16 November, 2018

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In The Time Of The Butterflies

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath De Alwis

There are times when we are powerless to prevent injustice. There must never be a time when we fail to protest. At yesterday’s rally President Sirisena made a declaration that the whole world heard. Some politicians are ready to dive in to abysmal depths of depravity for political expediency while some still hold on to old world graces of minimal civility. 

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who was on the stage, on hearing the butterfly remark put his head down, holding it with one hand and mimicked a mock laugh. In sickening contrast, a highly amused Dinesh Gunewardena emitted a bovine belly laugh that encouraged the slayer to stab deeper.             

“In the time of the butterflies” is a novel by Latin American novelist Julia Alvarez. 

In it she fictionalizes the lives of the ‘Mirabel sisters ‘who were tortured and slaughtered for their opposition to the voracious dictator Rafael Trujillo who pillaged his land from 1931 to 1961. 

The novel is a gripping narrative of ordinary people who resist the tyranny of power strengthened only by the dictates of a conscience. The kind of thing that has compelled parliamentarian Manusha Nanayakkara to abandon his brief flirtation with perfidy. 

During the last days of the Trujillo dictatorship three young women from a pious Catholic family, become committed to the revolutionary overthrow of the regime. The three girls are ambushed and assassinated while returning after visiting their jailed husbands. Thus martyred, the Mirabal sisters have become mythical figures in their country, where they are known as las mariposas – the butterflies from their underground code names.

This President Sirisena who personifies our collective folly in electing him on 8th January 2015 will never comprehend the abiding humanity contained in the adjective ‘Butterfly’ when applied to describe the simple human innocence resisting tyranny. 

I recall Sarath Amunugama describing the murder of Vijaya Kumaratunga as a senseless slaughter of a butterfly. That was when he spoke truth to power. Now he speaks power to truth. I will write on his reverse metamorphosis from butterfly to caterpillar in my next essay.     

First things first. The JVP, the TNA have closed ranks. The SLMC Leader Rauf Hakeem and ACMC leader Rishad Bathiudeen have reiterated their stance of opposing the appointment of a Prime Minister who does not command the support of a majority of members in Parliament.

The emerging alliance of the minorities and the marginalized in pursuit of the democratic ideal in post insurrection, post-civil war Sri Lanka, however tenuous in the context of dollar denominated horse trading is a positive outcome in these times of Butterflies and leeches as the ever outspoken Mangala Samaraweera has reminded us.  

The “Rata Surakina Jana Mahimaya” – the majesty of people protecting the land was the theme of the event at the place that is called the Parliament Roundabout.

The choice of venue reflected its intent. To go around and round parliament in gay abandon until 14th November. The respite will permit the perpetrators of this dark deed of defiling democracy to buy, blackmail, bind, bag and bedevil enough parliamentarians to go past 113. The demonstrated opposition to the president’s clandestine snatch of the constitution had to be intimidated to break its ranks.  

There is cruel cynicism in labeling it a ‘Jana Mahimaya’ -majesty of the people. It is classic spin, It is the technique with which language is used to propagate a biased idea.  

I will not try to interpret the analogy of the butterfly. That said, I have heard of a hunch back Law Professor who operated a furtive butterfly brigade among his students. The reward of enrolment was a first class at the finals. The Professor we are told is a rare breed – the result of a cross between a butterfly and a gadfly. 

The President’s harangue yesterday was coherently insincere. It was an indignant rant of clichés that the joint opposition has been hurling at his government for three long years. Everybody with an iota of a brain knew about Ranil’s neoliberal folly.  

For three years, neoliberal folly of Ranil did not bother the brother of the merchant magnifico who controls the rice monopoly of this island. 

That is what Mahinda did as well except that no body labeled him a neoliberal. That the neo liberal west did not consider Mahinda a bosom buddy is beside the point. 

Mahinda practiced unrepentant free market economics but avoided book keeping. That is why oligarchs attending fireside chats like him.  

President Sirisena the principal pirouette artist in this unfolding theatre of the comic went to Georgia in July 2018. There, he addressed the annual conclave of the Open Governance Partnership. 

He addressed world leaders in Sinhala. He responded to questions in Sinhala. He assured the world that under his Presidency, Sri Lanka had made giant strides towards the ideals of the OGP the multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from national governments to promote open government, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. 

In fairness to Mahinda Rajapaksa we must recognize his ingrained directness and plain talk. He promises democracy, but we know that his democracy is on his terms. Some like it some don’t. 

If parliament decides to return to his democracy so be it. But first let us take the head count in parliament – the constitutionally specified venue a good two kilometers away from the point where Sirisena the President told us how he chased away butterflies. 

The average intelligence quotient of the majestic attendees was apparent by their lack of curiosity. They did not ask questions. They listened. Why did S.B attempt to entice parliamentarian Range Bandara with Cabinet office?” Has Range Bandara indicated to the president that he is Lepidopterist – the term for butterfly collectors. 

Why was the offer followed with a promise of an additional two million dollars? 

That the taped conversation appeared long before the reluctant acknowledgement by the private TV channels is damning evidence of the oligarchic capture of our electronic media. 

Sirisena the President first explained the reasons for his bizarre bamboozle of the constitution in his address to the nation. He followed it with a more picturesque and more combative explanation yesterday.

Now I must reiterate that I do not want Ranil Wickremesinghe again to muck around with his cronies. That is not the point. If the people want Mahinda back there is nothing we can do at the next general election. 

But we can do a great deal to prevent his return by a hijacking, subverting  the constitutional process. 

The President’s address to the nation and his holier than thou, mealy mouthed, hypocritical harangue yesterday conclusively proves one pivotal fact. 

When he decided to remove Ranil he never considered the issue of a parliamentary majority that validates the selection of a prime minister.  

He thought in his ‘Gamarala’ reasoning that he could repeat what he did on 9th January 2015.

That he did on live TV at the Independence square at a time when a country excited by the end of the Rajapaksa monolith watched in awe. When Ranil appeared before parliament no one objected. Don’t forget, he met Mahinda at Temple Trees in the early hours of 9th January 2015. So that comparison is as preposterous as the daughters claim that she dreamt of her ‘Jandhipathi thaththa’ long before we made the mistake. Obviously, the Sinhala Buddhists do not recognize the renunciation of prince Siddhartha. They prefer the mythic version where Queen Mahamaya dreams of a white elephant calf enters her bosom.   

What happened on 26th October was different. At dusk in the hours of lengthening shadows, the great Mahinda Rajapaksa hopped across from nearby Hilton.

I have often recorded my grudging but unreserved admiration for Mahinda’s inventive ability to justify the indefensible. 

The hop across from the Hilton is blot on his copy book. There is a lesson for him. He must not be guided by Butterflies trained in the law with bursaries offered in memory of the colonial buccaneer Cecil Rhodes. 

Sirisena the president claims the right to sack the prime minister because he is the appointing authority. Let us concede that faulty premise. Yet, the president is constrained by other provisions of the constitution. 

He must be satisfied that his alternative appointee commands the confidence of the house. Sirisena the president never paid attention to that essential constitutional dictate. 

Yesterday Sirisena told us why he selected Mahinda Rajapaksa. He wanted a man who could occupy the high office by toppling over the prime minister – Peralagena yana kenek – a person who could overpower the incumbent. 

The Sinhala expression ‘perelagena’ is highly nuanced conveying physical power.  The rally at the turn off to parliament is eloquent testimony to our tangential trek from the institutional epitome of people’s sovereignty.  

This is the man who in July 2015 gave his report card to the Open Governance Partnership in Georgia. This is the man invited by the G7 countries to attend their annual tryst where the young Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walked up to our fraudster Mandela to greet him.  

President wants Speaker Karu Jayasuriya to consult the Maha Nayakes and the Cardinal. You can run around all the jungles of the ‘nindagam lands’ of our monasteries with butterfly nets. You will not catch any. Our Saffron saints wallow in denial. They do not have butterflies. 

The Buddha in the vinaya pitakaya deals with the subject. The cardinal is a different matter. The Good Pope Francis has acknowledged the Butterflies and is busy pining them.   

Yes. Ranil Wickremesinghe should go. Once this impasse is resolved the President should call for a presidential election on 9th January 2019. 6.2 million people await the day to reclaim their lost dignity. Yesterday, Maithripala Sirisena the president demonstrated his genius. His capacity to fake sincerity is matchless on the face of this earth.    

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Latest comments

  • 11
    1

    he forgot that the good professor was and maybe still is a butterfly
    dayasiri could tell us

    • 5
      1

      Sarath de Alwis

      This country has produced more people who can think only in two dimensions. Three out of the question, four never. It get worse, the academics think there is only one dimension that they will have to theorise.

    • 0
      5

      This is gutter talk, and I feel disgusted with own self for reading this stuff.

      However? I am in position to confirm that such a relationship did exist, but they’ve become mortal enemies.

    • 1
      0

      nalmen:-
      Wait till God decides that He/ She has had enough of Heterosexuals, and decides to turn all Humans into Homosexuals!

      Then, who will have the Last Laugh!?

  • 6
    1

    Firstly this is good English I am a British citizen enjoying one of the best Democracies in the world. Once I was a politician in SL Yet, this butterfly talk is new to me. I was in the same Party as Ranil , we were in the same Uni and very often associated Ranils friends but not him because him being in a different caliber also did not socialise with other students very much. G L Peiris was in the staff very much the same as Ranil to me. Ranil could never understand the real world. I came to know a lot about him through Lalith Weerathunga later in my life, he was a good friend of mine in the Uni, not now though.
    This space is not enough to tell interesting stuff about politics and people that I know therefore I stop here.

    • 2
      2

      Senerath, Please do write, take out the names so there are no libel issues but your stories would be enlightening and entertaining.

    • 1
      0

      You ae right Senarath:-
      Democracy in Sri Lanka is like ‘Casting Pearls before Swine’!
      It is not a Government “By the People; For The People”; But a Pig Sty where greedy Uneducated Politicians can Wallow in!

  • 3
    10

    Ok Mr DE Alwis we get the point. President Sirisena doesn’t know English, he is a Gamarala and therefore he is a lesser human being.

    We can only blame his ancestors for not converting to the Henry VIII cult, learn English and sell our country to those blood suckers.
    – Now this may be the recommended course of action for people like you who are prepared to your soul for a few pounds, and then try to rationalise your treachery.

    But remember the vast majority of this country will not be pursuaded by your treacherous views.

    The sea of people at Battaramulla yesterday proved that they haven’t bought your view from PUK Hamu either. So take a Bex and lie down you moron.

    • 3
      1

      Pushy Rodrigoo, “treacherous lies”???!!! Are you deaf to MR’s and MS’ lies??? Or are you also one of those ‘treacherous’ hypocrites???

      Give us a break from your obviously inferior complexities.

  • 6
    6

    Just heard that Manusha Nanayakkara is off to Singapore to collect the payment from Arjun Mahendran. The payment has been organised by Ravi Karunanayaka.

    Both sides in this saga are unprincipled rogues. No one can be believed. They should all be jailed for the rest of their lives.

    • 2
      0

      Manusha defects back: This is what happens when you try to buy people. What is sauce of the goose is sauce for the gander. Those who defect on money would defect back for more of the same. The beauty is that no one can do anything about it because it all started with a illegal act.
      .
      More and more are going to follow the example by Manushya. There are two viable options here.
      .

      (1) Reconvene parliament as soon as possible.
      .

      (2) Do a proper military style takeover instead of this silly thing where Manussa Politicians (MP’s) are jumping back and forth like Monkey Politicians .

  • 5
    0

    The line…..
    …..He wanted a man who could occupy the high office by toppling over the Prime Minister…..
    Peralagena yana kenek….A person who could overpower the incumbent….
    This man President Sirisena is suggesting that even if MaRa is unable to obtain the magical 113 do it by force.
    We are going to see fireworks in the next few days!

  • 2
    8

    I am not sure why a reference to the word butterflies would generate such dismay and controversy. Mangala is openly gay and there is innuendo that other neoliberals, Ranil’s bosom buddies too are gay. But how does anyone know whether My3 referred to homosexuality or gay lifestyle (latter, in the original meaning of the word)? When we refer to butterflies we think of beautiful, colorful, carefree creatures, I don’t see Mangala or Ranil as beautiful, colorful or carefree, they are old men, going to seed, who continuously plotting to gain and keep power. If there is any corollary in them to butterflies it would be the gay lifestyle they are purported to lead with little or no concern about the other 99% (again in the original intent of the word; the author may remember there was a shop in Babalapitiya in the seventies called “Gay Lords” which sold and tailored men’s clothes to men of any orientation).

    • 5
      2

      wannihami, Do you know what you are talking about. You are exhibiting your nakedness. Shame on you!

    • 6
      1

      Wannihami,

      Forget about butterflies. They are not as beautiful as Wild Buffaloes. Look at our new PM, MaRa. As a real Mee Haraka, MaRa looks very beautiful; and even handsome.

      Why doesn’t Sarath strive to write about this handsome Mee Haraka called MaRa. I wish we had D.H. Lawrence to write in lucid English about this Mee Haraka et el as “….buffaloes poking out of primeval mud…””

    • 6
      0

      wannihami

      ” Mangala is openly gay and there is innuendo that other neoliberals, Ranil’s bosom buddies too are gay”.

      Do you really know what you meant by neoliberals?
      Could you define and explain what you very often wittingly or unwittingly refer to as neoliberals.

      Hope you know what you’re typing about.
      If you haven’t got a clue, why don’t you join hands with film director Sarath Weerasekera, CountryFarce, Dinesh, …… Wimal Windbag Weerawansa force Dr Mahinda to ban National Anthem sung in Tamil?
      Or start another riot and blame the victims.
      Don’t forget it’s a lucrative business.
      soma needs some extra cash and jewellery for his daughter’s wedding at Taj Samudra.

  • 3
    0

    Sarath Alwis wants Ranil to go. Whom he wants him replaced by? Sajith? My foot.

  • 3
    2

    Looks like Sarath Alwsi is writing to someone’s script. Is he paid by the Butterfly Sajith Premadasa? Looks so

  • 4
    1

    Sarath De Alwis has previously criticised Gota, not any more. What’s brewing Sarath?

  • 1
    4

    Anyway, I think Anura KUMARA of JVP exposed he himself. If JVP is to win AKD is not the man. IT is amazing, Srath De Alwais knows all the western literature and LAtin american literature but nothing from Asian or Sri lankan literature. How come these people be useful to Sinhale.

  • 1
    0

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  • 2
    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

  • 0
    1

    Some comments are only trying to kill the messenger. What about the message!

  • 2
    1

    I think Sarath De Alwis is playing a double game; is he looking to team up with corrupt Sajith Premadasa?

  • 0
    0

    Sarath is not alone to see the end of Ranil.If he as an individual wants to support Sajith’s candidature as the successor so be it,that is his prerogative.We all have our preferences.

    The issue at hand is not about succession at UNP but something much more important .

    Each of us may or may not agree with what Sarath writes about but commenting on such without any context to the core issue does not help

  • 0
    0

    The retarded Lankans should watch and learn from the US mid terms. The country is doing well, GDP is improving significantly after a prolonged stagnation. Unemployment at the lowest in history. Country is deeply divided by political partisan. Still the voters in general, through out the nation made the right choice. They clearly showed their disapproval of Trump in promoting violence, arrogance, disrespect to citizens, questionable past history,creating fear psychosis and trying to bulldoze his self centered agenda. The voters just did not make few change but more than 40 seats changed hands for Dems to take control of The House which from now will keep check on Trump,s excess and abuse. It will also assure keeping the Muller investigations alive until it reaches its conclusion. This is the DIFFERENCE between Lanka and rest. I had been voicing this opinion for some time and here you have the perfect example to understand and learn, which I sincerely doubt happening with Lankan retards.

  • 0
    0

    Remember what Boxer Muhamed Ali used to say? Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
    Maybe, poor Sirisena ain’t seen nothing yet

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