By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
“I agree, however, with Rajiva Wijesinha on one point here, namely when he charges Ranil Wickremasinghe of showing backing to Arjuna Mahendran as Governor of the Central Bank, ….despite obvious misdemeanours. Ranil does have a weakness of supporting old Royalist classmates etc and turning a blind eye at their misdemeanours.” That is his bad kamma and he will pay for that.
Rajiva Wijesinha says I bear an “intellectual pretence.” Being curious to know what an ‘intellectual’ is like, I looked at the Cambridge English Dictionary in my possession. It says, “relating to your ability to think and understand things, especially complicated ideas.” I don’t think this is a special gift that persons like Rajiva possess. Most of us readers have that. It is just that some cloud their intellect with emotions and prejudices that distort their perspective in making judgments about men and matters. Pardon me, Rajiva has a serious problem here as is evident in his response piece to my article that appears in the Colombo Telegraph.
For one, he is illogical in his reasoning. The very central theme of his criticism of my referenced article represents flawed logic. This is because he believes that my repudiation of the SLFP’s record implies I am an “apologist for the UNP,” one of that party’s competitors.
I haven’t said any of that sort. Rajiva has a hang-up in this whole political business, namely that he possesses an old family grouse with Ranil Wickremasinghe. This prejudice has clouded his reasoning faculty. Unless he is mindful of this limitation he is unlikely to be productive in his political thinking.
Rajiv’s most recent row with the Prime Minister is over his role as State Minister in the newly-formed Unity Government. Everyone in Sri Lanka knows that the portfolio of ‘State Minister,’ is humbug. It has been a strategic device to keep MPs happy by giving the latter the title to impress their networks and the accompanying perks like STF security, official luxury cars and so forth. For decades, our politicians have been kept content by this trick. Our political leaders don’t bother hat this is being done at the expense of taxpayers. The typical Sri Lankan craves for ‘thaththvaya,” and that greed must be satiated.
However, Rajiv aWijesinghe apparently couldn’t grasp that subtle situation and he went on to pretend to be a fully-fledged minister and kept overriding his Cabinet Minister by giving officials various policy lines to work on, monitoring their work and so on. What Rajiva should have done was to sit pretty with the title and go about like a peacock displaying its colours.
Rajiva’s action annoyed his Minister and a bit of a dispute occurs. He went up to the Prime Minister and complained. Ranil Wickremasinghe, in his usual low PR-style, asked his cousin to go and read a book titled,”The power of the Impossible.” This vexed Rajiva and he threw away his portfolio unnecessarily. In his article Rajiva claims to have done a “good job.” That is an assessment, again, that should have been left for others to make. However, Rajiva, even being a genuine ‘intellectual,’ unlike me, cannot realise that.
I Am No Party Man
So off he goes to keep criticising the UNP component of this government headed by Mainripala Sirisena. He is so sensitive about it that he has jumped to the conclusion in my case, namely that by my criticising the SLFP I am showing up as a UNP man.
I am no Party’s man. I can assure readers that.Any support I give to any Party or political leader is only conditional upon that entity doing what is expected of it to do. The simple reason is that one has to make such conditional decisions at some time or another in political life. On the other hand, if one gives unconditional backing, then one is a confirmed party man and an ‘apologist,’ for that party.
Nor have I been ‘pitiful,’ as Rajiva avers. I stand by my position, which has been presented with hard evidence and not emotion, that the SLFP has been damaging the country in serious ways and that it should dissolve itself instead of continuing to pretend and fool the herd.
I had stated just three areas of national damage by that party. The first is that it has divided our country unmistakably on racial lines beginning from the days of its origin. Rajiva says that the UNP had itself been doing that under JR Jayewardene. If he bothers to read my article he will see that I have admitted that. My point was that SWRD and his SLFP had changed our nation’s settings so much that even a party like the UNP, which had been all along avowedly for ‘national unity,’ had to follow some elements of the new default settings at some time or another. The practical fact is that the UNP also comprises of Sri Lankan politicians. The latter-Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim- have felt impelled often to drift into communal politics. It had been the SLFP that changed the settings of a country where all communities had been living like brothers. I want to remind Rajiva about the “Sri,” car number plate issue. SWRD trampled on sensitive areas like that to become a hero among the Sinhala unthinking herd.
SWRD, the Bandaranaike family and the SLFP ever since those days, became a ‘sacred cow.’ The party is now based on that public sentiment of sanctity. The rank and file have even forgotten that a Buddhist monk had assassinated their founding leader-and that that horrible crime had been done while SWRD was genuflecting to worship the monk! That action should be etched in memory forever among our people as being symbolic of the cruelty that could be unleashed by religion of any kind.
English Language Dethroned
My second point is that SWRD and the party changed the settings, again, to dethrone English in the island. I have given ample evidence for that proposition. Yet, Rajiva makes allegations about Ranil also having done that. Ranil has his faults but one thing that strikes anyone transparently is that Ranil Wickremesinghe is a political leader who has always kept national unity foremost in mind ever since the days he was minister of Education. He is never communal and he has never wanted to bring down the common link of communication among our different people.
What people like Rajiva Wijesinha should realise is that once the default settings in political-social consciousness are changed it has been a hard job to push the arms of the clock back to the right settings.
My third point was that the SLFP brought down a socialism that simply ruined capital investment by the private sector. “Capitalism,’ became and still is, a dirty word. The state take-over of every bloody enterprise this time changed the settings regarding economics and implanted in the minds of the herd a false economic consciousness. That is crucial historical fact but Rajiv doesn’t meet that point at all.
Instead, he shifts to make an accusation about the UNP from another ground thereby, once again, not positioning argument to meet my proposition. Rajiva asserts:“Jayasinghe criticizes Jayewardene for entrenching socialism by renaming us the Democratic Socialism republic, but fails to assess why he instead extended cronyism also to the private sector, with his daughter in law for instance and his Secretary’s son getting lucrative contracts.”
Oh my God, what has renaming the country as “democratic socialism,” got to do with the charge of cronyism? Cronysim happens everywhere in politics and is unavoidable able. It becomes a problem only when it reaches dysfunctional a level.
I agree, however, with Rajiva Wijesinha on one point here, namely when he charges Ranil Wickremasinghe of showing backing to “Arjuna Mahendran as Governor of the Central Bank, ….despite obvious misdemeanours.” Ranil does have a weakness of supporting old Royalist classmates etc and turning a blind eye at their misdemeanours. This has been established by the recent Commission findings. That is his bad kamma. He will pay for that.
I respect Rajiva Wijesinha as a good and civilised human being-well educated. He is the total opposite of another political analyst who exudes revenge and prejudice every time he writes on Sri Lankan politics. On the other hand, I believe Rajiva should give up politics as he isn’t competent there. As far as politics is concerned, he has reached his level of incompetence.