18 November, 2018

Blog

Gotabaya’s ‘Operation Shangri-La’

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

In a barroom scene in the movie 48Hrs, with Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy, the latter fires a shot into the air and announces to a group of rednecks: “I’m your worst nightmare—a nigger with a gun”. When a future historian writes the political history of the most obtuse and inept government in post-independence Sri Lanka, he or she will doubtless identify the zenith of idiocy having been the Constitutional prevention of Mahinda Rajapaksa running for President in 2019, thereby opening the door for the fulfilment of the worst fear of the neoliberal democrats, namely a Gotabhaya candidacy pointing to a Gotabaya presidency.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was awarded decorations for valor in combat from three Sri Lankan leaders, none of them his brother, and who commanded the crack Gajaba regiment, broke through enemy lines last week and secured the toughest of objectives. He liberated Colombo’s capitalist class from its traditional party, the UNP, at a time the UNP is in government and Gotabaya’s iconic brother Mahinda is not even the Leader of the Opposition. This had been done only once before—in 1994 when Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga won over the bourgeoisie from the UNP, but Chandrika was not the governmental target that Gotabaya is today. 

It was a social and economic risk to be seen at Gotabaya’s spectacular Viyath Maga event. But I could see how things were headed when the traffic was stoppered up for over half an hour on the part of Galle road leading to the Shangri-La hotel, and Dion Gomez got out of his car just ahead of our taxi and opted to walk, coming back minutes later to retrieve his printed invitation. The water of the roadside and my wife’s sari prevented us from exercising this sensible option. The hall was packed with suits and saris. When Sanja and I stayed on for dinner in privacy, the hotel management told us that they had never had so large a crowd at a single event and that the 2100 seats of the main hall had been filled. 

It was not just the numbers: the audience of 2100 invitees. Having been ushered into seats in the row behind ex-President Rajapaksa, we were able to see the heaviest hitters of Colombo’s corporate class flanking him: Ken Balendra, Harry Jayawardena, and Merrill Fernando among them. The heavy hitters weren’t lurking on the flanks, hedging their bets. They didn’t mind being up front, literally and metaphorically. The bourgeoisie had just defected from a UNP government. Ranil’s UNP had just lost the crème de la crème of Colombo’s capitalist class. They had just thrown their lot in with Mahinda and Gotabhaya, but they would not have done so without Gotabhaya. 

So what has just happened is that Mahinda’s own appeal and his brother Basil’s organizational mastery had cut deep into the UNP’s grassroots support and rich peasant base, securing the Pohottuwa’s convincing victory on Feb 10th 2018. Now, Mahinda’s other brother Gotabaya, the masterful manager of the military victory over Tiger terrorism, had just cut deep into the UNP’s bourgeois base in the citadel itself: Colombo. Mahinda’s two commanders, operating on two flanks, have sliced into and carved away the UNP both at its social base and its apex; its feet and its head. Only Chandrika in 1994 was able to accomplish that double achievement, but that was under far more favorable social and political circumstances—CBK was a widow of a much loved movie-star politician who had been assassinated, and the princess of the city returning from self-exile, while Basil and Gotabhaya have been targeted by the government and state apparatus through court cases.     

While the Gotabaya candidacy project has taken a quantum leap with the Viyath Maga event, the dynamics and discourse at the Shangri-La clearly confirmed that Mahinda was still The Man; the most loved public personality in the country, the one with indubitably the greatest authority in his family and the greatest public appeal; the center of public attraction and the center of gravity of national politics—the man with the veto.

Having been ushered into seats in the row behind ex-President Rajapaksa, we were able to see the heaviest hitters of Colombo’s corporate class flanking him: Ken Balendra, Harry Jayawardena, and Merrill Fernando among them. The heavy hitters weren’t lurking on the sidelines, hedging their bets. They didn’t mind being up front, literally and metaphorically. The bourgeoisie had decided it was worth their while to check out an alternative to the UNP. Ranil’s UNP had just lost the exclusive loyalty of the crème de la crème of Colombo’s capitalist class. They would not have attended if it weren’t for Gotabhaya. 

Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who was awarded decorations for valor in combat from three Sri Lankan leaders, none of them his brother, and who commanded the crack Gajaba regiment, broke through enemy lines last week and secured the toughest of objectives. He liberated Colombo’s capitalist class from its traditional party, the UNP, at a time the UNP is in government and Gotabaya’s iconic brother Mahinda is not even the Leader of the Opposition. This had been done only once before—in 1994 when Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga won over the bourgeoisie from the UNP, but Chandrika was not the governmental target that Gotabhaya is today. 

While the Gotabhaya candidacy project has taken a quantum leap with the Viyath Maga event, the dynamics and discourse at the Shangri-La clearly confirmed that Mahinda was still The Man. The paradox and the problem is that unless the 19th amendment is revised, The Man cannot be the President. 

The shift to Gotabaya at the level of both the elite and the wider public, denotes a deeper shift about which I must confess I have mixed feelings. There is a tectonic social shift to a tougher mindedness on the economic, ethnic and foreign policy fronts, which at its best is similar to the shift that Russians undertook towards Putin after the disastrous liberalism of the 1990s. It is also like the shifts that took place in India away from Congress towards Modi and more recently in Turkey, away from secularism towards Erdogan. As a realist I have no problem with such a shift/shifts. 

One thing that worries me is that the delusional maximalism of the Tamil nationalists combined with the supine nature of the UNP government have triggered a shift among all classes in Sinhala society, along the lines that eroded the two state solution and the Labor Party in Israel and brought Netanyahu to the top. For instance, with the affront of defeated fascism, terrorism and totalitarianism being brazenly commemorated in the North, even I hope that this year and the next will be the last time we ever see such affronts permitted on our soil, and I wish for a government and a leadership that would not permit this nonsense. If someone whose socialization is as atypically modernist and internationalist as mine could feel this way, I can imagine that Sinhala society as a whole would be susceptible to an Alt-Right backlash and in the mood for a Netanyahu-Trump type alternative at the first possible opportunity.

The economic policy model that was unveiled in some detail by Gotabaya at the Viyath Maga convention was not entirely unproblematic. As a growth strategy on the right flank of the Mahinda Rajapaksa coalition and under Mahinda, it would be quite useful. In other words, as a sub-set of a larger Mahinda policy paradigm it would be quite fine. However, if it is either a stand-alone model or the dominant one, driving economic policy as a whole, it will generate contradictions. 

The GR model as unveiled at Viyath Maga is a throwback to that of the UNP of the 1980s, and more particularly the economic ideology of Lalith Athulathmudali. Mr. Athulathmudali was close to the US Republicans, was a friend of US Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, had taught in Israel and Singapore, and had rightwing views on economics and hawkish views on the ethnic issue. His views on development and most matters including foreign policy were the polar opposite of Prime Minister and later President Ranasinghe Premadasa.

The UNP’s economic philosophy of the 1980s worked well temporarily and then did not. It created a social uprising from among the youth. The Athulathmudali model would have run into trouble even sooner. A top-down technocratic model based purely on achieving growth and relying on authoritarianism did not work in Sri Lanka in the 1950s (it triggered the August 1953 Hartal) or the 1980s (despite a heavy authoritarian hand of the Jayewardene UNP). 

Notwithstanding a rapturous initial welcome from the business community and the urban middle classes, this 1980s ‘retro chic’ UNP economic philosophy and top-down technocratic model won’t work in 21st century Sri Lanka either, because it generates contradictions along two axial routes: (A) the South-South dimension of social insensitivity and inequity which will lead to clashes with students, workers, peasants, fisher folk and neighborhood communities and (B) the North-South dimension, because the Tamil problem cannot be solved by  tokenistic integrationism. The solution will have to be a dialogic political accommodation.

Only a return to the proven successes described in Dr. Nalaka Godahewa’s superb speech at the Viyath Maga event, namely the economic models of Presidents Premadasa and Rajapaksa, can be socially sustainable over the long duration and lead to real development, not merely high growth. 

What was the crux of Premadasa’s development philosophy?

“What is that future? What sort of Sri Lanka do we want to create? What sort of motherland do we want to leave for our children? We must strive to build a fair society for all. This means a society in which everyone is provided with the tools and the opportunity for advancement. The tools the State must provide are security, education, social justice, access to opportunity. But seizing opportunity is a task for the individual. Hard work, enterprise and competence are attributes of character. The state must open doors that have been closed for too long in our country. Then personal effort will bring its own reward.”

(President Premadasa, Annual Conference of the Judicial Service Association of Sri Lanka—30.11.’90)

“Minimal solutions for many, rather than high standards for a few, will be our vision for the immediate future.” (President Premadasa, ‘Learning, Unlearning and Relearning’—9.12.’90)

Applying the Premadasa paradigm is not a preserve of those bearing his surname. Any leader can do it, if they have the heart.

A top-down technocratic model, if it isn’t embedded in a larger development model of ‘growth with equity’, could generate social instability which cannot be held down for long by authoritarianism without generating greater instability. Stability comes from human security and human security comes from a drive for the goal of “very high human and social development” as Dr. Godfrey Gunatilleke, Sri Lanka’s great development thinker has said. 

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Latest comments

  • 6
    1

    The fault lines with this govt for not taking action like mahathir mohammad
    The rouge claimed should have Ben dealt with first ,all those tainted should have been taken to task,how can a cabinet take a decision and say a First Lady cannot be taken to court for all the wrongs including an account for siriliya with all zeros at a bank

    Had these been addressed things would have been different
    People are sick with rogues in white garb
    Who comes on tv to tell us what to do people who have allegations of robbing foreigners wealth with bogus power of attorney certs, another who is accused of defrauding had 25 mill according to his wife and others under whose leadership all the crimes took place, grand mothers gem bag drama,substandard oil saga and how Susil fixed oil prices by taking the average to his benefit
    We watched Anura Dissanayake reading out the charges for all these rogues

    At least now take the courage expose all and sundry, law must be equal to the first citizens wife and ordinary man

    • 2
      0

      The propaganda for the promotion of yet another GOVIGAMA MAFIA MEMBER to rule over the stupid, mind controlled population is in the work with the participation of the Business class/ White collar criminals joining the bandwagon reluctantly as they have to play both the sides of the GOVIGAMA MAFIA TROLL parties (UNP/ SLFP) and all other minion proxy groups (SLPP / MEP/ JHU & its Sinhala Racist TERROR groups under its wings.etc)…. So, the GOVI MEDIA (Wijaya & Upali Newspapers ) are busy publishing at least one piece that promotes Gota (the criminal scum) and at least one article on a daily basis NEWS ITEMS DENIGRATING the Muslims and Islam. Because, GOTA’s future is built upon the ANTI-MUSLIM campaign as its planned and executed through the ZIONIST system (Rothschilds Inc.) by providing money and all necessary support to prepare the SOUTH ASIA ready for the battle that will take down PAKISTAN & IRAN from the list of targeted (for the destruction of the balance remaining) Muslim countries. SL govt., as always a treacherous scum driven entity will try anything to keep the GOVI HEGEMONY running till the country is destroyed finally in the due process. One day Sinhalese can look into the eyes of the minorities and say that ‘THEY’VE BEEN FOOLED” by the CRYPTO JEWISH Govigama Mafia Ruling Elites.

      • 0
        0

        We must thank God for making these Govigama scumbags being blind and to go extremely crazy with the power they’re enjoying at the moment, which is temporary, which is taking them to their Waterloo. The Anti Islamic campaign is really going to drag them to their self imposed annihilation as the alliance with the Zionists is about getting involved in self destructive asymmetric Wars. The nice thing about the Zionists is that they use proxies to further their agendas and once the destruction is caused to the intended enemies through the proxies ( in Sri Lanka’s case the GOVI MAFIA and their minions- Sinhala Racists) they destroy their own agents. This is what happened to many of their agents. Saddam Hussein, Shah of Iran, Milesovic of former Yugoslavia…are some of them. Ukrainian civil war is also facing the the same fate. So, by the same history records, the fate of the Govi hegemony and the Sinhala Racist Mafia will one day be destroyed by their masters in London (The Rothschilds). Zionist wooing Gota is for taking down Pakistan. Gen. Hamid Gul speaks clearly about the future threats that is posed against the Pakistani nation from the Zionist entities in many YouTube videos. We love Gota for trying his psychopathic nutty ideas of this kind that will finally bring an end to the Govigama Mafia rule with massive destructions. Thats when the Sinhalese will come to their senses and go hunt for these bastards for their treacherous legacies that costed the nation heavily, spanning to nearly 8 decades of misrule.

  • 4
    1

    would his hero premadasa the man for the poor have held a meeting at a 5 star hotel
    why did he not speak
    was he feeling guilty

  • 2
    3

    Ayi shay, oo ish thish goat payiyaa? Eef ee thinksh he eesh a great bugger let im contaste the preshidenshal erectshan and get him buggered up hish aarsh!!

  • 4
    1

    Poor DJ, wishful thinking my dear. So much poppycock in anticipation of a powerful position in the Gota Govt. another pipe dream. Don’t these tried tested and failed so called high profile politicians ever quit. Dream on, it’s free.

    • 0
      0

      “in 1994 when Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga won over the bourgeoisie from the UNP, but Chandrika was not the governmental target that Gotabaya is today. “
      Well. I do remember one Anuruddha Tilakasiri of Lake House calling her a “Pink Fat Hope”.
      Perhaps Dr. DJ could tell us more on that subject?

  • 5
    2

    This is part of a broader plan to promote the candidacy of a proven criminal. The only reason the Rajapakshe family would like to return is to protect them from prosecution. The people of this country are not stupid, they do have high expectations. As soon as the criminal cases are processed by the special courts, the world will know who this man really is. It is obvious the author is paid to campaign for Gota. Since when did Gota come in to the intellectual bracket?

  • 1
    2

    Colombo Media says Old King has said to Kandy Ayatollah that Old Brother Prince’s revelations at Shangri La was equivalent to President Xi Jinping policies. Comedy Thamai. Thanks Buddha, he did not not tell that it was even better than Buddha’s revelations. (Probably because he was with an Ayatollah?)
    Thero is saying Old King and Richard.P had the same policies and Vallaiththodam Junior should take it over those policies. Probably Thero didn’t get his remittances yet and looking for change for the next wine bottle?

  • 3
    2

    Coercing all and sundry to attend an event is not an endorsement. Attendance was due to fear of not been in, in the event the criminal comes to power. Another example of shameless bootlicking by DJ. And, they are calling them intellectuals!

  • 3
    6

    Gotabaya Rajapakse is the right person for Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka and very much the most suitable for 2019 Presidential Elections and he will be winning it certainly.

    The Viyath maga gathering at Shangri La Hotel was a great mixture of the society comprised of Top businessmen, politicians and among them most sought after His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse and True intellectuals, Professionals and Brilliant Speakers who are Authority on their respective subject areas.

    This cross section of the society is required to be involved in the Governance to take Sri Lanka to the next stage of the development and to face challenges

    • 2
      0

      Nimal Tissass Wijethunga

      ” Gotabaya Rajapakse is the right person for Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka and very much the most suitable for 2019 Presidential Elections and he will be winning it certainly.”

      Why?

  • 2
    0

    If ever Dayan talks about the bane of Lanka, he points out the bond issue as if it is the only one. He condones NT. (NT is New-Terrorism a realm in which corruption/nepotism/impunity are legitimate part of governance).
    Poor bankrupt!

    • 1
      0

      Underneath is Drugs, weapons and subjugation os shanty countries for econoic pruposes.

  • 1
    1

    When there are ‘intellectuals’ as Dr D J are in SL, there is not going to be PEACE/PROSPERITY/JUSTICE in SL. He is practically dishing out rubbish every day, getting his wages from the clan of Rajapaksa.

  • 0
    0

    Dr. DJ, Dr.Laksiri Feranando in his recent article in CT proposes an Utopian state with a UBI (Universal Basic Income), for a country with a labour force highly discontent and averse to manual labour or any labour for that matter, UBI may the answer to prevent ’80s like uprisings, but where would the free lunch come from? No, not by the Centran Bank printing Peacocks (we know what that lead to in the past three years) but perhaps A Compulsory Paid National Service to be rewarded by a UBI afterwards?
    And giving a monetary value for leisure?

    • 1
      0

      Wannihami,
      “A Compulsory Paid National Service to be rewarded by a UBI afterwards?”
      Great idea. Rajakariya in other words?

  • 2
    1

    one of the heaviest hitters of Colombo’s corporate class, relative of mine, told me that Gota threaten him with white van if he doeskin turn up an flank Gota and Mahinda

  • 2
    0

    When Mahinda took this economy it is only a economy of 20,billion USD with 1000 USD per capital and foreign direct invest ment less than 200 million USD.srilanka was a 3rd world country which didnot have proper infrastructure ,urban development, business organizations, business envirment nothing under the mixed economy system of tge people like jr premadasa and chandrika since independence.when mahinda took that country in 2005 with in 10 years Mahinda made this country in to 80 billion USD ,and 3800 USD percapital income and 1600 million USD foreign direct investment.he made high tech infrastructure development and urban development he made this economy in to super capitalism.the party like unp or JVP even does not know what is the meaning of this business super capitalism . under Mahinda this country became upper middle income country. In this period srilanka became business Paradise with high performing bluships and co oporate companies.before 2005 there were no high class business community like now.after 2005 entire business community became the die heart supporters of Mahinda and modern slfp for his supercapitalism.this business community was politically silent until 2005 because the leaders Jr premadasa or chandrika utterly fail in doing capitalism and doing only a mixed type of jansaviya economy. Since 1994 unp only had a vote base of less than 25% and always depends on floating voters.slfp always had 42% stable vote bank and this is 17% higher than unp vote base .because of this vote base only chandrika was power for 11 years not for her achievement. After arrival of Mahinda Mahinda brought the entire business community vote to modern slfp now the modern slfp holding 6 million votes as largest single party in srilanka history with 47% vote base while JVP has only 6% and unp has 23%.the society is requesting this super capitalism of Mahinda not like poor failure mixed economic system of unp or chandrikas slfp.

  • 1
    1

    Native Veddah,

    Why?

    He has given the real time 1st class Management to the military in Annihilating LTTE Terrorists within 04 years when the previous leaders of Sri Lanka bungled it with mis management and in the midst of whole world including our own Military leaders of yester years said LTTE cannot be defeated militarily and this annihilation brought elusive peace to all the races living in this country in an humanitarian operation specifically to saving the Human Shield held by so called freedom fighters of LTTE in the final battle. By this action, we got rid of suicide bombing, forced recruitment of children, no cyanide capsuel around the neck of children as today they are doing wonderfully well in all public exams, no killings of moderate political leaders and other groups and leaders to become sole representative of Tamils, no killing of unarmed civilans including infants in villages, no killing of head of states either side of palk straight,

    His enormous achievements under the Urban Development Authority given subsequently to his responsibilities.

    This country requires a leader who has the proven capabilities in Management and therefore, he is the best among the lot as per my opinion.

  • 0
    0

    Growth with equity, opportunity to all…………..agree. Fuck the current junta……….agree too.

  • 0
    0

    To save themselves ( the Rajapaksas) are wooing even the Muslims by giving “Iftar ” (Ramadan breaking fast ) with lavish food and drinks thrown for the Muslim voters by the great destructor of Muslims Gotabaya Rajapaksa who destroyed the Muslims of their livelihood ,and freedom . Gotabaya says that he or any Rajapaksas will not allow another Aluthgama carnage to happen. Can the Muslims take his word ?
    Muslims have wasted their votes on having been a party to elect Sirisena.

  • 0
    0

    Native Veddah,

    Where are you and do you have any comments to mine

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