3 March, 2024

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Opinion Vs Truth

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

“The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants, and it provides the further advantage of giving servants of tyranny a good conscience“ – Albert Camus

History will remember President Ranil Wickremesinghe elected by a secret vote in parliament to serve the remainder of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s presidential term for another curiously singular reason. He will be remembered for the number of policy statements and Ceremonial openings of parliament during his tenure.   

Moral high ground is not a podium to preach from. It is an arduous mountain; one climbs on one’s own.

In his latest address he asked – “Why can’t we unite in a shared vision for the country’s well-being and the future?” Why can’t we reach a collective understanding for the benefit of our nation’s youth? Why can’t we join hands to reach great heights?”

Rhetoric fails to disguise bygone failure or present-day disarray,     

The tenacious Godfather of the near defunct UNP, he claimed that Samagi Janabala Wegaya had many that he personally introduced to the political arena.

If the Podujana Peramuna can unite for the greater good, why can’t the Samagi Jana Balawegaya follow suit?

During the period of ‘Good Governance’, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna cooperated closely with us. So, why can’t the JVP join forces for the betterment of our nation?

He hadn’t either heard of or chose to ignore the NPP – the broader movement built by the JVP with organic intellectuals – people with impressive academic and professional credentials (Fullbright Scholars, NUS, Frech Grand Ecole’s etc.)

Some of these NPP Economists are unlikely to have played Cricket or Rugby in school but some of them write heartwarmingly lyrical poetry in Sinhala. In short, they aren’t necessarily elite in the comprador bourgeois measuring scale.

Marxist Philosopher Antonio Gramsci explained the concept of organic intellectuals. A movement that can bring about a foundational social political transformation has to first understand the complex relationship between ideology, class interests and the hegemony of oligarchic corporate interests.

It is organic intellectuals who can refashion the imagination of ‘we the people’. Organic intellectuals despite their professional, academic, and social success and advancement retain a stubborn, sincere residual loyalty to the social milieu they were nurtured in. 

Those puzzled by unusually eager faces attending NPP events needn’t worry. Organic intellectuals relate to ordinary people with extraordinary acumen.

The naivete of the President’s shallow proposition to the opposition, is frighteningly fathomless.

One may well ask “Who introduced Ranil Wickremesinghe to politics?” Was it his endearingly exuberant father Esmond Wickremesinghe or his devilishly crafty uncle JR Jayewardene?   

In the 3rd decade of the 21st Century’s digital age, young people take to politics because they don’t approve the system that brought him and his kind to politics.

That system catapulted him to ministerial office within his first term in parliament. His first term in parliament got automatically extended by a further six years through a referendum – a historical travesty of our democracy.   

The policy statement exposes the Jurassic world he inhabits.   

Brutal repressions of dissent, calculated strangulation of opposition protest does not constitute the way towards consensual governance at a time of national crisis.

On the contrary such goofy governance will solidify collective resistance to his kind of opinionated elitism.

Proroguing parliament, inaugurating the new session making the ‘policy statement’ involved ceremonial mumbo jumbo, necessary to infuse a sense of serious purpose and solemnity to glaringlypuerile, manifestly futile exercise.

The Policy Statement is packed with political hyperbole and hardly deals with coherent policy.

With him at the helm, “commendable efforts” have led “to considerable improvement in the country’s condition”.

He highlighted “key economic indicators” to support his confident and positive reading of the nation’s slow crawl out of the abyss.

He was clearly satisfied with his ‘Darwinian Economics’. 

“52 main statutory bodies of the government, facing a loss of Rs. 745 billion by the end of 2022, turned a profit of Rs. 313 billion by September 2023.”

Half million homes are denied electricity because the new tariff is beyond their capacity. The CEB has shown profits. This is Charles Darwin ’s theory of the competitive process. Interest of the individual animal was often in profound conflict with the broader interest of their own species. 

Individuals who emerge fittest are not always best for the group. It produces short-term gains for individuals while leading to enormous harm to the group. This argument is persuasively advanced in a new book – The Darwin Economy; Liberty Competition and Common Good by Robert H Frank – New York Times Economics Columnist.   

The male peacocks with the largest and most colourful tails, stags with the largest rack of horns attract the most females. But even though these traits benefit individual peacocks and deer by getting their genes into the next generation, these traits are detrimental to the group because they make these animals more vulnerable to predators.

We must not grudge the good fortune of the President with so many in his cabinet eager to display their substantial racks of horns and plumage.

According to UNICEF, as of May 2023, 3.9 million people were moderately food insecure with over 10,000 households facing severe food insecurity.

Over 2.9 million children need humanitarian assistance to access lifesaving nutrition, health, education, water & sanitation, protection, and social protection services.

The World Food Programme has targeted 2.4 million food insecure people through cash and voucher assistance, general food assistance, school meals, and nutrition support.

These economic indicators did not make it to the policy statement. That said, this brief missive is about the politics of the policy statement.

The usual line of how he alone volunteered for the rescue mission when others balked was avoided.

The purpose of the policy statement was to appeal for a ‘political accord’ in the “pursuit of our nation building dream.”

“If there are alternative methods superior to the ones we are currently employing, please bring them forward. Let’s thoroughly examine and discuss them. By coming together and exploring the best systems for our country, we can collectively implement positive change. We are always open to such constructive dialogues.”

This demand for alternatives from other political parties is conclusive evidence of a delusional personality, “extremely self-centered with an exaggerated sense of self-importance.”

Politically central and crucial disclosure in the policy statement is about the SLPP, the support of which forms the foundational reality of the Ranil Wickremesinghe Presidency.

He asserts “In the interest of the nation’s welfare and the prosperity of our youth, the majority of the Podujana Peramuna have set aside past animosities and reached a consensus.”

This statement is pure Orwellian.

He is President because;  

A. He wanted to be President.

B. The Rajapaksa family’s political machine wished to make him President.

C. The Rajapaksa family banked on him. No pun intended.   

That a majority of the Podujana Permuna set aside past animosities in the interest of the nation’s welfare and the prosperity of our youth is Orwellian double speak.

In his classic 1984 George Orwell explains Double Speak and Double think.

“To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it is what constitutes Double Think and Double Speak. “

President Wickremesinghe has gotten in to a Faustian bargain with the Rajapaksa Political Machine – the Podujana Peramuna.

We must never make a deal with the devil. The expression the Faustian bargain—derives its name from a German folk legend of Doctor Faust.

In the original legend, Faust encounters a demon named Mephistopheles and promises his soul in exchange for access to knowledge and worldly pleasures.

While there are many variations of the bargain with the devil, one lesson always holds true. It does not end well for the bargainer.

The Policy Statement made by the President is short on facts, well stocked with opinions and is patently distressed with truth.   

Facts, opinions, and truth always differ according to time and context. That makes it difficult to assess how people think. Differentiating  them from one another is the genius of smart leaders.

Facts are indisputable because they can be objectively verified and established through evidence.  Opinions are different. They are value judgments. Truth is how ordinary people see things as they are.

Denying facts is irrational. Ignoring public opinion is pure folly. Evading truth doesn’t work in the long run. Truly great leaders keep their tryst with destiny by recognizing solid opinion of the people and arriving at correct decisions based on facts. That is the truth.

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Latest comments

  • 9
    6

    Let Ranil keep talking; nemesis is catching up with him.

    • 13
      3

      Good writing Thanks. First off the rank, Sinhala Man, and with one line only. Such an achievement. Mr Alwis is banking on observations of Western writers. One wonders whether it reflects our scene dominated by kleptocrats, not individuals who gathered wealth through business acumen, but thugs who stoked ethnic passions to gain power and then built cronies into a business class( the visath mega) that enabled the continuation of kleptocracy that Ranil now protects. They will regroup to sustain power under the kleptocrat queen, Chandirka, to ensure that one of them keeps power. The Sinhala system of patronage, caste and monk supremacy will help them. So, despite the NPP and JVP and the good men and women in them, I suspect that change is going to be difficult. We must try. We must live in hope.

      • 1
        2

        Cicero –
        .
        It looks like this time it’s over for the old lot – from Rajapakses to Sirisena to CBK to SJB to UNP.
        .
        The curtain seems to be closing on their 75 year old saga ending in tragedy. Even at the heights of its success it was a comedy at best. A farce at its worst.
        .
        AKD/NPP victory appears inevitable.
        .
        It’s already written.
        .
        Victory’s going to be sweet. Hard work comes afterwards… Revenge will be sweeter…. The success the sweetest!
        .
        Can’t you see the dogs are already barking in a violent rabid frenzy….?
        .
        So hold on it’s a matter of time.
        .

      • 4
        0

        Cicero,
        “The Sinhala system of patronage, caste and monk supremacy will help them. So, despite the NPP and JVP and the good men and women in them………”
        It seems that Govigama dominance at the top never really existed. The Bandaranaikes and Jayawardenas have South Indian origins. The Rajapaksas are of murky heritage (Karawe?).
        The Premadasa line is anything but Govigama. Now, it seems AKD is a Govigama ( going by his full name) leading a party that was founded to combat Govi dominance.

        • 1
          0

          I might be wrong about AKD. This page says Dissanayake is a Karawe name.
          https://karava.org/family_names

          • 1
            1

            From the website you have linked: karawa.org:
            .
            “Dissanayake Traditionally it meant a military leader of an entire region, but it became a common name adopted by many during the British period. Karava families who used the name from the time of Sri Lankan kings mostly hail from Moratuwa and Chilaw”
            .
            It doesn’t say all Dissanayake’s are karawa because some were given that surname by the British. Similarly Rajapakse and Senanayake too appear to be used by both Karawa and non-karawa people – because Brits also gave these surnames to them for their loyalty to the british Monarch.
            .
            You may have to look at the family name instead of the last name to truly identify the Karawas from the others. Last names are recent aquisitions and may not reflect their ancestry unlike the Ge names and most often they, the former, are aquired to hide ones ancestry, having dropped the Ge names by most, except for Karawas.
            .
            You need to up your reading and comprehension skills.

            • 0
              0

              Ruchira,
              If AKD’S ancestors are actually from Tambuttegama, they could be Govigama, but if they were transplanted colonists, they may not.
              In any case, if he is a Govi, he is the first one to lead the JVP.

        • 1
          1

          Old codger –
          .
          See the comment by Anpu you might find it helpful:
          .
          https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sri-lanka-the-brothers-grip/

          • 1
            0

            Ruchira,
            Thanks. You have been digging all the way back to 2013?

            • 0
              0

              OC – It came up on top in a simple Google search. :)

    • 8
      2

      The truth is that nothing can help solve Sri Lanka’s problems so easily. Falsehoods and their hearsays became public perception for the last two decades.

      Economically, racially, socially or otherwise, they have been neglected for so long. Both the leaders and the people are equally to blame. All this happened not in the last 2 years since RW has been in power.
      My million dollar question is whether AKD or anyone else has proven abilities to make wonders ???
      The Bandarawela man (who is more primitive than the Balangoda man according to his analyses) should not stalk me through whatsup and other means. NPP needs a lot more talented candidates. Unfortunately, they have been acting like teenagers for the past few days.

  • 11
    1

    Sarath,
    Good to hear from you!! That was very GOOD delivery and Long awaited too!!

  • 6
    3

    I’ll give you my opinion; You let me know if it is true.
    Sarath de Alwis is no more easy to read.
    See this: – they aren’t necessarily elite in the comprador bourgeois measuring scale.
    I don’t understand a damn!

  • 21
    4

    Simply put …….. the truth is ……. Ranil is not solving the country’s or people’s problems. ……… He is solving his own problems.

    Nothing more.

    Anyone care to argue?

    • 8
      2

      nimal fernando

      “He is solving his own problems.”

      What exactly is his problem?
      Please define and explain.

      • 11
        3

        How come you know so well, all the problems of Prabakaran, Mahinda, Namal, Gunduvindu, Sonali, …… and not know Ranil’s? ……….. Are you selectively ignorant?

        C’mon Native! ……. Any Lankan adult who don’t know or pretends not to know Ranil’s problems …… have remained in their mental-cradles. :))

        That’s what’s wrong with Lankan adults! …… Every day when they wakeup …… they are born-again babies! :)))

        Who are you trying to fool ……. yourself of poor Gundu?


        Ranil 101 ………. why did he scuttle the provincial counsel elections …….. even after the candidates had handed in their deposits? …….. Shall we blame Mao? China? X Yi? Y Zi? XYZ? Bruce Lee? Ping Pong? eh?

        You guys are the best entertainment in town!

  • 3
    13

    Darwinian doctrine of ‘survival of the fittest’ is already being challenged. It will be only a matter of time before it gets replaced….

    • 8
      2

      Ruchira

      “Darwinian doctrine of ‘survival of the fittest’ is already being challenged.”

      “Change is the very essence of life. The moment we cease to change, to be able to adapt, to adjust, to respond effectively to new situations, then we have begun to die.”

      Lee Kuan Yew – speech at the fourth Delegates’ Conference of the NTUC, 1967

      Dinosaurs couldn’t adapt to changes in environment however rats have survived 150 million years, like some of our politicians, adapted to changing environment not that rats a strong.

      • 0
        9

        NV – strength is relative when it comes to evolutionary theory. Fitness infact is mostly measured by reproductive success. In the case of dinosaurs they didn’t create the environmental conditions to which they succumb to, unlike humans. As for politicians knowing they are like rats I am not sure why you still do not advocate of changing them!?

    • 3
      7

      Hello Ruchira,
      Darwin wrote On the Origin of the Species in 1859. He had formulated his Natural Selection theories in the 1830s during his voyage on the Beagle, but was forced to publish as Wallace had come to the same conclusion and wanted Darwin’s approval to publish his own book.
      Darwin was not familiar with Mendel’s work on Genetics which would have explained many of Darwin’s thoughts/doubts on how Natural selection worked at the biological level.
      There are times that metaphors can be useful in explaining scientific facts. As long as you remember that they are metaphors only.
      Applying biological Darwinian Natural Selection to economics is fraught with problems as is applying Gramsci’s Marxism to Sri Lanka. Biological Evolution is a scientific fact but is much more complex than even Darwin had envisioned. Science to a certain extent advances by following Karl Poppers ideas on “Falsification”. Economics doesn’t! How many economists predicted the 2008 Crash? If Economics was scientific they would all have predicted it.
      Best regards

      • 7
        1

        Can these comments change a biological fact-the survival of the fittest !

        May be the weakest, the most incompetent and the unhealthy should take over !

        End of the human species !

      • 0
        5

        LankaScot – I don’t know much about Darwinian Economics but Darwin was influenced by Malthus who I believe was an Economist. That’s said I do agree that Economics is a less of a science than biology or physics is. My comment was about the phrase “survival of the fittest” thst is often used to summarise Darwin’s theory of evolution. Computational Biology a discipline that was non existent during Darwin’s time is apparently coming up with new theories that challenges what Darwin said particularly the idea that biological varion is caused by random mutation. The scientific idea of randomness is at stake I beileve.

        • 0
          1

          *biological variation

        • 0
          4

          LScot – sorry i think its the modern synthesis not necessarily what Darwin said originally.

        • 1
          5

          Hello Ruchira,

          Don’t take any notice of the Intelligent Design nutters. First they disagreed with evolution entirely, but now are forced to accept it as fact and propose that mutations are non random and directed by a god ( which one/s? Hindu, Abrahamic, Norse or Pagan).
          Best regards

          • 1
            4

            LankaScot – This has got nothing to do with Intelligent design. The findings are based on application of mathematics and computational biology on evolutionary theories. I have still not fully grasped the concepts myself for me to explain to you it in details. Neuroscientists are getting sceptical about the existence of free will. Church may try to hijack these as evidence of an omnipotence god, but they may lead us to different understanding of the world and the universe. Since we touched upon the subject let me leave you with this other Psychologists work too.
            .
            God and the Evolving Universe:
            .
            https://www.amazon.com/God-Evolving-Universe-Personal-Evolution/dp/1585422029

            • 0
              0

              Hello Ruchira,
              I believe the Buddha was more or less an atheist and, given that he lived more than 2500 years ago, his moral and psychological teachings were very advanced. Religion however is very clear about the creator of the Universe and his/her relation to Humans. Every turn of Science that disproves/questions Biblical accounts is met with a backsliding by religious apologists, whereupon they desperately try to find some other evidence (even scientific) that will bring it into question – https://www.icr.org/article/dethroning-dogma-mutations-occur-at
              Stephen Jay Gould wrote a brilliant book (Wonderful Life) on the role of Contingency in Evolution. In conjunction with Niles Eldredge he questioned the modern synthesis and proposed Punctuated Equilibrium as an explanation for the apparent changes in pace of Evolution. Genetic Evidence for this is mounting https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7029956/
              Mallaiyuran and SJ could definitely explain, better than me, the Stochastic processes in Chemical Reactions and how weak bonds can be broken (remember Life is Chemistry). Chromosomes have their own repair mechanisms called Telomeres – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24993696/
              Cosmic Rays, background radiation, and toxic chemicals can all cause (random) genetic mutations. The vast majority of mutations are deleterious to an organism – but a small fraction will improve their chances of reproduction.
              Best regards

  • 4
    5

    Sarath
    What is your message. There are lot of quotes from some historical figures and Ranil’s name here and there. By the way If you wants lots of audience in Sri Lanka you have show Ranil as the selfish man who puts his own comfort before the country for many years. I am confused after reading your article.

  • 2
    8

    Keep me on top and cooperate.

    Soma

    • 8
      0

      soma

      “Keep me on top and cooperate”

      At present you need to vote for the clan, if possible bring back Gota.
      Without any hard work, qualification, ability, knowledge, experience, intelligence, honesty, moral, ……………………. you can be on the top.

      Can’t you see the above by yourself (75 years).

      Good luck.

      • 1
        0

        Native , I thought that was an error , Soman instead of sending to his girl friend posted here. “keep me on top and cooperate” ???? My ONLY expectation of Ranil, was to not make bankruptcy, any worse and nothing else. Now the UNP is calling it ” bankruptcy came down like a meteor and economy went up like a rocket” ???? Yes, we must live in hope, but not in denial. My 96 year old mom seems to have lost all hopes. In medical terms, Lanka’s prognosis – poor to none.

  • 14
    2

    We just celebrated 76 th Independence Day without People participation; spent the money that we don’t have;
    Can any of the so called Organic Intellectuals/Professionals tell us the PRIME CAUSE of the current ECONOMIC/SOCIAL/Political chaos?
    Is not it minorities Bashing for three quarter century????
    RECTIFY this first and foremost
    Ban the racists lay and clergy

  • 10
    3

    “Can any of the so called Organic Intellectuals/Professionals tell us the PRIME CAUSE of the current ECONOMIC/SOCIAL/Political chaos?”
    Most of the so called organic or Inorganic Intellectuals/professionals in Sri Lanka know the truth but are afraid to tell the truth to the people. That is why, even though they knew well that corruption and rule of law and judiciary in Sri Lanka is collapsed because the criminals and law breakers are the rulers influenced by the brutal Sinhala Buddhist Fundamentalism. As I said there is a linear correlation between corruption and massacre of Tamils.

  • 15
    2

    There is no smarter white collar crook in Sri Lanka than Ranil. If anyone thinks that the Central Bank robbery would have happened without Ranil’s blessing then he or she is a dreamer. Ranil is a person who cannot be trusted at all. He thinks Sri Lanka is his “boothale”. Even at this time when we are running around with a begging bowl, he is using his position to appoint all the UNP crooks who were kicked out of the Parliament as advisors and building an election warchest for UNP.

  • 8
    1

    …….He[ Ranil] will be remembered for the number of policy statements and ceremonial openings of Parliament during his tenure……Says Sarath de Alwis.
    May I add my two cents worth?
    He [HE] will also be remembered to have traveled overseas to the world capitals and lectured to the world leaders almost 19 times within a short spell of HIS Presidency which fell on his lap when he was watching Netflix……….

  • 10
    3

    Rani W is not interested in contesting and winning a Presidential Election.

    He is roaming around the world spending our hard-earned tax money to meet world leaders and address those gatherings to impress upon them that he is a fitting leader to hold a key position in an International Organization, e.g. UNO or any other affiliated body.

    This is the Hidden Agenda that Ranil W would follow spending such a colossal sum of money from the Taxes.

    Don0’t you smell a rat connected with these foreign trips undertaken at short intervals?

    • 5
      1

      Douglas

      “Don0’t you smell a rat connected with these foreign trips undertaken at short intervals?”

      Sri Lanka President thanks India for economic support; Plans for IIT Campus in Kandy | WION
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KExR-VHtG9E

      Please listen this interview with Ranil and then comment on his agenda for Sri Lanka including setting up a Indian Institute of Technology Campus in Kandy (IIT).

  • 0
    0

    Why can’t we unite in a shared vision for the country’s well-being and the future?
    Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy.

    Not by people not from the people
    If there was visionary past Government the country will be not bankrupt, the coming election the people will make the selection to united and visionary parliamentarian.
    Where is the health minister now.
    The people’s visionary starts with a clean sheet of paper, and re-imagines the world.
    If don’t leaders with other people vote to be president.

  • 5
    0

    This writer living in oz but patriotic like our Gotta shiny pussport . polished it ,.. …

  • 10
    3

    About 30 years ago, the once powerful UNP fell into Ranil’s amoral hands.

    The result ?

    The death of the UNP !

    That is the truth.

    Just imagine Ranil becoming CEO of a big company. He will never leave ! The company will go bankrupt, all the employees will lose their jobs, Ranil will remain CEO .He will conduct company meeting by himself where he will refer to all kinds of economic and business theories.

    Although he is no economist and a failed businessman, and does not really understand any theory fully, he will keep bluffing the share holders who have all lost their Capital investment

    • 2
      0

      deepthi silva,
      There is news that Sajith is taking SJB along Ranil’s treacherous Text.

      • 4
        1

        Nathan, I will not be surprised. Same genes, same culture… premadasa is influenced by mother, sister, wife …

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