By Vishwamithra –
In the wee hours of Friday morning, July 22, Sri Lanka’s security forces led by the Special Task Force, (STF), unleashed a barrage of attack on innocent civilian who were protesting against the indignities and unequal treatment meted out by the cruel scarcities resulting from the unprecedented economic breakdown in the country caused by corrupt and incompetent government now led by the new President. The Aragalapitiya became a symbol of great tragedy and a greater betrayal! That new President does not have any mandate whatsoever from the electorate. As a matter of fact, he was most soundly defeated at the last General Elections- clobbered out of sight. The United National Party (UNP) that he led suffered the most undignified defeat in its history- not a single member was returned to parliament.
Now a most ironical set of events is unfolding before our eyes. The man who received six point nine million votes deserted his post of Presidency and in his place the same political Party elected an unelected Member of Parliament. And that person whose lifetime ambition was to become the Commander in Chief of our armed forces took it upon himself the most undemocratic and atrocious decision to suppress the birthright of all citizenry, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression.
Whatever the country’s objective conditions be, whether it was caused by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the fleeing President or he in collaboration with the Party in power, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP or Pohottuwa), it is inconceivable that a sitting President would choose to quell an uprising backed by almost 90% of the country by releasing his armed forces against unarmed civilian-protesters. But Ranil Wickremesinghe, that unelected President, chose to do precisely that. Our future historians would chronicle these events of the last three months with utmost clarity. They simply cannot ignore the obvious and if they do so they will have done great disservice to that noble profession of a historian.
This may just be the beginning of a much darker era, darker than the days that preceded the fleeing of Gotabaya Rajapaksa from office. Ranil Wickremesinghe may well have miscalculated the strength of the Aragalaya. Gota made the same erroneous judgment and he paid the price by having to flee his country of birth in search of a favorable nation that would admit him as a refugee.
July looks like a month in which Sri Lanka’s political events seem to conspire together to generate new paradigms. It’s in the middle of the summer’s high heat, possibly leading to ominous crop failures due to scarcity of rainfalls and famine setting in replacing bounty harvests in the arid zones where peasantry population depends for their cultivation on timely rain and judicious fertilizing. If both these factors, rains and fertilizer application become things of the past, then the July-weather would favor the nastiest of outcomes.
Failure on the part of the Rajapaksas; their two-third majority held Parliament’s inevitable corruption wrapped in an unholy shroud of incompetence; now the leading mourner Ranil Wickremesinghe not only giving protection and cover to the nauseating corpse of the Rajapaksas; he’s leading the way for last minute gasps; the final breath is to be exhaled forced by the oncoming third phase of the Aragalaya demonstrations. They are not disengaged parts of accidental occurrences in a nation’s progression towards a real abyss; they are all Rajapaksa-made wounds and injuries to the nation’s conscience. The tragedy’s headway has been foretold by some political clairvoyants; but ostensibly none bothered to listen, leave alone hear.
Upon being sworn in as the country’s President elected by Parliament, the whole of which has been rejected outright by almost ninety five percent (95%) of the people, Ranil Wickremesinghe did not wait twenty four hours to pass; he visited the Army Headquarters; then ordered them to invade the Aragalapitiya; the army or whoever wearing the army uniforms went on rampage; they manhandled and physically violated the unarmed protesters; tore down the various sheds and stalls that were erected to facilitate those who had the guts to rise against injustice. If this was not a forewarning by a demoniacal leader, then one has to find a new psychologist to define and identify the demons that characterize a leader such as our current President.
This writer did not miss a beat on the events and occurrences yet to come about if Ranil Wickremesinghe were to become our Commander-in-Chief. His modus operandi was laid out for everyone to see. But, make no mistake: as in all sociopaths, these lunatic tendencies won’t be visible at all times. There will be times when the current patient, Ranil Wickremesinghe would be conducting his business of statecraft seemingly in a sane fashion. But the underlying core conditions are there; these core conditions, more often than not, would manifest themselves and the patient’s demands and inscrutable tendencies will protrude to shroud the seemingly balanced persona. In effect, Ranil Wickremesinghe’s statecraft and his general MO would make our people who originally ask Gota Go Home rephrase their battle cry and ask ‘Gota come back home’. Furthermore, amendments to the Constitution would fly out the window. Ranil Wickremesinghe will govern the country in terms of the Twentieth (20th) Amendment and any thought of diluting the Presidential powers would be a pipedream.
Sri Lankans have indeed encountered an unequal partner in governance. The partner being Ranil Wickremesinghe the President, all-encompassing economic breakdown coupled with a corrupt and incompetent administration, both at the political and bureaucratic levels, injection of new yet already corrupt faces into the machinery would only accelerate the process of the societal decay. In a failing state and a falling economy, Ranil Wickremesinghe is the last person Sri Lanka should have opted for. Yet stranger phenomena have dominated the flow of history of man. However flawed and convoluted his inner core, there have been leaders of unimpeachable clarity of mind and stoical determination to lead. Nevertheless, the current context of the country has not provided such great men.
Instead of settling for the best of the worst, average Sri Lankan must make up his or her mind to always search for the best of the best. One may laugh at such a naiveté but in pursuit of excellence, if one is not willing to compromise and barter better values and human fundamentality for short-term gains, one would certainly find satisfaction after such pursuits. A leader, who is afraid and shy of making ungainly personal improvements, financial or otherwise, could be found if only one dares to search for such a person.
Plato said: ‘The highest form of knowledge is empathy, for it requires us to suspend our egos and live in another’s world’. It is that knowledge as Plato penned in the aforementioned quote that all our political leaders do not seem to possess. They are exceedingly rich in ill-gotten wealth but miserably destitute in that unique quality of empathy.
Ranil Wickremesinghe and the Rajapaksas have shown time and time again that they do not simply care for the common man who day in day out labor under unforgiving conditions. That lack of empathy has cost the country, especially our youth, literally an arm and a leg. Things would not improve; all signs contain circumstantial evidence of a daytime murder of a country’s good name. With the fleeing of Gotabaya Rajapaksa from his country of birth, the tremendous enthusiasm of our youth cannot be allowed to suffer such an abortion of fruition. A charisma of a struggle cannot be allowed to die. The egg was broken but the omelet is waiting to be cooked; Ranil Wickremesinghe’s arrival in the kitchen needs to be treated in the way it deserves to be treated: a minor aberration in the larger scheme of things.
Yet, one might laugh at the writer; one might say that Ranil Wickremesinghe does matter because he has total control of the armed forces and the Police in the country. Yes, they are all true. But the question one should ask is: Is it worth it? Should we succumb to the impulses of power politics? Should we close our eyes and ears and go on with our daily chores as spineless men and women? What kind of country and what kind of legacy are we planning to leave behind for our unborn generations?
Lenin once said that “there are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”. We experienced the birth and continuation of such weeks as described by Lenin in the above quotation. In fact, we just went through the last few weeks in our land’s history where seven decades of meandering of governance was exposed in a most unmitigated fashion. These seven to eight decades were woven into the last seven to ten weeks; our men and women led by our youth showed a way out. It would be a tragedy of great magnitude to waste such an effort; such fresh and raw bravery and courage need to be nourished and nurtured.
*The writer can be contacted at email@example.com
Ajith / July 24, 2022
We, as a people only used to have emotions quickly and fastly but never ever use our brains before showing our emotions and we always forget the past and go farward. The attack or use of violence on civilians or peaceful protestors by thugs, military, militants sponsored by the governments elected by the people. SWRD did the same thing, JR did the same thing, Chandrika did the same thing, Ranil did the same thing, Mahinda did the same thing, Gota did the same thing, recently Ranil did the same thing. We are used to this and we ignored this for past 75 years but even after these same Rajapaksas and Ranil brought us to beg in the streets for a piece of bread we have not changed. Before, two three days, Gota said petrol problem will be solved in three days we thought we chased him but he pretend he is on the run but he made all arrangements to take revenge and he will come back soon. Now we Gota is Good, Ranil is bad. This game going for decades and nothing new.
VanguardII / July 27, 2022
What it is the solution then? It is up to the religious leaders to change society by preaching the right thing, and by condemning violence. We cannot have one election without violence – in fact there is centre for monitoring election violence.
It all starts with hate speech. The CPA has published a report entitled “Liking Hate” about hate on social media. Social media is only a reflection of society.
What have the religious leaders been preaching? Does the ‘five fold noble path’ represent the behavior of ‘our people’. I think some people need to seriously work on the ” non-ill-will” part.
Right View:… peaceful renunciation, into an environment of non-sensuality, non-ill-will (to loving kindness), away from cruelty (to compassion).
Right Speech: no lying, no rude speech, no telling one person what another says about him to cause discord or harm their relationship.
Right Conduct or Action: no killing or injuring, no taking what is not given….
VanguardII / July 25, 2022
“What good fortune for those in power that people do not think.”
Sinhala_Man / July 29, 2022
Thanks, Vishwamithra, for the sequel:
D-Day fast approaches; we need consistency, and that, dear Vishwamithra, you have given us in ample measure.