25 October, 2021


Sujeewa Senasinghe & Marikkar – Just Shut Up!

By Vishwamithra

“Infidelity raises profound questions about intimacy.” ~Junot Diaz


Engaging in vituperative brinksmanship, at best, is amateurish. At worst, it is outright self-destructive and defeats the very purpose of your existence. You have to show them, as Mark Anthony orated about ‘ambition’ at the slaying of Julius Caesar, that you’re made of ‘sterner’ stuff. On the other hand, what Ranil Wickremesinghe, the leader of the United National Party (UNP) to which Sujeewa Senasinghe and Marikkar belong, has to contemplate is that the verbal attack aimed today at the President will one day come against him, the Prime Minister. It certainly is no comforting thought for any politician, veteran of novice.

A culmination of an explosive process is confronting both the President and Prime Minister. If they are as smart as to defeat the Rajapaksa regime, they surly are smart to avert a crisis at this moment in time. It’s also incumbent upon them, Ranil and Maithripala, to show that they too are made of sterner stuff. The main purpose of the combination among Maithripala Sirisena, at the time the Minster of Health in the Rajapaksa-led government of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), and the UNP and its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe and other civil organizations, not only to rid the nation of a cancerous political regime, but also to usher in a political system of accountability and transparency. In their rush to entrench themselves in power, Ministers of the new government, it seems, paid scant respect for the purposes for which the new government was elected.

This happens to all new governments. Yet the very ouster of the Rajapaksas from the seat of power was a gigantic step. Another term of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family would have accelerated the maddening pace at which the Rajapaksas were taking the country towards moral decadence and financial chaos. Equally drastic steps they were taking in order to perpetuate a ‘family rule’ on lines of effecting coronation of a son whose individual achievements were below average at best were apparent to any reasonable man. The Eighteenth Amendment provided for such a radical turn of democratic rule into a semi-monarchical rule. But all these do not qualify those who ousted that rule to be unruly the way Sujeewa Senasinghe and Marikkar behaved in the last few days. Indulgence in short cuts for shortsighted political fame is amateurish and damaging to the coalition that was woven around the UNP and SLFP.


They must take a cue from Sajith Premadasa and Navin Dissanayake. Both Navin and Sajith are comparatively young and they too are novices in being Cabinet Ministers. The exemplary discipline and poise they have been displaying so far speak volumes for their strong character and farsightedness. Especially Navin Dissanayake, the elder son of the late Gamini Dissanayake has shown remarkable ability to present even a very complex issue in understandable language to the ordinary voter. He has also shown a positive image of a strong character and not yielding to pressures of modern day politics. Both allies and adversaries of the UNP-led cabinet would be glad to have a leader who is stable and willing to show the art of instigation towards a more perfect union of ideas and action. Both Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali knew that art and were close disciples of their guru J R Jayewardene.

That art of instigation towards positive policies of generic liberalism and indispensible conservatism and bring about a harmonious juxtaposition of the two philosophies is extremely difficult. Civility and restraint which are essential characteristics of a reasonable leader in the twenty first century would be able to achieve such an arduous task. On the one hand, Sajith Premadasa is treading a more conventional path; his attempt at creating an image of a leader of the déclassé, the same image that his late father President Premadasa created in the entirety of his life is noteworthy. On the other hand, Navin Dissanayake seems to make a non-doctrinaire approach to modern politics. I will not use this column to back either of these two politicians, Navin and Sajith.

Yet the unreasonably cantankerous tongues of Sujeewa Senasinghe and Marikkar are in display and so is that dangerous breakdown of discipline in some leading spokespersons of the United National Party. A populist-play of politics such as making sensational statements, especially regarding their own government-leader, and unguarded remarks about their own leader cannot be justified in any context. Living through a cultural-lowering, sustaining an unsustainable system of government-sponsored programs and welfare-centered economic structures, a departure from such populist tools of government has misguided these political amateurs and it shows in abundance. A complete absence of philosophical approach to politics is understandable, as not all politicians have that rare ability to perceive matters of worldly affairs with a sense