage in political life to admit wrongdoings and mistakes they have made in public and to be frank about it. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is the speech of the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khrushchev made in 1956 at their Party congress, condemning the horrendous wrongs done by the Ruler of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin, just three years after his death in 1953. That admission gave one of the most significant moments not only in the history of the Soviet Union but also in the leftist movement throughout the world.

Of course the purpose of mentioning Khrushchev’s speech is not to compare Dissanayake’s few remarks with that historic speech made by the Soviet Leader. The point purely is to highlight the fact that in any area of life, the admission of wrongdoings does more towards the development of better discourses, whether it be in political or the social sphere or even in the religious sphere.

If we for a moment try to imagine a movement in which all the political leaders align and attempt to make a genuine admission of the wrongs or mistakes they have done while they were in power, what would be the impact of such a situation? Of course what we try to imagine is that these admissions are done in good faith and with a genuine desire to admit before the public things that were done wrong in the past with the hope that such admissions would give rise to a positive discussion among the people who are looking for ways to make things better for the future.

Suppose in that imaginary situation, the United National Party Leaders who are now split into two camps all make genuine admissions about the wrongdoings of their Party in the recent decades. Suppose they were to admit that the introduction of the 1978 Constitution was perhaps the most damaging action that they have done when they had an overwhelming majority in the Parliament. This of course is just one instance and there are many more things that could be discussed openly. Just in that example of the Constitution, if there is such an admission of the grave damage done to the country, by introducing this Constitution, the whole debate in the country for the making of a new constitution will take a completely different direction. The various Amendments that were made to the Constitution by way of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution and the 20th Amendment to the Constitution have all been done without a common admission that the entirety of the 1978 Constitution has been one of the greatest attacks on every aspect of Sri Lankan life. Because there was no overall admission of what was proposed to be changed, all these years of debates on constitutional reform ultimately produced nothing of substance except to enable the continuity of the influence of this damaging Constitution.

What this demonstrates is that admissions are not mere declaration from the perspective of public apologies or even purely matters of admitting crimes. Admissions of political wrongdoings determine a political discourse which goes far beyond the particular mistakes that are admitted. It makes the society reconsider the things that they once thought may be right and has the potential of making an improvement for the nation to be reviewed in a way to show as to why such wrong positions were taken and decisions were made. That will take a society to seriously critical examine its own past.

The absence of the critical examination of the past is unfortunately one of the features that figures in almost all of the discourses in Sri Lanka. Whether these discourses relate to serious political issues, very serious legal issues, equally serious societal issues or even matters of religion, all these factors add up to the problems that prevail at present. Thus, when a nation discusses its past critically, it is doing a service to itself which could have most far-reaching effects in making the situation better not only for the present but also for the future. Although we mention about the JVP and the UNP of both the factions, the same applies to other political parties like for example the Sri Lanka Freedom Party which has also broken into separate factions. If without being triumphalist about their great victories, if the things that happen during their Governments are looked at from a self-critical point of view, the same type of review of the past can take place.

The absence of this critical review of past wrongdoings and mistakes remains one of the major stumbling blocks for the development of a genuine consensus among the people as well as among various political parties on things which are of common interest to everybody. It is that sense of common interest that creates a nation. When that sense of common interest could be the uniting force, then the various divisive factors could be relegated into a secondary position and ways could be found to deal with those problems within an overall context of solid agreements which creates the kind of mentalities that brings people together to face these challenges.

What this means is that the admissions of wrongdoings and mistakes cannot be avoided if there is a determination to develop a State that represents the interests of everyone. Unity is better built by admissions of mistakes rather than by pretending that no mistakes or wrongdoings have happened. Such evasiveness and hypocrisy could never be the basis of developing a national consciousness.

It is good for the JVP Leader to have had the courage to speak out about how they look at some of the things that the Party has done in the past. And if they encouraged that criticism from within their Party itself and also within the society without fearing that this may backfire, it is most likely that they would contribute to a political discourse in the right direction which is much needed. An admission of that nature need not be an act of defense. In fact, it could be an act of taking offense so that others are forced to come out frankly to discuss their own mistakes and wrongdoings.

It may not be a surprise that during the time of Independence, generally, the discourse was to talk about the great achievements of the people in the past. A humiliated nation trying to rise from a period of colonialism often has to build its confidence in narratives which may not necessarily be telling them the whole truth. However, that period has not passed. To carry on with the same mold is to waste time and also to delay the development of a national consensus to face the very grave challenges Sri Lanka is faced with now on every front.

The younger generation that is coming into adulthood now will be better served if the older generation dares to admit the mistakes and wrongdoings they have done in the past. This new generation is looking for critical guidance into the future and there is no better way to direct that generation towards a better understanding of themselves and their past than by daring to have an open discourse of the political mistakes made by everyone in the past not with the view of taking petty advantages out of it but with the perspective of developing a thought base for the future.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 15
    4

    It’s TIME for the Sinhalese to say SORRY to the Tamils in SL for systematically depriving over the last 70 years of their right to live as equal to them. All political parties have to carry some of the blame for current state of our country. The majority are still continuing to take over the traditional Tamil areas.

    • 11
      2

      Naman,
      Yes it is time for realise their mistakes by all political, religious leadership in the past and to say sorry in public to their mistakes and make corrections to the mistakes and to recognise the principles of equality and justice and taking actions to bring rule of law. and impartial judiciary and share the wealth and power in administering the country.
      It is not about just a media speech to attract a few but it should come from the heart by not only one group but by all. Will that happen? ???????????????????

      • 5
        5

        “Yes it is time for realise their mistakes by all political, religious leadership in the past and to say sorry in public …”
        True.
        However, is it not also the responsibility of Tamils to persuade their leaders to do that so that it will give Tamils the moral upper hand in making such demands.
        What we often come across is the childish ‘Why cannot the other party apologize for this that or the other?’.

        • 4
          0

          ” is it not also the responsibility of Tamils to persuade their leaders to do that so that it will give Tamils the moral upper hand in making such demands.”

          Who said that Tamil political leadership is not included? Don’t you understand all means all, not excluding Communist party (Maoist) or EPDP or TNA or SLPP or
          “……What we often come across is the childish ‘Why cannot the other party apologize for this that or the other?’.”
          Good question? What is your answer? Where do you want to start?

          • 0
            4

            What I have witnessed makes it important to urge it.
            Whenever a conciliatory statement is made by a Tamil leader, others pounce on him.
            What do we see here?
            Any criticism of Tamil attitude towards Muslims meets with a chorus of denunciation of Muslims.
            I know that I raised a very pertinent question, and thank t=you for conceding it.
            So you should know the answer: Stop such childish behaviour forthwith.
            I know when all really mean all. That is when there are no ifs and buts when it comes to facing issuers.
            *
            I think that Bob Dylan aptly put it:
            “…how many times can a man turn his head
            And pretend that he just doesn’t see?”
            *
            Time for some self questioning for all nationalists, especially those who seek to defend past acts of terror.

      • 4
        3

        “Anura Kumara Dissanayake… stated in a public speech made in the Parliament that his Party admits that they have made serious mistakes in the past and that they have been consciously trying to admit to these mistakes and also not repeat them in the future.”
        *
        “consciously trying to admit to these mistakes”
        Good.
        But how long have they been trying?
        Mistakes of 50 years ago: the ones who tried to correct the mistakes left the JVP in disgust.
        Is it only the senseless violence and attacks on opponents and rivals?
        Will it be the political mistakes too?
        It is not a matter of saying sorry because they are constantly reminded of their actions.
        It is also easy because none of the present leaders is personally culpable for the acts of 1971 and 1988-89.
        What is needed is sincere political self-criticism that will identify the source of the mistakes.
        In essence, the JVP has to rectify its chauvinism and political opportunism.

    • 3
      8

      Is that wise? Chandrika apologised in public to the Tamils, the Tamils responded by trying to assassinate her.

      • 10
        0

        S
        That is an unfair statement.
        Firstly you are accusing the Tamils as a people for the act of an individual or a group.
        Secondly, her apology was not followed by matching action.
        She was immensely popular in the North when she was elected. Then her negotiations started to lose direction and her ‘package’ steadily lost its initial contents. Also, before attempt was made on her life she waged her infamous ‘War for Peace’.
        None of this justifies the LTTE’s initiating return to armed conflict or even worse attempt on her life.
        The failed attempt boosted her chances for victory in the presidential election.
        That had similarities to the killing of Rajeev Gandhi enabling the Congress to return to power.
        So much for the political wisdom of the LTTE.

        • 2
          5

          TNA likewise must apologise to the Sinhalese for promoting LTTE as the sole representatives of Tamils.

          Soma

          • 3
            0

            Soma
            You are back at that childish game.
            Why does one need to make it a precondition for the ‘other’ to apologise before we even think of saying sorry?
            Is that not an ailment that all of us suffer?

            • 0
              0

              SJ
              My poor English.
              When I said “TNA likewise” I meant concurrently, not as a precondition.
              Let the Sinhala side apologise first on the understanding that TNA will follow.

              Soma

              • 0
                0

                Soma
                That one acts in anticipation itself is not a good thing.
                We do the the right thing because it is right.
                Those who refuse to express regret even in the face of goodwill from others will be isolated even among their community.

                • 0
                  0

                  SJ
                  Only a neutral third party can say what you say.

                  Soma

        • 4
          2

          There is a period before LTTE and there is a period after LTTE. It is a habit of Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalists and some other cowards to put everything on LTTE whether it is before or after LTTE.

        • 2
          3

          SJ

          ‘That is an unfair statement.
          Firstly you are accusing the Tamils as a people for the act of an individual or a group.’

          Yes it is unfair. How many times have you read the term ‘Sinhala Buddhists’ in CT posts followed by a catalogue of accusations and abuse?

          • 0
            0

            S
            I know it hurts to be unfairly abused.
            Do you have to be uncivilized because the other fellow is
            *
            Our media are responsible for much of the poisoning of minds.
            I fear that CT has an unfair proportion of unhealthy minds as you can see from comments and responses. And it does nothing to discourage.
            Do you want to be identified among them?
            Many are not worth responding to. (I do respond at times out of stupidity.) It is losers who resort to unhealthy personal remarks, falsehoods and abuse. Such language says much about the one who speaks it.

    • 1
      7

      “It’s TIME for the Sinhalese to say SORRY to the Tamils in SL for systematically depriving over the last 70 years of their right to live as equal to them.”
      —-
      Sinhalayo gave Tamils the right to live as equal to them but Vellala Tamils who were the most privileged group in Sinhale>Ceylon>Sri Lanka at the time Sinhalayo gained Independence from British rule wanted to be more than equal and retain their privileged status. When they lost some of their privileges, they started screaming ‘Majority Sinhalayo are discriminating minority Tamils’.

      • 0
        0

        Eagle,
        You are right and wrong. Tamils are not in this. This time the “confess” calls are from Sinhala Educated side aimed to Middle class and lower class, who are the disappointed sector in the Sinhala Community. These essays are not the usual ones appeared in the Colombo media, as political analysis, and hypocrisy, seasonal confession gimmicks to engineer regime changes. Regime change could not resist UNP-SLFP duality. (When in April 2015, the same SLFP team voted for 18A also voted for 19A , we declared that that the new Yahapalanaya team was no regime change but the same old UNP-SLFP duality gimmick.) The new trend we observe in these essays is, the educated community of the Sinhala section trying is to find out that why the Sinhala Buddhists, who completely isolated them from all minorities and voted for a Hitler, as their savior. This extremely unusual phenomena, which is one of the things with in those happened only once in the world politics. No other country in the world has ever voted for a second Hitler, after the old Germans. Other than the Sihala Buddhists, in 2019.

      • 3
        2

        Beyond attaching any label about a community which votes for a Hitler that is in terms of stupidity or bad or thuggish or tribal or some other insulting criticism, the educated Sinhalese are figuring out this action as casting or displaying of genuine political tiredness or exasperation of the regime change voting system that is in practice in Lankawe. This defect or in gentler term -the loophole, has been exploited beyond repair by the duals the “SLFP-UNP theme” political parties. There may be a hundred and fifty political parties for Sinhala Community, but they all fall into these two categories, including Anura’s Party, but none offer any fresh air to political breath, other than racism. Basil attempts to define what the “political confession” is, in many dimensions.
        This will be a tool to differentiate the likes of Buffoons’ de Silva’s arrogant comic of that he made mistake by excusing Old King’s Hangbangtota Robbery, from Anura’s talk.

    • 1
      2

      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

    • 1
      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

      • 2
        1

        Eagle,
        For the first time, I fully agree with you.

  • 9
    2

    It takes courage to admit fault but its human to make mistakes, therefore, we should be able to accept past blunders, learn from it & move forward. Accordingly, I raise my hat for AKD if he publicly apologises for the murder of innocent citizens & the destruction caused by the JVP in the past, as well as, the Rajapskse regime for the colossal waste of public funds, the SJB/UNP for Premadasa’s follies & JR’s establishment of Presidency in SL & SLFP/CBK for the Sinhala only policy of SWRD, which initiated the division of the country.

    However, mistakes can be forgiven but when it comes to mass corruption, it’s another matter.

  • 7
    0

    Recently I watched a program titled “Satana”. A journalist raised a question from the JVP representative: With all the intelligent apparatus JVP has why did you nominate the father of the Easter Bombing in the”National List” to Parliament. This had been EXPLAINED umpteen times by AKD plus all others who have appeared on TV discussions, including Sirasa, that aired this program. What an “IDIOT” of a “Journalist (name Watawala) wanted to ask the same question, on which explanations have been offered? So with all other “Explanations” and “Admissions” given by JVP on the “Mistakes” done in the past. The problem I want to highlight is: Even when “Explanations”, “Admissions” and, “Apologise” are offered, those who are bent on asking for the “Pound of Flesh”(opposing politicians, media, journalists, slaves) never ever want to “Accept” and “Excuse” the persons who are so magnanimous to offer regrets. If the “Society” is not equally magnanimous and civilized to “Accept”, “Excuse” and “Forgive” the persons in politics, religious, and civil society would equally be “Reluctant” to come forward to “Accept” mistakes. Instead, they tend to give “Explanations” and “Excuses” for the mistakes committed. So, it must be a TWO WAY street.

    • 1
      1

      Simon
      A genuine mass political party does not self-criticise because it is asked to but because it realises that it has seriously erred and it needs to rectify the error.
      Self criticism is only a first small, but definite, step in the right direction.

    • 0
      0

      Dear Simon,
      .
      I still don’t know anything about this nomination of “the father of the Easter Bombing in the “National List to Parliament.” You go on to say that “This had been EXPLAINED umpteen times by AKD.” I believe you full well.
      .
      These are the 29 National List Candidates of the NPP (Janatha Jana Balavegaya – I think that we must start popularising that name – it will help the current coalition to emphasise the respects in which the JVP has changed). About which of these candidates were these queries made?

      1.Bimal Ratnayake2.Abhayaratne Herarh Mudiyanselage Harischandra Abhayaratne3.Jinadasa Kithulagoda 4.Lal Wijenayake 5.Harini Amarasuriya 6.Kumarapperuma Arachchige Upul Indika Kumarapperuma 7.Thelge Asoka Peiris 8.Alagiyadura Premalal Abeysinghe Gunasekera 9.Anthonige Anil Jayantha Fernando 10.Kumar David 11.Wijayakumar 12.Michael Fernando 13.Jayathilaka Kammellaweera14.Nadeeka Guruge15.Keerthi Welisarage16.Kumara Jayakody 17.Mohamed Rizvi Sali 18.Sellaiah Sivaloganadan 9.Sunil Shantha Athukoralage Senaviratne20.Handunnettige Tiron Krishantha Abeysena21.Jinasena Wathogala Hewage22.Jayakody Ralalage Pemadasa Jayakody 23.Mohomed Mulafar Mohomed Muneer 24.Susiripala Manawadu25.Chamila Thushari26.Anura Hettigoda27.Deepani Silva 28.Thuwan. K. Asoor 29.Jagath Manuwarna
      .
      I watch very little T.V., although I often catch up later on Youtube. What was the explanation? If somebody could provide a link to this programme, we could pass it on to others.

      • 1
        0

        Sinhala_Man: Thanks. I should have mentioned the year of the election that the name was presented. It was not the last election of 2019, but 2015.

  • 1
    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

  • 3
    0

    The truth is always better than falsehood.
    Humbugs and lies have destroyed our democracy,
    and international standing.

    All politicians should worktogether to bring truth and credibility to Sri Lanka.

    If democratically elected leaders are not trustworthy it is a very dangerus situation that could lead to riots, revolution, terrorism and breakdown of law and order.

  • 4
    0

    Saying SORRY to the MISTAKES made in the past alone is NOT going to solve the current state of affairs–freedom for torturers/kidnappers/Rapists/murderers/ Mega bribe takers/ Drug and alcohol pushers/ God fathers of a Mafia kingdom.
    There isn’t law and order in the country. How did the Karuna/KP escape justice between 2015 &2019? RW+MS weren’t strong enough to bring charges against the above two as well other Mega Criminals.Real Terrorists are the ones who take money out of the National coffers and hiding in Foreign bank accounts all over the world.
    We need to look forward and decide on the most suitable 20th Constitution that is agreable to ALL CONCERN

  • 2
    0

    We need to understand how Psychopathic politicians/non-politicians with or without Dual citizenships cause/ create either social & civil problems. BBS/ NTM/ Shiv sena/Grease Yakkas/ White vans are ALL their creations. The gullible voters are manipulated by the media. WE do need an INDEPENDENT Election Commission to limit the Political parties expenses and to reject Candidates for the Elections with a history of crimes committed or pending cases. Crimes committed should NOT be nullified by Parliament or Commissions.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.