26 October, 2020

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Politics Vs. Politricks: Sri Lanka’s Cruel & Unrelenting Dichotomy

By Vishwamithra1984

When one with honeyed words but evil mind persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.” ~ Euripides, Orestes

The depths into which our politics has collapsed and its unending passage through successive administrations is sometimes bizarre and more often winding and deceptive. Taken in the framework of the previous regime, the passage seems to have trekked along exceptionally unpleasant peaks and valleys; the wild ride the ‘owners’ of that regime had through one after another of the members of the previous ‘First Family’ being summoned and jailed (later released on bail, of course) is a spectacle that no country in this world has had the misfortune to witness and experience. Whatever the shades of these allegations are, whether of white-collar variety or even criminal, the parade itself is spectacular. But where is the beef? Good governance is not only bringing the culprits before the law, it is encumbered upon the those who make allegations, state organizations or private citizens, not only to associate such allegations with evidence-supported indictments but to do so with utmost alacrity so that justice is not only done but it appears to be done with no delay. The challenge before those who are charged with conducting the investigations and producing some concrete results cannot be understated.Maithripala Sampanthan

In the event of unnecessary and unusual delays, political heads would not be able to withstand the ire of a nation whose pivotal election cry was not only the establishment of good governance, but bringing the guilty before the throes of justice. In a frenzy of a parade of the accused marching to and from the investigating chambers, the people expected the machinery of justice to turn speedily and commit those who were accused of many malpractices and corrupt deeds to the political guillotine. That is to anticipate the events.

Now the restlessness on the part of those who seek vengeance instead of justice is observed in many corners of the Colombo cocktail circuits. The very players of the game who benefited immensely from their previous masters are among the most vociferous and crying for speedy action. Shame and barefaced disingenuousness on their part has contributed in no less degree to the dishonorable and dishonest state this country has collapsed into. The same guys and gals are seen today crowding the same corridors and wining and dining in the same five-star hotel banquets, hosting a different set of gullible politicos who now control the locks of the government coffers.

Politics has taken an irrevocable turn and twist into politricks! The dreams and expectations of hundreds of thousands of ordinary folks are being crushed; their path towards legitimate and aboveboard affluence is being blocked; their avenues for better tomorrows are paved with many obstacles and the whole journey of the lower strata of economic well-being has imploded and efforts of the dreamers have turned out to be non-starters.

Relative peace in the North could be a harbinger of long-lasting harmony between the two communities who were at the throat of each other for the last several decades. The overwhelming victory gained by the Security forces was perceived as a victory for the Sinhalese against Tamils. Wild displays of triumphalism by the Sinhalese living in the South cemented that perception and any criticism of that triumphalism was viewed as unpatriotic and traitorous. The crucial role played by the Sinhalese-Buddhist-led groups such as Bodu Bala Sena and Ravana Balaya provided fuel to this fiery sentiment of Sinhalese superiority over Tamils. But in the twenty first century, political dynamics has assumed much more diverse scope, scale and space.

The birth of the Tamil Diaspora as a viable, politically sophisticated and adequately articulate entity and its belligerent stance against the leaders of the previous regime when they left the safe shores of the Island (Mahinda Rajapaksa himself), in the international arena and subjecting our then President to ridicule and humiliation in London, showed another novel aspect of this intriguing and different phenomenon that has invaded the politics of the 21st century. In the politics of that reality, the Rajapaksa regime failed miserably. The exposé of such humiliation in the international arena prompted the Rajapaksas to react from the fringes instead of the Center. It is only those political junkies who read these political columns on a daily or weekly basis would filter the good from the bad, the reasonable from the unreasonable. Their perception of intriguing events and realities are immersed in their own pre-conceived philosophies and theories. As the writer has repeatedly affirmed that those who don’t look at the obvious invariably miss the woods for the trees and these ‘junkies’ tend to dwell among the trees far too long for them to perceive the forest as a whole.

The average Pathmasiri and Nadaraja are not so sophisticated to pay courtesy to the shades and shadows. Instead they look at the painting as a whole and pass their judgment in a flash. Although such judgments so reached are distinctively short-lived, the impressions and branding that are created in their subconscious minds would tend to linger on much longer than the initial judgments. Pathmasiri and Nadaraja are too busy making ends meet; their daily chores do not include the luxuries of political analysis; their daily struggle to put food on the table takes precedence over everything else. Their attention span, inherently due to lack of education and professional training, not to understate their preoccupation in keeping a family intact and adequately fed , is palpably short.

Taken as a whole, Tamils and Sinhalese have been driven to the fringes by their respective radical clusters. Tamils may accuse that their Sinhalese brethren are well protected by what they call a ‘tribal’ army of Sinhalese. One might also argue that there have been instances where the Sri Lankan security forces did exceed the limits usually laid down by ‘rules of engagement‘, a military parlance used and overused in the West. Yet our Sinhalese rulers played the game of politricks well enough to contain such exceptional circumstances within ‘inconsequential’ realm. Nevertheless, what Sri Lankan Tamils refuse or fail to recognize is that there won’t come another time and space which lends itself to fulfill their legitimate demands other than via the present regime.

On the one hand is the United National Party (UNP) and its leader Ranil Wickremasinghe whose political leanings are bent towards western liberalism and political correctness. On the other is the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and its leader President Sirisena whose political history is steeped in a more fundamentalist, nationalistic (sometimes bordering on chauvinism) approach towards local Tamils. Yet President Sirisena has already displayed an incredible sense of balance and justice when it comes to the ‘Tamil Question‘. In fact the writer was privy to a statement made by Rajavarothayam Sampanthan at a State function early in the new administration. The current leader of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and Leader of the Opposition stated that President Maithripala Sirisena is ‘an honest man and he could be trusted by the Tamils’. That is indeed a very rare couple of sentences cascading from a Tamil leader about his Sinhalese counterpart. And everything that President Sirisena has uttered and done since then has only augmented the notion of that trust between the two respective leaders. No barrier should be allowed to be erected between them. When a genuinely constructive political intercourse between the two communities is required in order to advance the cause of peaceful co-existence, the Government must be unmerciful in dealing with any unsavory propaganda unleashed by those so-called custodians of the Land, the Race and the Faith.

Defiance in the face of great odds is a great trait of great leaders. If President Sirisena can convince the Tamil leadership that full and comprehensive implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment would fulfill their demands; if he can persuade a fiercely nationalistic Sinhalese majority that accommodation is a sign of strength and not a weakness as vocalized by the extreme elements of the Sinhalese majority, a mutually acceptable position may be accomplished. Both sides have to come together. While the Tamils, at least for the foreseeable future, have to settle for the full and comprehensive implementation of the 13th Amendment, the Sinhalese majority must concede that the full and comprehensive implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment would not do any damage to the sovereignty of the country and nor would it cause any injury to their misplaced pride in history.

The late John F Kennedy described politics as a ‘noble adventure, an adventure in which one joins hands with the masses for the service of man’. That is undiluted, unadulterated politics. Not that the Kennedys didn’t play politricks in their heyday. But playing politricks with a nation’s wellbeing and her people’s vulnerable mindset is an unforgivable sin. Kennedy also once wrote the following words in a letter to a Navy friend: “War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today”.

That conscientious objector among us Sri Lankans should feel no shame when he objects to mindless conflict.

*The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 2
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    If President Sirisena can convince the Tamil leadership that full and comprehensive implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment would fulfill their demands; if he can persuade a fiercely nationalistic Sinhalese majority that accommodation is a sign of strength and not a weakness as vocalized by the extreme elements of the Sinhalese majority,

    VISVAMITHRA:

    You are a snake hiding among dead leaves. From time to time, you show who you really is.

    Sinhala Majority has shown their strenght by allowing Tamils to practice Tribalism and by allowing middle eastern relgions to build churches and mosques every where. Just take statistics and prove if it is wrong. Count the no of new churches in the North and in Negombo Area, new mosques in the eastern area. I heard in the east in one town alone there are 45 mosques.

    What do you say will the 13th amendment satisfy Tamil thristy for their homeland ? Why you people are not saying wigneswaran is feeding the extremists. Tamilnet is just a comedy website ? and many other Tamils spiting Tribal venom. You cal BBS, Ravanabalaya extremist. where were you when Jaffna Science faculty Student union Tamils ganged up with other faculty – students to attack sinhala students and obstruct their cultural event in Sri lanka ? do they have to go to india to do that ? OR is not required there as Jaffna is Tamil homeland and as paet of reconciliation lete tamils tamilize the north and east ?

    You explaioned UNP very well. thank you for that.

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    Tamil leaders were taken for a ride since 1948. Pacts, agreements, gentleman agreements were all torn away due to the extremist Buddhist clergy. If the present government of good governance also do the same it will a big blow to Sri Lanka.
    The UN, US, UK, Canada will take strong stand on Sri Lanka. The Millions of Tamils in these countries will find ways and means to weaken the Sri Lankan economy by boycotting all Sri Lankan Products and urge the governments of their country to enforce sanction like economic, diplomatic and other measures.
    This is going to be last bus for Sri Lankan rulers to correct their wrongs. If not it will be too late ultimately lead for separation. UN will be forced top hold referendum in the North and East for the people of the land to decide their future. eg. Kosovo, south Sudan, Eritia,
    Hope the government of Sri Lanka understand this and act wisely.

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      K.R.

      “Millions of Tamils in these countries will find ways and means to weaken the Sri Lankan economy by boycotting all Sri Lankan Products and urge the governments of their country to enforce sanction like economic, diplomatic and other measures”

      There is no way, absolutely no way, to punish the Sinhalese without Tamils facing a greater reaction. Economic sanctions? Sinhalese will see to it that Tamils will starve first. Even if you drop an atom bomb on Colombo, more Tamils will die than Sinhalese. SRI LANKA IS AN ISLAND.

      Soma

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        somaaaas

        “There is no way, absolutely no way, to punish the Sinhalese”

        The stupid Tamils do not need to punish the Sinhalese. Day in day out Sinhalese are being punished by the Sinhala/Buddhists and their politicians, of course since 1948.

        What more punishment did you mean?

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      Kumarathasan Rasingam

      “The Millions of Tamils in these countries will find ways and means to weaken the Sri Lankan economy by boycotting all Sri Lankan Products and urge the governments of their country to enforce sanction like economic, diplomatic and other measures.”

      I can already see a cunning idea there.

      Let me see ask you this, though you had the same cunning idea all along why weren’t the Tamils successful in their effort to stop the brutal war in which many died?

      Don’t you think it was far more important to save life during the war than signing new agreement which would be not worth the paper it’s written on?

      If your cunning idea didn’t work, do you have any other up your sleeves?

      Will the Hindians be agreeable to imposing sanctions on behalf of the stupid Tamils on this island?

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    Yes, the task before the man whom we elected on the 8th of January to lead us is convince the Tamil leadership to go along with what he is suggesting, while at the same time persuading the Sinhalese public to accept the 13th Amendment.

    It is indeed true that a time so propitious as now to meld our two linguistic groups in to a united nation is unlikely to return. Insist on Justice, not vengeance. President Maithripala must keep his family in check and continue to act up to a level of consistency that will have him remembered as the one statesman we have had amidst a horde of politicians.

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      Hello Sinhala_Man

      You have said;

      ” the task before the man whom we elected on the 8th of January to lead us is convince the Tamil leadership to go along with what he is suggesting, while at the same time persuading the Sinhalese public to accept the 13th Amendment.”

      There are different types of Sinhala men among us. I wonder what is the type you represent; Let me be specific;

      1) There are Sinhala-Buddhists (Vast Majority)
      —Among them, there are Part-Time Buddhists, (Buddhist in the day time and Christian in the Night)
      2) Sinhala – Christians ( 3rd or 4th Minority)
      –Among them Part-Time Christians (Christian in the day Time and Buddhist in the night)
      I hope you understand my question now, if not, I can give you specific families belonging to these types of Sinhala people.

      Sinhala-Buddhists voted Maithripala IN to get Mahinda OUT. End of the story. We the Sinhala-Buddhists did not vote Maithripla in to accommodate the wishes of Separatists and destroy the country of Sinhala people and Sinhala-Buddhists. Sorry my dear Sinhala-Man if you were led to believe what you are believing now. We the Sinhala-Buddhists prefer to have a solution acceptable and a solution that protect our birthrights (that includes Sovereignty and UNITARY status). You have to understand “Sinhala-Sri Lanka-Buddhism” is an unbreakable link. Any of the entities in this link will not survive without the other. First identify your “Sinhala-Type” , then you will understand what I have said.

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    Vishwa, thanks but lot of hot air here and Sira is given a white wash!. We need FINANCIAL CRIMES PROSECUTIONS and much as WAR crimes prosecutions and an end to impunity for corrupt politicians who are looting the people of Sri Lanka with their Luxury SUV life styles and MEGA project corruption deals.

    These Mega project politicos who are making mega bucks on deals for their mega projects do not know the meaning of the word development – which should be environment and socially friendly in an era of global warming and sea level rise!

    Ranil should first ask China to make Hambantota and its white elephants economically viable, before creating another environmental disaster for poor coastal communities in Colombo in the proposed Financial Crimes port city which will be rule by Chinese Banks.

    It will be ‘bloody’ Chinese who overrun Sri lanka in the end, not the “bloody South Indians”!

    Let us be precise about why Sri Lankan politics is corrupt and vile on ALL SIDES. Sira, who you term an honest man, has brought in a lot of corrupt cronies into a mega cabinet of crooks who are looting the poor with their luxury SUV life styles in the Diyawenna oya Parliament cocktail circuit.

    The Ranil-Sira Ayahapalana govt. will fall as did Mahinda Jarapassa et al. due to the failure to prosecute FINANCIAL CRIMES and ECONOMIC CRIMES against the people of Sri Lanka.
    The failure to change the filthy stinking political culture of corruption and rent seeking.
    The Donors, IMF and World Bank that Ranil loves will not trace the funds stolen from Sri lanka and held in Panama and off shore banks.

    This is the demand of the Sinhala Majority – that FINANCIAL CRIMES be prosecuted
    Those corrupt politicians and the cronies responsible for the massive national debt that is paid for by TAXING THE POOR, must be locked up and their assets ceased

  • 6
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    A classic example of ‘Politricks’ was reported in the Asian Mirror today:

    “Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran stated that the provincial administration would not welcome large, capital intensive projects in which, according to him, the locals are undermined.

    Addressing a conference of international donor agencies, organized by Adviser to the Ministry of Policy Development and Implementation R. Paskaralingam, Wigneswaran said that they “will not allow outsiders to rule over us and will not allow our resources to be looted.”

    He stressed that first and foremost, any plans for the economic development of his province will have to be discussed with first with his administration and should be based on a scientific survey of the province’s resources and needs.

    Chief Minister famously boycotted the International Investment Forum held in Jaffna on Monday (22) organized by the provincial Governor, Reginold Cooray, on the grounds that the forum was planned without consulting him or his administration or without concerning needs of the people of the province.”

    A provenly inept Chief Minister, whom I now prefer to call the ” Chief Mischief Maker” has become an expert at ‘Politicks’ to cover his failures. he is talking utter nonsense exposing the fact that he does not understand what development means in the social and economic contexts in the north.

    How cursed we the northern Tamils must to see him fall from the pedestal we placed him once, to such an abominable depths, at this juncture of our history.

    CM/ CMM, please resign and go home. Enough of your shameless, heartless, juvenile and foolishpolitricks!

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran
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      The chief minister is quite correct.
      Such selective “investment projects” without participation and approval of PC members, do not happen in areas of other PCs.

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        Justice,

        I do not think so. The Colombo beautification projects were carried out By Gotabhaya Rajoakse, using the resources of the defense ministry and urban development authority. Did this government get permission from the zWestrrn Provincial Council for the port city project. The shared powers in the 13th amendment permit the central government to have its way to what it wants to do.

        Dr.RN

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          Dr.RN

          you establish a provincial council with a Chief Minister and several other minister to overlook various departments, health, agriculture,development and so on . What for? The centre and the Governor carries out all the activities of the Northern Province ignoring the provincial council. Do you mean to say it is fair. If the governor is going to administer the province, then dismantle the provincial council. Is it because of Mr.Wigneshwaran?

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            the

            1. Do yo;u know why there is a clamour to eliminate or reduce the scope of the concurrent list in the 13th amendment?
            2. Aren’t you yet unaware that the NPC, through its utter ineptness has not enacted the statutes , constitutionally required to spend development funds allocated by the government?
            3. Aren’t you aware if the capability and quality of persons we elected to the NPC?
            4.Are you aware that there are serious allegations of corruption against members of the council of mInisters?

            Please do not play hide and seek with what is obvious to most in Jaffna and the CMM’s politicking.

            Dr.RN

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            Sellam,

            Yes, it is because of Wignesswaran – our Chief Mischief Maker.

            He is like the turkey who tried to dance like a peacock ( Kaana myil Aada Kandriuntha Vaankoli, thaanum than pollaa sirrahai virithu Aadinaal poelumae! ). Unfortunately, we never had a peacock dance from the Tamil political leadership, since the knighted Ponnambalam brothers.

            I think it was President Herbert Hoover who said ‘Do what you can, with what you have, where you are’. This wisdom is lacking in our CMM. He is trying cover his ineptitude and inability to comprehend the realities in the north with mischievous and often stupid rhetoric.

            Dr.RN

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    “Relative peace in the north……………………………….”

    What is “relative” peace ?
    The presence of the armed forces, in large numbers in the north, and their activities amounting to suppression of civil liberties and livelihoods, and interference in the daily lives of the citizens, causes simmering resentment among the residents.

    This will be so, even in any southern PC area, if there is such presence.

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    Vishwa your Yahapal Naya is being investigated by the Australian Federal Police for looting from a donor funded project. Not like Ranil’s F**CID. Where Basil was arrested for giving flag poles to provincial councils. This is USD pocketed by your GOD. Now please dig a hole and hide in shame.

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    Viswamithra;

    In Sri Lanka, there is only Politricks and no politics. The democracy and related politics were eliminated in Sri Lanka by SWRDB and JRJ many tears ago and Politricks were introduced.

    You have said;

    “On the one hand is the United National Party (UNP) and its leader Ranil Wickremasinghe whose political leanings are bent towards western liberalism and political correctness. On the other is the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and its leader President Sirisena whose political history is steeped in a more fundamentalist, nationalistic (sometimes bordering on chauvinism) approach towards local Tamils. and blaa blaa. and Blaa….”

    What are you talking about; can you single out a Western democracy that Ranil Wickramasinghe has followed so far. None, Nada, Zero.

    Similarly, you have categorized SLFP as a fundamentalist, nationalistic etc… . This idea is good for those born after 1980 what do you call them “X” or “Y”. Humbug, there is no difference between these two parties. Both are highly corrupt driven by only one objective’ By hook or crook occupy the seat of power in Colombo to ensure hedonism is alive in their families.

    In other words, HEDONISM is the guiding principle of UNP and SLFP.

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