23 September, 2020

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The 13th Amendment: What Next?

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory–*must* follow it, cannot help but follow it”.- Mark Twain (The War Prayer)

The Rajapaksas lost the Round I of the anti-devolution battle.

For the Siblings losing has become an unaccustomed experience. They have won almost all the major political battles they unleashed since 2009. Perhaps the only significant exception was the attempt to introduce a fraudulent private sector pension plan. It took the united effort of the country’s private sector employees, and one young life, to beat back that Rajapaksa plan to buttress their tottering finances by robbing private sector workers.

Since then, the Rajapaksas have grown stronger and the opposition weaker. Post-impeachment, the upper judiciary has become nothing more than a Rajapaksa muppet-show. Given this devastating disparity in the actual balance of forces, defeating the incessant Rajapaksa power-and-money-grabs has become harder than ever.

The Siblings would have been able to win the Round I of the anti-devolution battle with ease, had the balance of forces not undergone a dramatic change, momentarily, due to the activation of an external factor:India.

Indians were predictably outraged by the latest Rajapaksa attempt to disembowel the 13th Amendment. According to DBS Jeyraj, an enraged Indian official had asked, “Does President Mahinda and Prof. GL think we in New Delhi are blithering idiots who can’t see through their hocus pocus”?[i]

The answer to that is, ‘yes’; the Rajapaksas think that everyone can be fooled some of the time and many can be fooled all the time.

A still unfolding issue is indicative of this Rajapaksa modus operandi. The Uthuyan newspaper reported about a planned attempt by Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to shift the almost-two-centuries-old Sri Poomari Amman Kovil from its present location near the Temple Trees, to create a new car park for the visitors to the Presidential abode. Dripping with righteous indignation, the Director General of Media Centre for National Security refuted the story: “…Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has distinguished himself by his dauntless bravery…. The emergence of Colombo as a beautiful garden city is a result of the Metro Colombo Urban Development Project which is a concept of the Defence Secretary…. the Uthayan newspaper is just a spurious publication that is of no value to anyone. Therefore, the concocted news items that it publishes does not carry any merit. It is a newspaper that tries to disrupt peace and harmony in the country”[ii].

It all sounded so sincere, so truthful, so absolutely heartfelt.

Today, Sri Lanka Mirror reported that the Kovil will be shifted and that the administrators of the Kovil have been given time till June 20th complete the task[iii]. (Little wonder Gotabhaya Rajapaksa called websites/social media a major threat to ‘national security’. Once the ‘Media Ethics Act’ is in, that ‘enemy’ can be obliterated, legally).

The Rajapaksas are maestros of evasion. Their ability to slither out of a tight corner will put an eel to shame. When confronted with strong resistance, they make a feint of retreating, without conceding any real ground. Once resistance has been disarmed by lies/false promises, they return with lightening speed, without giving their distracted opponents the time to rearm.

That was how the game-changing 18th Amendment was won.

The Round II of the anti-devolution battle will commence soon.

Will the Rajapaksas use their usual carrot-and-stick method to propel the SLMC and the UPFA left parties back to their original and customary non-vertebrate position? Or will they use their puppet Chief Justice to postpone the Northern provincial election via a judicial order? If the election is postponed by the Supreme Court, then the Rajapaksas can claim that they are merely abiding by the judiciary’s decision and being respectful of the rule of law. For the Rajapaksas, the Indian factor will lose most of its import once the HambantotaCommonwealthis concluded. Post-Commonwealth, the Rajapaksas can use the Chinese card to confound Indiaand complete the task of unravelling the 13th Amendment.

Undermining Sri Lanka

Under Rajapaksa rule, the necessary demarcation lines between state, government and the ruling group have been effaced. This was no accident; it was done deliberately, to facilitate the transformation ofSri Lankafrom a flawed democracy to a familial oligarchy.

An inevitable – and expected – outcome of this process is the equation of national interests with the political interests of the Ruling Family. This way the power agenda of the Ruling Family can be promoted under the banner of nationalism/patriotism while opponents of the Ruling Family can be labelled and punished as traitors.

Thus the disembowelling the 13th Amendment, which is solely in Rajapaksa interests, is being depicted as an urgent national-security need.

The Siblings do not believe in the existence of an ethnic problem. According to the Rajapaksa narrative, the Original Sin in the Lankan story is the de-prioritisation of national security, post-Independence, and the concomitant neglect of the military – as Gotabhaya Rajapaksa opined in his recent speech at theKotelawalaDefenceAcademy. According to this flat-earthist worldview, the JVP insurgencies and the Eelam Wars were caused by the inadequacy of military muscle and weakness of intelligence-gathering capacity.

This simplistic, one-dimensional reading of history leaves out all major politico-psychological and socio-economic causes ofSri Lanka’s wars and upheavals. According to this kindergarten rendition of history, Sinhala Only and Standardisation made no contribution to the birth of the Eelam War; and the Black July’s sole relevance is the creation of a Tamil Diaspora. The complex pre-history of the war is thus reduced to a tale of ‘disobedient Tamils’, ‘interferingIndia’ and ‘deceptive international NGOs’.

Since there is no ethnic problem, devolution is unnecessary and the 13th Amendment a ‘Trojan Horse’ of Indian making which must be dismantled at the earliest possible opportunity.

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa thinks that the BBS and other organisational expressions of Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism are a reaction to minority extremism: “The increasing insularity and cohesion amongst minority ethnic groups has also led to the emergence of hardline groups from the majority community; the popularity of certain political groups and movements can be viewed as being largely a response to this trend[iv]. Clearly the Rajapaksas belong to that category of Sinhalese who believe that Black July was an unfortunate but understandable response to the killing of 13 soldiers.

How can such a ruling clan be capable of comprehending the lethal consequences of disembowelling the 13th Amendment?

Defeating the LTTE did not create a united Lankan nation.Sri Lankatoday is what she was after 1956: one and indivisible, with marginalised minorities and seeds of separation germinating underground.

Maximalism is a mindset, a way of looking at the world and living in it. It is a habit that dulls the eyes, stops the ears, blunts the intellect and silences the conscience. It is a habit which makes one do not only what is wrong but also what is counterproductive.

That was the Tiger way. That is the Rajapaksa way.

Many an ordinary Tamil would think that had Vellupillai Pirapaharan been alive and the LTTE remained a potent politico-military force, the Sinhala establishment would not have dared to disembowel the 13th Amendment.

Sadly and unfortunately, they would be right.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    Only a few SLs want devolution. Most don’t want devolution.

    If Rajapakshas want to win the next big election don’t give devolution.

    • 0
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      If Rajafukse want to win? ha ha ha.
      You must be another insane like Leela THE potter idiot.
      Orang Utan family will be humiliated in the next elections.

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    Lot to learn from you T.

    You must be going through an agony that keeps you awake whole night thinking of R’paksas. Even if you fall a sleep, they must be haunting you in your dreams. You are lucky that you live in a Country where there is freedom of expression. Unless how can you write like this….

    By the way, I’m sure you are also enjoying the peace of mind when you travle around Colombo or when your loved ones travel as there no need to worry about bombs any more?

    Any way good luck & keep writing in your sleepless nights!

    JFYI Majority likes the fact that the President of the country is capable of playing what ever the card to undermine the threats from other Countries whether it’s Chinese, Iran or Libiya.

    So enjoy the show!

    • 0
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      so in order, your comment can be summed up as follows:

      1st para- “we don’t have freedom of expression here, you’re lucky you’re there, or we’d teach you a lesson”

      2nd para- “there are no bombs going off in Colombo. That justifies everything my paymasters are doing. Even if they murder my own mother, since there is no more war, I will still worship the Rajapakses and cliam that all they do is right”

      3rd para- “the majority is always right, just like it was right when it called for Sinhala Only and added needless fuel to the ethnic fire, and took Lanka back to the medieval ages; just like it was when the majority made a series of biased decisions. The Majority is ALWAYS right.”

      So, in essence, a series of ad hominem attacks, justifications and majoritarianism.

      • 0
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        KP, who ever you are….

        I do enjoy the freedom of expression in this country. It is there for me as I do respect my fellow Citizen’s rights and I am aware to be within ethical boundaries. (Not enforced by any government authorities.)

        Well KP, I have survived during President Premedasa’s period as well without ending up on a tyre because we were guided by our parents to do the right thing than what boiling blood would like to do. Our parents did not allow us to be mislead by fanatics of JVP.

        In business we have been surviving under several regime (CBK, RW & now MR) cause we don’t go to lick anyone’s back or try to topple any Democratically elected government. We have friends in current opposition as well as then opposition but we have not been asked by anyone not to associate anyone.

        We give the devil due and appreciate when someone does something good and criticize when someone does something bad. Constructive criticism is different to bad mouthing or venomous criticism.

        No one, MR or GR or any other including SF has no right to use the winning of war or dawning of peace to their benefit. They live on public money to serve the public. We do not have to worship them as they are not superior to our conduct or they are not religious leaders but they should be respected for giving leadership for winning the war and MR for being elected by the majority of voters. Respect does not mean that you have to approve or see eye to eye with everything they do. They definitely have to address many issues related to governance and accountability. (I am not referring to the accountability that UN / Channel 4 / USA / UK / Canada & Tamil Diaspora is talking about)

        Well the basic Principle in a democracy is that Majority win while respectfully allowing the others to co exist. Unfortunately certain people don’t believe in co existence and they only want their way. So, sadly then they don’t belong here. Sri Lanka if for Sri Lankans. Visitors are welcome but surely not for disruptive activities.

        By the way, Sinhala only, riots in 1983 & before, killing of innocent Sinhalese youths (not referring to the ones who decided to carry arms and started killing others with opposing ideas) or any extra judicial killing by any government in and was in power is condemned as much as all other killings, terrorizing activities by terrorists of any country including what west does in the name of democracy in countries that they don’t see eye to eye with its leaders.

        Similarly I do not agree with TG’s venom spitting writing.

        Hope I have clarified my position to you KP.

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          I wonder if this writer’s work will become illegal when the new “Code” of ethics is passed into law…

  • 0
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    What goes around comes around. There will be a time very soon for Sri Lankan government to regret. Sri Lankan politicians have forgotten that we are surrounded by the sea and if we look at the world map one can realize that Sri Lanka is so small and is situated in the southern tip of India. At no point of time we will be able to surround India. But if you look at India, we can be easily be surrounded by the Indian Naval Force as they have bases on the Northern, Eastern and Western shores of India. Think if there is a move by the Indian navy to surround Sri Lanka, what would happen! India need not step into the Sri Lankan soil at all and we will face the worst economic crisis.

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      SO, India is a bigger bully than the USA.

      • 0
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        Facts are stubborn. Whether India is a bigger or smaller bully is not the issue here. The issue is what can or will India do if we piss them off. Further, with the election of the new leader in Pakistan, who is keen to improve the Pakistan-Indian ties, my opinion is that Pakistan will slowly reduce their support to Sri Lanka, if the actions of Sri Lanka is going to have a negative impact in India. China will never come to the aid of Sri Lanka other than supply arms or soft support. At the end of the day we Sri Lankans are the ones who have to suffer. So its time for us to be prudent.

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          Lankan

          “The issue is what can or will India do if we piss them off.”

          The Hindians will piss you back. You drown.

          Prudency and Sri Lankans don’t mix.

    • 0
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      I am shivering……

  • 0
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    It can well be argued Tisaranee continues a process of ceaseless attack and criticism against the Rajapakse Family and their bizarre style of non-governance. But her right to criticise what she thinks is wrong should not be interfered with. After all, it is time the Rajapakses acknowledged their object and style of rule is far from that of the more popular and acceptable style of Nelson Mandela. The South African Gandhi had the decency to step down when he had more than a decade to go on running that large and resourceful country where almost everyone – black, white, coloured, Christian, Muslim and other – accepted him unanimously as leader – even as “Father of the Nation” In the interest of the democratic tradition and the wider interest of the country the prerogative of writers like TG should neither be restricted nor tampered with.

    TG identifies 7/83 as the source of the creation of the now feared Diaspora. This is accurate in as much as VP was the product of race and religion centric politics of 1956. Let us not forget that first national political party – the UNP – was co-founded by the Tamils. It was a Tamil who risked his life and all to travel all the way to London in mine-infested seas during WW2 to fight for the independence of this country. It is time objective analysts and historians showed the present Sinhala generation as to how the very same Tamils today became “the other” – trained to despise and fear. What is needed now is a direct opposite of Nalin de Silva and Gunadasa Amerasekera from the Sinhala side.

    The skulduggery surrounding the 13th Amendment – now practised earnestly by the Rajapakses – is calculated to satisfy Sinhala prejudice but more to keep them under leash against an exploding economic collapse. This exercise will define the health of the regime vis-à-vis their delicate relationship with Delhi. It will be a grievous mistake on the path of the Rajapakses to imagine the Indians can be foxed around – with or without this perceived insurance of the Chinese. Premadasa too tried to stay afloat against growing Sinhala youth unrest by stoking the fires against the Indians. As we learn from former IHC Mehrotra’s recent book Premadasa was even ready to go to war against India. The question is have we seen the end of madness of that sort. There are saner ways of dealing with India such as diplomatically engaging them to change the entire or partial clauses of the 13th Amendment that have, admittedly, become irrelevant after a quarter of a century. India can be expected to respond in kind in the event the Rajapakses, even late as now, chose this path instead of beating war drums.

    Senguttuvan

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    What 13th amendment has done to Sri Lanka.

    “North Western Provincial Council member Ananda Sarath Kumara had allegedly verbally assaulted and forced a female teacher to kneel before him yesterday, for advising his daughter on a disciplinary matter.

    According to the Police, the teacher who is in charge of discipline in the school had advised the Provincial Councilor s daughter last afternoon and it had allegedly prompted the councilor to visit the school and harass the teacher.”

    • 0
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      Jim it’s not due to 13th amendment.

      It 50% due to foolish voters and balance 50% is the ones who give them the opportunity (ticket) to contest.

      If we as voters learn to send the right representative to what ever the governing councils at least 50% of the problem could be eradicated.

  • 0
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    Regime is fishing in troubled waters. Coming soon ‘Kacchativeu reverted to India – Indian Courts’. Take it from there onwards. Back to square one.

  • 0
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    TG

    The best part of the article – “The answer to that is, ‘yes’, to the question “are those in New Delhi blithering idiots?”. December will confirm and the lotus eater from ND will be brought down to earth to bite the dust.

  • 0
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    Maximalism is a mindset,

    “““When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory–*must* follow it, cannot help but follow it”.- Mark Twain (The War Prayer) “

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      JimSofty

      “Maximalism is a mindset,”

      Your paranoia too is a mindset, including strict adherent to Mahawamsa and majoritarianism.

  • 0
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    In my view the Indians are the “blithering idiots”. They claim to be a
    Regional power who in actual fact were taken round and round the mulberry bush.None of the promises made to the Idiotic Indians by MR
    has seen the light of day. It is time India, without sulking about China
    do the needful. puts its foots down and hold the MR Regime accountable.
    Let’s not forget the Indo Sri Lanka accord was between two sovereign states,which is a binding contact and cannot be dismantled unilatterally

  • 0
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    “Indians were predictably outraged by the latest Rajapaksa attempt to disembowel the 13th Amendment. According to DBS Jeyraj, an enraged Indian official had asked, “Does President Mahinda and Prof. GL think we in New Delhi are blithering idiots who can’t see through their hocus pocus”?[i]
    The answer to that is, ‘yes’; the Rajapaksas think that everyone can be fooled some of the time and many can be fooled all the time.”

    ABSOLUTELY. They will make a noise, and the Mararas will continue.

    Maras cannot do it alone without their henchmen, and shills.

    On the other hand, the Indians have no say because

    1. They butted into Lanka affairs

    2. They helped LTTE Terrorism, and gave false hopes to Tamils.

    3. They did not keep their end of the bargain.

    However, 13A has been on the books for 25 years, and survived several elections. The govt, cannot change the terms of 13A.

    If they want yo change it, they need o go to the people.

  • 0
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    Dear TG ( the following comment I did for Dr. DJ is equally applicable to you too, who earnestly writes and keep on writing)

    I am 100% with you on the reading on current Geo-political situation in Sri Lanka.
    I am sure the Dual citizenship issue will be resolved amicably otherwise the Rajapaksha siblings will also loose the so called duality in citizenship with US etc.
    So that is minor.
    Let us focus on the BIG picture, shall we?
    When Dixit, DICTAT was on JR had the tactfullness of showing the helplessnes in front of the Nation with Indian invasion.Though JR foresaw the Consequences of the naiive Rajiv-Foreign policy backfire!.
    Dixit though he wrote his memoir died as a bitter man, I suppose.
    Then as history repeasts all invaders have to leave sooner or later, so did India.
    the present Geopolitical situation is no different except the Apex of power in Sri Lanka is in the hands of Folks of defferent blood and upbringing.We do have leadership with ‘Julampitiye Amare’ ilk.they associate with such, they promote and solicit such.
    Mervin Silva, DIG Vaas Gunawardhana. Sajin Vaas Gunawardhana etc being the folks who flock together shows the leaders are of same feather.
    They lack vision. indepth thinking and analysis.
    They lack the cohesive analytical aproach but thinks in small world!
    My family, my kith and kin their well being, how to win the next possible election( be it provincial, regional, general or Presidential) is their depth of thinking.
    How to hoodwink the genral public with temple visiting. Sri Mahabodhi kissing( couple of times a month) and Poya day sermon at Araliyagaha mandiraya seems to be the order of the day.
    wasn’t it the same with R. Premadasa.?
    With Nawaloka doing all the contracts from building roads, offices and turfing grass on pavements etc while premadasa was merrily on his cocoos nest with temple worshjipping and Hema playing Netball and HE playing football and junos being bumped off etc.

    but did that last that long?
    The answer emphatically NO! alabeit Dr. DJ was a Court jester for him though!.

    Getting back to current power play in the region, India will not antagonize China and Vice versa, but they both will be interested in commecial exploitation of captive market of 20 odd million people and resources of this country.
    Though Rajapakshas are currently pawning the country to China Excim bank mainly and running with the pot with mortgaged money this run will last , not too long.
    Let us focus on the aftermath of this episode of vulagarity currently taking place postwar in the name of ‘Miracle/Wonder of Asia’.
    In a sense it has delivered WONDER(ing) in the world like Airports with no planes and Harbours with no ships, the General public will not make a big deal out of it as long as Rupavahini and ITN preaches the massive development saga taking place in Sri Lanka.
    Just as North Koreans worship the Kim il Sung Dynasty.
    Here, soon people will realize they are struggling to keep their nose above water with all the costs staggering against fixed income.!!!

    Then the game will be over for the current set of vultures.

    So Dear Dr. pls do us a favour, take the lead to guide, formulate/emulate and shape the post Rajapaksha era that shall come sooner than later.

    or better pls work on making it happening.
    enough this deep analytical and theoritical debates on 13+/13- or No 13A at all.

    Get busy and work on the next leadership the leadership we want and we should have in place, Identify them rally behind them.

    I am sure the political baggage from the past should be burried, its about time and let us do the needful.

    Pls do not worry about india invading us or whether China will come to save us.

    let us get the house in order FIRST>!!

    That is what we want to hear.

    aj

  • 0
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    Ms T’s snap shot of Lanka 2013 seems to be the same as in 1956.

    How interesting?.

  • 0
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    TG has to be once again congratulated on her excellent treatise concisely presented on the deceptions of the Rajapaksas. The question is: how long can they fool all the people all the time? The Indian establishment so dumb so far should provide this answer. Bensen

  • 0
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    I used to enjoy your articles at the beginning, but am beginning to see a trend; I think you are prostituting your journalistic talents to western masters. You should be tried for treason to mother Lanka.

    • 0
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      Kallathoni

      Appropriate name, and you are honest.

      When are you going back?

      “I think you are prostituting your journalistic talents to western masters. You should be tried for treason to mother Lanka.”

      Of course you should try every single one for treason without exception. Let us start with you first then the clan, the Sinhala/Buddhists,the Tamil/Saivaites, Nation of Islam Muslims……….

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    “Does President Mahinda and Prof. GL think we in New Delhi are blithering idiots who can’t see through their hocus pocus”?[i]

    JR was the blithering idiot who could not see through the hocus pocus of the blatant Indian intervention in the politics of Sri Lanka through the Accord,13A and the Exchange of Letters.

    Tisaranee is the shining proof of media freedom in Sri Lanka!!

  • 0
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    Hats off to the gutsy article … Keep up the superior journalistic standards which should enlighten the majority …

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