20 January, 2022

Blog

Theo-Militarism & Looming Confrontation

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

Theo-militarism refers to the current political experiment undertaken by Gotabaya Rajapaksa Presidency that combines Buddhist demagoguery with military threat to remain in power. Tissarani Gunasekara brilliantly captioned it as “weaponizing Buddhism”. When the President after entrenching his position with the 20th Amendment circumscribed his dreamy “vistas of prosperity and splendour” with “virtuosity” and “discipline”, what he meant was Buddhist virtuosity to the exclusion of other religions and the fear of jackboot in the name of discipline to enforce compliance to his diktats. As a result, Sri Lanka is in de facto Theo-militarism.

The looming confrontation is not necessarily the consequence of the political experiment but of the regime’s economic mismanagement. There is no running away from the fact that the economy is on the verge of bankruptcy if not bankrupt already. The proof for this imminent or actual bankruptcy is not to be found in the official statistics dished out by the Central Bank and Department of Census and Statistics nor in soothing statements of the ministers and their lackeys, but in the daily occurrences in the market and households. With running shortages in essential consumables and unpredictable and persistent increase in wholesale and retail prices, and with drying employment opportunities and stagnating if not falling income, ordinary business of life has become a life and death struggle for millions of families. Having led the country into the hell hole of oppressive foreign debt a cash-strapped government is printing money in the name providing liquidity which has now created double digit inflation. As money value drops dramatically printing currency notes in larger denominations may become economical. A ten thousand rupees note was rumoured to be on the horizon, although the CBSL chief had denied it. However, flooding the market with currency notes should remind one of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe where hyperinflation at one stage led to the printing of 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollar notes. Chambers of commerce have collectively warned the government of the dangers of not changing track and added their voice to seek assistance from IMF.

A regime that came to power with plenty of promises and overwhelming public support has run out of steam within two years, and its finance minister, who is novice to that prestigious position, is running from one country to another in search of economic and financial assistance. China, India, Bangladesh, US, the Arab countries, Iran, and Nigeria are among the countries approached. Despite Nivard Cabraal remaining adamant that seeking IMF assistance would be detrimental to the country and that his six-month road map would provide redemption, the latest downgrading of credit rating by Fitch has sent danger signals to foreign investors warning them against risking their funds in a collapsing economy. Even the expected increase from remittances from expatriate workers would not materialize with Central Bank’s artificial exchange rate policy. The upbeat about tourism revival has received another shock from Omicron. IMF is certainly not the panacea for all of Sri Lanka’s economic ills, but it should be part of a revival strategy. Even then, unless some miracle changes the fortunes, prognosis for economic revival in 2022 looks rather grim.

This explains why there is widespread discontent, and confrontation between the masses and regime is maturing by the day. Already, 2021 has witnessed a series of protests despite Covid related lockdowns and shutdowns. Farmers, teachers, students, doctors, nurses, trade unionists, political parties and so on dared the police and military and came out on streets to show their anger and contempt. What else could they have done? Popularity of the government is at an all-time low. Still, there is one powerful group of citizens who has not come out on the street to join the protesting crowd, and when that happens it would be the last straw to break the camel’s back. So far, no political party or coalition of parties seems to have been able to mobilize this group. These are the millions of ordinary housewives and mothers who are bearing the full brunt of the current misery. Majority of them are finding it extremely difficult to feed their babies and young kids. If they could come out, President’s Jackboots and artillery would be no match to the clattering sound of empty pots and pans.

Given this confrontation, Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the government seem to believe that theocrats in saffron robes and khaki clad military would protect the regime. Of the two, the military seems to be solidly behind the President for the time being. It has been pampered by GR since he came to power, and in the last two budgets allocations for defence were increased more than proportionately when compared to other vital sectors like health and education. But the same level of support may not come forth from the Buddhist clergy.

In general, the universal respect and reputation which members of Sangha once commanded started showing signs of waning, partly because of the repulsive conduct of some bhikkhus and partly because of the blatant politicization of Buddhism by an ethno-nationalist President. The recent boycott of Colombo University convocation by senior academics and the refusal by graduands to be convoked by GR’s political appointee, Chancellor Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera, if anything, is a sign of disgust by intellectuals at political prostitution of religion. Will the President, if he really believes in the need for religious dignitaries to uplift local and international image of national universities, also appoint the Mufti of ACJU, the Catholic Archbishop and the chief Hindu priest as Chancellors of other universities?

Politicizing Buddhism has reached its climax under GR Presidency, because he sees in it an escape route to get out of trouble if and when the regime loses its popularity as happening now. This tactic is quite evident from the day GR took his oath in the Buddhist precincts of Ruwanwelisaya. Its Latest manifestation was the appointment of the anti-Muslim Ven. Gnanasara Thera to head the One Country One Law task force and allowing him to do what he does best to stir up religious disharmony. He is now demanding the Muslim Minister of Justice, Ali Sabry, another GR appointee, be sacked to bring justice to Zahran’s victims. Is this minister or the President himself the reason for not implementing PCoI recommendations?

There is also another priest, Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera, a former parliamentarian, and a television fame hunger striker, who is crowing against the reinstatement of Muslim gynecologist Dr. Shafi Shihabdeen, who was alleged to have sterilized thousands of Sinhalese women to reduce Sinhala population in the country! There is a third who recently spread the canard over social media that a Sinhalese woman had suddenly disappeared in a Muslim Arab country, which was later found to be untrue. Likewise, the lynching and burning to death a Sinhalese factory manager in Sialkot, Pakistan, by a fanatical Muslim mob, which was condemned right round by every responsible Muslim leader and organization, was whipped up by Buddhist Islamophobes to create hatred of Islam and Muslims. Finally, Ven. Gnanasara did not miss his opportunity to spread anti-Muslim venom when Saudi Arabia banned Tablighi Jamaat. In all this, President GR, the Prime Minister and his ministers kept an unholy silence.

These rabble rousers seem be acting according to a script probably authored by the Viyathmaga and endorsed by the President. In this script the Muslim community is steadily being portrayed as the villain of the peace. That none of the political parties in the opposition has so far spoken publicly on this growing menace is a mystery. Thus, when the time is appropriate Theo-militarism would sacrifice Muslims to misdirect the open confrontation.

*Dr. Ameer Ali, School of Business & Governance, Murdoch University, Western Australia

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 13
    1

    Really rot began no sooner the independence was got.
    All were done to acquire power weaponising race and religion. First by D.S. Senanayake by defranchising ,Indian workers.
    What a contrast was Lee Quan Yu. He focused on economic development.
    Our leaders who were not capable of enabling real development weaponized everything to be in power never with complete success. Singapore has been ruled by single family father son duo both in power for more than two terms but the country became third world to first world.
    I have not seen author writing about the weaponization of Indian worker and North East Tamils but he writes only when it affects Muslim.
    What a set of dis honest intellectuals we have.
    It is only will be surprising if what is happening now has not happened looking at what has happened for last 70 years

    • 6
      9

      Mr. Ali, Thanks! Weaponizing Islam and Buddhism to Stage a “Clash of Civilizations” in Asia and destroy its rise as the economic growth hub of the world is ongoing by the biggest Rogue state of the world. Religion is weaponized in many countries, not just Sri Lanka. ISIS is the weaponization of Islam by CIA and its Saudi partners. Please read the book “ISIS is US: The Shocking Truth Behind the Army of Terror”.
      In Sri Lanka, as the Covid-19 mask is coming off, the weaponization of Buddhism and the Sinhala Buddhist DIASPORA in LA project starting with the US citizens Basil and Goat Rajapakse is on-going. Religious Diasporas are being weaponized all over the world by the crashing Empire, as the New Cold War on Asia or Third World war which is a Hybrid, cyber, Covid-19 virus and vaccine bio-terrrorism and digital Colonialism project with the old Divide, Distact, Colonize and loot with the Covid-19 mask is apparent. Religion is being weaponized in all countries, not just Sri Lanka!

      • 6
        7

        Mr. Ali, hope your next piece will focus on Cold War Weaponization of Religion, particularly, Islam, and Geopolitics and the US citizens who run Sri Lanka, who are weaponizing Buddhism at the behest of their paymasters in Washington!
        Why did Zaharan and another Easter 2019 suicide bomber die at China’s Shangri La Hotel, if the Easter attacks were about religion, and NOT in a Church?!! MBS is on record that the CIA got his father to fund Islamist groups in Asia and Africa, during the Cold War. This is obvious in Afghanistan to fight Russia, and this Weaponization of Islam project continues in the Cold War against China. Now the CIA wants a “Clash of CIvilizations” between Islam and Buddhism to destroy the economic might of Asia,. This was epitomized in the Bamiyan Buddha statues destruction…by CIA funded Taliban outfits..
        There needs to be an expose of the CIA-Saudi Partnership in the Wahabi Salafi Project in Sri Lanka and their funds to all the corrupt politicians including Ranil W and Rajapakse regimes, who protected Zaharan and crew.

        • 10
          2

          This shameless old fart, who has never done a honest day’s work in his entire life …….. without doing a favour to humanity and dying …….. is still trying to dish out lies …….. to freeload off the hard work of the poor struggling housemaids in the Middle East!

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX5yXoleetA

          OC, Native, chiv …….. haven’t you noticed ……. some new guys are suddenly in the forum with the same talking-points ……… to put the blame all the way back to 1978 ………. a bright spark of Basil’s one of 7 brains, perhaps! :))

          The Rajapakses’ last straw?

          • 6
            0

            nimal fernando

            “…………to put the blame all the way back to 1978 ………. a bright spark of Basil’s one of 7 brains, perhaps! :)”

            It is not SJ is it?

          • 4
            0

            Nimal,
            I suspect most of these guys weren’t old enough to stand in Mrs. B’s queues . The generation who experienced it threw her out, and eventually even her daughter repudiated the closed economy. Only an idiot like Gota would want to go back to that.

            • 5
              0

              old codger

              “I suspect most of these guys weren’t old enough to stand in Mrs. B’s queues . “

              True, however our Elders continue to remind us of the bitter experience under Siri Mao’s misrule.

              Not just Gota, if you speak to any politician or believers in Sinhala/Buddhism they would tell you Gota is the messiah who would take them to the promised land (whatever that maybe).

              If I listen to them on a regular basis , I am afraid I may become a born again Sinhala/Buddhists.

              Please save me from myself.

    • 4
      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

    • 3
      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
      12

      Dilshan
      “What a contrast was Lee Quan Yu. He focused on economic development.”

      There were no separatist Tamils in Singapore. Lee Kuan Yew locked up all the trouble makers and focused on economic development. Misusing the freedom given under Democracy imposed on Sinhalayo by British, separatist Tamils and Marxist politicians played hell in Sri Lanka.

      • 6
        0

        Dumb Eagle, Singapore’s progress is entirely due to a visionary leader who fortunately did not have a ‘mindset’ like that of a Sinhalayo or like thee! Reflect on it, will you.

        • 4
          1

          Ari

          -“Dumb Eagle, Singapore’s progress is entirely due to a visionary leader who fortunately did not have a ‘mindset’ like that of a Sinhalayo or like thee! Reflect on it, .. “

          The Sinhala/Buddhists would have transformed this island into a paradise better than Singapore if not for,
          Various Chola Pandya invasions
          European Invasions and Occupations
          European favoritism towards Demelas.
          The kallathonie South Indian invasions occupation of North, East, Upcountry,…
          The establishment of anti Sinhala/Buddhist parties such as DK, DMK, AIDMK, and the people Vaiko, MGR, Karunanithy,…. Indra, Rajiv,….
          Imported Tamil cinemas
          VVT smugglers
          Tamil teachers who favoured Tamil students
          Colonial rule favoured Tamils
          Colonialist took over land of the Sinhalayo’s and settled kallathnies from South India.
          Muslims are producing children on average 15, ..20 per family, Sinhala/Buddhist have no chance.
          On the other hand Muslim Doctors are aborting Sinhala/Buddhist pregnant woman.
          Non Sinhala/Buddhists are grabbing Sinhala/Buddhist lands.
          Non Sinhala/Buddhists are making undue demands..
          Non Sinhala/Buddhists refuse to accept this as a Sinhala/Buddhists


          ….

      • 4
        0

        EE,
        “There were no separatist Tamils in Singapore”.
        There was absolutely no reason existed for separation in Singapore, although the Chinese majority agitated for their supremacy at independence in 1959!
        Singapore was a federated states of Malaysia – North Borneo, Malaya, Sarawak and separated in 1963 from Malaysian Federation due to Ideological differences..
        LKY, being a Chinese himself, abhorred such views and made 4 languages as the recognised (3 Official Language and Lingua Franca – English) Language of official business.
        Problem solved.
        Unitary sate with 4 major communities since 1963.
        EE, I believe you can see the difference in the 2 countries:
        1. 4 Languages for 4 communities, all the way to date from 1963
        2. instead SL having 1 official Language for 4 communities – 40 years+
        3. Then 2 Official Languages after separatist struggle commenced and foreign intervention
        4. Yet system of the 2nd official language and English – Link language isn’t fully implemented
        5. Foundation laying and ceremonial opening plaques not in official languages!
        6. Mandarin instead of Tamil – official languages!
        Such are good reasons to ‘seed’ thoughts and acts of Separation! Don’t agree?
        Such is the difference of SL under UNP/SLFP/SLPP compared to Singapore under LKY & family!

  • 5
    1

    Really rot began no sooner the independence was got.
    All were done to acquire power weaponising race and religion. First by D.S. Senanayake by defranchising ,Indian workers.
    What a contrast was Lee Quan Yu. He focused on economic development.
    Our leaders who were not capable of enabling real development weaponized everything to be in power never with complete success. Singapore has been ruled by single family father son duo both in power for more than two terms but the country became third world to first world.
    I have not seen author writing about the weaponization of Indian worker and North East Tamils but he writes only when it affects Muslim.
    What a set of dis honest intellectuals we have except few like Tissaranee.
    Some of the authors of CTwere part government like Kumar David, Jayasinghe, WA Wijewardene long list. How did they behave. Supported the rogue both financial and intellectual rogue politicians now preaching like saints.
    It is only will be surprising if what is happening now has not happened looking at what has happened for last 73 years. Blaming only GR for this mess is not justifiable.
    We need to suffer but at the same time we need to build a new set of young men capable of building the nation. That is what all these authors should do, if they want to contribute to build the the nation from ashes

    • 7
      2

      Dilshan,
      You are right that the rot began long time ago and all political and religious leadership is responsible this rot. However, the fact is weaponzation of Buddhism by those political leadership is the real impact on the economy of this country and the destruction of the rule of law and peace because our political leadership are brainwashed by British influenced.
      It is wrong to blame those all the writers who are writing in this forum as part of the governments. You can’t blame those Muslim writers just focusing on Muslim issues and Tamil writers focusing on Tamil issues and Sinhala writers focusing on Sinhalese issues because each communities have affected by the policies and strategies of the opportunistic political leadership. The country need a complete political, cultural and social change. The need for change should be recognised by people, not by politicians.

  • 11
    11

    I dare say verbose Muslim writers on Colombo Telegraph are on a collaborative mission to divert the attention of the public away from the
    debilitating level of havoc wreaked by the rise of Wahabism in Sri Lanka. Is it the few foul mouthed Buddhist priestwhich is the Preceding immediately t

    • 14
      2

      I am sorry for the mishap. Kindly allow me to continue.
      I dare say verbose Muslim writers on Colombo Telegraph are on a collaborative mission to divert the attention of the public away from the
      debilitating level of havoc wreaked by the rise of Wahabism ( Preaching virtues of Islamic Sharia) in Sri Lanka. Is it the few foul mouthed Buddhist priests who introduced a dress code for Muslims in Sri Lanka thus visibly segregating them from others? Is it the few foul mouthed Buddhist priests who conducted clandestine Madrasses for radicalising Muslim children leading to creation of monsters like Zaharan? Is it the foul mouthed Buddhist priests who pooled together Saudi money for out bidding others in land purchasing?
      Is it the foul mouthed Buddhist priests who participated in conspiratory discussions on increasing the numbers?
      .
      When the heat of metamorphosis of the Muslim community in the last few decades thanks to Saudi cultural and financial influence was beginning to be felt by others it is natural that someone would give expression to that irritation. That this came from a few not so decent members of the Sangha community is of much less significance. What is fundamentally important is the glaring fact of foul developments within the Muslim community itself.

      • 9
        1

        Now the devastating effects of the Easter mayhem on the economy of the country not to mention the harowing suffering inflicted on an entire community is much less discussed. Preceding immediately to a paralyzing pandemic Muslims dealt a death blow to the tourist industry depriving the country of a mainstay of the economy.
        Even should the tourist arrivals improve additional security measures installed by hotels is an additional cost. Every tourist entering being body scanned is an embarrassing experience. What kind of incentive for them to return would be that?
        .
        These writers have been successful in creating the impression that Islamaphobia is a creation of those foul mouthed Buddhist monks!
        How do you like that? Rise of Islamism has become a matter of serious concern all over the world INCLUDING MUSLIM MAJORITY COUNTRIES.
        Have I seen a single article by these writers discussing Islamophobia as a world wide phenomenon on CT?
        .
        On the positive side Saudi ruling class has launched an initiative to rollback Wahabism and adopt non Islamic ethical values of personal freedom.
        Let us hope that our Muslims again follow the Saudi masters this time around too.

        Soma

        • 4
          1

          Soma,
          You forget that one Soma Hamuduruwo, (who wasn’t foul-mouthed) launched a campaign against Christians too. After the man died in search of a fake doctorate in Russia, churches had to be guarded. Racists will always find a target.

          • 2
            2

            Old C
            You have the mental equivalent of optical parallax.

            Soma

  • 11
    2

    One reason why Gota and Mahinda are pushing Buddhism is that they are now realizing they will have to face the negative impact of all the killings they have done not only during the war in the north but also in the south. They are haunted by the killings. It is said that if you kill someone there is no way out of it as the act will haunt you for the rest of your life. Maybe the brothers are going through this phase.

  • 7
    5

    “Politicizing Buddhism has reached its climax…”
    —-
    Some people politicize religion for their political survival. Some people politicize race for their political survival. That is the name of the game with politicians in Sri Lanka.

    • 12
      0

      Has EE had a brain transplant? He is talking sense.

      • 7
        1

        Cicero

        “Has EE had a brain transplant? He is talking sense.”

        Do you think so?

        • 3
          1

          No, EE doesn’t use his brain to think. He’s had an a.. transplant.

          • 3
            1

            OC,

            I dont think the surgeon got mad atter the surgery. We the srilankens should be proud of having produced the kind of ultra racists of EE nature. Well done srilanka !

      • 5
        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

    • 7
      1

      Eagle Blind Eye

      “Some people politicize religion for their political survival. Some people politicize race for their political survival. “

      Simple, crooks, murderers, war criminals, thief, bigots, racists, thugs, war mongers, ….. stupid historians, need Sinhala/Buddhism to hide themselves from exposing their own shameless nature.

      And you are proud of being part of 6.9 million bigots.

      Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians of this island are suffering. You know why?
      You.

    • 4
      1

      In Sri Lanka, the toxic cocktail of race and religion, namely ‘Sinhala Buddhism, has been weaponised successfully by Southern politicians since independence, and the result is what you see today.

  • 5
    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
    5

    AA is trying hard to wash the sins of Muslims who carried out terrorist attacks under the influence of Wahhabism by putting the blame on Rakapakshes, Buddhist monks and Sinhala Buddhists.

    • 6
      0

      ” AA is trying hard to wash the sins of Muslims”, And you ???

  • 4
    0

    Buddhist clergy, in the past, ate one meal a day and were confined to temples except during Pindapatha. Senior monks went to Burma for higher ordination.
    In my childhood, they came to my home to collect rice and vegetables. We children worshipped them. My mother said that they are like the Hindu ‘swamis’ who wore yellow robes, who too visited and enjoyed a meal.
    Now they have discarded the rules of living and conduct laid down by the Buddha.
    They even contest political office.

  • 4
    0

    This is one possible scenario. But in opinion not likely. Majority of Sinhalese and all races are more worried about their livelihood or how to feed the family than worry about other races.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.