20 January, 2019

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The Vote, The Verdict & The TNA ‘Backstop’: Beyond ’56

By Dayan Jayatilleka – 

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

“Leader of PLOT and TNA MP D. Dharmalingam …stated that he believes that Ranil Wickremesinghe has handed in a written assurance of several promises. …The promises are said to include agreements on constitutional amendments, freedom for political prisoners, land issue and several other matters. The MP noted that discussions were also held on International courts in line with the UN resolutions. He reiterated that he believes that Ranil Wickremesinghe has handed in this written assurance.” (News First, Dec 12, 2018)

The Westminster model is looking awkward at Westminster. The Prime Minister does not seem to enjoy the confidence of the House but is not going for a vote of confidence. Indeed she has postponed without further notice, a major vote on Brexit at the end of a five day debate. Meanwhile the Scottish National Party has assured Labour of its support but Labour is not keen to assume office other than through an election.

There is of course the vexed question of Northern Ireland, which provides an excellent reason as to why Sri Lanka should move beyond the 13th amendment in the direction of substantially greater autonomy, as is reported (in the Lankadeepa) to have been pledged on November 29th at 4:30pm at Temple Trees in a discussion between the TNA and the ex-Prime minister, Mr. Wickremesinghe. There is a possibility of the border between Northern Ireland and ‘mainland’ Britain becoming a “hard border” and therefore the need has arisen for support for any Brexit arrangement from Northern Ireland, amounting to a veto. This is the famous Northern Ireland “backstop”.

Similarly, any further devolution in Sri Lanka and the Northern and Eastern provinces will have a right of veto over any legislation passed in Parliament and may even have a hammerlock on Parliament itself. If the veto is ignored, the inter-provincial border may become a “hard border” within our island, and may be followed by a Referendum for Independence as in Catalonia.

This is what makes the next few days so important for the fate of Sri Lanka. If a Ranil Wickremesinghe-led UNF is backstopped by the TNA, and if the Court rules that the dissolution was unconstitutional, then what are the scenarios that unfold? If on the other hand, a Wickremesinghe-led UNF is backstopped by the TNA but the Supreme Court rules that dissolution is permissible, what alternative scenario emerges into view?

The UNF backstopped i.e. propped up by the TNA, will be perceived by the electorate as exactly what it is: a UNP-TNA government. Driven by its own arrogant dogmatism, such a government will move fast on three tracks: neoliberal economics/foreignization of strategic assets, Constitutional change as promised the TNA and JVP, and the implementation of the Geneva resolution. Any of the three policy trajectories, in and of itself would be polarizing, unpopular, and inflammable. Any combination of any two would be highly toxic. A blend of all three would be explosive. The resultant social discontent would be exacerbated by the heightened perception of a minoritarian, foreign-backed, elitist administration. A Ranil-TNA axis is just the kind of government the majority would love to hate—it would be a 1956 “clash of civilizations” on steroids!

Any serious Constitutional change and a Referendum would be unavoidable. In today’s world, no neoliberal government would win a Referendum. A defeat at a Referendum would have a snowball effect on the immovably fixed Presidential election this time next year. The effect would not only be one of snowballing. An effort at a federalizing Constitution, de jure or de facto, would have a radicalizing effect on the Presidential election—a radicalization that would not depend any more, on the choice of the candidate, but would suffuse the mass mood, drive the campaign and dictate the candidate.

If the Court decision goes against the dissolution, it would be widely perceived as a deprivation of the democratic right to vote at a moment of grave crisis, and thereby the silencing of the voice of the majority of the citizenry. If the majority feels voiceless at a time when painful neoliberal economic shock therapy is administered and infuriating Constitutional reforms are attempted by a minoritarian elitist government, catastrophe becomes predictable.

As a recent survey showed, only 18% of Sri Lanka is urban while 82 % is rural. The majority of the citizenry living in the heartland must never lose its faith that the institutions serve the nation’s interests rather than those of a microscopic social minority. Already the chatter is of interlocking directorates as it were; of interfacing social networks of unrepresentative, indeed vaguely “alien” social elites, having entered a compact against the interests and aspirations of the majority.

This perception is the stuff of Populism everywhere, be it nationalist or not, and in any case, populism is usually nationalist though nationalism is not always populist. Populism is the ideology that projects a socially unrepresentative minority, the elite, against the socially unrepresented majority. Insofar as the socially unrepresentative elite –“the Few”– dominates economics and the institutions, the System is seen as inherently, structurally, undemocratic. The dominant social compact between elites is usually supported by foreigners or ‘neoliberal globalists’. Therefore it is seen as anti-national, even alien. The struggle for democracy is therefore linked with the struggle for sovereignty, and the latter is identified with the majority of the citizenry—“the many”.  And the Many, the Multitude, The People, are The Nation (the “people-nation” as Gramsci had it or the “nation-class” as Amilcar Cabral termed it). By contrast, the elite, the few, are the anti-nation. In Sri Lanka, the majority perceives itself as an oppressed nation, a “proletarian nation”.

Only the Supreme Court can put the brakes on this ongoing process of mass perception and healthily transform it, by unfreezing the democratic mechanism of elections and channeling polarization into the safe mainstream.

If on the other hand, events go in another direction, the widening and deepening perception of “us” vs. “them” will take root—with “Them” being seen as in 1956 as a decadent elite. What is different is that unlike in 1956, the whole game, the whole System, will be seen as rigged in favour of the “alien/minoritarian elite”.

This would mean, at its least drastic, a massive defeat for the neoliberals at a Referendum on the Constitution. Far more significant would be the inevitable Presidential election in exactly a year’s time, i.e. this time next year, 2019 (not 2020). That will not be won by a neoliberal, and any UNF-TNA administration that lasts till 2020 will have to face parliamentary elections under such an adversarial Presidency. Still more importantly, a delayed and deferred (by the Supreme Court) majoritarian outpouring against the “alien”, “ culturally decadent” neoliberal urban elite which elects a winner at the Presidential election will be driven as SWRD Bandaranaike was in 1956, to implement an agenda that changes the rule of the game. It may well go beyond 1956, to change the dice that are seen to be loaded in favour of “alien minorities”, plug the institutional loopholes (gouging out the Commissions packed with NGO/‘civil society’ types), and change the very model of the Sri Lankan State (after a victory at the 2020 parliamentary elections) to that of centripetal and centralized, unambiguously vertical power along Eurasian or East Asian/Far Eastern lines.

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Latest comments

  • 11
    2

    Continuation of my earlier post:

    Second, in the title for your article you say: “…The TNA ‘Backstop’”. Why use the term ‘backstop’ here when you could have simply said “… TNA support”? Your article was confusing to first talk about the Brexit backstop and then to go on and talk about the TNA backstop as if the two situations have some relevance or equivalence when they clearly don’t. I suspect you were simply being foolish in trying to impress the readers with the misuse of the word backstop.
    ~~~
    God, please give me strength so that I can understand what Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka is trying to say to us!

    • 3
      1

      Kumar Paran,
      .
      The rabble rousing pariah of political strategy is showing his best and most desperate of acts – the ultimate weapon of fear mongering to get a block vote, same as what started in 1957!.
      .
      MR and MS unquestionably offered much more than anything that Ranil would have agreed to. It is just that, justifiably, TNA felt a “bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.” They knew MR/MS cannot be trusted and decided to go with Ranil, based not on the seeming magnanimity of the offer but rather on the relative trust worthiness!
      .
      The fundamental issue is that governance has become far, far too lucrative. If MR/MS were negotiating in the region of Rs 5,000,000 per cross-over, obviously they are convinced if elected to power they could not just recoup all that but in fact have plans to multiply that five, ten folds. Remember Mr. 10%? That will only bloat the second time!!
      .
      The need of the hour is for the marjority to take very stern and active initiative to enforce much greater public oversight on politicians and governance going forward so as to ground the otherwise potentially sky-high rewards and kick-backs the politicians, especially the leaders, have become increasingly accustomed to.
      .
      As the old saying goes “ there is no education in the second kick by a donkey”! If you guys didn’t learn after the first round of Rajapakse governance – good luck!

    • 1
      0

      Trying show off is linguistic skills. I wonder if his Ph.d thesis written the same way ! :P

    • 0
      0

      Instead of praying to god for strength to understand Dayan. You have to stop clicking on his articles. I don’t understand people who read Dayan’s articles. Don”t read or click on it.

      Articles penned by Dayan = Absolute waste of time. hope this formula helps

  • 12
    2

    ha ha Dayan has learnt a new word “backstop” form the UK BREXIT.
    now he wants to apply it to Sri Lanka politics and sound intellectual
    what a moron

    • 2
      1

      Fortunately, so far, DJ hasn’t confused backstop with backplug, another term common in certain circles.

      • 1
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        Sorry. That should have read Butt Plug, a hot seller I am told in sex shops.

    • 3
      0

      Rajash

      As things stand, the Brexit backstop is a provision within a legally binding ‘Agreement’ between the EU and the UK, subject to ratification. On the other hand, any support from TNA to UNF would be a non-legally binding ‘Arrangement’. The key distinction between the two situations is one is legally binding and the other non-legally binding. So, for Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka to use of the word backstop in the same article for two differing situations as if they had some commonality was misleading.

      • 1
        0

        Kumar Paran – absolutely….. cant agree with you more

  • 4
    2

    another $1 million in Dayan’s bank account

  • 5
    2

    Dr DJ. “Leader of PLOT and TNA MP D. Dharmalingam …stated that he believes ….”

    Dyan you are becoming so pathetic.

  • 3
    1

    Dayan “There is of course the vexed question of Northern Ireland, “

    aiyo …..does My3 or Mahinda understand it?

    Dayan you dont get it do you?

    the message is just f off

  • 5
    1

    DJ should stay in Russia ( he can hug Putin tightly), and leave the SL people’s elected representatives to handle their own affairs as they deem fit.

  • 3
    1

    The whole thing is based on an assumption that there is a written?agreement between RW and TNA for a new constitution among other promises. We all know the likelihood of something like that being passed but this whole talk is designed to hoodwink Tamils who have lost trust with TNA that is sitting and dining with the sinhala establishment. There is a fake dichotomy being created with respect to Rajapakse and UNP – they are both one and the same, just different elites. Again can’t blame this man, he is doing his job.

  • 2
    1

    what makes you think the minority is elite?

    1. are the Christians in villages whose places of worship are attacked and forbidden, by so-called Buddhists given cover by a state officials in spite of constitutional and moral reasoning to the contrary – are they an elite minority?

    2. are the mothers and wives whos husbands are abducted with or without a ransom telephone call, never getting to say goodbye – just because they speak a different language and don’t have the money to move to Toronto – are they an elite minority?

    3. are businessmen and state officials trying to do their job according to conscience, faced with the choice of lying/bribing to to make a living under a regime whose values prioritise loyalty over integrity – is this being elitist?

    4. are the officials who try to investigate murderous abuses of power, keeping the wheels of justice rolling almost always at cost to themselves. is that elitist?

  • 2
    1

    One of the best characteristics of a journalist is to use simple language and calculated words for laymen.
    Dayan clearly failed here to be a journalist using technical jargons just to show off rather passing the opinion.
    Why Backstop, Brexit, Vexed Northern Ireland, Catalonia….

  • 2
    1

    The constitutional pundit not a single word about the constitutional coup. M&M Laundry Services operates from Russia. What a Shame

  • 0
    0

    Dear Dayan

    Thank you for the article. Since the constitutional coup took place I read a first artcle that describes the real issues facing the people of Sri Lanka be it with an example as to the real rational behind the constitutional coup too.

    Furthermore a very realistic comparison of the things that is taking place in our world that even in the UK we are now making sense of the EU ‘after the voting blunder’ to ‘leave’ by the so called referendum a democratic right exercised by the ill informed and igonorent masses. So much for the Brexitiers who left the scene unable to answer the fallout/unaccountable and the rest of us (specially the next generation) left to pick up the pieces? I know many British SL voted to leave shows you the duplicity? a deeply enshrined selfishness and insecurities encompassing all perhaps is directly related to SL blunder indeed……compare all our brave children who sacrificed their life thinking they are fighting for a cause? now the ‘right of return’ by the good governance goes unnoticed too?? Tells you all you need to know.

    You have indeed made another great comparison trying to convey the message of unity is crtical for the survival of the ‘non partisan majority’ the democracy suppose to address by redressing the injustices of the past colonial blunders enjoyed by ‘a very partisan minority’. The EU concept have indeed delivered justice to European problems reflected in the repeated wars resulted in destruction not just in the Europe but the rest of the world too ended up fighting?. The Cold War had the same consequences? current Indian Ocean Cold War our children died already does not teach anyone to rethink our path mystifies me?

    Disintegration in any form does not serve anyone in the long run is the message and the referendum may well be forced upon us too if we are gullible enough to make the Brexit mistake hence your article ask for caution in our journey. Thank you.

  • 4
    1

    Backstop!

    What happens when a child come acroos a new word. He repeats it a number of times until the child assimilates.

    When the child grows old this habit dies.
    Ddayan is still childish and he refuuses to grow.

    This is not the first time. Old habits die hard

    Remember neo liberalism,Smart, Patriot and repeatedly saying the he is a political scientist and quotations from a host of Marxist intellectuals,

    Just to feel like an intellectual…
    .
    This is manifestation of inferiority complex!

    Poor Dayan!

    • 2
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      Sri-Krish

      More words pivot, rebalancing, ……………

  • 3
    1

    Dayan, thou shall be christened again and named hereforth as: “ Nalin Gunadasa Amarasekaralage Mahinda Gnanasiri Pakaya- the greedy opportunist-! “ Man from
    Siberia

  • 2
    0

    Biased journalism is always a worthless read.

  • 5
    1

    This man Dayan has made himself the lowest of the low by twisting what happens in UK parliament to fake a parallel with illegal activities of his masters of the past and present. In UK parliament the MPs were given an opportunity to vote on the motion of Confidence on their Prime Minister but denied in Sri Lankan counter part by MPs who support Dayan’s ex-master, MR, which is the crux of the political crisis here.

    First Sri Lankans dont’t know that people live in North and south of Ireland are Irish. It ‘s not the Irish or British who want a hard boarder between these two parts of Ireland which, by the way is cut off geographically by sea from rest of Britain, it’s the European Union that insists on hard boarder between the two parts of Ireland for Britain to exit from the union.

    This man arouse the nationalists in the south who support the illegal back entry of Rajapakse family into power into some sort of communal backlash by making TNA as the reason for its possible failure to seize power. Not only Ranil Wickremasinghe who together with the present president promised or claimed to have signed by Tissa Attanayake during the last election that an understanding of finding a solution to the ethnic problem but many others who did and backtracked or tore away the agreements. We can easily recall B-C Pact, D-C Pact, Indo-Lanka Accord and so on but one of them ever honoured. Even in 13A no police or land powers was given to Provincial Councils. This man knows well that Sinhalese leaders including Ranil never kept their words or honoured their agreements. Even if Ranil wanted to keep his word it will have many hurdles in the form of 2/3 majority in parliament, which is impossible with 100 odd MPs with MR, general referendum and signature of the president.

    Why he talks about this impossible scenario ? He wants to punish TNA by making Tamils recurrent victims of any communal backlash for TNA’s support of the motion of Confidence on RW a PM..

  • 2
    0

    Dayan
    Your entire article collapses when one look at “Backstop” at Brexit context.

    The reference is between the border between Northern Ireland and Irish Republic. Irish Republic will remain in EU even after brexit, If there is no brexit agreement between UK and EU on this issue.

    The alternative is to have hard boarder between Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

    This means there will be customs and taxes.

    This is one of the disputes in the proposed brexit agreement negotiated between UK and EU.

    But unfortunately Dayan has no understanding of the brexit debate and thought hard border is between Northern Ireland and rest of UK.

    He made an analogy with the Northern Province and rest of Sri Lanka and with Eastern Province and rest of Sri Lanka and attempted to draw parallels and use it as an attempt to provoke Sinhalese community against Tamils.

    Please study brexit before making expert comments.Little learning is a dangerous thing

    Global perspective is not fear mongering. Please stick to Sri Lanka

  • 2
    0

    Look who is howling here???? OMG it is Dayan the scum

  • 1
    0

    What comes next after yesterday’s SC verdict?
    Dayan Jayatilleka has already started the campaign to blame TNA for all ‘this’. He will start on the ‘that, that…..and….that’ soon. His new job with SLPP?
    .
    In this article Dayan says ~ “Meanwhile the Scottish National Party has assured Labour of its support but Labour is not keen to assume office other than through an election”.
    SLPP is no British Labour and SLPP Chair GL P is no Corbyn.

  • 3
    0

    Under the soon to be new Foreign Miniser Mangala Samaraweera will Dayan be recalled? Your guess is good as mine.

  • 2
    0

    Dayan should read and re read all of Sarath De Alwis, Grusha Andrews, Dr Siri Gamage, Sharmini Serasinghe, Kasun Kamaladasa and Emil van Der Pooten articles. Then he will learn how to write well.

  • 3
    0

    Dayan the shit head, are you still howling ????? this time it must be a wounded cry. A fraud who distorts facts and keeps dishing lies to the public. You the pseudo patriot is a bigot and a racist, who is trying to incite violence. Your PhD is only worth for that. A shameless pathetic CREATURE.

  • 0
    0

    I think a fundamental rights petition is in order to prevent people from attacking opposing political views, gauranteed by the constitution is the right to an opinion.

    By the one sided argument against Dayan :

    A Centrist government is racist.

    A Tamil National Alliance is ok but not a Sinhala National anything

    Any alternative to proceeding to devolve by changing the constitutional is racist.

    Intelligent people will realize that just like the Sinhala people, Tamil people also take pride in their race and want to further its interests to the maximum, at least some of them, you can’t blame them. The governments job is not to further nationalism of any sort, but the common good.

    New constitution? A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Our journey is the common betterment of all Sri Lankans not Nationalistic pet projects.

    You can guess where the first step in he direction of the new constitution will take us. We have the right as a Sri Lankan Nation to self determination also.

  • 1
    0

    There was no written agreement as per Sampanthan and the UNP. That is a canard, and I don’t know why D. Siddarthan would tell that to newsfirst. But newsfirst.lk seems to be a product of the Maharajah organization, which is opposed to Ranil W. So they may be making up things, and you are rushing to print your BS.
    As I said, stay in Russia and hug Putin tightly.

  • 2
    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

  • 2
    0

    in spite of your high quality education and thinking you are behaving like a third rate mariyakade man and you are an insult to university academics. because of your present job you are betraying your intellectual capacity and you have an hidden agenda mr. dayan. safe guard your ambassadorship which is more important than rational thinking.
    -dayal

  • 1
    0

    Vanguard this not difference in opinion. DJ is trying to incite violence as a last resort. In a country like US where there is right to speak they also do have laws to prevent / punish racially motivated hatred comments. Most of the people can see what DJ is up to except may be you. The rest I am with you. There should be no Tamil or Sinhala nationalism. I repeat DJ is a scum.

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