8 August, 2022


Unseasonal Elections, Family-Theatrics And Development Of Underdevelopment

By Tisaranee Gunasekara –

“Conquest creates tyrants.” – Baron d’Holbach (The Social System)

Three provincial councils have been dissolved, years ahead of time. Millions of rupees will be wasted on untimely elections, unneeded by the country and unwanted by the people.
These incessant elections are not about democracy or devolution; nor are they in popular or national interests. They are about shoring-up Rajapaksa-power.
Unseasonal elections keep SLFP (national/local) leaders in constant trepidation about their own political futures and thus disinclined to think beyond their positions, perks and privileges. This increases their dependence on the Ruling Family, for nominations, electoral assistance and political preferment. The consequent combination of fear (of political death) and desire (to prolong the good life of gilded-slavery) is a potent impediment to any inner-party resistance to Sibling-rule.
Unseasonal elections also enable the Ruling Family to increase the presence of Rajapaksa-loyalists (as distinct from SLFP-loyalists) in national and local assemblies. Incessant elections ensure the accelerated transmogrification of the SLFP from a Ratwatte-Bandaranaike fief to a Rajapaksa fief.
The Katuwana attack is a timely reminder of the dangers of opposing the Rajapaksas, politico-electorally. The threats meted out to the President of the Federation of University Teachers Association, Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, demonstrate that under Rajapaksa rule mere criticism is a de facto crime. The 18th Amendment has emasculated the Elections Commissioner, turning him into a presidential-underling.
The unending elections happen in this landscape of repression, fear and abuse. They are more politico-propaganda gimmicks than real exercises in democracy and popular franchise – the electoral-equivalents of a Carlton sports encounter, guzzling funds which should have been spent on providing relief for drought-stricken farmers or reducing the tax-burden on consumers.
The provincial council system was enacted as a political solution to the ethnic problem. Today the South, which neither demanded nor wanted devolution, is being inundated with provincial elections while the North is deprived of an elected provincial council. The resultant absence of devolution cannot but render even more difficult the near-Sisyphusean efforts of Northern Tamils to rebuild their shattered lives, post-war.
Unseasonal provincial/local elections are not in Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim or Lankan interests. They just serve Rajapaksa interests.
The Rajapaksas might have personal differences; or disagreements about how the power-and-wealth pie should be shared. But when it comes to protecting Familial Rule, the Siblings operate in a truly polyphonous manner.
Take l’affaire Kolonnawa. In the immediate emotional aftermath of the murder of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra, Mahinda and Gotabhaya Rajapaksa were publicly decried by Bharatha-supporters as Godfathers of the alleged killer. Basil Rajapaksa worked tirelessly, soothing incensed tempers, calming the impending storm, preventing closet dissenters within the SLFP from teaming up with furious Bharatha-supporters and causing a pocket-revolt in the party.
Last week, the CID informed the courts that the AG’s Department (under President Mahinda) did not give a directive to record a statement from Duminda Silva (the protégé of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya). 24 hours later, Speaker Chamal presided over the foundation-stone laying ceremony for a Bharatha-statue. The two incidents in juxtaposition demonstrate, again, the Rajapaksa modus operandi; the seeming familial differences are often nothing more than a necessary (and useful) division-of-labour in protecting and promoting familial interests.
Country, nation, race, religion and party: all are ruses and slogans. The raison d’être of Rajapaksa Rule is Rajapaksa Rule.

Economic Pitfalls
Last week, award-winning actress-cum-environmentalist Iranganie Serasinghe appealed to the Navy “to refrain from engaging in activities that would have an adverse impact on the Panama lagoon” (The Island – 27.6.2012). According to the Spokesman of the Panama Lagoon Fisheries Management Authority, “the Navy had already acquired land belonging to the villagers and places considered by the Central Environment Authority as rich in biodiversity” (ibid). The Navy had built a jetty in fish-breeding grounds and cut down mangroves.
Conflate this outrage with the recent statement by the Army Commander about the need for “a complete overhaul of the Army along military and development lines” (Sri Lanka Mirror – 25.6.2012). The military, transformed from a state-entity into the Rajapaksa Praetorian Guard, will be tasked with implementing unpalatable and shady politico-economic dictats of the Ruling Family. A stake in the economy will be their reward for acting as Rajapaksa enforcers and yeomen.
The military, in turn, will bring into the economy the habits of lawlessness, abuse and impunity it internalised during the war. The ongoing devastation of Panama is but a forewarning of the ills of militarising the economy. These ills will impact as adversely on Sinhalese as it will on Tamils and Muslims. In their pursuit of profit for the Siblings and for themselves, the military will not discriminate between the majority and the minorities, and will not hesitate to treat as enemy-aliens anyone opposing their ‘developmental work’.
The Rajapaksa economic strategy is not aimed at promoting productive and self-sustaining economic development or popular welfare. Its aim is to create the necessary basis for Rajapaksa Rule by marrying familial political power with familial economic power.
In the Rajapaksa-book, development is a show, garish and gargantuan, with little relevance to the lives, occupations, needs and expectations of most Lankans.
The Minister of Higher Education is simply echoing the thinking of his masters – albeit his own inimitably execrable manner – when he celebrates the closing down of rural schools as a sign of development.
Rajapaksa development means agricultural decline and industrial stagnation, a crisis-ridden educational system and an under-funded health system, an ailing rupee and a ballooning debt plus worrying hikes in income inequality, inequality before the law and crime levels.
In dictatorships trains are no more punctual than in democracies. The former is better not at ensuring punctuality but at creating an illusion of punctuality. When real economic/developmental problems crop up in Rajapaksa Sri Lanka, they are swept behind a curtain of roseate hues, woven with interlocking threads of lies, deceptions and denials.
Last week when the rupee hit a new low, the Central Bank, instead of dealing with the problem, ordered commercial banks not to trade the rupee above 133.00 against the US dollar.
Maintaining appearances is all that matters. Let the basics haemorrhage and innards rot, so long as the economic-facelifts and developmental-makeup are in place.
So the regime which is going hell-for-leather to enforce the plastic crates law is planning the wanton destruction of pivotal agricultural land and the closure of the country’s sole Agricultural Institute, to build a domestic airport. If farmers, battered by government maltreatment and climatic assaults decide to sell their lands and migrate to cities, that would suit the regime. Their land, bought for a song, can be used to increase the worldly wealth and glory of the rulers. The resultant decrease in rural population can be hailed as another sign of development.
In ancient Greece the agora was a marketplace for goods and ideas. This dual function is symbolic of the totality of democracy, of its bipedal nature, political and economic. To be complete, and safe, economic democracy and political democracy must complement each other. An economic strategy which ignores the needs of the majority might ill-fit with political democracy. But such a strategy, which aims at enriching a minority, will be the perfect corollary of despotism.
Familial Rule must cause Familial Development.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    Madame Tisaranee G,You essays base on critique of not ongoing present system of Island,but is confine to purley familistic politics of Messrs Rajapakas’s Family.Is understood you have been influance by Torstakist politics in island, on of approch negative side of social political and econmic of developement.It mean you skip of capitalist path of developement.
    1) In the seventies of the 19th century,the world entered upon a NEW relatively peaceful peroid.With Italy united at last and a United Germany state build,the principal task of the Bourgeois revolution in Weastern Europen were largely accomplished.Capitalism was fairmaly established in most of Europen countries and in United State.
    As industry grow ,so did the number of factory workers expaned.
    Result of the working class to become an indepandent political force.
    2) Country like us were colonial rule over 435 years.since our indepandence 1948,our democtatic capitalism task in unfunished and incompletd due to leadersip of bourgeoisie more depend on Imperial-hegemony policy had been follow by UNP ruling party.The bourgeoisie conculded alliances with the most extreme recatoinaty forcres inside and outside country.However freedom and democracy of our social framework has been undermine;people become voiceless,developement standstill and peaceful politics turn into war-footing politcs since 1977.War against terrorism become main agenda of electroal politices,as whole people lost democratic fundamental rights of socitey.
    3) Growth of capitalism has ruin, workers farmers and petty-small middle strate had been supressed by ruling parties.The insurgencies of 1971 and 1988/89 and war has being initiaived by UNP 1977 ,79,81 and 1983 impulse riots of south against Tamils had an open path to terrorism in North-east;the riots was breeding ground for separstism and secessionism, terrorsim of ethnicity politics in the Island.
    War drag over 30 odd years,and complled to fought war against Terrorism by ruling parties.Until end of the war 2009 May people unity and stabilty is main task of our society.
    4 there was no any independent people’s political party,to achive task of democratic unfinished task our society.Despite absnce of a Peoples movement and decline LSSP SLCP CPC and and people movement had been repressions.
    5 The leader of LSSP and its founders ever-never reliaized STATE of task of democrtaic programe at all.Dr Colvin R.De Silva said his 18th december 1937 …” The issue is not between Capitalism and Facism or Democracy and Dictatroship;the issue is betweem Capitalism and Sociliasm.In that framework completely fall the lesser rivarlries and conflicts that litter the world of politicial controvesy….let us assess the concrete situation…” Dr Silva of LSSP were unable to address concrete condition in 1937 in Ceylon.
    Now M/s Thisaranee G seems to follow similar path of mindset,your priority of critique of MR family.Is class politics and defined our prsent system is NOT towards Socilaism is heading for Capitalist path of developement.We are in stage of stability and unity of country sovernginity as Nation state; without sacrifice of young democracy and protect people rights and path of developmet Capitalsm is our urgent task of country.

  • 0

    The North that pleads for PC Elections for years is denied this on flimsy and comical grounds while the South that does not want this is, nonetheless, burdened with it – yet again. The hungry, the unemployed and those millions with little opportunity in the South are told “here we have given you another election. Who says there is no democracy here?” That the elections are held far ahead of time and for no earthy reason at all does not matter. Who is there to question? And there are multiple thousands who swallow this canard as they pinned their hopes earlier on Mahinda Chinthana – more than once.

    You can steal and you can accumulate filthy lucre outside.But the loot is not 100% safe in Singapore, Europe or the USA. Swiss Banks are already yielding to pressure to divulge. The stolen money of several African dictators in the USA (remember Marcos?) were forfeited. This includes some of the stolen Libyan wealth hidden in the name of the Gadaffis in North America. If you do the right thing you have no need to worry. But if you do the wrong thing, the thought of getting caught one day will continue to haunt you – day and night.


  • 0

    A Mendis

    Sorry to bother you. I am bit thick please bear with me.

    I never understood what capitalism is and what is not. Similarly I never have had the opportunity to learn about Socialism either. Could you please explain what these oversimplified words mean to you in the Sri Lankan context given that the world is increasingly globalised.

  • 0

    Tamils at last have managed to get rid off Prabaharan donkey, but Sinhalese have now got the’Sinhala version Prabaharan’ in the form of Rajapakse donkeyS. I can say to you Sinhalese will pay a huge price to get rid off their donkeyS in the same way Tamils did to get rid off their donkey. Mind you, Tamils had only one donkey!!!!!!

  • 0

    Referance to Comment by Gentelment of M/s Thisaraneee G essay.
    In captialist eocnomies pointed out tate of profit of different industries and commerce with different organic competition of Capital level out into a general RATE OF PROFIT.Due to compettiton,industries with a relatively hidh shsre of contant as compare with varible,capital recive part of the SUPERUS VAULE

  • 0

    Referance to comments of by gentleman of M/S Tisaranee G.essay….

    In capitalist ecomonies pointed out rate of profit of different industries and commerce with different organic competition,industries with a relatively high shares of constant as compared with variable,capital receive part of SUPLUS VALUE that is not their own. Other capitalist producers consequently lose the corresponding part of “their” surpuls value.Competition thus impels a transfusion of capital from the less profitable to the more profitable spheres. Commdities are sold actually not at the value of the industry concern,but the PRICE of producation,a certain mean expressing the cost price and the general rate of PROFIT foe all branches of producation.This pratice which occurs behind the backs of CAPITALIST and outside their consciousness,does not abolish THE LAW OF VALUE,and merely modifies the form in which it manifesta itself.
    Futher more …Origin and developement of capitalism ….with illustration from history he showed the change that had occour in the exchange of commodity prpducation since its original form,simple commodity producation,until producation and exchange entered the CAPILAIST STAGE….The rate of profit main objective is bourgeios capitalist economy.I read few of lines of capitalsm apply in wolrd
    wide,it will suited Sri lankan ongoing system as well.
    I storgly feel our ongoing economy-political-social order Sri lanka is path of Capitaist developemnet. Ours in natures and its featurs are belongs to BOURGEOIS DEMOCARTIC stage and its task. In present context leadership under the bourgeois ruling parties.
    We have go long way to socialism.

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