By P. Soma Palan –
I refer to the news Report in the Daily Mirror of 5h December, under the heading “Instability will end in a week”, where views expressed by the President, Maithripala Sirisena, at the Annual Convention of the SLFP, were given, and also to his latest new theory, that is a “struggle between National and Foreign thinking “, which appeared in the Daily Mirror of 10th December. I wish to comment on bot
The President made triple actions, one after another, which can be described in the popular Sinhala market language as “Māra”, which I guess is devilish, and far from Maithri. (a) He sacked the Prime Minister of the Country in one shot, and appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as new Prime Minister (b) Prorogued Parliament to preempt a Motion of No Confidence against the new PM, allowing space to garner sufficient majority from the Opposition by bidding a price, like at the IPL auction, to entice the would be Hop, Step Jumpers.
Petitions filed in the Appeal and Supreme Courts
The President had declared at the outset at the Convention that “I would honour and accept whatever ruling passed by the two apex Courts in the Country.” In the same breadth, he pronounced a counter view of the people, which really is his view that “people in the Country hold different views on the recent Orders given by the Courts. Some say it was a good one and others say it was like the Chief Incumbent of a temple making a preaching that should have been delivered by the Mahanayake of the Nikaya”. This is certainly not the mark of a person who would “honour and accept” the rulings of Judicial Courts. This is, contemptibly denigrating the highest Judicial Courts to that of a Temple Incumbent. What matters is not the opinion of the public, but the Judicial decisions of the Courts. The Courts are temples of Justice, higher than the temples of Mahanayakes.
The Rationale for Quitting the SLFP
The President MS says that “I quit the SLFP to fight against corruption, selling of State assets, waste and collapse of the rule of law”. But deliberately omits to mention under whose rule these happened. Also states that on 26th October, “I took a decision, on the same reasons, to fire Ranil Wickremasinghe, PM and appoint Mahinda Rajapaksa to replace him”. Isn’t it sheer lunacy to restore the same corrupt Mahinda Rajapaksa as PM, whom he vigorously fought to get rid of? The Prez says the two decisions he took (a) to quit the SLFP and (b) fire Ranil as PM “were correct, prudent and timely decisions”. Decision (a) is not disputed. But (b) is questionable. It is not his subjective view of what is correct, prudent and timely is, what is required, but scrupulously and stringently acting according to the Constitution of the country. Further, he says that the “objective of those judgments were to restore decency, the rule of law and spiritual cleanliness in the Society”.
The events that followed showed how true it was. We saw this being launched in the solemn Assembly, the Parliament, by unleashing indecency, law of the jungle, spiritual depravity, violence, thuggery, hooliganism, and man-handling the Speaker and usurping his Chair.
Destroying the hopes of 6.2 million Voters
The President, MS states that “from the very beginning Ranil started to destroy all the hopes kept by 6.2m of voters and trampled all the pledges and undertakings”. As the President and Head of the Cabinet, how could he absolve himself of all the accusations, and blame it on Ranil Wickremesinghe, the PM. Isn’t it that he and the Cabinet of Ministers are collectively responsible, if there was a failure? The primary aim of the Government in 2015, was to bring all corrupt politicians before the judicial Courts by prosecuting and punishing them. There was dilly dallying and procrastination in investigations and charging indictments against wrong doers. In fact, the President was a stumbling block. His loyalties still was with the defeated Rajapaksa. He played the role of a Fifth Columnist in the Government. God only knows at what price? President says it is difficult to work with Ranil. Strangely, no other SLFP Ministers have said, they cannot work with Ranil. But, Ranil set up the Special Courts to deal with the cases under investigation against corrupt politicians, and imminent prosecutions in Courts was due. President’s surreptitious support for the former President for the last three years came to the open, with the special Courts coming to function. Thus a sinister conspiracy was hatched in collusion with Rajapaksa. Accordingly, President precipitated a crisis by sacking the PM, proroguing and later dissolving the Parliament and issuing a Proclamation for a General Election. A well planned action to create a constitutional crisis, instability of Governance and to force a premature General Election, where Rajapaksa could exploit the ignorance of the masses, in his favour. All these sinister happenings were motivated by one single factor, to save the Rajapaksa family from being hauled before the Special Courts. The claim to save the country from disaster of the Ranil Government, was a mere, slogan.
President’s reference to Ranil ruined the UNP, is a calculated attempt to drive a wedge within that Party and nothing else. It is a matter for the members of the UNP to judge whether Ranil ruined their Political Party or not, and not the concern of the President of the SLFP.
Alien Economic Policies
President, MS says that “ Ranil’s alien economic policies ruin our country”. Do we have alternate indigenous economic policies, in the first place? Does he want to revert to the retrogressive economic parochialism of the ancient times? That is, the Tank and the plough economy (No alien Tractor). The truth is that, all our economic development is due to the alien West. We owe our economic development to alien Sciences and technologies. The latest xenophobic “Mantra” the neo-nationalists chant nowadays is ,“neoliberalism, and Globalisation”. We Asian Nations owe all our modern economic developments and economic progress to Western (alien) materialism. This is an undeniable truth. We are not Inventors, innovators of Industrial technologies and sciences. Had our national minded political leaders shun alien western sciences and technology from the very beginning, we would have remained in the dark ages of ancient times, till now.
The world has changed and constantly changing all the time. We have to keep abreast with modern developments. If we isolate ourselves and be like the frogs in the well, we have to discard all progressive economic policies and be satisfied with an agrarian economy, and not an industrial economy. Materialism and material advancement is the gift of the West, as much as spiritualism is the gift of the Orient to the world. Shutting ourselves to Western materialistic advancement and rejecting it as alien and unsuitable to us, is burying our heads in the sand, like the proverbial Camels.
The world is shrinking, metaphorically, and Nations becoming closer and closer by Information and Communication Technology. National boundaries are blurring, economically. Narrow Nationalism is giving way to Internationalism. There is regional economic integration like the European Union, NAFTA, ASEAN, and bilateral Free Trade Agreements between Nations. Economic boundaries are crumbling with Trade liberalization, free flow of Capital, Investments in Transnational Corporatization, International Joint Ventures, Transfers of Technologies, Human Resource mobility etc. Clinging on to narrow Nationalism and economic parochialism and treating economic advancement as Western Alienism, is backward, and not forward thinking.
The Northern Factor
President MS accused Ranil of deceiving the people of the North. Deceiving the people of the North is an ingrained customary policy of all the Majoritarian politicians, since we gained Independence. But Ranil and, also Chandrika Kumaratunga, made some sincere, tentative efforts to solve the problem of the Northern people. MS says “Ranil deliberately ignored to provide facilities to the Northern people.” What the people of the North are yearning for, is not “facilities”, but real recognition of their due rights as a distinct historical community of the country. This, Ranil attempted to do this, by drafting a new Constitution for the country, by giving North East regional autonomy and self-government. But this process was undermined by MS and the drafting of the new Constitution by the Constitutional Assembly was scuttled by MS and his bandwagon of Sinhala Buddhist racists and the obscurantist Buddhist Clergy.
Undemocratic Mindset of MS
MS has stated that “I am determined not to reappoint Ranil as the PM, even if the entire 225 MPs demanded so”. This reveals what a true Democrat he is. To override the wishes of the majority of the MPs of the Parliament, where Peoples Sovereignty is reposed, is not upholding democratic principles, but resurrecting a decadent dictatorship, which even the Communist Russia or China of modern day, will not resort to. His arrogant resistance to the wishes of the Parliament, is a palpable violation of, Country’s, Constitution which, he is bound by Oath to uphold, protect and defend.
President MS States that, “Ranil must not be given the opportunity to run this country as he does not have a vision or plan for the country and nation”. Ranil is an educated, professional Lawyer with a modern outlook of the world and his vision and plan is to build Sri Lanka as a Modern State, based on modern Science and Technology with a higher standard of living and per capita income for its people. This is my perception of the man, which he conveys by the actions and policies he pursues, as a political leader. This is clear to the Intelligentsia of the country. His outlook is technocratic and meritocratic. He is for foreign Capital Investment inflows to the country in the form of Industrial Projects, either single or joint ventures with local capital, leading to industrial development, job creation, transfers of technical know-how to our people. Towards this objective he is for regional economic integration and increased trade between countries of the Asian region, by trade and tariff liberalization, through the mechanism of bilateral Free Trade Agreements with countries like India, Singapore of South Asia. His vision and plan is to industrialise and promote exports. It is this above stated vision and plan, the culturally biased parochial nationalists like the President MS and the ilk, call Neoliberalism of the West.
If not for the Technology and Sciences of the West, we will still be in a tribal economy. The people who decry Neoliberalism of the West, which is not suitable for our superior indigenous culture, should then discard all western originated technologies and the Sciences, and install our indigenous technologies and Sciences. For example, we must discard the Western Allopathic Medicine and replace it with only Ayurvedic Medicine. Will not this too be then alien and not suit us, since Ayurveda is an Indian Science of Medicine of Vedic origin, which we have borrowed. Likewise, we must discard the Western political Institutions and structures, Western Judicial system and Jurisprudence, Western technical and Engineering expertise, Western educational qualifications and everything western in origin, as alien and unsuitable for our country, and replace them with our primitive systems and institutions and/or with various’ Suttas’of Buddhism. The Prez MS’s and his like-minded Nationalists’ pathological affliction of Western Alienism would logically lead to label Christian, Islamic and even Hindu religions, as alien and not suitable to our country. This, I believe is the progressive vision and plan, the President MS has for our country.
Struggle between National and Foreign thinking
In the above headed Daily Mirror report of 10th December, the President MS has said that the “current political crisis is not a conflict between the political parties or between him and UNP Leader, Ranil Wickreeasinghe, as some people attempt to portray, but a conflict between the national and alien thinking”. According to Prez MS, there is no political or Constitutional crisis currently in the country. Some people are portraying it as a constitutional crisis. This is a startling new perception of the crisis, we are embroiled in. It was engineered by the Western Imperialist forces. It implies that they sacked the PM Ranil, and prorogued and later dissolved Parliament and not Prez MS. If so, what is this hullabaloo of Petitioning the Apex Courts, Interim Stay Orders, making the Government and Cabinet dysfunctional etc, if it was not a conflict between political Parties or between him and UNP Leader and anti-constitutional actions, but only a conflict between” national and alien thinking”? According to Prez MS’s novel thinking there is no violation of the Constitution, and says that “the issue has come up now as a Constitutional crisis”. According to Prez MS’s fantastic logic, it is a contest between “National and Foreign thinking”. Here the words “foreign thinking” connotes not of foreign Imperialist forces, but Sri Lankans with foreign thinking. Obliquely, it refers to PM Ranil. Therefore, despite the initial denial of a conflict between him and Ranil at the outset, it seems now the conflict is between his national thinking and Ranil’s foreign thinking. When a person is universal, modern and progressive in outlook, in contrast to one, who is parochial, insular and backward in outlook, he is labeled with foreign thinking and the latter is self-styled with national thinking, particularly when, Ranil’s dress is western slacks, shirt, coat and tie. The dress is the criteria for a person’s thinking. Western dress, western knowledge and education are considered anti- national and pro-western in thinking. But Ranil is true to himself and not a pretender, to don the White, so-called national dress, preferably with a Satakaya around the neck, in and out of Buddhist temples and genuflecting before Mahanayake Theros, cultivating populism for votes, in a lust for power. Ranil has no qualms wearing the western dress. But the national thinking politicians wear the national dress, without realizing that it is also alien, South Indian dress.
We faced political invasion by Western colonial powers and under subjugation to their rule. We rightly resisted and gained our independence. In the modern context of the world no nation is absolutely independent. All nations are inter-dependent in one form or other in varying degree of scale. This is the reality. Nations differ in size of the land, economy, population, natural resources, military Power, Wealth, and levels of development of sciences and technology, Industry, knowledge-based Human resource etc. We cannot shut ourselves from progressive world developments, whether it is from the West or East or North or South. We have to take the best, from all sources.
The Industrial Revolution came from the West and not from anywhere else in the world. Russia and China were then backward countries. Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution, under Lenin, opened up the country with his New Economic Policy of Western liberal Capitalist economic policies, which were adopted. This paved the way for industrialization and modernization of Russia. The same foreign economic thinking penetrated into China under Mao tse tung. Had these nations shut western influences as alien, these two countries would not have been powerful nations as of today. But puny Sri Lanka and its puny nationalist politicians think, western neoliberalism and economic policies are alien and not suitable for our great nation, which has our own indigenous economic policies for scientific and technological advancement of the country, based on our “national thinking” derived from the Buddhist scriptures (the Suttas). Little do they realize, we have nothing which we can call our, own. Leave aside the material, even our spiritual, the religion, culture and civilization is of Alien import, from India, both North and South. Sooner we shed our xenophobia of the West and, discard the narrow” nationalist thinking” that treats all productive and progressive economic policies as alien and unsuitable for our country, the better.