2 April, 2023


Titanic: The President’s Metaphor For The First Hundred Days

By Sarath De Alwis

සරත් ද අල්විස්

Sarath De Alwis

The President’s metaphor was valid both as noun and adjective. His party the SLFP was the ‘Titanic’ heading for collision with the Rajapaksa iceberg. Keeping the former ‘warlord’ appeased until the 19th Amendment was enacted was indeed a titanic task.

Radiating a sense of relaxed detachment President Maithripala Sirisena explained why he remained silent while the UPFA general secretary announced the ‘done deal’ of nominating ex-president Mahinda Rajapakse for a parliamentary slot. It was engineered by the two General Secretaries of the UPFA and the SLFP Messers Susil Premjayanth and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.

In distancing himself from the SLFP and UPFA decision to field ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa as a candidate in the parliamentary elections, President Maithripala Sirisena compared his six months in the Presidency to the Captains Bridge of the Titanic that sank on its maiden voyage.
The sinking was the deadliest shipping disaster in peace time that killed more than 1500 or two thirds of its passengers.

Maithripala Sirisena“Steering the ship of state, in the last six months was akin to my being at the helm of the ‘Titanic’. But unlike the disastrous voyage of the cruise ship, I did not let the ship sink he said. Dismissing his predecessor’s current efforts to reverse the tide of history, the President seemed satisfied that he had steered the vessel of state in to the safety of a transit port to resume its journey from autocracy to democracy after the general election.

There is a curious irony in President Sirisena’s choice of analogy. Researchers have distilled the facts from the mass of misinformation and speculation at the time and concluded definitely that the sinking of the Titanic was the result of the Ship sailing too fast and not observing the required safety measures in navigation.

After hitting the iceberg the fate of the ship has been decided by some resembling our ex-president Rajapaksa. The huge loss of life in the Titanic disaster was due to the arrogance and conceit of the Chairman of ‘White Star Line’ Titanic’s owner. He had persuaded the Captain to continue sailing, resulting in “water flooding through the damaged hull, forcing it up and over the watertight bulkheads, sinking Titanic many hours earlier than she otherwise would have done.”

The Titanic owner just as Mahinda Rajapaksa today, insisted on keeping the ship going, fearful of losing his investment and damaging the reputation of the company. “The nearest ship was four hours away. Had she remained where it was, the Titanic would have floated until help arrived.”

Now the Former President has assumed the Chairmanship of the UPFA campaign committee. The two siblings; one who superintended the ‘deep state’ and the other who managed the business are now in self-induced hibernation. The new ‘Chinthana’ is to restore democracy, rule of law and protect the sovereignty of the nation. The two SLFP office bearers now in command , the National Organizer cum UPFA general secretary Susil Premjayantha and the General Secretary of the SLFP Anura Priya dharshana Yapa have finally abandoned the charade and are openly promoting the former President.

The battle lines are drawn. To those who pay attention to history, these seemingly inexplicable human folly makes eminent sense. The Bastille was stormed in 1789. The Bourbon king was guillotined in 1793. In our digital age things move faster.

We stormed the Bastille on 8th January. It is now in the hands of the ‘multitude’ to either Guillotine the profligate monarch by the ballot on 17th August or let him back in the ‘Grande Galerie.’

Radiating a sense of relaxed detachment President Sirisena explained the events that led to his grim acceptance of the ‘done deal’ engineered by the two General Secretaries of the UPFA and the SLFP Messers Susil Premjayanth and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.

He was also mindful of the risks of skating on the thin ice of the UNP skating rink. The President delivered a deft and determined rap on the knuckles of Prime Minister Ranil Wickeremsighe for his handling of the Central Bank Bond scandal. His inference was that it was an unnecessary deflection of the good governance agenda that was the bulwark of his single term presidency.

The former President is neck deep in an existential crisis. It is easy for him to insist that he commands a majority of the ‘majority’ in our plural democracy. He will now have to translate his personal fiefdom in to numbers in the next parliament. Returning redeemers do not rely on coalitions. The choice is either win or bust.

An avowedly pro Mahinda commentator recently suggested that the inclusion of Mahinda Rajapaksa as a candidate in the pending parliamentary elections was a narrowing of the gap between President Sirisena and ex-President. It now appears that President Sirisena has widened the gap further.

An enduring transition of our dysfunctional democracy to a meaningful democracy requires the removal of the residual capacity of the Rajapakse backers to resist reforms. They have over the years developed synergistic links with the overlord that will not evaporate overnight. He has brazenly delivered opportunities of rent seeking to them.

They remain grateful to the departed patron and resentful of the arriving scourge. Reform has to happen before the impetus for change gives way to remorse over lost opportunities.

The hundred days Manifesto did not go beyond the diluted 19th Amendment. The slow meandering of the reform agenda was due mainly to the success of the Rajapaksa machine in coopting of the entrenched elites of the UNP. It is disconcerting to see some of those coopted now ensconced in the UNP national list. The President has suggested that the Controversial Governor of the Central Bank should step down. Is Prime Minister as oblivious to danger as the owners of the Titanic who thought that having too many life boats would make people believe that the unsinkable ship was unsafe? The Titanic did turn out to be unsafe!

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  • 6

    Sarath De Alwis

    RE: Titanic: The President’s Metaphor For The First Hundred Days

    “The President’s metaphor was valid both as noun and adjective. His party the SLFP was the ‘Titanic’ heading for collision with the Rajapaksa iceberg. Keeping the former ‘warlord’ appeased until the 19th Amendment was enacted was indeed a titanic task.”

    “It was engineered by the two General Secretaries of the UPFA and the SLFP Messers Susil Premjayanth and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa.”

    “The Titanic did turn out to be unsafe!”

    Bad engineers!

    Yes, the “Unsinkable” Titanic sank on its maiden Voyage, taking a 1,000 souls to their graves.

    Yes, the “Unbeatable” “Maha Rajaneni”, Mahinda Rjapaksa on its third Voyage, was sunk by the Common Sense Opposition Iceberg.

    Now the “Maha Rajaneni”, Mahinda Rjapaksa is coming up for air, and stay afloat.

    The Iceberg of August 17th, will sink and bury “Maha Rajaneni”, Mahinda Rjapaksa for good.

    Mara Mara Chatu Mara Amana Mara

    • 4

      Dr. Dushni Weerakoon or Dr. Saman Kelegama from the Instiute for Policy studies Should be make Governor of CB..

      1. Prez. Sirisena should not be afraid to clean out the SLFP in the name of Yahapalanaya. He needs now to finish the job of ENDING IMPUNITY OF THE CORRUPT and he needs to expel Mahinda Jarapassa and his corrupt supporters from the SLFP and clean out the party. Susil Premjayanth and Anura Priyadarshana Yapa have serious corruption charges against them because they know that MR will prevent them being investigated, they are backing him. Nimal Siripala Silva is another corrupt clown and was in the pay of the Pharmaceutical Companies when health Minister.. All the SLFP old guard needs to be fired and a clean younger generation brought in by Sirisena.

      2. Sirisena also needs to fire Arjuna Mahendran, who is Ranil Wickramasingh’s protege and ask for an investigation of his son in law and the company Perpetual Treasuries and its networks. There also need to be an investigation of Nivard Cabraal and a qualified governor appointed to the centrals Bank.
      This way he will demonstrate that he in IMPARTIAL and a true good governance fighter.

      • 0

        Dodo – Time and again people had warned Ranil to take immediate
        action to find the truth of CB scam and close it before the election but he kept it going and in every opposition political
        meetings, he is being accused of corruption. Governor Mahendran
        left a very lucrative position with a Bank in the Middle east
        to accept this position and it foolish to believe that within
        one week of his appointment, he played out the govt. trust by
        helping his son in law and neither no one will believe that
        Ranil of all people had a plan to rob the bank. There is some
        thing more beyond all this as outside force was involved to scuttle the good name of the govt.through the newly appointed governor.
        If Ranil survives his position after the election,he should set
        up a full scale inquiry to find the culprits and the intentions
        of COPE inquiry and it is sad that a leftist, headed the inquiry
        just to discredit the govt. prior to the election. It is true govt. lost some money in the deal and the people have all the right to know how it happened.

  • 7

    The SLFP/UPFA. Titanic is now sailing without its captain. The captain did not abandon ship. He was thrown overboard. it looks like pirates have taken control of the ship and the ship is taking in more water. The Captain is frantically trying to get on board ! The Pirates may shoot him while in the water. Passengers, yet on board, please jump ship, now. You will have a better chance to live!

    Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

    • 4

      The SLFP is SPLIT in two and it is better for MY3 Sirisena to recognize this and take control of the official SLFP and rescue it from the Uneducated criminal thugs to are in control of the party with the Jarapassa family at the helm..

      Sirisena should take the bull by the horns (Jarapassa) and root and his corrupt family and thugs out of the SLFP and rescue the party before it sinks!

  • 6

    The Titanic had only 20 lifeboats and could take 1,178 people, even though there were about 2,223 on board.

    If the HMS Yahapalanaya sank, would there be enough lifeboats for the ‘passengers’ to save themselves?

    This may have been a factor.

  • 5

    In simple term, there was an opportunity to repair the damage of the SLFP. The damage was done by Mahinda which is 18th amendment. Under the leadership of Maithiri, he tried to repair the damage through 19th amendment and all SLFP members voted for it. Why did they vote if they wanted to go back to 18th amendment. The essence of 18th amendment is to give 3rd term for Mahinda, not for SLFP. In otherwords, current SLFP members do not want rule of law, democracy, good governance because they are against them. People are not fools to support of rule of jungle, corruption, dictatorship. The ship now under the control of Pirates headed by Mahinda will sunk but a new reformed SLFP will emerge once pirates are sunk.

  • 4

    Now the Battle Lines are drawn. As the High Priest said: “every time the SLFP has aligned with others in a coalition the SLFP principles were not acted upon”. The MR & Co. was taken by surprise with the President’s speech and revelations. Even some Junior Ministers have decided to resign. Some of the “Big Wigs” in the SLFP also shaken. What do we mean by all that? The President knew what was in stock for him when he took over from MR and he played his cards well to keep the “Boat” sailing until at least some of the changes that were needed to be done were passed through the Parliament. At least we got that 19A, although it was not what was intended. For that we must be grateful. He knew very well how the Secretaries of SLFP and UPLF worked behind the scenes along with the deposed MR. Who would have known better? That is why he very skilfully kept the “Boat” sailing until the last moment and dissolved the Parliament, that also to prevent the advent of the “Monster” through the back door. Look at the picture of the “First Meeting” of the Election Committee held at the SLFP headquarters. Who are the people with MR who is also appointed as the Chairman of the Election Committee? Was it not the “Plot” that the President knew well in advance and waited for the opportune moment to “hit hard”? I feel it is “good timing”.

    Now we know who and who are with this “monster” who vows to come back to power and what they intend to do. The two Secretaries of SLFP and UPLF are prominently with the MR & Co. and they have now drawn the “Battle Line” and we now know what to do on 17th August.

  • 4

    Thank you Sarath De Alwis for your brilliant, brilliant piece, lighting up the equally brilliant strategy of Maithripala to outfox the criminal players. Many of us thought, as narrated by the President during his speech, that he was a coward, spineless, liar, betrayer and so on. I having been a staunch supporter, called him the Polonnaru Invertebrate in two of my comments after the nomination fiasco.

    But now I know he is none of those. I offer to him my profuse apologies. I come no where near to the President’s courage, wisdom and patience. With a President like him, we as Sri Lankans will be able to walk tall – unlike before 9th January when we had to hang our heads in shame. Sri Lanka has a great future if Maithripala should continue for two terms (max allowed under the new law) as President.

    Congratulations to Hon. Maithripala on his first six months in office. A job well done. Thank you Mr President. Take heart, the Country is with you.

  • 3

    The Captain of the Titanic is weak, not sure of his position, did not keep his word and changed his words- hence insincere. We have to wait and see whether the Titanic will remerge

  • 1

    The captain of this so called yahapalanaya ship is a spineless guy who hides in the cabin when the waters are rough.He comes out later with lame excuses to save face. He will be remembered in worlds history as the shameless spineless coward that he is.

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