18 June, 2019

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Mahinda – The Sinhala Caesar At The Gates Of Rome

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

“Fettered freedom is worse than the manacles of forthright servitude” – SWRD Bandaranaike

Mahinda Rajapaksa – two term President, vanquisher of Velupillai Prabhakaran, incarcerator of his opponent in his bid for a second term, manipulator of the judiciary, architect of the 18th amendment claims prescriptive rights over the party founded by SWRD Bandaranaike . Citing the 5.8 million votes he garnered, he insists that he is still the most potent leader in the SLFP led political alliance that is called the UPFA.

He is patently the idol of the cash and carry political class. He is the sole panjandrum of a plutocratic priesthood that finds protest more lucrative than preaching. He exudes the aura of a Sinhala Caesar.

His main constituency is the ‘Mudalali Class of the digital age’ personified by parliamentarians Kumar Welgama, Banduala Gunawardane and Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene .

They are virtuoso performers of atrocious Sinhala one liners bereft of ethical niceties. They have perfected the system of political spoils totally at the disposal of their own cohorts. Mahinda Rajapaksa does not hide his lust for power. The Roman historian Tacitus described lust for power as the most flagrant of all passions. It is for the people of Sri Lanka to decide whether they would reward an individual’s lust for power.

That no Buddhist Prelate has voiced an opinion on the subject of the ‘naked brazen lust for power ‘ is evidence of our secular credentials!

But does Mahinda Rajapaksa who fettered our freedoms, belong in the SLFP? The answer is an emphatic no.

Mahinda Gota Shiranthi AyomaShould he field his own team at the next elections? The answer is an emphatic yes. His participation in the next election will remove the fog of cliquish politics and redraw the ideological boundaries in our fractious polity.

Post war Mahinda Rajapaksa, is the true successor and beneficiary of the JR Jayewardene legacy: dispassionate neo liberal economics. It is Mahinda who gave Colombo a face lift and promoted a new ‘corporatism’ based on market fundamentalism. It is Mahinda who built up the cult of the rich that we see burning its belly fat on the ample jogging tracks that encircle nearly all public space in the city.

With the kind help of the Rajapaksa brothers we have got our class act together. Mahinda Rajapaksa has shaped our credit card habits. The consumption culture that has taken root has made excessive consumption, natural and normal.

The Rajapaksa imprimatur arouses middle class angst over the return of the street vendors. The pavements can be cluttered up with gyrating ‘Bozos’ distributing blurbs about the latest smart phones. But not by an itinerant trader selling his own produce. Well-dressed boys and girls seated at make shift desks that obstruct pavements, explain the virtues of electronic gadgetry, irrelevant but essential to life in the fast lane. It does not matter how many could afford hoppers in the ‘Arcade’ at Rs.200 apiece. Ours is a sterilized city where the homeless and the landless are in quarantine!

This writer learnt recently that his daughter and a visiting niece from ‘down under’ had actually had a fine dining experience in a place called the ‘Asylum’ in Gota’s refurbished Independence Arcade! It was from this same building that housed the Ministry of Public Administration that this writer then a reporter for the Ceylon Daily News listened to JR Jayewardene biding adieu to Dudley Senanayake – the ‘Bath Dun Piya’ “good bye sweet prince ,may the Devas sing you to thy sleep.”

What is missed here is that Mahinda finished the job JR embarked on in more than one sense. He reversed Vadamarachchi. He successfully imposed a fascism in ‘velvet gloves’ that JR intended to but was thwarted by eruptions in the north and the south. The young corporate decision makers in their late thirties and early forties complain that the throbbing vitality of the gung ho economy has evaporated.

Though Mahinda was deposed, the Mahinda machine has survived. The priority for him is to return on time to ensure that it is not dismantled.

President Maithripala Sirisena is now discovering that there is yet another government beneath the surface of his administration. As in all societies of post-colonial lands, we too have an ‘establishment’ that is independent of the publicly elected leaders. The genius of Mahinda Rajapaksa was his ability to acquire the establishment with the tacit connivance of that part of the ‘establishment’ presently in political opposition but committed to its long term interests. The ‘establishment’ is a social network with its own code of conduct committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. The association of the term ‘Pepetual’ with the country’s public debt is not a coincidence. Ideology has never defined politics of Sri Lanka since independence.

The common candidacy of the general secretary of the SLFP was the result of an awakening of the SLFP, to the reality of its ‘forthright servitude’ to the Rajapaksa monolith.

While announcing his insurgent candidacy for the Presidency of the Republic, he was quite explicit in his determination to repossess the party. The open rebellion was the manifestation of a deep seated yeaning within the party to move away from the Machiavellian realism of the Rajapaksa brothers. To the Rajapaksa family, politics was the conquest and maintenance of power.

Either by accident or design the SLFP at its core remains true to the Aristotelian tradition and the ‘romance’ of pursuing the ‘common good’ of the ‘gathered multitude’. Let us be cautious. Any attribution of Aristotelian traditions to Messrs Nimal Siripala de Silva, Susil Premjayanth or Anura Priyadharshana Yapa would be unpardonable libel on the poor Athenian thinker.

The SLFP founder was far removed from Machiavellian stratagems. He was closer to St.Thomas Acquinas the medieval successor of Aristotle. SWRD in his independence day musings of 1953, wrote “ On the spiritual plane, Buddhism achieves the acme of freedom: the human mind , in order to profit from liberty , must itself be disciplined and controlled – not by some arbitrary , external force, it is true , but by oneself.”

SWRD Bandaranaike and the UNP differed on something very basic. The UNP the party that stood for property rights upheld the law. The SLFP of SWRD Bandaranaike upheld justice.

A half century later, the SLFP is still propelled by its foundational achievement of the recognition that the common good of the multitude was a life that conformed “to the essential exigencies and the essential dignity of human nature”.

Maithripala Sirisena’s revolt within the party was his realization that the freedom of the SLFP itself was in jeopardy. As its General Secretary he was not exactly manacled. Yet forthright servitude was the order of the day.

Understandably there is speculation that factions of the UNP are colluding with the Mahinda restoration group. That would be natural. That should indeed be so.

Machiavelli advices the Prince “ a wise prince ought to adopt such a course that his citizens will always in every sort and kind of circumstance have need of the state and of him, and then he will always find them faithful.”

SWRD Bandaranaike was no fan of Machiavelli. He is the only leader of Independent Sri Lanka who ruminated publicly on the concept of freedom. Today the task of President Sirisena is to ‘liberate’ freedom fettered by greed and strife from a parliament that has outlived its purpose.

As the political philosopher John Gray notes “We’ve come to believe that freedom is the natural human condition, which only tyrants prevent everyone from enjoying – but when a tyrant is toppled, we can’t know what will come next”

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Latest comments

  • 19
    3

    Good analysis. Yes, the Mahinda machine is still intact both in the administrative and military sectors and it is not without considerable influence even in the judiciary. It has to be dismantled fully and there can be no doubt about the need for same. The earlier the better!

    Sengodan. M

    • 15
      5

      “Yes, the Mahinda machine is still intact both in the administrative and military sectors and it is not without considerable influence even in the judiciary.”

      We all aware that Mahinda was a schemer, planner and manipulator. He used all his powers to put his people who are loyal to him in all sectors from top to bottom in all sectors including parliament. Those who are appointed by him are enjoyed all freedoms to whatever they want including drug trade, sex trade, murders, corruption, abduction, ransom, commssions etc. without any legal barriers. It is not simply easy to get rid of these people from these sectors. Further, he still hold the race and religious card with the support of high powered Mahanayake’s. I don’t think that Maithiri has the courage and will to go against these powerful Mahinda machinery which he built on the base Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism.

    • 3
      1

      The author of this article has got it twisted – it is RANIL that is clinging to power at all costs, even if it means the recolonization of Sri Lanka by the US and the EU. Ranil showed his true colors in this recent stunt of directing Maithripala to dissolve Parliament on the UNPs preferred scheduled, so that he does not have to face a no confidence vote, a COPE report on bond fraud of his Central Bank Governor, and ‘before’ a UN report on Sri Lanka that clearly will help Mahinda at the UNPs expense. Ranil has also completely politicized law enforcement with the FCID and his control of the CID, making it an arm of the UNP.

  • 14
    10

    Sarath de Alwis

    RE: Mahinda – The Sinhala Caesar At The Gates Of Rome

    1. “They are virtuoso performers of atrocious Sinhala one liners bereft of ethical niceties. They have perfected the system of political spoils totally at the disposal of their own cohorts. Mahinda Rajapaksa does not hide his lust for power. The Roman historian Tacitus described lust for power as the most flagrant of all passions. It is for the people of Sri Lanka to decide whether they would reward an individual’s lust for power.”

    MaRa MaRa Chatu Mara Amana MaRa

    2. “That no Buddhist Prelate has voiced an opinion on the subject of the ‘naked brazen lust for power ‘ is evidence of our secular credentials!”

    Impotent Buddit Sangla with no balls.

    3.” But does Mahinda Rajapaksa who fettered our freedoms, belong in the SLFP? The answer is an emphatic no.”

    But Remember, the average IQ of those modayas, 5.8 Million of them, who voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa id 65M

    Mahinda sayas 8 month baby said Jayawewa, and Wimal Modawansa said 2/2 =0, and the Modayas, Mootals and Fools just gulped it down.

    MaRa MaRa Chatu Mara amana Mara Gota Gota Hora Thakkadiya..

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=DN57FUlwasQ

  • 20
    3

    Beautiful pose, relevant quotes, meaningful allegory, penetrative perception and of course wise thoughts.

    It appears that Maithripala Sirisena is confused and is losing sight of his priories and the reasons why he was elected president. MR, ever the spider, has spun his web well, to trap his successor. Most people, mostly, the simple Simons, however, have have seen the web and are avoiding it. They are sad to see the President walking into the web. I hope we are not let down again and our hopes trashed.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 1
      1

      [Edited out]

    • 2
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      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      It appears that Maithripala Sirisena is confused and is losing sight of his priories and the reasons why he was elected president.

      *** I am not sure who is confused You or MS. He knows what he is doing. He is trying every trick in the Book to save MR.

  • 1
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    [Edited out]

  • 7
    0

    Thank you, sir, for an excellently written piece on the current predicament of Sri Lanka and its citizenry.

    However, we have to go our separate ways when you say, “SWRD Bandaranaike and the UNP differed on something very basic. The UNP the party that stood for property rights upheld the law. The SLFP of SWRD Bandaranaike upheld justice.” The foundation for corruption and criminality was reinforced, if not laid, when SWRD ascended to power. With such “policy” or lack thereof, the chances of justice prevailing are obviously, not high and history has proven that fact. The pettiness and lack of principle displayed by SWRD’s spouse only served to advance what he had begun. As for Yankee Dick, the less said the better….!

    It was not so long ago that I referred to MR’s government and its potential successor (the UNP of Ranil W) as “six of one and half a dozen of another.” I kept hoping I was wrong, but it seems that the “insurance buyers” in the upper echelons of the UNP are contributing to making my worst fears come true!
    Even in terms of simple “law and order” those currently calling the shots, allegedly on our behalf are, as my village friends describe it, “catching the sprats and letting the sharks get away!” Unfortunately, there is a certain logic to that state of affairs and we could well be heading for another “convulsion” of the kind we experienced in 1971 or in the late ‘eighties. Not a pleasant prospect for anyone!

  • 7
    3

    I would suggest that Mahinda’s period is over and if he decides to muster some support by getting together the old guard he will loose heavily and that may be the lesson he needs to be taught. Tyrants like him believe that they are popular but in reality people fear him. He will go down in history as a dictator who lost at the final hurdle of becoming a permanent ruler with massive consequence for Sri Lanka for years to come.

    • 5
      2

      kumar Sandy

      “Tyrants like him believe that they are popular but in reality people fear him.”

      Despots always believed in their own propaganda. They live by it and die by it.

      As long as the people remain stupid, emotionally attached to despots (longing for strong leader), their uninformed perception, motivated by self interest, succumb to fear psychosis, trust spin doctors with reputation of prince of darkness, ……… anything could happen or every eventuality is possible .

      Too soon to write off the despot.

  • 5
    1

    To those who critique MS,
    There was this woman strolling with her little mischievous son on a lake bund. Suddenly the brat fell in to the water. A gallant young man jumped in and rescued the child.
    The woman and others watching the rescue cheered the young man’s bravery.
    Then someone screamed “The idiot has left the little fellow’s cap in the water”
    Emil
    Yes. We go our separate ways. “Leadership is evoking in others the capacity to dream.” SWRD shared his dreams. Read his convocation address at Peradeniya.

    • 0
      1

      What if the scream had been “The idiot wants a ransom for the child”?

    • 0
      1

      Well, SWRD’s dream was a stupid dream. It had no English in it.

  • 7
    2

    I strongly believe that My3 is still to play his ace.

    Of course, Mr. De Alwis’s article is incisive, factual and informative. What we have to be mindful of, on the one hand, the present administration’s own defects namely, suspicious if not corrupt acts that we have been subject to during the last few months, but even worse is the obvious camaraderie that ourmangala and others are having with the diaspora, GTF, John Kerry, etc etc. A few things that The Finance Minister and Ourmanagala should have done is to INSIST on the restoration of GSP+, easy repayment stand-by credit to continue with the large infrastructure projects that are now an eyesore.

    These people are so knave and conduct themselves like small children. May the Lord God be merciful and bless this good land.

  • 1
    2

    Let us put Mahinda behind as he was a thief who headed a batch of thieves. Basil’s confessions as a state witness will reveal all very very soon.
    In the meantime, let’s look froward after elections to a real Maitri-Ranil government. The two are an excellent combination and they augur well for Lanka. Ranil will have the ultimate plan to deliver prosperity to our people. He has already thought of Sri Lanka as hub of the Indian Ocean. With prosperity, Sri Lanka’s ethnic problem will also be defused. What Sri Lanka wants is not a slogan shouter-Uthuru Wasanthaya, Deyata Kirula,Tharunyata Hetak, Gama Neguma, Divi Neguma, Siri Liya and all that bullshit we had from MR. We want a practical man of vision like Ranil who has a clean track record. He did not put Tsunami money in his pocket.

    • 1
      1

      Prem Vaidyaratrne

      “Let us put Mahinda behind as he was a thief who headed a batch of thieves.”

      Is there a possibility of putting Mahinda behind bars for committing war crimes?

      “We want a practical man of vision like Ranil who has a clean track record.”

      Is Ranil a smart patriot? Dayan thinks not. Even if he wins the elections with huge majority Dayan still would not accept it as a victory for democracy. He thinks without the support of southern racists any victory seems hollow to him.

  • 0
    0

    The writer says, SWRD formed the SLFP. However, I believe. it was both Mahinda Rajapakses father, together with SWRD that formed the SLFP. This is why he is so loyal to the SLFP and is avoiding any possibility of causing the split of the SLFP.

  • 0
    1

    Sarath Alwis looks at MR very superficially and tries to make a hero of the rascal.It is important that we see beneath what people say and do. Actually MR was a coward and this is why he put Sarath Fonseka behind bars. When David Cameron came MR was pissing in his pants.Alwis is impressed by SWRD’s speech. Speechmaking is all that SWRD was able to do. He was a failure in action and he laid the foundation for the ethnic division of Sri Lanka.

  • 3
    0

    Mr.Sarath de Alwis

    Mahinda – The Sinhala Caesar At The Gates Of Rome.

    I have only just picked this one. It certinly is an interesting reading

    “Fettered freedom is worse than the manacles of forthright servitude” – SWRD Bandaranaike.

    *** If these were indeed the words of SWRD and I am not sure who the recipients were and if they were the Tamils it amounts to a choice between ” The Devil & The Deep Blue sea.

    Slavery to Fettered Freedom

    I will refer you to the Letter sent by planter politician Sao Paulo
    of Brazil in 1988 in respect of the Negros.
    Servitude:

    the state of being a slave or completely subject to someone more powerful

    ***

    1) I like the choice of your words and you make it sound like a Fairy Tale Wedding between MR and his Subjects.

    Certainly there was a LUST by the Subjects to vanquish Velupillai Prabhakaran and MR offerd to be the incarcerator .

    I disgree with you on the issue of Fairy Tale wedding. No doubt it was a Worlwind Romance which resulted in Holy Matrimony.

    But what followed was not the story you paint and let me tell you why.

    To cut the long story. MR started flirting with Greed For Power and Money, Alienating Neighbours having wild parties and he was booted out for nuicence.

    2) He is patently the idol of the cash and carry political class. He is the sole panjandrum of a plutocratic priesthood that finds protest more lucrative than preaching. He exudes the aura of a Sinhala Caesar.

    His main constituency is the ‘Mudalali Class of the digital age’ personified by parliamentarians Kumar Welgama, Banduala Gunawardane and Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene .

    *** Have you gone out of your mind. His main contituency is not the Mudalali Class which is an insult.
    His main constituency is THUGS, CRIMINALS and THIEVES and it was a Family Business.

    3) But does Mahinda Rajapaksa who fettered our freedoms, belong in the SLFP? The answer is an emphatic no.

    *** How can you be so sure. He polled 5.8 million Majority of the Majority and he might increase that share and Dayan the man with Dodgy PhD thinks so.

    4) Post war Mahinda Rajapaksa, is the true successor and beneficiary of the JR Jayewardene legacy: dispassionate neo liberal economics. It is Mahinda who gave Colombo a face lift and promoted a new ‘corporatism’ based on market fundamentalism. It is Mahinda who built up the cult of the rich that we see burning its belly fat on the ample jogging tracks that encircle nearly all public space in the city.

    *** The above was not a PLC it was a Ltd Company for the benefit of the Family.

    5) What is missed here is that Mahinda finished the job JR embarked on in more than one sense. He reversed Vadamarachchi. He successfully imposed a fascism in ‘velvet gloves’ that JR intended to but was thwarted by eruptions in the north and the south. The young corporate decision makers in their late thirties and early forties complain that the throbbing vitality of the gung ho economy has evaporated.

    *** This is where you have fallen foul of your short sighteddness and prejudice. I want to take you to task for the following.

    “He reversed Vadamarachi”. He didnt reverse it. It was reversed for Sinhala Lanka by the Italian Witch because of Prabakarans folly of killling her Dearest and Nearest.

    6) Though Mahinda was deposed, the Mahinda machine has survived. The priority for him is to return on time to ensure that it is not dismantled.

    *** I agree with the above because MS,RW and Mangla bought it as Scrap Metal.

    7) The genius of Mahinda Rajapaksa was his ability to acquire the establishment with the tacit connivance of that part of the ‘establishment’ presently in political opposition but committed to its long term interests. The ‘establishment’ is a social network with its own code of conduct committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. The association of the term ‘Pepetual’ with the country’s public debt is not a coincidence. Ideology has never defined politics of Sri Lanka since independence.

    *** I dont know how you come up with the above. Except for a brief period under Srimavo Sri Lanka had a Market Ideology coupled with Racial Ideology.

    8) SWRD Bandaranaike and the UNP differed on something very basic. The UNP the party that stood for property rights upheld the law. The SLFP of SWRD Bandaranaike upheld justice.

    *** I am struggling to understand how you can deliver Justice without upholding Law & Order. It must be unique to Sinhala Lanka.

    9) Maithripala Sirisena’s revolt within the party was his realization that the freedom of the SLFP itself was in jeopardy. As its General Secretary he was not exactly manacled. Yet forthright servitude was the order of the day.

    *** I kept telling every one that he was part of the Axis of Evil and now you have confirmed it. MS is ESTOPPED from going bck on the Word he gave MR and his Cronies.

    Do me a Big Favour and please put UN on NOTICE.

    10) As the political philosopher John Gray notes “We’ve come to believe that freedom is the natural human condition, which only tyrants prevent everyone from enjoying – but when a tyrant is toppled, we can’t know what will come next”

    *** Look no further than Iraq.

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