27 September, 2020

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Sajith’s Move(s)

By Malinda Seneviratne –

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

The faith of South Asian people in dynastic rule is astounding considering all the braggadocio about democratic traditions.  There have been the odd ‘outsider’ of course but by and large the political stories of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and as of late the Maldives have been about fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, brothers and sisters.  It’s not a two generation thing either, for there are grandparents and grandchildren as well. 

And it’s not just head of state we are talking about. Dynastic aspiration is something prevalent across the board and at all levels. We see it in local government bodies, provincial elections and even within political parties. It can’t be the political fascination of the powerful or those who crave power. Sure, they tend to have lots of money or draw from moneyed backers and this helps secure votes, but that’s exactly the point – unlike monarchies where there’s no-sweat succession, here you have to be voted in. Well, it looks like the general public is not averse to dynasty.

Sajith and MR clombotelegraphWhat this has produced, naturally, is for the progeny of politicians to operate as though they are endowed with some kind of ‘gene right’ to power.  The legitimacy or at least the logic of Sajith Premadasa’s political ambitions can perhaps be explained by the obvious ‘genetic edge’ and an electorate that is confused about monarchy and democracy.  What is important is for Sajith, the United National Party and the nation as a whole to check if the prince-in-waiting has king-credentials on non-genetic counts.

He’s been in Parliament for 14 years. That’s long, after all Chandrika Kumaratunga became President with just a fraction of that ‘experience’. He left the comfort zone of his father’s electorate and built a base far away in Hambantota. He has decent crowd-puller credentials.  He is accepted either as the Best Bet or as the Next-Best-Thing of the party by the majority in the UNP.  Part of it is of course ‘default’ on account of real or perceived incompetency and authoritarian tendencies of the leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe.  Still, Sajith seems the best pick as of now even if gene-right and default-clause are discounted.  Is it enough, though?

Sajith’s political record has a less than attractive underside though.  He wanted to oust his leader.  He once said that the only person who can unite the party was Karu Jayasuriya.  When the party leader agreed to set up a leadership council, Sajith opposed the move. Today, it is reported that he is willing to be No 2 to Wickremesinghe provided that the Leadership Council be abolished. He would support Wickremesinghe in a presidential campaign and this would certainly boost the UNP’s chances. However, all things considered, it won’t be enough to defeat Mahinda Rajapaksa.  Sajith would want Ranil to be the candidate of a common opposition, contesting under the elephant symbol.  That’s a recipe for keeping out other sections of the opposition, effectively strengthening the incumbent. It doesn’t take much to figure out that No 2 can make a bid to be No 1 should No 1 lose out on yet another presidential bid. It would be a win-win situation.  One thing is clear in this history: inconsistency.  It makes him just another ordinary politician.

There is another problem. Sajith doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of gratitude. The man he wants to oust, Ranil Wickremesinghe, was one of the few who supporter his father Ranasinghe Premadasa during the dark days of the impeachment motion of 1991. Karu Jayasuriya was similarly a staunch supporter of his father. In politics there are no permanent friends or enemies, this is known. Nevertheless Sajith’s machinations at various times against Wickremesinghe and Jayasuriya have been crude and motivated by greed.

As of now, gene-right notwithstanding, Sajith Premadasa’s politics can be described as one of taking IOUs from the rich to dole out money to the poor.  If he ever comes to power there will be many waiting in line to cash these checks.

There is nothing to say that he won’t change, become better and acquire some statesmanlike qualities of course.  Then again, he’s close to 50 now and no longer ‘young’.  Maturity ought to have made an appearance by now.  As of now, therefore, his moves can only be read as outcomes of other people’s plans, designed for their benefit and not necessarily Sajith’s or the UNP’s.

Genes count in South Asia, yes. Not all, though. And not all the time.  Sajith Premadasa looks like one not destined to live up to genetic potential.  Unless of course he becomes consistent, obtains a better understanding of himself and learns that although gratitude might not add up to much, it can tip the scales in his favor. Time will tell.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com 

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Latest comments

  • 4
    1

    No doubt that Sajith is a crowd puller (Village & Pro Premadasa folks) but as leader? Rosy and Talata for that matter are miles ahead of Sajith, let alone Karu.

    Having said that Sajith’s commitments is mandatory for a UNP victory. Like him or not RW must offer him the number 2 position to boost UNP’s image.
    This is Sri Lanka. We voted for Paba, Malsha, Anarkali, Geetha, Mervin, Sarana, Rattharan, Sampath, DayaSORI, Gammanpila then why not Sajith.

    How come Malinda failed to blame Ranil, surprising!

    • 2
      2

      Malinda Seneviratne –

      “The faith of South Asian people in dynastic rule is astounding considering all the braggadocio about democratic traditions. There have been the odd ‘outsider’ of course but by and large the political stories of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and as of late the Maldives have been about fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, brothers and sisters. It’s not a two generation thing either, for there are grandparents and grandchildren as well.”

      Dynastic Rule. Yes in pseudo democracy. Get rid of dynasties. Put term limits.

      This does not mean that we need to have a nre dynasty of MaRa or Raja-pakas. When there are wimps, the dynasties Rule.

  • 0
    0

    … It makes him just another ordinary politician.

    This is true. But, what is more true is that the country is not ready to produce anything other than very ordinary politicians.

    … Sajith’s machinations at various times against Wickremesinghe and Jayasuriya have been crude.

    This is also true. There is no room for refinement in his persona, positions or ploys.

    … There is nothing to say that he won’t change.

    Perhaps true in theory; but, in reality he would grow to dwarf even MR.

    … Genes count in South Asia.

    Genes count in a lot of other places as well. There is room for another Bush, another Clinton, another Kennedy, another Trudeau, and another another.

    • 1
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      forbearance ;)

      The rich always “run”; the rich always win; the rich always have power; the rich always get the best; and, most of all, the rich always break their promises to the poor fools who voted for them. LOL (^|^)

  • 3
    2

    Malinda is a Rajapakse stooge, why is he worried about UNP, Ranil and now Sajith? This is a contract he has got from the Rajapakse clan to attack UNP, Ranil and Sajith. Why wont this Malinda write an article about family dynastic actions of Rajapakse family. Is it because Rajapakse gave him a free laptop or is it because he is paid by the regime to attack Rajapakse. This Malinda has no self respect. He is a curse to the editors of news papers in Sri Lanka.

  • 0
    1

    This is the problem with all the countries east of the Mediterraneon.That is why we are one of the poorest countries and we will not develop our people for another 1000 years. -DYNASTIC RULE. Our people do not understand that there is in built senility.

    • 1
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      Is the USA following suit. We’ve already had two Bushes, with a third possibly waiting in the wings. Clinton is to be followed by his wife’s alleged imminent ascent to the throne.

  • 1
    1

    Many (but not all) points in the article, unfortunately, are true.

    Malinda, to make the piece complete needs to add:

    1. Sajith is a ‘matta” (mutt). He may be cunning, I don’t know, but he is not intelligent or well informed in the usual sense of these words.

    2. Sajith as Executive President would be as horrble as Mahinda Rajapake. Would he be worse? Possibly, becuse MR “can smile and smile and be a villian”, Sajith will be explicitly ruthless.

  • 1
    2

    Democracy is a European concept. Give the devils its due almost everything we do from sports, electricity, communications, modes of travel, modern science and even fashion originated in Europe.

    They have been far superior thinkers and inventors during the last 2 centuries than anyone else on the planet.

    Non-European countries accept Japan perhaps love European concepts related to consumption. However they are reluctant to adopt their systems completely.

    Democracy is the best system we have at the moment because its the most fair and sustainable. Furthermore, it supports a system of checks and balances between multiple institutions. In a monarchy there is only one institution. There is nothing to check this institution. Spreading the power across many institutions is a fantastic idea because if one fails the others jump in and re-balance the vessel.

    Asians did not conceive the idea of democracy so they do not value it. That is why they simply ape it without actually following its principles.

    • 1
      1

      Vibhushana:

      Just say Democracy is only system that you know. Read the Asian history.

      Now, it is the west which runs the world. They think every thing should run their way.

  • 2
    1

    Reading the beginning of the article one is excused for thinking that Malinda is about to write something really daring – attack the incumbent and his familiocracy rule.

    Alas Malinda’s agenda is soon revealed by his ‘kole wahala gahanawa’, tactic. This article is purely written for purposes of weakening the opposition and causing dissent in the UNP ranks – nothing more and nothing less.

    Another laptop please.

  • 1
    2

    What the hell are you doing in the Lion’s Den ( or is it Wild Elephant cage) my son.

    With your privileged up bring you are not like your old man.

    He made enough dough to give you a comfortable life. And you are wasting it. aren’t you ?..

    Your old man did the hard yards and made enough dough to keep you and mum comfortable for ever if it is possible.

    He was a Brawler and a Mauler and was very effective at that time.

    But he never could build a “Nike” or even a “Spalding”

    It is now all brand power ,

    Although he had to build it from scratch, Rajapaksa has got a “Google” and it will be hard to shake.

    Specially with the asset value he has created for his loyal shareholders who are the great majority of ordinary mums and dads in the rural sector.

    “Premadasa” ,is no match for the Brands which exist in the Opposition at present.., although none of them created any value for the great majority.

    How can a Premadsa fit in with the Elite, the Anglicans and the Vellalas who have now welded together , although for different aims.

    Them and Premadasa and his his followers in the South are just like Oil and Water.

    A Sinhala Buddhist UNP perhaps may be a a way out , But to become the President is probably near impossible

  • 0
    1

    Did someone forget to mention that Sajith is a Christian? Does it matter in a country where Churches, Mosques and Kovils are flattened on the whims of some?

    Or will this be put out in Public at an opportune moment.

    Is this the Rajapakse trump, or Ranils’ or both? Time will tell.

    • 0
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      [Edited out]

  • 0
    3

    Presidency! All this time, Ranil has been waiting for it to come to him in a platter. By the time Sajith reach the top, I have no doubt it would be the right time to let it float down to his platter.

  • 1
    1

    Even to his enemies, MR has a friendly likeable attitude.

    Late Premadasa , although never a likeable person, was admired for his hard work and tireless activity.

    Sajith P is neither likeable nor admired for anything. this piece is merely another in the recent spate of kite flying by the usual hacks to create the appearance of a non-existent public opinion, hoping to lift this non entity far beyond his competence – and probably paid for by the Colombo business mafia.

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