By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
“Power rarely tilts smoothly on to your lap for the simple reason that power attracts fierce competitors.” ~
It is beautiful to see this younger leader defend his besieged team, at last. The other day, Sajith Premadasa made a stirring speech suggesting that the previous defeated family regime was behind all the recent riots. He was addressing some housing scheme launching meetings in a number of electorates.
Sajith shot into the open and lambasted those who pretend to be ‘patriots,’ and ‘true Sinhala Buddhists,’ in order to create conditions for their political resurrection. This is how Sajith Premadasa should go and this is what supporters of the movement for democracy and good governance, kicking their heels and had been waiting for. Sajith Premadasa must come strongly to defend his team in stead of remaining in some chosen political solitude. Sajith does have the shrill voice of his father.Can he recall how the present Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, came out in strong defence of his father during the infamous impeachment motion? Good on you, Sajith.
Example of R Premadasa
R Premadasa was an unequivocal team fighter who never tried to open out personal grudges against other team players. He spent a life time campaigning for his party until he arrived to the top.
I have worked under his father Ranasinghe Premadasa (RP) when the latter was President. We all found RP to be a most dedicated chief executive. He felt for the poor and the downtrodden. He was purpose -driven and would awake early morning at 4 am and give us calls jerking us up from our sleep. I used to curse RP for that but I soon saw a transcendent purpose behind all he was doing. RP has his measure of faults; but he was more sinned against particularly by the media and by his own Ministerial rivals who seemed to looked down on him, pushing him to do rather quirky things and make unnecessary pretences. Had R. Premadasa continued to be his own unique personality and had he continued to show himself as a small man (punchi miniha) who came the hard, hard way from the bottom we would have still seen him living and contributing to our country. The point about RP is that his values were what a country like ours needed. He was avowedly anti-racist, secular, modern and committed to the plural society of different communities that Sri Lanka was and is. He was professional in his approach and was quick to spot the good officer and mark the fake.
Rise to Power
And have you observed the way RP rose from a position perceived as ‘low,’ in the social order; waged his way through what was then a feudal-minded United National Party headed by formidable big men of wealth and heritage right to the peak on to become President of the Republic of Sri Lanka? RP helped transform that party into a peoples’ one. RP abhorred the idea of letting power fall into his lap; he grabbed power by sheer merit, personal example and adamantine purpose. He ran Gam Udaawas all over the island and captured the imagination of the public. Unfortunately for our nation, the man was destroyed by the LTTE. From the LTTE perspective their assassination of solid leaders of the UNP had been one of their best achievements. I repeat, “from their perspective.”
However, even before the actually bombing RP had been killed by a lot of false propaganda. He was made out to be a murderer. If that was murder I wonder why people do not shout at the murderers of the previous family regime. That was a time of killing and it had been convenient to put some of the blame on the President.
In the current crisis of the yapalanaya government I was long wondering why R. Premadasa’s son Sajith never came up like his father. I got the notion he was waiting until power came to his lap. He should follow the footsteps of his father and understand that one can make it to power by sheer will. Power rarely tilts smoothly on to your lap for the simple reason that power attracts fierce competitors. Besides the case of R. Premadasa, Mahinda Rajapaksa himself grabbed power from a reluctant President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
Yahapalana Government in Trouble
The yahapalana government, which cruised its way for the last three years making some modest achievements, is now seen in trouble. The main reason for this is the mental defection of the President himself onto the Rajapaksa camp. President Maithripala Sirisena has made an unfortunate U-Turn and is suspected of doing deals with Gotabaya Rajapaksa through his business magnate brother Dudley Sirisena. Sirisena did make some outrageous speeches during election time attacking his own Prime Minster and the major partner, the UNP. His adventurous foray into the local government elections cost both him and his major political partner, the UNP. It was sad to observe his funny behaviour during election time. To give credit to Ranil, the latter never stated that that was a cause of the political debacle. Maitripala Sirisena thereby played into the hands of the Pohottuwa and gave the latter an edge that could have been avoided. Maitripala today is increasingly being perceived as a ‘double traitor.’ He is steadily losing the respect of the sixty two lakhs of voters who backed him as common candidate. A video is doing the rounds where the academic monk Revd Dambara Amila of the ‘Puravesi Balaya’ civil organisation blasted the President as a ‘thuttu deke patholaya’ ( cheap snakegourd vegetable).
Weakened the Government
The resultant rift between the President and Prime Minster has effectively weakened the government. Ranil Wickremesinghe is compelled to do some arduous tight-rope walking in order to avoid the government becoming totally dysfunctional. The rejection of the UNP proposal to have Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka take over the Law & Order Ministry is a case in point.
This situation is an absolute let down. Besides, it has spurred the street activism for which Mahinda Rajapaksa is adept at. Many big wigs of the former regime are creeping through the slit of executive weakness to bolster their efforts to compel the government to crash before the end of its mandated term. The recent anti-Muslim riots would not have cropped out if the government is not seen as being weak. Surely, many more street stunts in Nazi style are to follow. If the government falls before the court cases, then all alleged murderers and crooks will find their escape. In his aforementioned speech Revd Dambara Amila elucidates this Rajapaksa strategy very well.
Revd Damabara Amila also points out how soon after the defeat in 2015 Mahinda Rajapaksa and his men set out on their street activity to instil into the minds of people and officials that they are going to come back. This scared even the teams engaged in investigating the accusations.