24 September, 2023


The Downside Of Smart Patriotism – A Response To Dayan

By Mahendra De Silva

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka in his arrogant rejection of my criticism of Smart Patriotism, questions my understanding of the following passage from his article.

“The smart patriot is constructively critical about his country but is fiercely loyal to it all the same. He will criticize it but will unconditionally defend his country from the hypocritical criticism of foreign powers and institutions responsible for or blind to far worse crimes.”

It is regrettable Dayan did not make an attempt to understand my argument against his Smart Patriotism. In my criticism I have questioned the effectiveness of Smart Patriotism when dealing with a government that does not care public opinion or constructive criticism.

Dayan with MS 1We have plenty of examples from the history that democratically elected leaders becoming autocratic, oppressive, despotic or tyrannical. There are examples even in Sri Lanka where elected leaders had governed.outside the otherwise accepted rule of law and developed a cult of personality for him, close associates and family. They could resort to explore all means to continue in power even by fraud. They could misuse power to bribe the legislature to pass any unfair laws through the Parliament for the ultimate purpose of consolidating power. Most common tactic used by such corrupt leaders is to suppress media and use state propaganda for persuasion and brain wash the ordinary masses. Arousing patriotism would help to rally people behind the cause, but often at the cost of exaggerating, misrepresenting, or even lying about the issues in order to gain that support. They believe in divide and rule and promote racism in the country. In many dictatorships there is no room for such thing as Constructive criticism. The people who offer constructive criticism would be regarded as anti-social or agents of the foreign governments. People would be scared for any type of criticism as it could result in serious repercussions including loss of any privileges presently enjoyed. Very often critics would be harassed or imprisoned under false charges.

Dayan in his response to my criticism claims that he as a Smart Patriot has written many articles condemning some of the actions of the then government. There were many religious leaders, progressive forces who have repeatedly criticised and condemned then government for abuse of power, suppression of media freedom, interference in judiciary and violation of human rights. But they failed to have any impact at all to the hardline policies of the rulers at that time.

When Dayan says that Smart patriots would be fearlessly loyal to country, obviously he means that he would be loyal to the decisions taken by leaders on behalf of the country. It is my belief that a True Patriot should be fearlessly loyal to country. But by country I mean the people of the country and not the rulers who take incorrect decisions based on their self-interest. People of the country need not be the victims of the bad decisions of the rulers. A True patriot would defend its people but not the corrupt leaders.

According to Dayan Smart Patriots defend their country from the hypocritical criticism of foreign powers and institutions. A True Patriot should defend his country not only from foreign powers but also from its own leaders who would abuse power and deny the democratic rights and freedom to the people.   In some countries, governments have typically presented a much greater threat than criminals to the citizen’s life because governments have the control of resources and could   mobilize police and armed forces. North Korea is a typical example of a country where leaders kept its citizens as hostages. Does anyone believe that Smart Patriotism would work in such environment?

Hypocritical criticism of foreign powers Dayan is referring to are the reforms demanded by foreign powers after the war has been ended in 2009. Most of these demands have been made by all progressive forces in our country including religious leaders long before the western criticism. Implementation of at least some of these demands after 2009 would have enhanced the freedom and democratic rights of the people of Sri Lanka. Further it would have restored our status as a free and practicing democracy in the world. Only the Rulers and the loyalists, who wanted the continuity of their dynasty, opposed these demands. It is my view that it is the western pressure that kept the government in check to have at least the minimum levels of freedom and democracy alive in our country today.

I would ask Dayan what type of patriotism he calls if a concerned citizen of the country canvases the support of western countries or International Human right organizations against anti-democratic acts of his own government? Will he call the former President who complained to HRC in 1990, unpatriotic, because he did not limit his actions to” constructive criticism” or because he fearlessly did not defend the Country?

If the present government continues the same suppression of media freedom and human right violations and be deaf and blind to constructive criticism, what alternatives would he suggest to the citizens of our country?

In conclusion I would argue that True patriots would be loyal to the country and unconditionally defend the country by utilizing all the resources possible to ensure justice and fair play when countries’ sovereignty, human rights or democracy are under threat from any forces within or outside the country.

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  • 16

    Mr. De Silva,

    Permit me to give you one piece of advice and only one.

    Never wrestle with a pig: You both get all dirty, and the pig likes it.

    You know who the pig in this situation is.
    [Edited out]

    • 3

      What does he want to achieve by his articles. Not many are appparentley supporting his views. May be he has made a deal between the bugger Rajapakshe and him … promising to work on die hard further. Not many would get it either as to why a man who is atleast explaining self to have been coming from a good background – to further go after Rajapakshes. Not many would see it right a leader who has spent more of the allocated funds for the tax payers- so abusively for own alms givings -danala ceremonies… now the newly elected one should have to find all means to gap up them.

    • 0

      Dayan is good at painting kalu as sudu (black as white). This he has been doing from that day on. MR s media men have made him the most senior political analyst to the nation – as if MR media men went on saying that the economy of the country is booming under the guidance of MR. But now only people get to know slowly, how MR and his brother Basil abused the tax payers funds to the core. Very recently, I heard a caller to Sirasa Dawasa programme was raising the quesiton as to why MR regime failed to make price reduction since the war budget is no more thre since 2009. So MR supporters went on saying ” you know MR regime gave the priority to development projects” – then again one another caller raised the question they the people thought all those road and construction projects are on the funds loaned by chinese banks. Now the question is well answereed… where had the funds gone ?

      Even today, Basil has not responded as to why he left shortly before the defeat was about to be declared.

  • 5

    “In conclusion I would argue that True patriots would be loyal to the country and unconditionally defend the country by utilizing all the resources possible to ensure justice and fair play when countries’ sovereignty, human rights or democracy are under threat from any forces within or outside the country”

    Yes true patriots should Defend the Country not persons who abused the Rule of law

  • 13

    Mahendra De Silva
    Why on earth do you waste time on yet another supporter-apologist for a government that has proved, in spades, what it is by its very actions? The only difference between Dayan J and the Mervyn and Duminda Silva’s of the Rajapaksa entourage is that his grammar and syntax is better. Same wine, different label, this time!

  • 2

    Hello what your name again?

    I think what Dayan trying to say is that the Tamil Nationalism that has consumed Ceylon in violence over past 3 decades is mutually exclusive to standards of its governance.

    So what that means is even if Ceylon had successive top notch corruption free govts the problems would not have been significantly any less.

    If you pull that finger out of your arse and start breathing again you would know.

    • 1

      well common sense is not something every one has…so we have to bear [Edited out] like mahendra.

    • 1

      Oh Vibushana,

      Now we all know how you breath! And it seems your thinking is also possibly invoked from the near-locality.

      First Dayan said zero civilian casualties. That lie lasted about a month, just until the release of the first batch of incriminating videos.

      Then he lied that the videos were fake and got some low-waged lab technicians to back him up on that count. That too boomeranged, given that it was soldiers who sold those videos and some in fact vouched the authenticity in international forums.

      Then Dayan asserted, with pompous claims of his international political know-how, that sovereignty concerns were certain to preclude any international action.

      When that got blown in his own face, and raised MR’s ire, now he wants to pursue the ultimate vile alternative — that despite war crimes occurred, any investigation to bring the culprits to book should be stopped because we are all “smart-patriots” another one of his concoctions-of-convenience! He wants to use “Patriotism” to absolve criminal behavior of his few 9perhaps only) pay masters.
      That is what his Ammi, Thathi, and the schooling all the way to PhD have taught him. Wow!
      Now do you understand what Dayan is saying and has been saying – perhaps you were too busy breathing.

  • 8

    I studied Maths and sciences, not political sciences. Still I see Mahendra’s planation is simple and easy to understand. How unfortunate is it that DJ, once UN rep, is not capable to understand this straightforward explanation… feel sad about the country..

    • 3


  • 7

    Dayan, I think it is the middle stump this time. Time to retire into the pavilion.

  • 6

    Dayan, I think it is the middle stump this time. Time to retire to the pavilion.

  • 6

    It is the guys who talk so much of patriotism are the ones who damage the country’s reoutation and rob the country and its citizens.

  • 12

    M. De S,

    Why waste time and energy trying to educate Dayan?

    He wore that cheap theatrical blue shirt and canvassed aggressively and futilely for MR with that elusive plum diplomatic posting in sight.

    He did not give a rat’s ass either about the long-suffering people of this country or the daylight robbery of the regime. To coin a phrase he is simply a “Dollar-Kaaka”, not much different to that ubiquitous “Comis-Kaaka” !

    He is smarting uncontrollably over the fact that his thorn-in-the-flesh nemesis Ranil is now the Prime Minister.

    Hence his impotent long-winded diatribes.


  • 5

    Dayan J is in an E-mail forum and as a strategy he always question others fluency in English, when he gets cornered. This is the famous Kaduwa approach, to defeat the enemy psychologically, using imperial English power. It is how Colombo black-whites think- superiority complex

    • 4

      Where does DJ question others fluency in English?

      Also, there is no such thing as a black-white. You are using a literal translation of the Sinhala term ‘Kalu Suddha’. It is like translating ‘Pol Buruwa’ into Coconut Donkey, it makes no sense. A suitable English metaphor for ‘Kalu Suddha’ would be ‘Coconut’ – brown on the outside and white on the inside.

      Further, when using a term like ‘black-white’ you are using a Sinhala grammatical technique on two English words. This is known as ‘Sandhi’. There are various forms of it such as ‘Svara Sandhi’ ‘Parasvaralopa Sandhi’ and so on. The English equivalent is head+ache = headache but it cannot be used at random.

      You see, it is possible to be fluent in more than one language and the Kaduwa, as we know, is a two-edged weapon.

  • 4

    An Editorial appearing in the Indian English newspaper “The Hindu”under the heading “Playing Poker in Sri Lanka” states as follows –

    “The Tamil question has been brought centre-stage with the elected council of Sri Lanka’s Northern Province passing a resolution accusing successive governments in Colombo of carrying out genocide against the minority community over six decades. Moved by Northern Province Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran in the Provincial Council, the resolution demands that the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights investigate “historical” and “recent” instances of genocide and submit its report at the session of the Human Rights Council next month. It also asks the UN Security Council to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court. Thirdly, it asks courts in countries with universal jurisdiction over the alleged events and perpetrators, “including but not limited to the United States”, to prosecute the crimes. The resolution roundly rejects any domestic investigations. The timing of this strongly worded resolution is no mystery. In the five weeks since President Maithripala Sirisena has been in office after his stunning election victory, he has been preoccupied with the task of fulfilling his 100-day charter of promises, which ambitiously includes the abolition of the executive presidency. Pulling together a diverse coalition with conflicting agendas is his primary challenge. For these reasons, there has been significant diplomatic chatter that the international community must permit the new government some time before it takes up the twin tasks of investigation of alleged war crimes and human rights abuses against Tamils and demilitarisation of the North. The HRC session in Geneva is seen as crucial in this context. Clearly, the Tamil National Alliance, which is the main political grouping representing the Tamils and rules the Northern Province, wants to ensure that these issues stay on the global agenda, and at the same time test the will of the new Sri Lankan government at a crucial point”.

    “While the resolution may serve that purpose, its maximalist tenor does complicate the political ground for the Sirisena government even before it has properly articulated a plan for addressing Tamil demands for a just peace, harden as it will Sinhala opinion. The political and legal contestation over the use of the word genocide will prove divisive too. Soon after the election, the new government gave an assurance of a credible domestic investigation into war crimes allegations. New Delhi is rightly concerned about the impact this could have on its diplomatic efforts aimed at persuading Colombo to act on full devolution of political powers to the Tamil minority, a matter that is certain to be on the agenda when President Sirisena visits next week for a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Colombo must be counselled against any knee-jerk response on the resolution, and encouraged to come out with a full-fledged plan for reconciliation with the Tamil minority”.

    • 11


      What’s your point?

      Do you think MS is an idiot and will go headlong without thinking?

      Come on Dayan, get a life!

    • 2

      You take offence to the CMs untimely “explosion” as you are NOT privy to
      what took place in the discussion between Madame Biswal and CM? He
      had to time it, considering the UNs March dead-line. He represents NPC
      and where this resolution was put on hold. This had 100% support with even the EPDP! I suppose this a democratic achievement?

      It was your proposal to MR that the Enthnic issue should NOT be
      internationalized but it has gone wary, by the very activity of Mahinda.
      MS and RW are in a dilemma – silence on their part does not mean that
      the TNA should maintain the kind of silence prior to MS electioneering?

  • 6

    Mr Mahendra De Silva had made an excellent rebuttal of Dayan Jayathilake’s arguments.

    But don’t expect for a honest and comprehensive response from Dayan.

    He always responds at a tangent.

    Like a criminal lawyer, he will select one or two weak points in your presentation and mercilessly attack them exclusively leaving aside your other valid points.

    You almost challenges Dayan whether he will call “unpatriotic” Mahinda Rajapakse when he canvassed international human rights organizations at Geneva in 1989 against human rights violations by the then UNP government.

    Definitely he will not respond, but he might argue whether it was in the year 1990 or 1989 or whether there was a HRC at that time.

    Do not expect an intelligent academic engagement with Dayan

  • 4

    Dayan J has has well articulated his point of view, that one can be a patriot and be critical. The threats envisaged by the writer did not exist to citizens but may have to paid collaborators of foreign stake holders; the likes of whom have brought long term suffering to Iraqis, Libyans with their masters architects of regime change.
    Mahendra asks, “If the present government continues the same suppression of media freedom and human right violations and be deaf and blind to constructive criticism, what alternatives would he suggest to the citizens of our country?” The answer is wait for the next election. There is no need to be a collaborator of foreign regime change agent and bring about mass destruction and death!

  • 5

    Why Dr Dayan Jayathilake has the reproduced the Hindu editorial?

    Does it prove or disprove any part of Mr Mahendra De Silva’s well written article?.

    What is the relevance to the current debate on “Patriotism” How it implicates Maithiri,Ranil or CBK?

    Of Course, the NPC resolution and the Hindu editorial could be used to decide whether CVWigneswaran is patriotic or not!

    I,on my part will call Wiggy to be a smart patriot whereas Dayan as a pseudo Patriot!

    USA,India Hindu editorial seem to be critical with NPC resolution
    Dayan always come out with irrelevant quotations.

    He is unable to write a relevant, logical, comprehensive article on any subject!

    poor guy!

    His recent articles clearly reveals his inherent hatred of Tamils, Ranil and CBK and nothing else

    • 4

      This is the reason why I thought to brand his pieces are just based on malice towards RW-MS-CBK.

    • 1

      Dayan relying on the Hindu article which he had not bothered to read and understand properly, is like the man preparing to commit suicide by hanging, risking on the frayed rope to support his weight.

  • 3

    Dayan the editorial you quoted cautions colombo precisely against knee jerk reactions to the npc resolution.
    you know the kind of jerk response you had when you babbled on about detonation?
    Thankfully, the new government has sense enough to react maturely, not only by dismissing the resolution as being a futile exercise but also one wrought by some kind of political compulsion. To top it off one day later the government decided to release lands to Tamil people in the north and east who have been displaced there due to securitisation for decades during the conflict. Finally a state response that makes sri lanka look like the bigger person, as opposed to reactionary and paranoid. The response only helped to make the NPC stunt seem shrill, unwarranted and needlessly hysterical.How else do you defeat hawks and extremists but through this kind of moral high ground. After all what power does the resolution have?
    Dayan’s political masters,NPC would have been sealed. Wigneswaran may have been arrested. The army would have been mobilised in greater numbers to intimidate Tamil politicians in the North.
    Thankfully the shrill hysteria from Colombo is left to the Dayan types and not the state.It is indeed, a much better country.

  • 2

    While I agree with Mr. De Alwis’ definition of a Patriot, I do not think even he has completely understood the length and breadth of what it takes to be a Patriot.He states,” In conclusion I would argue that True patriots would be loyal to the country and unconditionally defend the country by utilizing all the resources possible to ensure justice and fair play when countries’ sovereignty, human rights or democracy are under threat from any forces within or outside the country”
    Patriotism is not only about being loyal and unconditionally defending the country, but it’s also about having unconditional love not only for her people but also for everything that is found within the country from culture to environment to ecology to wild life. Patriotism is also about unconditionally defending and upholding the territorial borders and resources of our country.

  • 2

    Mahendra De Silva is entirely correct.
    There are no ‘degrees’ or ‘varieties’ of patriotism.
    A true patriot exposes all that is inimical to all citizens and demands corrective action.
    A true diplomat whitewashes them.

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