21 September, 2020

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Is The Country Willing To Go The Whole Nine Yards?

By Vishnuguptha –

I was intrigued by an article authored by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka last week, where he argues quite lucidly, as he always does, for what seems to be a four-tiered ‘roadmap’ to counter the present regime. I would rather call it a roadmap than a manifesto. I am sure Dayan, the prolific wordsmith, would agree with me on the usage of the lingo. The basic presupposition of his ‘roadmap’ is a ‘regime change’. As a neutral observer, Dayan presents his arguments for such a regime change based on four prerequisites (emphasis is mine). His contextualization of the whole argument is extremely neat and the evidentiary cases that he presents are worthy and profound in content. I would like to deal with each of his prerequisites as follows:

Firstly, the sources of legitimacy 

Dayan argues: “National legitimacy will almost always trump democratic legitimacy, especially in a context of victory. In the context of military defeat, nationalist legitimacy remains as powerful but acts against the regime, as in the case of J.R. Jayewardene after the ’87 airdrop, the Argentinean Junta after the Falklands/Malvinas defeat and Serbia’s nationalists and Socialists after losing Kosovo. Crudely put, any election which pits the present Leader of the Opposition and the UNP against Mahinda Rajapaksa is akin to Marshal Petain running against de Gaulle or Neville Chamberlain contesting against Churchill.”

However, there is an exception to this. In the United States, when Osama Bin Laden attacked the World Trade Centre under the watch of George W. Bush, although I personally cannot think how such an attack on your own soil by a private army of a terrorist group could be termed as a victory in military or social terms, the public relations and media outfit that helped Bush to come to power in the first place, managed to turn that tragedy into a countrywide rallying point for the US President. In fact, it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, for Bush to gain re-election three years later, if not for the 9/11 tragedy. They turned that security debacle into a rallying cry for the incumbent. 

Yet, the fact that the present Leader of the Opposition had lost credibility among the Sinhalese Buddhists, the core voter group in any election in Sri Lanka, is beyond dispute. The legitimacy issue as far as the present UNP leadership and its hierarchy is concerned, is very legitimate and troubling to the dwindling, yet loyal and diehard UNPers in the villages.

This legitimacy issue is even more valid in the context of the youth. All the achievements of the past UNP Governments are not relevant to this segment of the population. The last time the UNP was in power was in 1994. Even a baby that was born in that year is a voter today. For that ‘baby’, the so-called achievements of the UNP Governments are just subjects to read about only in civics or maybe history and geography books. No politician can draw empathy from this new generation of voters.

This trend of new voters increasingly getting alienated from the UNP is more apparent when one observes the attendance at functions organized by the UNP Parliamentarians, whether they represent the Ranil Group or the Reformists Group. One can hardly spot a youthful lad or girl among the attendees.

How can the opposition win confidence or legitimacy as Dayan calls it, from this voter group? If the present lot is not acceptable to the greater majority of the people, and if the present leader of the government would outstrip the current UNP leader, given the bubble within which the UNP is functioning at present, it is impossible to field a candidate from within the UNP against Mahinda Rajapaksa. In such a scenario, all avenues for anyone who is serious about a regime change seem to be closed.

If any noteworthy attempt is undertaken to oust the present President at the next elections, that attempt must include, among others, a legitimate candidate of national stature from amongst the opposition personalities with legitimacy in so far as national pride and patriotism is concerned and that emerging personality should be able to match the current President’s claims for legitimacy, especially among the majority Sinhalese Buddhist voters. I cannot agree with Dayan more that Ranil Wickremesinghe is indeed a very risky choice. 

Secondly, the vital importance of shifting to and occupying the centre

In generic terms, a shift to the centre is always more politically savvy and beneficial in the long run. Yet what happened especially in the just concluded US Presidential elections was something else. The victory by the Republicans, spearheaded by the Tea Party faction, at the mid-term elections in 2010 gave them false hope and confidence that the country has made a decisive shift to the right. The Tea Partiers dragged the Republican Party to such a corner, it was impossible for the would-be candidates to articulate any middle-of-the-road policies at the Primary process. The eventual candidate, Mitt Romney painted himself as such a ‘severe’ conservative; any shift back to the centre would have been seen as a retreat for core conservative principles. Consequently Barack Obama and the Democrats did not have to move to the centre, either in rhetoric or actual policy positions. Obama eventually won comfortably even though he did not have to move to the centre which is usually occupied by the undecided, uncommitted voter. The positions assumed by Romney and his surrogates were so far right, those undecided voters chose Obama as the ‘reasonable’ choice.

In Sri Lanka, the present regime has taken the country to a corner all right but as Dayan quite rightly states, the country seems to be comfortable dwelling in that sphere. Repeated appeals to the ‘Mahawansa Mindset’ have buttressed that position so much that any shift from that right-wing corner appears to indicate vulnerability and weakness. Yet most of our opinion-makers who hail from the middle-class and the lower middle-class might adjust to a shift to the centre. But that centre should be portrayed exclusively in terms of economic policies. Any noticeable shift in the ethno-socio positions would be treated as unpatriotic and treacherous. The emerging leadership of the Opposition should be able to strike a very delicate balance among these competing social forces. Occupying the centre is a must, yet one can extract some advantage by defining that centre in his own terms.

Thirdly, a grasp of Gramsci and the importance of triangulating the factors of the ‘national’, the ‘democratic’ and the ‘popular’ or pro-people

If a marriage between the freedom of the individual and that of nation/country (sovereignty), as Dayan points out, could be achieved, the journey towards convincing a majority of the people, whether they occupy the centre or an extreme, becomes much more manageable and would eventually open new byroads in this roadmap. Yet the absence of a credible speaker who could articulate such nuanced political positions is greatly felt in the Opposition corner. The old UNP had Premadasa, Lalith and Gamini who could convince a majority of the people both at public level and at limited-audience level. In this sphere, the acceptance of the speaker or the chief narrator by the people at large and the mutual empathy that should be created between the two are crucial, if not critical. Among the opposition ranks all these talents are available but, at least as of now, they seem to be occupying the JVP ranks. One cannot seriously consider that the JVP is a viable alternative to either the UPFA or the UNP.

Against such a backdrop, it is almost impossible to find such a person or a group of persons within the existing political structure. Having been entrenched in the current stalemate, almost all political leaders in the Opposition seem to be quite happy to be dwelling in their own ‘comfort zones’.

The one who dares to leave this ‘comfort zone’ would ultimately lead this struggle. Yet that person’s emergence is more a product of wishful thinking than that of accurate political forecasting. Triangulation of the factors of the ‘national’, the ‘democratic’ and the ‘popular’ or pro-people seems far away at least for the time being.

Fourthly, political content must not be sacrificed for organizational forms

Among the arguments Dayan presents in this fourth tier, the most compelling case is that of Chandrika Kumaratunga. Whereas, both D. S. Senanayake and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike broke away from the ruling party, (in DS’s case, it was the Ceylon National Congress that was the leading political organization in Ceylon at the time), Chandrika created her sense of independence and tenacity while her Party was languishing in the opposition benches. Premadasa, although he formed a Citizens’ Front would not have broken away at that time with Dudley and JR at the helm of the UNP. The other exception is the DUNF formed by the trio of Gamini, Lalith and Premachandra.

After breaking away, or being banished by the UNP, the Gamini/Lalith/Premachandra trio managed to secure 18% – 23% of the vote base in Sri Lanka at the Provincial Council Elections. We must also be mindful of the fact that Gamini, Lalith and Premachandra challenged the Premadasa-led UNP at a time when Premadasa was in fact the most popular leader in the country. However, many attempts undertaken by the so-called Reformists Group led by Sajith Premadasa and Karu Jayasuriya at displacing Ranil Wickremesinghe from the UNP have failed. The sentiments generated by these groups against the UNP Leader are still fresh and lingering. Nevertheless, there is another option available, not only for the UNP and its reformists but also for the country at large as well.

If the DUNF could muster roughly 20% of the electorate when the leader whom they challenged was so popular and acceptable, the same avenue that the DUNF trod is very much open to the Reformists’ Group. But they will have to say good-by to Presidential hopes. Instead, if they can form another alternative force that can secure 20 % of the electorate vote, they surely will be the ‘king-makers’ in the making at the next parliamentary elections. That option is available and all one needs is a gutty leader who has the courage of his or her convictions. If not, the prognosis is not very appetizing. Is the country or the potential leader willing and ready to go the whole nine yards?

Of course, in addition to the four tiers that Dayan has enunciated, another practical, yet very important issue is the availability of funds and the awesome advantage that the Rajapaksa regime enjoys at present in this regard. It could be safely said that for every 10 rupees that the collective opposition could garner, the regime could offer Rs. 10,000 or more. Thus any credible roadmap for regime change has to take that factor into account.

Courtesy Ceylon Today

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Latest comments

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    What a bunch of Tosh this is! The JVP and would be better than the DUNF but I suppose Tiran Alles needs to say something to keep DUNF options alive!

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    We have 3 long years to go on this road and much of the landscape could change in the meantime. It is likely that a new political force could emerge from the prevailing conflicts.

    There is a realignment of societal forces taking place. The rising stars of the regime like Duminda and Vermin have lost their stake. The government has alienated the youth, educated middle class and professionals. Influential sections of the clergy are opposing the govt. The tamil parties have lost faith in the govt. The muslim parties are the servants of opportunity. Overall the minorities do not trust the govt.

    If not it will be a hung situation which is more the case throughout the globe.

  • 0
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    One is inclined to agree with reader Safa. But we need a leader to storm the Bastille, don’t we? Who will it be? There’s none visible around. Ranil has lost even the support of the UNP and is quite happy in his own retirement with regular assistance from MR. Like, Prince Charles Ranil has aged beyond recognition and may die without his come-back dream fulfilled. Pity he is taking the UNP to the grave with him.
    The many and regular visits to Tirupathi Venketeswarar’s feet is helping MR – at least in that possible threat from Ranil and the UNP.
    Shall’nt be a surprise if MR also wished Ranil long life while praying
    at the Kovil – in the interest of the Medamulana mob, naturally.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
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    Apologist for the president now backed by an apologist for Dayan !

    Write in Sinhala and direct it at the buffalo voter, you are wasting your time in this forum.

  • 0
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    As long as rice eating arack drinking buffaloes live in this island we shall be safe

    Hip hip hooray
    Hip hip hooray
    Hip hip hooray

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    I usually do not agree with Dayan Jayatilleke on most matters. I think he is a political opportunist. He praised Mahinda/Gotabaya Rajapaksa in the media and was rewarded with Ambassadorships. Before that, he was a lackey of Varadaraja Perumal in the Eastern Provincial Council. Now that his terms are over, he is doing all this to draw MR’s attention and another reward to silence him. However, I DO fully agree with him when he says that Ranil Wickremesinghe is a risky choice or a spent force. He is gifted with a lot of talent as a comedian in Sri Lankan politics. See
    how he got 11 political parties into an alliance. Some of these parties cannot fill a three wheeler taxi with their membership. Take for example Azad Sally and his party or Sarath Manamendra’s one. This is from a man who cannot bring about unity in his own party. Ranil’s will soon be a Useless Nonsensical Party. He must be given a Nobel prize for so effectively destroying the UNP ably assisted by MR.

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    “..It could be safely said that for every 10 rupees that the collective opposition could garner, the regime could offer Rs. 10,000 or more. Thus any credible roadmap for regime change has to take that factor into account..”

    This is exactly the impoverished mindset of the collective citizen in Sri Lanka and so does the writer of this article and Dayan too-all are the same principally, conceptually and wisdom wise impoverished people! These people are dragging this country to the worst set of circumstances a country could possibly descend. Whatever mischiefs brain-dead people like the writer may try for whatever morbid drives they harbor, ultimately it would be Ranil who will have to salvage this country from all the mayhem all these people have created! Reading through some comments here one cannot resist the thought that stupidity is a genetic heritage of most of Sinhalese!

  • 0
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    Congratulations to Dr. Kamal Ismail for his
    comments about parties that do not have
    a membership to fill a three wheeler taxi.
    That is Ranil Wickremesinghe’s alliance for
    a “strong opposition.” It is as strong as the
    shock absorber of a three wheeler.

  • 0
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    Ismail? Moke maile?

    Ismaile or no maile these rejected riff raff from Maradana Shanties like Yusuf Davood are writing rubbish thinking they are writing the most brilliant thoughts in the world! What to do, even the donkeys have a right to live and no one is going to hang them for being moronic!

  • 1
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    Silva,
    You write like a typical elitists among UNPers from 50 yrs ago, always ready to insult and step on those whom you think are far beneath you. I thought you and your generation have died off by now. If you learn nothing else in life, learn to be respectful of others. You write about the impoverished mindset of people. What have you ever done to help change that? Statements like “stupidity is a genetic heritage of the sinhalese” tells me you were never part of any solution but just a complainer on the sidelines.

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    “Legitimacy” is the only real issue here. The rest is Vishnuguptha’s and Dayan’s mumbo jumbo. The overwhelminig majority of ordinary rural people of Sri Lanka have no time for this idle talk. They are now politically more astute and mature. They see clearly the critical issue at this juncture is keeping in power the regime that is succeeding in keeping at bay the unholy alliance of Western governments, Diaspora Tigers, NGOs, so called Human Rights organizations and their local lackeys – the UNP and TNA. The ordinary people of Sri Lanka instinctively realise this unholy alliance is inimical to the interests of the country. That is why they have been voting the present regime to power in all elections since 2005, and will continue to do so until the threat is totally neutralised. As for the treacherous JVP (who have the audacity to talk about human rights and democracy along with the Diaspora Tigers) and Sarath Fonseka will have to wait in the wings forever. It is the loyalty, stupid.

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    Ha Haa!!! Silva the apologist for United National Party (UNP), paid or otherwise, is doing a job. He should continue to do so. It is friends
    like him that will destroy the UNP of what is left than its own opponents. As for his corny remarks about my coming from a Maradana Shanty, I want to tell him something. I am just next to that area, in
    Dematagoda and am DAMN PROUD OF IT. However, much you bray or hoot, Silva, you can never succeed in your wildest dream to foist Ranil Wickremesinghe to replace Mahinda Rajapaksa. Not your ilk. It take a lot more intelligence than that. Neither Ranil nor you have that. I am sorry for you and will pray that God gives you more brain power. I don’t mean this in a bad sense but out of sympathy.

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    Pragmatist, Ajay, Yusuf Dawood, Senguttuvan,

    What the f….. hellish business you morons have about UNP? Why are you f…ers crying about UNP? You all are slipper soup swallowers of the regime of the lunatics paid by MARA. That brain corrupt Dayan Jayathilake is the one who is behind this mud campaign against Ranil. He desperately wants to create a cardboard hero to attack Ranil and usurp power in UNP! Have a bath and come and try!!!! He propped up that moron Premadasa, then MARA, then Karu Jayasuriya on whom he is betting and investing to spend his last phase of political loitering! These maggots are so desperate now because they know the rogue regime will not survive beyond 2014! The Sirasa media whore, Dayan, above named fools, JVP donkeys, the most stupid bald-headed monks showing their imbecilic moronic and mutt faces in headless and clueless Sirasa whore are all trying their best now to spread utter falsehoods about Ranil! And they think the people will believe them!!!! Funny ha..! Taking so much pain over no gain!!!! Go and bring up a pig if you don’t have anything else to do; at least you could sell it and make some money to meet the skyrocketing inflation of your failed regime!!!!! By the way, what the f… is this Wimal Modachoon is saying these days about economic assassins!!!???

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      I feel bad for you Silva, you are suffering from the constipated politics of Ranil’s UNP. I can see and feel the huge load of things boiling inside you unable to come out smoothly. Only the kohila of Sri Lanka’s political reality can give you the badly needed release.

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    Ajay,

    I am certain you don’t have any constipation issues because you are offering your asshole to Rajapakshas 365/365 and even pigeons can now make it their home when not busy!

    • 0
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      Silva,

      A group of medical specialists has provided an answer to a dilemma that has faced flyers since the Wright brothers took to the air in 1903 — is it okay to fart mid-flight?

      The experts’ recommendation is an emphatic yes to airline passengers — but a warning to cockpit crews that breaking wind could distract the pilot and pose a safety risk.

      The study concluded that anecdotal evidence that flying increases flatulence is not hot air, finding that changes in air pressure at altitude result in the gut producing more gas.

      When Danish gastroenterologist Jacob Rosenberg encountered the malodorous problem first-hand on a flight from Copenhagen to Tokyo, he enlisted some of the finest minds in his field to address the issue.

      The result was an in-depth review of scientific literature on flatulence, looking at issues such as whether women’s farts smell worse than men’s (yes), what causes the odour (sulphur) and how often the average person passes wind every day (10).

      The bottom line, according to the 3,000-word study published in the New Zealand Medical Journal on Friday, is that airline passengers should ignore the social embarrassment of breaking wind and “just let it go”.

      “(Holding back) holds significant drawbacks for the individual, such as discomfort and even pain, bloating, dyspepsia (indigestion), pyrosis (heartburn) just to name but a few resulting abdominal symptoms,” the study found.

      “Moreover, problems resulting from the required concentration to maintain such control may even result in subsequent stress symptoms.”

      The authors — five gastroenterologists from Denmark and Britain — said that while passengers may experience poor service from the cabin crew as a result of their decision, the health benefits outweighed any negative impacts.

      However, they said the cockpit crew faced a lose-lose situation.

      “On the one hand, if the pilot restrains a fart, all the drawbacks previously mentioned, including impaired concentration, may affect his abilities to control the plane,” the researchers said.

      “On the other hand, if he lets go of the fart, his co-pilot may be affected by its odour, which again reduces safety onboard the flight.”

      The authors canvassed a number of solutions to the issue of flight-induced flatulence, including using methane breath tests to screen wind-prone passengers from flights, but rejected them as impractical.

      They did, however, note that the textile covers used on seats in economy class absorbed up to 50 per cent of odours because they are gas permeable, unlike the leather seats in first class.

      They suggested airlines could improve the odour-eating properties of the seats and issue special blankets and trousers to passengers to minimise mid-air flatulence.

      “We humbly propose that active charcoal should be embedded in the seat cushion, since this material is able to neutralise the odour,” they said.

      “Moreover active charcoal may be used in trousers and blankets to emphasise this effect.”

      Air New Zealand declined to comment when asked if it would adopt such measures, which sparked lively debate on social media.

      One commentator on news website stuff.co.nz said the study was a prime candidate for the Ig Noble Awards, the annual prize for bizarre scientific research, where past winners have examined the best way to dunk a biscuit and methods of collecting whale snot.

      One person unlikely to agree with the study’s recommendation is British pop singer Cheryl Cole, who last year called for flatulent airline passengers to be named and shamed.

      “There should be a sort of aerosol that can be sprayed into the air and it would pinpoint the guilty person,” she told The Sun newspaper. —

  • 0
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    Ajay,

    From country saving politics to “anal acoustics”! Your idol barren regime may not have anything to offer here except cut and paste distractions. But we UNPers have all the solutions the world need!

    Let this remedy for your “grave concern” be proposed to an aviation engineer:

    A centrally controlled and networked arse blast/anal emissions director enabled and triggered anal exhale extractor fan be installed under every passenger and crew seat. Operation mode: continuous or arse blast triggered. Pros: Vide your laborious efforts post for issues this devise can solve. Cons: A “fart commode” would be there in aero plane toilet and you will have to sit on it, you will have to “swallow the fart” until the ass sits on the “fart Seat”, walking/standing passengers would have to learn the new concept of “civilized farting”!

    If you are not satisfied of the solution I can think of more advanced and or different methods such as “plug-in type” “backdoor trumpet” absorbers but why fart so much farts over trivial farts!!!!!! Has your regime entered the stage of “sophisticated farting” in its Wonder of Asia Dream???????????????

  • 0
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    Silva,

    By beeping your horn too much you have demonstrated the UNP does indeed has the solution for world’s gravest concern of the moment: Frequency Actuated Rectal Tremor. Because the skunk smells his own smell first. UNP has a dead bird in its pocket and the people know it. The backdoor machinations of the UNP, LTTE, Norway, and the NGOs (which includes the crack-splitting human rights organizations), have all backfired. After 17 years of UNP cheesin’ with the LTTE, Sri Lankans needed a breath of fresh air and that is why they elected the UPFA. The UNP today is a turd whistling for the right of way.And here’s the zinger: the UNP under flame thrower Ranil is a shameless sophomoric crop duster. Blowing You a kiss, Ajay

    ……. Now, get a life Silva, I’m running out of gas and tailwind, Sorry I cannot continue to humour you.

  • 0
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    Ajay,

    Pigs like you who live in the cesspit of Rajapaksas do not need “Frequency Actuated Rectal Tremor” because the frequency you open up your[Edited out] to them and the frequency they park their senile dead rats in your malady hole exempts your typed pigs from high tech gadget assisted dribble control devices as the amount of filth and stench you take in through your back door is measured in cubic meters per second like a flood gate inverted! And I don’t get any amusement reading the dustbin rubbish written by political fuckers like you!!!

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