23 September, 2020

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Sri Lanka’s New Regime Has To Modernise Its Style

By C P Thiagarajah

Dr. C P Thiagarajah

Dr. C P Thiagarajah

The man in the limelight today is Maitripala Sirisena (MS) a son of a World War II army veteran and a settler in Polonaruwa in a five acre plot given under the colonisation scheme inaugurated by the first prime minister of Ceylon Mr D S Senanayake. He is a giant killer, a modern David who slayed the giant Goliath Rajapaksa. His role as the new President will be watched by the world. Already politicians, diplomats, kings and queens shower their well wishes. Also flowing in are many suggestions and advices about good governance and democracy from varied sources. I am sure that king maker Chandrika Bandaranaike (CB) will be screening all these during her back seat driving of the present government. A change from the past is what is needed.

The Economist on 17 January published a piece on Sri-Lankan Election by Ask Siri. It concluded “On several fronts, Sri Lanka’s new rulers have much to change”, after discussing pros and cons of various options open to it. The Economist looked at the reasons for the dictator’s fall from his throne, his attempt to stage a coup da la on the day of the final election count and why the winner of the ‘crown’ hurriedly took the oath as President to avert further political misadventures by the vanquished Mahinda Rajapaksa. The threat of fight back by MR is now being hatched by his cronies.

I wonder if the newly sworn in cabinet consider themselves rulers or servants of the public. That will be their first choice for change. The ex-President MR behaved and psychologically assumed himself a king. The huge retinue of ministers and advisers that followed him on his world tour round the world totalled 70 or more. Even heads of government of G7 countries ever took such a bunch of ‘enlightened men and women’. The leader of the pack will always be Mr G. L. Peris, the man well known for switching party alliance for ministerial post and possibly monetary considerations.

Maithripala KandyMR’s climb to presidency in 2005 was by immoral means; by bribing the de facto government of the LTTE which was severely criticised before the elections by Mahinda as murderous maniacs. It has been reported in the press that one Emil Kanthan was the go between- the mediator for this sinful deal. The amount of bribe handed over was said to be 160 million rupees. In the September 2010 Presidential contest he used the racist slogan of defeating the Tamils and defeating terrorism in the last war in May 2009. In fact he was condemned by the UN in March 2011 for violating the human rights rules and committing war crimes. He continued to be corrupt during his two terms in office.

The army Chief General Fonseka once hailed as the hero who won the war with the LTTE was revenged and put into jail in November 2011 for challenging MR in the 2010 presidential election. Jan 2013 saw another unconstitutional act by Mahinda. The chief justice Shrani Bandaranayake was illegally forced out of her post for not co-operating with MR regime over a constitutional issue. All appeals to legal institutions failed as they had been interfered by MR regime eroding the freedom of these institution where his henchmen ruled the day. The Sinhala public got fed up of him and Rudyard Kipling philosophy in his book Mowgli’s Brothers come to mind when his own men turned against him. Kipling on wolves kingdom writes “the time that comes to every leader of every pack when his strength goes from him and he gets feebler and feebler, till at last he is killed by the wolves and a new leader comes up—to be killed in his turn”. His own party men and women turned against him.

MR’s government had perpetrated immoral acts that violated self-ownership. During his rule immoral acts such as murder, rape, assault and slavery were rampant. These acts are immoral because these acts interfere with private property rights. Theft, broadly defined as taking the rightful property of one person and giving it to another was common occurrence under MR government and it was even encouraged.

These misdemeanours and autocratic actions of MR and some previous governments lead us to define morality and to show that a morally responsible government can influence the adaptability of its citizens to various parameters imposed on them by a responsible society.

Human Development scientists (sociologist, anthropologist psychologist etc) think among other influences humans develop morality by learning the rules of acceptable behaviour from their external environment; parents society, government etc. The limits of one moral development is also facilitated by ones religion or belief systems. Children’s concepts of divinity, right and wrong, and who is ultimately responsible for the world’s woes are shaped by the family and by the religious social group to which each child belongs. Their concepts also mirror cognitive and moral developmental stages.

The main moral concept in Hinduism is to avoid the five great sins viz.

  1. Avoid killing, or harming any living thing.
  2. Avoid stealing — taking what is not yours to take.
  3. Avoid sexual irresponsibility. ie celibacy.
  4. Avoid lying, or any hurtful speech.
  5. Avoid alcohol and drugs which diminish clarity of consciousness.

And earn good karma by meritorious deeds. Buddhism also stresses Pancha Shila, or five moral precepts as stipulated above.

Scientists believe that morality influence one’s adaptability. The present government led by a true son of the soil can in fact encourage the Sri-lankan society into a morally responsible altruistic community where moral judgement can lead to moral choice.

Political river, like Mahaweli river, always lurks with man eating crocodiles. Anaconda a large snake found in tropical South American waters are deadly as the sharks in the oceans for an innocent swimmer. A genuine political worker like Maitripala Sirisena has to be protected from vultures and murderers like Somarama and Ossie Coreas who were charged with the murder of the first post-independent Sinhala Buddhist revivalist, SWRD Bandaranaike. Though SWRD was a convert to Buddhism that did not prevent him from using Buddhism to prop up his electioneering and be popular with the Buddhist and win elections. But Sirisena appears to be sincere. If given all support and protection, he can steer the government to change over to be really democratic for all the communities in Sri-Lanka.

Mahinda is now a severely wounded tiger, he will strike back like one as slated in the Hindu Epic Mahabaratha -:

“Like the cobra dark and hissing Karna’s gleaming lightning dart, Struck the helpless archer Arjun on his broad and bleeding heart! Furious like a wounded tiger quivering in the darksome wood,With his mended warlike weapon now the angry Arjun stood”

The supporters of this government should be extra careful of this monster MR who is master minding to arouse ant-Tamil communal passions among the Sinhalese. He told his countrymen that he lost because Tamils did not vote for him. He forgot that the Muslims also voted against him. Even his onetime strange political bed fellow Vasudeva Nanayakkara emphasised that Mahinda lost because Sinhalese did not vote for him in large numbers. The new government had already embarked on a 100 day ambitious programme of action with result.

The three main props of democracy are the Legislative, executive and the Judiciary. The head of the executive are the senior civil servants. Now a National executive council had been set up on 15 Jan 2015 to advice the executive to hurry up implementations of political decisions. The executives must be learned people as persons with little knowledge are dangerous as pointed out by William Shakespeare.The National Executive council should ensure that the security is strengthened and all criminals are put behind bars denying the vanquished a chance to comeback through a military coup on the wave of a communal backlash. A drowning man will clutch even a straw. Desperation knows no caution.

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Latest comments

  • 1
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    Sri Lanka needs GENUINE CHANGE, cleaning up the ROTTING POLITICAL CULTURE of CORRUPTION and Nepotism and this will take more than 100 days. So, IF and WHEN the MY3-Ranil duo implement their 100 day plan in good faith – Civil society and the Lankan people would give them the mandate to extend their government until April 2016 to ensure that the CHANGE to good governance is sustainable..

    Sri Lanka has had too many elections already..

    • 1
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      Yes, indeed Dinuk. This is an opportunity not to be missed – true democracy means MULTIPLE VOICES and parties and groups working together to benefit all..

      But let us wait and see – Mahinda Jarapassa and his family and cronies all need to be put behind bars.

      Lanka also needs a Transitional Justice Commission to fast track the clean up process and provide justice for the minorities.

    • 1
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      Good luck with getting rid of nepotism. Sirisena has said that he is going to take a back seat, and CBK, the puppet-master (or should I say mistress) has already revealed that she would want to introduce her son (yes, the very one who publicly said that he is ashamed to call himself a Sri Lankan) into politics.

  • 3
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    This you may not see as relevant but please read on.

    On 4th June 1979, Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlins the son of a woman from Ghana and a man from Scotland seized power in the West African country known as Ghana.

    Ghana was ruled by successive Africans from its time of independence in 1957. Ghana too was invaded and ruled by the Portugese, the Dutch and the British about the same timelines that Sri Lanka was invaded and ruled, except that the Porthgese invaded in 1481. Ghana is rich in Gold, Diamonds, Cocoa, Oil and Natural Gas.

    Till Jerry Rawlings seized power even though it had the best education systems in West Aftrica and produced the most of the scholars for Africa, though it had huge deposits of natural reserves the lives of the poor, which was 98 percent of the population, remained extremely poor at that time. Jerry Rawlins was only 31 years of age.

    Jerry Rawlings changed all that. He jailed and executed the known corrupt. He did not waste his time. On one Friday afternoon in July 1979, he lined up every living ex-prime minister and made them face the the firing squad. The so called civilized world screamed but the so called civilized screamers never fed the poor of Ghana.

    Then Jerry Rawlins re-built Ghana. When he wanted to leave office after four years the poor cried and wanted him to contest the elections. He did as a civilian and won. He then built Ghana to be one of the strongest economies in Africa. He left after two four year terms.

    We need a Jerry Rawlins in Sri Lanka. The corrupt politicians, however big and whoever, should be tried and got rid of for good.

    Soma, my mother’s poor house maid who worked for my mother for the past 25 years during the periods of various governments got poorer and poorer. Even though she is paid 40,000 rupees a month, given health care, travelling money etc., now fifty years of age she is frail and has nothing to show for her life. My mother built her a two bedroomed house complete with attached bathroom, a living room, a kitchen and a dining room (all tiled and at a cost of four hundred fifty thousand rupees) and at least she got something she can be happy to show for her life’s work. Soma is lucky. My mother herself had humble beginning and brought all of us up with great difficulty. She never forgot that she was poor once.

    Where did Namal Rajapaksa get money to lead the super luxury life of his. Rohitha and Yoshita and Shiranthi, and thousands of Rajapaksa relatives and hangers on had a life un – believable for Sri Lankans. All these came from the sweat of millions of poor Somas.

    Come on General Fonseka you are one hope Sri Lanka has. You rid Sri Lanka of the terrorists. It is time you rid the country of economic terrorists who are the scum of this country who drained it for nine years and treated Sri Lanka as their private cash cow.

    JP

  • 1
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    Jay Pathbey,

    “Come on General Fonseka you are one hope Sri Lanka has. You rid Sri Lanka of the terrorists.”

    He did not. It was India, America, Europe,…China,…

  • 2
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    A clinic based at the American University’s law college has called on the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) to investigate charges of genocide against the Sri Lankan state and refer the country to the International Criminal Court.

    In an article, published in the college’s Human Rights Brief, the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic details aspects of Sri Lanka’s genocide against Tamils, including killings, measures intended to prevent births and the government’s intent to destroy a group in whole or part.

    “The obligation to prevent and punish genocide under the Genocide Convention is not a matter of political choice or calculation, but one of binding customary international law. The Office of the High Commission on Human Rights’ Investigation on Sri Lanka (OSIL) should investigate and report on the charge of genocide in its submission to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2015. The UN Security Council should refer the situation in Sri Lanka to the International Criminal Court for prosecutions based on war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide,” UNROW argued.

    The organisation, which has advocated on behalf of victim of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka for 5 years, also called on domestic courts in countries such as the US, to take action under universal jurisdiction and prosecute officials guilty of the crimes.

    “Alternatively or concurrently, domestic courts in countries that may exercise universal jurisdiction over the alleged events and perpetrators, including but not limited to the United States, should prosecute these crimes. Top Sri Lankan officials, starting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, must be brought to justice,” it said.

    See full article http://hrbrief.org/2015/01/the-legal-case-of-the-tamil-genocide/
    In light of the report, several academics and organisation joined UNROW in calling on the OISL to investigate whether Sri Lanka committed genocide against Tamils.

    We, the undersigned individuals and organizations, respectfully request the OHCHR Investigation on Sri Lanka (OISL) to:

    1. Investigate the allegation that the Sri Lankan government committed genocide against Tamils; and

    2. Recommend that the UN Security Council refer the Sri Lankan situation to the International Criminal Court for investigation and prosecutions, as appropriate.

    Allard K. Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic
    Yale Law School
    New Haven, United States

    Center for Constitutional Rights
    New York City, United States

    Sentinel Project
    Toronto, Canada

    RISE: Refugee Survivors and Ex-detainees
    Melbourne, Australia

    Dr. R. Cheran
    Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Criminology, University of Windsor

    Kimberly Curtis
    Human Rights Lawyer and Journalist

    Golriz Ghahraman
    International Criminal Lawyer and Former Assistant Prosecutor at the Extraordinary Chambers
    in the Courts of Cambodia

    Dr. Kevin Jon Heller
    Professor of Criminal Law, SOAS, University of London

    Dr. Milli Lake
    Assistant Professor, School of Politics and Global Studies, Arizona State University

    • 3
      2

      Anpu

      You are becoming a pain in the ass with your comments not appropriate or relevant for today. They will hurt the ability of Sri Lanka to march towards justice for all.

      I am not a tiger, nor one who condoned killing the tiger in cold blood.

      • 1
        2

        Thanks Navin.

        Purpose of my comments not to cause pain in your ass. If it does you need to see a specialist Dr.

        I am not a Tiger. I am a human being born in Ceylon.

        There are international laws. We need to respect these laws. Are these laws relevant today?
        If one say he is a Buddhist, he should follow Buddhism.

        • 2
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          [Edited out]

      • 1
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        Navin,

        “You are becoming a pain in the ass with your comments not appropriate or relevant for today. They will hurt the ability of Sri Lanka to march towards justice for all. “

        Do you think Colombo Telegraph should not publish some of the articles?
        If you do, please list them for me.
        If you don’t, then my comments should not cause any kind of pain to anyone.

  • 1
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    The President was ousted now new President but still the issue of war crime,genocide and Tamil fabricated issues and Learned Idiots listed above make me sick. The Tamils created the problems and cannot admit their mistake.Your megalomaniac and his terrorist ltte group for 30 over years killed innocent people and infastructure and was wiped and PEACE in SRI LANKA. Yes rights for all FAIR. No separate state.Period.Majority Sinhalese decision is vital.Minorities must be joining the mainstream and be Sri Lankans. Unity is strenght.Condemning the country to pursue a separative ideology,No WAY.This has to stop.It seems to happen at every election and any event.The blackmail,threat and Conspiracy must stop.Buddhist wake up dont be slaughtered or taken for a ride.

  • 0
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    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think it’s right to call MR a dictator. He did have elections, and he did leave office after losing the election. There were signs that he never would want to go, but he did.
    To be honest, I do like all the development that took place, eg Sri Lanka’s first expressways etc. If someone, whoever it may be, is found guilty of corruption then he/she should be put behind bars for the crime.
    Now I hope for a change in Sri Lanka. I hope Sri Lanka now will rebuild her ties with the West and stop knocking on the door to undemocratic countries, some of them true dictatorships.
    During the Rajapakse government, Sri Lanka was about to lose her face. Comments by some Ministers about a international conspiracy was an embarrassment. And Gotabaya Rajapakse was an embarrassment during the interviews. He was not very sophisticated. But now Mervin Silva is telling about that man. Does he think he will come out clean if he do so? Does he try to save his own face? I don’t think he is very innocent himself. Everyone knows what a dirt bag that man is. No need to say anything more.
    Let’s hope for a change and a better future for all Sri Lankans. And that the investments keep dropping in.

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