27 September, 2020

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Reconciliation: Ranil-Chandrika Or Maithri-Mahinda-Sajith?

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

On his three day trip to the North Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, promised a political solution to the ethnic question, without which he said, there would be no stability.

Meanwhile, according to an interview given to Ceylon Today, “Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan expressed confidence in the ability of the Special Presidential Commission headed by Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga to find a suitable solution by the end of this year, to the issues confronting the Tamil people. ‘…When Kumaratunga became the President in 1994, she was very keen about settling the grievances of the Tamil people and she also mooted a suitable political solution to those issues. We were however, unable to see anything come out of it’ he said.” (‘TNA Confident in CBK Headed Commission’, Mirudhala Thambaiah, Ceylon Today, March 31, 2015)

To this expression of confidence by the TNA in CBK, all I can say is: “I’ll bet”.

How can Ranil and Chandrika politically reconcile the Sinhalese and the Tamils when they cannot themselves reconcile with the majority of Sinhalese? These are not personalities the majority of Sinhalese trust politically, to safeguard their interests and natural, demographically derived leading share of political and state power on the island. In that sense they are the very worst personalities to be entrusted with the task of ethno-political reconciliation.

CBK’s Track Record

The moderate, Westernized wing of the SLFP led by President Chandrika Kumaratunga had its chance to win the war and re-mould Sri Lanka in accordance with its more reformist pluralist ideology but it threw the chance away.

The re-taking of Jaffna in 1996 was vitiated by the failure to cut off the LTTE’s retreat thereby permitting the Tigers to escape together with large number of civilians, base themselves in Mullaitivu, regroup and make a dramatic comeback. The strategy was one of taking territory rather than annihilating the enemy; recruitment was negatively affected by campaigns such as Sudu Nelum, Thavalama and the efforts of the National Integration Policy Unit (NIPU) etc; corruption was rampant in the sphere of defence procurement. Above all, there was no commitment to a strategic goal of destroying the enemy but rather to one of driving the Tigers to the negotiating table.

Worse still, the Karuna’s rebellion was double-crossed and Prabhakaran’s Sea Tigers allowed to violate the CFA and land in his rear area; General Sarath Fonseka was transferred from Jaffna and placed on the shelf in charge of the Volunteers; and the tsunami weakened Tigers were sought to be given an administrative–financial authority in the form of the PTOMS, probably as part of a projected deal with the TNA which would permit CBK’s “Constitutional Revolution” which would have enabled her to waddle into Parliament as PM, foreclosing Mahinda Rajapaksa’s chance of being elected President.

Ranil’s Record of Reconciliation

On Feb. 22nd 2002, Mr. Prabhakaran signed the Cease Fire Agreement negotiated by Norway’s Erich Solheim with the then Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The CFA enabled the Tigers to come into territory controlled by the state but disallowed the state from going into theirs. With the signing of the MoU, the democratic and legitimate Sri Lankan state conceded parity of status to Prabhakaran and his Tigers. It also agreed to the disarming of the anti-LTTE Tamil organizations while the Tigers remained armed to the teeth.

The Wickremesinghe administration at the highest levels, asserted that the war was unwinnable, hence its concession-heavy peace drive. This assertion was a lie. The SLA Special Forces ‘deep penetration’ teams had ‘decommissioned’ around eight LTTE field commanders in eight months, including Shankar, the ex-aeronautics engineer from Canada who had planned the Katunayake Airport attack.

The government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had put this elite strike force ‘beyond use’, done Prabhakaran the enormous favour of getting them off his back, by stabbing them in the back. The entire covert operation and its support network were blown.

Months before the incident commonly known as the ‘Aturugiriya’ affair, a leading Sunday newspaper blew the whistle on the thermobaric SHMEL ordnance, which by the subsequent reports in that paper itself, had devastated Tigers in their dens. It was the Tiger-zapping ‘weapon of choice’ of the deep penetration teams.

Immediately after that expose, a group of 14 Tamil MPs (who were soon to become the fellow- travelling TNA) protested to the President and the diplomatic community about the use of the weapon as a ‘war crime’, an ‘atrocity’.

Then came the kicker. During the election campaign, none other and none less than the UNP Chairman put the spotlight on the project, complaining to the Elections Commissioner about the Directorate of Military Intelligence, the thermobaric weapons, the teams’ ethnic composition, their training bases etc. Who gave the information, on whose behalf was the finger pointed and as part of what deal?

Virtually the morning after the election, came the Athurugiriya Millennium City raid, the TV coverage, the Interior Minister’s action. The existence of such teams was exposed, deniability over, cover blown. Our own government, our own authorities, fingered our own Directorate of Military Intelligence and compromised the deterrent capacity of our own state. Where else in the world would this happen?

CBK’s PTOMS

The P-TOMS agreement was negotiated on behalf of President Kumaratunga by veteran Sri Lankan diplomat Jayantha Dhanapala and her Ethnic Affairs Advisor. (Both ‘negotiators’ are back in the post January 8th government-state apparatus). It was a sell-out, and one that was not in the least warranted, given the advantageous position the Lankan state was in and the weakened situation of the Tigers, in the aftermath of the Tsunami.

The state acceded to an outcome in which the murderously aggressive ‘negotiating partner’ was accorded preponderance: the largest single share, plus the Chairmanship and the casting vote in the regional committee, while the government was relegated to the deputy chair. The PTOMS contained a hegemonic structural preponderance for the LTTE.

A Supreme Court ruling spearheaded by Chief Justice Sarath N Silva aborted Chandrika’s PTOMS. Today her disastrous, anti-national Sudu Nelum/PTOMS crew is back, working on the 19th amendment and the Ethnic Reconciliation Task Force. Not for long one hopes, what with elections likely in the latter half of this year.

A Maithri-Mahinda-Sajith Equation

US Army Major Paul Marks was right, when in an essay in the Joint Forces Quarterly of Spring 2000, he identified Sri Lanka’s central weakness: “strategic direction from the political authorities has never been adequate…This absence of strategy is matched by a lack of success…”

Thus what was most crucial was the role and responsibility of “the political authorities”. That’s where the real failure resided. That where it had to be rectified. Nothing else would suffice. When at long last, Sri Lanka produced the “political authorities” that got it right; when Mahinda Rajapaksa became the highest ‘political authority’, the three decades long conflict was brought to a close.

The manifestly unsuccessful ‘political authorities’ of yesteryear, Chandrika Kumaratunga and Ranil Wickremesinghe are two of the three personalities who constitute the political authority today! Those who failed the country in its hour of greatest need direct the destinies of the country! By contrast the one person who when he was the “political authority” provided the vital direction for victory is at home and is sought to be politically marginalized. What’s wrong with this picture? The upcoming general election gives us a chance to rectify this massive anomaly; nay, utter travesty.

My bottom line is this: Let President Maithripala Sirisena handle post-war politico-ethnic reconciliation while a new Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, guarantees state sovereignty, security and the national interest, and Sajith Premadasa provide patriotic leadership to the UNP and the Opposition. Such a triangle can give us peace and reconciliation with security and stability. Let’s get Ranil and Chandrika out of our hair.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    1

    Hey Dayan,
    Do you honestly believe at this juncture Rajapaksa is good for the country?

    I have no problem you criticizing Ranil and Chandrika as I do believe that you have very valid reason to dislike or distrust them.

    Now that the war is won, what we need is good governance. Why don’t you become a crusader for that cause? Rajapaksa is definitely not the answer for that from what he had demonstrated since the end of the war. We cannot sell the nation to him forever for what he had done for winning the war.

    Rajapaksa had a golden opportunity to take this country forward to a golden era and he failed miserably.

    • 1
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      Justice Lanka- You are absolutely right. MR, with the war victory celebrations, had he settled the Tamil problem at the same time, he
      could have served as the life time President, as most Tamils sided
      with Ltte for protection only, as Tamil political parties were sidelined, by successive govts.in power, except a few hard core
      Ltte’ers who were for separation, but unfortunately he chose the wrong path, taking wrong advice to eliminate the Tamil race and the entire international community, UN, except China,went against him. One cannot fathom how MR with years of experience, serving under several PMs and Presidents encouraged corruptions, nepotism and intimidations in his rule. People are shocked at the recent revelations of these horror stories, which were hidden from the public. He is not a bad man, who had a soft corner for the poor and suffering Palestinians, but his crooked advisors and family members let him down.

      Don’t worry about dr. J’s comments as he is ‘J’ of recent developments
      in bringing all communities together and the total peace is in the offing and the support this govt.gets from international community, including mighty USA and India.These people, though hold degrees, will never change for the better as long as their livelihood is hooked to communalism.

  • 0
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    I think we should forget this patriot-traitor debate. What we want for our children is peace, prosperity and fairness. Dayan is having a little bit of Athhethakamaya. That is why he wants to bring MR.

  • 6
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    The reason Dayan Jayatilleka ([Edited out]) pisses many people off is that he insults our collective intelligence through his articles. He so obviously supports politicians who he thinks are better for HIS SELF INTEREST, but wants us to believe that he writes in the interests of SRI LANKA (or at least, in the interests of the Sinhalese). There are honest racists out there, Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim, who genuinely albeit mistakenly believe in the glory and superiority of their own race. Some of them would gladly die to protect their race. This ex-minister of Varadharaja Perumal and Catholic by birth is not one of them. Discerning Sinhalese know that this island came closest to separation when an elected cabinet of the North-East, of which Dayan was a member, declared Eelam with the backing of an army of a superpower which SLA had no hope of fighting. Indian army chased every single Sinhalese away from Trinco town (though many were, admittedly, forcibly settled there in Tamil lands) during those days, and Dayan did nothing about it. Dayan is self-seeking and uses racism to advance his own agenda. Tomorrow he will sell the Sinhalese down the river if it suits him. He is much, much, worse than racists.

    DJ is now a politician. Anybody who participated in a political meeting and read out the message of a political leader is a politician. Political scientists and analysts do not do that. Therefore DJ is not neutral, and should not pretend to be neutral. This is the crux of the matter.

    Therefore, I strongly believe the time has come to ban DJ from Colombo Telegraph, until he declares whether he is a politician or political scientist/analyst. If he accepts he is a politician, he can still write (just like Rajiva Wijesinha and others do write), but his articles must be clearly identified as those of a pro-Rajapakse/Pro Sajith politician. If he claims to be an analyst, he should explain what he was doing in MR meetings. If he refuses to do either, he should just be kicked out from these pages – I do not think it violates freedom of expression to kick a writer out when the writer clearly intends to mislead people.

    • 0
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      Let’s not ban him. Other media portals don’t have a proper comments section. At least at CT the general opinion of him is visible and telling to anyone new to his nonsense.

    • 1
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      I quote Hard Truth: “DJ is now a politician. Anybody who participated in a political meeting and read out the message of a political leader is a politician. Political scientists and analysts do not do that. Therefore DJ is not neutral, and should not pretend to be neutral. This is the crux of the matter.”

      I totally agree with this, and have said this in explicit terms previously in these columns. THIS is the reason why we should stop taking this man seriously. He is basically not HONEST, and therefore his words do not count. Besides, as someone said, he continually insults our collective intelligence, through his outright support of a crook. Through that, he supports thievery, dishonesty and misuse of public funds. He supports the gagging of the press, the decimating of the judiciary, the extra judicial killings and disappearances… In fact everything MaRa does or did, he supports. Therefore he cannot be taken as a rational, impartial thinker; definitely not a political scientist. Sorry, that Nugegoda meeting and his conduct there, labeled him for life. He just unfrocked himself, trying to be cute.

  • 3
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    My comment on the Dayan’s article ,last para should be corrected as follows:

    Pl give leardership to guide the masses and you will have the blessings of all true sons and daughters of soil irrespective of whether sinhalese ,tamils or muslims, except the extremist guys and their partners among sinhalese and muslims ( who have vested interests and have personal agendas and have an axe to grind with former president Rajapake for achieving what they could not achieve and considers it is their birth right to rule Sri Lanka.

    We commoners want only a peaceful and united country for us and our future generations and want to live peacefully with our ordinary tamil brothers and sisters and vice verse.

    However,changes that Ranil and Chandrika are trying to bring about to constitution and the reconciliation process that they are trying to implement will not solve the real problems faced by common tamil people. they have no special problems and like us common tamils want good education and employment so that they can afford to keep themselves and their children fed,clothed and sheltered.
    However, their so called saviours (politicians) have different agendas,whether sinhalese or tamil .
    Neither Ranil Nor Chandrika can bring true reconciliation among sinhalese and tamils as they do not know the pulse of either sinhalese or tamil masses as none of them has mingled with common masses either tamil ,sinhalse or muslims.Neither, vigneswaran ,nor Sampanthan ,represents common Tamil people,as they have different agendas to fulfilling needs of oppressed tamils who had to pay the price with their lives in the failed project of elite Tamils to have a separate country for them to rule.

    As a person who spent last three years in the north in charge of a road project, where most of my project staff were tamils from NOrth, mostly from lower social classes ,I came to know that they are not interested in digging into past like Vignesvaram ,but want employment,housing and other facilities improved so that they can have a good living standards.
    However, Ranil and Chandrika and others have different agendas, similarly Exteremist Tamil have not given up their dream project, otherwise why moderate Vigneswaran wanted something beyond 13plus and why vignesveran wanted india’s involvement as he told at the meeting with Modi as if Sri lanka is a part of india and Modi is president of Sri Lanka.

    Under this very strange political scenario, there is a real threat to our motherland and under such situation ,it is best Mahinda is elected as Prime Minister while Maithee is the president as both are true sons (bhumi puthra) of Sri Lanka and as Mahinda is the only person who can give leadership in the event of such a situation

  • 2
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    Dear sun

    Dear friend,I am a person who worked as a govt engineer handing projects over 30 years.
    I do not know what is your age and what is your background.

    During premadasa’s presidency, i can remember how JVP and all his enemies were crushed and eliminated in the most ruthless manner.During that period not only JVP but lot of other innocent people were killed . during 1989 i was at kotmale and I have seen hundreds of bodies burning on the sides of road in the kotmale project. It was generally estimated more than 40,000 sinhslese youth were killed in the process of supressing JVP. I am not blaming anybody but fact was large number of people were killed .I still can remember in front of our project office at kothmale project ,body of a young man was lying by the side of the road head and body separated a JVP suspect.,the boy was from the nearby village. Boy’s mother after learning that son’s dead body was lying near the office came there and kept weeping and wailing for hours but later left leaving the dead body behing,nobody wanted to take the risk of consequences of taking the body for burial.That was a situation during the time.
    I still can remember people celebrated premadasa’s killing by a suicide bomber by firing crackers ,mostly UNPers,his party men .
    Can not you remember gamini and lilith left the party as they could no longer tolerate premadasa’s conduct and treatment.Can you remember his party men brought impeachment motion against president premadasa.

    What is the damage you are talking .is it the crushing of ruthless LTTE and allowing us to live a peaceful life without returing in a coffin home. Since crushing of LTTE how many people have been killed by terrorists.AS a person who narrowly escaped death at Rajagiriya ,from the suicide bomb set to kill Deputy Defence Minister Ratwatte when he was returing after Parliament. Ratwatte escaped but innocent men and women more than 25 died on the spot who were returning home after work at Rajagiraya.I gave only one incident but large number of innocent men and women lost their lives.before 2009, when fathers and mothers went to work and children went to school ,parents and children were not sure their loved ones will come home alive or in a coffin or they can even see their dead body.
    I still can remember ,one of the lady engineer who worked under me told that her loving father had gone to Central Bank on the fateful day and had never returned and they had not even seen his dead body.

    friend that is the service Mahinda Rajapake did for the country.He did not create problems but solved problems created by others.

    Corruption was not something invented and introduced to society by Mahinda Rajapkase but it was there throughout and during mahinda’s period so many develpoment projects were done ,hence people had more opportunities to make money.
    For your information the minister who was in charge of the biggest development project during JRJ time there was a talk had become one of the richest in asia out of santhosam got out of projects.

    Pl do not be naive, I am not sure how many saints are there among our honorable friends, perhaps less than ten. one person may be Ranil and may be Karu .

    anyway friend ,Mahinda’s positive factors far outweigh his shortcomings.
    Time does not permit me a long discussion, anyway if you are not happy about my answer, let me know and I will give further evidence to support my stand and in the process you might get enlightened.

  • 2
    1

    Dear Dayan
    Please elaborate something more. Who will drive the White Van? Who will kill the dissenting journalists? And who will be in charge of land grabs and Money Laundering?

  • 0
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    “Let President Maithripala Sirisena handle post-war politico-ethnic reconciliation while a new Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, guarantees state sovereignty, security and the national interest, and Sajith Premadasa provide patriotic leadership to the UNP and the
    Opposition.”

    Ah at last he plays his hand, so this is where Dayan’s political affections lie, not a bad choice, however there is an inconvient truth RW wields a significant amount of power in this strange situation. And don’t forget our SLPF Patron Saint CBK. They all need to play a part.

  • 0
    0

    It is becoming more and more apparent that a truly democratic election, and honestly democratic election would have been exhibited by fielding three candidates for January 8 2015, instead of the dubious and secret arrangement between MS and RW where RW tries to be head of state (or government – I have lost track)

    The three candidates should have been – MR, MS and RW, standing on their own and representing very clear and honest choices for the people to make. I think RW would have clearly lost, and we would have had a MS led government and a more balanced cabinet. Of course the SLFP would have split but I am not sure it is all together as it now stands.

    So what now? Let Democracy take its course – each party run on its own and the biggest majority takes the parliament.

    “Keeping someone out” is not democratic, let everyone run on their own merits. If certain politicians are not popular with the voting population that cannot be helped.

    No more political jugglery please – political theater is ok, but don’t try to mislead the people.

    Sri Lanka’s priorities as I see it – Development, Devolution, Defence Distribution of Income, Democracy and perhaps a Dependable media.

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