4 March, 2024


Who Is Afraid Of Gotabaya Rajapaksa? 

By Sarath De Alwis –

Sarath de Alwis

Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses must be won by propaganda.~ Hannah Arendt

Tyrants rule through fraud and force. When fraud is exposed, the tyrant relies exclusively on force.     

At a press briefing on Thursday, Basil Rajapaksa has confidently claimed that there is no need to be afraid of Gotabaya. 

Instead, Gota would be a leader who would act as a ‘terminator’ who would eradicate fraud and corruption. 

Exuding the cherubic charm of a medieval potentate after a splendid feast, the supreme and super strategist of the Pohottu party  vouched that brother Gotabaya will not be an authoritarian despot. That is fair enough. Rajapaksa brothers have their own definitions of democracy, despotism, corruption etc. 

Give the devil his due. Basil has a sharp sense of humour and a sharper sense of the absurd. His reassurances of Gota’s inherent jollity and geniality, is an eerie reminder of the ‘doublespeak ‘that George Orwell referred to in his classic dystopian novel ‘1984.’ 

Basil Rajapaksa’s insistence of his brother Gotabaya’s inherent compassion and benevolence is vintage Orwellian doublethink. 

Orwell defined Doublethink as “… the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accepting both. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them”

Basil Rajapaksa himself is a master in the art of using the political language of deceit; the kind of language that is designed to make deceit truthful and murder respectable.

Gotabaya no doubt would be well equipped to eradicate any possibility of dissent and protest. Protest would be called sedition and dissent would be labeled as rebellion. It is all a matter of language. 

‘While Gotabaya will be a good democratic leader, he would be a stern eradicator of fraud and corruption.’ That was entertaining theatre.

For a mendicant builder of manorial homes on picturesque riverbanks at Malwana and the urban hillock in Matara town, the subtle sarcasm came with an eloquence that is  natural, only  to a tongue that is habitually attached to the cheek. 

“I can assure that Gotabaya will not be an authoritarian leader. Our party will not work for an authoritarian leader. Gotabaya was someone who exceled in management. I’m sure he will be a good democrat.” 

There was no need, he insisted, to be afraid of Gotabaya as president.  

The purpose of this essay is to explain why I am not reassured by Basil, and to elaborate on the rationale for my indelible fears of a Gotabaya presidency. This is also a sweeping summation of Gotabaya’s militarized managerial skills. 

We have seen and experienced his management prowess when he operated from behind the throne. This time round, we contemplate the prospect of his squatting on the seat of state as commander in chief, head of cabinet, appointing authority of the judiciary, ministry secretaries, provincial governors and our envoys. 

From what we know of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, we know that he epitomizes the political theology of Carl Schmitt the legal philosopher of the Nazi party. “The exception is more interesting than the rule. The rule proves nothing; the exception proves everything. In the exception the power of real-life breaks through the crust of a mechanism that has become torpid by repetition.”

The man has a monstrous ego. Make no mistake. He will end the cacophony of chaos in the streets. He will deliver stability by asphyxiating protest and smothering dissent. 

That possibility gives me the creepy crawly feeling of gooseflesh. I know how he will give us stability and safety. But first we must place the man in context.

There is no doubt that Gotabaya Rajapaksa is the only candidate that is compellingly credible within the Rajapaksa political monolith. 

He enjoys the unconditional support of Sinhala Buddhist zealots, ex-military fancy pants, and most significantly the oligarchs who occupied the front rows of the famous shindig at Shangri-La that launched his ‘Viyathmaga’ platform.  

Gotabaya Rajapaksa found an unlikely accomplice in the highest echelons of the incumbent Government. 

The current Prime Minister has a problem. His party or a good part thereof does not believe that him to be a viable candidate for a presidential run. His lackluster performance in the past four years has undermined his once sheeny image of competence and commitment.

Yet, Ranil is a tenacious politician with an overpowering sense of destiny. As late as the fourth week of July, Wickremesinghe with his wife travelled to South India to offer prayers at the Kollur Sri Mookambika temple. His tête-à-tête with the deities in the heavens was ample evidence of his determination to make a run in this year’s presidential election. 

That things have not worked out as planned is another story. The Prime Minister’s calculation seems to be that a Gota candidacy would be of such horrendous consequences, that opposing forces would coalesce even around the UNP’s autocratic boss to keep the quintessential despot out of power.  That calculation seems to have failed. 

Last week, we learnt how Gotabaya Rajapaksa had obtained a new Sri Lankan passport circumventing all procedural requirements. He did not appear in person. The application was lodged just after the cutoff time of the day. He collected a new passport that made no reference to his dual citizenship status. It was then blithely claimed that the document so obtained was adequate proof of his renunciation of US nationality.

The Colombo Telegraph later reported that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe helped the former  Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa to obtain a new passport through the intervention of his Internal Affairs Minister Wajira Abeywardena.

Subsequent events seem to confirm the Colombo Telegraph revelation. 

Internal Affairs Minister Wajira Abeywardena in his characteristic display of jiggery-pokery with a straight cherubic face declared at a press briefing that the Department of Immigration and Emigration can indeed issue a passport within an hour. 

The episode reveals the perfidy of the political class in power and out of power. The episode also reveals the man Gotabaya is. Impunity is his forte. He above the law, and beyond the law. 

The passport issue was reported by a daily newspaper. A pro Gota broadsheet carried a reference to the issue of the passport accusing a senior government official of leaking the story. With Gota running for the presidency, media outlets are already queuing up for lessons in Pavlovian obedience. 

Wickremesinghe hoped that a Gotabaya candidacy will animate civil society behind his possible candidacy. That unfortunately was not how the dice fell. 

The civil society formations that made the 2015 change possible are largely intact, but in deep hibernation. 

They have discovered the truth about monkeys. The higher the monkey climbs up the tree.  the better you see the length of its tail and perhaps the shape and size of its posterior. 

Mahinda Rajapaksa during his decade weakened civil society through patronage politics. Gotabaya Rajapaksa with his secretariat for NGOs intimidated those who resisted state patronage in to coerced docility. 

In Viyathmaga, Gotabayahas built a network of political entrepreneurs. Under a Gotabaya presidency, they will monopolize economic social and political opportunities.

Their network will implement their plans and policies with military precision. They will aim at total control under the protective cover of national sovereignty. 

They will either buy off members of mass movements or suppress them altogether. Stifling civil society is a sine qua non for a Gotabaya presidency. 

Gotabaya Rajapaksa does not owe his candidacy to the family or to the party that Basil built and Mahinda leads. Gotabaya has earned his candidacy through sheer grit. 

The Gotabaya phenomenon is a result of a popular rejection of the established political elite. That is how democracy dies and dictators are made. Democracy dies and dictators are born by majority consent. 

If you regularly watch the electronic media, you will know how dark money and media manipulation creates issues and project political actors.

The Cambridge Political Science don David Runciman explains in his book ‘How Democracies Die” – “Information technology has transformed the conditions in which democracy operates. The media environment is a battleground fought over by forces elected governments neither control nor fully understand.”

Periodic elections alone do not guarantee democracy or its freedoms. Political parties and political leaders must prevent and discourage authoritarian inclinations within their ranks.

Mainstream political parties must in times of crisis such as the one we confront today, work to prevent megalomaniacs from gaining power. 

When necessary they must be farsighted enough to refuse to endorse or align with would be tyrants. They must be ready to make common cause with rivals for the long-term goal of securing our civil liberties. 

Blocking off or quarantining populist extremism, requires great political courage. Extremists often succeed when seasoned political players are ready to imperil democracy for fear of rivals or pure and simple opportunism. 

Sometimes, as it is the case today, mainstream political parties make the mistake of accommodating extremists in the hope that they could control them. That is a grievous miscalculation. 

The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, despite its major flaws and glaring imperfections, is progress. 

The Right to Information Act is a bulwark that protects our meagre access to transparency and accountability. 

Once Gotabaya gains a foothold, our democracy faces the real crisis. The autocratic leader will proceed to subvert democratic institutions. 

Institutions alone are not enough to rein in elected autocrats. Constitutions or constitutional provisions are safe only if we are ready to defend them. The people of Hong Kong out on the streets attest to that.  

Political parties and organized citizens must abide by and defend democratic norms. In the absence of vigorous norms, independent commissions do not serve as the ramparts that protect our democracy. 

The wishy-washy conduct of the Police Commission in weighing the consequences of doing what is right is a stark example of chicanery before the mob. 

Institutions are strong only to the extent of the courage and commitment of those who control and direct them. In other words, their capacity to withstand external pressures. Institutions are easily and readily weaponized by those who control them, against those who do not. 

The tyrant who takes the electoral route to power kills democracy slowly, gradually and legally.

A former chief justice of Sri Lanka has informed the US court hearing Ahimsa Wickrematunge’s civil suit on the murder of her father, that she has all the legal remedies available in our Democratic Republic.

A despot chuckles! He had them in his pocket. If he has his way, he will have them again. 

And then, when the final curtain falls, you may ask – ‘Who is Ahimsa?’ 

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Latest comments

  • 29

    There is no absolute necessity to consider the whimpering of people like Sarath who lead SL to become the cesspool it is today.

    These whimpers are fake. If he worries so much about the historical conduct and 2 people kidnapped in a white van, why doesn’t he ever refer to the 60,000 + killed by Ranil and his gang in the eighties, the 30,000+ killed by JVP.

    Anti corruption vigilante is mute on the daylight robbery in the Central Bank for which RW is responsible.

    [edited out]

  • 36

    I honestly feel there is no one among the majority race that has the ability to rule this unfortunate island that is riddled with corruptions, frauds, crimes, drugs and violence and is a lost cause. It will be a pathetic country soon.

    • 25

      This is the pathological genetic characteristic of Singhalese.

  • 19

    Ena Paata Honda Ne…..
    Coming Colours no good…

    There would be no long journeys or short journeys in Sansara under Gota!

  • 35

    It is looking increasingly likely this descend into tyranny cannot be halted now. The average Sinhala voter, who represents the bulk of the vote, still has a long way to go to appreciate the value of democracy. He has failed to learn from the tragedies of 1971, 1988-89, 2010-15 and the Eelam Wars. At the present juncture he only wants a ‘strongman leader’ who can impose a far right rule in this country in the name of bolstering security. I don’t think we’d be fortunate enough to see him learn anything during our lifetime.

    • 5

      What has the so called Democracy given Sri Lanka for the past 71 years?

  • 13

    I have googled and got the Tamil version for coming colours no good and this is given below.
    Varum Vannangal Nallathalla!
    Over to you TNA!

  • 24

    Do not get misled by the publicity given to GR. Defeated MR got 58 lakhs and that number or less is there for GR too. All criminals and fraudsters are still with them. They are the people who are making a big noise. Nothing to worry.

    • 1

      Anyway they always make a big noise. That’s why they say – “Silent Majority”

  • 20

    Who is Gotapaya? Who is Basil Rajapakse? Who is Mahinda?
    Gotapaya is cowardly ran away Srilanka to America. He came after his brother took power and involved with number of murders including Lasantha who is a journalist and exposed corruption. He sponsored BBS. He gave up (?) his dual american citizenship only after his presidency candidate position confirmed. But still his family hold American citizen. He can go back to America if he loose the election. So, his patriotism of this land is not real. Similarly, Basil still hold dual citizen. Why cannot he and his family give up American citizenship if they really love Srilanka? Basil is famous for 15% commission and undoubtely he helped lots of LTTE senior members to travel abroad after the war paying bribe. Mahinda one time human rights activist killed his best friend Lasantha and number of journalists and human rights activist. We all know the level of corruption, level of judiciary independence and level of freedom of speeach during his period. Who should afraid to who? Mahinda family should be afarid to law and justice, not the people. What the people of this country need? Law and order, Justice and peace!

    • 9

      Gotabhya has a clear vision for our country Don’t talk nonsense people must understand and get rid of present government

  • 12

    The greatest deception of our times is/was called “yahapalanaya”. This guy was/is a foot soldier. So nothing else can be expected other than these rants. As another commentator mentioned, the 60,000 killed under the direct watch of “yahapalana” master minds in 87-89 were just ants to be crushed under the jack boot of “dharmishta” princes and princesses to rule us forever. To this end, they have co-opted their presumed ideological enemies, the fake Marxists and revolutionaries too!

  • 22

    To all those who back Gota it can be said : Forgive them for they know not what they do.
    Reminder – Neimoller :
    First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
    And that will be tragedy too late for all of you.

  • 5

    All the shitholes are sweating and shitting :-))).

  • 6

    Why must we be afraid of Gotabaya Rajapakshe?
    Sarath de Alwis, if you are afraid go and hide yourself. But not like an Ostrich with your exterior sticking out.

    If Gota is what you say, why would Ranil assist him getting his passport. Its no big deal as senior citizens do not need to provide finger prints.

    • 4

      This passport story of Sarath is a complete lie. The government big wigs were not even aware of gota getting the passport and only later inquired from the immigration how he got the passport and was told that he submitted all the required documents and they had to issue him the passport. Wajira who made this inquiry quietly shut his mouth.

  • 12

    Sarath de Alwis wonders {“Who Is Afraid Of Gotabaya Rajapaksa?”}
    GR is also afraid of many. The top three who scare the shit off GR are Gota, Gota and Gota, not necessarily in that order.
    PS: The fourth and several slots are taken by Gota.
    GR runs away when the noose gets a bit tight and gets back when all is clear.
    This time the noose has reached his adopted land of rogues. He is back because there is no place to go.
    GR is also scared of Gnanasara Thera. A genie set free by Gota now wants to be his own genie. Watch this space!.

  • 7

    Who the hell is Basil Rajapakse?
    Istn’t he also an American citizen?
    Why is he here?
    Basil nd Gotabaya must get back to the USA and the rest of the Rajapakse family to Medamulana or the prison sooner or later.

  • 3

    Do not forget SL is a democratic country and people have choice who to select as their future leader. If the majority of people wants GOTA then we have accept it.

    • 5


      People voted for Hitler look where he took them.

      • 2

        Yes you people chose Sirisena and look what happened!

  • 3

    This foot soldier is 1000 times better than the day light robbers of the central bank. Democracy will come once the country puts on the correct path and the people are strengthen economically. We want none other than GR ass the leader of this country.

  • 6


    You are an ardent supporter and admirer of Gotha and you said so in so many words a few months ago. You have made a U Turn..
    In my book Gotha is a CRIMINAL and he can never be a Democratic Leader. Unfortunately Democracy is what we have in Sinkala Lanka and he will win hands down if he ever gets to stand. Let us wait and see if American Justice catches up with him.
    Who is afraid of Gotha certainly the Minorites. But in y vire help is on hand. Sri Lankas SOVEREIGNTY is limited to Indias Securty and that is the bottom line. India brought Maldives which is 2000 miles away under its control and Sri Lanka is in its back yard.

    Futurs for Sinhala Lanka is BLEAK. The choice is yours.

    • 2

      Why are the minorities afraid of Gata? so they say,We really don’t know that. All that minorities must not forget is it was Gota who initiated and carried out to rehabilitate 12 000 LTTE cadres.
      It has now come out in the open that Gota had nothing to do with Aluthgama incident and it was those who initiated that shameful act are the ones who jumped to the ‘Jahapalana’ band wagon no sooner they got the opportunity.

  • 1

    ISIS sympathizers small section of Muslim community who applaud eating of hearts of poor journalists in Syria, Who applaud eating of hearts of north Iraque Assyrians christian just borne children who applaud suicide bombing in catholic churches here may be afraid of GOTA. Those who believe in democracy do not have to worry about GOTA. GOTA is a Lanken borne person brought up under Sinhalese & Buddhist cultural traditions. Therefore he may be a helper of our traditional farmers, a helper of traditional fisher folk a.helper of our traditional industries. He may add modernity to those traditional works & enhance living standards of those people. He may look at our youths needs in very friendly manner & may grant durable solutions. though he live in 2020 but has vision for 2030 as well. .I full support his candidacy for 2020 presidential race.

  • 2

    Very good analysis though mild. Bensen

  • 2


    the “Lew Kwan Yew” of Sri Lanka…..
    follow Lee Kwan Yews example…..
    smash the Terrorists / Traitors…..

  • 1

    “Who Is Afraid Of Gotabaya Rajapaksa? “

    who is afraid of the big bad wolf?

  • 2

    We need a competent leader running SL. I wouldn’t wish the current bumbling idiotic lot running a kindergarten much less a country. When Gota was running Colombo it was immaculate. I was jogging at Independence Sq one day when our man was the boss and saw a street dog pooping. Doing next loop the poop was already cleaned up. Never seen such thing in SL ever in my life!

    • 1

      what happened to the street dog?Was it missing after that?poop cleaner gota?I thought we were paying him for much higher duties than to see that the place he exercises is kept clean.Pest controller,poop cleaner.he has done a great job on galle road,even having parking spots,crossings with lights and i saw a blind man following a line.

  • 3

    The crux of the problem in this country is that none of our Sinhalese buggers can govern.In this backdrop, the prudent thing to do is to at least now acknowledge the truth and this hard to digest fact, and give the chance to someone from our minority community to lead us if anyone of them could fill the void of statesmanship. All our Sinhalase buggers are PATHETIC LOSERS!

    • 0

      an you name one minority leader who is not involved in infighting let alone unite the country!

  • 0

    Sarath, enough shit squeezing Sarath. Write something readable like you used to.

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