24 May, 2022


The Rajapaksa Regime – A Wake-Up Call To The Nation

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

I know it is far too early to attempt an assessment of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime that has just ended. We are too close to the remarkable event. On the other hand, a wake-up call about a serious danger must necessarily be as early as possible if it is to be useful.

I was in Sri Lanka during elections and watched the process closely. Rupavahini and ITN, both national ventures of considerable influence, are paid by the taxpayer in order to perform a public duty. Pro-government newspapers had to pay their way but they did so largely because of advertising monopolies granted to them by the government; again, sourced by taxpayers. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his team believed they were entitled to a monopoly of support from these institutions regardless of the fact that these media agencies were taxpayer funded. The opposition voice was never heard in these agencies. If not for Sirasa, TNL, partly Derana, and less-partly Swarnavahini and the burgeoning social media the people would have thought it was all a one-horse race; that Mahinda Rajapaksa and his ten-year-old government had no vices to talk about; that the opposition constituted a set of conspirators “backed by Western powers” who were out to get at Mahinda out of jealousy “for destroying Prabhakaran.”

Except for Rupavahini and ITN the other TV stations/ radios had limited island coverage. Facebook, too, had limited users. This compounded the problem. The Right to Information Bill had also been turned down with the President saying it was unnecessary because he is prepared to provide any information that the public may desire!

MR cut colombotelegraph

I have just finished reading a novel based on the factual regime of Rafael Leonidas Trujillo dictator of the Dominican Republic from 1930 to May 1961, when he was assassinated. It is written under the title, “The Feast of the Goat,” by Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas –Llosa, Peruvian writer. I thought to myself how Mahinda Rajapaksa had been developing signs of the early (less harmful) stages of Trujillo who was first elected president and later morphed into an unelected President of the Dominican Republic. I must emphasize, they were symptoms of the early Trujillo. By the time Trujillo was assassinated at the end of three decades he had completed an ugly track record of state-sponsored murders, rapes by himself and his men, and setting up monuments to himself all over the country. When I saw the huge cut-outs of our own President spread out all over the island I reminisced about Trujillo’s monuments. Furthermore, Trujillo had left behind vast infrastructure that boosted growth rates but kept ordinary citizens struggling to make ends meet. “Our highways!” I reflected.

From all accounts Mahinda Rajapaksa had once been a decent guy; affable and loving. What transformed him into the ruthless, manipulative ruler he eventually became was the bahubootha vyavasthawa of JR Jayewardene introduced in 1978. Mahinda Rajapaksa was in many senses a victim of the constitution. And with him, the people suffered collateral damage. Parliament was converted to a rubber stamp. By the carrot-and-stick approach opposition MPs were induced to swell the parliamentary ranks and to remain in the camp without questioning. Numerous dissenting journalists disappeared under Mahinda’s watch. Prominent editor Lasantha Wickrematunge was brutally butchered on his way to work (strangely on January 8th-election day) with no serious action taken by law-enforcement agencies. Government –critical TV stations were burnt down and so on. At election time the opposition was prevented from getting suitable meeting venues and their stages were shot at. Maitripala Sirisena was stoned and had to be hurriedly evacuated. Maitri thereafter addressed meeting behind a security screen.

Not satisfied with all the power he had gotten to himself, Mahinda Rajapaksa set out to enhance his authority further by manipulating space in the constitution. Came the odious 18th Amendment and the abolition of the 17th Amendment. Independent Commissions meant to enable some sense of healthy independence from the executive arm in vital areas of the Judiciary, Public Service, Police and the Elections office were dispensed with. President Mahinda Rajapaksa became a foreboding, masked dictator.

Power accumulation feeds on itself and, in time, induces a sense of unrealistic self-confidence. You go on blind speed until it all hits you on the head. This is exactly what happened when Mahinda, cocksure of winning a prematurely-called and thereby expanding his life as ruler for another decade or so, opted for a Presidential election despite having two years to go. The inebriation of power blinded him to underestimate the forces arraying against him. The astrologer had beguiled him.

My belief is that Mahinda must be thankful for having been toppled because, otherwise, he may have become a Trujillo and eventually received a spray of bullets into his head as the former did. Likewise, Sri Lankans are lucky to have been spared a Trujillo for the longer haul with the possibility of feeble-minded successors following him.

It was all a wake-up call to the dangers lying inherent in the constitution of 1978. Ordinary Sri Lankans living in rural areas and numerous unsophisticated ones in urban areas are still medieval in outlook. The culture of feudalism still sways over our island. The 1978 Constitution has the potential to be nourished by this culture and, thereby, creating a “monstrous High King” in the future. Mahinda Rajapaksa fell short of that climax but his career evinced symptoms of that stage of maturity.

The new President in his address to the nation from the Paththirippuwa in Kandy demonstrated a great deal of prescience when he said that what Sri Lanka needs is not a king but a genuinely humane leader.

*Shyamon Jayasinghe was formerly Secretary, Ministry of Labour& Vocational Training. He is a writer on social and political affairs and an author of published books. Also, a well-known Sarachchandra player.

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Latest comments

  • 11

    While a few Sinhalese journos were murdered, a large number of Tamil journos were murdered. Also several Tamil parliamentarians, students(T5), aid workers(M17) and a large number of ordinary civilians were murdered outside the war zone. Journalists had difficulty not only accessing the Vanni but also Jaffna peninsula that has been under heavy army presence from the 90s.
    After the war Tamils have been literally under army boots.

    • 1

      Very much appreciate the wake-up call – already visible is Mahinda’s infiltration into the cabinet, etc

    • 0

      Good riddance to bad rubbish.

      Anyways, levels of corrruption & abuses being carried out by MR regime – specailly the 2nd term should be brought befoer the nation letting them known no leader of that kind be given any chance to lead the nation again. Be them UNP, SLFP or any other parties, people have the power as no others to rethink it twice before let them guide by their emotions.

      Whoever whatever utters – we must not let the nation get guided by a completely abusive administration – for me looking at all these being out of the country – is a miracle acutally to see that MR is gone. The happiness in my mind – not to see the same abuses deliberately shaped up by MR -a got to see it by my eyes shortly during my recent stay in the country – was beyond all ethical and moral values. When travelling to Colombo as no other times MR placards were displayed by an advertising company on their request I believe.

      As we are aware – even the intelligent woudl forget if they only hear about doctored values in terms of economy, educaton, health or any other sectors – when they are being repeatedly broad or telecasted by local media. The role of media in the country for the last few years alone was to promote ONLY Rajapakshes. No matter anyone or everyone felt agianst, they never respected others feelings. Those journalists should add their thoughts to the media today- what torments went through their heads while keeping away all the checks and balances of the ground problems. All these were in favor of Mahinda… who did he thing he is to go for that ? while in the same time kissing hugging cuddling the kids when get to touch – sending a message across that he is hearted person. But the reality is none of us yet are clear what REAL COLOURS of Mahinda Rajapakshe. He is abusive to core – by all natures as nothing is in favour of the public. This abusive culture should be thrown from lanken systems paving the way many to support the systems sustainable for teh nation.

  • 4

    Shyamon Jayasinghe –

    RE: The Rajapaksa Regime – A Wake-Up Call To The Nation

    “We are too close to the remarkable event. On the other hand, a wake-up call about a serious danger must necessarily be as early as possible if it is to be useful.”

    Thanks for the write-up. Yes.

    “Except for Rupavahini and ITN the other TV stations/ radios had limited island coverage. Facebook, too, had limited users. This compounded the problem. The Right to Information Bill had also been turned down with the President saying it was unnecessary because he is prepared to provide any information that the public may desire!”

    The Wake-up call. So, how do you communicate to the populace who do not have access to the internet, mass media or the time to go after them, because they are busy making a living?

    Common Sense Pamphlet Sri Lanka 2015.


    “The Feast of the Goat,” by Nobel Prize laureate Mario Vargas –”

    Shaymon, can you write something like the Feast of a peacock?

    “The new President in his address to the nation from the Paththirippuwa in Kandy demonstrated a great deal of prescience when he said that what Sri Lanka needs is not a king but a genuinely humane leader.”

    Yes, but the criminals who committed under MaRas watch and protection need to face the rule of law .

    Pothe Gura, The Common Sense Pamphlet Sri Lanka 2015?

  • 1

    Yes – wake up call to the nation. If the change did not take place on the 8th, the process of corruption would have accelerated in a mathematical progression. You can realise from the daily revealations of various corruptions, discovery of arms, liquor, hidden vehicles etc, etc, speaks for itself. Detection of jewellery, large sums of money found in Temple Trees after the departure of MR and family further adds to the degree of corruption.

    This is a serious wake up call may be through divine intervention. One can imagine what would have
    happened in this country had MR returned to power by hook or crook and what would have been left for the people of this country.

    No way the President can show kindness to his earlier colleagues and let them escape. He has to take corrective action and punish all those found guilty. The punishments should ensure recovery of all stolen wealth of the state and confiscate all of their other personal assets including their immediate family, and jail term and/or deprive them of their civic rights for atleast 10 years.

    These punishments should be a lesson to all other present day and future politicians and officials.

  • 3

    Shyamon Jayasinghe,
    Those cut-outs of Rajapaksa were for election purposes- what better way to inform the masses who have no time for watching television or social media, or even go to political rallies. That is quite different from the monuments Trujillo set up for himself. Dominican Republic was a newly developed republic of many immigrants, most from a slave-labor background, and under the auspices of the United States. Also Trujillo reign was that a different time period where new countries were in the formation and many went the way of the Dominican Republic as they didn’t know any better.

    Sri Lanka’s ancient heritage, long history, and pride of people make it quite a totally different scenario to Dominican Republic. Our impetus is upon staying true to Heritage and Tradition even in the face of any minority attempting to belittle, harass and attempting to enslave Sri Lankan masses towards Westernized lifestlyes.

    You say, “Ordinary Sri Lankans living in rural areas and numerous unsophisticated ones in urban areas are still medieval in outlook. The culture of feudalism still sways over our island.” The truth is that those people are intelligent enough to stay true to their heritage. They know they can never come up to the status of the rest of the population who dabble in Western systems and demand Western style returns for their lifestyles. They also know that if they do manage to come up to that Western system, their identity and pride would have all gone, and they would be subject to minority precedence over them.
    Rajapakas had a good take on all of this, for while they seemed to be overdeveloping their infrastructure with China, they did so with a view to preserve the heartland heritage and country identity.

    As per America, their whole system is skewed around profit making. Even if they try to live up to the modern call for environmental and cultural understanding and friendliness, it is for themselves, that they are attempting to strive for and aspire to such noble calls, towards this advanced system that they never had. Other small countries are mere chattels for them. While we must also mingle with the West for the sake of not upsetting the global financial structure by moving too much with China, it is still in our interests to tread warily with the American system.

  • 1


    Pls do not waste your time. They are lined up at Hambantota Habour,
    ready for shipment as used vehicles to various countries dealing
    with selling of used vehicles. Over to the new minister Mr. Arujuna
    Ranathunge, and he being an ex cricketer, he should be able to ‘Catch”
    the culprits with his able security team.

  • 1

    This is really funny.

    “Rajapaksa would have received a volley of Thousand Bullets to his head,if he continued his full term” ..says this anti Buddhist Sinhala ex member of the Colombo Elite.

    75 % of the Sinhala inhabitant population voted against the UNP,TNA, JHU Champaka, and SLMC .

    That is just under 6 Million adults with universal franchise.

    Add their close and extended families, and it would be a sizable segment.

    And no Bullets would have come from them..

    So obviously , it has to be the other side .. Right.

    But then, they would have done it already if they had the opportunity..

    Even now, if Mythree didn’t have JHU with him…

  • 0

    “My belief is that Mahinda must be thankful for having been toppled because, otherwise, he may have become a Trujillo and eventually received a spray of bullets into his head as the former did. Likewise, Sri Lankans are lucky to have been spared a Trujillo for the longer haul with the possibility of feeble-minded successors following him.”
    It is no surprise that the writer is amnesic about what the Tamils have undergone. Tamils paid a very hefty price for democracy and good governance to prevail in Sri Lanka for a very long time. The majority only woke up after they were in the receiving end in the past few years. Please acknowledge 70 000 deaths, equal number of unaccounted disappearances, constant aerial bombardment, starvation, inaccessibility to medical aid, living under military boots for more than 30 years are all indicative of human misery.

    • 2

      Dear Daya Thevi,

      Ax much as I agree with you , I also have to disagree,

      You say 70,000 death and equal number unaccounted disappearance, now this is a exaggerated number , and these are the kind of misleading statement’s that dialutes the truth just for the sake of extra political mileage and sympathy

      We all know the criminal gang LTTE had to contained , that’s exactly what the government of the day did, yes some things wrong took place and needs to be corrected in some shape or form , if need be at least after a neutral inquiry they need to be compensated and apologized for the innocent victims

      I lost many friends and family due to LTTE crimes but I’m not going to hold that against all the Tamils , ( I’m muslim from east ) it’s time to put the past behind us , move forward

      Let’s make our mother land a decent place for our future generations to come , let’s work together as
      One people
      One race
      Many faith
      One United country

  • 2

    Great to see that Sri Lanka has swerved away from some form of dictatorship. When a majority of Sinhalese people eventually accept the crimes carried out by senior elements of the SLA on the Tamil civilian population then we will really be on the way back to the peaceful democracy Sri Lanka once was. Maybe the new president could start by cancelling the annual so called Victory Parade by the SLA. Forget the Rajapakse mantra about The War on Terror , Sri Lanka had what the rest of the world calls a Civil War. Nobody but nobody has a victory parade celebrating the defeat of their fellow citizens , the more so regarding the war crimes commited.
    Sri Lankans are now beginning to accept the crimes carried out by the Rajapakse regime , are they prepared to go that step further and bring to justice those that carried out even more henious crimes against the Tamil civilian population.

  • 1


    I agree, most of our compatriots are medieval in our voting outlook. Though our Radalayas are gone a new breed of Radalayas replaced them via the ballot box and we pay obiesance in the most ingratiate ways one can deplorably imagine.

    The huge cut-outs of MARA are reminiscent of not only Truillo but Saddam Hussein, Mao, Marcos and Hosni Mubarak and heaps of others.

    Pinochet came to power through a coup to wreak havoc among his countrymen. Rajapaksa took power through the ballot box to wreak havoc among his countrymen. Indeed a truly unsophisticated and easily manipulable voting lot we are.

    I truly wonder if this somewhat amazing reprieve we have had will go on to make our country a truly long term egalitarian democracy, free from racism and the hegemony of monks, priests, soothsayers and astrologers. I truly wonder.

  • 1

    One way of ensuring the country does not face the enormous misfortune we were spared with, is to identify all major aberrations and conspiracies in the past ten years. All those behind these – blue, green, red or other – must be brought to book. The country must be transparently kept informed of the dark deeds and the process of justice that is at work. Naturally, Rajapakse stooges like Malinda S are trying to confuse issues by raising questions why this should not be extended to 1994. The matter will be further diluted by the long-jumpers from the previous regime trying to cross over to the ranks of the MS regime to save their body and sould. Kudu Mervin is the first to announce he is ready to cut necks of his former colleagues and fellow-looters. The answer is institutionalised and familial venality almost as State policy is of recent origin and must be energetically tackled. The stolen loot should be confiscated under public scrutiny. The assistance of foreign banks and friendly governments should be approached to unearth the stolen funds. If a whole bunch of major crooks – irrespective whether they held high or lesser office during the period – are punished to the full extent of the law this will go a long way to act as deterrence to future “enterprenauers” of State robbery.


  • 1

    i wonder if we could sell these cutouts back to the Rajapaksa family and use the money for infrastructure in sri lanka.

  • 0

    The key issue not only 1978 Republic Constitution of Sri Lankan, that an introduce by JRJ-UNP.

    The constitution behind political power and democracy want serve for Neo-Liberal and Neo-colonial pattern of Economy-Political-Social order to link with US led hegemony of OLD WORLD ORDER.

    Indeed that political class of UNP is key represtaitaive of Foreign led bourgeoisie, is the local agent play role on behalf of the vital interest outside power games, in that manipulated by politically in Sri lanka.

    UNP has denied national bourgeois policies of model of capitalist development ,its always depend politically and economically purely the power of West.

    Depend political class (UNP) has no way to develop free market capitalism combine with sustainability, of its norms and values of emerging our democracies political cultures in specific condition suited to an Island structure of Governances of sri Lankan democracy. We share values of democracies are more positive side of West oriented democrats since 1931 even before Independent 1948.

    Sad story is that why 17 years rule of UNP governance unable to delivered principal line of democratic politics 30 after independence. The UNP has encourage gun rule politics even after an introduce 1978 Republic Constitution over 17 years rule by hook or crook by ballots.
    That was result of started MIS- management of democracy, peaceful country until l977 which turn into WAR FOOTING POLITICS THAT HAD BEEN PENERATED INTO DEMOCRATIC CULTURE of POLITICS since 1977 to 1994.

    I have believed there is certain positive side 1978 Republic Constitution ,like example which Executive Presidency people of whole country having right elected their President is the key part of democracies.

    Indeed the Limitation of power of President can be negotiable, elimination certain powers can be accepted by democracies consensuses and deliberations by wish of majority voice.

    There are allegation that PEOPLE BECOME VOICELESS IN OLD WORLD POLITICAL DEMOCRATIC ORDER by right thinking people and moderated majority section of Elites in Sri Lankan and outside.
    I am not belongs to elites, but my rural base forced me seek more voice of people its democracies for revisited.

    The ensuing years of raising of democracies awareness about has wide spread in Sri lanka, that we want sharpen outline democracies after defeated LTTE Ruthless Tamil Terrorism end of war 2009 May.

    The party of UNP blind of emerging world that peaceful rise of new nations, its’ mindset relying of preconceived dogmas by letting ignore evidences ongoing about emerging world by UNP leadership.

    There is a clear consensus that future demand by Sri lankan now rising will extremely different from anything ,that we have ever known in the political and economic structure in past. The differences not only kind of governance of democrats but kind of life style in new innovation of good governance by ruling parties in power.

    People of Sri lankn has been that wake up for better and prospers nation for New world order.

  • 1

    Sri Lanka just narrowly escaped a one man one family one sided yes men rule that was to come for a very very longtime like in Libiya,Egypt,Iraq,Syria,Singapore,Korea,Chile,Cuba,Haiti!Albania,all of Africa

    Imagine MR in just four years ( 2005 to 2010 was just fine ) turned to be such a powerful power hungry human being surrounded by equally or even more power hungry and greedy family members and a bunch of yes men ever ready to rubber stamp anything and everything at MR’s and any of his family members request , be given another six years plus a balance two from current period making it eight years , the whole constitution would have been rubber stamped to a family rule

    We just had a narrow escape, almost everyone who was part of this rubber stamp group should be kicked off a prosecuted for their crimes including the ones who have just joined MS after the election to save their positions and continue their ” yes men ” as long as their skin is protected

    MS should hand over the a SLFP to CBK and let her clean all these people out of politics by making an agreement with UNP also not to take them …………only then our country will have at least a majority of fresh and clean lawmakers protecting our future generations freedom,peace and cultural well being

    God bless Sri Lanka

    • 2

      What nonsense you are talking, Asking Sira to hand over SLFP leadership to that Pachamalla CBK. I would like you to read Victor Ivan’s CHAURARAGINA before you wright this kind of comment. We never want to see such a person as a leader of SLFP. She is the only Sri Lankan leader who were convicted by supreme court and fine for 2 million Rs (for waters edge case) and she was the person who stole 9 Bn Rs from katunayake-colombo Hwy(By the aid of hes friend Roni Pieris). Don’t write this kind of crap again that will effect for existence of Sri Lanka.

  • 2

    What a baseless crap you have written here. How do you compare Mahinda Rajapaksa to a dictator like Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. I don’t believe that you have live in Sri Lanka long enough and good understand about Culture and Political Culture. Don’t forget that Sri Lanka has 70% of Buddhist and they are not going to accept anybody like Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. Don’t forget this is the biggest mistake what those so call Marxist (JVP and other leftists) made. Did Sri Lankan accept their politics at least 5% of the population. Answer is NO. Because people know that if they form a government that is the end of the democracy. that’s why JVP members are still doing their politics in Universities using immature young generation (They are trying to practice a theory introduce by Carl Marcs specially for the countries they had feudalism (even Marcs had said that theory is not valid to Asian culture and economy) . Any way I totally disagree with your argument and you have no right to compare a National Leader who obtain 47% of popular vote in democratic election to ruthless dictator like Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. I request you to go to Sri Lanka and stay there at least 2-3 years with rural people and learn about their culture before you write a story about Sri Lankan politics. Do not get information from Facebook rats, foreign visitors, internet and NGO crows to write an article. To My experience and knowledge Mahinda Rajapaksa is the only patriotic leader produce by Sri Lanka after independency, he is real Sri Lankan and always think like Sri Lankan. All other leaders were looks like Sri Lankan but they think like WESTERNERS.

  • 1

    Talking of the Bahubootha Vyavasthawa, I have heard that the grand son of JR once told MR that you are the only one who took the maximum advantage his grandfather’s constitution.

    According to the Shyam’s comments it is seen that he lives outside the country, possibly a country with a western based culture. If so, he should be a witness that the methods of governance and on matters concerning individuals has nothing to do with personalities in power.

    A post-mortem of Rajapakse collapse would serve a lesson to us all but the more important aspect is the establishment of a regime that has good governance in which merit has the pride of place and personalities in authority has hardly anything to do in day to day governance.

    Shyam, being a top bureaucrat of the yester-year would be surprised to hear that as at 2015-01-19, (after 10 days of the collapse of the previous regime) these people are unable to assign all the subjects and functions of all ministries of the previous government into 25 ministries. The result is that important subjects like Agriculture, Posts, Telecommunications, sports etc have been left out on their own without a ministry or without joining into any other ministry. Public servants there are worried as to whether their monthly salaries would be paid on time.

  • 0

    These are teething problems, ‘Good Governance.’ The transformation from a mad reign to a sensible and rational one needs time and space.

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