4 December, 2020

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Time For Plain Talk & Ordinary Wisdom

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

Sarath de Alwis

This is the time for plain talk and ordinary wisdom. On the last day of the year I was relieved to see my son, the apple of my eye, recovering from a serious bout of Dengue fever discharged from hospital after several days spent in intensive care. Before that his daughter, my youngest granddaughter went through the same agony with another member of the same household. Their adjoining land is a neglected breeding ground for mosquitoes and much more. The land belongs to the Sri Lanka land Reclamation and Development Corporation. A friend told me that if Gotabaya was still around, such disgusting health hazards would not blight the heart of Colombo.

To my horror I discovered that the land that was about to be developed by its rightful owner was forcibly acquired by the former Czar of urban renewal. So there in hangs another deal of Gamunu incarnate.

After a visit to my convalescing off spring, I boarded a Tuk Tuk to return home. The Tuk Tuk driver came out with a gem. ‘Ara Miniha Parawal Haduwa. Mey Yakku Eewaye Yanawata Dada Gahanawa.’ That man built the roads. These devils are levying fines for using them.

Indeed with a new year in the horizon, it is time for plain talk.

What constitutes good governance? An exaggerated insistence on the need to change the system? A contrived pretense of good governance? No. A desire to change is not reform. Stirring things up or incessant criticism is not good governance. Arriving at a constructive vision is essential for both reforms and good governance.

People demand a government minus a privileged governing class. They are repelled by hegemonic leadership. They scorn duplicitous leadership. In the past two years we have witnessed hegemonic tendencies of the Prime Minister and listened to duplicitous policy pronouncement by the president.

What both have failed to perceive, register and discern is that they are judged differently from Mahinda Rajapaksa the president who won the war, and therefore was entitled to more than a trace of hegemonic conduct.

As the leader loved by the Maha Sangha and therefore the favorite of the gods, Mahinda’s duplicity is holy writ. He still enjoys the trust of his followers, whatever the percentage. The rest who voted for change in 2015 want to know the rules. Above all they want the new leaders to care when rules are bent or broken.

The political class of this benighted land is yet to come to terms with the digital century. They are still frozen in the pre electronic age. The President ridicules the internet. The Prime Minister ignores the internet. Their main adversary Mahinda Rajapaksa is oblivious to the internet.

May be, brother Gotabaya plans to intimidate the internet when he comes to power. It is no longer a question of if and when. It is simply a question of when. History tells us that crisis and mismanagement produce villainous go getters.

Digital media has altered social and political spheres. The Internet and mobile devices have removed limits of time and space. The ‘polity’ has a ‘shared horizon of social progress.

The digital century has altered the concept of governance. Even making dissidents disappear will not help the prospective contender for the Presidency to arrest progress in information delivery.

In this context ‘Governance’ is well defined. Decision making is the result of a process of permanent negotiation among all stake holders. Anything less is not governance but pure, simple chaos.

There lurks a greater danger. Who are the stake holders? The President, the Prime Minister, the Former President and the new heir apparent former Defense Secretary take turns in calling on the two Monasteries who claim title to a 2500 year old convention of providing counsel to past kings and present day rulers .

Dark clouds of clerical fascism are indicative of a gathering storm. Both these institutions came in to existence in the Kandyan period in 1753 under the patronage of a King of Kandy anxious to restore a decadent monkish order with assistance from Siam and logistics provided by the Dutch.

From the time of their inception they have remained in the hands of a few family dynasties confined to a few villages in the central province and the Matale district. More than scholarship and intellect, the emphasis has been on the Govigama caste pedigree and kinship to a select coterie.

Lest the pious and the devout are offended or aggrieved, the sardonic synopsis of their genesis is prompted by a firm conviction that the nation is held to ransom by a force that resists progress and modernity- the story of human civilization. It is a necessary reminder in the light of current counsel offered by the Maha Nayaka theros on the judiciary, devolution and other weighty matters. It is all the more urgent because our Minister of Justice ‘The Maha Pragngnaya’ [The Great Intellectual] has turned an accommodating acolyte.

Clerical fascism rests on the inviolability and inevitability of a privileged people of a defined destiny to whom preserving past grandeur real and imagined supersedes the demands of human progress. To them, the nation’s obligation is to their creed. In order to reach that state of purity [servility] the nation has to be cleansed. Even the sciences if inconvenient to their grip on society need to be purified from foreign influences. To them the ‘State’ is a political instrument of ‘faith’. To be precise, they alone can interpret the faith and dictate its practice. Some are modern enough to cut a birthday cake. Let us hope they will catch up with blowing candles.

Under Mahinda Rajapaksa the ‘faith’ was in the hands of a resolute leader. He was able to contain, curb and cajole the influence of the Buddhist clerics. The Malwatte Mahanayake thero was persuaded to abandon a conclave to express disapproval of the arrest of then general Sarath Fonseka by threatening to set up an alternative power center in the Malwatte chapter. The War Winning President was the favorite of the gods and his persuasive powers were limitless. Venerable Maduluwawe Sobhitha thero put off a protest march when an Army Truck inadvertently knocked the rear of his vehicle. The individual monks were persuaded by means foul or fair because the vast majority of their kind preferred the war hero to the two mavericks.

History is the final arbitrator of revolutions and reforms. Their consequences determine what they turn out to be- genuine or fake. On 8th January 2015 there was a change in the presidency. The predatory family and a parasitic oligarchy was replaced by a party dominated plutocracy hell bent on dividing the spoils of governance. The legislative enactments have not brought about changes radical enough to be noticed, let alone felt. A new set of people are in the seats of power. A select band of supporters have been rewarded. Maithri is preaching. Ranil is practicing governance. Ravi is keeping books. Sagala is policing. Malik is promising. Wijeyadasa is tilting the scales. S.B. Dissanayake makes a tasteless giggle. Sarath Amunugama who, alone has the brains to see the big picture of the digital century frowns. Or is it a detached smirk? A happy new year to you all.

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    Sarath de Alwis (whose cousin Prashantha de Alwis was a comrade of Kumar David’s in the Vama Samasamajaya)is no less anti-Rajapaksa than Prof. David, whose article appears just above that of de Alwis. However, Sarath’s critique has a lucid realism, objectivity and balance which the other lacks. He has his ear to the ground. This makes Sarath the superior commentator, analyst and prognosticator.

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      Please Dayan,

      tell us – you as self-proclaimed interllectual what have you achieved during the past year 2016 ?

      a) Were you at least enjoying the closeness to former Athigaru ?

      NO

      b) Did your efforts work in terms of promoting Sajith P for your future selfish gains ?

      No

      c) Did you meet the wishes of the average that have been longing to work together for sustainable peace in this country ?

      No

      d) Sadly, you had only a hand countable number of invitations got by Killis sender ? Was not enough to run your sophisticated colombo life if your reserves have always been in Swiss banks right ?

      e) Please wake up and rally round to get together for a better future. Your rhetorics can only speed up your nemesis turning you an another used canon… perhaps you have already reached the levels by now.

      • 0
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        [Edited out]

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    “A happy new year to you all” – in whose hands our destinies are entrusted? What can we expect but remain wishful and confined to a mirage in the distant horizon. We are presently thrown into a wild bush of technology without giving the basics of its boundaries and affording any help to prepare for the huge exploration. All acclaimed academics and consultants of the Government and its Leaders have got thoroughly engrossed in selling it to a whole community of citizens who are clueless of what they (the political leaders and their consultants)mean and trying to deliver, ignoring the daily needs of their (citizens’) expectations and wants. So here we see the “Division” between the Common Sense and the Struggle to introduce to an unknown territory. The administrators have completely lost touch with “Common Sense” and have gone wild with “Innovation” exemplified by the latest announcement of free gift of “IPAD” to all students. Have they (the Politicians & the Administrators) got the “Common Sense” of introducing the basics of its applications, usage, the literacy needed for the use, the cost of maintenance, the limitations, the side effects on sensible aspects of education etc.? The “tuk, tuck” driver’s conversation with the writer explains all that matters and it is nothing but the need for “Common Sense”. Wishing for the dawn of COMMON SENSE in the year 2017..

  • 2
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    Sarath de Alwis

    RE: Time For Plain Talk & Ordinary Wisdom

    Happy New Orbit around the Sun.

    “This is the time for plain talk and ordinary wisdom.”

    Sorry to hear about the Dengue fever infecting your children.

    “Their adjoining land is a neglected breeding ground for mosquitoes and much more. The land belongs to the Sri Lanka land Reclamation and Development Corporation. A friend told me that if Gotabaya was still around, such disgusting health hazards would not blight the heart of Colombo.”

    “To my horror I discovered that the land that was about to be developed by its rightful owner was forcibly acquired by the former Czar of urban renewal. So there in hangs another deal of Gamunu incarnate.”

    If it was in private hands, most likely, the owner would have done something.

    The Rajapaksas, MaRa and cronies, did what was in their best interest and self interest. Thee is so much data in support if the above statement.

    Unfortunately, still there are many Modayas, Fools left, who do not have the common sense to understand it.

  • 2
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    crap and bullshit

  • 1
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    A mirror held for this nation to look at itself !

    It is time both Maithri and Ranil wake up to the current realities or we wake them up with our din. How about a cooking pan beating exercise from every home in the island, on a fixed day at a fixed time?

    The Rajapakse’s may not be gaining votes, but the Maithri – Ranil combo are definitely losing votes. This is a sready leak. Many voters may choose to abstain the next time around, out of sheer disgust. Who will gain power by default then?

    At the end of the Rajapakse decade, the people were asking, ” Thara Kanda puluvangtha?” ( can we eat tar?). At least now the errant trishaw drivers are griping about the fines being imposed on them? There is a big difference between the two. This is the advantage the current government has yet-reasonably fair good governance. However, it is in the nature of the Human to take for granted what he/ she has andyet Year for things they have yet not got.

    Unless it does more, to become less of a circus of morons, clowns, thieves and doers, it is on a slippery slope. It should crack down with vigor, corruption and bureaucratic lethargy, starting today- the first day of 2017. A strong, steady and uncompromising hand is needed to crack the whip. Suspects with reasonable evidence against them should be arrested and remanded, for as long as it is needed to prosecute them, immediately. Further proof can be found later. Don’t we do this with other crimes?

    I would say Ranil is experimenting and Maithri does not understand what the people need, want and the time frame. Both in combination are unable to lead the people towards well defined goals. Maithri is trying also to steer two boats – the government and a recalcitrant SLFP/ UPLF- with one leg in each boat. This is impossible with our present political arrangements- a marriage of convenience. He has to change and give his ROle as the President greater importance. He cannot in the area or to make deals with the devil, compromise his president. Let those in his party who want to quit leave. If the government has to fall as a result let it. The choice us clearly between doing what the proposed the people in full measure or quitting.

    Both Maithri and Ranil are proving incapable of decisive leadership .

    Gandhi was a leader because he was able to convince the masses of his goals and modus operandi. Both were lofty and above board. However, in contrast, Adolf Hitler was a leader who convinced the masses to Do the dastardly things he set out to do, defying ethics. He failed while Gandhi succeeded. A good leader should have lofty goals and methods, and convince the people to accept them and let him lead. The people should have implicit trust that their leader will do what is right.

    Where is the campaign to convince the people of what is right and hence should be done? Why the vacillations , contradictions and confusions? Why are alleged criminals running free? Why are alleged criminals celebrating theirn arrest and remanding? Why the special previleges for alleged criminals? Why are the oresident and cabinet ministers participating in discussions with alleged criminals? Why are politicians at all levels, interfering in law & order, and judicial affairs? Why is the Judicial Services Commision not taking disciplinary avction against errant magistrates and judges? Why is the government not dealing with the serious problems at the Attorney General’s department? Why is Wijedasa Rajapakse yet the Justice and Buddha Sasana Minister? There are many more why’s that need to be addressed immediately.

    The actions overdue for execution should stun and sweep the people off their feet. The government would then have the love and admiration of a majority of the people . Shock and awe tactics of a lawful nature are overdue.

    The people should hear the crack of the whip loud and clear, before the end January’2017. If it this governmentis doomed.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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      I apologize for the errors.

      Dr.RN

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      Dr RN

      “A strong, steady and uncompromising hand is needed to crack the whip.”

      You seem to want one band of thieves to punish another band of thieves.

      Rather I would suggest a wholesale amnesty for all thieves and start afresh.

      Strangely all Yahapalana suckers are totally oblivious to the fact that all these bastards have been enjoying the spoils of power alternatively from the beginning.

      Where was Sirisena during all these hated years of yours?

      Where was Ranil during 78 Constitution, the referendum, Janfna library, 1983, 1989 etc. etc.?

      You are also making a FUNDAMENTAL mistake on remanding on ‘allegations’.

      Advocating punishment before proof will create a dangerous precedence. The hatred you are promoting will only lead to further calamity for the simple reason that all these thieves/criminals have a great many followers, 50 / 50 division of the people to be exact.

      I am one who is totally opposed to keeping even LTTE suspects on prolonged remand until the government digs up provable evidence.

      So you want to handover the whip to Ranil, Sirisena, SB Disanayake, Dilan Perera for cleaning up the country? With due respect may I ask are you MAD, hallucinating an 18 year old first time voter?

      Soma

      • 0
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        Soma,

        Every thieving politician in this country and his/her cronies, past or present, should be taught to fear the dire consequences for what they did and continue to do. The message will percolate down to the others.

        This is the purgative this country needs quite urgently.

        I promise this country will be transformed for the better and forever.

        Dr,RN

      • 2
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        somaaasss

        “Strangely all Yahapalana suckers are totally oblivious to the fact that all these bastards have been enjoying the spoils of power alternatively from the beginning.”

        Could you elaborate on what you have just typed.

        The word bastards should be banned from the dictionary for the simple it degrades the mother (a woman) not the father of the bastards. You could be one of them. It is in your interest you stop using them.

        The Yahapalanay suckers could also take a pragmatic view, that “it is true they are bastards however they are our bastards, not yours, and get lost”.

        You should be focusing your tirade on people like yourself, the smart ass patriots, Sinhala/Buddhist Bhumiputras, moaning majority, noisy minority, ghetto builders, ….. because you wittingly or unwittingly facilitate the thieves, crooks, and war criminals to hide themselves in the usual places.

        Please pull your head from wherever it is now and see the world as it is. By the way the earth is much nicer place than you may think. I meant outside your ghetto.

  • 3
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    Excellent summing-up of our situation, Sarath!

    You hit the nail squarely on the head with the following two statements:

    “In the past two years we have witnessed hegemonic tendencies of the Prime Minister and listened to duplicitous policy pronouncement by the president.”

    “A select band of supporters have been rewarded. Maithri is preaching. Ranil is practicing governance. Ravi is keeping books. Sagala is policing. Malik is promising. Wijeyadasa is tilting the scales. S.B. Dissanayake makes a tasteless giggle. Sarath Amunugama who, alone has the brains to see the big picture of the digital century frowns. Or is it a detached smirk? “

    So what hope for a ‘better’ New Year with these bozos continuing with their personal agendas? It will take more than a major miracle to change the status quo.

    But then ‘miracles’ are still possible, as we saw with the previous bunch, so let’s wait and see!

    Happy New Year to you!

  • 2
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    Mr Alwis,
    As usual, a very well thought out analysis of the situation. However, what interests me is your comment on dengue and what Gota did or did not do about it.
    The SL epidemiology unit says:
    “During the last 12 month of the year 2016, 50519 suspected dengue cases have been reported to the Epidemiology Unit from all over the island.Latest Disease Trends,”
    I visited Kerala in India and found them also fussing about dengue. But look at the statistics:
    ” The total number of suspected dengue cases as on June 20 is 4,062, with 11 suspected dengue deaths and 12 confirmed cases of dengue deaths.” (Let’s say 10,000 dengue cases for 2016)

    Now, if Gota was all that great at dengue control, why does Kerala have far fewer cases? The climate is similar to Sri Lanka.There is much more garbage lying around, and there are no officious PHI’s or policemen inspecting gutters.
    I suspect that Gota’s clean-up campaign had more to do with forcibly beautifying the country (a la Singapore) than with dengue control.
    It is time we stopped swallowing the current theories about dengue, since they obviously don’t tally with results. Such displays of bogus efficiency have not reduced dengue one whit.

  • 0
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    The president is performing Dewa Pooja and the Maha Sangha is chanting Pirith, to persuade the Gods for rain, in Polonnaruwa.

    http://www.sundaytimes.lk/161225/news/president-joins-polonnaruwa-farmers-in-praying-for-rain-221905.html

    How about a National Pooja on a large scale in all main places of worship – plus at the shrines politicians visit, in Tamil Nadu.

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