21 September, 2019

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Navin’s Unbeaten Fifty

By Palitha Pelpola

Palitha Pelpola

The year was 2000; it was either end of August or beginning of September. I was living in Los Angeles, California in the United States. I was driving to work and was about to enter 118 Ronald Reagan Freeway. My phone rang and from the country code flashing on my screen I knew that it was from Sri Lanka. It was Navin Dissanayake, Gamini Dissanayake’s eldest son. He said that he intended to hand in nominations for the forthcoming elections scheduled for October 10, 2000. I said fine and wished him success. But before I could hang up, he asked a question to which I just couldn’t say no. He asked if I could come over and run his campaign as I did for his late father on numerous occasions. 

I said yes, and was flattered indeed. He further said that he would call back once my air-ticket and flight details were finalized. I consented and immediately called Ardni, my wife and told her about the call and she said that I owed it to the Dissanayake family to go home and help Navin. When I left Sri Lanka at the end of 1994, Navin was only 25 years old. He was baptized in electioneering in that year’s Parliamentary election in which his father was the only winner of all the UNP bigwigs in that, only Kandy district secured a sizeable victory. Almost all other districts lost badly; yet the UNP managed to secure, thanks to the Proportional Representation (PR) system), eighty one (81) seats in parliament.

Navin Dissanayake

I landed in Sri Lanka just about one or two days before the nomination day and Navin asked me to wait at his Wijerama Mawatha home until he called me up to Nuwara Eliya. In a couple of days I was back in Nuwara Eliya, where I started my election campaigning under the tutelage of the Grandmaster of all campaigns, Dr. Wickrema Weerasooria, my mentor, my Guru and my dear friend. I went straight to Hawa Eliya where Srima Dissanayake, Navin’s Mother and Navin and Lanka stayed during the campaign time. By this time I had already asked E M de Zoysa, Gamini Dissanayake loyalist who used to help me immensely by manning all our election main offices from 1977 to 1994, to provide me with the basic data sheet in the Nuwara District. It included, among others, categorization of all voters in ethnicity, religion etc. 

I asked Lanka for a laptop computer and entered the raw data provided by EM. I did my analysis and calculations and told both Srima and Lanka that Navin would receive fifty five thousand to sixty thousand (50,000-60,000) preferential votes. A victory for the Chandrika-led Podujana Peramuna (PA) was a bygoner. Both Srima and Lanka were dismayed at the analysis I presented. But I asked both of them: ‘would you be happy if Navin would be number one in the UNP list despite the fact that he would get only 50,000-60,000 preferential votes?’ Then both were relieved and agreed in unison. That is how I started the 2000 campaign. It was one grueling campaign and the manner in which Navin managed his supporters, his campaign staff itself and his temper and his patience was remarkable. Navin received 57,000 plus preferential votes and he was number one in the UNP list, to my utter relief.

What is most irritable of all features of any election campaign is the lack of resources, both vehicular and financial. However much one tries to launch a ‘perfect’ election campaign, there will always be hitches and complications beyond the control of the most perfect planner. Handling the hitches and complications without losing one’s temper and cool and yet achieve the desired results at the elections is the ultimate test of a clever and intelligent politician. In that context, Navin’s 2nd baptism in 2000 Parliamentary Elections was indeed a success story to which he added many chapters after he became a fully-fledged-parliamentarian, a State Minster and now a senior Minister and the National Organizer of his Party. Moreover, he being the only UNPer who has managed to win the district in the last Pradesheeya Sabha (PS) Elections when the rest of the country was deluged by the Pohottuwa, speaks volumes for his prowess as a campaigner firstly and an extremely popular politician secondly.

As for me personally, it is extremely satisfying to be continuing to work for the second generation of the Dissanayakes. It is a rare privilege to serve the father and the son, although not in the same capacity, yet as closely as it was for the father. The glowing class and decorum with which both the father and son conducted their normal business is striking and the opportunity that Navin provided me with after I was relieved (no pun intended) by President Maithripala Sirisena is worthy of mention. 

Navin is 50 years old today. Gamini Dissanayake was assassinated when he was only 52. By that time Gamini’s political journey had burst through many a gorge and crevice. Many an analyst and a writer fall into the trap when he or she attempts at making comparisons between the father and son. It’s not fair by either of the parties. Contexts are different and more so the eras and times. If one were to look into the times of Gamini Dissanayake and asks the question whether he was right in his decision to run for the Presidential Elections in 1994, with almost no exception, the answer would be a negative. Yet Gamini made that decision within the context of the prevailing conditions and circumstances. A chance to run for the top job in the country has no parallel. 

In the same vain, would Navin have even made an attempt to make a run for the same job in today’s context? Navin may have decided against it already and he may have come to that conclusion after the enormous wealth of data and analyses available to him now, in the post-Gamini era. In politics, context matters most. For that matter, in all human affairs, context matters most. Without reference to context no analysis is complete, no data is relevant and no conclusions are conclusive. 

The era within which Navin is making his political moves and counter-moves, is so terribly distorted and distressing. A political culture that has been born as an unusually cruel byproduct of a historical process has claimed its victims already. The nation stands on the threshold of an abyss of total cultural-destruction; unnerved by an ever-widening gulf between haves and have-nots, the politicos are in a mad rush to enrich themselves at the expense of the gullible voters. Navin’s challenge is to challenge that culture; his is to test the sustainability of a saner culture that is grounded in the conventions of justice and fair-play. To challenge convention and yet safeguard the conventions of justice and fair-play is no task for an ordinary person. Navin is no ordinary person. 

Navin has that within himself, within his closely-knit family of a charming spouse and two daughters and above all an abiding faith in Buddhism and its sublime teachings. Navin will travel a long way, maybe bypassing his father’s dreams and ambitions, that much I’m sure.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    7

    A glowing tribute to a young aspiring leader, grounded in reality of service well rendered to his constituency and Ministry. Leaders are born, nurtured and schooled into their role by the family and community around them. The learning and grooming is an essential part of future leadership to cherish and cultivate a vision and pave the path for the accomplishment of the mission. To pave one’s path appropriately without hurting or treading on those who support and school you, calls for education, refinement and culture embedded in one’s spiritual values. To know that young Navin Dissanayaka respects safeguarding the conventions of justice and fair-play is comforting indeed, in the midst of this political wrangling within the party. As a young teacher, I admired Mr Gamini Dissanayaka. On his 50th birthday we wish Navin, the best in his family life and political career. May the Triple Gem bless you.

    • 8
      0

      Ethel Nanayakkara

      You type:

      “To know that young Navin Dissanayaka respects safeguarding the conventions of justice and fair-play is comforting indeed, in the midst of this political wrangling within the party.”

      Of course every person’s first duty is to protect the country and the wealth of the nation, serve the country well, ………… many decent ordinary people believe Navin Nayaka is yet to clear his name from all sorts of allegations aimed at his family.

      Could you or Palitha Pelpola enlighten us on the following serious matters:

      Source of his family fortunes, (even JR was not happy about it and made a point in the UK news paper)

      the burning of Jaffna Library,
      who was involved in that arson attack,
      who gave the orders,

      whereabouts of the remaining books and ola manuscripts which were removed from burning library,

      Name(s) of the Indian agent in Sri Lankan cabinet during 1980s,

      Why did Navin Nayaka rush to defend throat slitting Brigadier who was attached to the High Commissions in the UK by writing letters in ENGLISH to the descendants of former Colonial Masters?

      Actually could you tell us where was he between 2007 and 2014?
      What was he doing during this period?
      Was he sharing bed with ruling crooks?

      What about his loyalty to a particular party?
      Do you keep a record of how many times he has crossed floor?
      Why does he deserve praise?

      • 3
        0

        Ethel Nanayakkara

        As minister/politician/UK educated/…. what has he on his own achieved in his life?

        He was appointed as Minister of Plantation Industries in September 2015, he didn’t know the plantation workers were under paid for what they were supposed to get paid, which was illegal until Reuters questioned him.

        Excerpt from Reuters 27 March 2019
        Tea label giants vow probe after Sri Lanka labor abuse expose:

        “The Minister of Plantation Industries, Navin Dissanayake, said he “disagreed” that workers’ wages were being halved.

        “Dissanayake, who was appointed minister of plantations in 2015, said he was unaware of earnings being cut over quotas.”

        “(However) I concede that estate workers are one of the most impoverished communities with the highest rate of malnourishment,” he said. “The situation has improved over the past 20 to 30 years, but that doesn’t mean we should be happy.”

        This man does not understand the pain and suffering of the workers because
        he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.

      • 10
        1

        Dear Native,
        I have no idea about what kind of a person Navin is. But to be fair, what about the fortune Premadasa family acquired? He and his wife came from nothing, he was from Keselwatta, and she was the cashier of Sanghadasa mudalali’s shop. What about the wealth acquired by the whole Rajapakse clan? They were a totally bankrupted family, only the family name they had. How did Wimal W. acquire the wealth? He just had a push bicycle, no education, nothing. The list is way too long to mention. Only CBK can boast about not acquiring mammoth amount of wealth by looting the country. What I have heard is Navin’s mother had some means and she was a very smart lawyer. It is a known fact Gamini D. acquired wealth through Mahaweli Project, but compare to the way Rajapakse family looted, it was peanuts. Two wrongs do not make it right, but the facts should be corrected.

      • 2
        0

        I would like to know more about these things you bring up. Are they allegations against Navin or Gamini?

      • 4
        0

        Native
        I am with you on your questions related to the Jaffna library. Bear with me, I can understand the animal behaviour in 1983- such things have happened elsewhere, but Jaffna library is beyond my comprehension. This is the most heinous, most shameful, utterly barbarian crime ever committed on this soil.
        I know of a clerk who was assigned election duties in Jaffna who has described me in detail how the intimidatory campaign was run buy thugs sent from Colombo. To this day he cries over the Jaffna library.
        Now we know that this boastful Palitha Pelpola was the great organiser.
        .
        As for Navin I don’t hold the son accountable for father’s sins but UNP as a whole.

        Soma

        • 3
          0

          soman

          “As for Navin I don’t hold the son accountable for father’s sins but UNP as a whole.”

          Navin is not responsible for what his father did. However his family is the whole beneficiary of what the father stole from the state. The right thing for him to do is to reimburse the state what Dutta Gamani took from the country.

          Navin is not responsible for the destruction of the magnificent library. However he should know some of the thugs/culprits/members of Jathika Sevaka Sangamaya/policemen/members of armed forces who either witnessed or participated in the arson attack on the library. Most thugs were recruited from Kurunagala.

          By the way its not just the thugs who were responsible for the attack but the entire nation which kept a deafening silence over the attack including Navin. If that was the work of UNP, it left office in 1994.Members of SLFP were elected as presidents between 1994 to 2015 (21 years).

          Why didn’t SLFP with its numerous elected presidents and all powerful unelected American defence secretary pursue the arsonists when they very well knew the thugs were transported mostly from Kurunagala and some stolen books from the library were taken to Kurunagala for storage. What is Navin doing to clear his dad’s name.

          Navin, Namal, Sajith, ….. demand their entitlements.
          Recently Navin Nayakka said he wanted to fulfil his dad’s dream, which is becoming president.

          As an MP Navin should have made sure the throat slitting Brigadier was recalled and reprimanded for his undiplomatic behaviour. Instead he wrote a letter to his former colonial masters in ENGLISH telling them about LTTE history. I don’t understand why these political brats let this country down whenever they create an opportunity.

      • 1
        1

        My comment was meant to felicitate the young politician on his 50th birthday. I am not privy to facts to prove or disprove the queries and allegations leveled against him. In fact, I was sincerely comforted by a statement highlighted by the author of the article, who seemed to have a close association with him, that is, Navin’s respect and desire “to challenge convention and yet safeguard the conventions of justice and fair-play”.

        • 2
          0

          Ethel Nanayakkara

          Are you Navin Nayakka?
          Are you Navin Nayakka’s relative?
          Are you Navin Nayakka’s friend?
          ….

          • 1
            1

            None what so ever. I have never met Mr Dissanayaka or even seen him in person. I am a retired teacher who followed and still do, political leaders of our times and try to support, encourage and respect individuals who contribute towards democracy and the rule of law.
            I was sincerely struck by the statement of the writer about the young politician “to challenge convention and yet safeguard the conventions of justice and fair-play”!

      • 4
        0

        NV:
        You have raised some salient points that the puff-piece about this turncoat conveniently avoided.
        Would the author of this piece of propaganda respond to the simple question: Did not this man and several of his colleagues, led by his father-in-law, Karu Jayasuriya, cross the floor and join Mahinda Rajapaksa, providing that man with the required numbers to bring in the most draconian legislation in this country’s history and usher in a period of violence and suppression of democracy unparalleled in Sri Lanka’s history.?
        He returned to be made “National Organizer” for the UNP and brought in a whole slew of unqualified stooges of his father’s to well-paying state positions for which they had no qualifications.
        Such a piece of work. I wonder what position he has been guaranteed by Gota if Mr. Rajapaksa is successful in his quest for the Presidency!

        • 4
          0

          Emil van der Poorten

          I agree completely with your comment.
          I will be surprised if crooks and dishonest politicians didn’t cross the floor forth and back, looking for greener pastures or blue economy. Even Rathu comrades were not exception.

          I raised this point in one of my comment elsewhere.
          Thanks for highlighting it again.

          Navin demanded his entitlement to realise his father’s dream of becoming the president of this island in one of his recent media interviews.

    • 1
      2

      Mr minister wish happy day on special day. Many thanks to timly action against gross violation my rights by Director General Rubber Development Department.sir,your distinguished father taken away by terrorist and I fight against them from The Navy.The navy was pivotal service when defeating the LTTE.the beurcraric utter abuse my service to the Nation.

    • 3
      3

      Noble family?
      Bunch of bloody robbers.

    • 1
      1

      ethel

      while you are at it praising him,why don’t you also wipe your face on his arse.

  • 5
    0

    Gamini Lionel Dissanayake’s father was Andrew Dissanayake who was an MP in the SLFP govt in the ’50s under Banda. He represented the Nuwara Eliya seat. Hailing from Kotmale, Old Andrew was a Landed Proprietor and had two Business outlets in the Kandy Town. Silverdale Hotel a popular Restaurant and City Stores dealing in footwear and other miscellaneous items. The Dissanayake family owned lands at Kotmale and most of it went under water for the Kotmale Project. They were paid compensation. Gamini Dissanayake was a versatile Politician who had natural flare to attract even his foes. He had excellent PR. But I am sad to say that both his sons Navin and Mayantha is no patch on their father. Navin crossed over to the MR govt and Mayantha was seen prostrating before MR for having appointed Mayantha as an Organiser for the UPFA to some Constituency. None have Leadership qualities like the father.

    • 1
      0

      gamini:
      You are wrong on several counts. Andrew Dissanayake was one of the survivors of the UNP decimation in the first election in which he ran. However, the first thing he did was JOIN THE GOVERNMENT. You would be hard put to find three generations of opportunists like the Dissanayakes, beginning with Andrew and through Gamini to the current pair.

  • 4
    0

    Why is Navin D planting articles in the newspaper at
    this time? This depita Katuwa plays a game of curious
    politics. He was in the Rajapaksa government. Got
    involved with various businesses. Now he is with RW
    in the morning, with Sajith at noon and his father in law
    at night. He is Sri Lanka’s most untrustworthy politican.

    • 1
      0

      David Cooray

      and standing prominently in the front of the narrow makeshift stage during the dark campaigning days of October coup as if he leading the UNP activists.

      Shameless mean anything in this island anymore?

  • 0
    0

    The difference between the haves and have nots now a days is a Tuk tuk a scooter a Maruri and a BMW a Porsche and and the latest Benz.

  • 3
    1

    It’s hilarious to see how Navin uses his henchmen (The writer and another one to write in Sinhala) to praise himself on public domains. Truth being told, he has not scored a single run and facing 50 balls does not qualify him to claim an “Unbeaten Fifty”.
    If he really wanted to make a mark I would say he had golden opportunities with the plantations ministry and Nuwara Eliya electorate but what has he done? He’s just a fool spending his father’s and father in law’s money and listening to puffery by people like you Mr.Palpola and dreaming of the crown.

  • 3
    0

    During the 1983 riots Nuwaraeliya district was comparatively quiet and law and order was being maintained due to the strict enforcement of the law by the SP in charge who gave orders to arrest all bad eggs in the respective police areas to be rounded up and put behind bars. Alas, this did not last long as on 29th July , Gamini Dissanayake descended on Nuwaraeliya soil and angrily querried as to why his supporters were dealt with in this manner and ordered his supporters to be released forthwith.Lo and behold. Nuwaraeliya immediately turned into mayhem with shops and houses belonging to Tamils being looted.plundered and destroyed with several persons being murdered. All this was inspite of the fact that plantation workers had always voted with Gamini in all elections.

    • 1
      0

      uncommon man

      nope,you are wrong there.Gamini was angry that thondaman had a hold on the plantation workers and they always voted for the CWC and not the UNP.

      ps gamini deserved to get assasinated.An arsehole.Lalith ,premedasa all same.GROBR.

  • 3
    0

    Mahaweli flowed into Trinco.
    But the looted money from Mahaweli flowed into Finco!
    The looted books from the Jaffna Library flowed into Wayamba.
    Gamini D.mastered the art of Arson and looting.

    • 1
      0

      from finco to apple orchards in australia.

  • 1
    0

    Dr Navi Dissanayake father has laid that solid foundation for his wife and children
    do that future of politics an Island that prepared ground work . Who did that?
    By an earn billions of Rupees during his Minster of Mahivally Minister, from UNP regime 1977 to 1989? By leadership of JRJ.
    That was marvelous an opportunities has created by unique fortune by that short period of his life-time by late Gaman Dissanayke.
    The 11 years of UNP- of JRJ regime rule by concept of Dhamarist .–(right path of rule) . He has luck by chance become a rich man in Lanka that was well organized by late Gamain Dissnyake.
    The Gamine was NOT that so RICH family ,he own Kandy Silvar from Andrew Dissnayake of ex-MP .father of Gamaini, that become rich ,not only that richest-Family in Sri Lanka after diverting by Mahavally Projects
    For a example that late Gaminin Dissanayke own by big Residential House next adjoining British Council Alfred House Garden?
    Navin Dissanayake and his family had fortune to received that huge wealth inherited from that his father earn due political-power of by 11 years of rule. of UNP regime of JRJ.

  • 0
    0

    Dr Navi Dissanayake father has laid that solid foundation for his wife and children
    do that future of politics an Island that prepared ground work . Who did that?
    By an earn billions of Rupees during his Minster of Mahivally Minister, from UNP regime 1977 to 1989? By leadership of JRJ.
    That was marvelous an opportunities has created by unique fortune by that short period of his life-time by late Gaman Dissanayke.
    The 11 years of UNP- of JRJ regime rule by concept of Dhamarist .–(right path of rule) . He has luck by chance become a rich man in Lanka that was well organized by late Gamain Dissnyake.
    The Gamine was NOT that so RICH family ,he own Kandy Silvar Dail from Andrew Dissnayake of ex-MP who was that father of Gamaini; but that late Gamannie become rich ,not only that he reached to that Richest-Family in Sri Lanka after diverting by Mahavally River Projects !
    For a example that late Gaminin Dissanayke by own big Residential House which that next to adjoining British Council of Alfred House Garden?
    Navin Dissanayake and his family had fortune to received that huge Wealth inherited from that his father earn due political-power of 11 years of rule by that UNP regime of JRJ.

  • 1
    0

    It was disgusting to read the powder puff article promoting
    Navin[edited out] Dissanayake. He is an epitome of I, ME
    and MYSELF. Anything and everything to help himself.
    When he was Minister in Mahinda Rajapaksa cabinet, he
    leaked all information to Ranil. Sometime it was done
    through Sagala Ratnayake. He always cried on Mrs Shiranthi
    Rajapaksa’s shoulders and got her to speak with her husband
    to help him.

  • 1
    0

    Surely Palitha Pelpola should know that lot of things have changed since 2000.
    Most people do not know who this Navin is.
    By the way where the hell are you? What are you after?

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