20 April, 2024


Sri Lanka’s Mafia-State Must Be Rooted Prior To Economic Consolidation

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

The Mafia-State must be rooted prior to economic consolidation; Lankan economy will stay flat for now

For both domestic and international reasons the economic prospects for Lanka remain flat for the short and medium term periods ahead; short-term is the 100-Day duration of President Sirisena’s Action Plan and I use medium-term to denote the 2-year transitional national government envisaged for the subsequent phase. It needs no great political acumen to make these two forecasts, the first is self-evident but some light may be shed by probing why this will be the case in the medium-term.

De facto, the 8 January Presidential Election was a Single-Issue contest between the incumbent and a Common Candidate challenger; no significant economic or social changes can be implemented in the few months before the dissolution of parliament earmarked for 23 April. The immediate task was the defeat the incumbent and now the obvious post-Rajapaksa imperative is to emasculate the Executive Presidency, put a new a constitutional system in place and revamp the electoral system – how many first-past-the-post, how many proportional etc. In general, success will depend on the degree of mass mobilisation achieved in the next few weeks to take crooks, power abusers and drug lords to the cleaners. The blackguards who ruled the roost for the last nine years have created a Mafia-State and nothing akin to normality can re-emerge until the slow and difficult task of cleansing this root and branch is done. Pity capital punishment for mega-corruption is no longer in vogue!

The mopping up and locking up of brigands will of course have salutary long-term benefits but it is not going to turn the economy round, pronto, or in the medium-term. The benefits of good governance filter into the economy only gradually and the repair work of mending the damage that has been done is a challenging intermediate task. The unpredictable outcome of the pending general election will be a severe a complicating factor. For example, will Ranil or an SLFP leader be the next Prime Minister?

The Mafia-State

The concept of the mafia-State was developed to denote a phenomenon creeping across ex-Soviet Block Eastern Europe (especially Bulgaria, Kosovo and oythers), Africa (Guinea-Bissau and Zimbabwe), Asia (Burma and Seychelles) and Latin America. Moises Naim, a scholar at the Carnegie Endowment in the US, describes the Mafia-State as follows.

Ravi Karu“In recent years, a new threat has emerged: the Mafia-State. Across the globe, criminals have penetrated governments to an unprecedented degree. The reverse has also happened; rather than stamping out criminal gangs, some governments have instead taken over their illegal operations. In Mafia-States, government officials enrich themselves and their families and friends while exploiting the money, muscle, political influence, and global connections of criminal syndicates to cement and expand their own power. This fusing of governments and criminal groups is distinct from the more limited ways in which the two have collaborated in the past. In a Mafia-State, high government officials actually become integral players in, if not the leaders of, criminal enterprises, and the defence and promotion of those enterprises’ businesses become official priorities. Mafia-States integrate the speed and flexibility of transnational criminal networks with the legal protections and diplomatic privileges enjoyed only by states”.

The state that evolved in the Rajapaksa period fits this description well as evidence now coming to light confirms. A chaotic situation in which, post election, government and law enforcement agencies are struggling to gain control is evident. Crooks and crookedness has become ubiquitous and it is tough to get on top of the situation. Up to this time of writing although the newspapers are filled with horror stories of container loads of loot and arms, fleets of hidden and lost vehicles, millions stashed away and the like, not a single arrest has been made. The offices of the bribery commission and the CID are flooded with names and details of robbery by the ‘family’, political hangers-on and big-time corporate rogues. Some government offices have been sealed but no arrests have been made; some siblings and family have been allowed to abscond; millions of dollars are moved around each day. The SirisenaRanil government seems to be paralysed but should be given another month to complete inquiries, make arrests and file action.

This is because we are not up against a few dozen criminals but confronted by institutionalised and semi-institutionalised criminals who claw their way back into the replacement structures. For example Duminda’s tentacles reach into the UNP via the financing he offers some of its politicos. Newly appointed Ministry Secretaries are Janus faced and an open door for old power-brokers to return. Crooks are fighting their way back.

The JVP, TNA, and to the best of my knowledge the JHU, are the only political parties that are not compromised and can confront the still powerful Mafia that infests and infects the state. But even their efforts will not achieve much without heightened public vigilance, mobilisation and involvement. Sri Lanka is far from out of the woods; January 8 is a small clearing that the nation fought its way into; completely rooting out the Mafia-State is still a long journey into the future.

The general election

One reason why the SLFP jettisoned Mahinda Rajapaksa in haste was to present a united SLFP to the voters at the elections. If there are two SLFPs (CBK-Sirisena and a Mahinda-rump) both will be crushed by the UNP and lose seats to the JVP. Now that the SLFP is reunified it is too early to say how the electoral calculus will pan out, but there is reason to believe that it will win a number of seats. Rajapakse won two Provinces (Southern and Sabaragamuwa) and five Districts (Kurunegala, Uva, Kalutara, Matale and Anuradhapura) and a majority of the Sinhala electorates. Though defeat at the 8 January elections will have a debilitating effect on its prospects and continuing exposure of corruption will deliver crushing propaganda blows, it is not possible to say how the SLFP will perform relative to the UNP in the forthcoming general elections.

This is a pity. Though I am not a UNP supporter I do believe that unless the SLFP is banished to the wilderness for a spell it will be an obstacle to cleansing society of the Mafia-State. Flushing out scoundrels throughout the country and state and corporate sectors – not just Paksa family and cabal – and the denial of opportunities for graft for a long period is an essential catharsis in rooting out the state mafia. This is not merely a call for personal vengeance against the vermin who crawled around the previous regime; what I have in mind is the imperative of cleansing structures themselves. If the SLFP creeps back, if not into power even as a major player in a future national government, it will be as if the robber barons took a vacation and returned to thievery with renewed vigour.

Therefore it is imperative to minimise the number of SLFP MPs in the next parliament and to replace them with JVP, TNA, JHU and UNP members. It would also be useful to eliminate garbage, that is to exclude Tissa Vitarana, DEW Gunasekara and Vasudeva. Likewise the Frontline Socialists, Sirritunga’s party and the Linus Jayatilleke led NSSP rump should decamp to the Planet Mars where they may find a more productive role to play than on this planet.

A directionless economy

This introduction is necessary background for meaningful comments about prospects for the economy. Apart from my stress on the Mafia-Sate which will subvert political will and policy, it seems that a ‘hungish’ if not actually hung parliament is impending. This does not bode well for the economy. There will be no clarity, firmness or political will to pursue a well defined economic strategy whether populist or capitalist-market oriented. Readers who are inclined to a favour pro-capitalist or neo-liberal outlook will appreciate the point if I put it like this: What if Ranil fails to get parliamentary support after the election to secure the Prime Ministership? What if Nimal Siripala de Silva is the next PM? I am not asking which is more likely, that’s a separate matter, I am drawing attention to uncertainty and its implications. Were the SLFP to form the next government I will predict with certainty that despite having thrown out the leading family of thieves and brigands the dismantling of the Mafia-State will be blocked.

The pro-capitalist market driven approach that a Ranil led UNP government will pursue can be summed up in a few key-words. It is not necessary to spell them out because the discourse is well known. The key components are: (i) An investment climate attractive to local and foreign capital, (ii) legislating structural reforms, particularly curbs on working class activism, welfare concessions, supporting the share market, banking policy to support both big capital and small and medium enterprises, and of course wholesale regulatory reform. I cannot see any of this pro-capitalist strategy having a ghost of a chance if Ranil and the UNP, in coalition with the TNA, SLMC, CWC and the JHU, fail to win a parliamentary majority. This is leaving to one side fundamental concern of breaking up the Mafia-State to which I devoted the first part of this piece.

A mixed international scene

China will be pleased to see the last of the Rajapaksas and the end of projects inflated to two and three times real cost; ladling out graft on this scale is an embarrassment for any foreign government. Economic relations with India and the West will improve. The diaspora will create a better international environment and will bring in a certain amount of investment. In all these respects the economic environment will improve but cleaning the mafia out of the state is a precondition.

The downside is that prospects for the global economy and global capitalism in general are not good. Except the US the remainder of the world economy is forecast to suffer a lousy year. The IMF and Christine Lagarde are pessimistic about prospects for the EU in particular and the rest of the world as well. China’s decision to consolidate rather than grow wildly is good news for the Chinese people but it will have depressing consequences for the world economy. The collapse in oil prices is a forerunner of a downturn in Russia, Brazil and Mexico and will result in sharp lowering of global demand. This year (2015) is not going to be a happy one for an export oriented growth strategy for Lanka which is just what we should be aiming at. Year 2015 can be one of political consolidation and cleansing and if we sort out these rudimentary tasks there is hope for the economy after that.

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Latest comments

  • 5

    Prof. Kumar David,

    RE: Sri Lanka’s Mafia-State Must Be Rooted Prior To Economic Consolidation

    “The Mafia-State must be rooted prior to economic consolidation; Lankan economy will stay flat for now”

    Is this what you teach your students? Have you not heard of Multi-tasking? Sometimes you “academics” have no sense of reality. Be Realistic, Prof.

    You were making a big fuss about the Executive Presidency, when the Problem at hand was retiring Medamulana Mahinda Rajapaksa. You were really lost in the forest for there tress there with the Common (sense) Candidate. Common sense Phamplet?

    The Economic Growth of Sri Lanka has been between 6 and 7& despite the corruption and crimes of Medamulana Mahinda Rajapaksa.

    The tress in a forest need not stop growing because there are a few rotten trees. The “academics” need to get lost in the forest all the time for the tress.

    Common Sense Phamplet:


    • 3

      Economic growth may be 6%, but debt growth was 13%.


      • 3


        “Economic growth may be 6%, but debt growth was 13%.”

        That was because for EVERY Dollar in Economic investments, the Medamulana Rajapaksa Family dynasty and Dictatorship, Shills and Crobies, TWO Dollars and increased costs 3 times.

        Without that the Debt Growth would have been only 4%.

    • 0

      What happened to you Amarasiri?

      Usually your comments are good. Have you taken leave of your senses?

      This is a good Article from the Professor – better than the usual I must say.

      • 0

        Navin, thanks for being concerned about my welfare.

        But you know, as an old foggy who has returned from Canada after 30 odd years, it takes a bit to be motivated to write good comments regularly.

        Also, having failed in Canada to mobilise public opinion, I have learnt that Internet “FORUMS” have limited potential. Mainly because they serve as drinking holes for the deprived misfits.

        So don’t worry. I won 97 votes in Canada and I have plans for Sri Lanka. But don’t expect to see me contest elections here.

  • 7

    I am in total agreement with Professor David here. Creeping Mafia cancer all over the State is the Number One problem.

    It is everywhere. From Judiciary, legislature, law enforcement, PCs to corporations. These corrupt deal-makers will simply switch sides. In fact many have already made the transition.

    Maifa must be dealt with decisively before anything else. Now!

    Otherwise sooner or later mafia cancer cells will creep into TNA, JVP, DP & JHU too. If that happens we will be beyond the point of no return.


  • 1

    ” unless the SLFP is banished to the wilderness for a spell it will be an obstacle to cleansing society of the Mafia-State”

    Not only the SLFP, but politicians like Ranil and Premadasa and some other unpatriotic UNPers should be banished to have a decent parliament.

    Another Tsunami should take these rascals away for the rest of Sri Lankans to live happily.

    • 0

      With the proposed banishment of the SLFP, it’s leader will have to be banished too. And the leader happens to be …

      The PM has NOT been elected and what happens in 100 days remains to be seen. The population voted for Sirisena and got Wickremasinghe, with the former remaining a mere puppet.

  • 5

    It seems that all the politicians including the prime minister and the president are more worried about what would happen to them after the 100 days.
    There main concerns are: Which party will come into power? Will we, the small parties, be able to get into the parliament? who will be the prime minister?
    Everybody is busy getting ready for that eventuality rather than trying to implement what they promised to the people before the elections. There is a talk of deals between various people. To remove the CJ, he has been promised an ambassador post by the prime minister Ranil Wickramasinghe. Who knows what kind of agreement Ranil signed with Mahinda Rajapaksa on the 9th morning at the Temple trees when Thiru Nadesan accompanied him there.

    On the other hand the president elect goes back to the SLFP and becomes the president of that corrupt party . Then he appoints SB Dissanayaka to a responsible post in the SLFP forgiving SB for saying dirty things about Chandrika Kumarathunga. He appoints his brother as the head of telecom. The citizens see typical politics going on in the country. One wonders whether Maithipala Sirisena really sacrificed his ministerial position and the Secretary position of the SLFP for the sake of the country or he left the corrupt government knowing well that he would win after studying the pulse of the people.?

  • 0

    A superb assessment of the overall post election state, that unravels the broad trend beneath the prevailing chaos.

  • 1

    A superb assessment of the overall post election state, that unravels the broad patterning beneath the prevailing chaos.

  • 1

    Good analysis of the current situation in SL, I am hoping Mr Sudat will read yours and learn how to a write better column for an educated crowd in CT. It is bit flimsy the current situation in the country. My guess is that the opposition(aka the current government or anyone for that matter) didn’t know how much of corruption has taken place, what they knew pale in comparison when they started to examine it seems. I have never heard of this kind of numbers in my life when it comes to swindled money, even if I convert into USD they come to thousands of Billions of dollars for one project. To undo this unsavory culture, corruption, servile nature, and favoritism from bureaucrats will take ages. It has become a natural, and guilt free for the officers who were in the top government sector. It is gone to levels so ghastly that it will take many years to make these professionals understand what a unethical culture it has become. In a way breaking SLFP would be a better thing for the country, then JVP has a better chance to take more seats, at least right now they are more ethical and better qualified than dumb politicians who we see from SLFP. It is frightening to see these 9th grade highest educated level majority ruled our country for 10 years. You can clearly see the level of intellectual mismatch when they come for debates, and how educated the UNP, JVP or JHU members are. We need to install meritocracy and value of education to the parliament out of all the places.

  • 0

    Excellent is an understatement,for this futuristic scenario!

    Prof:Kumar David says…….

    It would also be useful to eliminate garbage,that is to exclude Tissa Vitharana,DEW Gunasekera and Vasudeva…..
    No problem.The aforesaid garbage will be picked up on or about 23 April 2015.A wee bit of patience is necessary.After that all three of them will be resting on their Laurels.There are a few more drops in the Goblet!

  • 0

    The present people in power seem to be in no hurry to do anything related to bringing the corrupt to justice. If you were to ask folks in the North, their priorities include returning to their homes and rooting of the army camps. The abstract pontification out of shores outside Sri Lanka, such as this one by Professor David has limited value.

  • 0

    In addition to what Plato said above, for god sake get rid of the Comies and the left. They are a cancer in our political system. Tissa, DEW and Vasu were there to get perks. This is the bankrupt left, they are opportunists. No more after April 23rd.

  • 0

    The writer is roots goes to politically anti-establishments of democracy order of Sri lanka, that in all round way;
    One is he advocated adventurist of Trotskyism, who had been serve ultimately right wing political class, that principle vested interest in locally anti-national bourgeoisies and Globally US led hegemony power and Regional emerging newly power base south Asian region.

    Second under many slogan, that he want to serve the name of so-called ‘self-determination’ or ‘self-rule’ or ‘Federal devaluation’ or ‘liberation Struggle of Tamils’ for the ‘New Tamil or Eealm state’ in north Part of Island by Tamil separatism which that divided PEOPLE OF SRI-LANAK BY RACIACL LINE OF POLITICS, ADVOCTED BY LTTE AND TNA enrich and ensure by Kumar David.

    The objective of his essay that created, that totally ignored facts of reality of our CORRUPATION of modern political history an opposed to the generation stands of corruptions since colonial rules, that eve after independence 1948.

    Kumar David write new FLASH history to mislead Public to the so-called fabricated ..Mafia State… came into being”….. the blackguard who rule the roost for the last nine years have created a MAFIA-STATE…nothing akin to normally can re-emerge..” power abusers and drug lords to the cleaner..” says by David.

    What he want says MR ruling class need capital punishment proposed by Trotskyist David ‘Pity capital punishment for mega-corruptions in no longer in vogue’. He further said that suggest by ‘..the mopping up and locking up of brigands ..’to be follow by using State power persecutions to enforcement authority of overrule equality before the Law to MR and their supports in locking up no further delay.


    Sri lanka is Not Mafia State, since it came after Independence 1948. What ever the political class was in power, wither UNP or MEP or SLFP or LSSP- CPSL, JVP and UFNF by MR leadership had not been RUN by Mafia center Regime. That is revenge of politics has taken by Kumar David roots his ethnic of Tamil that MR alliance defeated of LTTE by open war battle in 2009 May.

    In fact the corrupting is everywhere in Globally. Its become part and parcel of Hegemonies of Bouegesios and Empire-democracy through out the world. Democracy been to paralysis that after lost and deficits its people become voiceless; the corruption cornerstone keystone to domination power of ruling class. Kumar David of Trotskyist of serve for rightwing politics blind on corruptions ,vassal of administration, the rotten management of security forces and police forces, the lobbies of the ruling class and mafias of functions and rising social cliques ,religion sects ,the perpetrators of persecutors’ ever finical trisections.

    KD has to learn more of Mafia state, read more lack of capitalism produce mafia mode of operandi for its last survival.

    • 0

      What gibberish is this? Did you use a random number generator on a dictionary? Geeze!

  • 0

    Thanks for that, Kumar.
    Look at the list of eleven(?) that have been appointed specifically to investigate massive corruption by the MaRa regime. There is at least one among them that has a clear track record of sucking up to that very regime and being a leader in the “dinuwath dinuwa, paradunath dinuwa” brigade that is expert at feathering its nest irrespective of who is in power. Perhaps, the JVP initiative to set up its own investigative unit might keep this whitewashing brigade on its toes. I am sorry that the efforts of all of us to effect change and cleanse Sri Lankan politics might well be in vain if this kind of Fifth Column is put in place by the Sirisena/Ranil lot.

  • 0


    To read and figure out your piece Prof:Kumar David will need approximately 100 days.

  • 0

    Plato.. may be nickname; Even hundred days not enough that Kumar David to realized which is Mafia State. There is NO Mafia State in modern world democracy as members of UNO.

    Let him to learn politics of aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-abc!
    what I have to say KD if you want be right side of history ,you need to educated YOURSELF IN RIGHT WAY.

    KD is an engineering man who read not politics, but Physical science ,he wrote many essays that is not competent on political economy of Marxism. Which all his writing are belongs to Trotskyism and adventurism will leads to Terrorism for Tamils , no relationship with classical or practical line of Leninism.

    Many or few intelligence of petty-bourgeoisie of Sri Lankan are misled or misdigonaist by case of social sciences on their interpretation by apply as same as;

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