18 September, 2021

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Is It The NGOs That Need Straitjacketing?

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Just as a criticism of the Ministry of Sports or the Cricket Control Board, are in no way a critique of Sri Lanka’s cricket team or its sportsmen and women, I must clarify that my critique of the Defense bureaucracy is in no way a critique of the Sri Lankan armed forces.

The low growl of the Defense bureaucracy in the direction of the NGOs is a dangerous portent. A growl could be followed by snarl and then a bite. What applies to the NGOs could then be tried out on other autonomous civic institutions and associations, which would include the mass media, trade unions, students unions, teachers unions etc.

What is at issue here is nothing less than the character of our society and state. Is our society one in which freedom of voluntary association, expression and activity prevails so long as these do not violate existing laws, starting with the Constitution? Or is it a society in which activity is permitted within rules and regulations as interpreted by the security bureaucracy? What is the role of the state? Is it to guarantee and defend existing freedoms and expand the realm of those freedoms or is it to circumscribe the freedoms we are accustomed to enjoy? If the former, the state is a democracy without qualifications; if the latter it is a quasi-authoritarian democracy.

One may readily anticipate the counterargument of the state’s security managers, namely that the West uses a playbook in which civil society is used for the undermining of security and sovereignty. While this has a large measure of truth, it is the case that the existence of a liberal democracy rather than an illiberal one gives the state a legitimacy and a profile that makes it far easier to defend against Western de-stabilization which uses the lack of freedom precisely as a weapon of critique and a justification for sanctions if not worse. It is far more difficult to defend from outside intrusion, a state that has delegitimized itself by reducing the area of social freedoms.

Much more than anything President Rajapaksa has done, it is the doctrine, discourse, actions and inactions, of the current defense officialdom, that have changed Sri Lanka’s target profile from May 2009 when the country had an effective diplomatic shield. It is the hardline defense bureaucracy and the even more hardline Sinhala Buddhist lobbies such as the BBS and its allies that have made Sri Lanka less, not more defensible from its powerful global critics and foes.

Which poses a worse danger to the image and interests of the Sri Lankan state, of Sri Lanka as a country and indeed of the Sinhala majority: the unchecked BBS, Sinhala Ravaya et al, or the unchecked NGO community?

The more legitimate a state is perceived as in the world system, the more difficult it is for external actors to target it. The less legitimate it is perceived to be, the easier it is to target it. Panama’s Noriega, Iraq’s Saddam and Libya’s Gaddafi are just a few examples

The freer and democratic a state is, the more legitimate it is perceived to be and therefore the more difficult it is to target it. A free society and a democratic state are a hard target, not a soft one.

A free society and democratic state possess far greater ‘soft power’ than an illiberal or authoritarian democracy. The greater the ‘soft power’, the greater the total national power of the state, the harder the target; the lesser the soft power, the softer the target.

It is far easier to defend the sovereignty of a manifestly or demonstrably free and democratic state in which institutions function impartially and independently, than it is to defend the sovereignty of a less than free and democratic state.

I must confess a weakness. My late friend Dr. Newton Gunasinghe, one of Sri Lanka’s most brilliant and literate Marxists minds (second only to the great GVS de Silva), used to say when I was a founder member of the Social Scientists Association (in my late teens) that my one methodological weakness was that I “always assume rationality”. That weakness probably abides. Irrationality in public policy, especially in matters of the national and state interest, troubles me. When a state acts irrationally in the strategic realm, and does so continuously, with sporadic intervals of lucidity, it worries me.

Any regime that could, in the wake of the international outcry over Aluthgama and its aftermath and while a UN International inquiry is about to commence sittings, snap at the ankles of the local NGO community and thereby give the world’s sole superpower another criticism to level against the Sri Lankan state, is acting more than a little weird. There is something wrong with its wiring.  But then again it had to have been faulty wiring that sent heavily armed soldiers in battle-gear into Rathupaswela while the country was under international scrutiny.

The ominous growl of the defense bureaucracy with regard to the NGOs raises the inescapable question: if things are heading this way now, before the elections, what will the situation of autonomous civic associations and dissenting civil society in general be, on the morning after the parliamentary elections and when the government has won handsomely, as it will if the darling of Colombo’s cosmopolitan civil society, Ranil Wickremesinghe, is the opponent and alternative?

The only way to save civil society from being ground under by the state security apparatus which will put in place an undeclared ‘state of siege’ as the international inquiry gathers momentum, is if the parliamentary balance changes at the election. A new ratio in parliament and a new governing coalition can appoint a deputy minister of defense who will be responsible to the legislature. In any case, the legislature’s control of the purse-strings can hamstring the authoritarian apparatuses.

A new balance in parliament is however, contingent upon a strong showing at the presidential race. If the opposition’s showing is weak, the president’s victory by a large margin will have a domino effect on the election to the legislature.

Chronic counterproductive irrationality is not the preserve of the state’s security managers. Surely there is a clear logical contradiction between the interests—including the existential interests of survival—of dissenting civil society and its socio-political or politico-ideological preference for the UNP’s existing leadership which cannot slough off the opprobrium of un-patriotism and/or come within light years of the audio-visual advantage, public communication talents and social semiotic skills of President Rajapaksa?

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Latest comments

  • 24
    2

    Excuse me; were n’t you defending that Srilanka was not heading towards Authoritarian government when Navi Pillai complained about the mahinda’s government? Now you broadcast just the opposite.

    You must also confess that

    1) You are not a pragmatic political scientist ( If at all you think that you are political scientist)
    2) You have a weakness called racism or false patriotism entrenched mindset

    • 8
      2

      Dev

      Is there any tried and tested rational methodology one can employ to stop one sliding from pathos to insanity?

      Fellow forum sharers may need to have their reality checked.

      • 0
        0

        We are Trying Our best, But the only Obstacle is that Guy with White Vans have daily Rounds around our Waterhole, to Entertain Us..

    • 4
      2

      He start a chapter saying “I must confess A weakness”…… Ha ha.. Must Confess A weakness ?
      I guess you assume you have very strong analytical skills, could correlation complex things ? Are you? Aren’t you very weak in Maths from your childhood? Have you read why there are four seasons in the world? Do you know how it rains?
      Buy Stephen Hawing’s book “Gand Design” (written for general public, sells at every bookstore) and try to read couple of chapters. It talks about natural laws, natural principles, physical laws, quantum laws, proves there are multiple histories… I am sure if you try to read that, you would confess that your main weakness is identifying your own weaknesses….

    • 0
      0

      Manisekaran

      Please give him a chance to explain the following to our President:

      http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/transformative-political-leadership-robert-i-rotberg/1110774348?ean=9780226728995 Transformative Political Leadership: Making a Difference in the Developing World by Robert I. Rotberg(2012) Accomplished political leaders have a clear strategy for turning political visions into reality. Through well-honed analytical, political, and emotional intelligence, leaders chart paths to promising futures that include economic growth, material prosperity, and human well-being. Alas, such leaders are rare in the developing world, where often institutions are weak and greed and corruption strong—and where responsible leadership therefore has the potential to effect the greatest change. In Transformative Political Leadership, Robert I. Rotberg focuses on the role of leadership in politics and argues that accomplished leaders demonstrate a particular set of skills. Through illustrative case studies of leaders who have performed ably in the developing world—among them Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Seretse Khama in Botswana, Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, and Kemal Ataturk in Turkey—Rotberg examines how these leaders transformed their respective countries. The importance of capable leadership is woefully understudied in political science, and this book will be an important tool in exploring how leaders lead and how nations and institutions are built.

    • 1
      0

      Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

      Is It The NGOs That Need Straitjacketing?

      Or, Is It The SHILLS That Need Straitjacketing?

  • 6
    1

    It is Gota the Goon who is engaged in “unauthorized activities” by preventing NGOs from doing their authorized activities which is to EDUCATE, INFORM, TRAIN and organize citizens and voters to hold governments responsible and accountable. Indeed, this is the primary job of NGOs and civil society organizations. Gotabaya Rajapakse is violating the mandate of NGOs by asking them not to have seminars and press briefings. In the modern world education and information of people is done through seminars, press briefings, publications and conferences. These are the MEANS to the GOAL of an educating and informing the public. By telling NGOs not to have seminars, conferences and workshops Gota is violating the RIGHT TO INFORMATION, EDUCATION and Free speech and the NGOs and the JOINT OPPOSITION parties should file a case against this paranoid Military Dictator in waiting in the Debacle of Asia where everything is upside down.

  • 9
    2

    This bugger actually thinks that people take him seriously ! Does he have presidential (common candidate) ambitions that he is trying not to critique the armed forces ?

    Talk about prize idiots !

    • 10
      1

      Don Quixote

      “This bugger actually thinks that people take him seriously !”

      Dayan the war monger and war crime denier is free to think anything that titillates him. It does not give him the freedom to think that we take him seriously.

  • 5
    0

    There is freedom of association for politicians and their brats in the beautified watering hole of Colombo where black money circulates protected by MILITARY CANTONMENTS and army camps – Kingsbury, Dutch Hospital, The Race course shopping arcade, and soon to be Independence Square arcade.

    In these hang outs of the politicians and associated crony capitalists the military always reserve parking places for the Jarapassa royal family and its uneducated racing car loving brats.

    BOYS with their TOYS – guns and fast cars – this is the new Sri Lanka of the Rajapaksa dreams… the culture and consumption among Sinhala Modayas..

  • 6
    3

    Which poses a worse danger to the image and interests of the Sri Lankan state, of Sri Lanka as a country and indeed of the Sinhala majority: the unchecked BBS, Sinhala Ravaya et al, or the unchecked NGO community?

    Sinhala Modayas will decide at the next election – please translate this and publish in the Sinhala press to EDUCATE the Sinhala Modayas!

  • 7
    1

    As usual this man DJ can not write an article with out mentioning about Ranil. His balme game end with Ranil. looking for post of Foreign Minister in Sajith Premadasa regime

    • 2
      0

      MMR,

      Bottom line is DJ cannot differenciate between a CON MAN who deceive everybody and a RESPECTABLE GENTLE MAN.

      Rajapakse has already become world’s biggest Con Man who deceive every one he deals with while wearing Satakaya and visiting Buddhist Temples on daily basis, while Ranil is a respectable and a honest Gentleman.

      Jokers are showing elutions to the world to hide their loot and corruption.

      Only thing Dayan should understand is that there’s a limit to this con man doing dirty tricks with country and it’s people. He should know what happened after 2009.

      UNP is going through the motion at the moment, but will come out as a winner one day.

      Truth, Honesty and integrity will finally prevail. Good luck.

  • 9
    2

    Had it ever occured to you that you might be delusional? Saying one thing today, and tomorrow another? Contradiction at its best

  • 8
    1

    I was asking why CT is allowing valuable space to write crap by [Edited out] like Dayan.

    Now I had to add why give space to a person who has no Policy,Principle or consistency in any issues.

    One day he says MARA IS THE BEST BET UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES AND NOW SAYS GOTA IS A GOAT. Is he talking through his mouth or something else.

    WHAT ARE YOU??PLEASE ANSWER FOR HEAVEN SAKE.

    • 4
      1

      Ansar, you have to give this guy DAYAN a wide margin. He has not taken his prescribed medications these days and you cannot blame CT for allowing valuable space to write crap. On the contrary CT may be helping him to “get well soon”!

  • 2
    3

    General Sisi jailed an Aussie Journo for filing a report from Cairo.

    And Uncle Sam keeps MUM…

    UNP supplies 5000 youth to Ms Sisson for a social media blitz to create chaos.

    And Dayan Aiya reckons , it is bad practice to protect the inhabitants from these NGOs who are implanted by the West to F*** Up our current peace.freedom and harmony with the aim of changing the Regime.

    • 4
      0

      Sumane! Sumane!! Sumane!!! Oyage katha nikam “summa” neda?

  • 3
    0

    “I must clarify that my critique of the Defense bureaucracy is in no way a critique of the Sri Lankan armed forces”

    Hmmmm…. He seems to be scared.

  • 2
    0

    It is a matter for gratification that Dayan has summoned enough courage take on the dreaded ‘ Defense Bureaucracy’. Let us hope that he will be able to muster enough guts to point the finger of accusation direct at the villain of the peace at least in another six months !

  • 3
    0

    Yes, things now will indicate the things to come after elections in mammoth proportions. Things now (and then) are one and the same process. Unwavering position is important from all without assuming rationality from ‘irrationality’ if you wish.

  • 1
    0

    I need help with fully understanding the last line in this article.
    What meaning does the phrase “social semiotic skills” convey that the preceding phrase “public communication talents” does not?

  • 4
    1

    “always assume rationality”.

    This is a nice way of saying that you are an idiot who always misses the bus and gets on the wrong one. This time however you have also got in the drivers seat of the wrong one and you are going to have to pay the price. Swing high my beauty and the higher the better.

  • 4
    2

    The actions of Gotha are the actions of a scared person – Got-A-Baya!
    He knows with the international investigation his neck is on the block, so he is acting in a hostile manner thinking that by doing these illegal activities he can control the outcome. Its sad to note how scared he is that his true self is coming out. As the last resort, if he is brought before the international courts he will try an all out military coup in Sri Lanka. Already he has succeeded in pulling a silent military coup.

  • 8
    1

    You must remember that MR in his (in)famous interview with AlJazeera made it very clear (easy seen on youtube) that Dayan works for a NGO.

    He is defending his buddies.

    Pity, he didn’t come to the defense of the truly defenseless civilians in the north and the south !

  • 6
    0

    Much more than anything President Rajapaksa has done, it is the doctrine, discourse, actions and inactions, of the current defense officialdom, that have changed Sri Lanka’s target profile from May 2009 when the country had an effective diplomatic shield…

    I find in our defense ministry website ( defense.lk ) the following:
    The President of Sri Lanka and Minister of Defence and urban development
    Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa

    As minister, isn’t our Mahinda responsible for the “defense officialdom”?

    At the end of the day, doesn’t the buck stop at the president’s door as minster of defense?

    Please call a spade a spade, Dayan !!

  • 2
    0

    Shedding crocodile tears. Perhaps he is in the “line of fire” and would be good for him to find out personally what it means to be whacked by the defence goons. At least he will learn some valuable lessons, not to belittle or deride the torture chamber others have been subjected to. I believe he would come out of it wiser.

  • 6
    1

    Dayan
    You really are a worm, aren’t you? Starting from a spirited defence of the regime in 2009 you have persistently supported it in all its high-level misdeeds, and you are ONLY NOW, when the writing is on the wall, you call it a “quasi-authoritarian democracy” – it would certainly have red better if you had called it a QUASI DEMOCRATIC AUTOCRACY, nothing less!

    Why are you surprised at the rising tide of authoritarianism against any and every manifestation of public protest when it is (as people see it) the defined strategy of the government to stifle dissent and perpetuate its hold on power? Surely it does not need a PhD to see this coming? Are you really that dumb, or do you take this readership for blethering idiots?

    You also say: “One may readily anticipate the counter-argument of the state’s security managers, namely that the West uses a playbook in which civil society is used for the undermining of security and sovereignty”; and “While this has a large measure of truth” etc …. I ask in all incredulity, have you not seen the protests by public service workers of all manifestations in London and the rest of the UK today over austerity, pay and pension cuts? Who pray, do you think is behind these other than organised labour acting within the rights bestowed upon people in a democracy? Why do you keep parroting the view of this despicable regime that the ‘west’ is behind any and every legitimate protest? Why doesn’t the British Army go out in all its splendour and shoot the guts off these protestors? Why don’t the Cameron loyalists get their goons together and go shoot or beat the shite out of these protestors as happens all too often in our dear motherland? Why is it not patriotic to protest when injustices are committed on the people by those in power?

    You then say: “Much more than anything President Rajapaksa has done, it is the doctrine, discourse, actions and inactions, of the current defense officialdom, that have changed Sri Lanka’s target profile from May 2009 when the country had an effective diplomatic shield”….I guess you are once again trumpeting your crooked and dishonest role in Geneva in 2009, right? Why don’t you instead lay the blame on an executive presidency which has usurped ALL power from its rightful owners for not having the will (or the cojones) to put a stop to this nonsensical and arbitrary assumption of power by a mere appointed official now in charge of the innocent sounding but deadly ‘defence officialdom’ (who by the way is going WAY beyond his mandate, to echo a now popular phrase), or declare to Sri Lanka and the world that he is powerless to control his brother and then seek a mandate from the people to bring in the necessary changes?

    Dayan, you really are a disgrace to academia and commonsensical human values. You need to use the strength of your intellect and pen to tell it like it is and appeal to the polity to boot these jokers from the scene. Sadly my guess is that you do not have it in you.

  • 6
    0

    Samitha, thanks man, I am holding my urge to educate this delusional pompous Dr I know it all. He [Edited out]. Otherwise no sane man can do this kind of 180 degree flip-flop analysis on the regime from article to article. Who gives this guy space to spill his bs. Dude you contradict your self from one article to the other. Still MARa is great but vis-avis defense. Now yoi try to teaxh what ee hve been telling you this gov is robbing us all democracies. If you hadnt noticed. This arm they extended to NGO has already extended to all the organizations you mentioned. Time ti wake up from your MARA sweet dream. May be this time you love NGO $$$, and and perhaps Dr Nimalka put you guys into shame by showing how it is like to have a back bone and balls. Dude you have no principles. Stop trying to be specialist in everything. Looks like your beef with RW is that he has identified you for the opportunist conniving weasel you are didn’t give you anything. Someone mentioned you wanting to be the FM. Unless anyone appoints you in the national list, your detested Colombo posh SL-which you are part of by the way long before anyone else- will never elect you. You biggest mistake is opportunism so don’t try to portray your self as an independent neo liberal. You are racist, pro-Sinhala, neocon warm hawk. You should be allowed to any where that says diplomatic cause you are not a true diplomat. just a megalomaniac just like MR and Gota.

  • 1
    0

    Samitha, thanks man, I am holding my urge to educate this delusional pompous MR/Premadasa Crony Dr I know it all. He [Edited out]. Otherwise no sane man can do this kind of 180 degree flip-flop analysis on the regime from article to article. Who gives this guy space to spill his bs. Dude you contradict your self from one article to the other. Still MARa is great but vis-avis defense. Now you try to teach what we have been telling you this gov is robbing us all democracies. If you hadn’t noticed. This arm they extended to NGO has already extended to all the organizations you mentioned. Time ti wake up from your MARA sweet dream. May be this time you love NGO $$$, and and perhaps Dr Nimalka put you guys into shame by showing how it is like to have a back bone and balls. Dude you have no principles. Stop trying to be specialist in everything. Looks like your beef with RW is that he has identified you for the opportunist conniving weasel you are and didn’t give you anything. Someone mentioned you wanting to be the FM. Unless anyone appoints you from the national list, your detested Colombo posh SL-which you are part of by the way long before anyone else- will never elect you. You biggest mistake is opportunism so don’t try to portray your self as an independent neo liberal. You are racist, pro-Sinhala, neocon warm hawk. You should be allowed to any where that says diplomatic cause you are not a true diplomat. just a megalomaniac just like MR and Gota.

  • 7
    0

    It seems DJ loves the insults he receives after each CT article. Otherwise he needs to have his head examined. There can only be so much of criticism and insults one human should ensure. UNLESS, he is trying to prove his bona-fides to the ruling racketeers. Ah! see! we are all fueling DJ’s reincarnation as a trusted Rajapakse insider…

  • 5
    0

    Dr DJ, erudite, and with all the right mileage under his belt to underpin his writing and make compelling reading. I don’t know about the others, but why do I often get the feeling that reading an article penned by the thoughtful doctor is like my favourite drive over old Hunnasgiriya with its twists and turns, its ups and downs, its highs and lows and finally the serenity of the lower slopes (to those who have not experienced it, I recommend the challenging drive from Mahiyangana over Hunnasgiriya and on to Kandy – magical!). Anyway, back to business. Did you see the lovely yorker he bowled at his nemesis, the artful Gota. Gota must be hopping mad, his salt and pepper tash bristling like when he told that nice Stephen Sacker that our General should be hanged. After paying due obeisance to MR, the pensive Dr walked us through some pitfalls of history before making a startling confession. Oh heavens, that word triggered a hot afternoon at that dusty tutory in Maradana where I would grapple with the language of our colonial masters. “Never ASSUME” my teacher boomed, “it will only make an ASS of U and ME”. After that, it was gentle meanderings, with the obligatory appearance of that nice Ranil, permanent leader of our opposition, introduced as a bit of light relief. As always, I read every word the good doctor wrote, but in the end I was stumped!

  • 2
    1

    “Much more than anything President Rajapaksa has done, it is the doctrine, discourse, actions and inactions, of the current defense officialdom, that have changed Sri Lanka’s target profile from May 2009 when the country had an effective diplomatic shield. It is the hardline defense bureaucracy and the even more hardline Sinhala Buddhist lobbies such as the BBS and its allies that have made Sri Lanka less, not more defensible from its powerful global critics and foes.

    Which poses a worse danger to the image and interests of the Sri Lankan state, of Sri Lanka as a country and indeed of the Sinhala majority: the unchecked BBS, Sinhala Ravaya et al, or the unchecked NGO community?

    The more legitimate a state is perceived as in the world system, the more difficult it is for external actors to target it. The less legitimate it is perceived to be, the easier it is to target it. Panama’s Noriega, Iraq’s Saddam and Libya’s Gaddafi are just a few examples

    The freer and democratic a state is, the more legitimate it is perceived to be and therefore the more difficult it is to target it. A free society and a democratic state are a hard target, not a soft one.

    A free society and democratic state possess far greater ‘soft power’ than an illiberal or authoritarian democracy. The greater the ‘soft power’, the greater the total national power of the state, the harder the target; the lesser the soft power, the softer the target.

    It is far easier to defend the sovereignty of a manifestly or demonstrably free and democratic state in which institutions function impartially and independently, than it is to defend the sovereignty of a less than free and democratic state.

    Nobody read Dayan’s nursery lessons. Read only mine.

    A….B…. C…. D…….

    1….2…..3…..4…….5…

    Ba ba black sheep have you any wool?

    Old MacDonald had a farm E I E I O

    Hey kids now Nap time

    Are you sleeping, are you sleeping?
    Brother John, Brother John?
    Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing,
    Ding ding dong, ding ding dong.

    Dayan is a century behind to CT readers and writers. So far he did not understand of tiny bit what they are talking and debating about. He is just trying show that he is ahead of everybody.

    • 2
      1

      Mallaiyuran

      Here is something that should inspire the self confessed war monger:

      Wind the bobbin up,
      Wind the bobbin up,
      Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap.
      Wind it back again,
      Wind it back again,
      Pull, pull, clap, clap, clap,
      Point to the ceiling,
      Point to the floor,
      Point to the window,
      Point to the door,
      Clap your hands together, 1, 2, 3,

      Do a roly-poly, put your hands upon your knee

    • 0
      0

      Dayan the [Edited out]

  • 2
    0

    if things are heading this way now,

    THINGS HAVE BEEN HEADING THIS WAY SINCE 2005

  • 0
    0

    Dayan Jayathilake wants every one beginning from NGOs to be UNDISCIPLINED and ask govt to be stupid.

    It is the govt’s responsibility to ask every one to talk and behave disciplined.

  • 3
    0

    ‘A growl could be followed by snarl and then a bite’

    “Could be” what planet is this guy living in it should read as ‘A growl would be followed by’

    is DJ concerned by NGOs being targeted or just the one he is empolyed by as told by MR himself

  • 0
    0

    Oh No !

    It is the NGO Kakka crowing again.

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