25 May, 2022


The Rajapaksa Regime Is Boxed-In

By Kumar David

Prof Kumar David

Democracy must strategize its counterattack; The Rajapakse Regime is boxed-in

The theme of this essay is the need for a multisided and flexible long-term approach that is free from narrow isms and prejudices in countering the threat to the rule of law, decency and democracy posed by the Rajapakse Regime (RR). The essay distances itself from three categories of people, all good anti-RR folk, but I think tactically, strategically of psychologically a bit on the wrong track; the talk-&-write only verbal champions of democracy, the ultra-left radicals who proclaim that veedi satang (mass uprisings on the street) should be the exclusive focus, and thirdly the dispirited and pessimistic. I recognise allies and potential allies among all these folks in resisting autocracy; but I also believe that sharing views on strategy and attitude will be beneficial.

It is not that I do not subscribe to an ism; I do. People who do me the honour of glancing at my column know I am an unrepentant Marxist. However, the first two lessons this ism inculcates is: (i) an all sided viewpoint (what else is historical materialism?), and (ii) goal oriented flexibility in alliances, slogans and activities (what else in Leninism?). I know most anti-RR folk agree with this but the difficulty is in identifying and prioritising the types of activity – the concrete in practise – which it is most appropriate at each point in time. I will make two suggestions before when closing this piece. But I welcome refinements and alternatives with the condition that they be specific (not hot-air generalities like “revolutionary uprising of the proletariat” at one end, or vacuous hopes of “engaging with President and government” at the other), and they must be doable now.

“Hit the bugger on all sides”

I was rather a sickly kid in my first six years and my mother would take me (in a rickshaw) to the family doctor Dr Sivapragasam who had a clinic on Galle Road, Wellawatte, near about Vihara Lane, if I recall correctly. In those days I was an incubator of throat infections, colds, streptococci, coughs and bronchitis. Dear Dr S had one all-round Leninist strategy that worked like magic; “Hit the bugger on all sides”. Immediate gargling, rest and keeping warm, nourishment, cough mixture and analgesics; that was his multipronged offensive. In later life I supplemented this with a whisky-sour, hot water and a teaspoon of honey. No throat virus can withstand this combined onslaught.

Not all those committed to anti-RR work and who see themselves as revolutionaries, perceive the multidimensionality of the task. Even their intervention in debates and writings has a ring more rhetorical and declamatory than patient, persuasive and practical. Some do not grasp on-the-ground Leninism (despite verbal allegiance to the master) at all, or the indisputable urgency of intervention in all forums, not only veedi satang. For example, they scorn enlisting international pressure against Rajapakse’s excesses; maybe they have not heard of Lenin’s transit through Germany to Petrograd in April 1917, in a sealed train with the compliments of the Kaiser and will be horrified to learn that he endorsed: “The organisation of a workers’ militia to be paid for by the capitalists as a measure of tremendous and decisive importance” (The Proletarian Militia; 1920).

Some purer-than-Marx revolutionaries stoutly object to taking cognisance of the bourgeoisie and the city elite, as though such association would deface their middle-class (sic!) proletarian purity. The on-the-ground reality is that RR is a threat to the upper classes since Klepto-Nepotistic Autocracy endangers their freedoms and despoils their economic ambitions. Yes, Marxists and the bourgeoisie cannot remain together in bed, in perpetuity, in the hope of begetting world socialism. But does this mean they should promptly cut each other’s throats instead of disembowelling the common enemy? It was the guru himself who called such Left-wing Communism an Infantile Disorder.

My point is not that everybody is equipped to work in all forums; each is better cut out for some tasks. I only ask that the broadness of the struggle be acknowledged and a cooperative state of mind be established. Frontline Socialists and the JVP will remain barren among Tamils till they get a rudimentary grip on the national question, but there is much they can achieve among the Sinhala petty-bourgeoisie; Friday Forum etc. had better steer clear of trade unions and the aforesaid petty-bourgeoisie and focus on expunging the short-sightedness of the international community; the Marx School is for training a future generation to replace the cranial vacuum in the Dead Left; the best thing the TNA can do is rebuild the self-confidence of the Tamil people; the UNP needs to get its underpants adjusted if it wants to be more than the butt end of perennial jesting. Sometimes march on your own, sometimes together, but always towards one shared objective – The Rajapakses must go!

Rajapakses on the run

I feel a new sense of self-confidence in recent months. I did say from August 2012 onwards that the slide in Rajapakse fortunes had commenced but did not anticipate that the avalanche would be so rapid. The Chief Justice affair was Rajapakse’s hara-kiri, self-immolation and self-inflicted evisceration. True, the siblings are shrewd, cunning and masters of undercutting, but even they are prone to fatal, yes fatal, mistakes. The damage they have done themselves is immeasurable. As the economy slips, if the Mohan Peries affair refuses to go away, if they lose the Commonwealth Heads Conference, if they get hammered in Geneva, if Delhi, notwithstanding Manmohan Sing’s legendary pusillanimity, tightens the screws, then this government will fall sooner than expected. OK this is a longish wish list and a best case scenario, but some of this will happen.

In the last few weeks RR has made one hell of a cock-up has it not? True, the ascent of the executive over a submissive judiciary is evidenced by the substance and style of the judgement on case against the pseudo-CJ; but it is unrealistic to expect obedient judges to sprout a spine in the absence of mass mobilisation. However, all this is having repercussions in Geneva and the Commonwealth. The revocation, ten days ago, of visas issued to the International Bar Association to visit Lanka for discussions with local counterparts is evidence enough that RR is in a funk and experiencing unplanned bowel movements.

The assertion that the international community (IC) has a vital role to play and can be decisive in preventing Mahinda Rajapake from becoming another Bashar al-Assad is indisputable. True I have often expressed exasperation with the IC, but that’s in recognition of its potential.

One practical act is worth ten thousand words

The opposition must target activities that will have the most productive outcomes and are doable. Little drops of water, little grains of sand, assiduously undertaken make a mighty avalanche. In conversation as well as in web comments I often encounter the “What can we do” wail of impotency. How very wrong; if only one thinks about it, there is a great deal every one can do. Let me suggest just two leaving it to others to add to the list.

The regime’s glaring uses and abuses the state machine to execute its deranged, despotic designs is palpable. But most public servants, corporation employees, legal and judicial personnel, police and military are all ordinary decent folks like you and I. They must be fed-up with executing illegal instructions, lying to the media and functioning as RR’s coolies. Hence, friends, colleagues and acquaintances, mothers and wives, and brothers and sisters, must target public servants without respite in an unrelenting Jehovah’s Witnesses type campaign denouncing unlawful pressures.

No one wants good public servants to lose their jobs and leave the field to crooks; but remember, right understanding is the forerunner to right action. The time will come when the good will face choices. What the political opposition is obliged to do is to instil an appreciation of good governance and an understanding of the moral obligation to oppose unlawful actions of government. Raising the consciousness of public servants and the services is a foundation and a priority. I can say no more in print or web; readers must fill in the blanks.

My second suggestion is more important. Unremitting work is needed in the Sinhala reading and speaking classes who do not access the wide range of current affairs material available in the English web and print media. The Sinhala media moguls treat their dayakayas like mushrooms: ‘Keep ‘em in the dark and feed ‘em shit!’ I am aware of a few efforts to fight back already in hand; a scheme has been initiated where 20 to 30 pieces a month currently unavailable to Sinhala readers are translated and circulated by e-mail on a big list; Ravaya embodies bold and independent journalism; and of course the JVP is out on a audacious campaign. Still not enough; the laggard is the UNP. Professional groups like lawyers and FUTA, and NGOs like CPA, though making a commendable contribution, are not equipped to penetrate the Sinhala community en mass. If the joint opposition can together develop a programme to address this deficiency, that would be great.

Time to sign-off; I need to engage in a few small practical acts; remember each is worth 10,000 words!

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Latest comments

  • 0

    Tyrants cannot keep fire fighting. People should act, write and speak. Keep targetting the tyrants in every sphere. Spread their resources fighting on as many fronts as possible. The battlegrounds should be every conceivable space – the court house, the media, the street, international fora, facebook, heck even private dinner parties.

  • 0

    Regime is getting boxed in and masses are begining to feel the pain. People committing suicide. Children stealing coconuts. Limbs getting amputated. Exams being fixed.
    Cracks are now appearing within the govt. Criminals are getting exposed. Crooks getting exposed. Rapist getting exposed. Lamborghini and Rolls Royce getting exposed.
    JHU is falling from favour. BBS getting into the spotlight.
    MP being challenged in the courts etc. Geneva and CMAG on the horizon.

    Not a pretty sight.

  • 0

    Ha, Ha, Ha,

    This David is really pinching the toes of the Rjapakse Goliath!

    Living inthe dreamland must be such bless?

  • 0

    Democracy must strategize its counterattack……What democracy are we talking about?

    UNP’s JRJ or Premadasa style? JVP’s chit style? TNA’s racist style? Fonseka’s military style? or a combined achcharu style?

  • 0

    The UNP, JVP, Pratugamis, TNA, DNUF, SF fraction, Bahu and co, rump LTTE like Sumanthiran, Shirani B and her conspirators in the so-called IC, black coated sharks and their NGOs parasites like CPA, FUTA and leftist like this professori, Sobitha and co, etc and etc tried their best to bring about an Arab Springs here. But they have failed miserably. why?

    Only Lal Kantha is honest enough to understand it and ask or tell people recently through the Hiru TV that he is baffled why people tolerate all this hardship and do not come to street to protest against Rajapakse.

    I’ll tell them why: Public at large are intelligent enough to realise that each one of those groups has their own separate goals. So long as they achieve their goals they couldn’t care less Sri Lanka become an Egypt, Libya or Syria. People know only Rajapaksa could keep this country together and at peace. That’s what people want.

  • 0

    I dont know about the RR being ‘BOXED IN, but didnt you get a similar feeling when you saw your Island column today?
    After reading (in my hard copy of the paper) “‘The organisation of a workers’ militia to be paid for by the capitalists as a measure of tremendous and decisive importance'(The Proletarian Militia; 1920).”
    I was irritated, then somewhat bemused to be referred, for the rest of your article, to a page in the BUSINESS supplement! Is this the first time ‘they’ have done that to you, Kumar? or is it a sign of things to come? Anyway the Sunday papers find less and less space for actual reading matter, and the first bit of your article has just about been accommodated on less than half a page, almost invisibilised by the agenda setting which foregrounds the ads as usual. And the next 2 pages are given over to education sales, mainly by US and Australian agencies. Thank goodness for CT which gives us what we need to read without the bumph.

  • 0

    Re your: ‘Unremitting work is needed…Sinhala reading and speaking classes…current affairs material available in the English web…’. I am sure I am one of many who, from my limited knowledge, think this vital. And I would suggest that some concerned bi-lingual expat Sri Lankans, who MAY be subject to less harrassment, etc, in their daily lives, take on this task. Some of them retired in western climes on comforting pensions, may well be ready to help out here. I have seen several contribute article to CT, some urging people here to do this and that. Well, over to you, my friends!

  • 0

    Yes, Rajapakses brought their own waterloo by impeaching CJ Shirani Bandaranayke,

    The only remedy is to bring her back or face further UN, IMF, WB. EU and CW sanctions.

    Rajapakses Hambanthota Comedy Politics cannot make fools of International Community, either through Bribes…..in similar given to opposition MP’s to cross or through White van abductions.

    Our country got ruined from the day Bandaranaikes formed a new Socialist party. While SWRD created a communal war, Sirima Bandaranaike created a economic catestrophe by nationalising our tea, rubber and coconut industry.While limiting 50 acres to a family and took over the rest of the farming lands and private businesses under government through nationalising them that paved way to ruined all our agriculture, industry and other businesses.

    It was Lee Quan You who came to Sri Lanka in 1960’s saw our Private based economy and wanted to make Singapore….a Sri Lanka…..But after Both Crezy selfish Bandaranaike’s who ruined our country have now made it another Somalia…..while Singapore without any natural resources is made a mini USA in Asia. All other 80 odd countries that Britian rulled are doing well except Sri Lanka…..because out Racist Sinhala Big head marauders…who don’t know a damn of Good Governing….except stealing others property and businesses through fraudulent constitution amendments.

    [Edited out]

    When Sirima chased British Sterling Tea Companies, they went to Kenya, Ethieopia,and establish Tea and Coffee factories there. Now both Kenya and Ethieopia are world’s number one Tea and Coffee producers.

    Socialism is another word for Gang Rape of country by Parfliament nominated bulls of thieves who rob country’s wealth without working for it. Only Private sector is working hard and are more organise in their work while work for their money.

    Now after opening their economy to world, China has more than 300 enterpeanurel Billioneers….and they are increasing every day. Citizen are happy to work in Private sector than public.

    It was USA and Europe who helped China to be who they are today….while our donkeys keep bashing West and Imperialiasts every day.
    Make your own PINS and push bicycles here in Sri Lanka before bashing the west.

    Public sector is for Govt.Pin Padi Goons, including Sri Lanka’s supreme Parliament….while loosing Billions of rupees from every corporations they run while charging highest rates out of whole South East Asia from it’s consumers.

    It is only private sector that pay taxes to the Govt. and contribute to it’s economic development.

    Supreme Parliament is the Biggest Thieves den in the country….and President is the great Alibaba.

    Socialism has no place in our Born Thief Sinhala administered country.


    Think outside the box….and the best possible way to govern the country….while using peoples born talents……Not the 85Billion rupee “Eta Paha Packet” expired “Five seed” packets given to Divinesuma receipients.

  • 0

    The Regime will go on and on – nothing will stop the MR Bros. for the
    simple reason that Myammar and Zimbabwe could continue to exist with all
    the UN,EU, CW,IMF WB etc. activities, WHY NOT Rajapaksha?

    With Leela aka Villager (Leelaratne) will be the only English reader/
    commentator to support this opinion?

  • 0

    this is the Usual Colombo Punditry. Kumar david’s throat infection has gone to his head and having deliriums. The President Mahinda Rajapakse is not boxed in. He is popular and loved by the people that matter .

    • 0

      Charles- you said it all
      “He is popular and loved by the people that matter”
      People that matter indeed.
      Stay in France please Charles

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