By Mohamed Harees –
Taking a leaf from US, many psychologists have now confirmed Trump is “temperamentally unfit” to be President, and in recent times,many people the world over have reached the same conclusion. Most recently, US psychologist John D. Gartner said Trump “is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president.” He believes Trump shows signs of “malignant narcissism, which impairs his ability to see reality so you can’t use logic to persuade someone like that.”
Well! Narcissist Trump now has now close competition in our own ‘Joker in the Card pack’ Sirisena (MS) or has he out-beaten Trump? MS’s apparent inability to distinguish between fantasy and reality and preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited power at his disposal; yet with no idea of how to use judiciously as well as some traits of pathological lying- the act of both knowingly and intentionally or willfully making a false statement on a regular basis; leads us to question his fitness for the immense responsibilities of the office of President. Thus another poster boy for narcissism!
Those who spearheaded the campaign in 2015 to bring in a common candidate to fight the strongman MR who was steeped in corruption, are today severely regretting their collective decision to field this local narcissist emerging from the back yards of Pollonnaruwa. Ever since his election in January 2015, he has proved himself to be thoroughly inefficient and inept, blaming those below him to cover his inefficiencies. When he was in MR’s cabinet, he blamed the one above- MR for not allowing him to do what he was supposed to do. Judging by the comments on social media, many believe Sri Lanka made a terrible mistake electing him. Therefore, it was the destiny of this Island Nation to be saddled with MS with a pathetic (pathola) leadership style at this challenging time in Post-war history which calls for strong traits to steer through rough seas successfully. What MS recently did by appointing MR as his PM and later dissolving Parliament throwing all legal and ethical norms to be winds, to the surprise of an entire nation can only qualify him to an absolute joker, a self-serving debased narcissist leader or a political crackpot .Therefore, daughter of MS Chathurika should re-write her father’s biography ‘President Father’ to read as ‘Crackpot Father’.
It was Ven Sobitha Thero who spearheaded the campaign to defeat the racist and corrupt MR regime, to install a corruption free, clean ‘Yahapalana’ government. Unfortunately, the weight of office was too much for him and thus cut a sorry figure as a weak leader in comparison with MR and failed miserably in becoming an impartial president to all. MS after his election, did the first mistake in trying to take over presidency of his former party SLFP, which split his time to sort out internal party squabbles. He also failed to bring to book those corrupt sharks in the MR government and even got few of them into his cabinet and/or to Parliament through the national list. The two-party coalition became a farce with both parties working to their own party agenda, with SLFP Ministers siding more with the JO. His frequent ‘blaming others’ game for his own inefficiencies annoyed the nation. Both the mainstream media (with bit of more breathing space compared with MR times) and the social media severely criticised his passive and laissez faire approach regularly.
He lacked the ability to control a two-party cabinet effectively and to use his presidential powers for the betterment of the nation, which led to Mega scams like Central Bank Scandal. In his own words, he abdicated his role to RW in many instances. He also shamelessly told the nation in his recent TV address that his instructions to inquire into the so-called conspiracy to assassinate him were not heeded, which reflected the type of leader he was and is. Instead, he focussed on minor issues like sugar content in Milo packets, poor quality cashew nuts on Sri Lankan airlines, and officials of a Sri Lankan embassy in a foreign country not answering his calls, which made him a joker. Then he lied in style about the reason for sacking RW and appointing MR as PM. Initially he said that RW did not show any interest to inquire into the assassination attempt( forgetting that he was the Executive Head of State) and later he said that he spoke to both Karu J. And Sajith about taking over the mantle of Premiership from RW, few months earlier , a conflicting versions indeed. Then, it was reported that MR apparently scolded MS (in filth) for failing to find the 113 required to prove his majority in Parliament, thereby making him the only PM to have not been to the Parliament after his election. Then, in the last few days, he has been appointing Ministers of all sorts, while SB has been negotiating corrupt deals offering massive pots of money to make up the magical 113 in Parliament. Finally, against the specific provisions of the Constitution, MS drove the death nail into the coffin by dissolving the Parliament. He has become so unpopular that even Malwatte Mahanayake Thero refused to meet him. In the whole melee, racist culprit Amitha however got the release.
I saw an interesting post in the social media by one ‘Island’ journalist covering the 1982 Presidential Election which was won by JRJ resoundingly. It was reported there that Dr. Colvin R De Silva came to congratulate him and told him; ‘’Dickie, I must tell you something. The day you go, abolish this executive system and go, because your successors will find it difficult to keep their political parties united unlike you, and when that happens there’ll be chaos in the country’. JRJ reportedly told him ‘That’s a matter for the future to see like Que Sera’, to which Colvin said prophetically, ‘What I say will be, will be”. True to Colvin’s words, President Premadasa’s UNP split, President Kumaratunga’s SLFP split, President MR’s SLFP is also in doldrums and while MS destroyed both the party and the nation in toto. Truly prophetic indeed!
In January 2015, newly elected MS dressed in a ‘Modi style ‘coat, vowed to slash the power of his office, only stand for one term and delegate much of the power amassed by his predecessor to his prime minister and parliament and close to four years later, he become a turncoat. The 100-day programme was not just an eyewash but MS claimed he did not know who even drafted. The former U.N. secretary-general congratulated the people of Sri Lanka on the successful conclusion of the presidential election, and welcomed the constitutional transfer of power and years later, MS polluted and violated the same constitution he promised to uphold. World leaders congratulated Sri Lanka then for being a symbol of hope for those who support democracy all around the world; years later Sri Lanka became the laughing stock of the world when its’ Executive President threw all norms of the democracy to the winds. Today, Muslims and Tamils who voted for MS in great numbers then, are reassessing the sanity behind their decision, being thrown from frying pan to the fire. Sinhalese have also innumerable grievances against the MS/RW government. Yahapalana became just a hollow slogan which meant nothing but as a means to catch votes. Attempts to write another constitution to make it ‘fit for purpose’ have gone into the back burner. Economy is in doldrums and internationally, Sri Lanka has become a heavily debt strapped nation (specially to China) and judging by how Western diplomats behaved after MR’s appointment, West has started to meddle in internal affairs, throwing all diplomatic protocols to the winds.
It is therefore imperative that people of Sri Lanka take a bold step forward and force political change on a society hitherto paying lip service coupled with wild rhetoric. Despite continued appeal by civic minded organizations to vote for those only with clean track records, many frauds, cheats and with violent track records got into Parliament. When the governments of the day were mortgaging the country’s assets and lands to foreign interests , there weren’t much public opposition to enable them to take serious note. When those in the government were involved in instigating racism against the Muslims or acted as patron saints to racist groups, there was not much public pressure to bring the top people to account. Many politicians have succeeded in enriching themselves and have amassed wealth for a couple of their generations and started offering blood money so amassed to buy political power like it happens now. The chronic corruption that has taken hold of our political culture is real; it is all-consuming. If the nation remains to be deliberately oblivious of this, then so it will be and apathy will have a very heavy price. The decay of our culture has set in and it’s progressing rapidly with no prospect of any serious public resolve to address same. Seventy+ years after Independence, with regular (Thattu Maaru) changes in government, after two failed revolutions and aborted coup d’états, and a bloody 30 year old war, where have our country reached?. Still a developing country, with racism being used by power hungry politicos and food related promises being used by baits to get votes to come to power! The rule of law is being frequently flouted with those at the top being given more concessions than the common man. Still Police and civil servants are made to pay Pooja to less educated political class.
Sri Lanka thus has been made to float like a rudderless boat rather than a well navigated ship with no specific destination in mind. Signs are also clear that this Island nation is on the way to become a pariah state, with the likelihood of facing international isolation, sanctions or even an invasion by nations who find its policies, actions, or its very existence unacceptable. Thus, it behoves on the people of Sri Lanka to say ‘enough is enough’ at least belatedly and come out of their apathy to save this country by avoiding the rise of future dictators in the calibre of MR and narcissists like MS and cleaning up the stables. Another Sirisena legacy will be suicidal to Sri Lanka and should be averted at all costs, in the best interests of our future generation.
Nelson Mandela was the father of the current democratic South Africa that replaced the odious apartheid state. His primary legacy is a multiracial South Africa under the rule of law. He insisted on the rule of law. Apartheid may have been a crime against humanity, but there was no extra-legal “revolutionary justice.” Instead there was a Truth and Reconciliation Commission under the presidency of Archbishop Desmond Tutu that offered amnesty in return for confession to liberation fighters and members of the apartheid security services. Mandela assiduously observed the new constitution that enshrined the strongest protection of individual and minority rights anywhere in the world. ( Consider our experiences with LLRC commission which was a flop). As for the rule of law, there is a new questioning of the independent judiciary and property rights guarantees amid concerns that they obstruct greater economic equality. The administration of Jacob Zuma is promoting a state secrets bill that that could reduce government transparency and stifle criticism of the government.(Consider our RTI’s impact). The core of Mandela’s legacy — non-racial democracy based on the rule of law – thus endures. Human rights are protected by the law. Freedom of speech is absolute—for now. These are major democratic achievements, and they owe much to Nelson Mandela’s vision for his beloved country.
Thus, public activism is paramount to change Sri Lanka to become a “a rainbow nation” and never again be seen as “the skunk of the world”(As Mandela referred to South Africa). Perhaps the forthcoming elections could be a starting point and a changing point to elect people who can act as catalysts and agents of change. This is the least the people who could to honour the memory of Late Ven. Sobitha Thero and an imperative to avoid the sure curse from our future generation.