By Malinda Seneviratne –
President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that if anyone has done anything wrong that person needs to be punished, whether or not the concerned individual carries a picture of the president on his or her person. He pointed out that under cover of his photograph there are people who produce moonshine, operate buses without permit.
It is perhaps an indication of the power vested in the office of the Executive President in the 1978 Constitution that Mahinda Rajapaksa is called upon to resolve all matters big and small. This could also mean that relevant officials are either incompetent or scared to be found ‘erring’ in the presidential eye. The flip side, either way, is that if the all-powerful can right wrongs (and wrong rights too!) then the shortest cut to getting anything done (right or wrong) is obtaining presidential approval or endorsement, or else feigning to have got it.
We can blame J.R. Jayewardene for this state of affairs; after all the use and abuse of name and image is not a feature particular to this regime. We saw it during the tenure of Chandrika Kumaratunga and that of Ranasinghe Premadasa as well. If in the case of Mahinda Rajapaksa, name and image appear to have greater weight, it can be attributed to his signature achievement, that of freeing the country of terrorism.
On the other hand, the natural add-on of that victory has been enhanced in the process of stating and re-stating that obvious edge over predecessors, in and out of context, by friend and foe alike; the former for purposes of self-preservation and career-advancement and the latter in the rush to paint him into a larger-than-life monster. Both types have carefully avoided riders, qualifiers that offer the true dimensions of the man, that which is praiseworthy and that which is not.
The point is that the President’s face and name have been framed and uttered respectively all over the country and through all media. From giant hoardings during elections through endorsement-claim in posters and leaflets by politicians in his party in elections regional and national (as glory-rub) to inserts in project-announcing and project-completion ads (mega and buddy sized projects both) there’s nowhere to escape the all-powerful image. Then we have the name salaamed by one and all, as preface in the manner of ‘Under the direction and guidance of…’, and endnote thanks. Finally there are the name boards; Mahinda Rajapaksa this and Mahinda Rajapaksa that for road, building, airport, theatre, initiative and whatnot, perhaps without direction from the man but certainly with indulgence.
It indicates, as pointed out, the power of the office and the personality of the individual. It is also an indication of sycophantic dimensions. The bottom line is this: if the country is flooded with the president’s photograph and if his name falls like rain on every inch of ground then it is natural that image and name will be picked up by those who find in them a useful tool to get what they want.
It is in this context that the President’s observation on the phenomenon and his consequent warning to disregard has to be appreciated. The process may have done its work (good and bad) to a point where reversal is not possible, but there is no harm in attempting to rectify matters.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, perhaps more than any politician in the post-Independence period, can well afford to erase name and image and yet remain ‘present’ in the minds and hearts of the population, for the good he has done and the bad that has happened under his watch. He can take much from the tombstone epitaph of Sir Christopher Wren, who designed new churches and supervised reconstruction after the Great Fire of London.
‘Underneath lies buried Christopher Wren, the builder of this church and city; who lived beyond the age of ninety years, not for himself, but for the public good. If you seek his memorial, look about you.’
Most importantly, he will not have every two-bit thug and petty thief (not to mention grandmasters of swindle and underworld kings) abusing his name and office.
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com
punchinilame / July 14, 2013
The practice of “shape koraladanne” was introduced even to International
matter by this President and all are his Voters are taking the hint?
Don Stanley / July 14, 2013
The reason that Mahinda Rajapakse is seen to be omnipotent by the ignorant masses is that he has SHAMELESSLY concentrated power in himself and his uneducated family of thugs – brothers and sons – as no other president has done- or will do!
Rajapassa is creating a military dictatorship, a DEEP STATE and that is why folk think that carrying his picture will get them out of trouble!
Sumudu / July 14, 2013
Good piece – but don’t pretend to be naive MS! Rajapassa is the master of DOUBLE SPEAK he will say one thing and do the opposite – he loves seeing his ugly mug colonize all wall space. VISUAL POLLUTION TO US> but makes MRT feel secure especially given all the crimes and corruption he is involved in and blood he has spilt..
MR clearly loves having his ugly image plastered all over Lanka — as if there is an election going on and he is the ONLY CANDIDATE! Rajapasssa is a MEGALOMANIAC and loves seeing his image all over otherwise he would have given orders to stop his posters and waste of public funds.
BTW, when I see his picture at the Bandaranayake international airport when returning to Lanka from overseas I want to do a U-turn and get on the first plane out of this banana republic! It is a mystery why university students don’t spray graffitt over the visual pollution.
Lapatiya / July 14, 2013
“If anyone has done anything wrong that person needs to be punished….”
This will not be applicable for “Ape Minissu” because if ape minissu has done something wrong that goes to a special Account call “International Conspiracy” Account. Presidents own Son has openly assaulted a Rugger referee and that has already been credited to “misunderstand” account. Wrong things done by Gaanu 5 Naanasara Babadu Balu sena Balukaya, Rawana Balukaya goes to “Singhala Baudda/Jaathi Aale” Account. Wrong things done by Govt. ministers, ministers Sons and their goons will be credited to “Mata Mathaka Naha” account. wrong things done by Maha Raja and Family will be credited to “Deshapremi” account. Finally only common man will be punished for their wrong acts.
Jayaratna / July 14, 2013
Day by day common man vanishes not even recorded in Kanatta accounts.
Piranha / July 14, 2013
JohnDe / July 14, 2013
MS ^s narrations can bring us all angers only :(
MR himself tolerates crime friendly culture. Be them from disguished pseudo monks or lay people, his administration stand by them. This every sane would grasp easily looking at the manner his blind eye towards some crime investigations of his people. What is he talking about ? Pal horek ? What happened to Duminda Silva^s case ? Where has MR been all these months ? In the country or exile ?
Zami / July 14, 2013
Anura / July 15, 2013
In Premadasa era, it is common practice to kill his opponents and put into LTTE account
Yehiya / July 14, 2013
No face to President.He never trust the democratic wings to solve the problems. His siblings are leading to make decision in all areas.No one is above the grade 10 education.They need another Pirabakaran or Binladen
to mislead the nation & grab all economic resources.But next pirabakaran will lead in use of new technology attack & not with human resource strengthen.Muslims are well use of patient & now more close to Tamil nations leadership. It also well directed organized.
Kap De Silva / July 14, 2013
Kap De Silva / July 14, 2013
Sulaiman / July 14, 2013
What absurd logic! The president’s name is misused more not because of his greater achievements but because of his greater willingness to foster cronyism. To what extent did people abuse power in the name of Mandela or Gandhi? Or for that matter Churchill ? as always, Malinda’s so called critiques are veiled Hosannas to the powers that be.
Aney Apochchi! / July 14, 2013
You set a new level in impunity when you say,
“On the other hand, the natural add-on of that victory has been enhanced in the process of stating and re-stating that obvious edge over predecessors, in and out of context, by friend and foe alike; the former for purposes of self-preservation and career-advancement and the latter in the rush to paint him into a larger-than-life monster. Both types have carefully avoided riders, qualifiers that offer the true dimensions of the man, that which is praiseworthy and that which is not.”
You have been the single most shameless hypocrite and sycophant of this regime and seem determined to reinforce that, well-earned, reputation at every opportunity.
And you succeed admirably!
There is one thing that, for very obvious reasons, you have avoided and that is stating which “extreme” is justified given this man’s CONDUCT.
Dilan / July 14, 2013
President is certainly a charismatic figure with more personality than most of today’s security forces officers in SL. However, he is also a “kapati raala” plus, plus. His “baba hukun” approach supported by his bro. Is just way too unprofessional and insincere for the betterment of this nation he secured from terrorism. I do not see the good name he would retain upon his exit, no matter how dramatic or unfortunate it may be on that day. This is due to the ungrateful nature of our people and the insincere, self-serving mockery of politics His Excellency The President has stooped down to. The likes of Mervyn, Duminda (monitoring MP for our Defence establishment…jeez!), DIG Vaas Gunawardene and the rest of the grade B morons that fill a huge list is just not acceptable…The President has seriously undermined the learned man, the intellectuals and those of good stock…am afraid the bill is large and he is going to foot it some day!
Amarasiri / July 14, 2013
“President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that if anyone has done anything wrong that person needs to be punished, whether or not the concerned individual carries a picture of the president on his or her person. He pointed out that under cover of his photograph there are people who produce moonshine, operate buses without permit.”
What a farce. Lies, more lies. and more lies.
Does the BBS and Sinhala Theravada Buddhist terrorist Nazis carry pictures of the President when they Attack Christian Churches, Hindu Kovils and Muslim Mosques?
Do they Say Hail Rajapaksa, like the the Nazis saying Hail Hitler? Or do they say Budu Hamuduruwo?
Rifkha Roshanaara / July 14, 2013
Very outdated article. Would have been appropriate if it was written somewhere during July/Aug 2009. It has gone much beyond MR’s control. And when it comes to pictures, posters, cutouts, slogans and hosannas I hardly see any difference between MR and Jayalalitha. They both love that.
And the very first line of the article made me laugh as nothing except the Silvas, Vasses, Peirises and the religious thugs that came to mind. Punishment for wrong doing is gradually becoming a sham in Sri Lanka. I wonder if there’s anybody in SL who still buy such fairy tales?
Robin Hood / July 14, 2013
I dont think anyone with a head would buy this story but there are many without heads. The funniest part is People like MS are trying to sell the pada show king’s books whole sale.
Keeping this President’s Moosala/Muduma/Moodevi looking portrait at the office or at home is a bad omen, that place would never be a success. Same as keeping SWRD’s photos at homes those days. Its a curse. One can try and see.
JohnDe / July 14, 2013
So called magic man, whose 43 year old political experience is repeatedly cited to describe the annihilation of the LTTE terror successfully. But in the post war episode, very same administration has failed to tackle the minimum set of the agenda. Fully contradictory views o not ? How can this be ? War costed state unnecessary millions of funds, but why then sky rocketed price hikes of essential daily needs today as never before in the history – when a war is no longer there ? Logically, at least there should be some relieves in cost of living in the country or not ? Balant lies would be funding for gigantic projects like flyovers, ports etc, but latter are NOT financed by loans as repeatedly preached by them ?
JohnDe / July 14, 2013
MS^s articles cant contain anything else – he is proved to be on salvage mode. Why is he doing so ? It is becoming clearer he has nothing better to do :(
I have not read any similar articles written on Gaddafi`s or Mugabe`s administrations.
Rifkha Roshanaara / July 14, 2013
Just to clarify, when I said fairy tales I only referred to President’s statement about punishing the wrong doers.
Kiri Yakka / July 14, 2013
“the President’s face and name have been framed and uttered respectively all over the country and through all media. ” – thought that this was your bread butter job, Malinda.
thiscantbhappening / July 14, 2013
a typical storyline since 2005 for mahinda and his merry band : not me,never me,whereas the people now know all evil starts and ends from mahinda
It can be a magisterate arrested,a customs official arrested,chief justice sacked,army chief arrested,gandassara promoted,grease yakkas, ceb promises the list goes on and on and there is always a political reason
A thai monk was on youtube one month ago flying in his luxury jet,using designer bags etc.Today he is no more a monk,just Mr Wirapol,as he was disrobed.can we expect this is in Malinda S and his Mahinda??
guess malinda will end up like hld mahindapala.
Avi / July 14, 2013
This is what you get when good
journalists go into laundry business.
Already heavily soiled Rajapaksha
laundry are going to be heavier and
heavier as days and months go by
these journalists are going to
have feces not only in their hands,
but also in every inch of their body
including inside of intestines.
They are many other better ways to
make a living.
JohnDe / July 14, 2013
what can not we hope – in a society almost every senior politic becoming their allies perhaps for unexplainable reasons, or the mistake lies on the our people, so who knows, the reality behind all these journalists ? Rajapakshes are famous for their thuggish activities AND infamous for their human activities.
aratai / July 14, 2013
“”President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that if anyone has done anything wrong that person needs to be punished,…..””.
Is that a warning to GoRa?
JohnDe / July 14, 2013
President and his henchmen have no face any more.
They should start wearing burqa or the like clothing soon to cover them – no identities left for them at all to this day. This is going to be Rajapkshe style buddhist country – according to their own definition.
Fair N Square / July 15, 2013
what a kiss ass…. ugh… a moderator of a news paper can go so low? jeee
Aadivaasi Aththo / July 15, 2013
Is your salary paid by MR.
Aela / July 15, 2013
Journalism is not just the crafting of words. It must also be truthful. You have craftily said the president will anyway be remembered “for the good he has done and the bad that has happened under his watch”. The bad didn’t just happen but is being planned and allowed to happen. You are a disgrace to journalism.
Spring Koha / July 16, 2013
The article is a worthless load of piffle. I was drawn to read it expecting the editor of a daily newspaper to say something serious and thought provoking; to say I am disappointed is an understatement.
Haramanis / July 17, 2013
Mahinda had very bad habits long before he became president. These are not just habits but a particular mind set. Those old timers who are involved in politics will recognize this mind set. It is what SWRD taped into long years ago. This mind set justifies cheating and dishonesty because the perpetrator believes he is a victim and is resentful of those that are more successful in life. As time went the entire government service was ravaged by this type of minister putting those who are unqualified ahead of the hard working and deserving. When you do not respect the institutions you govern and undermine them for your personal benefit you get modern day Sri Lanka. If anyone tries to justify this by citing wrong doings of past governments either they are genuinely ignorant or are lying for no other previous government can come close to the level of craven dishonesty and destructiveness of Mahinda. The reason why past governments struggled against the LTTE was also because they had some respect for common decency and refused to play by the same rules as the sun goat. Not our Rajapakshe. For him the end justified the means and sure enough he out witted the LTTE. However, the edifice of government is now completely destroyed. No amount of sycophancy as in the case of this very silly article is going to change anything.
Kiri Yakka / July 18, 2013
The heavily soilded laundry needs a good doby. Not Malinda. Because he soils its further with his own dirt.