28 January, 2023


Irrational Rationality Of Maithripala Sirisena

By Sarath De Alwis

Sarath De Alwis

Man becomes a little cog in the machine, and, aware of this, his one preoccupation is to become a bigger cog said Max Weber the founding father of sociology. 

Maithripala Sirisena became a small cog after the 19th Amendment. Then he decided to be a bigger cog. Now we are in grave trouble. 

When Maithripala Sirisena the president sacked Ranil Wickremesinghe and installed Mahinda Rajapaksa in his place as Prime minister on 26th October he would have had a plan. 

‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth’ said Mike Tyson- the best known heavy weight boxing champion. 

On 13th December – forty-nine days later a seven-judge bench of the Supreme court delivered a unanimous punch on Sirisena’s sermonizing mouth.

Maithripala Sirisena had a plan. As evidenced by the subsequent conduct of a significant section of main stream media he had a formidable flock of ‘spin doctors ‘or rhetorical strategists ‘relativist in their morality’ totally disinterested in truth and convinced that what really mattered was power and its ruthless , dishonest wielding of it. 

One of those principal spin doctors Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka whom Sirisena positioned as Ambassador in the land of Putin wasted no time in putting priorities in order. 

In an email addressed to Mahinda Rajapaksa through comrade Vasudeva he reiterated “the initiative should never be allowed to see-saw. The offensive momentum should be seized and maintained by the new government.” He unwittingly recorded for posterity a political scientists partisan but a precise portrait of a ‘putsch’.  

If the removal of a prime minister and the appointment of a successor was a  purely constitutional  process, why should Sirisena’s handpicked  envoy to Moscow proffer guidance in  such combative putschist patter ? 

Large wars can start with small stakes. Sirisena launched his assault quite satisfied that his tactic of surprise coupled with the macho image of Mahinda and Gotabaya’s notoriety to instill fear would subdue the opposition’s collective will to resist. 

The picture of IGP Pujith Jayasundera  saluting Mahinda Rajapaksa – the new Prime minster watched by Gotabaya the ‘Gauleiter’ published in all mainstream media served as a directional forecast and a signal of finality of the ‘regime switchover’.   

Perfection of Sirisena’s strategy depended more on the psychological and less on the political. That explains Keheliya  Rambukwellas seizure of State Television  stations and Lake House on the same night of the cloak and dagger hush hush swearing in of the war winner as the possible winner of a purchased parliamentary  majority.  

If you listened to Dulles Alahaperuma, G.L. Peiris , Banduala Gunawardane  and Vimal Weerawansa you will know why Sirisena had to opt for Mahinda Rajapaksa and no one else. Mahinda alone commanded this fearsome   repertoire of total deceit. They had the mastery of a peculiar craft of spin together with their saffron robed counterparts.

The absence of a moral core was their principal strength. Their competitive demagoguery was matchless or so it seemed. Elegant Sinhala idiom they used advanced their self-interest. Their tricks of rhetorical language  served to make the foolish and the ignorant profoundly wise and knowledgeable.

It is in this context that we should consider the great verdict of the Supreme Court.

Sirisena still represents a terrible peril for our democracy. The Supreme Court verdict is only a reprieve. The barbarians are still camped outside the gates of the democratic city. We are still under siege.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna has indicated that it would initiate an impeachment motion against President Sirisena. The UNP must realize that it reached this point not on its own stream but on the good sense of the JVP and other minority parties. 

The 122 members of parliament who defied the capricious conduct of Sirisena must now decide its priorities. The impeachment of Sirisena and the passage of the 20th amendment is far more pressing than restoring Ranil’s lost premiership.  

The Supreme court has unanimously held that the executive act of dissolution of parliament was illegal and the Presidential decree has violated the human rights of the petitioners. 

The JVP has rightly pointed out that there should be an investigation in to the events that led to the attempted constitutional coup the failure of which led to the illegal dissolution of parliament.

The UNP seems preoccupied with the purely parochial concern of restoring the status quo ante. 

We don’t need to return to what existed prior to the high crime of purchasing parliamentary allegiance – that of Ranil’s kitchen cabinet or Pasky, Charita and Malik . That would be an equally obnoxious travesty. 

The impeachment of Presdent Sirisena must be our immediate and only imperative. If that requires a prime minster other than Ranil Wickremesinghe so be it.  

Maithripala Sirisena is not a mad man. There is a great unassailable rationality in his irrationality. Thomas Schelling – the American Economist was awarded the Nobel prize for Economics in 2005   for his pioneering work relating  to the game theory where he examined  human emotions relating to political and economic decision  making. 

 The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences explained that it was a recognition of Schelling’s  ideas about ‘uncertain retaliation’. 

The kind of retaliation that Sirisena made against what he perceived as anti-national, unpatriotic neoliberal Anglo centric polices of Ranil Wickremesinghe .  

Thomas Schelling explained to his students how the rational mind resorted to irrational behaviour for rational selfish objectives.  

Imagine that, you are precariously perched  on the  edge of a cliff, chained by the ankle to someone else. You’ll be released, and one of you will get a large prize, as soon as the other gives in. How do you persuade the other guy to give in, when the only method at your disposal — threatening to push him off the cliff — would doom you both?

 You start dancing, closer and closer to the edge. That way, you don’t have to convince the other guy that you would do something totally irrational: plunge him and yourself off the cliff. 

That is what Sirisena did when he quietly tried to encourage the no confidence motion against Ranil. That did not work. Even his own plant in the UNP and mouthpiece for Avant-garde oligarchy that financed  the current plot – Wijayadasa Rajapakshe voted for Ranil. 

Then Sirisena did what Nobel Laureate Thomas Schelling predicted as the last resort of desperate opponents.  

You just move to convince your enemy that hat you are prepared to take a higher risk than he is, by  accidentally falling off the cliff. 

If you can do that, you win. You have done it by using probability to divide a seemingly indivisible threat. And a smaller threat can be more effective than a bigger one. A threat to drag both of you off the cliff is not credible. A threat to take a rough 60 percent chance of that same risk of jumping off the cliff  would be credible.

Very unfortunately for Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapakse the Minority parties and the JVP decided that the constitution was the final rampart that defended their fundamental human rights. 

Sirisena jumped off the cliff. The 19th Amendment caught him in midair and the Supreme court was the safety net that finally   trapped  him in the act. 

Sirisena’s madness is wickedly rational. Over forty nine days of prevarication, obstinacy and repulsive hatred he told us that he would jump off the cliff and was ready to drag our nation along with him. 

Thomas Schelling gave another example of game theory. Two trucks loaded with dynamite travel in opposite directions on a narrow road. Who gives way? 

A bank teller who cannot open the vault even at gun point because he does not know the combination is what we want. The 19th amendment ensured that the combination to open the vault is no longer with the banks staff at the counter or the Manager in charge. 

Gotabaya Rajapaksa is right. The 19th Amendment was aimed at the Rajapakse brothers, their families and their followers. 

Should we pass the 20th Amendment or allow the Rajapaksas to decipher the combination to the vault.  Impeachment of this president is an existential necessity. Reinstating Ranil in the premiership is nowhere near that reality. 

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Latest comments

  • 8

    Sarath De Alwis, an Excellent article, Only Problem is It’s “TOO MUCH GUT- WRENCHING TO COME TO TERMS”……How ever I think You have Under Played Rajapaksha’s (MR) Impact Internationally….look bottom Line is if MR wasn’t got Defeated, Sri Lanka might have been another SYRIA (most people think it is not that bad…well if MR was the President on 08 January 2015 this Country as it now may be a WAR-TORN State Officially)….EU-CANADA-US-AU-INDIA would have supported any Emerging Tamil Rights ARMED Organization if MR has won the election….and if MR again either Appointed-Elected [to an Executive Post] , International support for any Tamil Armed alliance will be swift [ this is why L.T.T.E. is rebuilding it’s Image again In EU-US-CANADA ….]

    • 4

      [ this is why L.T.T.E. is rebuilding it’s Image again In EU-US-CANADA ….]….and all the Diaspora Tamils living in comfort in EU-US-CANADA are going to take up arms and invade Sri Lanka and create Eelam?

    • 2

      Sarath De Alwis,

      RE: Irrational Rationality Of Maithripala Sirisena

      Thanks for the Article.

      1. “Maithripala Sirisena became a small cog after the 19th Amendment. Then he decided to be a bigger cog. Now we are in grave trouble”

      I see a Peter Principle at Play here. In addition, hen the parliament was unconditionally dissolved. Sirisena’s balls dissolved naturally. Then Sirisena became irrationally, rational.

      2. “Maithripala Sirisena had a plan. As evidenced by the subsequent conduct of a significant section of main stream media he had a formidable flock of ‘spin doctors ‘or rhetorical strategists ‘relativist in their morality’ totally disinterested in truth and convinced that what really mattered was power and its ruthless , dishonest wielding of it. “

      However, they, spin doctors, could not stop Sirisena’s balls dissolving. In the end Sirisen’a as well as Mahinda’s balls were dissolved by the Supreme Court , unanimously.


  • 8

    fully agree with your last paragraph
    it is time for the unp to realise that ranil and his cohorts should walk the plank
    else the unp has no future
    the sc decision was only a phiriyc victory

  • 8

    To; author : sarath ,Absolutely Superb phrase of words

    ” Sirisena still represents a terrible peril for our democracy. The Supreme Court verdict is only a reprieve. The barbarians are still camped outside the gates of the democratic city. We are still under siege.”

    Now I had ask why is Only English Journalists writes this and DO you KNOW How to Translate this Paragraph to Sinhala ( I’m Bloody Serous) .

    Well even you did would they understand deeper meaning (guess not).

    Bastard Sinhala-Buddhist Middle Class Particular LOWER Middle Class should be Heard this Paragraph in Sinhala……[DIE-HARD SUPPORTERS OF MR – BALU-PONNA SIRA]—Apologize for Vulgar words…

  • 5

    The reference to the possible resurgence of Ranil’s kitchen cabinet of Pasky, Charitha and Malik is appropriate and must be prevented somehow. Like Ranil they have absolutely no ability to connect or empathise with rural Sri Lanka. They are only obsessed with FDI’s. I hope they will be banished and save us more embarrassment.

  • 6

    Excellent! Thank you Mr. Sarath De Alwis.

  • 1

    You must get your brain (and thinking) examined by a qualified psychologist and psychistrist without further delay.

    Symptoms of ‘delusional, irrational grandiosis’ is clearly visible in what you write.

  • 5

    Impeach those who brought Sirisena to power.


  • 4

    If it ever comes to an Impeachement MR perhaps might support it but not RW if MS finally agrees to reinstate him as PM.
    For this country’s sake not only we should get rid of MS but RW and his coterie of Royals as well.He is a greater enemy than MS who simply got into a pair Boots much larger than his feet

  • 2

    The young UNP guns, and all those UNPers who camped in the Tample Trees, during the whole of this terrible episode shouldn’t again give free hands to Ranil, they should keep him on check. When he is in difficulties he falls at their feet, once everything over he forgets everything, and goes back to his old ways with his merry making useless Royal Club. This time no way, he should be forced to follow and heeds the voices of others, do the needful for the country and the party. This golden moment shouldn’t be wasted, and only few days left for every thing before the next hasting.

  • 1

    When JR J came up with this concept of Executive President, he felt that ‘irrationally rational’ thinking to be a pre-requisite. He even got his then AG to plead this concept for him.
    All our Presidents have acted irrationally but in their judgement were rational.
    So why pick on MS?

  • 1

    LTTE/Tamil Net Please keep your distorted theory to your self and let others live. You keep swindling
    the naive , telling your movie dialogues , where ever you are. Get a life idiot. There is no difference between MS/MR and YOU .

  • 2

    An excellent piece; elegantly written.

    When SLFPers work hard and win elections, unelected Mahinda’s entire family ascend to most of the positions of power/influence. When UNPers work hard and win elections, unelected Ranil’s group of friends ascend to most of the positions of power/influence.

  • 1

    Hats off for the thought provoking unbiased analysis,only you are capable of. Of course your articles have right along made right thinking masses to stop and take a count since October 26th when MS lost his senses.

  • 1

    Excellent article, as I comment from the other side.

    Game theory applies here, of course, but what is the deeper game here? Who has won and what was the prize?

    Did Ranil make a deal of some sorts?

    What worried me is not the ugly scenes in parliament in public but the deals and conspiracies outside of public view and review. Collusion is not democracy.

    We have all realised that we are all cogs in a machine, we can never be sure which parties collective cog is bigger until election time.

    Will Weera Sirisena save the nation?

    How will history view him?

    Have both sides given up their nationalist dreams?

    What is the game theory behind the change in constitution?

  • 2

    Irrational Rationality. This Sarath De Alwis must be a genious to think and write like this. You must teach at my Univeristy Sir.

    • 0

      Just leave him and let him continue his writing.I would not venture to call him a genius as such but one of the best writers of our time.One must not be pushed too far for we certainly do not want to see him losing his Rationality as well along the way

  • 1

    A fine piece by Sarath De Alwis,as usual.
    — I agree the next priority should be the 20th Amendment; or else the Rajapakses apart from deciphering the combination lock the mat even blow-up same.
    ——- Impeachment of the President is an existential necessity—–
    After all it is only human to do so as per Jean Paul Satre.
    ——The initiative should never be allowed to see-saw—- says Young Dayan to a dried Pumpkin Vasideva.—-Oh Dayan! I THOUGHT YOU WERE IN Russia with a Ship and dipping while sipping!-

  • 0

    Sorry readers it should read as …..they may ….

  • 0

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  • 0

    Sarath, you are 100%correct in your assessment of MS and the pimp DJ. . This braggart MS entered into a deal with MR to rob us of our democracy. It was pre planned, deliberate and carefully thought out in the hope that that the fear factor and fake news media would prevent the citizens from voicing their views and succumb. . Alas it did not happen and the strategy backfired on MS and MR. People now appreciate freedom and the right to express their views as well as realize that political hoodlums will no longer be tolerated. We have had enough of this crap and we will continue to watch closely the behaviour of these criminal politicos to ensure that they are annihilated once and for all. Two pricks who have to be now brought before the courts for misleading the public and creating dissension are the self styled brainless pundits and two timing skunks and scoundrels DJ and GLP who should be slaughtered in public for their attempts to distort truth and influence legal decisions by making false and deceitful statements. DJ is a mapilla who will sell his mother for a few rupees to achieve his crooked ambitions. RW must immediately recall this scumbag from Russia and we the people of SL would like to tell him to f off to cuckooland where he rightly belongs. Vermin like this should not be tolerated.

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