7 May, 2021

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Sri Lanka Heading Towards A 4th Dictatorship; Will It Be Good?

By M.M. Janapriya –

Dr. M.M. Janapriya

This is an article I wrote on the 25th July 2020 regarding the twentieth amendment to the constitution of Sri Lanka which happened on the 22nd October 2020. Languishing in the depths of my computer I accidentally stumbled upon it a couple of days ago and thought of sharing it with the public.   

I was at the small Bank of Ceylon branch at Sri Jayewardenepura General Hospital a few days before the Kandakadu debacle. There was a little 2 x 3 feet like surface to be used as a table top and a guy was already filling a form at one end. I occupied the other end observing the one metre distance and all the other prescribed preventive measures as hand sanitizing, and wearing a face mask etc. There came a chap who whisked his way between the two of us and wanted to fill a form. I backed out instantaneously and asked him “are you not supposed to maintain the one metre distance?” He greeted my exclamation with a sardonic smile and carried on with his business. He turned back to me and asked “mahattaya where is the 1 metre distance when you travel in a bus”. I said “I don’t travel by bus, but that’s not the point. What we need to do is to minimize the chances of losing social distancing opportunities and that is your responsibility as well as mine. I am glad the military is leading the way because gentlemen like you would be Nero playing the viola while the whole country is on fire with Corona”. The man got his job done and disappeared in to the streaming crowd of hospital visitors.

This man’s behavior depicts the attitude and the behavior of a typical Sri Lankan. The question we have to answer is, is it possible to develop a country full of idiots and imbeciles such as these? The clear answer is yes but not through democracy. The country needs a good dictator who would put all these donkeys in their proper place. You may have seen on movies and documentaries how trained hounds shepherd sheep and cattle from the meadows in to their sheds. A good dictator would do the same to our `human sheep and cattle’.

Who is a Good Dictator?

Of course the phrase ‘good dictator’ needs a stringent definition. He or she should have country’s welfare deep most in his heart and topmost on his agenda. While being hard on the unruly he or she should be soft on the educated and the law abiding and let them express their fears and dissatisfactions on mass media as long as they stick to decent journalistic ethics. While he bans processions obstructing main roads he should allow meetings and protests on open spaces like esplanades, parks and playgrounds. Murder, rape and drug offences should carry a death sentence. Manslaughter by mowing down a pedestrian or another on or in a smaller vehicle should be punishable with a long custodial sentence. Judiciary should be independent ably supported by an independent educated jury when required. Country at large will be watching how the long arm of the law operates and will cooperate with the government if they wished to make changes to how justice is meted out.   

JR was a decent dictator but he got all his basics in a muddle and made a mockery of 17 years of his rule. The following is an instance in which his decency is exemplified. Throughout my entire working life I have been a bit of a loose cannon. My wife used to say “under a dictatorship you would be one of the first to get eliminated because of your eagerness to criticize wrong doing”. I was on a ward round on my surgical ward at Base Hospital Matara in 1985 and something was amiss. Through sheer frustration of not being able to do my best for my patients I uttered these words for all to hear. “Bloody nonsense this is. Is this the way to treat the people of this country? Even a government of Wijeweera or Prabhakaran would be a lot better”. As you know even walls have ears they say. Much more than that there were the hospital employees who carried tales to the minion and lackeys of powers that be. However no harm came by me for the dictator was a statesman. Another instance was as follows. It was my off duty week end. A UNP annual convention was held at Mirissa in 1986 I think it was. (JR had a holiday retreat there) My colleague Dr. G.S. De Silva was on call for the weekend. DMO sent an internal circular asking all specialists to be available in station (meaning the hospital premises or within quick reach of the hospital) because of the President’s visit. As I had a weekend full of activity planned, I wrote in that notice book “This is my off weekend and I have a packed programme. President is visiting as the head of the UNP and not as the head of the state. Hence I will be going away as planned and will be back to work sharp at 8.00 a.m. Monday”. Die is cast and the Rubicon is crossed folks, so I returned to work on Monday with a degree of apprehension. Lo and behold nothing untoward happened.

Sirimavo Government & its Downfall

I am now going to talk about the early seventies. I metamorphosed from being a medical student to a young intern house officer at the General Hospital Colombo in October 1972. Mrs.Bandaranaike was running the country beautifully with of course a fair deal of austerity. Restaurants did not offer rice on two days of the week. We used to have dinner at the Park View Hotel opposite the Vihara Maha Devi Park for a change and have experienced this somberness of the venue firsthand.

Mrs B. had also curtailed most imports. Local factories both government and private were flourishing. We were producing our own clothes of all types, our rice, spices, chillies, and sugar. We even produced our own iron and steel products. Kelani tires were a product of the tire corporation. Leather Corporation produced good quality leather DI shoes and a wide array of other finished products. Mitsubishi Colt and Mazda were two good quality cars assembled here in Sri Lanka at that time. Every Tom Dick and Harry could not import a car. Only those who earned foreign exchange could do so. We were fascinated by the brand new Austin Maxi of Dr. Sirisena, our sub warden at the Jayatilleke Hall, Peradeniya. He had just returned from the UK after getting his PhD in history.

This is indeed how things should have been and the country would have slowly but surely progressed towards prosperity. However, the big businesses, and the rich and powerful who were now powerless, thought otherwise. They connived with the UNP and the UNP led trade unions like the JSS and the Association of Medical Specialists (the AMS) headed by a staunch UNPer Dr. R.B.J. Peiris and were hell bent on bringing the Sirimavo government down. GMOA of the time was headed by a gentleman call Dr.R.R.Cooke who gave unstinted support to Dr. Pieris. Propaganda machines of the UNP and the big businesses did a great deal of damage to what would otherwise have been a historic government that propelled the country towards zero poverty. Sirimavo’s down fall was in a way helped by a few of her own shortsighted policies like stopping importation of infant food like SMA. I remember as if it was yesterday how I stood in the SMA queue at Bayer’s opposite the eye hospital with my colleague-Senior House Officer, Accident Service, G.H., Colombo, to buy powdered milk for our colleague’s few weeks old infant. This didn’t go down very well with the masses and the anti- propaganda caught on in a big way. Also Sirimavo under the tutelage of Drs. N.M. and Colvin and indeed her cousin Felix took the Lake House the biggest free press Sri Lanka ever had under the wings of the government. Free press is the cornerstone of any vibrant democracy and this act of Sirimavo was the first ever red flag that fluttered over our country. Witty old Riley (Dr.Riley Fernando, a famous GP) managed to get this obituary sneaked in to the Ceylon Daily News. This clearly was one of the biggest ‘forced forehand errors’ of the Sirimavo government. (She was virtually trapped to doing this by those who wanted her out).

*D.E.M. O’Crazy. The death occurred under tragic circumstances of D.E.M.O’Crazy, beloved husband of T.Ruth, loving father of L.I.Berty, brother of Faith, Hope and Justitia. Interred on Sunday the 20th instant at Araliya Medura, Panagiyawatta, Anduruwella.

GMOA and the AMS were on a joint collision course on some 13 demands in 1976 with a government already crippled courtesy frequent strikes by members of the public service. The Health Minister Mrs. Siva Obeysekera had failed to get the doctors back to work. As a last ditch measure to obviate government crumbling down under medical trade union pressure Mr. Felix R Dias Bandaranaike was appointed to negotiate with the striking doctors. His tough stance at the beginning soon softened and despite granting almost all the demands and getting doctors back to work he could not prevent the government losing its grip and collapsing with a thud. You are getting this ‘from the horse’s mouth’ as I attended the negotiations myself, being one of the three joint secretaries of the GMOA at the time. This is an actual picture of the above mentioned obit. 

JR the first ever President 

The 73 years young, old fox was returned to the parliament with a landslide majority winning 138 seats out of 168. JR seized the opportunity and amended the constitution of Sri Lanka to have an all-powerful executive president with the parliament losing almost all its legislative powers. This heralded the beginning of an autocratic regime. JR regime is something all of us would like to erase like painful memory.

JR called himself His Excellency and elevated himself to the level of an uncrowned king. No one except his very close friends and allies could approach him easily. All correspondence stopped at the point of his secretary, a buffoon called Menikdiwela. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. This age old adage hasn’t stood the test of time for nothing. JR, like most vested with unlimited power lost his head. He moved the Parliament premises from Fort to Kotte with the help of the Japanese who felt indebted to him for speaking in support of Japan at a UN assembly long years ago. Relocation of the Parliament building in Kotte did have a rational basis of being a difficult place for LTTE suicide cadres to approach while the old premises might have looked a sitting duck but the real reason for moving was JR wanting to make Kotte the capital city of his kingdom and name it Sri Jayewardenepura. Old fools feel doings akin to this would keep their name immortal when their mortal remains have disappeared back to earth. Do we remember JR every time the name Sri Jayewardenepura is mentioned? The answer is an emphatic No. I can talk for my own self only and let me tell you, on no such occasion have I ever remembered JR. So the old fox, the first Dictator of Sri Lanka, though statesmanlike was indeed a fool. His rule heralded the demise of Sri Lankan Democracy.

During his rule Parliament became an institution only of ornamental value. Stalwarts of the UNP like Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Jayasooriya had to cow down to the antics of the old fox. Resignation letters of all the MPP and the Ministers were in his possession ready to be dated and activated. Judges who acted independently and gave judgements unpalatable to the government had to face the cacophonic music of the JR goons. Top Judges of the calbre of Neville Samarakoon were subject to this kind of degrading treatment. I remember JR trying to impeach him in 1983 or so. Later on they were replaced by the minions and Lackeys of the administration.

All the good work done by Sirimavo on poverty alleviation were undone. Economy was opened. Hard earned rupees vanished to Japan and the west in the form of yen and dollars for importation mainly of motor vehicles. The patriotic sound of SL factories like sugar, iron, leather, tyre etc gradually fell silent. All these commodities started being imported paving way for third parties to make a lot of money and jack the government up in return. National health care service hit the rocks. Private sector took over according medical care to the country. Nawaloka from polysacs, timber etc. graduated to making his foray in to medical care. This regime watched with glee how the state sector disappeared in to oblivion paving way for the private sector to blossom in its place. In some instances the latter cannibalized the former.

Premadasa becomes the Second Elected President

There was dissension within the party. Lalith and Gamini hung on with difficulty hoping one of them would succeed the old fox. Not to be. Ranasinghe Premadasa (RP) made his way in to the presidential palace. He was worse than JR. JR’s education and family upbringing made it difficult for him to be ruthless. Premadasa had no such society friendly inhibitions. The Lalith and Gamini duo tried to impeach RP the only way to constitutionally get rid of him but failed. They got sacked from the UNP. DUNF formed by the dissidents and headed by Lalith Athulathmudali was gathering pace in leaps and bounds and RP wanted to stop them. Gamini died in a bomb blast apparently by the LTTE in which a lot of others including my friend Dr. Gamini Wijesekera also perished. Lalith was shot dead by a lone gunman at a meeting in Kirullapone virtually opposite the cop shop under cover of darkness. A few minutes before Lalith arrived at the meeting the entire Kirullaponae area had plunged in to darkness. Quite a few journalists and other well-known figures too died. Sagarika Gomes and Richard de Zoysa are two such names that come to my mind in an instant. RP’s regime was corrupt too. His henchmen became very rich. Many believed he too may have amassed money through his signature Gamudawa in which after a big ado matchbox size houses were doled out to poor people. I would give him the credit as the pioneer in trying to improve the road structure of the country. With every Gamudawa the surrounding roads were rubberized and the pavements and walkways modernized. This too may have opened up avenues for his goons to siphon national coffers away but which government contract had a clean sheet? He seemed unstoppable when his confidant Babu blasted him to smithereens at a May Day Rally in 1993. People celebrated this by cooking milk rice.

The Bandaranaikes are Back

The Bandaranaikes ruled for better part of 10 years from 1994. Even though the LTTE made merry during this period no civilian came by an untimely death for criticizing the president or the government or for posing an electoral threat to them. In this respect the B & B decade passed uneventfully. 

The First Rajapaksa Presidency

Postwar Rajapaksa government sadly was a lack lustre regime as per what the country needed for development but there seemed to be no paucity of pomp and pageantry when it came to feathering their own nests. This period seemed marred by controversy on all fronts and transformation in to an authoritarian regime. People were immensely grateful to the regime for seeing an end to the 30 year war and the President could do no wrong in their eyes. Hence this would have been the ideal time to try and bring some degree of discipline back in, and set the ball rolling to develop the country. The opportunity went a begging. None of the above happened. The extravaganza seemed to be going on unabated at the expense of national coffers. Favoritism, nepotism, corruption, thuggery and acts of moral turpitude became common place. Country was hurtling down towards destruction when a breakaway group of the SLFP together with the UNP brought down the government.

The Yahapalanaya Confusion

The Yahapalanaya government though re-installed the independence of the judiciary, re-established the rule of law, brought back freedom of expression etc. was in Status Confucius. President committed `hara-kiri’ by clipping his own wings with the 19th Amendment to the constitution of the country. He and the Prime Minister didn’t sing from the same hymn sheet. President and the government had to appease the ethnic minorities as a payback for supporting them to defeat the previous President. As such the Muslim ministers in government had a free hand and under their umbrella Muslim extremism could easily translate their thoughts in to action. There was a great deal of communal disharmony between the Sinhalese and the Muslims during the previous regime but strangely and inexplicably the Easter Sunday bombings took place under the Yahapalanaya which slept on the intelligence information received from India about an imminent attack on places of Christian worship.

Suicide bombs not only blasted lives out of 259 innocent people but they also blasted the people’s confidence in the government. They were simply mortified. Feared for their own lives they voted the strong man Gotabaya to power in Nov 2019. Country wanted a leader who would usher them safety and security and they thought Gota was the right man for the job. Who can blame them? The big question is are they right? Only time will tell.

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Latest comments

  • 14
    2

    Gota is a strong an when he hides behind the military, Gota has no brains or brawl.
    He is put to help the Rajapksa family siphon of billions out of the country. The Rajapaksa family will run away after leasing the country to China.
    Xi Ping will make them honorary citizens of Beijing

    • 6
      1

      Dear Dr Janapriya,
      “There was a great deal of communal disharmony between the Sinhalese and the Muslims during the previous regime but strangely and inexplicably the Easter Sunday bombings took place under the Yahapalanaya which slept on the intelligence information received from India about an imminent attack on places of Christian worship.” .
      .
      Most of what u say is agreeable but communal disharmony was made by then opposition, today’s rulers for their comeback, never forget that now all is becoming clear, unknown boss of mater plan of Easter sunday bombing should be someone close to Rajapakse s😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎😎

    • 2
      11

      Rajash,
      Even without brains Gotabhaya Rajapakse played a major role to eliminate Tamil terrorism that was haunting the country for three decades.
      However, brainy Tamils failed to prevent the humiliating defeat Prabhakaran and Tamil terrorists faced at Nandikadal.
      ——
      “…Gota has no brains…”

      • 10
        1

        Eagle Eye – are you blind and dumb?
        The whole world knows that the might of the Pakistan army and Chinese army and Indian army and US intelligence that defeated the LTTE. Gota was hiding behind and screaming at the top of his voice on Sri Lanka TV for to fool gullible people like you

        • 2
          0

          Rajash, Yes, even today we can see the graves of the thousands of Pakistani, Chinese and Indian soldiers who defeated the LTTE for us.

          You sound like the same idiots who used to claim that the LTTE beat the ‘fourth largest army in the World.’

          You lost the war. Get used to it and move on.

  • 8
    3

    Dr. M.M. Janapriya “Sri Lanka Heading Towards A 4th Dictatorship; Will It Be Good?”
    ======
    You mean the 4th Dictatorship is under China courtesy of Gota and the Rajapaksas?

  • 10
    2

    Dr Janapriya,
    .
    The survey that you make of political developments from around 1972 to the present is balanced and fair. Had we persisted with the local production that we went through with in the early seventies, it is true that we would have a sounder economy now. Your brief summary of the ten-year CBK rule also is justified.
    .
    Yahapalanaya was indeed confusion, although the judiciary was allowed to be more independent. You’ve left it to us to answer the question of whether Gota is the right man to give us firm and fair leadership.
    .
    Isn’t it patently clear by now that he isn’t up to it in terms of experience and judgement?
    .
    That is quite apart from all the other things that we’ve been saying. There is more disaster looming ahead of us.

    • 2
      0

      Dear Sinhala_Man,
      To evaluate the efficacy of this article of Dr. M.M. Janapriya, one must read it in conjunction with Rajan Philips’, ‘The Tumultuous 1980s: Open Economy, Open Violence, And India’s Peace Keeping By Force’.

      • 0
        0

        Nathan,
        .
        That, I have done, and made a comment, too.
        .
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/the-tumultuous-1980s-open-economy-open-violence-and-indias-peace-keeping-by-force/
        .
        Although you have yet to tell us what you feel about either, I’m sure that you, too, will agree that most of the racism that the Double-Pakshas now display, had its origins in the UNP administrations from 1977 to 1994.
        .
        Neither Vijaya nor CBK was racist in outlook, although the latter, as President had to contend with Prabhakaran who was the creation of JRJ (I can most certainly add Cyril Mathew, but that would be to get bogged down in detail).
        .
        Although the JVP’s bad record on appeals to chauvinism must include the murder of Vijaya, haven’t they now proved by deeds that they have changed? And it is the NPP that we are now called upon to vote for.
        .
        The SJB? It has some good people in it: Example, eleven minutes of Eran Wickremaratne (English)
        .
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYmdVZ3j4eE
        .
        Why were they relatively ineffective during Yahapalanaya, and how did this woman get into Parliament? 30 minutes (Sinhala with a sprinkling of English words):
        .
        http://vid001.me/m-p-diana-gamage-on-truth-with-chamuditha
        .
        Isn’t it Ranil Wickremasinghe who is to blame for not allowing the UNP to democratically elect a leader? BTW, Diana does effectively counter hypocrisy, but is that done with acceptable seriousness?

        .

        • 1
          0

          Sinhala_Man ,
          My puny brain tells me that by having made a comment comparing the two versions, I have somewhat disagreed with your approval of this article. Rajan adds strength to my beliefs.
          .
          The history of UNP politicians galore with desertions. SWRD deserted UNP. JR temporarily left UNP to find his own version. Karu went with SLFP. Sajith caused a rift. RW is not great, but why blame him alone.

  • 2
    0

    Dear Dr. Janapriya,
    Thank you for a brilliant article, which is similar to my thinking.
    May I add one element that may be useful?
    The demise of Mrs B’s government was hastened because the International Agencies refused to grant any soft loans to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had to borrow at commercial rates and it is reasonable to speculate that the withdrawal of soft loans was a tool to change the government.
    Sri Lanka is truly unfortunate that a person like JR ever became the leader of UNP.
    I sincerely thought Gota would make changes to benefit the country. I am not so sure now.
    As one of my friends pointed out, the best (brains not brawn) in the country entered University during our young days. Those who were good in athletics were attracted to Armed forces as officers. As such, the country is not run by the best now – as evidenced by Sri Lanka’s poor performance at the UN. I give full credit to the diaspora who outsmarted the government many times over.
    Sri Lanka misses people like Lakshman Kadirgamar and Bradman Weerakoon, instead we have officers with mind-boggling ranks with poor thinking.

    • 5
      0

      SA,
      “instead we have officers with mind-boggling ranks with poor thinking.”
      Like Admiral Professors who are sitting ducks for foreign journalists?

      • 1
        0

        OC,
        Thanks, I forgot about the metamorphosis of Admirals into professors!

    • 0
      0

      SA
      The defeat of the SLFP in 1977 was expected, as shortages had angered the urban populations and minorities were unhappy about discrimination.
      The drought badly hurt rice cultivation for two years running half way through the (extended) term of the UF government.and even tea production was badly affected.
      The government had antagonised Tamil voters not just in the North. The TULF made a deal with the UNP to persuade Tamil voters outside N&E to vote UNP.
      The Left after deserting the coalition (LSSP in 1975; CP in 1976) was bitterly hostile to the SLFP. Not only did it reject any form of electoral understanding, it also contested as a third front (seemingly out of spite) only to humiliate itself as well as weaken the SLFP.
      Taking advantage of resentment of rice shortages and bread queues, JRJ made a false promise of 8 kg of rice, which the electorate understood as free or subsidised rise.
      All things combined to let the UNP secure a 5/6 majority and push the SLFP below the TULF in parliament.
      It took time for the people to realize that they had been cheated by JRJ, but far too late since JRJ ruthlessly wrecked the opposition using the JVP (which was a secret ally until late 1979). The TULF was taken for a thundering ride with the DDCs, followed by humiliation.

  • 1
    1

    Good article.

    I think you are right. Time will tell. I feel this is the only hope for Sri Lanka. To make sure the Govt service is made efficient. That alone is a humongous task

    • 1
      1

      Dear a14455,
      .
      In the above comment, what does “this” in the third sentence stand for?
      .
      https://www.un.int/srilanka/news/sinhala-and-tamil-new-year-message-he-gotabaya-rajapaksa-president-sri-lanka-0
      .
      That is the official message of the President of Sri Lanka just two weeks ago, in three languages. In the second paragraph the words “while adhering to health guidelines” are there, but what is the overall message?
      .
      What is the news today?
      .
      You say that “time will tell.”
      .
      Hasn’t reading those two news items in succession told us that there is no hope for us?
      .
      The Easter bomb-blasts got Gota elected; he delayed a lock-down last year until the divided opposition (UNP) submitted nominations for two groups to contest Parliamentary seats. He is not to blame for the opposition being divided. That was Ranil’s contribution.
      .
      This strong man didn’t have the muscle to even to prevent the Royal-Thomian last year to be not staged with customary revelry. Fortunately, there wasn’t much fall-out from that.
      .
      Is it a “humongous task” for you to decide on these facts alone? Must you leave it to a helpless old man like me, and to a much better informed old medical man in Dr Janapriya to answer the question that has been posed?

      • 2
        2

        Now that is foolish , It just shows how biased you are. There is nothing in what you have posed that shows and incompetence of the Prez . if anything I cannot even imagine if the dancing puppets of the SJB were in power during this crisis. Sri Lanka would have indeed been the laughing stock and center of all virus infection in the world while they would be fighting each other. just like they did during the Easter Sunday bombings.

  • 4
    0

    Who can blame them? The big question is are they right? Only time will tell.

    Dr.Janapriya winds up this interesting essay by taking us for a walk along the corridors of recent history with the aforesaid line.

    A good number of those 6.9 million voters who ushered in this regime have only themselves to blame.
    The build-up against the Minorities was too much to resist and they were taken for a good ride along the garden path. From the frying pan into the fire!

    • 1
      0

      ……..those 6.9 million voters who ushered in this regime have only themselves to blame. The build-up against the Minorities was too much to resist and they were taken for a good ride…..
      May be the 6.9 have themselves to blame but they did not know how bad at that time of voting. But how about the eight minority MPs who voted even though by that time, enough was known. They have knowingly GONE for the ride.

  • 3
    0

    Dr Janapriya

    ”.. Only time will tell..”, the answer to your question, I think is already the writing on the wall. Although I agree with your comments on the past leaders of SL, I am do not share your sympathetic opinion of Mrs B. Under her watch, the country went backwards with state monopoly & lack of competition, the citizens were forced to accept poor quality products, which were even in short supply. Dasa mudalali’s nylon shirts & unhealthy, inedible hydrogenated coconut oil as a butter substitute are a couple of examples.

  • 5
    0

    Dr Janapriya

    ”.. Only time will tell..”, the response to that, is already the ‘writing on the wall’. Although I largely agree with your comments on the past leaders of SL, I do not share your sympathetic opinion of Mrs B. Under her watch, the country went backwards. With state monopoly & lack of competition, the citizens were forced to accept poor quality products, even which were in short supply. Dasa mudalali’s nylon shirts & unhealthy, inedible hydrogenated coconut oil (Astra margarine) as a butter substitute are a couple of examples. Mrs B’s lack of political acumen & her reliance on puppet master, Felix Dias, was instrumental for the extreme hardship we suffered during her time but that is besides the point. However, a similar era, possibly even worse, under a despotic dictator, who surrounds himself with military cronies for his survival, is the most likely scenario if the current trend continues.
    As for your question, ‘who is a good dictator?’, there is no such person. Absolute power corrupts, lack of law & order, govt. controlled media, & non accountability, are hallmarks of dictatorship. Furthermore, oligarchs & corrupt cronies thrive under a dictatorship, which we are already experiencing. We need competent leaders with suitable education & integrity to maintain law, an independent judiciary & a worthy opposition with a free media to hold the Parliament accountable, not a dictator.

  • 3
    0

    Dr. Janapriya: “Feared for their lives they voted the strong man Gotabaya to power…..and they thought Gota was the right man for the job. The big question is are they right? Only time will tell”. Without waiting for any further waiting “Time”, the answer for the question has come within a “Time Frame” of only “15 months”. The “Performance” of this “Strong Man” has “PROVED” he is a “FAILURE” and we are “WRONG” in the selection. You can now continue the rest. Thank you.

  • 3
    1

    Dr. M.M. Janapriya,

    So, we meet again! …….. Like Inspector Clouseau said to the Pink Panther …… or ……. RIcheard Burton to the devil: in one of the sequels of “The Exorcist.”

    I haven’t had time to read your article; only glance through ……… don’t want to comment in depth, lest I cop the wrath of your buddy Sunil A.

    Now, you have a dictator you wished for ………. in hindsight, who do you think was right: I or you? :))

    Your great heroine Sirima nationalized that Buriyani place in Maradana (whatever that was called.) To hell with Lake House ……. that would live in infamy for the rest of Lanka’s days!

    “Mrs B. had also curtailed most imports. Local factories both government and private were flourishing. We were producing our own clothes of all types, our rice, spices, chillies, and sugar. We even produced our own iron and steel products. Kelani tires were a product of the tire corporation. Leather Corporation produced good quality leather DI shoes and a wide array of other finished products.”

    • 3
      1

      Continued

      The Amish are also self-sufficient ……. but they live few centuries behind.

      Our market is simply not large enough to sustain many of our industries ……… in the end the market will set the quality of the finished goods.

      We have a better chance of success by concentrating on finance/services …….. I think.

      If everything local was good for locals ……. why did Sirima send her kids abroad for studies? ………. it’s the same old same old we all humans play in the end …… if you ask me Dr. Janapriya.

      • 3
        1

        Nimal,
        You are right, Dr. J is over the top in his praise of Mrs.B. Surprising for someone who lived through that period of shortages and bureaucracy. I can remember being asked , when I went to buy a 50cts part for a radio, being asked by the panjandrum at the CWE for the old part, and the radio licence. As to Kelani tyres, even with our own rubber, they cost more than foreign ones.
        Even Singapore produces only what is economically possible.

        • 0
          0

          OC
          To use natural rubber for tyres was daft. as it fetched a better price than synthetic rubber in the global market.
          The concept of VFC was taken to absurd extremes at times.
          To manufacture tyres makes sense now (Arpico does) as there is a far bigger market.

        • 2
          0

          OC,

          It breaks my heart to confront seniors like Dr Janapriya, who have stayed behind and served the country. Even if I don’t agree with some (or many) of their views, or even some of their deeds in the past, I have great respect for their service.

          My father’s family was the same; they didn’t have to work a single day in their life – their parents had left them a lot of wealth – but still did out of a sense of duty to the country. That’s them: I wouldn’t give a can of baked beans.

          But we have to be brutally realistic about what went on and what’s going on ……… can’t look at things through “romantic” rose tinted glasses.

      • 0
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        nimal,
        .
        You’re quite right about the size of the market, etc. There’s no getting away from the globalisation that has now taken place.
        .
        oc’s observations are most pertinent.
        .
        I’ve re-studied this article and that by Rajan Philips; his articles are all carefully crafted, but may be drawing fewer comments because his presentation is so well laid out.
        .
        Dr Janapriya’s was made more provocative by his forcing us to assess Gota’s performance. My first comment was made with no other views visible.
        .
        Leaders of many States have blundered on handling COVID, but Gota won Parliament by boasting about his great success; now the bungling is clear. This was the subject of the earlier Janapriya articles; I hope that there’ll be another.
        .
        This article has been useful. And also those on the NPP. That lot of activists alone give some hope for the future.

  • 3
    1

    There were queues, shortages and rationing under Mrs B. Without the Haal Potha you had to buy rice on the black market. Sugar was almost unobtainable, you were given a piece of jaggery with your tea. So much for Socialism. Great idea, but it doesn’t work.
    .
    During Mrs B’s tenure a man walked into a shop and asked “Do you have any bread?”
    The shopkeeper replied “This is the shop with no meat, the shop with no bread is across the street”

  • 1
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    Our poor Democracy has always been a dictatorship and constitutionaly so.
    It is the dictatorship of the leader of party in power.
    Are our ‘representatives’ free to express any view outside the view of the party leader on any issue or vote accordingly in the Parliament?
    .
    Our opposition has always enjoyed the privilege of propaganda against the government whatever a government does, if that is Democracy.

    Soma

    • 0
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      True, Soma.
      .
      Very few Sri Lankans bother to work out the possibilities for themselves.
      .
      I went into Bandarawela town and spoke to many people about how they voted at the two elections won by the Double-Paksas. Most had voted for them but didn’t want to acknowledge it. Quite a few said that they spoilt their vote – the policy advocated by the Youtube fellow, Sepal Amerasinghe – although some may have arrived there of their own accord. Almost none know even now that casting Preferences wasa possibility for the Presidential. The people have got what they deserved, but I will not leave it at that.
      .
      That cynicism is our worst enemy. “Our opposition?” – No, I’m an individual. For almost three years I stoutly defended My3. I’ve been against the “Pakses” from the beginning – although that was not the case when he first got control of the Party in 2005.

  • 0
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    Dear Nathan,
    .
    The observations here prove that many are relying on subjective recollections of what the 1970 to 1977 Sirima government was like. It was an era of shortages where the burdens heaped on us were unbearable. Dr Janapriya seems to remember what it was like to be a young man in the most desired profession in Sri Lanka.
    .
    The mandate received was for five years of rule; when it went beyond that the Old Left Parties got out of the coalition, which then became a family affair of the Bandaranaike’s. This provided justification for JRJ to later subvert democracy himself. Displaying the family tree was central to the UNP campaign. The Left harried the government for two years, then contested every seat in the first-past-the-post system. I’m no Marxist, and naively voted UNP at that election. These are the votes received by all candidates.
    .
    https://elections.gov.lk/web/wp-content/uploads/election-results/parliamentary-elections/general-election-1977.pdf
    .
    The UNP campaigned against family rule, but also Cyril Mathew was organising racism among younger people. The figures indicate the landslide.
    .
    After the election, I soon realised that we were heading for disaster although liberalisation brought cheer. The pogrom of 1983 did not take me by surprise.

  • 2
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    Dear doctor do you think that there is any hope for Lanka. Do you think Sinhala buddhism as claimed by Gotta will survive. Already china defence minister is there. Is he going to ensure the safety of the totally corrupt royal family with chinese defense forces until Raja and co to do the total handover of lanka to china. When tamils asked for their very basic rights in their traditional home land these guys replied with bombs of all kinds and slaughter of so many innocent tamils. Now the same fellows argue that why cant chinese rule port city and even foreigners could be chief justice. Even god cant save lanka and sinhalese in particular. With so many thives and traitors one just cannot build or save a nation. Karma in full force. I feel sorry for honest people like you.

    • 0
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      Yes, the complacent Sinhalese seem to be completely lacking in analytical skills. Comes from being the “majority race” within the country.
      .
      Most Tamils, who have undeservedly suffered so much, are extra careful, but tend not to take risks. So, they don’t exert much influence in this up-country area at least.
      .
      Islam, as practised here and now doesn’t exactly encourage thinking. So the community looks after its own interests – and women’s Rights are woefully overlooked. Their population growth is exaggerated by others, but it is a real problem. There just are too many nasty humans on this planet.

  • 0
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    Dr Janapriya, you’ve exaggerated the virtues of both the Bandranaikes and the Jayawardenas. I’m distantly connected to both lots; some have certain decencies, but they tend to give themselves airs. It may be that I will write to you about them. I don’t see why, in my twilight years, I should make more enemies for myself.
    .
    I’m hoping that once the new pattern of infections becomes clearer, you will analyse the spread of COVID-19. It looks as though infections for Thursday will come close to 2,000. Figures not yet available at 2 am on Friday.
    .
    None of us are such fools as to hope that it is the COVID that will rid us of our porcine Dictators, but the way this is going, who knows there may be 20,000 per day two weeks from now, and no vaccination in sight. I don’t want to speculate on mortality rates – indecent, isn’t it?

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