5 July, 2022

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The Fall Of Mahinda And ‘The End Of History’

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

“Of battles won or lost—but fought…”—Che Guevara

Having argued for years that (a) Sri Lanka under Mahinda Rajapaksa is no dictatorship but a unipolar democracy because of the meltdown of the centre-right UNP under its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, and (b) that the Opposition should put forward a liberal nationalist instead, my perspective has been at least partly vindicated. Why then was Mr. Sirisena my second choice rather than my first? An obvious reason is the Ranil-Chandrika factor (or factors). The second was his program of fast-track radical political reform and its possible centrifugal consequences.

The Opposition strategists got it right and therefore they won. They outmaneuvered and outplayed Mahinda Rajapaksa and his camp, and in that sense deserved to win. The Opposition’s strategy was to win the vast majority of the minorities and a minority of the majority, by generating a split in the majority vote. It worked. The game plan was transparent and had been rolled out by Mangala Samaraweera in a Sunday paper months ago. If the 2012 video of Dr. Rajitha Senaratne is authentic (and I haven’t heard any statement to the contrary) the game-plan went a few years back and had at least one particular provenance, at the outset. He addressed a media conference that year to disclose that prominent pro-Tiger Tamil Diaspora activist Charles Gnanakone had attempted to inveigle two MPs with large financial blandishments, accompanying it with a narrative that “they” had decided to replace the Rajapaksa administration, that Mr. Wickremesinghe and Mr. Samaraweera were on board, and that at an appropriate moment, ex-President Kumaratunga will return to Sri Lanka in order to break into the SLFP.

This bears very striking resemblance to what actually went down. It worked because the compensatory vote from the majority community was not sufficient to compensate for the near-total loss of the minorities and the slice of majority votes garnered by the excellent choice of Maithripala Sirisena as candidate. To reiterate, the Opposition game plan proved to be a good one, and it succeeded.

It could not have done so if not for the intrinsic weakness of the Mahinda Rajapaksa Presidency. President Rajapaksa paid heavily for the sins of his family. The post-war model of the Rajapaksa administration was not compatible with the social needs of peacetime. That postwar model was animated far more by the doctrine, attitude, mindset and discourse of Gotabaya Rajapaksa than Mahinda Rajapaksa. If Mahinda Rajapaksa won the war with the managerial dedication of Gotabhaya, he lost the peace and therefore the election also because of the personality and policy impositions of those who failed to transcend that time and progress towards normalcy.

When the TNA leadership met President Rajapaksa before the investiture of Justice Wigneswaran as Chief Minister, they told him that they could contribute a million votes, should the Northern Provincial Council be made viable. The first item on that agenda was the replacement of Gen Chandrasiri with a civilian governor. As it turned out, Gen Chandrasiri was not merely retained but also extended, thereby dashing the hopes of the TNA and going contrary to the indications given to India. That decision was pushed through by Gotabhaya. There went the last chance of Mahinda Rajapaksa obtaining any portion of the TNA’s vote bank.

It was Dr. Rajitha Senaratne who told me that Mahinda Rajapaksa had ordered while still overseas, the arrest of the BBS rabble rousers after Aluthgama. That arrest was thwarted by an intelligence report presented to the president upon arrival, that any such crackdown would probably trigger nationwide rioting. That dereliction, coming on top of the optics of Gotabhaya at an event featuring the top BBS monks, with the consequent impression of tolerance if not patronage of the BBS by the state apparatus, caused the loss of virtually the entirety of the Muslim vote.

The grave mismanagement of foreign policy, again driven in the final analysis by the hardline defense bureaucracy, lost us the support of India, while the BBS factor lost us the Islamic states of the OIC. This created a broad Indo-US-Islamic external coalition with considerable local assets, and a vested interest in regime change. It worked.

The main challenge that President Sirisena faces is twofold. One is domestic geopolitics. The majority of the majority ethno-religious community, the core of the island’s demographics, did not vote primarily for him but rather for his opponent, President Rajapaksa. The other is that the program and platform of President Sirisena involves an untested systemic transition which may result in unstable multipolar ‘jockeying’ and prove susceptible to external and minoritarian pressure groups. I would urge him to drop the abolition of the executive presidency and the fast-track approach. Instead he should be a normal President, serve his term while retaining executive power while slimming down the surplus power of the executive through a gradualist and consensual approach. A referendum on whether the executive presidency should be abolished, retained or reformed would be a good idea. If he sticks to a fast-track abolition (and permits neoliberal economic policies as well), the Sri Lankan State will not only be scrubbed clean as it should be, but also vulnerable to centrifugal pressures (especially at its ethnic periphery) and thus weakened, retrenched, diminished. Theda Skocpol has through painstaking socio-historical research, sourced much of violent upheaval in such a retrenchment of the state.

As an early critic of the negative postwar trends, I could see it coming. However, I chose to get off the fence and support President Rajapaksa (just as I did President Premadasa), because I regarded and still regard him as far more sinned against than sinning, and his merits as greatly outweighing his demerits. Put more simply I tend to support the hero—or, as in this case, the anti-hero–especially if he is an underdog (provided it isn’t rabid, like the Tigers or the JVP of the ’80s). I have no regrets.

What has happened is not merely the defeat of a President. It is the end of a cycle; perhaps even an age. What has dawned may be a new one or a return to an older pre-war period. That remains to be seen. Yet there is something else beyond this. It is the defeat of a certain idea, project, paradigm, way of being and set of values, which may be traced back to the political struggle against the CFA and reaching a high point in the military victory and diplomatic success of the last war. The ethos could be regarded as that of wartime, or more dramatically, the Spirit of 2009. Despite all my criticisms I supported Mahinda Rajapaksa in all three of his elections- 2005, 2010 and 2015—because I shared those values more than I did those of his opponents on each occasion. This time five million people shared those views but that was not enough.

What has happened is not only an end of a paradigm but a more basic sociological phenomenon. The father of ‘elite theory’, the Italian Vilfredo Pareto, wrote of a pattern in the history of societies of the rotation or circulation of elites of two main types, for which he borrowed the symbolism appearing in Machiavelli’s The Prince, and dubbed the Lions and the Foxes. Mahinda Rajapaksa was a Lion and he represented the age of the Lion. He and it have now been replaced by the age of Foxes.

In his “The End of History and the Last Man”, Francis Fukuyama famously applauds the definitive victory of liberal democracy as a universally acceptable idea of organizing governance, but his applause is deeply tinged with regret. He views this victory as one of the end of the heroic age and values that Nietzsche had extolled (looking back nostalgically at Homeric Greece). Nietzsche had been bitterly sardonic about the imminent triumph of what he termed “the age of the flea” and the arrival of the un-heroic Last Man, whose consciousness was essentially that of a consumer. Fukuyama, a liberal who applauded the victory of liberal democratic capitalism, was nonetheless enough of a philosopher to lament that arrival.

All that said Maithripala Sirisena as President is infinitely preferable to having Ranil Wickremesinghe or Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga in that role. The people have voted for change and the unipolar situation has ended. I hope the new leadership will reconsider the fast-track systemic change and instead consult the people at a referendum before undertaking any adventurist experiments with the constitution.

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Latest comments

  • 20
    8

    Dayan does not want the executive presidency abolished only because Ranil and Chandrika will become powerful !!
    He also was the only person who saw a “threat” to sri lanka from a source only he knew, coming down “through the north” – thereby he justified the military occupation of the north.
    All this, while he believed in the “Political Thought of Fidel Castro” !!!

    He is worse than a ‘snake in the grass’.

    • 8
      1

      Aney, Dayan!

      What a farcical nincompoop you have turned out to be.

      Even in the face of MR’s obvious defeat, during the campaign you unashamedly wore that cheap-looking shiny blue shirt in public, and described MS as a thin thief who would rob the house by entering the narrow skylight, and hand over the stolen booty to fat Ranil and Chandrika. How low can you get?

      Your desperation to get another foreign posting via MR continued to cloud your judgement. This was compounded by your long-standing hatred for both Ranil and Chandrika.

      Now you dare provide MS gratuitous advice, interspersed with your usual quotes from antiquated theorists (with good old Machiavelli thrown in for good measure) to shore up your dwindling intellect.

      You are now entering the end of your shelf-life and still clamouring for that spot in the sunshine before you are dropped in the bin.

      Your disingenuous assertion of being a Sinhalese and non-practicing Catholic is not lost on the astute readers of CT. That bull won’t wash and would certainly not qualify you for consideration to any position by MS, even if either Ranil or Chandrika have a say in the matter.

      Sorry Dayan, your days are now numbered. My best advice for you at this time is to slither back into that hole you came from and leave us all in peace.

      • 4
        0

        Good riddance.

        Very well said.

        Thank you.

  • 11
    5

    One of these days, Dayan will look in the mirror and see what the rest of us see. Nothing. He can’t undo the lies, the arrogance, everything that follows him today and tomorrow and beyond. What he wrote will be ignored, the good things he done will be forgotten.To the journalism world, Dayan is dead.

  • 7
    4

    This Dayan has no shame. Even MR would have had someone to defend him in these columns. I think it’s time Dayan had another real life ‘Dressing Down’ as he seems to have forgotten the last one. That should keep him quiet for some time.

  • 5
    3

    “…. that the program and platform of President Sirisena involves an untested systemic transition which may result in unstable multipolar ‘jockeying’ and prove susceptible to external and minoritarian pressure groups”

    Dayan,

    We all know your ideology ie:Majoritarian Hegemony also known as Fascism.

    Now that the electorate have spoken,you should stop this phony propaganda.

    Even MR had the decency to step down bowing to peoples verdict.

    You have no respect for democracy or human values including human rights.

    Simply it’s appalling.

  • 14
    3

    At least now, the people should accept and understand the fact of the matter for Maithripala’s win. It was not the Sinhala-Buddhist who made him win, but the others. Yes the minorities like Tamils,Muslims and Sinhala Christians.

    Haven’t seen any one even mentioning about Muslims’ overwhelming support for the win. Every one must remember that the minorities, the Tamils, Muslims and Sinhala Christians are the KING Makers and not the Sinhala-Buddhists. The SB voters always vote 50-50 and that doesn’t give sure victory to any candidate.

    So, the new government should keep that in mind, bring reconciliation, unite all the communities without bias, treat all as Sri Lankans without prejudice, racial indifference and with dignity. Sidelining them will eventually bring disaster again- the blunder Mahinda made.

    Bringing normalcy to all regions,removing intimidating forces from North East, making the people feel at home without harassing them and interfering in their day to day life. It’s horrible living like that in one’s own country. Political and framed up prisoners should be released,war affected families be given space to live on their own, properties grabbed illegally be given back, bulldozed homes rebuilt, HS Zones removed, compensations paid,state assisted colonization be stopped. Confiscated lands be returned to its original legal owners, chased out Muslims resettled in North.

    The govt. must see that no more Mosques, Churches or temples destroyed by rabid thugs in robes, BBS,Ravana Balaya and the likes banned. Buddhist monks, other priests, Mullahs and the likes banned from active politics. The country must gradually become secular and the government should not support any particular religion, be neutral, not make any religion superior in order for the people to live in peace, prosperity, make the country and their life better.

    66 years of sidelining other races, racial discriminatory policies, standardisation, state aided riots, pogroms…nothing brought prosperity or peace. Let this new government govern the nation with more care and vision without doing the same mistakes all the regimes did since independence.

    Hope this new alliance combo party will make use of the opportunity wisely without fighting among themselves for power or greed.

  • 3
    3

    Even a knave like Dayan must be allowed his say. That is why Maithree was elected.

  • 14
    7

    You say 5 million people supported MR .. Thats not the case..A majority of this 5 million were brain washed by MR in to believing that the nations security would be in jeopardy if the common candidate wins the election. Thats the reason MR got so many votes!!!!

  • 9
    4

    Dayan, what a disgraceful and boneless man you are! I want to remind you what you have talk about with Basil, Dr. Ranjith Bandara and Charitha Herath
    (before kamburupitiye Soratha) about MRs victory and your theories.shame!

  • 1
    2

    Dear Dayan,

    [Edited out]

    Best,
    The People of Sri Lanka

  • 9
    4

    After seeing your interviews during this election campaign, I totally lost all the respect that I had on you. Please go back to your cave.

    • 2
      2

      I totally agree with you, I too had a lot of respect for Dayan until I Saw his last few interviews.Taking about 5 Miilion votes for Mr. MR, it was all because of the brain washing of rural poor mass using Rupavahini and other state resources to the max.

  • 8
    4

    Dayan was bargaining with Current president Maithiri for foreign minister post to support him before election. Maithiri responded him that, he has experienced person than you for that post and did not accept Dayan’s request.

    Now he is writing bullshit. Still calling President Mahinda. He is living in the past. Poor guy, need to look for a decent job.

  • 4
    3

    [I would urge him to drop the abolition of the executive presidency and the fast-track approach. Instead he should be a normal President, serve his term while retaining executive power while slimming down the surplus power of the executive through a gradualist and consensual approach.] DJ

    With all those damned liberals around it is imperative that he does this ASAP! With UPFA the majority yet on cabinet (hopefully), this shouldn’t be too difficult. If Sirisena was stronger with the JHU, this might work very well. All Sirisena has to do is take this one and only chance to work with the former Rajapakse cabinet (and possibly Rajapakse himself –after he’s licked his wounds)- can’t they be re-dissolved back?……….here when all communities had a chance to proudly uphold the Lion, what a terrible thought- foxes and fleas…..

  • 3
    3

    Dayan,

    I believe that his chance was 0%, funnily the election commissioner asked everybody to use the pens which were given to them.

    Doe tsn’t make anyw sense.

    Why do you have to use the pen given to you, and can not use your own maybe there is something in the ink.

    These are fabricated results, I know that Tamils don’t like Rajapaksa, but some of the districts were reporting figures like the 2010 figures when Tamils deliberately backed Fonseka.

    Rajapaksa’s problem was only that he didn’t watch his way of conudcuting elections carefully enough. Eventually the sword of Damocles got him.

  • 2
    1

    Ind Tam

    Your comment…….
    He is like the Karna of Mahabaratha…
    This is the greatest compliment that could be given to anyone.I mean are you serious?DJ as Karnan? Oh No! even to compare him to Sakuni in Ramayana would amount to a compliment.

  • 4
    4

    Dear Dr Dayan Jayatillaka,

    I have watched and read your tirades against Maithripala on TV, electronic and print media with sadness. Sad because I held you in high esteem after seeing your performance in defense of SL at the UN. I was witnessing a man degrading himself unashamedly in public.

    At no time did you base your criticism of MS on Values as you now claim. You even stooped to the level of SB, Mervin and Weerawansa when you authored the following, “Having a gentleman in a Modi vest as human shield or front office manager doesn’t alter the optics significantly.”

    You were casting slurs on MS for his Indian attire while wearing Western attire yourself! Is this not petty, foolish and hypocritical? Is that worthy of an Educated person?

    You say “The Opposition’s strategy was to win the vast majority of the minorities and a minority of the majority, by generating a split in the majority vote”

    You are way off the mark.
    MR’s campaign focused on Racism because he was trying to fan nationalism of the Sinhala south as they had no effective counter to MS’s campaign focus on govt corruption and the absence of the Rule of Law. That MR’s camp succeeded in doing that is reflected in the Vote from the South. The vote that you are now identifying with. It had nothing to do with racism as you allege.

    Listen to Mr Sujeewa Senasinghe who produced solid proof of an unsolicited project initially offered at USD120 million getting inflated to USD 270 million at the final award.
    http://sirisara.info/watch?v=6165

    BTW what strategy did you employ when you wrote the following on CT?

    “I am also a member of the majority. As a (non-practicing) Catholic I am a member of one of Sri Lanka’s minorities” ….. “The Catholics paid for it more, because they had something more important to lose, which for the most part, they did—their schools.”

    The way you calculatingly hid the truth to create religious enmity to split religious and ethnic minorities, simply for the sake of a vote in favour of MR was deplorable. Do you think that was worth it?

    More at my comment addressed to you here which remains without a response.
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/48-hours/comment-page-3/#comment-1742205

    Free education was implemented by the govt in 1951.
    In January 1961 the hitherto so called Private Schools that obtained govt funding till then either had to forego that assistance or be run as a completely private school without govt funds.

    St Peter’s in Colombo (formerly St Joseph’s College South) was founded by Fr M.J. Le Goc, Rector of St Joseph’s College, Colombo. St Peter’s decided to forego govt funds and opted to remain private. It is still a PRIVATE school run by the Catholic Church. It mainly admits Catholics (a letter from the priest of the parish of residence is required). A few places are AUCTIONED to the highest bidder and a few children from other denominations are admitted on payment of a colossal sum called a “DONATION”. This “Donation” today hovers around half a million rupees.

    Your Alma Mater St Joseph’s Colombo, which produced Sri Lanka’s first Cardinal and a President (Ranasingha Premadasa) opted to go private. The wiki says “In 1960, after the take over of the schools by the Government, the financial support was stopped by the government. The College became a private, non fee levying school.”

    Is it your Leftist Political ideology to use Public Funds to run Denominational Schools that almost exclusively admits children of ONE RELIGION (a minority religion as you call it) and denies an education to the MAJORITY children of Lanka?

    More in my comment addressed to you here still awaiting a response.
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/dayan-jayatillekas-arguments-for-supporting-mahinda-false-premises-and-faulty-logic/comment-page-1/#comment-1740832

    That said, I hope the MS govt will use the skills that you displayed at the UN in SL’s defense, in an advisory capacity to the team representing SL at the UN.

    Kind Regards,
    OTC

  • 1
    1

    Dear Gas Bag Karadara Dias. Where do you say “I WAS WRONG”? in this long winded explanation of yours?

  • 2
    3

    This bearded goat should be arrested by Maithiri and Ranil’s new government.
    It is plain that this racist monster in the guise of so called che is the ultimate racist and psychopath who lied through his teeth and discouraged any real democracy in sri lanka.
    He should be tried with all the goons of the rajapakse regime who swindld the peoples money on so called war victory when the real victor fonseka was put behind bars.

    why are you waiting for this beareded goat! already he is publishing false propaganda in the Brahmin owned hindu newspaper in india

  • 4
    3

    DJ, for once stop analyzing and looking for excuses for you wrong analysis before the voting. For once, just keep quiet, accept the people’s verdict, and give yourself some rest.

  • 3
    4

    DJ,

    Come on man, try to look in the mirror and say loudly…I …. up!

    “Despite my education, Banda, Mohamed and Selvam knew better and did more for Sri Lanka in the last 24 hours than I have managed to do all my life”. It is not easy, but you must say it, if life is to go on.

    Or else, you will be offering opinions about the how wills, what ifs and maybes that no one cares to know about. Why? The right people are in place. They will do a few wrong things. That’s okay, because their hearts are in the right place and they are human. We get that and we are human enough to excuse their occasional screw ups. Is that hard?

  • 6
    1

    There is no doubt that MR brought peace to the country and a some developments to Sri Lanka. The new government & the president must make sure that good work is continued while bad practices are abolished. Unfortunately in Sri Lanka, as the governments change there is a habit of dropping & destroying ALL things that the previous government carried out be it good or bad. Here’s hoping that this will not continue!
    Build a better Sri Lanka for all Sinhalese, Tamils & Muslims! Good luck!

  • 1
    0

    Hope MR can bring better times & yahapalanaya, but history is against it. One must see the many groups, racist, secessionist, evangelist lobbies at work and then many family clans the moments one gets marching orders another steps in.

    Study of the dark ages of Europe or the more recent annihilations of the new world could be of help to improve Western oriented folks, eurocentrics; do not folks were burned alive for reading the translation of the bible in native language.

    At the moment it is only government employment that provide a sustenance or path for betterment of rural mass which leading companies or tourist sector.

    To take Sri Lanka to new heights there should be ethnic monitoring of employment practices in top companies to guard against religious / ethnic / sexist bias. Then we can have have a true democracy with likes of Maithripala Sirisena as CEOs of leading companies in Sri Lanka.

  • 6
    4

    SHUT UP AND BUGGER OFF !

    You are getting nothing from this government.

  • 3
    2

    After what DJ has been saying about Ranil W, including innuendos about homosexuality, the latter should never allow this DJ to get anywhere close to the new government.

  • 1
    0

    Dayan switches alliance to suit and benefit his position, i had a respect before and since he changed his position and justified the corrupt MR and his cronies, i have come to conclusion that this man is another kakki of MR and he was paid for this probably. Stupid

  • 3
    2

    In April 1993 young DJ was stripped naked at Kanatte when he was at the funeral of Lalith Athulathmudali.His wife was by his side.Now he has been stripped naked again.This time on CT. DJ.never learns.

  • 3
    0

    Dayan..
    how come that you changed your stand all over sudden when the election was about to. seem power hungry for a good post. don’t try to fool people for your own benefit.

  • 2
    0

    Dyan

    You state that:
    “..because I shared those values more than I did those of his opponents on each occasion. This time five million people shared those views but that was not enough”.
    The War was certainly a vote getter for MR.But, how many of the voters were bribed, influenced by personal favors and favors to their families and friends and were prepared to overlook the bribery corruption and nepotism attributable to MR, and by so many other factors rather than actually preferring him over MS is anybodies guess. You are most certainly entitled to your opinion but romanticizing him as a icon of a historical War was not the only reason people voted for him as suggested by you. it’s high time you stop attempting to sugar coat and blur the facts while attempting to pollute the political landscape with bovine waste!!

  • 3
    0

    Dayan:

    RISE & FALL OF A KING.

    KIngdoms come Kingdoms go

    MRs only lasting 9 years the shortest in history.

    I hope like the Python MS RW & CBK remember your comments when you said you will have MR anytime compared to them.At least I hope under them ( with civilised standards ) you wont end up like the brilliant LASANTHA.Your writing talents are nowhere his. No more Lasanths.
    As for MRs obituary it is being written at the moment by UNHCR and UK and US have alreay fired the warning shots by demanding MS to help with the UNHCR inquiry.
    If he doesnt comply and hand over MR Sanctions will hit Sinhala Lanka on top of Garment Industry Quotas withdrawn , Fisheries Ban by EU Russia & Syria stopping Tea Imports with dwindling Tea sales.

    MORE TO COME and dethroning the KING is just the begining. I have read that he has gone to his Hambanthotta Farm to hide in a Bunker like Sadam.
    He can run but he cant hide.Why dont you tell him to book a Family ticket to the HAGUE ( before his LOOT is frozen taking advantage of the Family Concession and include you in the booking.

    GOODBY Dayan for the last time.

  • 1
    0

    Dayan, we dont need you and your advice. We have clean intellectuals to help us. You are a third grade charlatan who will boolick any scoundrel for a diplomatic post. You can have yopur diplomat dreams with you. Good bye.

  • 1
    0

    Dayan,

    You lost the respect of majority of the readers when you suddenly changed from being an honest critic to a dishonest lackey.

    Mahinda Rajapaksa of 2010 would have won this election, but not Mahinda Rajapaksa of 2015, a budding Dictator! A third innings has no place in Cricket or in an election as a Head of State!

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