25 March, 2019

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Why Sri Lanka Should Reject Ultra-Rightwing Politics

By Vishwamithra

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.” ~Pericles                                

Global considerations are ever present. A trend towards nationalism in Europe and the United States of America is visible. Narrow-minded politicians are busy making more and more promises to gullible constituents expecting that they would, at least in the short term, overwhelm the more sophisticated arguments for compromises and accommodations on reconciliation and harmonious living among diverse groups of populations. Ultra-rightwing politics seems to be gaining grounds, especially in countries in which more than one electoral option is available for a voting population to decide. A propensity for ‘strong’ leaders as against ‘weak’ and indecisive leadership is growing. As was penned in my previous columns, these terms of ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ are being defined and explained in terms that suit those who seek political power.

Being ‘strong’, specifically in politics, is not the bravery and courage that a soldier shows on the battle field; it is certainly not the inner strength of character that a forlorn mother shows in dire circumstances, trekking miles after miles to fetch water to quench the thirst of her child who is hardly fed for the day; it is not the stoicism that a father displays day in and day out when he drives his three-wheeler to earn a wage of honest labor in order to feed a family of four with an occasional ‘kottu roti’ his two children look forward to each Friday evening. Such bravery, such courage and such stoicism is a super mundane product of very mundane human beings who have been driven to the edge of despair, yet do not flee from responsibility; nor do they fear to challenge it. That is strength of character, a rare human trait which is not evident in our politicians today.

Abduction of innocent and unsuspecting journalists in white vans in the dead of night, manhandling of them when they step out of their abodes at fading twilight or even killing in broad daylight is not a show of strength. That is bullying taken to its illogical and destructive end; that is a show of phony strength which is a product of a mind that has buttressed its defenses by way of money and muscle power from outside the realm of inner fortitude and endurance. A sophisticated sense of strength is generated by a developed skill of patience, compassion and equanimity.

The Rajapaksas of our political arena have infested its air and its inner core with material and psychological debris that is usually seen in decadent families whose measures were totally alien to the values that enrich and empower the poor and helpless. When politics is taken as a tool to extend family power and hegemony instead of as a sharpened instrument to serve the people’s desires and demands, that aspect of politics is essentially, as Nehru wrote in his celebrated ‘The Discovery of India’, death-dealing. The adventurous sheen of politics has given way to a dull and drab exercise of raw power by novices whose first few steps in politics are much more ‘impressive’ than when they are matured and experienced. These contradictions do exist despite the obvious denials by the very practitioners of the trade.

Politics in this transactional fungus, offers itself as a self-destroying force unbeknownst to its tradesman. Grownup children of these politicians, whether they are men or women, take this newly-gotten power for granted’; they gallop from one end of the city to the other end’s night clubs in the wee hours of the morning in brand new sports cars and other limousines with women of the evening, virtually painting the town in red. Value of money has gotten cheap; its bargaining power has become overwhelming while its value has diminished to near zero. Marcos of the Philippines and Idi Amin of Uganda have taught them their craft to its finest detail. And our lads have learnt it so well.

The Sanga, Veda, Guru, Govi, Kamkaru-brand has been tarnished; its sheen turned dull and drab beyond recognition. Yet they got another lap to run, thanks to our soldiers’ bravery and sacrifice in winning the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE). All the sins and debaucheries are forgotten and forgiven. The luster of Pancha Maha Bala Végaya (five-pillar force) has evaporated and not even a whisper to the great brand that SWRD Bandaranaike created with so much hope and promise is being heard. Yet the people at large still identify the corrupt and lewd politicians of that ilk with this magical brand. 

What Bandaranaike, despite being an exquisite product of low country Radala cum Oxford class, managed to launch a political school of thought that is still being profiled with the vernacular-educated Sinhalese Buddhists whose numbers exceed 70 as a percentage of our population. That is still the challenge the United National Party (UNP) and its new coalition partners that sprang from the liberal-thinking, English-speaking Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have to confront. Identity-politics which Bandaranaike gave birth to has stuck on, apparently forever. ‘Commoner’ and the ‘other’ have been demarcated from each other, (no pun intended). Mahinda Rajapaksa and the rest of his corrupt and greedy fellowmen and women have owned this mesmerizing political reality and its defeat in 2015 now seems merely a temporary retreat. 

The UNP and its leaders have to bear the brunt of the responsibility for allowing this wound to fester. A lack of firm and profound commitment towards eradicating the long-term ill-effects of being politically branded as the ‘other’ cannot be taken lightly. Instead of propping up outsiders, the UNP needs to field its own candidate, especially for the Presidential Elections. Repercussions of making outsiders kings are being displayed visibly today. Water finds its own level, they say. 

Gaining political power is no easy task. The UNP’s own leader, JR Jayewardene, showed it in 1977. It’s no exaggeration to say that if Dudley Senanayake was the leader of the UNP in 1977, the UNP would not have come to power. Dudley did not have the foresight nor did he possess the stamina to endure the brutal regime of the Sirimavo/Felix Combo in the 1970-1977 era.

Three leaders of the UNP who understood and followed the JR sample to the hilt were R Premadasa, Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali. But the UNP does not have them anymore. In their stead, it has Ranil Wickremesinghe. Ranil obviously has shown that he has the staying power or power of staying, whichever way one puts it in. In the modern-day politics, in which information and its dissemination is determined by Nano-seconds instead of days and weeks, the opponents of the Rajapaksas have to learn to be armed to the teeth, especially in the social media kind. In a sense, it should be easier, at least in the process. The substance however, could be hard and more inscrutable to the untrained novice whose experience in political campaigning is limited to managing ‘losing’ elections.

Taming the Rajapaksas is hard, but, in the larger interests of the country and its stagnating economy, it must be done. If the UNP can profile the new SLFP-SLPP coalition as an ultra-Right-wing political entity made up of corrupt and nepotistic individuals, then the identity of being the ‘other’ could be overcome. But it certainly cannot be done overnight- and it may be too late for the forthcoming Presidential Elections.

*The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com     

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Latest comments

  • 4
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    Now ; all that extremism is dying out.
    Today; brain power win economic battle..
    No matter what religion or race you have if you have skills andtalent
    Money is in richness of your human resources not on this religous or racial limits and limitations.

    • 2
      3

      Vishwa-Jayadeva: The hard fact is that American Citizen Gota Rajapaksa who is an insult to what the Buddha taught is backed by the CIA to divide, distract the Sri Lankan media and people with hate speech against minorities – in order that US military bases may be set up in Sri Lanka in the Cold War with China, now that ICJ has ruled against the infamous Diego Garcia military base and British-EU colonialism in the Indian Ocean
      Also, 150 ‘Peace Corps volunteers’, a massive contingent are set to invade Lanka in October with diplomatic passports and immunity to game elections in Sri Lanka so Trumpland’s puppet bondscam Ranil will win.

      Jayadev please read the following books and spare us third rate analysis:
      1. “Cold War Monks: Buddhism and America’s Secret Strategy in Southeast Asia” by Eugene Ford. Yale UP 2017 October
      2. Amar Divakar’s 2018 article: “Saffron Curtain: How Buddhism was weaponized in the Cold War” in the journal New Republic
      updates Ford’s analysis in Myanmar https://newrepublic.com/article/147623/saffron-curtain-buddhism-weaponized-cold-war
      3. Seth Jacobs “Cold war Mandarin”.

      • 1
        2

        Vishva-Jayawewa? Who is that?

        Don’t Stanley you might do rather well if you took to fiction writing!

  • 4
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    US accepted a right wing nationalist President who is definitely prejudiced against non white immigrants.

    Throughout Europe we are seeing a trend starting in Hungary and then in Poland. Both key EU nations. Germany is heading Uber right and Deutscheland Uber Alles will be the rallying cry soon

    India, our mothership, voted for Hinduvta ultra nationalist BJP & anti Muslim Modi, by a massive margin.

    Brazil same. Colombia same.

    Why not Sri Lanka ?

  • 2
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    Two UNP back benchers told the Colombo Media the other day, that they are now 100 Percent behind Anura Kumara Dissanayaka.
    And they want ADK as their Prez Candidate..
    Wonder whether it is the reason why this writer is trying to put the Right Wing Tag on the Rajapakasas..

    I thought Dr Ranil is a more Right Winger than his Old Uncle, Right Wing Junius.
    Although Junius I don’t think wanted to sell everything to Poms & Yanks, although he loved them so much.
    Dr Ranil on the other hand, sold our National Assets to even Chinese .

    Dr Ranil’s Staying Stamina and Power are totally fueled by the Tamil Kingdom Party the ITAK , the Wahabis and the Elite in Colombo.
    The so called Sinhala Buddhists in the UNP are now just a Bunch of Puppets who are trying hoodwink the no so sharp villagers , while raking in as much as possible in Santhosams ,before the Yhapalanaya ends.

    Dr Ranil is so isolated from the great majority that he is seeking Good Luck and Guidance only from Trimala Gods.

    • 9
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      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      “Dr Ranil is so isolated from the great majority that he is seeking Good Luck and Guidance only from Trimala Gods.”

      Is that why Mahinda often visited Hindian temples, recently received a lot of blessings from none other than Subramanian Swamy? Swamy’s blessings did not work, for example Mahinda’s failed coup did not help him to change his net wealth nor his power.

      Do you know why Mahinda attends Hindu poojas very often? At this age is he scared of Hindu Karma catching up with him? Even recently his youngest brat got married according to Hindu rites.

      Sirisena too seeks blessings from Hindian gods.

      • 2
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        Dear NV

        “….recently his youngest brat got married according to Hindu rites..”: Is this so?
        Would like to know more. Was our friend Tirukumar Nadesan behind this? Anything
        known about the girl’s family?

        Kettikaran
        .

      • 2
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        Dear Native,
        I am intrigued by those ” Hindu Nuptial Rights , Native..
        Did you leave the Bride for a full cleansing. when you tied the ..knot?..

        I saw Aloysious at the Wedding .. But no Clarinet and the Bereys / Only an Organist belching out all English Hymns..
        I didn’t see any Poosaris even in the audience…

        • 4
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          KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

          There were three types of lavish weddings for the same son of the most crooked politician, Sinhala/Buddhist, Church, and a Saiva Vellala Jafnna Thamil/Brahmin wedding on different days.

          How come I received whatsapp clips of all three weddings and you were not invited? Who was carrying Mahinda’s b***s rest of the days, new b***s carriers perhaps. Make sure you don’t loose your right to carry his b***s.

  • 1
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    Crap article. whether it is Ranil wickramsinghe who is the PM for the fifth time because he doe snot allow anyone else to come up the Party Ladder or Rajapakses who say only our family is capable of governing Sri lanka, it is the same two Palhoru Groups. So, you are cheering one group. It i snot the same media that said the Pen is mightier than the Sword. Most recently, social media influences NGOs won the elections. I think Mahinda Rajapakse is a conventional Sri lankan politician, so he got caught in 2015 and he continues the same old politics. There won’t be any new blood and people should not count on anyone from the Neo-liberal politicians that will be forwarded because NGOs and the International community like them.

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    The 70% Sinhala voter in the country is still under the impression the UNP is still with the “rich” the Christians/Catholics, the Tamils and other minorities. The UNP has not done sufficient homework to change this image. JRJ’s 1977 victory is an aberration – of sorts from a people punished by chronic food shortages.. Of course, UNP’ers claim, come hell or high water, they have at least 33% of the vote base with them. I do not dispute this. It is in their interest to change this mindset through a well organised and sustained island-wide campaign. Why, pray, did not they think of this so far?

    Liyanamahattaya

  • 0
    0

    Wow, the picture speaks for it self. I just finished typing elsewhere (under Keerthi) . Lankans are royally F—-D. Dakunu is that the right way of thinking in picking a candidate. US did it so why not we ??? They went to war umpteen times why not we do the same???? Any suggestions. May be right and Left wing may be true with voters, but as long our politicians are concerned it is SELF WING thinking .( do you think they really care )

  • 0
    3

    What is right-wing? What is left-wing? What is your Master’s wing?

    When he speaks in meetings, he talks with “Jangiwing”? He does not have any decency in talking. When he talks in Parliament, and your party that you support, your Master uses, sarcastic language.

    You are writing here some “Pundit” articles to portray your boss as a Neo-liberal minded person. What is he belonging? Does he have any policy? right-wing or left-wing or middle path. Your Boss goes to Thirupathy with his wife and shows that they do not belonging to any wing but believes in cults and superstition.
    I can summarise that Sri Lankan citizens are not booruwas to understand your bosses’ wing. Man! Write some sensible things with your actual name.

  • 3
    5

    We are waiting for the elections to vote for Rajapaksa.

    Soma

    • 5
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      somass

      “We are waiting for the elections to vote for Rajapaksa.”

      So do you want the country to hit the bottom sooner than later?
      What a brilliant idea.

  • 3
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    Dear Vishwamithra

    The message should go to Sinhalese people not Diaspora readers of CT
    Hence write this in Sinhala and publish in a national newspaper

  • 2
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    Our memory is short. Many commenters have speculation on Rohitha R wedding.
    Late January/early February we were treated to photographs, by Namal R, of Rohitha R proposing, on his knees, to Tatyana Jayaratne at the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
    One wondered as to how many Lankans can afford the Kilimanjaro engagement.
    By the way, the week also had media splashes of the Lankan Porter-Ambassador to Qatar, ASP Liyanage, pushing the trollies of the two ‘Excellency’.
    The marriage, attended by everybody who is somebody and solemnised in accordance with Sinhala customs and rituals, took place at Medamulana Walawwa.
    Bride’s name, Tatyanya Jayaratne, rules her out as a Tamil Hindu.
    Christian? May be but devout Buddhists carry given names like Basil, Percy.
    Were the repeat Christian and Hindu weddings vote bank investments?

    • 3
      1

      “Were the repeat Christian and Hindu weddings vote bank investments?”

      Or, is MR trying to show that the youngest Pakse has nothing against the Christians and
      Hindus leaving a question mark about the Muslims?

  • 2
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    Vishwamithra discusses as to “Why Sri Lanka Should Reject Ultra-Rightwing Politics”.
    We do not have typical rightwingers. Not right now but maybe in future.
    We have extreme-mindsets from all social strata.
    These mindsets dominate the Lankan Elites Sans Frontieres
    We, layLankans, have to choose the best bad from a rouge’s gallery.

  • 1
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 0
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    Everybody knows that UNP has little or No chance under Ranil’s stewardship. But when will Ranil REALISE that?

  • 0
    0

    These old blokes cant live for ever. Our government servants work as paid servants. There is no proper law & order and crooks can get away with it or will take years to get a sentence. Its the same old fellows who are being used as retarded pensioners or waved or machines. Plenty of uneducated members in the club who are elected as well as appointed. Good to be called drama actors. That is the state.
    If not for the 30 or 35 year war and right people were in the club and that money spent on both parties the terrorists & forces were used in proper manner with proper education, law & order we would have been far above even Singapore.
    Politics is the curse being used with caste, creed, religion and even more.

  • 0
    0

    It is a source of amusement to note that critics of the former President are eager to point out his abuses of power. Do they not realize that without these abuses of power, real or imagined, he would not have lost 2015? So I ask, do you prefer that MR was such a Mr Clean that he would have won a third term? Really? Hypocrites! You are so happy that MR is bad so he could lose.

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