13 April, 2024

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Sirisena Shakes Queen’s Hand Without Gloves – Wow!

By H. L. D. Mahindapala

H. L. D. Mahindapala

H. L. D. Mahindapala

The post-independent period is a unique segment of Sri Lankan history where everything that ought to have happened, happened without breaking up the democratic foundations of the nation which is a remarkable achievement. In the main, the nation faced (1) two left-wing rebellions, (2) one Right-wing coup led by the Westernized elite. (3) a 33-year-old north-south conflict which began in 1976 with Tamil leadership passing the Vadukoddai Resolution, (4) paralyzing strikes by the Marxists who were planning to ride into power on the back of workers, (5) sporadic ethnic riots, (6) roller-coaster economic rides, (7) student unrest in the universities, (8) periodic changes of governments at the state and local government levels, (9) constitutional changes leaping from parliamentary form of government to presidential, (10) foreign diplomatic and military incursions, Indian in particular, (11) the impact imported ideological waves that swept influential sections of the intelligentsia and (12) the overall transition from semi-feudal, semi-capitalists, semi-colonial phase to a modern nation, complete with world conquering cricket team and a competent military machine that rose from a ceremonial army to meet the greatest internal threats to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation.

Of all the major events two peaks stand out as the highest. The first took place in 1956 and the second in 2009. Both were lasting defining moments for the nation. Both were grass root forces. Both were to regain the lost/threatened heritage of the nation. The “Silent Revolution of 1956” was to reclaim and reinforce the historical roots of the nation – a common phenomenon that rose in rebellion against centuries of colonialism in all post-colonial nations. The “The Triumph of 2009”, though violent, was to regain and protect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and the national heritage which were threatened by local and foreign anti-national forces.

Both dates are interconnected. What was won peacefully and silently in “1956” was threatened from the day it was born by the Westernized Sinhala and Tamil elite. The militarized and violent antithetical forces opposing “1956” came up from the Northern political elite. In 1976 the entire Tamil elite decided to opt out of the democratic mainstream and take the gun to reverse the historical gains of “1956”. It can be argued that “2009” rescued from “1956” fading into oblivion.

The Vadukoddai War, endorsed in the Vadukoddai Resolution (1976) officially, was conceived as a strategy of the ruling Vellahla elite to ride on the backs of the Tamil youth to ride into power. But it backfired on the fathers of the Vadukoddai Resolution. When they legitimized the Vadukoddai violence, power slipped out of the Vellahla elite for the first time since they rose to rule Jaffna from feudal times, and fell into the hands of the lower-castes and the rebellious youth who turned their guns first on the high class fathers of the Vadukoddai Resolution. The traditional Saivite Vellahla fascism was replaced by the political fascism of Prabhakaran. For some time, the one-man rule of Tamil fascism seemed unassailable and seemed poised to win by defeating the Sri Lankan forces. But winning the “unwinnable war“ changed the political landscape by eliminating Tamil fascism and restoring democracy from coast to coast. The “Triumph of 2009” not only reinforced the historic achievements of “1956” but also stands out as the second decisive and defining moment in post-independent history that saved the Tamils – and the nation — from the one-man dictatorship fascist Prabhakaranism. .

Maithri - Queen

*Picture via Marithripala Sirisena’s Facebook page 

Historically speaking, “2009” is the logical and inevitable corollary to “1956”. Both reveal the inner dynamics of the invincible grass root forces that will rise, again and again, to defend its historical heritage. The greatness of S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, who was far superior to the theoretically stunted Marxists, was in recognizing the aspirations of the grass-root people who were gasping for oxygen in an oppressive and suffocating colonial atmosphere. Both as a Christian and a scholar of Western classics Bandaranaike was steeped in the best of Occidental culture and its roots. Of the Westernized ruling elite of the day he alone felt the pulse of the people, leaving the Right and the Left stranded in their ideological deserts. His intellectual rejection of the Western ideologies made him the most perceptive and far-seeing prophet of his time. The Left was buried too deep in the dying Western theories of Marxism. The Right was too addicted to the colonial traditions which they inherited and perpetuated with hardly any structural adjustments to address the rising expectations of one of the most politically alert electorates of S. Asia. .

Like all iconic revolutionaries of the colonial and post-colonial era Bandaranaike believed in the superiority of the indigenous culture which he was bent on reviving and reinforcing as a prime political need of the time. While the Right and the Left were emphasizing material and bread-and-butter issues he focused on the cultural aspirations which proved to be stronger than bread. As in most of the post-colonial nation there was almost a xenophobic rejection of anything that came from the West. But Bandaranaike stood in the middle attempting to build bridges between the two. He knew he was in an age of transition drifting between two worlds, one dead (colonial) and the other (national) struggling to be born. (Mathew Arnold). If the Western models were to be incorporated into the local culture it was to be absorbed with suitable adjustments to local conditions. The model for this trend was set, for instance, by Bishop Lakshman Wickremesinghe, the leading light of the Anglican Church. He introduced oil lamps instead of candles in Churches. Like in Buddhist temples, he insisted that devotees entering the Church should leave their shoes at the entrance. He even introduced a tinge of yellow into the cincture that was tied round middle of the cassock.

Blending both cultures without offending anyone in particular was the intended middle path chosen by Bandaranaike. He not only gave Sinhala Only but Tamil also. This, however did not go down well with the Anglicized ruling elite of all communities who earned their crust through English. At the same time, he was conscious of the need to adopt the overarching principle of being superior to the White Man just to be his equal. That was his motto at Oxford. He wasn’t going to be overawed by the dominant culture of the colonial masters. When he dropped the Western garb and donned the national costume he wasn’t putting on a “kapati koat” like modern day politicos. He pioneered the national dress and expressed his contempt for the Western garb by declaring boldly that you wear the coat and trousers only when you go for dog shows.

The intellectual subtleties and nuances that changed the colonial culture and reinforced the people-based culture was either prostituted or neglected by those who succeeded him, using his name, including his third-rate progeny. We can dismiss his daughter who qualified more in imbibing French wine than in political science at Sorbonne. So let’s take the case of President Maithripala Sirisena’s metamorphosis after first official visit to London. After he returned home he has been projecting the image of a born-again evangelist for the West, distancing himself from his initial Marxist days and the recent al-lay, val-lay and pal-lay common man from the Polonnaruwa paddy fields. In his address to the SLFP Organizers meeting he was glorifying his visit to Buckingham Palace where the Queen amazed him by shaking his hand without wearing a glove. The fact that she offered her ungloved hand to him and his wife, Jayanthi, was marketed by him as a mark of special respect conferred on him by the Queen. Good old Bandaranaike would have taken it in his stride, being familiar the Western culture and the Queen’s antecedents better than the Queen. But not Sirisena, the boy from al-lay, val-lay and pal-lay from Polonnaruwa. It was like gama-yata magic,

Sirisena also announced with some pride that David Cameron walked out of his official residence to receive him on the macadamized entrance to No: 10, Downing Street, with a hand shake and to escort him personally into the inner sanctum of the Prime Minister’s residence. Shaking the ungloved hand of the Queen, which enabled him to touch the skin of the Queen, and David Cameron coming out to greet him outside No: 10 Downing Street, were reported to the SLFPers as significant achievements of his visit to UK. In gloating over these experiences there is more than a touch of the naivety of a first-timer being overawed by the big names in big places.

His report to the SLFPers was meant to impress the party big wigs that his first trip to the West was a triumph of his personal diplomacy abroad and that he is no longer the backward rustic from the paddy fields of Polonnaruwa. Shaking the ungloved hands of the Queen was placed before the SLFP audience as another instance of his breaking the international deadlock that has bedeviled post-war relations with the West.

He also claimed credit for getting the West to postpone the scheduled presentation of the UN report on Sri Lanka to UNHRC in March. He said that the world was divided over Sri Lanka and his initiatives had united the world. He said that the task now is to unite. “And it is I who did it,” he announced, exuding a touch of personal glory.

There is some symbolism attached to the Queen offering a gloved and the ungloved hand. The Queen who shakes the hands of tens of thousands yearly, wears gloves partly for hygienic reasons and partly for decorum. Her royal wave, for instance, is always gloved. She offers her ungloved and gloved hand to thousands and there is nothing special in Mr. and Mrs. Sirisena shaking it ungloved, though Sirisena gave the impression that it was a privileged concession granted to him and his wife.

All that is well and good. Sri Lankans should share the cordiality that greeted him at Buckingham Palace and No: 10 Downing Street. In Sirisena’s Marxist days, however, his political guru, Shanmugathasan, would have hooted with belly laughs if he heard that one of his cadres was ecstatic about the Queen shaking hands, gloved or ungloved. There is no doubt that he would have looked at it disdainfully and dismissively as the hand of a blood-stained imperialist who was heading the global killing machine of UK. But it’s different now. Those days the craze was to pose with Mao Tse Tung. Now the erstwhile radicals take great pride in shaking the ungloved hands of the Queen. Boy, O, boy! How roaring radicals change into pet mice overnight!

The cosmetics at Buckingham Palace and at No:10 Downing Street can be dismissed as much ado about nothing. Even before Sirisena went to London the West knew that he was there point man in Sri Lanka. They were merely buttering him up to show their appreciation of the shift in foreign policy from the East to the West. It doesn’t cost them much to shakes hands cordially with their new client state. Obviously, Sirisena has not grasped the hidden meaning of the Queen and David Cameron going out of their way to be extra courteous. It could either mean that they were patting President Sirisena on the back for doing the job of overthrowing their bête noir of the West in a bloodless coup. Or it could mean that they are happy with the return of a prodigal colonial boy to his old colonial masters. It may also mean that they are glad to welcome another reliable client state to partner in the Western agenda.

On his return home, the President spoke glowingly of the lovey-dovey affair at Buckingham Palace which, after all, is only glove deep. He implied that he had opened up a new era of friendly relationship with UK after Mahinda Rajapakse rejected David Milliband’s intrusive intervention to stop the war in 2009. Milliband, working on behalf of the Tamil lobby in UK, was merely trying to reassert the lost colonial powers by forcing ex-colonial nations to fall in line with their neo-colonial political agenda. That failed. So is it surprising that UK is overjoyed at Sri Lanka returning to the neo-colonial royalty on genuflecting knees?

But, as they say, there is no such thing as a free lunch or a handshake. The question, therefore, is how much is that handshake going to cost the nation? There is a price to be paid. What is the price that the nation is expected to pay in return for the thrill of touching the skin of the Queen? For instance, will it change the pro-Tamil political stance of David Cameron who is funded heavily by the Tamil Diaspora? When he pressed the hand of Sirisena was he batting for Sri Lanka or for the Tamil Diaspora?

Sirisena’s speech to the SLFPers raised the four political sources that matter to him specifically which reflects his new mind set. First, he mentioned the Indian Prime Minister Modi who had asked him what he thinks of his experiences after sitting in the Presidential chair for just two months. Oddly enough, he skips answering the question, leaving the audience to wonder whether he answered the question at all or whether he wants to keep it a secret. Second, he reflects on the Queen’s ungloved handshake in rather ecstatic terms. Third, he gives a glowing account of his meeting David Cameron, the man who hated Sri Lanka under Mahinda Rajapakse. And fourth, he claims that for the first time in the history of Sri Lankan politics all the Tamil parties sat with him when he went to Jaffna. All this was wrapped in his overall theme of giving into the demands of the TNA. Sirisena seems to have acquired more courage and inspiration after his return from UK to accommodate the demands of the North.

There are two meanings to this constellation of political forces: 1. it is this quartet that brought him into power and he plans to keep it going for his benefit ; 2. it marks the beginning of the reversal of history created in the post-Nandikadal period. Repeatedly he emphasized, most vociferously, the need to give into the 13+ demands — a common cause with the quartet that helped him to win. Earlier it was the Wickremesinghe-led UNP that was going all out to accommodate the North. Now the leader of the SLFP too has joined the bandwagon. Is this the meaning of the “national government” : giving into the extremist demands of the North with hypocritical JHU and JVP tagging along with Wickremesinghe?

Does this herald the beginning of the drift to the dissolution of the state in the guise of constitutional reforms? Or has Wickremesinghe outwitted Sirisena and taken the SLFP under his wing, as the head of the elusive “national government”, to break up the nation? Is this the end of Bandaranaike’s SLFP, with his daughter, joining hands with Wickremesinghe, to sell the nation down the river? And is the new wave of Mahinda Rajapakse which began in Nugegoda the logical political counter to save “1956” and “2009”? Whichever way you look at it, the combination of the four forces mentioned above – the Queen, David Cameron, Narendra Modi and the Tamil parties in the Diaspora and Jaffna — is a serious threat to the nation.

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Latest comments

  • 22
    14

    ah H L D the kalu sudha at his lowest form here hahahahahahahaha

    earlier people of the MR group found fault with the current first lady saying she should not bow to the queen (which is was normal protocol done even by Obama)

    Now servile slave H L D Mahindapala find fault with My3 for not wearing gloves and also talks of Vaddukodai in the same article

    Lets see how long fellows like HLD can survive in the media arena by licking people posteriors (backside!)

    • 19
      5

      If the Tamail diaspora “is a threat to the nation” as Mahindapala says,then his dear Tamil wife at home in Australia is definitely a threat to Mahindapala.

      • 6
        0

        So do the adopted tamil “SUN” is a threat to his “Nation where ever he is

    • 12
      2

      This Hindipala is longing for the dark ages to return . How nice and graceful to see our present president and the First Lady putting our country back in civilisation unlike the past undignified parasitic regime and the parasitic followers travelled in luxury and hired the luxurious suites in top class hotels . The mega followers and shakers who travelled with the family in the past was appalling. The third world country of Srilanka was able to spend extravagantly by these crooks.
      The money pilfered and syphoned off the state for their luxury state visits while the Health service the Education ministry of our children ECT were suffering chronically.
      The nation spoke on the fine day in January. Now do we need back these parasites. Come on Modapala with the IQ of 50. Use your grey matter wisely in the future. The Lankans are much more knowledgable now you can’t brainwash them.
      Please retire gracefully.

    • 11
      0

      These men still cough in favour of bunch thieves, will face it now or later.

      I only worry about Dr. Laksiri Fernando and others that really add their thoughts and minds supporting local politics. His analyses are mostly high value than those of Bakapandith Dayan Jayathilaka aka Siamese twin of Buruwanse – and THIS BURUPALA – who is far from knowing to make distinction between the wrongs and rights.

  • 26
    9

    Manidapala, just look at Ms. Sirisena, the epitome of what a Sinhala Buddhist lady is. A Sriyakantha who brings prosperity to her home and her country. For me that change is enough.

    • 15
      3

      Well said !

      A statesman and a lady ! Reminds me of Mrs. Elena Jayawardena.

    • 20
      4

      Such a nice couple, Sri Lankans should be proud of them. They represent the average Sri Lankans humble and simple

  • 24
    7

    “Whichever way you look at it, the combination of the four forces mentioned above – the Queen, David Cameron, Narendra Modi and the Tamil parties in the Diaspora and Jaffna — is a serious threat to the nation”

    Can you please explain what exactly the threat from these four forces is?

    As far as I can see the only threat that we face is that posed by those who believe that all power flows from the barrel of a gun.

  • 13
    2

    “Sirisena Shakes Queen’s Hand Without Gloves – Wow!”

    In the 21st centenary the Queen is not an Iranian/Aryan (to have skin peeling problem)
    OR
    a carpet beggar to have TWA syndrome.

    She is queen because of her popularity worldwide especially with the commonwealth countries- they all want to be knighted and feel protected.

    It’s just the cockney folk who have a dig at her often.

  • 14
    3

    If I were the writer, I would use my journalistic skills to honestly inform and help form accurate opinions about events and behaviours of significant people, in the minds of the readers.

    Reading the above article I get the impression that the writer is more about making fun of and belittling the Sri Lankan president on trivial matters that have very little to do with good governance or statesmanship.

    No wonder his critics go berserk and insult him on this forum, although I would personally avoid such activities myself.

  • 6
    1

    Javi.

    Once a knight always a Knight.

    Once a night is enough!

  • 13
    0

    And HLD, you are a journalist?

    • 3
      0

      NO he is just a [Edited out] of MR.. short n simple.. He probably is drawing a seniors check from the Aussie govt has time to spare and nothing much to do…so he [Edited out]

  • 11
    0

    Pala
    If ever the Queen happen to shake your hand she will wear at least 5 pairs gloves. As a mark of you know what

  • 3
    8

    Sirisena is a role model of Ranil . Both are weak leaders and want to appease as this is the best way to avoid problems. Sirisena who was handed over the leadership has told the SLFP to allow him to lead the party according to his wishes. He also must realize that people gave him the executive presidency for him to lead and not to Ranil. He must assert his authority and not allow Ranil who is trying to grab his powers to do so. Sirisena must tell Ranil as he told the SLFPers to allow him to do the job as executive president.

  • 4
    3

    According to Minister Rajitha Senaratne, (who could be an acrobat, considering the number of times he has jumped from party to party), Maithripala is a Majestic person. So, I guess, His Majesty My3, is from royalty and the Queen having realised this, did not wear gloves when shaking hands. That’s great your Majesty Sirisena.
    Also, there are now people like Edwin Rodrigo, so fascinated by Mrs Sirisena, he says she is the “epitome of a Buddhist lady”.
    Are they joking?

  • 9
    2

    HLDM – President has clean hands hence he did not have to ware gloves
    unlike the previous Presidents who had ‘oily’ hands.

  • 7
    1

    Why do we have to suffer like this? Are the CT editor’s confusing freedom of speech and stupidity? What have we done to be subject to this nonsense?

    What ever President Sirisena’s weak points, he is a dramatic change from what we had. Today, OUR President is welcomed in Global capitals and he represents us so well. There is no need to comment on Mrs Sirisena. She epitomises EVERYTHING a Sri Lankan woman, mother and wife should aspire to look like, and behave. And, I have not had the pleasure of meeting either of them.

  • 8
    1

    Mahindapala, Mahindapaala, Stay focussed on the big picture and let go of the useless trivia.Diplomacy is important for the well being of the island nation. Enough with the self enforced alienation ! Even powerful nations need and seek each other in global politics. Stop being a moron.

  • 5
    1

    HLD,BBS,MR,We live in 2015 in an age where Iran seeks to come out of isolation,Myanmmar has,dictators have been ousted and one voted out.

    Our own MS is enlightened,understands the people need the West,India and China and has been busy mending fences in correct places.Now where MR ran to African despots our MS will not waste his time.

    MR and BBS can start working in tandem again for an agenda that people of Lanka rejected on 9/1

  • 14
    1

    I am greatly impressed by this extra-ordinary HUMBLE couple. I cannot recall a previous Head Of State, not even Mrs. Elena Jayawardene who looks so humble yet DIGNIFIED.

  • 8
    0

    There is an idiot trolling this site that has a beef with the Sirisena’s it seems. He keeps marking a ‘thumbs down’ where ever there is praise for the first couple.

    • 3
      0

      Must be one of the ‘three idiots’ – you know who !

  • 1
    1

    Mahindapala,
    [Edited out]

  • 3
    0

    What goes around ,comes around.Mr.Maithri has achieved in this life what he was in his previous life,a Majesty and he is going to remain that in his future lifes too.Budusaranai.

  • 4
    0

    The queen must be thankful that he shook her hands at least with or w/o gloves because this fussy man does not shake hands with corrupt people.

    Now the whole world knows that the queen is not corrupt.

  • 5
    0

    YOU ARE AN IDIOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT .

    GREAT COUPLE WHO REPRESENT SIMPLE AND ORDINARY PEOPLE OF SRI LANKA .

    PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEE DO NOT INSULT THEM .Show some kind of respect please .

  • 6
    0

    This HLD fellow is a bit of an old cad. Just look at his very suggestive headline “Sirisena Shakes Queen’s Hand Without Gloves – Wow!”

    Next, we can expect something like [Edited out]

  • 4
    0

    Simplicity, down to earth, very beautiful couple to represent Sri Lanka. I appreciate!!! ( I hope that way they will for years to come).
    :))

  • 6
    0

    HLD your pen is POISON. You do not deserve journalistic licence. You look through a Nelsonian eye. Grow up man you are a rabble rouser. I did not know you have a tamil wife. That’s the only good part of you.

    • 0
      0

      [Edited out]

  • 4
    0

    Mahindapala no body trust you or believe you you retire from your pen and [Edited out]

  • 4
    0

    Mahindapala wants Srisena to follow his boss MR’s condom principle.

    Wear the gloves for the occasion and discard it when not needed.

  • 3
    0

    I am in disbelief at how petty minded you can be, Mahindapala. Do you, and the people on your bandwagon really prefer to have stupidly arrogant ,corrupt thieves who have been the looting the state coffers in broad daylight, in true mafia style , over someone who may not be as sophisticated, but simple and honest and most of all has a good heart to serve the ordinary people? He represents the average srilankan, and he IS your president. So get over your less than sophisticated, childish biases and support him to improve the country’s well being! Because, it is your well being too.

    • 0
      0

      No No, Su Siri, this racist does not live in Sri Lanka. Please don’t count him as one of us, he isn’t!!!

      In that respect, this country’s been smart, packing him off elsewhere.

      Our gain is that country’s loss indeed!

      Utterly uncouth coot. Probably an issue during the growing up years.

      • 0
        0

        C emerald, Thank you for that info. Good riddance of one nasty poison pill!

  • 2
    0

    So what you Bigot? “if you understand the meaning”You must be getting a sociopathic satisfaction with all this attention you are getting??

  • 2
    0

    HLD MADPALA,you were the one who ruined the image of Late President Premadasa with your pen when you worked at Lake house.You were a racist,dominator and took control of the Observer editorial.Racist with a Tamil wife.What a shame.You were hooted and chased by employees of Lake House on the last day of work there.Because of you so many who were supporters of Premadasa even today dont like to give their vote to Sajith.You are a big CROOK.Get lost.Dont come to SL.Live in Down Under and go Down Under soon.At Lake House all knew that you were a AMBULANCE [Edited out]

  • 1
    0

    Mahindapala please retire gracefully [Edited out] Remember Mr. Sirisena is a graceful leader and God has sent him to save the nation of Sri Lanka. His conduct will take Sri Lanka back to the days we were respected as a Non Aligned leader, founding member of UN and Commonwealth.

  • 1
    0

    I yet cannot believe there are still people like Mr. Mahindapala when the intelligentsias try their level best portraying it is one Sri Lanka and one Nation. Mr. Mahindapala comes back and reiterates it was 1956.Just let me tell you Mr. Mahindapala that I belong to the class where Mr. Bandaranayaka drew the line saying the class below should do their work in Sinhala. We in our own eyes saw the results, yet we are suffering from that phenomenon. Racist seed was first planted by SWRD and yet people like you are Big Fans keep polarizing my poor nation.
    I’m a public schools athlete and was lucky enough to see Jilska Flamer-Caldera (Burgher) going over the hurdles, Ethiriveerasingham going over the bar and ASM Khan winning the one mile. We never felt that they were Burghers (unfortunately all of them are in Australia where you live), Tamils or Muslims for that matter.

    Today is the world cup (CRICKET) and looking at those South Africans (mostly white) I feel proud of them. You know what happened Mr. Mahindapala …when those real native South Africans try to harass them and throw them out of the country, they fought back saying this is the Country we were Born, we are like you though we are white skinned.

    Whatever it is, I raise my hat to Mr. Colvin R De Silva, who said “One Language TWO nations”

    Generation after us and the generation there after are all racist minded like you as they grew up in this environment.Pardon me, I would say at least 90% (that’s exactly why MR winning the majority re-implanting the Racist Slogan … Sinhala Buddhists. I don’t blame them as that’s the way it is; yet people like you(so called Pundits) aid and abet them making Sinahala/Buddhist issue. I’m from USA and we have many numbers of White Americans who have become Buddhists and wear robes. They don’t call themselves saying US White/Buddhists. Buddhist is Buddhist anywhere in the globe and so are other religions.

    You should be proud to have a Tamil Spouse who knows what Pathivurthawa is.

    My earnest appeal to you is “Please don’t write to CT” as we don’t want to waste our time reading your trash.

    If you really want, please study Buddhism well and then come back.

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