By Sarath de Alwis –
We must not allow politics to provoke our moral outrage. Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa is a magnificent political conjuror. After his reelection in 2010 he jailed his failed opponent. The one who beat him on his third bid in 2009 has now delivered the boodle to his doorstep.
I undertake this essay to enlist your support to ensure that the government that was led by Ranil Wickremesinghe survives this challenge. This is not about keeping him in office. This is about using the opportunity of the 360-degree somersault of Sirisena our president to infuse a modicum of decency in to our democratic discourse. We must rejoice that it happened and use it for course correction.
The outrage expressed by the president over Ranil Wickremesinghe’s role in the central bank bond issue is feloniously farcical theatre. He dissolved parliament before the DEW Gunasekara findings could be published. A day before parliamentary elections in August 2015 he moved the finish line tape closer to the UNP, by going on air that the former President MR would not be invited to form a government no matter what. When he did all that he knew that there had occurred a funny fracas in the vaults of the central bank. Now he has decided to waltz out as the only virgin left in the ‘yahapalanaya’ bordello.
I hold no lantern, torch or candle for Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. In an article captioned “Promises, Perceptions and Performance’ published in the daily FT on 26th January 2015 I wrote:
“It is difficult to comprehend the urgency in appointing a Governor of the Central Bank for a term that extends beyond 100 days when the more transparent option would have been to appoint the most senior Deputy Governor for a short-term pending the implementation of good governance parameters which would include the selection of the Governor of the Central Bank. “
In a subsequent article published in Colombo Telegraph on 16th March 2015 which I sardonically captioned ‘In more submissions in defense of Arjun Mahendran’, I likened the appointment of three UNP lawyers to investigate the bond deal to a search for a black cat in a dark room.
I said “The current situation is exceptional. It calls for civic mobilization around the values of a people’s democracy. The nation is not privy to the whole truth about who made what decisions. Mr. Daya Pelpola and Mr. Ronald Perera are not the best qualified to tell the nation the details. We can observe the writing on the wall. As we get closer we should be able to decipher the scrawling. The grafting of the oligarchy to political power over the last decade has fundamentally altered the values in public life.”
My credentials as a skeptic of Ranil Wickremesinghe’s politics are impeccable.
Although I find the politics of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa disastrous and offensive, I appreciate the logic of his design to access power at the earliest possible hour.
He is the President who won the war. The imperialist west and dollar greedy human rights NGOs denigrate his patriotic achievements by claiming that it was a war without witnesses. That cannot be true.
That said, now he wants to cobble up a coalition or a caretaker government without witnesses while parliament is prorogued.
Yesterday we saw why it is necessary for the parliament to be prorogued. The great grandson of DS Senanayake appeared at Temple Trees from whence his illustrious ancestor rode out on horseback to die of a stroke at Galle face green. He was there to assure his colleagues and leader that his loyalties were with the party and under no circumstances will he desert the party.
Later in the evening he was sworn in as a minster of the cabinet in which Mahinda Rajapaksa is the prime minster. The President who was the common candidate backed by the UNP is the head of the cabinet. Now you must remember that legal interpretations on that side are done by a great legal mind – a jurisprudential mountebank if ever there was one. The Great grandson is not in breach of his solemn promise made in the corridors once graced by his great grandmother Molly!
Obviously, the great grandson is deeply attached to the imagined legacy of a noble ancestry – a clear pointer to a medieval mind. He seems seduced by the praise heaped on his honorable ancestors by the president who himself has adopted a style of hugger mugger clandestine political maneuvering more suited to a Moghul or Ottoman court.
Let us cut to the chase. Why is the parliament prorogued? Because the road to fascism runs through the forum of the people. Silencing parliament is the first requisite of a fascist experiment. You must ignore Vasudeva Nanayakkara.
Leon Trotsky identified the Vasudeva types in his tract ‘Their morals and ours’. “To appeal to abstract norms is not a disinterested philosophic mistake but a necessary element in the mechanics of class deception.’
He wants parliament prorogued to reassign seats in the house. Mastery of Marxist morality needs more grit than a daintily coiffured silvery beard.
We must return to the theme of this essay. Constructing a coalition with lights switched off with fat wallets discharging a blinding light.
You must remember that Mahinda Rajapaksa was not a despot. History may or may not repeat. But it sure instructs. Powers of the earlier MR presidency were freely given by the people. That is the way it works. Timothy Snyder, a Harvard scholar has traced the road to populist serfdoms which are a sign of our time.
Anticipatory obedience is political suicide. Yet that is what we do. We think ahead of what a repressive rule could do. Then, we offer without being asked. We saw the hill country parliamentarian who wrapped a shawl round MR earlier in the day going back to ‘Temple Trees’ and assuring his party colleagues that he would never abandon the tribe. Then he shuttles back and is sworn in as a minster. The earlier shawl draping was an expression of anticipatory obedience.
When we abandon facts, we abandon our freedom. As Timothy Snyder points out when nothing is true no one can criticize power because there is no basis for us to arrive at the truth. When nothing is true we must be satisfied with the spectacle.
Is it not a spectacle that we are now witnessing? Is this not a spectacle staged e since last Friday, when a nationalist progressive Cardinal received a godsend in the form a double barrel Sinhala substitute for Judas Iscariot?