27 September, 2020

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Road to Dictatorship Paved With Three Triumphs

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Gotabaya Rajapaksa has scored three wins and his march to dictatorship has gained ground. The biggest triumph was the first when he swept to the presidency in a rally of 72% of the Sinhala-Buddhist (SB) electorate. This is a defining event; its consequences will endure. Though liberals and pluralists bleat the merits of racial and religious equality, they inhabit not Lanka but cloud cuckoo land. In truth the consciousness of the majority in this land is a Sinhala-Buddhist ethos. The deep inscrutable emotional wellspring of this nation’s psyche is that it is the land of the Lion-people and the Dagoba-worshiper. Whether you think this good or bad, right or mistaken is worthy of discourse, but that it is so cannot be disputed. As one R.R. Wasala ecstatically proclaims “the dominant Sinhala Buddhist civilizational foundation of this island nation” will persist. The proclamation of a pan Sinhala-Buddhist Archaeology Task Force surely is cause for further delight!

The groundswell of SB empathy identifies itself with Gota and his presidency. It will be firmer and longer lasting than Trump’s Base because its foundations lie in historically consolidated ethno-religious substance. I cannot predict whether 60% or what number of SBs will stick with Gota at first if he unveils an undisguised dictatorship, but many will. The gift his people bestowed on Gota in November 2019 will not be deflated quickly.

Two lesser victories have consolidated Gota’s grip – the government’s success (underpinned by the military) in containing corona-virus and the Supreme Court rejection of challenges to Gota’s right to rule sans parliament beyond three months. It is universally believed that had the Aappaya-Sevalaya squad still been in office it would have made a cock-up of the crisis. Though draconian curfew and the pain inflicted on the poorer classes were unnecessary the fact nevertheless is that Gota’s image has gained. Third, the SC’s flawed judgement reinforced Gota’s hand to the point where he promptly set up more task forces including one to build a “Secure Country, Disciplined, Virtuous and Lawful Society”. Language typical of military rulers. 

The first item in the ToR reads:

“Taking necessary immediate steps to curb illegal activities of social groups violating the law and harmful to the free and peaceful existence of society”. Deliberately vague and undoubtedly dangerous.

The second is a Duterte style instruction to stamp out drug cartels and the drug trade.

The third is: 

“Take legal action against persons responsible for illegal and antisocial acts in Sri Lanka while located abroad”. 

Don’t miss that the wording palpably includes anti-Gota, anti-military, anti-government and anti-fascist acts.

The authorisation says, “the Task Force may issue instructions to Government Officers and others. They shall comply. I instruct Government Officers and others to provide all possible assistance and full information”.

If I were Professor Gloom I would say the dice is heavily weighted in favour of authoritarianism. The three advantages that Gota holds also ensure election victory, but I hope not 2/3rds. All who want democracy will have to steel themselves for a long fight. This is no time to slacken but to gird-up and draw upon reserves of strength that will be needed when the dictatorship comes unhinged as the economy goes into free fall in the context of global recession. Strengthening the JVP in the next parliament will fortify a force that can oppose Gota’s authoritarian moves. The UNP and the Sajith Group do not have the backbone to stand against Gota.  

I am dismayed by frequent thoughtless comments I hear that a Gota dictatorship will make Lanka prosperous “like Singapore”. Rubbish! Singapore was built on strong institutions – a renowned public service, one of Asia’s best educational systems, familiarity with English, abolishing corruption, a judiciary admired for competence in commercial law and elected parliaments that kept the military firmly in place and on a short leash. Most of all, Lee Kwan Yue repudiated racism and created a plural society. In every one of these respects Singapore is the opposite of what a Gota dictatorship will be.

The response of the American people to the murder of George Floyd demonstrates the rugged strength of democracy in that country. It is vastly different from our experiences in Sri Lanka. There has been an outpouring of anger among whites; demonstrations sometimes more white than black; everyone stood up against racial brutality. Over here, contrast the 1983 riots. With the exception of a few brave Sinhalese who stuck their necks out to protect friends and neighbours the disparity is stark. Anything like “Tamil Lives Matter” would have been an unimaginable. And right now, the middle-classes and the masses enjoy and encourage the abominable treatment handed out to Muslims by professionals and the state. We have a long way to go before rejection of racism reaches anything comparable to the mature democracies. There is much racism over there too, of course Floyd’s murder itself shows how bad it still is, but there is gigantic disapproval among the people; not so in Lanka. The boldness of the NY Times headline “Minneapolis Will Dismantle Its Police Force, Council Members Pledge” and the proposal before the American Congress to restructure, defund and reform the police across the country, though eventually less than a third will get done, simply takes one’s breath away.  

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Latest comments

  • 3
    3

    Yes, we’ve got to stop the SLPP (Rajapaksas) from getting heir 2/3rds victory. Your suggestion is “Strengthening the JVP in the next parliament.”
    .
    I agree that Sajit’s SJB is not very inspiring. However, it doesn’t look as though the JVP will obtain representation in the Badulla District whee I will vote. The last thing that we should do seems to be to split the anti-Rajapaksa vote. Won’t that be what we’d be doing unless all of us vote for the SJB, and, of course, do some finding out about their candidates to indicate our Preferences?
    .
    It’s s simple as that, the problem facing us.

  • 4
    5

    Kumar David

    Road to Dictatorship Paved With Three Triumph

    Gotabaya Rajapaksa has scored three wins and his march to dictatorship has gained ground. The biggest triumph was the first when he swept to the presidency in a rally of 72% of the Sinhala-Buddhist (SB) electorate. This is a defining event; its consequences will endure.
    *** The three victories were not hard fought or won in a battle. They were handed over on a plate to a born racist to with a LOW IQ which was never tested by a Racist Majority again with a LOW IQ which again as never tested. Yes the consequences will endure which started on day one of his Presidency as follows.
    1) No World leader congratulated him or engaged him except India which summoned him to be given orders.
    2) WHO apparently congratulated on the achievement of hiding COVID deaths.
    3) World Bank is still deliberating on the request for $1.5 Billion for the last 3 months.
    4) Chinas Loan no longer on the table so is Japans
    With dire consequences despite the lying machine at full stretch. The loyal subjects have no clue because of news blackout.

  • 5
    6

    “The response of the American people to the murder of George Floyd demonstrates the rugged strength of democracy in that country. It is vastly different from our experiences in Sri Lanka.”
    *
    My question is why this rugged strength did not manifest itself on earlier occasions when things were just as horrible. (List below from BBC)
    22 November 2014: Tamir Rice
    9 August 2014: Michael Brown
    4 April 2015: Walter Scott
    5 July 2016: Alton Sterling
    6 July 2016: Philando Castile
    18 March 2018: Stephon Clark
    13 March 2020: Breonna Taylor
    There were protests then but not so widespread. But what was different this time?
    Did not the economic and political crises aggravated by the COVID-19 foul-up play a role?
    Also the Black Lives Matter movement has considerably awakened the Black population and non-racist whites.
    *
    The rugged strength of American democracy remained dormant when the US went on a killing spree in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
    A people who allow themselves to be manipulated by the media cannot have sound democratic values.
    *
    We should also take into account the fact that the leaders of the oppressed minorities do everything possible to isolate their voter base from progressive, right-thinking people and even other minorities. Black Lives Matters reaches out to any right thinking White person.

    • 0
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      SJ,

      I think my post within this thread should answer your question. Some of the earlier cases didn’t get caught on video, or if they did, it wasn’t unambiguously racist. In some instances, people resist arrest; it is also true that in inner cities where blacks are the majority, there is a lot of violence, and law enforcement has has bad experiences in controlling it.

      In the last few shootings, though, the public recognized that it was sheer police brutality, that the victims didn’t even resist arrest. The Floyd case was kind of a tipping point, with a video that went viral. Even racially minded white conservatives couldn’t spin it in favor of the police officer.

      But I wouldn’t call it rugged democracy, just that society’s views of what is right and just has evolved over the years and matured.

      • 0
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        Agnos
        Thanks.
        The racism has been brought to light by campaigners like BLM over the past decade.
        Therte were protests earlier, but manly by blacks and many localized.
        As you say circumstances made the massive wave of protests possible.
        I would still add the political and economic climate as important contributors.
        *
        KD used ‘rugged’ in the sense of sturdy, robust etc. and I questioned that.

  • 2
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    Professor David has stated some fundamental home truths in the clearest possible words:
    “In truth the consciousness of the majority in this land is a Sinhala-Buddhist ethos. The deep inscrutable emotional wellspring of this nation’s psyche is that it is the land of the Lion-people and the Dagoba-worshiper. Whether you think this good or bad, right or mistaken is worthy of discourse, but that it is so cannot be disputed.”
    Those who halucinate destroying this foundation should well realize the magnitude of the task they have undertaken. Whether you like it or not the numerical fact that they are +70% of the total cannot be disputed.
    There is no way , ABSOLUTELY NO WAY, you can hit them without facing a hundred times stronger reaction.

    Soma

  • 3
    0

    Part 1
    I am truly amazed and shocked at the standard of comments by one commentator and appreciation of the Idiots misrepresentation of facts by another illiterate. Let us see if I can shed some light.
    The following is what happened
    On 25 May, while curfew was imposed, Thariq had wandered out of his house on his bicycle and had ventured by the Ambagaha Junction in Dharga Town where there was a police checkpoint manned by 6-7 policemen.
    CCTV footage shows that he was accosted by a policeman in civvies and pushed violently off his bicycle as he was pulled to his feet, another 5 policemen walked up and started brutally assaulting him, including slapping him across the face and blows to his head and torso. He was then dragged across the road towards the checkpoint and a nearby petrol station where two more persons in civilian clothing who stopped by in a three-wheeler also joined the police in assaulting him.
    The former MP tweeted that Thariq, being autistic, was not able to effectively communicate who he was and what he was doing. Ali Zahir Moulana in his tweet states that according to Thariq’s father, he was visibly terrified and disoriented and when the father had arrived, the police had released the Thariq after the father had explained his son’s medical condition.

    • 3
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      Part 2
      Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam / June 10, 2020
      Did you hear that three policemen in Aluthgama have been interdicted for not carrying out their duty of not arresting the autistic boy for violating quarantine procedure and not for assaulting him. Will the victim become the accused.
      Definition:
      An interdict is an official order that something must not be done or used
      *** Let me break the above down. I am not sure what GS ( with Shakespere ancestry) is saying . Is he saying interdicted for carrying out or not carrying out. Because by including another “ not arresting “ it amounts to double negative. But if he means interdicted for not arresting but not for assaulting it is against the weight evidence as you can see below.
      AFP – Agence France Presse
      June 5, 2020
      Sri Lanka’s police Friday suspended three officers over an assault against an autistic teenager after CCTV footage shared on social media triggered protests calling it a racially-motivated attack.
      *** Although I don’t have much respect for Lankan Police facts speak in support of their actions.
      leelagemalli / June 11, 2020 says
      DrGS.
      now I would like to say, I respect you today more than had been before. I dont care about few others that repeatedly attack about your selective memories, but yours exposed me a lot.
      *** leelagemalli frankly your head needs to be examined.

  • 0
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    kali,
    .
    I agree that it would best if our comments sounded civilised. We must raise the standard of debate; that would benefit all those who want decency to prevail.
    .
    Not everyone can write elegantly, but I have been appealing that contextually rude Sinhala words be avoided when writing in English.
    .
    I have a not protested strongly, but I certainly agree with you.

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