17 October, 2017

Who Should Captain?

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

In October 1988, accepting the UNP nomination at the Sugathadasa Stadium, Ranasinghe Premadasa complained in a bitter, biting aside, that as Prime Minister he had enjoyed “the powers of a peon”. That status is about to change if the Opposition wins, because the Maithri manifesto makes clear that the centre of gravity of executive power will undergo a decisive structural shift from the Presidency to the parliament and the Cabinet. Thus Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe is tipped to be the most powerful Prime Minister since Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike—far more powerful than the infinitely more deserving Mr. Premadasa was under President Jayewardene. If after a parliamentary election, a breakaway SLFP is the largest party and if ex-President Kumaratunga is the leader of that party, then it is she who will be the most powerful Prime Minister since her mother. In this scenario, Mahinda Rajapaksa would have been shunted home to Medamulana. Is it only me, or is there something wrong with this picture?

What then are our real choices on January 8th 2015? With the joint Opposition’s declared objective of Maithripala Sirisena occupying a shrunken Presidency and therefore wielding reduced authority, and power being shifted to Parliament and the Cabinet, it will be Ranil and Chandrika who will wield real power and influence. Should we bring them back and toss Mahinda out?

To my mind, what Mahinda Rajapaksa has done wrong- or got wrong–is greatly outweighed by what he has got right and done right. On the other hand, what Ranil and Chandrika got wrong have done wrong, far outweigh whatever it is they did right. Since Mahinda’s positives greatly outweigh his negatives and the opposite is true of Ranil and Chandrika, I see no sense in removing Mahinda and re-instating Ranil and Chandrika, albeit with Mr. Sirisena as the human shield and presidential proxy candidate.

President Rajapaksa should have made Maithripala the Prime Minister. He was wrong not to do so. It is illogical to conclude that Mahinda’s error should be rectified by us by making Maithri the executive President for 100 days and then ceding real power to Ranil and Chandrika. Instead, Maithri must be given the post he is entitled to and suited for, the Prime Ministership, by us voters.

Maithripala Sirisena would undoubtedly make a good President but not right now; Right now, Maithripala would make a superb Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition. He can be a useful counterbalance to Mahinda. We can give him either post through our vote, at the parliamentary election. He can then reintroduce the 17th amendment and thereby reform the Presidency. The next time around, we could make him President.

If anyone should be selected to the top job, he/she must have better credentials, a better track record, than his/her competitor, who may or may not be the present occupant of that post. Are those currently in the Opposition who will have the power to rule over us have a better record of outstanding achievement than the man whose job they hope to take in twenty days, if only to abolish it? Is the opposition more of a proven success than Mahinda Rajapaksa? I have no reason to think so because that’s not what the evidence shows.

How did Chandrika and Ranil discharge their responsibilities in the service of the Sri Lankan state and us, its citizenry, when they were in office? How do they compare with Mahinda Rajapaksa and his record of performance? What is their track record; their ‘form’?

  • President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga viewed her electoral victory as a massive mandate for peace. If she had not made the following mistakes, then she could have won the war, implemented a reasonable autonomy arrangement and constructed a progressive pluralist society.
    • She failed to see that her victory was also the result of the LTTE’s serial decapitation of the UNP.
    • She failed to prudently pick the 13th amendment or the Mangala Moonesinghe proposals (which Madam Bandaranaike had signed off on) as the start-line, and not overshoot the mark and waste time and political capital on a federalizing ‘union of regions’ package.
    • She could have presented the more moderate August 2000 draft in 1995.
    • She should have settled upon Devananda and Siddharthan as her Tamil political partners instead of pursuing the mirage of a negotiated peace with the Tigers right through to 2005.
    • As commander-in-chief, she could have ordered the Tigers to be encircled and destroyed in the liberation of Jaffna (Operation Riviresa) instead of letting them escape with the civilians into the Wanni.
    • She did not use her courageous cousin Anuruddha Ratwatte in the role that President Rajapaksa deployed his brother Gotabhaya.
    • She patronized and encouraged the Sudu Nelum antiwar movement which conducted pacifist propaganda in the Sinhala areas while the war was raging – thereby hampering morale and military recruitment.
    • She failed to give full command and free rein to the best professionals such as Sandhurst-trained General Gerry de Silva instead of the fairly mediocre General Daluwatte who conceived of the disastrous Operation Jaya Sikuru. She failed to send Gen Gamini Hettiaarachchi to the National Defense College in Delhi and instead sent the officer who was the head of her personal security detail. Had the iconic Special Forces commander Gamini Hettiaarachchi been permitted to acquire his NDC qualifications in time, it is he who would have been the Army commander, and could have won the war for us with far fewer civilian casualties and consequent international fallout.
    • She squandered the opportunity of rousing global sympathy for Sri Lanka’s war and against the Tigers immediately after their suicide attack which blinded her in one eye and instead switched on the Norwegian peace track.
    • She wrongly picked Norway, with its obvious Tamil Diaspora instead of Japan (which neither a Tamil lobby nor granted the state any military aid) as the peace negotiator.
    • She wasted the opportunity for a full on counter-offensive with the rapid induction of airpower, presented by her own sterling defence of Jaffna in 2000 after the fall of Elephant Pass.
    • She delayed in authorizing the LRRP deep penetration raids on the Tiger command structure until after the Katunayake attack.
    • She turned her back on the possibilities opened up by the US ‘global war on terror’ by making key speeches in London and Delhi proclaiming that ‘terrorism cannot be defeated by military means’ (which Mahinda Rajapaksa has given the lie to).
    • She sabotaged the Karuna rebellion by permitting the LTTE to pass through the Sri Lankan naval cordon and land in the rear of the Karuna rebel forces.
    • She marginalized Lakshman Kadirgamar and negotiated a post tsunami joint mechanism with the tsunami-weakened LTTE which gave them equal representation with the legitimate state in its top tier and a 5:3 advantage in its vital middle tier, with a headquarters located in the Tiger controlled Wanni.

Therefore one cannot but question her moral right to complain about and criticize her decidedly more successful successor.

What then is the actual level of competence in national political decision-making shown by her current ally and partner, the aspirant to the post of an empowered Prime Ministership?

  • Ranil Wickremesinghe abjectly signed an asymmetrical CFA which did not reflect the actual balance of power between the Sri Lankan state and an LTTE which had begun to be weakened by the first LRRP hits on its command structure (‘Lt Col’ Shanker being killed in Sept 2001).
    • He agreed to disarm the anti-Tiger Tamil groups without mentioning the issue of decommissioning under international auspices of Tiger weapons. He was a model of supine appeasement and failed to respond resolutely to Tiger abductions and killings of Police and army personnel even in the city and suburbs of Colombo.
    • He undermined the morale of his military by the Athurugiriya DMI ‘safe house’ raid and the ensuing interrogations, the dispute with the Jaffna army chief over the HSZs, the intervention in which a Tiger ship was allowed to go unscathed from a Sri Lankan navy ambush.
    • He allowed free passage for sophisticated electronic communications equipment for the Tigers, not to mention the broadcast of Prabhakaran’s warmongering ‘Mahaveera’ speeches through the Rupavahini.
    • He failed to use his ‘Washington connection’ to present Sri Lanka as a frontline in the global war on terror instead of providing an excuse for the Tigers in Washington to the effect that military means should be used against ‘international terrorists’ and not the Tigers (who were manifestly no longer ‘national’ when they blew up Rajiv Gandhi); had he used his supposed international connections to strengthen the Sri Lankan military or secured a public Western commitment so that either could have served as a deterrent to the Tigers – then perhaps the inflation of Tiger territory, power and ego would not have taken place to the extent that they planned and for and publicly proclaimed the imminence of ‘The Final War’ (HRW Dec 2005).

If Chandrika and Ranil had not conducted themselves as they did, their successor and the armed forces would not have needed to wage a war of such huge magnitude and intensity that the collateral damage has caused us to be a target of the international human rights movement.

With this track record, is it therefore wise, is it prudent, is it logical, is it desirable, is it fair and ethical, to usher Ranil and Chandrika into power with Maithripala Sirisena as a ‘human face’, while tossing Mahinda Rajapaksa out? Speaking strictly for myself, I rather think not.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    1

    Where is the list of the wrong things done by Mahinda? You could have mentioned some of the following just to keep up the facade of impartiality –

    – bribe of the LTTE to enforce Tamil boycott of votes in 2005
    – thievery of tsunami funds via Helping Hambantota
    – alleged human rights abuses during the last stages of the war
    – alienating the international community over mishandling of human rights abuse accusations
    – blatant unprecedented nepotism
    – blatant unprecedented corruption by Mahinda, his brothers, his children and his extended family
    – state support of the BBS
    – impunity for murderers such as Duminda Silva
    – impunity for thugs such as Mervin Silva and his son
    – murdering an independent journalist in Lasantha
    – failure to keep major promises from the Mahinda Chinthanaya in two elected terms
    – attempting to create a family dynasty via the 18th ammendment
    – empty development projects such as the Hambantota port, airport and cricket stadium
    – borrowing large sums of money at exorbitant interest rates to fund unnecessary projects
    – misuse of state media, censorship of private media
    – attacking private media and making Sri Lanka one of the worst places in the world for journalists

    This is just a few that Impartial Dayan could have brought up.

    And why on earth does Dayan keep publishing his articles on a website that his hero has blocked in Sri Lanka?!

    • 3
      1

      Hi JMN

      Please allow me to add two to your list:

      – “An impotent leader; just a figure-head” – Dayan describing MR in an article followng Welweraya incident.

      – “A diabolical regime”- again Dayan describing the MR-led gang in an article in CT just a few weeks ago.

      Dayan, let me repeat a question that I had asked you previously – “How much more can you suck?!” (The interpretation of that in ways more than one is indeed intentional!

  • 1
    0

    How do you pick the Leader. Make summary assessment of Leadership in the basis of Extreme Nationalism. First we must sketch what has to be done for the next six years. Then assess the candidate on the basis of skills and abilities of the Team and Captains towards our Goals.. We want a stable peace. This will make a Strong Economy. The importance is that their are professionals appointed independently by the necessary commissions. Ranil’s record for Peace , introduction of amendments and use of Professionals is excellent. The Tigers preferred Mahinda previously because he has them fixed in an International Trap.

    You have told us before regarding Obedient Military Officers in all fields. Please tell us again.

  • 2
    1

    Hope the Intelligentsia will read and digest these achievements of the possible future PM and President/ , Vice President of the Socialist Republic of Srialnaka because the Elite, Anglicans and the Vellals won’t…

    Thanks mate..Sorry for any bad mouthing you in the past..

  • 1
    0

    watch for writer U turn around 8.1.15,it will be backed up by past snippets hidden in prev articles.

    here is a guy who will lift his hand in a second on a flight when the crew asks:doctor on board ?!

  • 0
    0

    watch for writer U turn soon.

    here is a guy who will lift his hand in a second on a flight when the crew asks:doctor on board ?!

  • 1
    1

    Here are important questions to be answered and battles of election between Mahinda Rajapakese verses M.Sirisena to be won?

    Can Sri Lankan want to reestablish the healthy functions since 2009 May end of War that nation sovereignty, Independence and Democracy Sri lanka; that political and economic system to the point where it can once again provide visionary leadership to the PEOPLE OF OUR NATION by Mahinda Rajapakase ? Yes.

    Well, it may be that carry forward from of local leadership will emerge in the Global outlook by Mahinda Rajapakase’s political vision of new capitalist sustainability; but that is certain for now and is likely to take time that, we march for future of SRI LANKAN NATION.

    It is theoretically possible though extremely unlikely that some UNP party will challenges to the western nations? Will UNP or CBK rise to this challenges against West? No

    Under the leadership of MR Presidency also possible that radical changes that have reorganized the equilibrium of political, economic and social balance in the Sri lanka and world.

    Global power shifting it form West to Asians that reorder and redistributing it through out the world. The world loss of confidence in USA, ONCE AGAIN DIFFCULTY, AGAIN PROVIDE THE STERNGHT AND QUALITY OF LEDAERSHIP IF OFFER IN PAST.

    As similar as UNP-Ranil W…,CBK of ex-SLFP ,TNA, JHU, Muslim Congress, Mano Ganash of DP and Sarath Fonseka of NDP and their agent of Mathiripala Sirisena loss the confidence of 60 years rule of UNP and SLFP led by Banadarkaye leadership of Sri lanka.

    The Sri Lankan nation since 1948 to 2009 which following catastrophic political, economic, socially and military errors and tragedies of early 20th century by UNP and SLFP, which rule of family dynastic , that brought system of Democracy weak and stagnated one over more than 60 years.

    MR see best chance for success in shaping future Sri lanka that avoiding WAR catastrophe is that re-establishment of Sovereignty, Democracy and Independence that leadership provide President of SL.
    We want him to re-elected as President of Third term to carry out task of Capitalist sustainability of development and Democracy.

  • 3
    1

    Dayan

    Please refrain from trying to confuse right thinking people with your biased opinions. It is obvious that you have “issues” with both Ranil and Chandrika. No one is perfect, but how can you possibly be blind to the mass corruption and nepotism of the incumbent and the evils of the Presidential system. Surely you are educated enough to see that the only way out is to first get rid of the system, lest we are stuck with it for ever. Mithripala has clearly outlined how he will get about it. Its the best option available to guide the Country back to a new genuine democracy. We have had enough of Kings and Princes ridding on “snow white stallions” vanquishing all evils. Come off it, lets get back to reality!!

  • 1
    0

    Dayan

    Please refrain from trying to confuse right thinking people with your biased opinions. It is obvious that you have “issues” with both Ranil and Chandrika. No one is perfect, but how can you possibly be blind to the mass corruption and nepotism of the incumbent and the evils of the Presidential system. Surely you are educated enough to see that the only way out is to first get rid of the system, lest we are stuck with it for ever. Maithripala has clearly outlined how he will get about it. Its the best option available to guide the Country back to a new genuine democracy. We have had enough of Kings and Princes ridding on “snow white stallions” vanquishing all evils. Come off it, lets get back to reality!!

  • 2
    0

    thondamannar:
    No, not the UNP, it is the oldest political party in Sri Lanka the LSSP who are now “relegated to the level of poster & baggage boys” They do it even against their party stand of “Abolish Executive Presidency” to re-elect MR who is hellbent on not giving-up EP.

  • 1
    0

    Dayan:

    There is a time for war and there is a time for peace (pursuing peace). It is not something you don’t know. For someone who wants to play the war card during a time of peace and wants to continually drive that bogey and hoping that people too would be pillion riders has just got a knock on his head to wake up to his senses. It is a pity that, as much as you adore him to continue as the president and the umpteen reasons you place in front of the people to justify that, you hardly have shown that you have driven any sense into the president. If guys like you have done your job, you wouldn’t be be so grumpy about the challenge he is facing now. Or are you going to tell us that he has not been listening to you except his siblings, in which case you ought to be ashamed in defending his presidency.

  • 2
    0

    Heart of heart, left leaning Dayan wants opposition to win but he wants
    to play safe in the event MR. comes to power, and he will get what he wishes for – a diplo-mut position. If not, he, at least need not count bars. Journalists are also human beings, and they too have their likes and dislikes and love their lives too. Lasantha Wicks was an exception.
    He must be turning in his grave hearing the current political situ.in
    the country. May his soul rest in peace.

  • 2
    0

    IS HE DAYAN OR MODAYAN JAYA NATHI TILAKA.HE IS WRITING AND BEHAVING WORST THAN HAK-KEEM AND BADU-THEEN ALWAYS SITTING ON THE FENCE.LOOKS LIKE DAYAN BY WRITTING LIKE THIS LOOSING THE RESPECT FOR HIS COMMENTS IN THE ARTICLE.

  • 2
    1

    It is obvious to anyone who reads this guy’s articles that he does not want Ranil or Chandrika to hold any power/office. He is trying to use his language skills to write articles that gives a feeling he is a politically balanced guy giving genuine advise, but in reality he is putting a question mark (creating insecurity) in peoples mind if they have decided on the opposition. The opposition does not need UPFA peoples’ advise. They have their own advisors. These are the very same guys who brought Mahinda to the current plight he is in today. This guy should retire from advising the innocent people and find a job like “doing errands for the current leader” (Kade yanna)

    • 0
      0

      Please correct my name to Agasthi Ranasinghe

  • 1
    0

    “◦She should have settled upon Devananda and Siddharthan as her Tamil political partners instead of pursuing the mirage of a negotiated peace with the Tigers right through to 2005.”

    At least you do not try to hide your arrogant Sinhala supremacy attitudes, your long-held view that the Sinhala leadership should pick who represents the Tamils and not the Tamil people themselves. Your anti-democratic view that democracy is only for the Sinhalese to practice in some form and Tamils just fall into line behind whoever they pick. Stop pretending that you believe in democracy!

    • 0
      0

      Richard Kaz,
      very well put.This is exactly the mindset that the Tamils are forced to deal with. DJ is simply reflecting a view widely held. What is being sought now is the rule of law for the Sinhalese and a continuation of the ‘status quo’ for the Tamils.
      DJ’s statement is reminiscent of lalith Athulathmidiali’s declaration in Parliament on 21st July 1983:”As far as the Government is concerned, what it thinks is correct for the Tamils it will carry out. Whether you participate [in the round-table conference] or not, whether you support us or not, we will implement what we want to implement”.

  • 0
    0

    Dayan is suffering from two diseases. 1. being bias in its maximum and in its true colors towards the dictator MARA 2.incurable hatred towards Ranil Wickramasingha.
    so there would not be any pro Dayan comment for his articles as long as he does not get his diseases cured

  • 0
    0

    It is like asking Basil was stealing, Namal Rajapakse was stealing, Duminda, Dimu Jayarahthne and Mervyn Silva were importing drugs, Johnsotn Fernando and many others were stealing and buying Radio station, opening distilleries (the list can go for ever)…. so Mahinda Rjapakse should not be voted again.

    • 0
      0

      HEy, you seem to be taking it as a joke.
      If not Rajapakshes who allowed them to steal.
      If a school master has no backborne – how can the particular school function well and earn the respect among the people. In the same manner, goverment is run by Rajapakshes… so that is the reason why those ministers with or without rajakahses make billions of frauds.
      But today, is a great day for me and the many who respect rule of the law in the country – one station master of police has resigned asking that politicians dont allow them to perform their duties. So, this particular senior policeman shoudl be offered the annual award for 2014 – just because he has guts to do what he thinks is right. If the island had 100 of the like senior police men, they could teach politicians a great lession.

  • 0
    0

    Dayan
    In your next article can you tell the readers about your responsibility of killing thousands of JVP members.
    Now it’s revealed by many that it was you who motivated Premadasa to continue the killing of JVP.
    There will be a day, you will have to answer.

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