31 October, 2020

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Losing The Plot – Game, Set And Match?

By Shanie –

If you will tell me why the fen

appears impassable, I  then,

will tell you why I think that I

can get across it if I try..

from I May, I Might,  I Must, Marianne Moore (1887-1972)

Fifteen months ago, when the year 2011 was drawing to a close, the political climate in Sri Lanka was such that the position of President Rajapakse and his government seemed stable and secure. The majority of Sri Lankans were still in a state of euphoria following the defeat of the Liberation tigers of Tamil Eelam in May 2009. The President and his coalition easily won the Elections held soon after. The ethnic issue was still not resolved and there was pressure from the international community to ensure a solution that was acceptable to the major communities in the country. There was also pressure to meet allegations of human rights violations in the closing stages of the fight against the LTTE. Responding to these pressures, the President appointed the Commission of Inquiry into Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation. The LLRC presented its report to the President in November 2011. The government was tardy in releasing the report for public circulation but it had to be tabled in Parliament. The contents of the report confounded both its supporters as well as its sceptics. The Commission had listened sympathetically to the cries of many whose sons and daughters had been killed, maimed or just disappeared. The Commission refused to white-wash crimes committed by any party nor did it lay the blame on any. They felt an independent and impartial investigation was necessary. They also came up with a set of balanced recommendations to promote reconciliation among the different communities in the country.

At the sessions held soon after, the United Nations Human Rights Council urged the Government of Sri Lanka to draw up a Plan of Action to implement the LLRC recommendations. Again, following pressure from the international community, a Plan of Action was drawn up and presented to the then US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton when she visited Sri Lanka. The action plan had ignored many of the recommendations but it at least signified that the government was committed to implementing the LLRC recommendations.

But the troubles for the government began then. Obviously, there was no political will to implement the letter or the spirit of recommendations, nor did it seem in a mood for reconciliation with the minorities and the political opposition. Up to then, its position had seemed stable and secure. But, as in Lord Acton’s well quoted comment, power can corrupt and absolute power can corrupt absolutely. Much earlier, William Pitt the Elder, a former Prime Minister of Britain, said much the same thing, ‘Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.’  History has shown that political leaders, both dictators as well as who are elected at democratic elections, and who possess unlimited power soon lose their sense of judgement, become unpopular and find themselves driven out of office, sometimes by a political revolt and sometimes at a democratic election. In Asia, Marcos of Philippines, Suharto of Indonesia and a succession of Pakistani Heads of State are among them. Even the charismatic Indira Gandhi was trounced at the General Election held soon after she had usurped and abused Emergency powers, though she was voted back to power some years later. Last year’s Arab Spring saw many rulers overthrown in West Asia.

Unlimited power corrupts

In Sri Lanka in 1977, J R Jayawardena had won a four-fifths majority at the General Election. Under the new proportional system of election, such majorities are no longer going to be possible. So the Rajapakse government did what it has proved so adept at. It manoeuvred, by fair means or foul, for large numbers of opposition parliamentarians to defect and so ensured for itself a comfortable three-fourths majority. Using this majority, the Constitution was amended to give the President virtually dictatorial powers. J R Jayawardene used his majority to re-write the Constitution to create an Executive Presidency with wide powers. Mahinda Rajapakse has gone better to give himself even wider authoritarian powers. Executive Presidents have generally not hesitated to use their authoritarian powers for personal or partisan gain. But none so blatantly as the first and the current holders of that office. The most blatant use (or rather misuse) of these powers came with the impeachment of the sitting Chief Justice. J R Jayawardena also did attempt to impeach the then sitting Chief Justice but he was wise enough to realise his folly and found an honourable way to drop the impeachment proceedings. But Mahinda Rajapakse appears to have had no qualms of conscience in proceeding against Shirani Bandaranayake.

Perverting the course of justice

When the gods wish to destroy someone, it is said that they ensure that that person behaves and acts in an irrational way. We do not know how the minds of the gods work but we certainly know that when politicians are given extraordinary powers, they tend to lose touch with reality, to lose touch with the needs of the ordinary masses. It is self-defeating when politicians dismiss all opposition as the work of misguided persons or of conspirators with a sinister agenda.

It is not only the manner in which the impeachment process was handled that led to a massive loss of goodwill both at home as well as abroad. Following the 18th Amendment, the President brought the Attorney General’s Department under him. But even before that, the Department had lost its independence. Prosecutions were based on political considerations. Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra who was shot dead at Mulleriyawa was a long-standing loyal SLFP supporter. But the gang that allegedly killed him were led by another politician who had closer links to the political establishment. That probably explains why the Police and the Attorney General’s department have been tardy about prosecuting the gang allegedly responsible for the killing. The same goes for the killing of British Red Cross worker Khuram Shaikh at Tangalle over a year ago. The killing was done openly in the presence of the hotel staff and guests present there on Christmas eve. Yet various excuses have been given by the Police for failure to indict the killers. It is well known that the leader of the gang that allegedly killed Shaikh was a prominent local politician who, as in the case of the Mulleriyawa killing, was close to the political establishment. It is such blatantly obvious perversions of the investigative processes and allowing politically well connected criminals to escape justice that have damaged the image that Mahinda Rajapakse once had as a champion of human rights.

On the other hand, those who have fallen foul of the political establishment are being persecuted with scant regard for the rule of law. The cases of Sarath Fonseka and Shirani Bandaranayake, and even of her husband, are prominent instances of this. Some of those cases are stiil being pursued by the Bribery Commission. But we have seen the charges and the explanations given by those charged and all we can say at this stage is that it will be difficult for any judicial court, going by the rule of law, to convict them on the evidence presented. We can only presume that the charges and the publicity being given to them is purely to create an impression of misconduct in the minds of the public. It is also sad to know that the Bribery Commission comprises members who one held responsible positions in the country’s law-enforcement and judicial services. Of course, they were appointed by the President under the 18th Amendment.

Another issue that has affected the popularity of the government has been that of urban displacement. It is true that our cities needed a clean-up but is the beautification programme that is being undertaken the priority for development. The upper and upper middle classes are no doubt thrilled that we have beautiful parks with separate tracks for walking and jogging. But the ordinary citizen, already burdened by high costs of living, now with an unconscionable increase in electricity tariffs being introduced as a further burden, would not be convinced that the provision of recreational facilities, however laudable, should have priority over easing the economic burdens he or she has to face.

The country is now facing another problem, a grave one at that, with an organisation that calls itself a religious one, promoting hate and violence against minority communities. Mr M W H de Silva, Queen’s Counsel, was a confidant of S W R D Bandarainaike, and served for three years as the Minister of Justice in the 1956 Government. He is reported to have related an incident that took place in the 1956 Election Campaign. He and SWRD were returning by car from Polonnaruwa when MWH referring to SWRD’s speech at the Polonnaruwa meeting had said something to the effect that SWRD may have raised passions that may be difficult to contain. SWRD’s response was that that he would control that when it came to crossing that bridge. Unfortunately, SWRD was unable to contain the passions aroused and his assassination was planned by a group close to him.

Arousing communal passions

We quote this incident to show that there can be no short cuts to popularity. A leader has to live by certain principles and never compromise on them. It appears to many people that the political establishment courting the Bodhu Bala Sena is not because they support their ideology but as a means of using (or misusing) religious passions to restore their waning popularity. Rousing communal passions will not only harm the country but will ultimately consume the people responsible for rousing such passions. President Rajapakse, religious leaders, the media and civil society must take a stand to expose those charlatans who promote hatred even among young school children.

From around the country, there are reports of harassment of Muslim traders, of Muslim women and men for the distinctive Islamic dress they wear, of defacement and threats to Muslim places of worship and hate messages on the mobile phone networks. These should have been nipped in the bud at the very early stages. But it is never too late. All our communities and all our people have equal rights. One war has ended and we do not need any more wars. We must stand as one to fight hatred. It will cost the country dearly if the Police are not allowed to enforce the rule of law and instead protect those who break the law. We cannot allow short-sighted men and women to destroy the country for their personal gain.

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    Tamil ultra nationalists, Muslim fundamentalists, Christian Evangelicals, and Western imperialists with their local agents (NGOs/rights groups/civil society) are helping MR regime consolidate and expand its Sinhala-Buddhist power base through the BBS monster. Is an international conspiracy going on, or is it just me seeing things?

    • 0
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      Blame everything on others without owning the problem. The worst to say is ‘international conspiracies’, ‘imperialist agenda’. fundamentalists, nationalist etc.

      What Sri Lanka lacks is, it failed produce a strong willed national leader. All the country’s leaders so far have acted as patron saints of the extremists thus polarizing the divide further.

      The very Buddha Dharma is nakedly perverted in Sri Lanka. Dishonest and corrupt politicians are the cause of the malaise ever growing without any abatement.

      • 0
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        Rajasingham Jayadevan

        “What Sri Lanka lacks is, it failed produce a strong willed national leader.”

        Wasn’t VP a National Leader?

    • 0
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      The Rajapassa project is to DIVIDE, DISTRACT and RULE Lanka.

      BBS provides DISTRACTION for the Sinhala people so that they forget the corruption and murder the regime is engaged in and the COST OF LIVING that is hitting the roof as a result of rotten policy making and governance!

  • 0
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    There are many reasons why civilizations that reached the zenith of prosperity and power crumbled into nothingness. Anthropologists will argue that it was the drought, disease, war etc that caused the decline.

    One thing is certain. It were the humans who would have brought on calamity on themselves. In those days, they could only fight their neighbors and that too for Gold, water and food.

    Sri Lankans proudly boast of their heritage little realizing the wheel has turned. Its not Parakrama Bahu or Dutugemunu anymore. Its Mahinda, Duminda and KP !!!!

  • 0
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    Shnanie says, she ( ? ) has had one war and does not need more.

    Now Mr Premachandran of the TNA , which had at least some associations with the War, is threatening to declare self rule with the help of India and the US, bypassing our Democratic Constitution.

    Is that conducive to Shanie’s “No More Wars”?.

    She says she can not allow short sighted to destroy our country.

    Where was Shanie from 1980 t0 2009?

    • 0
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      K.A Sumanasekera

      “Where was Shanie from 1980 t0 2009?”

      Now the majoritarian inhabitants are very clear in what they believe, what they want and how to assert themselves as they represent 75% of the stupidity.

      Now it seems the majority inhabitants by their whispering campaign deter their fellow majority inhabitants selling land, property and businesses to their minority inhabitants, the Muslims.

      Was it merely a Chinese whispers?

      Where are you now?

      • 0
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        Native,

        Well heeled miority cousins from your neck of the woods are selling their plots in the future Homeland and buy luxury digs in Colombo 3 -6.

        C 2 is out of reach even to these Kroner Millionaires, as the big hotelliers from the Diaspora IC are moving in with Dumpmaster loads of Dollars.

        Have you seen any of the great majority of our inhabitants holding Vigils even with Clay Lamps, not to welcome them?.

        • 0
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          K.A Sumanasekera

          Aren’t the majority inhabitants (75% of the stupid people) beginning to practice Kandyan form of Thesavallamai through out the entire island?

          By refusing to sell properties to minorities (rest of the 25% stupid people) at market prices not only the majoritarians are defying the laws of free market (price mechanism) but also inadvertently supporting ghettoisation of the entire county.

          How would you reconcile two competing issues?

  • 0
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    Brothers know how to manipulate the Sinhala masses,Most of my Sinhala friends who were expressing anti regime sentiments in the social media networks forgot everything and started to show anti Muslim sentiments once the halal issue came on. The same thing happened during the Geneva episode as well.This is not the fault of brothers alone but also sinhala masses.

  • 0
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    If you listen and watch the pro govt media you will understand how the masses are being brainwashed. Firstly the attacks on the opposition UNP and Ranil. Secondly on Tamil parties. Thirdly NGO’s etc. Even the Uthayan press is described as an LTTE organisation.

    One of the key means of propping up the regime is through the media which highlights the pious activities of these crooks and the so called development activities. The opposition seems unable to counter and get its act together. I would say that state media coverage is 90% or more as compared to media which criticise or point out the mistakes of the Govt.

    • 0
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      Yes the media is to be blamed for the racist campaign , which does not give adequate space. Some channels like Swarnahini really promotes racism openly. What can you expect of a person who had come on the backs of the poor who had mortgaged their gold and unable to retrieve it. She gives charity in pubic after ruining the lives of thousands.
      I was a fan of mulpituwa, But I find that Badula P discusses headlines that are favourable to BBS and the state.

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    Colonial heritage in Asia, Africa and Latin America have left the fruits of a legacy of divide and rule.The challenge for post independence governments in these countries was the enterprise of erecting pluralist,multi-ethnic,and multi cultural States where all communities big or small have a fair share of the fruits of development.Nation building requires the management of the existing diversity within Nations directing the richness of this diversity towards positive change in order to build Free ,Democratic and prosperous societies.This is called inclusive governance.We need to accept and celebrate diversity and not reject it. The combined efforts of and skills of people of different communities can only enrich our societies,not damage them.A country needs an enlightened Leader to show the way forward.We are saddled with uneducated leaders who seem to garner Sinhala Buddhist vote base through exclusive governance excluding the rights of minority communities driving them to violence as a means of obtaining what is their due.The experience in multi ethnic countries have shown enough evidence to prove that PEACE ensues where the benefits of economic development ,as well as political power are equally shared .

  • 0
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    All of us are disturbed about the racist agenda of the government but equally silent is the Leader of the Opposition. He has not made a public statement on the issue, despite the fact that the large majority of the Muslim population voted for him. Mujibur Rahman did protest. Kabeer Hashim made an inaudible comments and he is hiding somewhere, he may come out at the next election. Why should only Muslim UNPers speak on the Muslim issue. This attitude it self is racism.

    Ranil goes to Jaffna and he discusses Udayan papers. He is like these peace NGOs for whom minority means Tamils only. Or is he sure of the Muslim vote bank particular with the regime support for BBS and the hate campaign, so he need not worry about it. Or as he was blamed earlier that he is a Mossad agent. His silence is deafening.

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    Safa : The entire world is being brainwashed by the Western Media.
    It is they & their NGOs, Church which highlight their pious
    activities. Can U see what Rayappu & S.J.Emmanuel R upto
    wearing cassoacks??
    All Christian and Evangelical Organisations have invested in
    every form of the Indian media.
    Whatmore do you envisage.
    UNCANEWS the catholic mouth organ is brainwashing us too
    and dry cleaning Rayappu……….

    Sri Lankan people, be it Sinhala & Tamil are proud people.
    That is what distinguish a SL Tamil from a Indian Tamil.

    This Suresh Premachandran is a traitor. He betrayed his entire polit bureau to the LTTE. His only excuse was that he went out for a smoke…… Would you believe that?
    US Ambassador ladie’s predictions are falling through.
    Ranil Wickremesinghe fired the first salvo for the Imperialist. Appoint a Civillian Governor to the North before the elections.
    SO AMERICA TO GAIN A FOOTHOLD IN SRI LANKA THROUGH THE NORTH.
    Rayappu must be licking his lips.
    GOSL be ready.

    We need to establish more Forces camps in the Northern region.Also, protect people like Devananda, Daya Master and Karuna who are on the ground who has renounced terrorism.

    To Shanie : Do not under estimate the Rajapakshes. Even the worst scoundrel has a good side. we need to tap it. Oppose it, then disaster. That is what is happening in Sri Lanka.You fan the fires.

    OTHER THAN A PART OF THE COLOMBIANS, SRI LANKANS WILL NOT YEILD TO THE AMERICANS THOUGH THEY MAY THE MOST POWERFUL NATIONON EARTH. LET SOOSAN KNOW THAT.
    They ruined the Phillippine Society. Ruined the Thai Culture. Pentagon & Obama will have to send Corbin, Mike Whitland and their belgian dogs…………
    Its a david & Goliath…
    A situation created by Premachandrans for Tamils residing outside the North.
    It was not we who started the self rule rhetoric & the fire.

  • 0
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    Downfall of the uneducated, uncivilized rather large clan from Hambantota currently walking the corridors of power in Colombo has begun. Very clear.

    Their tacit support BBS, Duminda Silva, Tangalle tourist killer etc are all signs of their desperation.

    Would Rajapassa family pack their stolen wealth and run like Ben Ali of Tunisia?

    Would they opt to put up one final show of fake strength and bravery? Meaning a blood bath like in Libya or Egypt.

    That is the only thing that remains to be seen. But, the begining og their departure has begun.

    • 0
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      Keep dream on man, only they have to do anti tamil slogan among sinhala masses. they will simply shut their asses for good.tragdey of lanka and ealam….

      • 0
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        j-muthu He (Ben) is not dreaming or he is not taking Tamil Ealam side either. Its the truth this GONpakses must go at any cost. Sonner they go the better for them, and its time. Majority of the educated people hate them. Only some third grade low class folks still support them.
        Uncultured Uneducated rascals had their quota already.

  • 0
    0

    BEN,

    THE STOLEN WEALTH (BLACK MONEY) OF ALL THE POLITICIANS, SIBLINGS AND THEIR FAMILIES WERE STASHED AWAY AND HIDDEN IN VATICAN BY THE GOON, CARDINAL RANJIT MALCOLM.

    THESE HAVE BEEN SEIZED BY THE PRESENT POPE.

    HE IS HELL BENT TO HAVE A LIST OF THE OWNERS OF THESE ACCOUNTS AND BRING THEM ALL TO THE OPEN, SO THE PUBLIC WOULD DECIDE WHAT SHOULD BE DONE WITH THE MONEY.

    MOHAN PEIRIS WAS RUNNING AROUND TO SAVE THIS CASH FOR THE THIEVES.

    THE POPE REFUSED TO HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH HIM, AND HIS ATTEMPT FAILED.

    MERVYN SILVA, MAITHRIPALA SIRISENA, KEHELIYA RAMBUKWELLA WERE ALL EXPECTING A BIG PAYBACK FROM THE VATICAN BANK.

    THEY WERE ALL DREAMING TO HELP THEIR SONS WHO LIVED ON THUGGERY.

    THEIR DREAMS WERE ONLY A DAY DREAM.

    AT LAST THE GOD IS BLESSING OUR SRI LANKA

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