27 September, 2020

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The Hard Take Down: How The Government May End

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

“You want it darker,

We kill the flame.”

–Leonard Cohen: ‘You Want It Darker’

It must be clear to all except a delusional handful at the top, the less discerning ambassadors, some officials in western capitals, and several NGO/INGOs, that the defeat of this Government at the next elections culminating in the Presidential and parliamentary, is a foregone conclusion. This Government ends late next year.  With the visible disintegration of the UNP, the SLFP and the coalition, and effect on the morale of the UNP and SLFP activists and supporters at the grassroots, and of course the voters, the electoral outcome can no longer be in question. It cannot be avoided by a minority bloc, voting faithfully for the UNP.

What remains to be decided are how the rest of the Government’s term goes, whether or not the ending of the government is smooth, the extent of the government’s defeat and the margin of the incoming government’s victory, and the nature of the successor administration by the end of next year– which will almost certainly be a Rajapaksa dispensation.

In short, the only valid political subjects for serious scenario planning and rational discussion are those that pertain to transition and to the problems –economic, ethnic and external- faced by an incoming Rajapaksa administration. This is not yet the time to discuss the latter topic. What needs urgent clarification though is the nature of the transition and the management of that transition.

There are contrary signals. There are signs that the UNP and the government are headed in exactly the wrong direction at this hinge moment. There are also other signs that healthier dynamics will prevail.  If the positive dynamics proved stronger, then the situation will stabilize, and the transition will be smooth, normal and regular. The sooner the positive dynamics prevail, the sooner the situation will stabilize. The longer it takes, either the negative dynamics will triumph albeit temporarily or the stabilization when it comes will require much more effort and extract a heavier price.   

What are these positive dynamics and which are the negative ones. The positive dynamics are those within the UNP and the SLFP. So too are the negatives. Thus the political action at the moment is taking place in the intermediate zone, the shrinking center.

There are two contending trends within the UNP. One argues for a ‘target hardening’ and policy acceleration, by the induction of Field Marshal Fonseka as Minister of Law and Order, and a redoubled effort to implement the so-called reform agenda of January 2015. The other tendency argues for a replacement of Mr. Wickremesinghe as party leader and Prime Minister, and has floated the idea of a motion of no-confidence, so as to bring the party and government closer in line with the public consensus and mood and thereby stabilize a situation that is becoming increasingly volatile.

The first tendency has an ideologically coherent line, if disastrously in error. Toughen up by placing the Police and more importantly the STF under Field Marshal Fonseka or retain it under Prime Minister Wickremesinghe in his late 1970s-’80s ‘retro’ mode. Push on with free market friendly reforms as rolled out by Minister Mangala Samaraweera and urged on by his advisor Prof Razeen Sally. These free market friendly reforms are not voter friendly anywhere in the world at this time (note the dramatic rise of Corbynism). So the projected answer to that problem is a tightening up through the Ministry of Law and Order. Which of course is quite silly, given that crackdowns are even less voter friendly than free market reforms, and protests are going to be more frequent as the Presidential election draws closer.

To make matters worse, the votaries of this political perspective also urge a push on the accountability and Constitutional change agenda, i.e. the TNA agenda, which they think is the best way to save the Tamil ‘moderates”. So they hope to save the “Tamil moderates” from recent electoral trends in the North, while electorally sacrificing the Sinhala moderates. They expect The UNP and SLFP to be electoral suicide bombers, blowing themselves up electorally for the cause of Chandrika’s crazy notions of “national reconciliation”.      

By contrast, the UNP and SLFP rebels, epitomized by Vasantha Senanayake and Susil Premjayanth, are the real moderates, and the best hope of stabilization by surgical intervention which would create a new center, in and for the interim, tactically and conditionally supported from outside by the center-left. A successful motion of no confidence would unfreeze the present situation and provide an administration that is more reflective of public opinion as well as in greater consonance with President Sirisena.

In fact it would be the only Sirisena-ist administration we have had since he was first elected President. It would render the present dysfunctional situation, less so. This can normalize matters across the board and buy some time at the ground level, enabling the burgeoning economic crisis to be rationally managed. Restoration of the social safety net, pragmatic renegotiation of the Geneva resolution and modest improvements within the existing framework of devolution are also possible under such an interim administration of a hybrid character.

Today’s UNP and SLFP dissidents are the real reformists, because they are challenging within the UNP and within the Yahapalana government respectively, the most ancient of the ancien regimes that Sri Lankan politics has ever seen: the ossified leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe as UNP leader since 1994, and hardly a successful leader at that. There is a growing national consensus across parties, which is that Ranil just has to go. He has been around too long. One of the smartest of the Opposition’s personalities, Dullas Alahapperuma, hilariously reminded the public at a media briefing that the Catholic Church and the world have seen three Popes since Ranil took over as UNP leader! The TV newscasts prominently featured that punch-line and his longer list of incumbents (including US Presidents) who have come and gone while Ranil has stayed.

Within the government it is now a tale of two contending projects—the UNP/SLFP liberal Realists versus the neoliberal hawks who want to push forward with the Ranil-Mangala globalization agenda of January 8th 2015, on the economic, ethnic and external relations realms, albeit with Sarath Fonseka as Enforcer, especially in the matter of jailing Gotabaya Rajapaksa and removing Mahinda Rajapaksa’s civic rights. This line is the one that remains committed to Ranil as PM, the Ranil-CBK alliance, the SLFP as a prop and President Sirisena as a human shield, i.e. the increasingly unpopular, delegitimized, hollow status quo. Those who advocate this line think that the powerful Opposition, the SLPP-JO, can be rolled back by determined ‘toughness’ i.e. repression.

This is a throwback to the irrational mentality that made the UNP bring in Sir John Kotelawala as Prime Minister, after the August 1953 popular uprising, the Hartal. That ‘hardening’, that ‘rigidification’ by the UNP, directly resulted in Sinhala Only and 1956. What we are seeing at one level, is a replay. Luckily, there is the saner, more pragmatic parallel project of the no –confidence motion and a centrist re-composition of the Government, with a drawing together of the UNP and SLFP’s moderates, rather than the neoliberal compact of the Ranil-CBK-Mangala-Sumanthiran Quartet.   

Which of these two intra-governmental tendencies, which of these two projects—rigidification versus flexibilization; dogmatic reformism versus pragmatism; neoliberalism versus moderate centrism—will succeed? Time is tight. March is the month of making the choice, the sooner the better.

Which of these two projects succeed will be the factor that determines the nature of the remainder of the term of this Government, the character and magnitude of its demise, and the complexion and dynamics of the successor administration.

The continuation of the Ranil-Mangala-Chandrika status quo, especially with a harder input from Sarath Fonseka, but even without it, will only distance this Government further from public opinion. Its social base will narrow still further, thereby guaranteeing instability, and an instability that grows more chronic.

If however, the project of the UNP and SLFP resistance succeeds and is temporarily supported from without by the JO and the JVP, then a recomposed government which will be of a provisional nature, will be more in line with public opinion; will have a social base which permits stability and the avoidance of anarchy as well as polarization and radicalization. Maintaining the status quo or reinforcing it by unleashing Fonseka and repressing the Rajapaksas, will only lead to a quantum leap in polarization and radicalization.   

Already the future is playing itself out on the streets. The demonstrators in Thambuttegama, in the Sinhala heartland area of the Rajarata, were more impressive than the large contingents of students that the FSP-IUSF is able to bring to Colombo. In Thambuttegama the demonstrators fought back against the water cannon, with women, protecting themselves from tear gas with handkerchiefs, throwing stones, the demonstrators actually pushing the Police and the water cannon back into the precincts of the Police station, before the counterattack came. This was authentic “Rage against the Machine”! These are not students; they are peasants and citizens of the area, willing to fight for the material conditions of their existence and those of their children and grandchildren. They can be temporarily suppressed, but as the Rajapaksas learned at Rathupassala, the cost is in votes (though they handsomely recovered Gampaha, thanks to the popular Prasanna Ranatunga, who combines determination with unflappability and dead-pan humor).

Rathupassala was against the backdrop of a growing economy, a stable government and strong Presidency, but the context is far more unfavorable for Yahapalanaya. How many more Thambuttegamas will there be? And how many more sectors will join? Can the iron-fisted Sarath Fonseka, an utterly conspicuous electoral wreck, do anything but exacerbate the situation, cause the proliferation of protest, and ultimately sink the UNP by turning it into a hate symbol?

The red line is a move to frame Mahinda and/or Gotabaya Rajapaksa. This is a country where things can boil over, especially when national elections are on the horizon and an unpopular incumbent regime’s days are known to be numbered by the Supreme Court’s decision. All manner of actors, social and institutional, non-state and state, secular and religious, trade union and uniformed, can come into play, as in Portugal 1975, Iran 1979, the Philippines 1986, Eastern Europe 1989 and the Arab Spring.

And after the fall of the regime, which will eventually be electoral and late next year (whoever the Opposition candidate), there is, I would imagine, enough material about Richard de Zoysa, Batalanda, the saving of Prabhakaran from the LRRP hit, the Millennium City betrayal, the Central Bank Bond scam, to keep at least one defeated political leader occupied long after he loses the next election, just as thoroughgoing investigations into the Lasantha killing and Prageeth Ekneligoda affair could be more constricting for the actual perpetrators.    

So, the bottom line is that any move against the Rajapaksas, and the lid of a social cauldron already on the boil, will come off. Then the end of the regime late next year—if not sooner—will not be a soft landing but a hard takedown, and a long goodbye.    

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Latest comments

  • 25
    14

    so tired of this frog croaking from the mud
    CT – please do something!.

    • 12
      3

      Rajash -” So tired of this frog croaking from the mud.” He has jumped from the cesspit to the mud and there is nothing that CT can do! He is keeping the readers of this forum entertained.

      • 6
        0

        Agreed …that his articles .are classified as entertainment

    • 1
      5

      No insult. Be factual.

    • 0
      0

      If you are tired of croaking just stop writing

    • 0
      0

      Namal Rajafucksa says Srilanka is a Sinhala Buddhist country to BBC. What a racist!

      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=542823249450218&set=gm.1997690187147227&type=3&theater

  • 1
    1

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 20
    7

    Dayan,
    Yo u are now become an expert on psychological war because you are affected by Psychosis by association with drug dealers, murders, corrupter s, cheaters and liars. You don’t think anything anything other than Mahinda family becoming rulers and shed bloodbath in this beautiful island again. You don’t want to see peace and harmony in this island. In early days you may have had dreams of becoming the ruler of this land and once you couldn’t achieve that the failure would have depressed, confused and hatred against other civilised society. I am sympathetic about you but it is too late to get rid of your illness. Sorry!

  • 4
    3

    Political extremist will sure create and go behind communal riots targeting vote bank;

    Aththa Kathawa here ;

    https://www.facebook.com/ECHO.TAMIL/videos/866046230235110/

  • 6
    7

    Every body is scared if Sarath Fonseka comes. I think Ranil is also scared. I do not think MAhinda Rajapakse does anything except he consolidates his wealth all over the world. He wants to do something to his children who are alking alone the gravel road.

    • 8
      1

      It goes beyond the bounds of reason that this doomsday predictor is let loose and allowed to infuse so much fear and confusion in society, all in the name of freedom of speech. He is quite literally, insane. Colombo knows it; the rest of the country might not.

      The two topmost men in government – the President and the Prime Minister – will now need to close ranks and pit their wits together, in order to fight a common political enemy lest they get themselves blown away through sheer carelessness.

      Damage caused by minions can have far reaching consequences when what should have been done, was not done on time.

      Give them unlimited freedom and white ants can topple a house.

      • 5
        1

        J&F,

        Dayan’s endeavour to unseat RW and UNP is one thing but his unscrupulous attempts to nurture and abet the ultra Sinhala Buddhist populism is totally abhorrent and recklessly immature! This low-level idiot thinks that he can turn on and off such a phenomenon! He has indelibly written in the history books that he has fostered and nurtured the hard-line Sinhala elements and the MR gang.

        • 7
          0

          Agree Burning Issue, the man has no conscience. To take him seriously is impossible but the damage he can cause to an emotionally attuned nation is being continually disregarded by a flippant government.

          How much greater service he could have done to the country , had he trodden the middle path!

          • 2
            0

            J & F,

            Unfortunately no middle path opens up any avenue for diplomatic posts, especially for intellectually unfit and integrity-lacking office-seekers.

            If only the middle path would have a remote possibility on that, Dayan would have been the first to throw in his hat in the middle-est of any path

  • 3
    2

    Dayan,
    Thing One, don’t Jinx it please
    Thing Two, I gotta feeling it is not going to be a goodnight
    Thing Three, I keep thinking of that last (and Beautiful) music video made in the island by Duran Duran just before everything blew up into smithereens.

    I pray I am wrong.

  • 11
    3

    A very serious analysis most bloggers commenting in CT are incapable of comprehending…………We as nation needs to be scared of the prospect of mayhem an unleashing of a rabid dog could cause.[Edited out]

  • 8
    3

    Sorry for your political failure..
    Ranil will never give a job
    I do not know about M&S..
    Yet you have been bias to both of them in support of MR

  • 1
    1

    Thero is much behind. We have written about this already. Here it is:
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/gota-sings-a-different-tune-on-lasantha-murder/#comment-2166244

    The best way for Ranil’s opponents is just agree with him rather than taking risk. If he wants Ponny as the L&O, let him do it. Otherwise New King will be on the UN electric Chair for all what he did during Old Royals time.

    There is a case outside of Lanakwe on Ponny, New King and Old Royals. The Prison of UN can hardly go beyond 5-10 years. But that is (a real) prison and most probably out of Lankawe and at the end of it, all convicted as criminals will have problem of travelling out and investing outside. All $18B Fortune telling may be frozen.An spectrum of Leaders, Commanders and Soldier can be convicted.

    If Ponny takes L&O he will prosecute Only Old Royals, and that is only for the local Murders. That can end up more prison term than whatever the eternal bodies can enforce. This will discourage the foreign bodies imposing Economic Sanctions and other action until the criminal are handed over to them. Further, once out of hook (within two or three years of Prison – after IC loses interest), Old Royal can be happily live ever after in the Palace Prison, which they built with them in mind, in the Down South. .

  • 3
    4

    Donkey commentators, try to COUNTER what DJ has SAID. Your opinion could be more convincing. Dayan is not the only one in town entitled for an opinion, certainly not the only clever one. It could be YOU.
    Soma

    • 3
      0

      somass

      “Donkey commentators, try to COUNTER what DJ has SAID.”

      What is there to counter comment except taking him to hospital for treatment? He has a medical condition, he not only suffers from paranoia but he tries very hard to instill fear on other gullible people like you.

      You must learn to distinguish an opinion from a paranoid prolific typing, compare the quantity with quality, I found it has inverse relation.

      I know you as a card carrying racist/bigot fascist. Congratulation more and more you are growing into a paranoid card carrying racist/bigot/fascist.

    • 1
      2

      You are so right! The donkey commentators think that abusing DJ is a valid response. Just advertises their ignorance

  • 1
    1

    You want it darker,

    We kill the flame.”

    Did you read this? Thero is saying PTO is not enough for Ranil, so he will bring in PSTA (Prevention of Severe Terrorism Act) to deal with Ranil.

    Comedy Thamai!

    “Devil may kill the flame
    together we herd around,
    With its heartless deed
    to roast us in the cold,
    When up in the blue sky
    the sun’s white teeth smiles,
    All the dark faces of tyrants
    Vanishes like water on lotus bud.”

    He is in the dark with Marx, two centuries behind. He is talking about killing the flame to make it darker. We are tuned to the LEDs on skylap, centuries more shine.

  • 0
    1

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 1
    1

    So, everything is all clear then!

    The only question is what dance will the organ grinder expect DJ to perform when the Great Liberator comes in glory to judge both the quick and the dead.

    I see the many warnings about the shortage of quality labour in the local market. Well, given the expected sudden exodus of good people post election, it would matter much as the foreign money bags will also beat a retreat.

  • 3
    1

    Dayan, Mature people will not put ‘wishful-thinking’ in an article.
    Recently CT had an article by Malinda Seneviratne – something to do with “Low and Odour”. Did this ring a bell during the preparation of the present article.
    By the way, you no doubt relished the contents of the recent CT articles on the 2012 Welliada Prison massacre.
    Add to this the recent Ampara assaults of Muslims. Do you believe in this sterility additive story?

  • 1
    0

    Thambuththegama……. Yeah the police acted as usual by attacking the protesters and taking over 50 into custody causing the government more unpopular.
    Anyways, somebody somewhere is working towards something. I think there is a move to create a situation where everybody will think that the only way to control such protests against the government is to bring Sarath Fonseka.
    I urge the President again, don’t fall for this trap. I am sick of Ranil’s politics, but we must look far not near. President best bet is to keep Ranil as he is at the moment. He can control him. If he let RW go, he won’t be able to control the next person from the UNP. I think someone is secretly aspiring to take control of the UNP. If so, the situation will be worse for the President. Only two more years. Not even two. One and a half. Don’t carry mountains, Mr. President. You are supposed to climb them.

    • 0
      0

      Oh, this comment is misplaced here.

  • 6
    2

    Dayan, As a Christian you need not be reminded of the saying “Man Proposes and God Disposes”. From what you have been espousing all along, your wish is to bring back the Rajapaksa rogues to power and let them continue to plunder the country and let there be mayhem, thuggery, murder, thievery, lawlessness and a subservient judiciary to cover up their devilish acts of which we have had enough and no more ever. Although the country lost much during their regime by way of international isolation, loss of international trade, economic regression, national disintegration, culture of lawlessness, etc. etc. you still want to bring them back to power capitalizing on the Sinhala supremacist feeling and pseudo patriotism of a largely uneducated and gullible public. It will never happen, and the divine hand over the innocent people will prevent it from happening. You wait and see, your dream will never become a reality.

  • 5
    0

    o boy
    he is at it again saying the same thing with different words
    he is definitely scared that sarath fonseka will hammer the rajapaksas
    if mr loses his civic rights basil gota and the sons are in jail as they rightly should be that is the end of the rajapaksas political life
    if he expects the people to rise up against the govt if this happens he is sadly mistaken
    the silent majority will be silent as they have always been
    a few skirmishes can be easily suppressed as the paksas did

    had the great ranjan been alive he would have settled the matter just as he did with the jvp and the lttee whom he chased out of the eastern province together with gen waidyasekera with his eye for an eye tooth for a tooth policy

  • 3
    3

    Well, before you call Dayan names let us go back on what people thought about Pohottuwa. Most predicted less than 20%. Some argued it will not get 5% and how Pohottuwa will go down to the bin.

    At times truth hurts. Navin Dissanayake too mentioned this about the “New Party”. Usually new political parties take at least 5 years to get 10%.

    SLFP and UNP have dug their own grave. Promises that they could/did not keep were a problem.
    Against this backdrop, never say never again. It is also worth reminding us that Colombo is not Sri Lanka. People are still suffering in rural areas. Very little has been done for the drought affected people. Farmers are not happy with fertiliser prices.

    Can UNP/SLFP deliver something “special” in less than 24 months? If they don’t Pohottuwa might gain some more votes. There is enough momentum….

  • 1
    1

    machan DJ start thinking its wise to support Basil than gota. machan time is up.

  • 5
    2

    Your wishful thinking.
    DJ:
    During your beloved MR regime: Who killed Lasantha.
    Who murdered Eknaligoda?
    Who is responsible for 11 students kidnapped from Colombo and killed in Trinco? Who killed Tajudeen?
    Who set various newspaper offices on fire.
    I am not talking about countless innocents who were killed during the war time
    Have you ever uttered a word in your million articles about these murders during your beloved?
    Shame!

  • 6
    2

    Dayan, the Radical Leftist/Marxist ‘
    You worship Castro, Putin et al; who are losers.
    MR was an idiot. He appointed you as an Ambassaodor.
    During your short spell as Ambassador you caused immense harm to tiny Sri Lanka. You antagonized Queen Elizabeth, a noble lady. You fought with everyone while in Geneva. You were a real nuisance in Geneva. You did not protocol.
    One commentor was right – you are not fit enough to enter a Sri Lankan embassy in the future even to clean a toilet
    Go to Cuba and ask for a job, as you are unemployed

  • 1
    1

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 2
    1

    The Ranil-CBK-Mangala-Sumanthiran-Fonseka Five-O should not only be no-confidenced – the fellows should be jailed and hung for betrayal of the motherland! Otherwise, once they put in their totalitarian regime, it will be the usual brutal torture and killing of the Sinhalese as always, as whenever the UNP comes into play, together with the ultimate division of the motherland into thirds. What a cowardly way to implement Ranil’s Zeitgeist ideologies! Even the US is moving away from such B.S. Let Ranil go and do his dance in India the way Trudeau did. It’s time to secure our sacred heritage and ancient continuity and not become the Zeitgeist experiment for the Indian heritage.

  • 1
    0

    “How The Government May End”

    All governments have to come to end…some see through their term..and ..some end prematurely.

    Dayan wants a premature end to this Government…hoping MaRA will come back and hoping MaRa will give him a diplomatic post…

    Dayan has no interest in Sri Lanka as a country…he want to escape with his wife to the UN bubble.

    All his articles are insular. Its all about him and his dad Mervyn and his mother who taught Chnadrika…….

    its all me me me and I know and what is best for Sri Lnka ….but let me get out of this country first…

    even My3 is confused if there is a country ……..

    .

  • 0
    0

    Though Dayan sings hosana to MR, it is MR who sacked Dayan as Ambassador. MR was merciless.

    Dayan must realise that MR will stab Dayan once again; next time, not from the back but from very front.

    Dayan is better not attack Ranil so severely as now. Though a decent man, Dayan must understand that Ranil’s tolerance has limits.

  • 0
    0

    “Today’s UNP and SLFP dissidents are the real reformists” there is a ray of hope then,

    And by the way I think that those who continue to verbally abuse Dayan are strange and wrong.

    I do not see anyone return to power but to be led by these Dissident-Reformists, but the stage has been set by the incapable current regime. Regime change is not the answer, right, USA?

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