21 September, 2020

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The Year Of Political War 

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Yes, finally the tables are starting to turn
Talkin’ bout a revolution…” – Tracy Chapman

2016 was the year in which we lost Fidel and Muhammad Ali. Fidel was the Muhammad Ali of politics; Muhammad Ali was the Fidel Castro of sports. We also lost David Bowie, Prince and above all, Leonard Cohen, the poet of our interpersonal lives.

I always thought that when Fidel went, we’d be lucky if we still had Bob Dylan but if we lost both, we’d have lost the two pillars of the collective consciousness of people like myself, of an age and a generation. We are lucky to still have Dylan —the TS Eliot of our time–who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature this year.

For Sri Lanka at the start of 2017, Fidel’s last speech at the Sao Paulo forum (which he and Lula had jointly founded after the USSR fell) contains an important message:

“Nobody can claim that objective or subjective conditions are favorable at this time for building socialism. I believe that at the present time there are other priorities… The most important battle in Latin America today is, in my opinion, to defeat neoliberalism, because if we don’t—we will disappear as independent states and will become more of a colony than the “Third World” countries ever were.”

For Fidel, remaining as an independent state was something worth fighting for, irrespective of the question of capitalism and socialism. Furthermore, it was obviously thought possible by Fidel to preserve or retrieve the independence of states even without resort to socialism—and indeed in a historical period in which socialism was not on the agenda.

Today, Sri Lanka faces, in the form of the Ranil-CBK-Mangala–Sumanthiran ‘Gang of Four’, the most reactionary, anti-national, pro-imperialist administration we have experienced in my lifetime. This faction of the regime is the closest Sri Lanka has come to the kind of Latin American policy regimes and foreign policy orientations which Fidel urged resistance to and rebellion against throughout his political life. If this comprador clique remains the driver of the policy agenda, Sri Lanka will become like one of those states that Fidel warned about: beyond/ beneath the status of colony that Third World states had once been.

It is extraordinary for any diplomat to speculate about, or indeed make reference to, that most supremely sovereign of acts, namely the promulgation of a Constitution in the independent, sovereign state to which he is accredited. It is a symptom of the political culture and style of the current regime that in his Christmas and New Year message 2016, the UK High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, H.E. James Dauris thought to write: “…the majority of Sri Lankans will, I think, be looking forward to having in 2017 a new Constitution, one that will help to create the right framework for really good long-term community relations…” This would have been slightly less absurd had the diplomat represented a country which actually has a written constitution promulgated in a specific year –which the UK famously does not!

The message is both premature and a little presumptuous, when we have no way of knowing if “the majority of Sri Lankans are looking forward to a new Constitution in 2017”—especially when President Sirisena and his wing of the SLFP have yet to make their minds up as to whether they are actually “looking forward to a new Constitution” or only the reform of/amendments to the existing one.

In a year in which there was mounting evidence from the Provincial Councils and Multi-Purpose Cooperative Societies all over Sri Lanka of the national will to resist, it was instructive to watch and be part of the Sri Lankan responses to the death of the most recognized symbol of resistance to imperialism and neoliberalism—Fidel Castro.

In Colombo, President Sirisena laudably held an unprecedented commemorative event at the President’s House. DEW Gunasekera of the Communist Party pointedly informed the assembled audience that Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike recognized revolutionary Cuba a mere two days after the Revolution took power in January 1959, even before Mao’s Communist China had made the move. Ceylon was the first Asian nation to recognize the revolutionary government of Cuba. DEW disclosed that this was partly the influence of the respected progressive TB Subasinghe, whom SWRD had urged should be the Deputy Foreign Minister under him, because “the first thing I must do is clean up the Foreign Ministry”.

SWRD’s daughter, Ex-President Kumaratunga can be seen on the video which is on the Presidential website, bustling in at the Presidential event commemorating Fidel just as the announcer tells the audience that the proceedings have drawn to a close. Her message on Fidel appeared a week after he died. A greater contrast with her parents could hardly be imagined.

President Sirisena disclosed that he had been a communist in his early teens and later had attended the World Festival of Youth and Students in Havana in 1978, spending three weeks there and attending a banquet hosted by Fidel. However he could not be present in Havana at Fidel’s funeral, nor could any representative of the Government of Sri Lanka nominated by him (Minister Susil Premjayanth had been earmarked), because the Ministry of External Affairs, which acts on the instructions of the Minister, failed for five whole days to convey to the leadership of the state and government, the invitation cum-travel arrangements presented by the new Cuban ambassador to Sri Lanka. This I have on very good–I might venture to say, excellent—authority, and at the President’s House itself.

Thus Sri Lanka, a founder member of the Nonaligned Movement went unrepresented at the funeral of a fellow NAM founder and legend of our times. Lamentably, there was no evidence of Sri Lanka addressing the UNGA during the special session of condolence for Fidel, which was addressed by representative after representative from member states. Sri Lanka, a fellow founder member of NAM, did not join. This is all of a piece with an earlier travesty, namely the absence in Venezuela in 2016, for the for the first time ever, of a Sri Lankan President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister or even the Deputy Foreign Minister at a Nonaligned summit.

The same afternoon as President Sirisena’s tribute to Fidel, as significant an event was held by the Cuba-Sri Lanka Friendship association, chaired by Dinesh Gunawardene, which was an all-parties affair within which the entire left was featured–the JVP (Bimal Ratnayaka), FSP (Duminda Nagamuwa), NFF (Wimal Weerawansa), DLF (Vasudeva Nanayakkara), MEP (Dinesh Gunawardena), CPSL (Raja Collure), LSSP (Tissa Vitharana). So too were the UNP (Ranjith Madduma Bandara), the SLFP (Ranjith Soyza) and PHU (Udaya Gammanpila), together with the Cuban ambassador and two former Sri Lankan ambassadors, Tamara Kunanayakam, former ambassador to Havana, and myself, as the author of a book on Fidel (acclaimed most recently by Emeritus Prof Richard Falk in his essay “On the Death of Fidel Castro” in the Foreign Policy Journal).

The best speech of that day was, to my mind, delivered by Vasudeva Nanayakkara, who has matured into the grand old man of the Sri Lankan left. Renowned progressive Richard Falk concludes that “Castro was a genuine internationalist, as well as a devoted nationalist, a combination that is both necessary and rare among statesmen of the last hundred years.” (Ibid) Among Sri Lankan politicians today, Vasu seems to come closest.

The main task is to fight, as Fidel said, for an independent state, to prevent re-colonization or worse. To exist as an independent state we must prevent the state from being weakened, partitioned, privatized and auctioned off. We must restore the capacity of that state for independence. That struggle starts with the Battle of the Constitution in 2017. Already the JO and the SLFP have won the first round in the Steering Committee by temporarily deadlocking the UNP-TNA minoritarian Constitutional coup and pushing back the proposed debate of January 9, 10, 11 to an unspecified date.

Meanwhile the Consultational Task Force on Reconciliation has produced a Report – in actuality the ‘Saravanamuttu Report’—which, as the old joke goes, is not a document to be set aside lightly, but thrown with great force.

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Latest comments

  • 13
    4

    Yes, yes, Dayan, continue to tell us about your book.

    We also know that Vasudeva can talk, having betrayed all the causes he once stood for.

    We do still have some respect for the likes of Tamara Kunanayakam, and Tissa Vitharna, but please don’t sully even their names by writing all your crap.

    • 13
      4

      Dayan types:

      “The main task is to fight, as Fidel said, for an independent state, to prevent re-colonization or worse. To exist as an independent state we must prevent the state from being weakened, partitioned, privatized and auctioned off. We must restore the capacity of that state for independence.”

      If Fidel is still alive and listens to the war monger, he would not hesitate to tell Dayan

      “Watch out belicista, first start fighting your own demons.
      Then fight your perceived enemy and then your real enemy the Sinhala/Buddhists.
      Then withdraw from foreign/international trade.
      Enjoy your afternoons with Kahatta and Hakkuru”

      • 4
        1

        Hope Native Vedda is not wishing for kahata (not Kahatta) and hakuru (not Hakkuru)to come from Belgium!

        These foreign frickers are fricking our country.

    • 13
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      [Edited out]
      There are thousands of greiving problems for this country/nation whose everything was destroyed by 30year long held war and then Rajapakshe kingdom ? Am I wrong here ? As Chrismal W raises it ” only so called regime change cant do everything in a country whose all ground systems have been devastated from that day on”.

      [Edited out] This man is obsessed by Fidel than anything else. He is lost in the pit those ideologies burried for the last few decades. Today we know in Europe, how happy some Ukranians and Russians being able to enjoy their freedom since USSR is broken away in earlier 90ties.

      • 1
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        The thing is not many would not care about grieving problems of the poor, here DJ would never.
        That is why he has been busy with Fedel even today.

    • 8
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      Sinhala-man,

      Vasudeva is senile. He was senile even six years back!

      He should gracefully retire from politics.

      Dr.RN

    • 3
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      Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

      RE: The Year Of Political War

      “Today, Sri Lanka faces, in the form of the Ranil-CBK-Mangala–Sumanthiran ‘Gang of Four’, the most reactionary, anti-national, pro-imperialist administration we have experienced in my lifetime.”

      How come you missed Sirisena, the Turncoat, Traitor, Gona, Mala-Perethaya, ans Sevalaya, who cheated the 6.2 million who voted for him for Good Governance, and he is in cahoots with MaRa MaRa ChaTu MaRa Amana MaRa, your paymaster, based on the stolen billions of Public Funds?

      Money Talks?

  • 9
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    The aim of the article is to ridicule RW, Mangala, Chandrika etc as they they all know what good DJ could deliver – talk only.

  • 10
    0

    “Yes, finally the tables are starting to turn
    Talkin’ bout a revolution…” – Tracy Chapman

    Don’t know much about socialism
    Don’t know much communism
    Don’t know much about Marx’s book
    Don’t know much about the Sinhalese Lit I took
    But I do know that if DEW Gunasekera, Susil Premjayanth, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Dinesh Gunawardena, Mahinda, Namal, Ranil-CBK-Mangala–Sumanthiran …….. ..
    went out and got real jobs like millions of hard-working Lankans
    What a wonderful Sri Lanka it would be

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 1
    6

    Hi Dayan,
    Thank you for the great article! I always read your articles since they fill some gaps and corners of our gradually depleting knowledge of politics.
    I saw Cuban leader Fidel Castro twice in my life!
    First, when I was in Cuba as a tourist, and the 2nd, when he attended the funeral of the late Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau (the current PM’s father) at Notre-Dame church, in Montreal.
    In Cuba, he came to inspect a development project and he was driving his own jeep and there was not a single body-guard with him.
    At the funeral, he appeared from the Church’s main entrance and the people forgot that they were at a funeral and started to welcome him by an applaud. He smiled and signaled to calm down and people lightened it and quickly stopped it.
    We all know that Fidel was a great orator! Cubans who ran away from Cuba and landed in Florida probably hated him and his brand of socialism but they loved his radio speeches which they listened to in the state of Florida. Once I asked a Cuban immigrant why? He said Fidel was right, but many can not stand that righteousness! it is too right to believe and act upon!!
    I think what happened to Sri Lankans today is something similar to that and as you have mentioned ‘tables will start to turn in 2017″.

  • 1
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    [Edited out]

    • 3
      0

      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      “[Edited out]”

      Brilliant

      Much obliged.

      • 0
        0

        Dear Native,

        Nothing serious.

        I just wanted to ask why my mate Dayan didn’t mention the passing on of the new generation music wizard, George Wake me Up Before you go go Micheal too, when he was comparing the influence of Music and Sports to our Yahapalanya ..

        • 2
          0

          KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

          “Nothing serious.”

          I know.

          However you are serious about placing the kleptocracy back in power. How come you continue to carry MR’s b***s?

  • 7
    0

    All regimes fall including this one.

    But no bringing back the corrupt Rajafucksas.

    • 0
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      but he was your Watalappam king until he went overseas and hell broke lose at Darga Town?
      whats now wrong with him?? Like VP he would `condom` the muslims?? Why? How much Sinhala business Tamil business have you stolen?? You hold 60% of all trade and the country is broke?

  • 13
    1

    Dear [Edited out] Dayan,
    Whatever you write about Fidel will not change your real brutal Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalist face. Nothing can change face. In real world you are an advisor of genocide of Tamils in 2009, colaborator of the BBS atrocites against Muslims, advocate of Gotapaya’s White van abuduction os political activists and journalists including Lasantha, and partner of a coup to create a permanant dictatorship oF Mahinda Family.

    • 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/

    • 4
      0

      Ajith,

      It is made even worse by the fact that he is a well educated Social scientist and should know much, much better.

      As such, it I truly sad this he would prostitute his educational skills (as Mahinda himself exposed on Al Jazeera) to hoodwink the population and support a wretched regime that was so irreversibly destructive to the democratic fundamentals of the country.

  • 8
    0

    Can you write one paragraph (based on Castro principles)as to how Sri Lanka can become one country where Singhalese and Tamils live happily together.

    Have you applied for your Ambassador job with the Rajapaksers!

    • 0
      0

      Tamils getting out of tribal politics?

  • 6
    0

    “Fidel was the Muhammad Ali of politics; Muhammad Ali was the Fidel Castro of sports.”

    This must be the words first illogical comparison of Ali to Castro.

    They must be both turning in their grave.

    Ali was not just a great sportsman!

    • 2
      0

      correction

      This must be the “worlds” first illogical comparison of Ali to Castro.

  • 9
    0

    Dayan,

    I fully agree that we must prevent the “state being weakened, partitioned, privatised and auctioned off’.

    But who sold (as good as) our coastal waters to the Chinese for a port city?

    Have you seen the present situation and how our wonderful 180 degree view of the sea from the Green is being cut off? It will be even more depressing when buildings rise up along the shore of the reclaimed land.

    This part of our heritage was sold off by Mahinda Rajapakse. What more anti-national action than this!

    • 6
      0

      Yes I stayed at the Kingsbury Hotel this time. It was very sad to see the brown site springing up cutting up the beautiful view of the sea.

      The Shangri LA hotel is also towering over the old Parliament building.

      In the UK the Govt would have declared all these areas as listed National Heritage preservation area.

      In Sri Lanka preservation areas are land surrounding every bow tree they discover. The rest is sold to the Chinese!

  • 3
    0

    P.S. to my previous comment: And what benefit was such a sellout meant to bring this country?

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 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/

  • 4
    0

    As usual this “Puss Pundit” has come out with another article. Lets for a minute try to evaluate whats behind this article. Well its very clear he is trying very had to bring back Rajapakse rule. He thinks he will be appointed the Foreign Minister if Rajapakse becomes PM. What he has forgotten is how he lied to the whole world in the UN, then he was kicked out by the same Rajapakse, then once again kicked out from foreign services. This guy is an educated crook. He can only create trouble, that too now most readers know that he cannot do that even properly. He is like a monkey jumping from branch to branch. Once he was in the Northern PC at which time they wanted to declare separate state. Then with Rajapakse and lied to UN. Then when he got kicked out by Rajapakse and after the last elections wants Rajapakse as PM but at the same time sucking up to President Sirisena. What a traitor he has become.

  • 1
    0

    Fidel gone! Who cares? We have Raul!

    • 1
      0

      …. And when Raul goes we could still say who cares we still have Dayan!And then there will be Tamara K.too.This world will never be short of jokers.

  • 4
    0

    He would, I am afraid, soon be mentally ill if he continued to be obsessed so much with Fidel Castro. Isn’t it an irony that it is the same SWRDB -who the writer eulogized for recognizing Cuba- whose Language policy which denied and deprive a section of people of their language rights brought about all the subsequent atrocious events which culminated in killing thousands of people as well as a collapse in the country’s economy.
    If this comprador clique remains the driver of the policy agenda, Sri Lanka will become like one of those states that Fidel warned about: beyond/ beneath the status of colony that Third World states had once been.
    THE Writer expresses dismay at the idea of becoming a colony again. Yet it is an anathema to him to grant the Tamils their rights. However he would always be prepared to admire the freedom fighters if they are from abroad. -I always thought that when Fidel went, we’d be lucky if we still had Bob Dylan but if we lost both, we’d have lost the two pillars of the collective consciousness of people like myself, of an age and a generation. For Fidel, remaining as an independent state was something worth fighting for, irrespective of the question of capitalism and socialism.

  • 6
    0

    Dayan,

    You are undoubtedly a well read man, but your cranky political ideologies and even crankier choices of political heroes not to mention your insufferable vanity are all manifestations of a highly frustrated, eccentric man, who cannot find solace within himself.

    As a matter of interest tell me, who is greater in your book? Mervin de Silva or Fidel Castro?

  • 2
    0

    Dayan harps over lost or dead causes and this article is one such.Its pathetic to see a man who held much potential in our student days ending up all in a world of his own ,living in a world of fantasy.

  • 2
    0

    Dayan – What should be “thrown (out) with great force” is not the Report but YOU, along with your pretentious pap posturing as intellectual insights!

  • 1
    0

    “Fidel was the Muhammad Ali of politics.” Ali took the punches on the head and died of Parkinson. Fidel’s people took punches on the belly from the West and Fidel died by diarrhea. It is the same disease(verbal) Thero de Silva having too.

    I remember the day American TVs relaying the Nelson Mandela’s death. In the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on, 80 countries leaders gathered. Four past and present presidents of America was there. Obama shaked his head with Fidel. It was the funeral of the century.

    Then I saw American TVs were boycotting the Fidel’s Funeral. Well, I ignored it thinking, who cares about Fidel, other than a few bunch of rotten egg Lefts in Lankawe.

    Now I feel sad to read though it was refusal of the “Birds of a feather to flock”. ” However he(New King) could not be present in Havana at Fidel’s funeral, nor could any representative of the Government of Sri Lanka nominated by him”.

    Her(CBK) message on Fidel appeared a week after he died. A greater contrast with her parents could hardly be imagined. Can we, now, believe CBK when she says that it was her parents started the “Sinhala Only”? Still I would doubt her Thero; how about you?

    Lankawe’s Communist hold the umbrella if it rains in Moscow. Poor of you, you are condemned to hold it even if drizzle in Havana. Don’t worry about Fidel Thero. You seems to be too sad today. It is hurting me too. Pls….He is well ok in the heaven with his 35,000 virgins. You pour a little bit more in the class…..You too can catch the sleep.

    Sweet Dreams!

  • 3
    0

    This, from a man who joined a terrorist outfit, and the excuse for that? quite flippantly says he was young and didn’t know what he was doing at that time.
    I wonder if every terrorist made that same excuse!!!
    In my opinion you still dont know what yr doing.

  • 0
    0

    I laughed when I read as the paragraph as “we are lucky to still have Dayan —the TS diot of our time–who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature this year.”

  • 0
    0

    Great anti imperialist Vasu’s sons are in the terrible evil USA enjoying fruits of free expression, freedom of worship and above all dynamic capitalism.

    End of story.

  • 0
    1

    MPHOT Dayan praising his own book. Dayan Who? is what we hear outside Siri Lunga. Eelam will happen by 2019. Mangala S deliberately delayed the report on the invitation to appease the US masters.

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