22 June, 2021

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The Easter Massacre & The Executive Presidency: Reply To My Critics

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

I have been mentioned in an article entitled Sajith Sabotages SJB MPs’ Revelations On Easter Attacks Probe – Colombo Telegraph.

I cannot see any logical reason to mention me in an article with such a title and topic because my stance and line of critical, analytical query on the Easter massacre has been clear and on the record, in my regular column in the Daily FT as well as on the Colombo Telegraph, as far back as March 2021. 10 Points To Ponder On The Easter Sunday Terrorist Massacre & The Commission Report – Colombo Telegraph

I have certainly pulled no punches on the Gotabaya presidency, and have been one of the earliest and most consistent critics of the ultranationalist-militaristic regime model as is evidenced by my analyses on television and regular newspaper column. See most recently:

Government’s ethics deficit and Opposition’s blind spot | Daily FT

As for the rest, it is certainly true that I have argued and shall continue to emphatically assert the following:

1. The absurdity of urging or suggesting that the SJB and Sajith Premadasa follow a policy adhered to by a party they no longer belong to. That party was wiped out electorally and it would be lunacy to assume that the electoral elimination had nothing to do with its policies and practices. Why would any new party which by its very birth, had enabled some to escape the electoral elimination experienced by the parent party, embrace the policies that were so totally rejected by the electorate?

2. When the Federal Party emerged from the Tamil Congress, the SLFP from the UNP, the JVP from the Communist Party (Maoist), the SLMP from the SLFP, the DUNF from the UNP, and the SLPP from the SLFP, no one expected the newly emergent entity to adopt the policies of the old, nor was such a question ever raised accusatorily. It is ridiculous that the question arises now, especially after the total wipeout of the UNP, and the partial wipeout of the SLFP, which were the constituents of the Yahapalanaya government.

3. Even when a party had a leadership change which far more modest than a breakaway, no one thought to ask the new leadership about its loyalty to the policies of the old. JR Jayewardene’s policies had far more discontinuity than continuity with the policies and profile of the Dudley Senanayake UNP. The same was true of the SLFP when the leadership changed from Madam Bandaranaike to Chandrika Kumaratunga and from Chandrika to Mahinda Rajapaksa successively. Why should the same be untrue of the new party the SJB and the new leadership, that of Sajith Premadasa?

4. The eccentricity of insisting on the abolition as distinct from the reform of the executive presidency. The great powers in global competition today, the USA and China, have perhaps only one thing in common: the presidential system. Of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, four have presidential systems. The argument that the executive presidency as such makes for despotism is an exclusively Sri Lankan neoliberal argument because dozens of countries with Presidencies that have experienced dictatorships, ranging from Chile to South Korea, Argentina to Indonesia and Uruguay to the Philippines, have thrown out the dictators and rebalanced their political systems by strengthening the separation of powers, but none have been nihilistic enough to even consider, still less implement an abolition of the presidential system.

5. At the last election it was clear that the mass mood was against the ‘225’ i.e., the parliament and parliamentarians. Today it has certainly shifted against the incumbent president and hopefully the excessive concentration of power in the presidency through the 20th amendment, but in no way in the direction of transferring all power to the parliamentarians/parliament and abolishing the presidency. When the presidential election in 3 ½ years is the first chance of defeating this regime and the mainstream Opposition finally has someone who is a youthful, electable centrist—who has been described by Ronnie de Mel as the “only hope for the country”—I regard it as criminal folly or active sabotage to raise yet again the tattered banner of the abolition of the executive presidency.

I am for the broadest united front against dictatorship, but not for one which confuses dictatorship with the presidency and includes the abolition of the latter as a plank of a platform. I am not saying that any united front platform should affirm support for the presidency, but that the absurd slogan, which plays into the hands of the Sinhala ultranationalists and alienates the rank-and file of the military by renewing fears among the Sinhala majority of a centrifugal weakening of the state, should be set aside.

The SJB should, in my view, not enter a united front which the abolition—as distinct from the democratizing reform of the executive presidency which brings it into line with the USA and France—is a feature.    

The main opposition party’s biggest comparative advantage this time around is its leader who has the reputation of a socially caring personality; the inheritor of a model and continuator of a tradition which is far more capable of rapid yet equitable economic recovery than the autocratic-nepotistic SLPP and the neoliberal UNP of the last quarter century.        

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Latest comments

  • 16
    6

    The writer says: “Opposition finally has someone who is youthful…….who has been described by Ronnie de Mel – “Only hope for the country”. Are we going to be any longer and further be “Guided” and “Deceived” by these types of “Analysts” who “roam” around political camps for survival and make a living? Anyone who knows of the “Performance” as the Minister of Finance (boasting to be the longest-serving) will recollect the economic/political conditions under which he happened to be holding on to that Portfolio for such a long period. Leave aside that Minister Mr, Ronnie de Mel who is still among us. Are we to go by his and this writer” Recommendations”. Definitely NO. What this “Youthful” and “Hopeful” has achieved so far as a “Minister”? What has he then and today contributed to the National Issues of the country? Is he a “Capable Leader” who could “Lead” a Team with a “Vision” and “Mission” to handle complexities that the country is facing today? The undisputed answer would be “NO”. Recently he, in a speech delivered in Parliament tried to quote a statement from “Arundathi Rao” of India, even without knowing that person is a “Female”. For his “LUCK”, GR and MR have not yet decided to investigate the “Doings & Happenings” of the Cultural Fund during his stewardship as its Minister.

    • 10
      3

      Thanks, Simon.
      .
      Time for me to get some sleep. You’ve said all that pretty effectively.
      .
      Paragraphing would have helped us guys to read it more quickly.
      .
      Sajith is an improvement on Ranil. However, it is now time for the SJB to democraticallyelect a better leader.
      .
      The criteria used must be strange indeed, if the main qualifications of a 54-year-old is that he is “youthful”.

      • 10
        1

        “That party was wiped out electorally and it would be lunacy to assume that the electoral elimination had nothing to do with its policies and practices.”
        There is a good bit of casuistry in this statement, which is to be expected from Dr.DJ.
        Sajith contested on a UNP ticket and got 42% . Hardly a wipe-out.The parliamentary wipe-out resulted from Sajith splitting the UNP vote.If he hadn’t split, Gota wouldn’t have a 2/3 majority. So Sajith must take part of the blame for the current situation.

        • 10
          0

          old codger

          Dayan wants to handle, nurture, groom, guide, ……………… mummy’s boy Sajith, in the process Dayan is hoping to place his CV for a plum job.

          In fact if Sajith has grand plan of destroying this country further he must consider employing Dayan, by replacing Ranil Wickremasinge in the party hierarchy.

          • 4
            0

            Native,
            Preme 2 and PM Dayan?

        • 6
          3

          OC
          Sajith Premadasa was screwing himself up well before the time of the Presidential Election.
          He was winning the battle for leadership, and he knew it. But he let his minions go out and humiliate RW.
          RW just waited his turn, and baited SP with opportunity to make an ass of himself; and SP obliged. His attacks on RW during the Presidential Election campaign far exceeded his attack on GR.
          He wasted his energy on petty issues even after bein named the Prime Ministerial Candidate. Rather than ignore RW’s provocative (but not personally critical) comments and concentrate on the election campaign by appearing to be conciliatory, he went on the attack.
          Many UNP voters were disgusted with both sides.
          I do not think that he is as clever or capable as many imagined, because he ‘ousted’ RW.
          He is now being advised by someone who is clever but whose reliability is very doubtful.
          In politics often one digs his own grave. SP has a gravedigger to assist him.

          • 5
            0

            S.J,
            .”I do not think that he is as clever or capable as many imagined”
            A big vocabulary doesn’t make one clever.

          • 2
            0

            I agree with every word you have written above.
            .
            When some idiots were saying that Ranil was indispensable, I told them that Sajith was there. That was because everyone’s second favourite was Sajith.
            .
            However, I knew even then that there were better people among those who went on to become the SJB. I gave Sajith my third preference. The first was for AKD.
            .
            I was also being a humble follower of the brilliant Kumar David. He explained the Preferences in many articles, but said that people should vote for AKD and Sajith, implying that there were only two Preferences.
            .
            I used to follow up by saying that there were three, but it wouldn’t make much difference whether 2 or 3, given that there were only two strong candidates. If three strong candidates it would matter. I also gave links to London Mayoral Elections where there were only 2 candidates.
            .
            My own third Preference for Sajith.

            • 3
              0

              This response was for SJ.
              .
              The guy is brilliant, but lacks common sense

        • 2
          0

          Sajith must take 30% of the blame, oc.
          .
          Ranil Wickremasinghe must take 70%.

      • 5
        0

        Sinhala_Man: Thank you. I will take your advice to paragraph my comments. Thanks for guiding me.

  • 2
    10

    Thanks for this spirited response, Dayan. As usual, the attacks on Sajith are based mainly on his caste. This is the sad truth about our politics.
    *
    Having said that, I didn’t see you when Sajith met with foreign ambassadors, EU reps, etc. You should have been there. Or did I miss something?
    *
    SJB should appoint a shadow cabinet ASAP. Sajith can’t be speaking on every topic that comes up.
    *
    Champika must be given a prominent position.
    *
    And kick the traitor Tissa Attanayake out.

    • 7
      0

      SarathP: Why you drag this “Caste” issue? It is very unfortunate to see there are still people like you (perhaps belonging to “Old School”) living in this world of Science and Technology, drawing these “Dirty” divisions that existed years gone by. Have you heard of the “Wasala Suthraya” where Gauthama Buddha taught that “Wasalaya” (Low caste) is determined by his actions and not by birth. Attack on Sajith is not based on “Caste” as you perceive. Please don’t spread these “Dirty” tricks anymore.

      • 4
        0

        Simon,
        “drawing these “Dirty” divisions that existed years gone by.”
        I suppose you don’t read the Sunday papers. Because if you did, you would have noticed all those mysterious BG, KB, ……etc qualifications.

      • 5
        0

        Simon,
        .
        I am in full agreement with you. I thought castes issues are no longer exisiting in SL today.
        :”
        I now feel true buddhism is caste free, but BUDDHAGAMA being held as the religion of the majority our sinhalayas promotes caste system. It promotes even facism. I dont respect buddhagama monks today unless I know them well. I stopped giving free food (Dana) to them for some time now. I instead focus my charity work towards the elderly who are really in need. And not forgetting poor children in homes.

    • 2
      0

      Simon fully agree with you.
      .
      Yes, if it is marriage, oc, but for me not even there.
      .
      You are knowledgeable on the subject, but even you wish to say goodbye to it, is what I feel.
      .
      In any event Hema of volleyball fame was farmer caste. How horrible all this talk, but let me also be nasty. Wendy Whatmore used to tell me that Hema came to her for elocution classes.
      .
      And Crystellar? That’s Sajith’s mother-in-law. My mother used to say that she had known her well in Sydney. She was talking about the then impending marriage. My mother was a sweet old woman. However, I got sick of this talk.
      .
      These ought not to be considerations when we vote at elections.

      • 6
        0

        Sinhala_Man: “Hema of volleyball fame” No. She played “Netball”. I remember a match she played with the “Mercantile Champions”. The “Secret” instructions were that whenever “Hema” is to shoot a goal, there must not be any obstructions. She won all the time.
        On another occasion, I was on a flight to Colombo. All passengers were on board, but it took a waiting time of 1 1/2 hrs. inside the aircraft. After two days, it was in “Media” that the flight was delayed until a “Parcel” was brought to the plain to be handed over to the “First Lady” who was seated in “First Class”.
        The Son-in-Law – Jayakody was appointed a “Director” of Air Lanka. His “Cargo” Flowers to Japan was given “Priority” on all flights.
        Do you know what happened to the photographer – “Surendra” who took a picture of “Hema” in a “Bikini”? He “Died” in an “Accident” at Ja-Ela.
        In recent history, Sajith’s sister was caught with “Counterfeit” currency while attempting to bank it. Who saved her? None other than “MR”.
        Now enters, “Jalani” – Sajith’s wife. All are “WAITING” to “Repeat” the “ACT”, this time with Sajith on the “Throne”.

        • 3
          0

          Thanks for the correction, Simon.
          .
          I appreciate even more those other recountings. We really must insist that all these people who get where they do with our votes live as “normal human beings”.

        • 3
          0

          Simon,
          I dont think Jalani would choose the same path of Hema. Simon aiya ur kadanandiya crowd is the best example for a cros section of srilanken society of the day if it would be included few teachers and other professionals. They are all no better when it goes to voting . I think this has lot to with their tunnel vision nature. So long Dilith jayaweera would nt be treated to the manner, lasantha wichramtunga faced it, nothing tangible would work in the improvement of awareness among them. This is the reason why JVP and some good UNPers were marginalised in last election. 😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐😐

          • 5
            0

            LLM: Have you forgotten how Jalani was dressed when she appeared at meetings supporting the candidacy of Sajith. She was “Forced” to change her appearance from that “Elite” (Kultoor) to a fairly modest style. This class will never change. That Dilith Jayaweera. True he is from where I am, but not in that category of “Crooks” and “Criminals”. Not even been to his “College”. I am a villager who worked myself up the ladder by sheer self-effort and that “Gene” is in me. Cheers!

            • 3
              0

              Simon;

              I dont know much about her, but she grew up in UK. She has got british accent when speaking to media.
              :
              You are like me then. We may have same Genes. I WENT to school in Galle. Btw, the term ” arthal dhenawa” is said to be added to colloquial sinhala by Dilith Jayaweera. .. is not that so ? His profile is no different to that of PUSHPA kumara the rapist in your area (Raththaran, another Rjapakshe man). To tell you, I did not live there for the last 4 decades. Dilith Jayaweera is said to have gone to St. Aloysious and is a lawyer by education.

              How he entered to combined crime business is proved to be through KALUSALLI SUDU KIRIMA of Rajapakshes. This became evident in the investigations held against him few years ago, however, my beloved mother land and its symstems are not yet improved to catch the kind of high criminals yet by their horns

              Where I am today is in Central europe would not even a tiny human failur be neglected, escape when we for example drive 5 km/h faster than the speed allowed in the areas. You have no chance but to obey the rule if not a huge fine would follow you rigorously.

            • 2
              0

              SIMON@
              My wish is AKD or any good leader representing NPP. AKD s speech held in Parliament lately is one of the best packed about all the high crimes of the brutal family. For me, the family should have been jailed long ago…. our Ranjana Ramanayaka is imprisoned for almost nothing but today, people stay silent not becoming vocal against such high crimes.
              :
              Srilanken academics should FINALLY come forward representing all areas. They should wake up form their long slumber, if not today when ?

  • 11
    2

    Sajith has yet to show his leadership credentials that will give confidence to the masses. He needs to come out boldly with his stand on several issues. The country very badly needs a leader of impeccable calibre to bind the people together. The Rajapaksa’s chose the other way to separate and disunite the masses to win votes.
    Will SJ have the will and guts to come out and stand up for what is right for the people and country and unit its people ???

    • 2
      0

      We’ve been asking SJ & RTF to write articles themselves for so long.
      .
      RTF obliged in 2018, and now again, there’s one collecting comments. I try not to be harsh on her; she always writes without malice.

      • 3
        0

        Dearest SM,
        This was the same with me regarding our dearest ” Lovable Champa”. I felt like I treated her very bad in the past. However, her affinity to Wimal Buruwanse or the like real criminals – made me very upset again and again. Today, we have won – Wimal Buruwanse, Gon THadipila or the like men are marginalized by their own – people would throw bricks on their heads, if they would come across them. People s angers are beyond all levels as I noitce it today.

        RTF was always decent : That is the truth.

  • 6
    1

    Keeping Sajith as the Opposition Leader is the same as keeping Ranil there. It ensures all Rajapaksas get a chance to become president and prime minister.

    Sajith (and Ranil) can never win a presidential election because of killings by his father’s regime. People have not forgotten.

    How many more elections should UNP/SJB lose for them to understand this? Already they have gone for 33 years without a president of their own.

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