2 December, 2020

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Playing The Devil’s Game To Exorcise The Devil

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

This time it is a different strategic manipulation. The master stroke of picking Maitripala Sirisena as Common Candidate had an air of ethical quality: given that Maitri had to risk his neck and given that the then President must be stopped in his damaging track it had been a kind of relief operation. This time, the ethical air has to be evoked with some difficulty and amidst immense controversy.

Official sources urge that a National Government has be formed with the United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party within one fold, under the President. The idea of National governments is both salutary and sine qua non in times of crises. War is the typical occasion. Sri Lanka has, for now at least, finished the war. The most imperative national duty is to eradicate the Executive President system. Revd. Maduluwawe Sobitha, Jayamapathy Wickremaratne and a host of others must be credited with having created the required social consciousness for the change. Left to the political parties, the latter would have preferred to engage in musical chairs for the office of (executive) President. The more educated classes, professionals, and writers had been quick to sniff the need for radical change. Revd. Sobitha’s movement gave leadership, direction and strategy to achieve the need that was flourishing in demand.

The promise was made formal during election time that the new government under the common candidate will within 100 days exorcise the devil in the constitution. It may be Mahinda Rajapaksa then but could be another next. The point is that there had been growing realization that it is the constitution that is the root cause. The constitution gives space and opportunity for even good men or women to be monsters. Before he became President Mahinda had been a very sporty guy; but with enormous power in his hands he morphed into something foreboding and frightful in possibility. Mahinda did one signal service: to bring to the public notice the danger of our constitution. The danger was felt under its creator, JR, and under CBK and Premadasa; but that was not palpable danger. Under Rajapaksa the danger came out into the open. MR carried the role to its logical and disastrous end like in a fated Greek tragedy.

New Cabinet 22 marchSoon after Maitri’s victory all opposition rallied round with promises of support for the 100-day program and the changes to the constitution that were spelled out. However, as time went on-not months but only days- that enthusiasm dropped and faded away. The possibility of a return of Rajapaksa wearing the same stage costume became a live one. Even a government partner, the JHU kept nudging that they never wanted the executive Presidential system to go and that all they wanted was for the “excessive powers “of the President taken away. In so trying to differentiate themselves Minister Champika Ranawaka and other isolated JHU personnel did not realize that to begin with Mahinda Rajapaksa had been content to occupy the lower end of the spectrum of power offered by the constitution. Seeing the opening available at the other end MR moved swiftly to enhance the power of his office toward plain absolutism. The larger than life portrait of the Absolute President that now presented itself suggested that he could make a criminal an innocent and an innocent a criminal overnight. He could at will make the living part of the dead and he could make the forthright and honest a cringing and servile person worshipping at his feet and asking for morsels. Sri Lanka became the land of the Absolute Star!

In the face of a desperate need for numbers to pass the amendment to the constitution sans modification the Maitri-Ranil government had to devise some move. The alternative had been frightening to conceive of, namely go to the polls after the 100 days still with the constitution unchanged and the possibility of a return of a devil at some future date. Maitri would most probably not be the devil. Somebody else after him? Imagine a Wimal Weerawansa in the role? As the cliché states the government was between the devil and the deep blue sea. The ‘devil’ in this case is literal.

“So let’s play the devil’s own game,” would have been the thinking of the now duo buddies-Maitri and Ranil. They put their heads together and got a page off the former President. Induce the required numbers from the SLFP and then we are shaped! In this instance, the inducement was status or ‘thaththwaya.’ The chance for making something is not there.

In came the old pole vaulters from the SLFP. One senior MP was appropriately assigned the portfolio of Minister for Disaster Management. One former senior lout was fortunately not put in charge of his former haunt. He hasn’t much muscle now to strip CBK naked and send her on the streets crying. Except for just one portfolio given to a cultured but term-expired personality, all others given as benefits to the new cross-overs constitute innocuous positions. This is the merciful part of the operation.

It all shows what a lot it means to our pollies to be deemed a Minister. In countries like Australia, where I live, there isn’t this hankering after Ministerial portfolios. The answer is, I suppose, in the nature of the economy. Good jobs are available and good space for business is available to men and women who have some standing. In Sri Lanka there is the added possibility of milking portfolios for money and perks.

Be that as it may. The move by the government is bad and smelly when looked in isolation from context. But, then, one doesn’t interpret events without the relevant context. In contextual terms the move can only have justification as a means to a noble end and as a temporary arrangement to get over a crisis. The Devil’s Game can, surely, extricate the devil from our constitution.

From the snares of the devil in the constitution free us , Oh Lord!

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    The most creative justification so far for the modus operandi of Mahinda Rajapaksha. Further down there is an article on “bomb explosion and bond explosion”. S.J., will you write a piece on how smart is RW in handling this issue please. Looks like manipulations of MR are child’s play. Isn’t it S.J.?
    Soma

  • 12
    0

    I understand the context and the need to dance with the devil, to achieve the objectives. However, what is the bargain and what is the give ? What is the take? Who will exorcise whom? The devil the angel/God or twice versa. It is a very dangerous game that is being played and I pray the Naithri-Ranil- Chandrika combo is not outplayed. This combo should not risk the trust placed In them by a majority of people. Has the SLFP agreed to the constitutional and electoral reforms without reservations and in a form expected by the people?

    I suppose we have to wait patiently to see the light at the end of what is becoming a rather long tunnel!

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 4
    1

    Very well written Shyamon.One cannot agree more with this: “The most imperative national duty is to eradicate the Executive President system. Revd. Maduluwawe Sobitha, Jayamapathy Wickremaratne and a host of others must be credited with having created the required social consciousness for the change”.Bensen

  • 4
    0

    See the quality of matured political leaders ( most of SLFP guys in the photo must be over 50s). These new minister-ships are guaranteed only for 30~40 days. But they are pleased to accept it and now these Lankan people leaders will raise their hands whenever MS/RW/CBK says as a gratitude, how funny…. But I believe these political foxes know that Lankan people would re-elect them in the next election whatever ugly, selfish way they act…

  • 4
    1

    How many thieves are sitting in this picture? How many are pledged followers of MR yet? So MY3 is reaching his 100 member Parliament. Not much before he overtakes the amount that MR had.
    Sri Lanka I thnk you are all in for disaster. Might be only with the exception of no White Vans.

    • 1
      0

      Rio Ziegelaar:
      I wish I could share your optimism with regard to even the “no white vans” comment!

      I am taking my “optimism medicine” three times a day in the hope that something good will come of this “mallung,” one constituent of which appears to be “Niyangala” (Gloriosa Superba) in the person of the guy who looked after Advanced Education!

      Maybe, one better begin rehearsing the old admonition, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here” with regard to the political arena!

      THERE IS NO SUBSTITUTE FOR PRINCIPLED BEHAVIOUR AND PANDERING TO OPPORTUNISM WILL HAVE THE INEVITABLE RESULT, I’M AFRAID!

  • 1
    0

    Well, Sri Lankan politicians are those unscrupulous persons who don’t seem to know who their true biological [Edited out] w

    So, now anyone can imagine the status quo of our political system and its culture in Sri Lanka.

  • 3
    0

    “presidential immunity” is the drop of poison which pollutes not only the executive presidency but the entire constitution.
    It is what made the former president, a tyrant.
    Any leader of the nation must be answerable to the judiciary, and any action by him/her should be justiciable.
    It is so far not clear whether it has been erased.

    Many old jokers in former cabinets are in the new one.
    Will people have confidence in the new cabinet?

  • 4
    0

    Politics is a game, dirty at most times in Lanka and risky, especially at the present context. The Trio combo is trying to do whatever they can and it may produce results either way, no one can predict. It’s like a time bomb; can go off or just scare the heck out of all concerned.
    There seems nothing better they could do ! Hope things work out well for the nation and keep the foxes away.

  • 0
    0

    Since we are playing in the Devil’s backyard, I assigned myself the job of ‘devil’s advocate…

    What happens after 19A and the rest are passed? Don’t these ‘worthies’ then deserve to be on the SLFP list? Is that a ticking time-bomb Ranil palmed off to Maithri?

    The UNP is likely to have newer faces whilst this bunch will be on the SLFP lists.

    At least we won’t be buying new cars for them because they did not still return the old ones.

  • 2
    0

    Shyamon,

    I can’t help but look at the picture that accompanied your article with nothing but apprehension and anger followed by sadness. Not a single person in that gallery look worthy of our votes. They are all nothing but a veritable coven of rogues. The only mandate given to My3 was to remove Rajapaksa and remove the post of presidency. The first was accomplished and the second has been subjected to spins and nothing else. My3 along with Ranil are soon to pass their use by dates – the 100 day moratorium and I urnestly hope they do so.

    The issue is which gallery of rogues will replace this that replaced the MR rogues gallery. The Sri Lankan voter is really in a sinking boat between the proverbial devil and the deep blue sea. No way out my friend.

  • 0
    0

    On TNL news last night they showed SB Dissanayake vilify Presidential contender Maithripala Sirisena in the ugliest and crudest manner possible, ridiculing him unimaginably. It was a crass performance which I doubt would ever be enacted anywhere else than here.

    Pavithra Wanniarachchi bet her house on Maithri not winning, besides saying a lot of other uncomplimentary things. Both these persons are now sitting cabinet members.

    My only surprise is that Wimal Weerawansa is not sitting amongst them. That is, not yet.

    The politics that every decent human being in this country aspires to, is NOT the art of the possible, Mr Wickramasinghe.

  • 3
    0

    There is no way out for Maithree or Ranil. Mahinda made everybody a minister to get his work done. Thats not the way to do things. Depoliticize many institutions, let few knowledgeable politicians manage the legislature. Establish ‘Authority’ institutions to manage all the public services oriented functions of the govt. without interference from politicians.

    This will of course require more amendments to the constitution. As mentioned by above comments, those in the picture are very ugly people.

  • 0
    0

    100 days to do 100 things and 100 ministers with 100 offenses to do that. The silver lining is that it is only for another 30 days only, hopefully.

    Ali Baba had 40 theives. MR broke that record. Let us see how MS fares.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Editor.
    This gentleman Shyamon Jayasinghe has poor command of English language,; his article has no narrative, cohesion or argument.

  • 0
    0

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