27 June, 2022


MoU With The JHU: Maithripala Must A Be A Deng Hsiao Peng, Not A Mikhail Gorbachev

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

“I hate the goddamn system! But until someone comes along with changes that make sense, I’ll stick with it.” – Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry” Callaghan, in ‘Magnum Force’ (1973)

Those who criticize my continued ‘nonaligned’ approach to the Presidential election and the candidates, as well as my refusal to convert unthinkingly to the cause of the joint opposition, make the cardinal error of confusing governance, government and the State. That is not an error a political scientist is permitted; still less one of Marxian and Leninist provenance such as I am. I agree with all the criticisms made by the Opposition of the present regime and even go beyond them in some aspects. However, those are criticisms about bad governance, and require a solution in precisely that realm. Bad governance must not be confused with the structure and system of the State; the framework of the state.

While I have no problem with the prospect of a Maithripala Sirisena presidency, my problem with the Opposition’s project is that it will not merely displace the regime—which is fine by me—but will weaken the core of the state through the Constitutional ‘shock therapy’ of a 100 day abolition project. JR Jayewardene’s modernizing revolution was located in the domain of the state system; the form of the state – the shift to an elected executive Presidency. I do not think it should be fundamentally reversed or upended.

JHU Maithri MOUOf the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, a very diverse four (the US, Russia, China, France) have executive presidential systems. Only the UK does not. Of the members of the emerging/pivotal powers represented in the BRICS, all (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) except India have presidential systems.  I am therefore utterly unconvinced that the executive Presidential system needs to be abolished, still less in one hundred days, or that it is intrinsically inferior to the system of parliamentary government. It certainly needs to be reformed.

Reforms are necessary to overcome stagnation and sclerosis. Reforms must not dismantle or destabilize the state system. I supported Mikhail Gorbachev’s Glasnost and Perestroika but I regret doing so with uncritical, over-optimistic enthusiasm. It is a mistake I shall never repeat. Fidel Castro was far more cautious and perspicacious. While being a stringent critic of the stale and stagnant Soviet socialism, he warned as early as 1987 that “we may wake up one day and find that the Soviet Union has disappeared”.  Gorbachev was right in his criticism and zeal for reform, but he could not control that reform process, which got of hand and was hijacked by Boris Yeltsin and his ‘ radical reformers’ with their 500 Day plans of “ shock therapy”, who went on to agree to the dissolution of the USSR. Putin rightly called it “the greatest geostrategic tragedy of the twentieth century”. It took Putin and the powerful Presidency to restore some measure of status and self-respect for Russia.

Maithripala Sirisena must not be a Mikhail Gorbachev and Ranil and CBK must not be permitted to play Yeltsin. Mr. Sirisena, a former Maoist, must instead become a Deng Hsiao Peng, who will radically reform the system without damaging, still less dissolving, the core of the state system.

What this country needs is the right combination of change and continuity. While Mahinda represents continuity without change, what the CBK-RW-MangalaRajitha bloc represents is change without continuity. Both extremes are equally dangerous.

This is where the JHU comes in, as a balancing factor, helping take Maithripala to his natural zone: the moderate nationalist center rather than the deracinated CBK-Ranil liberal fundamentalism.

I never thought I’d say this, and I am acutely aware of the ironies of the expression when used in relation to a Sinhala Buddhist nationalist party, but “thank God for the JHU!”  The hundred days MoU just signed between the common opposition candidate and the Jathika Hela Urumaya introduces the possibility of a course correction in the vitally important Sirisena campaign. It is also a useful counterweight to the abolitionist liberal fundamentalism of the earlier MoU between Mr. Sirisena and the array of characters in the joint opposition; a MoU which the JHU rightly stayed out of. The JHU has introduced some semblance of balance and nudged the Sirisena project in the direction of a Middle Path—a path that would be the natural inclination of a traditional SLFPer such as Mr. Sirisena.

The crucial points of the MoU with the JHU are as follows:

Clause1- Constitutional reforms as regards the executive powers, good governance and electoral system.

Clause 2- Abolishing the draconian powers of the executive presidency without jeopardizing national security and territorial integrity. Introducing and electoral system with features of the first-past-post and proportional representative systems to ensure stable government. (My emphasis-DJ)

Clause 6- Action against efforts to arraign the Commander-in-Chief and other military leaders with war crimes at international tribunals.

Of these, the core element is the commitment to “Abolishing the draconian powers of the executive presidency without jeopardizing national security and territorial integrity.”

One notes that the commitment is not to abolishing the executive presidency as such, but to “constitutional reform as regards executive powers”. The pledge is not to the divestiture of the presidency of all its executive powers but to abolish the “draconian powers”, i.e. the dangerous excess. Most commendable in the JHU’s insistence and Mr. Sirisena’s readiness to embrace the principle that even the reform of the executive presidency must fall between certain red lines and that those red lines pertain to security: “Abolishing the draconian powers of the executive presidency without jeopardizing national security and territorial integrity.”

The JHU is far more grounded than the civil society intellectuals around President Kumaratunga who came up with the abolitionist slogan many years ago, in the CBK second term. The motive was clear: to permit her to remain in politics and at the helm of national affairs. They understood that this was not possible by Constitutional means, because she could not obtain a two thirds majority. Thus they sought a leveling solution—a return by an extra constitutional pathway, to the Westminster system under which CBK could have been a PM without term limits, just like her mother. In pursuit of this Constitutional Revolution for which she needed the support of the TNA—at the time a proxy of the LTTE–she even permitted Prabhakaran’s combatants to violate the CFA and make a surprise seaborne landing behind the lines of the rebellious Karuna forces drawn up along the Verugal River.

The JHU is not sullied by such motives. Unlike Ranil and Chandrika, it has been consistently in the anti-LTTE camp; it has been nationalist and security conscious. In the form of Champika Ranawaka and Athureliye Rathana Thero it has far smarter and more responsible political minds than the Sudu Nelum/CFA/ISGA/PTOMS elements around Chandrika and Ranil. Perhaps most significantly, it has a first rate political scientist, Anurudhdha Pradeep, who is a more literate and far better student of politics than the surfeit of lawyers and NGO types around the CBK-Ranil bloc.



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  • 1

    Are their conflicts of interests already in this unholy Alliance of Sudu Nelum, CFA,ISGA. PTOMS peddlers and the ex General?….

    The king maker Ven Ratna’s side kick Champika invited the President to join the National Govt , he is going to form after the 18 April.

    Champika Ranawaka even promised the President total protection from International Investigators .

    And you know who they are..

    Ven Rathna has written that in to the agreement with the Sand Sira’s Brother.in the MOU. .

    Now, how does this sit with Sudu Nelum aunty who publicly declared in Hyde Park that Rajapaksa is corrupt.

    And the ex General who promised to hang Rajapaksa in Galle Face last time, confirmed Sudu Aunty’s charges in his speech soon after.

    Vote for “Hypocrisy, Bullshit and Commission. Cheques ” is the appropriate slogan for this mob.

    No wonder the Vellalas are staying out of it….

  • 6

    DJ is a MaRa lackey.

    He twists reality to suit MR.

    • 0

      FF – please remember it is better to be a lackey of MR rather than be a lackey of Ranil-CBK-Mangala-Maithree – simply because MR represent future of the country where as the other combination represent only the rotten past of this country – so he must be allowed to carry out what he had already started – of course i do agree MR is not the best leader of this country – but certainly the best out of all the others who are aspiring to be leaders and who were leaders in the past – MR is a street smart politician with courage and a genuine love for this country – but he certainly is not book smart and lacks the temperament of a book smart guy – I think if we can find a leader who is book smart but capable of taking street smart decision – then we have the best choice and can throw MR into dust bin – unfortunately we do not have these kind of politician in the present day political arena – Until we find a quick way to make people attain “Rahath Bawa” we cannot eradicate their greed for money – so in the present day politics corruption is a common denominator — and many of us are corrupted also – how many of our public sector employees are doing a honest eight hour work – how many of us are tax evaders – how many of our religious leaders are sellers of their religion – how many of our past- present politicians are day light robbers — many of the politicians in the present day world are robbers — therefore we have to forget about the human factor in the present day politics and focus our attention on the future of this country – who offer us the best programme for the development of this country –

  • 6

    Dr Nirmalan,

    “The privileges enjoyed by the minority groups in general and Tamils “

    Tamils worked hard…

    One of the main reasons why the Tamils occupied a better place in the government service and the professions under British rule than the Sinhalese did was due to the head start they had in the sphere of learning English although this was by accident and not design.

    The American Ceylon Mission was started in the Jaffna peninsula by the American Methodist Missionaries in 1816. In her very recent book, “Communal politics under the Donoughmore Constitution” Jane Russell gives a good account of the services rendered by these missionaries to education in Jaffna.

    According to her, the reason why the Mission chose Jaffna as the focus of its activities was because “the colonial government was anxious to avoid a clash with the English Missions and partly because its strategic position was the key to India which was the Mission’s main target”.

    By 1822, 42 schools staffed by Americans who were fluent in Tamil, had been established in the peninsula. In 1823, was set up the Batticotta (not to be confused with Batticaloa) Seminary at Vaddukoddai. This was the first English school in Asia. It was a free boarding school whose standard has been compared to that of a University, It taught English, Tamil prose, Mathematics, Greek, Latin History, Geography and. Philosophy.

    In 1833, a professor of Medicine arrived and thereafter the Seminary turned out medical students and potential doctors. The methods of the American Ceylon Mission was reported to be infinitely more advanced and the missionaries more dedicated than those in the English Mission Schools in the rest of Ceylon.

    Having learnt Tamil thoroughly, the Americans translated English text books into Tamil and compiled comprehensive English-Tamil dictionaries. As Colebrooke pointed out in 1830, the level of English education imparted in Jaffna was much higher than elsewhere in Ceylon as a result of the Americans asserting the importance of teaching English (unlike other missions).

    Due to a financial crisis, the colonial government cut down expenditure on education by half during the end of 1847. This did not affect the American Ceylon Mission. The effect was that the governments schools in the South-West were outclassed completely. In 1929 there existed in the Jaffna peninsula 65 English schools, 10 of them being first/class Collegiate Schools, and 426 Vernacular schools. In that year, the Northern province had 6 out of 7 children attending some form schools.

    As K. Balasingam said in a speech in 1913, we have cultivated the only thing that could have been cultivated with profit despite the aridity of our soil. We ‘have attempted to cultivate men’.

    The Americans were followed by Catholic and Protestant Missionaries who all proceeded to set up schools as part of their aim of proselytising. When Hindu revivalism started, there was formed the Hindu Board of Education which, in turn, opened up its schools. Thus, Jaffna became blessed with many schools. It was said that, at one stage, Jaffna had more schools per square mile than anywhere else in the world.

    This gave a great impetus to the study of the English, a language which was the language of administration of the British Colonialists. Naturally, the Tamils obtained more posts in the governments service and the professions, like law and medicine, out of proportion to their numbers. But, they were obtained in open competition and not through the back door. According to Jane Russel, the Ceylon Tamils constituted over 40 percent of the franchise for the Educated Members seat in 1918.

    A particular reason as to, why the Tamil felt the urgent need for better and higher education, particularly in English, was his consciousness that he lived in the most barren and uneconomic part of Sri Lanka which did not boast of a river, a mountain or forest. Education was the only passport to a better life. So he studied hard.

    It was a slightly different picture with the Sinhalese in the South. They were blessed with a more fertile land where literally anything grew. Sustenance was easy. But, the educational facilities available to them were less than those available to the Tamils. Besides, till the economic crisis of 1929-1931, the Sinhala middle classes were not that keen to join government service or the professions as their lands could sustain them. It was in the years just before and just after the Second World War that the competition for jobs between the Sinhala and Tamil middle classes grew.

    According to the Soulbury Commission report, in the year 1938, out of 6002 pensionable officers, 3236 were Sinhalese and 1164 were Ceylon Tamils. Much of the friction between the two communities arose over the disputes about the social proportions in certain departments in the public service. The communal problem, therefore, is at bottom a competition between the respective middle classes for entry into government service and the professions and for trade opportunities.

    According to Jane Russel, the “golden age” of the Ceylon Tamils can be approximately ascribed to the 50 years between 1870 and 1920. In this period. the excellence of the English school system in the Jaffna peninsula enabled large numbers of the Jaffnese to find lucrative employment in the civil and clerical services of Malaya, India and Ceylon. Economically wealthy, the Jaffna Tamils had become politically powerful. The Coomaraswamy – Ponnambalam dynasty had been able to dominate the other communal representatives in the Legislative Council in the 19th century, and had therefore become the acknowledged leaders of the English – educated elite of both communities.

    When Ponnambalam Ramanathan was elected the first all-island representative in 1912 against the opposition of a Sinhalese, Marcus Fernando, he acquired de – jure the official recognition as spokesman of the English educated elite, which had been his de facto role for over 30 years.

    In 1916, his brother, Ponnambalam Arunachalam entered the political arena. From the outset of his political career, Arunachalam towered above his Sinhalese and Tamil contemporaries. Almost immediately he was recognised as the leader of the English educated elite. The founder of the Ceylon National Congress, as well as a number of labour organisations, Arunachalam dominated Ceylon’s politics for the remaining 7 years of his life. When he left the Congress in 1922 it marked the end of the ascendency of the Ceylon Tamils in Ceylon politics.

    Under Colonial rule the Sinhalese and Tamil leaders worked harmoniously together in pursuit of more and more reforms from the Colonial power. In 1915, after the martial law riots, it was the Tamil knight, Ponnambalam Ramanathan who braved the torpedo infested seas to travel to England to plead the cause of the detained Sinhala leaders, like D. S. Senanayake. Everyone knows the story of how, when Ramanathan returned to the island, the Sinhala leaders, including the then labour leader, A. E. Goonsinha, unharnessed the horses from his chariot and dragged the chariot themselves.

    • 2

      Dear Anpu,

      Tku for this useful data. While I do not dispute anything stated here I have also heard one of the reasons why there were more American-aided
      educational institutions here was because the American missionaries came via land (in those days where commercial air transport was not heard of) from South India. They set up first in Jaffna, as I learnt,
      and were planning to move to the East and thence to South Sri Lanka.

      However, I agree with you there was no “conspiracy” in the larger presence of Tamils in Govt service, the medical, engineering and other services. Even otherwise, by the late 1950s a certain degree of correction appears to have become necessary. But what happened was, with the 1956 so-called Sinhala Buddhist Revolution of SWRD English was dethroned and replaced by Sinhalese destroying both Tamils and Sinhalese over the years. The baby was thrown out with the bath-water, if you will. We now hear JVP activists in Universities in the South now violently campaign against learning English???

      R. Varathan

      • 2

        Thank you Mr Varathan for the info and I agree with your observation.

  • 6

    Even an average Srilankan who has less IQ than a Political Scientist, will conclude :

    The bottom line of DJ ‘s long analysis is :


  • 0

    APRIL 26

    Yus Ibrahi posted in Green Blood (UNP).
    The common candidate for the Presidential election will be Maithripala Sirisena,the General Secretary of the SLFP who will be backed by Chandrika and several Govt MPs.
    The above posting was made on the unp website 7 months before it became public knowledge.I have cut and pasted this from my face book posting.The NIB or the political scientists like DJ were clueless.

  • 0

    This MOU is not valid documents with MS and JHU, that both parties having Threewheel population by that have few elements of people. Not resrestantavive backing by masses. INVALID MOU BY LOST OF POLITICS BY JHU AND MS.

  • 0

    Maithripal should keep unitary state. Keep defense ministry with president. Should appoint Sajith as Pri minister because he is the most popular figure around UNP who support war heroes. Should not appoint Ranil as pri minister.

  • 0

    @Ms Manel Fonseka
    Dear Ms Fonseka, thanks. I don’t think the two documents are the same. For example clause 5 in the JHU document (the Sinhala version) does not appear in the English version that was signed by the broader coalition. This clause relates to the position of not altering status-quo in relation to National religions. But what is most surprising is that even in the Sinhala version, there is no mention of 13A. That’s what made me wonder whether the JHU has finally seen the light at the end of the tunnel……..which gives me hope. But I am an optimist anyway.
    BTW, are you connected to Prof Carlo Fonseka, an eminent teacher from our times.

    • 0

      As a Sinhalese I can say that support for 13A among sinhalas is now considerable or correctly the dislike towards it is less. Whatever wrong india did, 13 A finally became good for both sinhalese and tamils.

      • 0

        It is good to read the views of reader Sach. The Sinhala side must understand Tamils also were largely opposed to the 13A from the beginning. But, I believe, it is a fair start and we will have to improve upon it to meet the aspirations and thus remove the fears of both sides. This Sinhala fear if the North-East is amalgamated it will lead to Separation is extremely delusional. The main Tamil political formation, TNA, have publicly declared they are no longer for separation. It is the Sinhala extreme that keeps the fear of the Sinhalese alive by misleading Separation will become inevitable. This is not so. India is much more fiercely against Separation before, during and after the LTTE is the reality. The only beneficiary of 13A was Wijeweera and the then JVP. It is only for this they became a formidable force at that time when the Sinhala electorate feared an imagined Indian takeover due to false JVP propaganda.

        It is the Sinhala man on the street who must come with an entirely changed mindset about his Tamil counter-part. If this is accomplished with the indulgence of the Sinhala press and electronic media, reconciliation will be easy to come by.

        R. Varathan

    • 0

      Dear Doc Nirmalan

      No relation of Carlo’s I’m afraid, tho I do know him and he wrote a lovely review of my little book about a 92 year old Burgher Doctor (interviewed in 1982): GREAT DAYS: MEMOIR OF A SRI LANKA GOVERNMENT MEDICAL OFFICER– DR PRC PETERSON (available from the Social Scientists’ Association – SSA- Jawatte Rd, and sometimes from Barefoot. For some reason Vijitha Yapa’s never carries it). But my husband knows him rather more as they are both academics. I use my maiden name.

      • 0

        P.S. to my last blog (getting free advertising!) The book’s subtitle is actually: Memoir of a CEYLON GOVERNMENT MEDICAL OFFICER OF 1918 — the year is important. The book is illustrated.

  • 0


    Why don’t you understand that 99% of CT readers (learned men and women) reject your views?

    • 0

      PS – how did you manage to figure out 99% of this blog reject Dr D’s views – but I think 99% of bloggers do not understand his point of view – and express KOHEDA YANNE MALLE POL views – In simple terms what he says is MS’s programme of abolishing EP in 100 days and handing over the reins of the country to Ranil-CBK-Mangala gang will be a foolish thing to do at this time and the JHU’s programme of removing the draconian provisions of EP and making it more user friendly would be more appropriate – and more suitable for the country – in more simple terms — do not cut the tree but prone it — But the biggest question is – how to do it ??? — I think JHU’s approach in this context is not correct ( MoU is good approach is wrong}– they should have remain in the Government or stay completely neutral and inform their followers to think and vote the candidate who can save this country from its internal and external enemies – I do not understand how can JHU achieve any of their objectives by joining hands with Ranil- CBK- Mangala -Mithree — If this combination wins – Mithree is suppose to be a ceremonial head of the government without any powers after first 100 days – I have my doubts about his ability to do anything that he says he will do within 100 days – because though he is the elected EP he cannot change provisions in the constitution without 2/3 majority in the parliament – this will not be possible if there is no mass cross over – After a victory Ranil\CBK\Mangala will be in no mood to receive cross overs – because they will be having their own hungry wolves to satisfy first — which means the MoU, JHU agreed with Mithree automatically become null and void – with that JHU become an entity of no use in the proposed National Gov.- because they do not have a wide voter base and will not have much representation in the proposed national Gov — JHU of course a valuable political outfit – but they should drop their extreme Sinhale Buddist nationalistic outlook and broaden their base to include the under privilege rural and urban communities of all the racial and religion groups of this country and start working to develop them from their wretched poverty — they must work to enhance the understanding among racial and religion groups of this country — they also must perfectly understand neither the Ranil nor the CBK represent the poor in this country – however MR represent them or know perfectly how to make the poor feel MR is one of them – which is good as a politician of this country – I feel MS is a guy who is day dreaming to climb to the layer that is represented by Ranil / CBK … I have only sympathy for him — I think JHU should reconsider their stance and stay away from the current fray and try to do things that will improve their voter base among all the communities of this country = else they are wasting their time

  • 1

    DJ is doing what his masters who are paying him to do. Everyone knows his non alignment. He would be pretending to say good about MS but criticise him. His propaganda does not work and he is only wasting time in trying to bully the public. He together with cronies he works with realise how foolish they are.

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