22 May, 2022


The Known Devil

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“A kingdom for one sensible word! – Truly a hair-raising crowd!” –Nietzsche (Ecce Homo)

On Friday, Maithripala Sirisena’s Pelmedulla rally was stoned, while the candidate was speaking.

MahindaThe next day, in Ginigathena, Mahinda Rajapaksa commented on the attack, derisively. Even worse, he indicated that the opposition stoned its own stage, as part of its ‘media-circus’: “Now recently just because a stone fell on the stage (there was) a big fuss. (I) do not know what (they) will do to themselves in a few days. This is a presidential election. Don’t treat this as a joke. I am telling my former secretary…”[i]

Less than 24 hours after Mr. Rajapaksa’s dismissive remarks, Mr. Sirisena’s rally was attacked again. This time the attackers came openly, in several Defender jeeps (the vehicle-of-choice of the thugs who haunted Moneragala during the Uva PC poll). They reportedly shot in the air, just after Mr. Sirisena’s speech ended[ii].

Will the president claim that Mr. Sirisena got his own supporters to shoot at his own meeting?

Last month, Basil Rajapaksa accused the opposition of staging attacks on its own meetings/supporters to win public sympathy.[iii] Last week, Nil Balakaya claimed that actors dressed in Nil Balakaya t-shirts staged the Kumbukgate attack on young artistes.

Now the President is singing the same self-exculpatory song. His comments can be dismissed as characteristic displays of puerility, except for what they might intend and portend.

The President’s comment that he does not know what else the Opposition will stage in the next several days is worrying. It indicates that whatever happens to the Opposition, the president of the country, who also happens to be the Commander-in-Chief and the controller of the police and the upper-judiciary, is likely to dismiss it as ‘self-inflicted’. This amounts to giving a green-light to attack the opposition. After all, if authorities indicate that any crime will be blamed on the victim, what is there to restrain potential criminals?

The President expected to cruise to victory. He is now struggling with the possible prospect of defeat. For the Rajapaksas ordinary life, life without power would be inconceivable. They are likely to do whatever it takes to win. Their effort may be unsuccessful, but it will be made.

Last week, during his second foray into the North, the President asked Tamils to vote for him because he is the ‘known devil’. Devil – that is a matter of opinion. Known he certainly is. And in this election season he is surpassing himself, in what devils are supposed to excel at – sow fear, hate and division.

In the final week of the campaign, selling the war has become almost the sole theme of the Rajapaksa platform. On Saturday, all television stations, state and private, (with the exception of Sirasa and TNL) carried a crude propaganda film about the war. It was an exercise in war-pornography; time and again footages of dead bodies, including those of babies, were displayed with meticulous care. The camera tried to highlight every bloody wound. Needless to say, no bodies of Tamil victims were on display.

Mahinda Rajapaksa goes to the North and tells Tamils to forget the past. In the South, he and his attendant-imps are incessantly reminding the Sinhalese of that same past.

The war is the only saleable political-commodity the Rajapaksas have. And they have no hesitation in flogging Sinhala corpses, to stay in power.

Since the only real hold Mahinda Rajapaksa has over Sinhalese is the war, if he wins, this country will never be allowed to escape the past. It will be compelled to relive the horrors and the enmities of the past. Whenever they feel the need to drum-up Sinhala support, the Rajapaksas will seek to incite fear and hatred of Tamils, of Muslims, of Christians.

Reconciliation is impossible if we cannot forget and forgive. And the Rajapaksas will never allow us to forget or forgive. The memory of the war is their equivalent of the beggar’s wound. They will keep on pricking it, digging it, infesting it, to stay in power.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is right. We know him – and what he is capable of doing, including worsening the ethno-religious divides to the brink of violence and beyond.

We know him and that is why he must go.

Fathers and Kings

When the President turns up at a rally, his arrival is heralded by two children singing a song, hailing him as ‘our father’ and the ‘father of the country’ (‘ape appachchi’ and ‘rate appachchi’).

Kings were traditionally regarded as the fathers of their people, in the orient and the occident. That lie enabled monarchs to treat their subjects not as adults but as eternal juveniles, who must be led and guarded, rewarded and punished, for their own good. Hailing Mahinda Rajapaksa as father-cum-king is a deliberate attempt to exploit Lanka’s historical baggage and ontological memory in order to justify the transformation of an elected president into a de facto absolutist monarch.

There was more than a twinge of absolutism in the presidential system, particularly in placing a president above the law, for life. But the term-limit provision gave a way out to the country. The 17th Amendment weakened presidential powers and strengthened other branches to create a more balanced system. If it was implemented, Lankan presidency would have become more like presidencies in developed democracies.

The Rajapaksas deliberately destroyed all those restraints and turned the presidency into a de facto absolutist monarchy. Elections were to be mere exercises in rubber-stamping. Thanks to the SLFP’s inner-party rebellion this election has become anything but, which is why it is being condemned as a conspiracy and worse.

According to the latest CPA survey, Lankans – and Sinhalese – are beginning to realise this truth. In 2013, only 39.3% of Lankans supported term-limits. By December 2014, 48.5% of Lankans thought that the constitution should limit a President to a maximum of two terms, irrespective of his/her popularity.

In 2013, 36.8% of Lankans opposed term-limits; by December 2014, opposition to term-limits has decreased massively, to just 22%.

In 2011, 42.4% of Sinhalese opposed term-limits; by December 2014, only 25.5% of Sinhalese opposed term-limits. In 2011 only 33.6% of Sinhalese supported term-limits. By December 2014, Sinhala support for term-limits has gone up massively, to 43.6%.

By December 2014, only 29.3% of Lankans opposed the abolition of executive presidency while 39.9% supported its abolition (30.9% of the respondents refused to give a direct answer). 35.2% of Sinhalese support the abolition of the executive presidency while 35.6% oppose the abolition. All minorities support the abolition of the executive presidency by huge margins.

If the opposition wins, and is serious about keeping its promises, it can hold a referendum on abolishing executive presidency and win it, freely and fairly. The President is reportedly planning to dissolve the parliament soon (to stymie a victorious opposition); therefore the referendum can be held together with the parliamentary election.

Abolishing the executive presidency will free us from an institution which brings out the worst qualities in many politicians and help reopen democratic space. It will be an excellent way of reassuring the minorities without antagonising the majority. And it will help prevent the creation of known-devils in the future.

[i] Ada Derana – News at 8 – 3.1.2015 – the translation, a literal one, is mine

[ii] http://www.colombopost.net/more-political-news/item/452-shots-fired-at-maithripala-s-rally

[iii] In the Sunday Divaina

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Latest comments

  • 7

    Since independence, for 30 years Srilanka was not under Executive Presidential system.
    30 years of parliamentary system, 30 years of EP system……… Nothing worked.

    It’s not the constitution but the Sinhalese political mindset that is wrong.
    Sinhalese have again and again proving that they cannot rule a nation.
    If next 30 years doesn’t work, let the minorities rule.

    • 6

      Sri Lankans have a low IQ when compared to people from other countries:

      This may be the reason why the majority gets fooled by the politicians.

    • 4

      Why do you quote these hymie crap merchants like “Nietzsche” always, Titsaranee?

      It is a dead giveaway. You reveal who you are because you can’t help yourself but quote these crap merchants whose only objective is to take possession o all the world’s resources.

      Hail him the great Aryan leader who lives in the minds of billions the world over.

      • 2

        When people are devoid of opinions, they call the points others make as crap. Tisaranee makes sense to the masses unless you have a closed mind.
        “When the President turns up at a rally, his arrival is heralded by two children singing a song, hailing him as ‘our father’ and the ‘father of the country’ (‘ape appachchi’ and ‘rate appachchi’)”. This is reminiscent of another historical despot, Mr. Nkrumah, President of Ghana, who ordered that the school children sing “Nkrumah does no wrong” every day before school starts.
        “The war is the only saleable political-commodity the Rajapaksas have. And they have no hesitation in flogging Sinhala corpses, to stay in power”. Similarly, the Republicans in USA is flagging 9/11 as an excuse for all their misdemeanours. When Dick Cheney was asked to justify the recently divulged torture accusations, his reply was “Tell that to the 9/11 victims”.

    • 0

      Will the good Devil will be accompanied with another known Devil called Malcom Ranjith to meet the Pope on the 13th or the Angel Maithri?

  • 3

    Dear Ms TG,
    Great you have well articulated the ground situation

    “Now the President is singing the same self-exculpatory song. His comments can be dismissed as characteristic displays of puerility, except for what they might intend and portend.”

    Many believe today – with 2 more days to go for last campaigns – people are not fools as appeared to be. Wait and see everything is possible in a place rascals govern from top to the bottom. President has proved his charactor as no times in the past. He is abosolutely a born violent creature.

  • 2

    Abolishing the Presidency suits Ms T and her diaspora backers to a Tee..

    Because, as TNA boss Sambandan said the other day, it will create the Opportunity for him to get 13 A. Plus .. Plus..

    Clear the North of the Srilankan Military and sell the Govt land to Diaspora at mates rates.

    But the problem is how to stop SLMC Hakeem getting his patch in the East, which our President flatly refused.

    Will the USA and UK help SLMC to have a Muslim Homeland in the East with Asaath Sally as the CM ,the same way they are helping the Diaspora and the TNA…

    Or will the USA and UK help the JHU to fight off Hakeem , Sally and the SLMC, while the TNA get dual passports for the Million Diaspora and give Ranil the chance to become a President before he cark it ?..

    • 6

      K.A Sumanasekera

      All those perceived problems you narrate above were born out of your own self inflicted paranoia. I don’t have any cure for it however my Elders tell me a spell in the forest might help you to reduce your frequent anxiety attack and Buddhist meditation may also help to relieve you from your own hatred towards all forms of living organism.

      Forest monks can and are willing to help those who suffer from unspecified illnesses, real or imagined.

      Why don’t you try both?

      • 1

        Here lies the answer to the problem.
        Even the Veddha is brainwashed in to believing lies about Buddhism.

        Buddhism has to be banned for one year and all buddhist monks forced away from paedophilia by having to live like everyone else for one year.

        Enough of this b*llsh*t!

        • 5

          Deva Dusta

          “Buddhism has to be banned for one year and all buddhist monks forced away from paedophilia by having to live like everyone else for one year.”

          Buddhism or Buddha’s teaching has to be liberated from Sinhala/Buddhists.

          If everyone else is morally superior then there won’t be any monks practicing paedophilia for they too come from the wider community. If the community is morally bankrupt so are the monks and politicians. Hence you too a responsible for the behaviour of monks.

          Aren’t you confused with many things all at the same time, including the thought that all Sinhala/Buddhists are followers of Buddha or Buddhists.

          You too need to spend some quality time in the jungle which I hope might do the trick.

    • 0

      Is there no limit to Sumane’s gon-baas rubbish?
      Who is going to pay his allowance after January 8th?

  • 2

    Even before the win, vultures have become noisy.

  • 3

    There is no doubt this is an old Rajapaksa trick. To attack those who against them, lie about it, and then blame them for their own misfortune. Even the international bodies that demanded an explanation for the
    high number of Tamils that are now missing after the end of the war, were all accused of many things, including trying to interfere into internal matters. High ranking credible officials, who were respected by the rest of the world, were personally insulted and treated very badly. See the pattern here, and the way this criminals family operates?

    In Rajapaksa land, people kill themselves, injure themselves, attack themselves, a,nd set fire to their own property. Shooting a gun into the air after a political rally is violent, intimidating and against election laws.
    Only those with power, means, and ruthless enough to order their goons to carry these attacks, know they can do so, and get away with it.

    • 0

      [Edited out]

  • 2

    The happy thing about his statements is a major part of the nation know who was behing the pelting of the stones and the shooting. However, the sorry state of this nation is that there are still people among us who believe his utter lies.

  • 2

    This is below the belt. The fact two or three Rajapaksa brothers need to be given the treatment meted out to Gadhaffi is a separate issue.

    Mahinda Rajapksa’s statement in Jaffna is being quoted out of context.
    President in an extra eloquent moment quoted from a well know Sinhalese proverb that claims a known devil (dhanna yakka) is better than an unknown heavenly messenger (kaoruth dhannaththi deva thuuta)

    Built on it is a composition of paranoid thoughts and conspiracy theories circulated at the moment to aid regime change. Only story Tisa Ranee (is she related to Tissa Attanayake?!) seem to omit is that there are chartered planes in waiting and that many Lambourghinis were already shipped out.
    Let me make up one more. mmm Race Horses were seen stuffed in to helicopters flying Oaklahoma.

    Why is executive presidency OK if term limit is re-imposed?!
    Is it not the agenda for regime change is to empower the prime minister as the next dictator like in many developed or undeveloped countries?!


  • 6

    “Known devil or unknown angel ” would not matter but democratic system must prevail. Concentration of power with only one or few individuals needs “change”. The people have to rise to the occassion and defend their right by casting their votes sensibly. They have to be alert that the votes they casted are not ruined by whatever illegal means.

  • 1

    The point is:-
    He is the devil incarnate…
    You won’t get him out office in a hurry. MR will rule till death.
    This term tier two deputy ministers get rich quick schemes will be implemented!!
    You will see more ministers visit Singapore and come back and keep their peace.
    I like Aratai comment.
    The country is going for dogs and Royal House of Melamudhuna firmly established for another 50 years or more!!
    You deserve every bit of this Sri Lanka!!

  • 1

    ‘If the opposition wins, and is serious about keeping its promises’

    Aye, there’s the rub.

  • 2

    When I first heard a pair of nubile little children singing ‘ape appachchi’, I looked at the portly King in amazement, and gasped ‘what a fucker!’

    IT was a sad moment because I remember how my eyes widened in amazement that happy day in May, long ago, when I saw people prostrate themselves in gratitude as this same man was led in procession after conquering the marauding tigers.

    They say, get out at the top, when the going is good. Alas, when hubris comes calling the inevitable happens, and it is sure to all end in tears.

  • 2

    This morning, we, my cook, my Man-Friday, our coconut-picker and the woman who supplies our breakfast delights were all gathered in the garden at Angunukolapelessa taking tea when I asked the million-dollar question: should the executive presidency be abolished? Amidst all the usual mumblings it was Maggie Akka (who makes the best lavariya I have ever known) who startled me with her reply ‘It is not the position sir, it is the people who take the position that cause the problems’.
    How very, very, true.

    We don’t need to abolish anything, we need to find good men or women to govern us. Our present bad luck is that, with few exceptions, we have a rotten lot who have bullied themselves into power.

    Weep for us, Mother Lanka.

  • 1

    Well,he himself calls his opponent an “angel” but the
    joke is,calling him an “unknown angel.” No,the truth is
    Sirisena is a lesser known of a devil.So,in his own
    version,a lesser devil is better!People don’t expect
    angels from UPFA!Only another devil can come out of UPFA.
    He is party secretary.

  • 0

    Winning the war against LTTE is not a license to rob country’s wealth by the ruling family.

  • 0

    Totally agree with their very sensible comments of Aratai and Spring Koha. Thank you both for that.

    Yes ! Sinhalese doesn’t know how to rule a country, they know very well to ruin it. They are intelligent and capable but their mindset and mentality won’t let them do the right thing. The things preventing them from doing any good are pure racism , jealousy and hatred towards other races living in their midst for generations or centuries.

    The racist political prostitutes are using race and religious cards to divide and rule, come to power to loot the nation. The so called religious monk(ey)s are helping them by sowing racial and religious hatred openly without realizing the damage they are doing to the people and the country. These guys or their narrow mindedness cannot be changed easily.

    They migrate to different countries and live with the other races very well but not ready to even reasonably share and live in their own country with all Lankans amicably. What a sad and pathetic fact it is ?

  • 0

    Before you cast a precious vote, please read this Statement:

    (Statement by the United Front Of The Peradeniya University Lectueres and Alumni)

    Friends, time has come to educate one another about the massive corruption that happens in Sri Lanka under the Present Regime. The Executive has taken the lead in this process resulting in massive debt, virtually mortgaging our mother land to foreign countries. Each individual and even the unborn in Sri Lanka owes close to Rs 400,000.00 as debt to China and other lending agencies. Country is in the threshold of bankruptcy.

    Today more than 50% parliament members have not even passed the O/L examination. Present regime has no respect for education.

    Country’s development could be achieved only by educating people. We emphasise that more than 6% of the GDP need to be allocated for education, which the emerging new leadership has promised.

    Hence we strongly feel that the present regime should be removed for a more thoughtful, compassionate and considerate leadership to take reins to spearhead this beautiful nation to be a DEVELOPED NATION devoid of corruption, family favouritism and protected independent Judiciary.

    This Government ………

    1. Promised that the presidential system will be repealed, in the “Mahinda Chinthanaya”, instead extended the number of times a president could contest from two times to unlimited.

    2. Robbed around 95 Million LKR from the “Tsunami” fund ( Helping Hambantota ) donated by the Japanese government. This was his first political robbery apart from what he made as the Minister of Fisheries.

    3. Let all the ministers of his cabinet to rob at their will, hence he could blackmail them. He turned a blind eye when his Prime Minister imported Drugs and few members of his cabinet importing illegal ethanol and drugs.

    4. Alienated the country towards China resulting in India developing bitterness with Sri Lanka.

    5. Obtained loans from China at rates higher than Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate) to earn commissions. These commissions in billions were routed to Swiss bank accounts via Seychelles, where MR opened a branch of Bank of Ceylon and also an Embassy in a country where only 92000 thousand people live. Sri Lankan airline flies to Seychelles.

    6. Built a port where no ships come. Air Port where no Airplanes land. He made billions of commissions doing these projects.

    7. Made money building Roads : The cost per km of the Outer Circular Highway from Kadawatha to Kerawalapitiya financed by China is US$ 56 m(Rs.7.3billion) This cost is three times higher than the Kottawa Kaduwela extension of the Southern Highway financed by Japan ,which is Rs.2.4 billion per km.

    8. The cost per km of Extension of the Southern Highway from Mattala to Hambantota
    will cost Rs.2.14billion, whereas per km cost of the Southern Highway cost only

    9. Bid price of A9 road was Rs.140 m per km when the departmental estimate for an A
    class road was Rs. 20m.

    10. Construction of the Norochchole Coal Power Project was awarded to a well- established Chinese contractor at US$280.00M in 2005 by the previous regime. Soon after present regime came into power it cancelled the contract and awarded it to another inexperienced Chinese firm at US$520 million-almost double the previous price. Plant is inoperative even after 2years of completion.

    11. On a dispute between Essential Services Commissioner and Asset Maritime (Pvt) Ltd
    arbitrator-a retired High Court Judge awarded Rs.600,000.00 as compensation to the company. A Committee appointed by the President on the intervention of the First Lady awarded Rs.180 million to this company owned by Dhammika Perera and Nishantha Wickramasinghe- latter being a brother of First Lady.

    12. Due to the ill-conceived Hedging deal of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation headed by
    Asantha de Mel (a person connected to the political establishment) lost Rs. 230 billion in2007. No one has been held accountable for huge loss of public funds.

    13. Failed to initiate investigations on 29 journalists murdered or disappeared. Lasantha
    W, Pradeep Eknaligoda

    14. Failed to initiate investigations into the deaths of Members of Parliament 1. Raviraj and one other.

    15. Appointed 38 numbers of the Presidents family and extended family, to diplomatic missions.

    16. Turned a blind eye on losses at Mihin Air to the tune of 6-8 Billion, made by his closest buddy Sajin vas Gunawardane who had been criminally charged previously. He appointed his brother in Law Nishantha Wickramasinghe to Sri Lankan Airlines who has no formal education and made losses to the tune of Rs 70 billion to date.

    17. Influenced the judiciary to President’s benefit. Impeached the 43rd Chief Justice for no reason. Makes judicial appointments to his benefit.

    18. Allows Presidents children to play (Car races) on the streets of Colombo at their will by closing roads. He over ruled Mahanayake Theroes to hold car races for his children in Kandy town.

    19. Failed to nominate Election, Police, Public Service and Judicial services commissions.

    20. Udayanga Weeratunga – Sri Lankan Ambassador to Russia. Cousin of President Rajapakse. Accused of involving in a shady deal to purchase MIG Fighters for the Sri Lankan Air force.

    21. Paid 700.00Million rupees to Prabhakaran to purchase weapons to kill innocent Sinhalese using Karuna Amman who is now a deputy Minister and a Vice President of the SLFP. He uses Kumar Pathmanathan alias LTTE arms dealer to his personal benefit.
    22. How Karuna was sent to London

    “ On August 30, 2007 the Department of Immigration and Emigration issued a diplomatic passport number D1944260 in the name of “Kokila Dushmantha Gunawardena” whose occupation on the passport was given as Director General of Wildlife Conservation. The photograph on the passport was that of Karuna Amman. The Department of Immigration, it is pertinent to note, comes under the Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order of which Gotabaya Rajapakse is Secretary and President Rajapakse the Minister”.

    23. Failed to conduct an impartial inquiry into killing of around 43 prisoners at the Welikada Prison.

    24. Did nothing to improve the economy and failed to introduce workers charter.
    Economy in shambles.

    25. Arranged for his son to sit for the Law exams in an isolated air-conditioned room, away from the other candidates.

    26. Killed protesters in Rathupaswala (8), Free Trade Zone (1) and Chilaw (4). He used maximum force on all protestors.

  • 0


    I just finished reading Julius Caesar the play, you know it is funny it looks like elections in Colombo follow this same thing. There is a group of conspirators who have been lured by one source and one person matching the description of Caesar, as he goes to get crowned. Brutus says something like he supported Caesar in all his things but in his ambition it brought death. Brutus says something like his treachery was for his country, not to be slaves but freemen. Basically the same tenure of all the articles you wrote in the past 5 years no I mean 5 weeks.

    It will be interesting to see if there is a kind of revolt attempt. Rajapaksa will win th votes. This situation reminds me of 2010 with Fonseka vs. Rajapaksa.

  • 0

    The author has not mentioned a part of MR’s speech on the stone throwing incident that is of great importance. He said ‘if my boys had thrown those stones, they would not have missed the targets’, implying that they have stone throwers and they are really good at their job.

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