16 January, 2022

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The President’s Attitude Problem

By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody

Ruwan Jayakody

Executive President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has an attitude problem (and Sri Lanka is paying dearly for his continued rehab and constant relapses).

More to the point, it is a personal attitude that has become a problem (of a fundamental kind in the sense that it is from that problem that most other problems stem), not because it is personal, as he like any other individual is wholly entitled to ‘be thou forever’, but simply because it has transcended the merely personal, to encompass the social – in short, his personal attitude is having national level consequences, the results of which are increasingly catastrophic to put it mildly.

The problem is this: like for the vampire Count Dracula, for whom the howling of the wolves was music to his ears, to President Rajapaksa’s ears, a drowning chorus of mellifluous ‘yays/yeas’ over obstreperously atonal and discordant ‘nays’, has come to be the defining feature of an increasingly problematic brand of governance, revolving as it does around the characteristic ‘yes means you are with us and thus a patriot’ and ‘no means you are not with us and therefore the enemy’ infantilism. It is time the President is reminded of the allegory of the ballad of the mermaid.

But did these ‘naysayers’, such as the former Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) Executive Director Thushan Gunawardena, National Catholic Social Communication Centre Director Cyril Gamini Fernando and former Agriculture Ministry Secretary Prof. Udith K. Jayasinghe-Mudalige, to take but only three prominent recent examples, ‘by the pricking of’ whose ‘thumbs’, ‘something wicked this way comes’, bode ill for Rajapaksa’s hegemony or cherished vision of ‘prosperity and splendor’? Were their interventions, made at some personal cost including peril, mere exercises in floccinaucinihilipilification? The answer is an emphatic no.

Gunawardena, a professional by training who was self established at the time of taking up the CAA hot seat, took up the position to lend his support for the development of the country and resigned to take up the even more vital role of saving the nation, and he has through his consistent whistle blowing, opened up the eyes of all including the authorities, first by exposing corruption within the Sathosa, Trade Ministry and Co-operative Services State Ministry, and secondly, by helping avert a greater tragedy as far as ‘exploding’ gas cylinders are concerned, by forcing the relevant consumer protection authorities to do their entrusted duties and fulfill the delegated responsibilities.

Fernando has posed specific questions on aspects related to the Easter Sunday terror attacks and the probes into such, with no other motive than acting on behalf of the victims of the bombings, who are due justice.

Prof. Jayasinghe-Mudalige, a senior most academic of administrative standing as a former University Vice Chancellor, merely stated the obvious about what are already belated national realities including about the problem child – ‘100% immediate carbonic/green/organic agriculture policy’, and food shortages.

All three have abided by the public trust doctrine and kept the public trust.

The thanks they have received are that of being hounded by the law enforcement authorities (Gunawardena and Fernando) and public vilification and calumny at the hands of ne’er-do-well politicians or being sacked overnight and relegated to persona non grata status (Prof. Jayasinghe-Mudalige).

Wasn’t the President’s own ‘viyath maga (the path of the professionals)’ also about the ‘viyathun noyana maga (the path not taken or not to be taken by professionals)’?

Then there is the case of the three Cabinet Ministers, staunch Rajapaksa bulldogs in the form of Udaya Gammanpila (also Cabinet Co-Spokesman), Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Wimal Weerawansa, who have decided to tow a different line from the rest of their Cabinet colleagues, on the matter of a controversial and questionable power deal, and the President’s thoughts concerning the trio’s ‘principled’ (by the threesome’s description) dissent of ‘collective responsibility’.

The problem then is not a case of ‘no one is listening’ but you Mr. President, are the one who is not listening.

In the same way that no one can be conceivably expected to know everything about everything even within one’s own sphere of expertise, or exhibit acumen or be ‘correct or right’ always, no one expects the same from the President either, and it is indeed terrible for the country if the President labours under an ego trip that the people expect such from him. ‘Tis human, as it is said, to err.

What is however expected at all times, especially when the decisions one is tasked with taking affect not solely oneself but each and every one of the citizenry and still others, is to listen and learn, to listen to oneself and to others, to learn from one’s mistakes, and if possible, those of others. After all, one learns ‘of books and men’ when learning to ‘play the game’.

Therefore, to refuse to even consider the other side in this collective endeavour of governance ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’, is fatal as has amply been proven in the President’s case and to the detriment of the country. Only a few examples from the agriculture related fiasco and economic crisis suffice to make the case.

The President has to listen and for this purpose, amongst others, consult advisors, experts, intellectuals and the average Joe; Governance is impossible otherwise, while rigid adherence to a policy of ‘echo chamber’ based selective listening, is a recipe for absolute disaster as it is both counterproductive and downright destructive. Sri Lanka’s marketplace of ideas, Mr. President, is not your cognitive ‘safe space’.

Hence, it is important not just to listen and learn but to listen soon and learn sooner than doing so later as exemplified in the case of the strong early calls made to seek International Monetary Fund assistance, which if done at the time the calls were made, would have prevented some of the unfortunate queues for essentials seen today and unnecessary import restrictions in place at present. The possible averting of the deadly post-2021 Sinhala and Hindu New Year Covid-19 wave is another prime example of the human costs involved with delayed decision making and not heeding the voices of reason, not to mention the green agri travesty.

Yes, the President has an attitude problem. Yes, it can be rectified. Yes, it has to be rectified if 2022 – which by all accounts is going to be a year that is going to be far more challenging than the past one – is to be a saving grace for the country as Sri Lanka cannot afford for 2022 to be a repeat of the ‘maxima culpa’ stasis (there is no ‘mea’, as the President as the Head of the State and Government has not apologized in the first personal singular for any of the ‘culpas’) of 2021. Then let us as a country with ‘collective responsibility’, having learnt what we should and should not do, look to move forwards.

Mr. President, are you listening?

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Latest comments

  • 10
    0

    Dear Mr.R.J.
    The first casualty for saying the truth or the obvious, was Dr.Jayaruwan Bandara, MRI Head who was demoted. (October 2020).
    Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry has demoted the head of the premier research institute responsible for Covid testing and appointed his former deputy as the head of the Medical Research Institute. What a slap !
    “From January to now this virus has been present in the community somehow,” he said. He further said it is unlikely that the COVID-19 patient found in Divulapitiya yesterday, after two months of no new cases reported outside the identified clusters, if there were no patients already in the community. “How else could we have found a patient now?” Bandara said.

    • 8
      1

      RJ,
      .
      Not just an attitude problem, I see nothing good in that person.
      :
      If not for FAKE PUBLIC PERCEPTION the kind of BPs would not emerge.
      :
      At the time SORYSENA got elected, there were rumours in the air, evena coconut husk ” pol lellak” would have defeated MR looking at the manner he ruled nation from 2010-2015.
      .
      Very same audience with so called NEW VOTERS and others dressed GOTA in wrong cloak – but the outcome came to light within 2 years. The bugger is not even good at taking decisions on GAS-CYLINDER BLAST or the like tiny issues, but that have now become a killing virus or beyond….. threatening every household…. yet today, he has not shown any wholehearted reactions, but pleasing PINGUTHTHARAYAS IN ORDER to survive the shaky boat, kills his time.

      • 4
        0

        The worst thing about Nandasena is his sniggering at his own jokes. It clearly brings him across as someone quite convinced of his own superiority. Which of course is not the case.

  • 11
    2

    Problem is with VOTERS attitude, not HIS. They elected a man with inherently wrong Attitudes and expect him to deliver ‘Prosperity and Splendor”.

  • 13
    1

    Vasu, Gammanpila and Weerawansa would be the last persons to leave the Govt: on a question of Principle. They may get kicked out but that too is a remote possibility.
    President Gota may throw in the Towel, but these three would travel even on the footboard.

  • 15
    0

    “Yes, the President has an attitude problem. Yes, it can be rectified. Yes, it has to be rectified if 2022 “

    Gotabaya may have an attitude problem but his brothers have some other problem. But all of them have a common problem. That is greedy of Power. Not only the attitude problem of Gota but all other problems of this island can be solved by Sinhalese if they can change their attitude towards other communities in this island. It is very simple to understand by a rational human being that Rajapaksa family are greedy of power and greedy of money that lead this country into the current status of bankruptcy.

  • 5
    0

    What is the longest F word?
    floccinaucinihilipilification
    Rare. the estimation of something as valueless (encountered mainly as an example of one of the longest words in the English language).
    – Google

  • 16
    1

    I am at a loss to understand why we saying this Presidents attitude now.
    We have seen this very well when he conducted Anwar without witnesses and tortured raped and killed thousands of innocent Tamils during war even after the war by giving direct commands to field personnel over the head of Sarath Fonseka.
    I heard from Tamils about a poetry in Tamil doing rounds amongst Tamils ‘you laughed and rejoiced when we faced things from Gota in Mullivsikal now you are receiving it.”
    His attitude was evident when he dealt with Lasantha, Thajudeen and many tortured and killed 8n South.
    We sinhala Buddhist shamelessly appreciated these attitudes when it was directed against minorities now we have woken up shockingly. What a set of jokers we sinhala Buddhist are

    • 0
      11

      Dilshan,
      “We have seen this very well when he conducted Anwar without witnesses and tortured raped and killed thousands of innocent Tamils during war even after the war by giving direct commands to field personnel over the head of Sarath Fonseka.”

      No such incidences have been reported by Defence Attaches of US Embassy Lt. Col. Lawrence Smith and Lt. Col. Anthony Gash of British Embassy. That is the reason why UNHRC is not interested in those reports.

      • 2
        0

        Eagle,
        Did you personally know Anwar?

    • 0
      0

      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

  • 6
    0

    Why does the author use a long, rare, and difficult word like “floccinaucinihilipilification” when half the commenters on CT cannot spell the word “Rogue” correctly? (They spell it as “Rouge”)

    • 2
      0

      Captain Morgan

      “(They spell it as “Rouge)”

      In french Rouge means Red.
      Moulin Rouge – Red Mill

      Perhaps half the commenters on CT are thinking in French.

    • 2
      1

      CM
      Do not spoil the fun.
      I am seeing the supposedly longest word in English (unless some Americanism has got the better of it) in a sentence 65+ years after I heard it in class from my English master who we thought was trying to impress us.
      Bad spelling is not always a disaster as much as bad grammar can be.
      People do get the message across with both bad spelling and bad grammar, and therefore resent being told.
      Language is a tough kid who can take some heavy beating before screaming in pain.

    • 2
      0

      Captain Morgan

      “Why does the author use a long, rare, and difficult word …”

      It is because it is “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3zAbQ0aMK8&t=1s

    • 0
      0

      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

  • 6
    0

    If only the President listens to senior civil servants wise words, the country would not be in the current situation.
    We all knew that he isn’t changed his ways to the better when he got the Swedish embassy female worker harassed to get information about people trying to escape for fear of reprisals for doing their job conscientiously. He has been helpful to his friends/family and the Hangers on to make huge sums by tax deductions or making profits/commissions on contracts etc. Our Central Bank’s coffers got depleted. I do hope President + all the Parliamentarians declare their wealth locally as well as internationally and they should be encouraged to bring back the wealth back to Mother Lanka.
    Recognition should be given to the people who speak the Truth even if it’s unpleasant to GoSL.

    • 3
      1

      N
      Don’t we like to listen to people who say what we like to hear.
      The choice of the newspaper one reads regularly is based on what lies pleases one most.

    • 1
      0

      Naman,
      “If only the President listens to senior civil servants wise words,”
      Please, there are no “Civil Servants” nowadays. That independent breed was expelled 60 years ago in the name of progress and replaced by a set of supine pen-pushers. They don’t have wise words. Only yes sir, yes sir.

  • 5
    0

    This characteristic of “Attitude” is related and subjective. As regards Gotabahaya Nandasena Rajapakse – the “Elected” President of the People, by the People and for the People, there is ONE voter who described “GOTA” to show all the personal characteristics in a “Simple” but very “Forceful” manner in a simple sentence as: ” A very SMALL man was “BLOWN” out of proportions and presented to the voter to vote as their President”. Who said this? He is VICTOR IVON.

    Doesn’t that simple expression explain everything about this man Gotabahaya Nandasena Rajapakse?

    The above article by Ruwan Jayakody could be summarized with the statement of Vivto Ivon.

  • 10
    1

    So, his attitude is a problem …….. his serial-killing is not a problem, eh?

    Ask Charles Manson …….. all serial-killers have attitude problems!

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