4 July, 2022

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Wizards Of Original Sin

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

Parade of wizards

It started with Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR), the strong man president who like a wizard promised “vistas of prosperity and splendour” through an undefined alternate development path. In the end, that path turned out to be a highway to economic disaster. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR) who was also the Minister of Finance took up the task of financing GR’s highway. Eventually, it became too hot to handle and soon imported his other sibling Basil Rajapaksa (BR) from US to take over that task. BR, an imported wizard, hastily presented a so-called development budget and flew immediately to India without even listening to the debate over his budget in the parliament and begged for funds to cover his budget deficit. GR’s alternate path and vistas of prosperity, which was to be funded through deficit budgets and borrowed funds, surprisingly had a veneer of intellectuality when the handpicked Governor of CBSL, Professor W, D. Lakshman (WDL), publicly defended that path as a critique of neoliberal economics. All this drama took place in a depressive global environment created by the Covid pandemic joined later by the war in Ukraine.

As signs of bankruptcy became clearer the CBSL chief became the first notable casualty. He resigned and was replaced by accountant Nivard Cabraal (NC), a former CBSL chief turned pro-government politician who backed GR’s alternate path with new gusto. As predicted, financial bankruptcy entered through the front door and the economy needed life support. To the regime of course, the pandemic and Ukraine war became scapegoats to shift the blame. In reality tough, GR, MR, BR and all their economic and financial wizards, ignored warnings of an impending bankruptcy by experienced economists at home and abroad and by international institutions. Not only they ignored those warnings but even ridiculed the warners as doomsayers. What happened afterwards is public knowledge.

Economic chaos inevitably led to public protests and created political instability. A young and awakened generation of Sinhala Buddhists demanded GR to go home and all 225 parliamentarians to quit. More about this later. Unable to face the chaos, MR and BR resigned and NC was sacked. A beleaguered GR was looking for a new wizard to tackle the problem. His eyes fell sympathetically on the former prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe (RW) who has a dubious record of a weak leader in times of trouble. He emerged as the protector of Rajapaksas and earned the nick name Ranil Rajapaksa among critiques. Under his premiership a so-called All-Party Government was formed and strangely enough there was no one within the ruling party to accept the finance portfolio. RW had no alternative but to accept that responsibility too. No sooner the new wizard took up that portfolio, he warned the people that things would have to get worse before getting better, and on that point, he was deadly accurate. Long queues for essential purchases are continuing and the country is almost at the verge of acute food shortage if not starvation, and the next rice harvest does not look promising.

In the meantime, the long-awaited IMF restoration package has not been finalized yet, but would certainly add, when implemented, to the overall misery of the masses unless some sort of a safety net is worked out in the interest of the needy and deserving. Before that, the new PM cum FM has already embarked on a series of economic reforms acceptable to IMF. Also, the newly appointed CBSL Governor Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe (NW), who RW wants removed, has reversed the easy monetary policy set by his predecessors so that the reversal falls in line with IMF restoration program. Finally, to add further vigour to the ongoing economic jihad, a new financial wizard, Dhammika Perera (DP), had been admitted through the backdoor as Minister of Technology and Investment Promotion. He happens to be one of if not the richest individual in the country, according to reliable sources. But whether he is also the highest income tax payer is another matter. But he is expected to attract foreign investment to flood the economy and boost growth. One has to wait to see whether his wizardry would be realized. In sum, over the last two to three years, there had been a parade of wizards from GR to MR to BR, WR, and DP, and from WDL to NC and NW each expected to possess a magical wand to produce economic miracles and regain the lost paradise. Yet, none of them seems to have had the wisdom or the courage to question the very foundation of the system on which the politics and the economy of the country are structured. Surprisingly and pleasantly, that questioning has arisen from an unexpected quarter in the form of aragalaya. More about this later.

Original Sin & Continuing Evil

There is no better term than St. Augustine’s Christian concept of original sin to describe what happened in Ceylon soon after it was gifted with political independence by the British in 1948. Instead of building a united nation of Ceylonese from the island’s inherited multicultural polity, as Singapore demonstrated later, the elite who received that gift started redefining Ceylon and Ceylonese in terms of ethnicity first and language and religion later. That redefinition was carried out in the interests of the dominant Sinhala-Buddhist community. Michael Robert’s equation, Ceylon = Sinhala and therefore Ceylonese = Sinhalese came to determine the democratic paradigm of parliamentary system of government based on the Westminster model. Renaming Ceylon as Sri Lanka did not change the substance of that equation. That was the original sin which snow balled over the last seven and half decades to produce series of political landmarks in the shape of racial riots, ethnic pogroms, and a civil war, all of which epitomized the redefined national identity and created an ideology of Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarian supremacy. Robert’s “Where Majoritarian Part Subsumes the Whole: The Ideological Foundation of Sinhala Extremism” (Thuppahi Blog, July 28 2016) captures the essence of this sinful transformation.

The innate evil emanating from the original sin continues to bedevil the fortunes of this blessed island said to have been visited by the greatest humanist of all times, Gautama the Buddha, who had left his footprints at Samanalakanda. His followers, step by step and via systematic political, administrative, educational and economic measures ignored Buddha’s humanism and bent on reducing the status and role of ethnic and religious minorities of the country – India born Tamils, Ceylon Tamils, Burghers, Christians and Muslims. These minorities are now being treated by supremacists as subclass citizens. Even the democratic principle of one person one vote was made meaningless with the introduction of JR’s proportional representation system to protect Sinhalese supremacy. What this meant in economic terms was the planned disconnection of almost 30 percent of the country’s population from mainstream development and its benefits. GR represents the very embodiment of this disconnection. To the wizards mentioned above this does not seem to be an issue. They may even counter this observation by pointing out that the minorities are visibly seen occupied in all sorts of professions and ventures and they are therefore part of the economic community. This optical illusion backed by statistics belies a fundamental truth in economic development. Without the collective synergy of the total population of a country no economy could operate at its optimum. This is why population should be considered as an invaluable asset to an economy rather than a Malthusian liability. If a country like Bangladesh, with 173 million people and which was not even in the world map when Sri Lanka gained its independence, could reach a position of being a net lender to a country like Sri Lanka, why could not thus fertile island with 22 million people and with a proud record of being a food supplier to India in the past, be in this tragic situation? If tiny Singapore with 733 km2 and 6 million people could welcome 20 million tourists in 2019, why Sri Lanka with 65,610 km2 starved of tourists? In both Bangladesh and Singapore people are united as Bangladeshis and Singaporeans rather than as Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Chinese and so on. The collective synergy of their people propels national productivity. A system that intentionally divides and disconnects a substantial section of that population is a system that commits economic suicide. This has what happened in blessed Sri Lanka after independence. Unfortunately, all these wizards, without any exception, happen to the products of that system, and they do not seem to possess the wisdom or courage to question the systemic dismemberment of part of the nation’s population.

Aragalaya: The Silverline

At last, after seventy-four years of unchallenged reign that system built on ethno-religious supremacy has come under challenge, and that challenge has arisen from the children of the very community to whose benefit that system claimed to have operated. This new generation of young Sinhala Buddhists is qualitatively different from its counterparts in previous times. These young men and women are educated, in touch with developments outside the country, critical minded and are not gullible to the preaching of hatemongers in their community. They have witnessed within their lifetime how their leaders while acting as guardians of Buddhist Sasana and Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony had created a pernicious system with which those leaders had systematically looted the national economy, brought misery to people and behaved as a class of untouchables beyond the reach of law. This is why the youngsters had started the aragalaya with a demand for systemic change. Thus is the long-awaited silver line at the end of dark clouds covering Sri Lanka. One should not forget that his new generation is also quantitatively larger as a voting bloc.

The guardians of the system would certainly fight tooth and nail to destroy the aragalaya and continue with the ancient regime. MR and his goons tried that on May 9th and failed. They will try again in more organized way and perhaps with support from state security apparatus. BR in the meantime, is deceptively describing his fiscal measures as the beginning of systemic change. In actual fact, those measures and the forthcoming IMF reforms are to strengthen the existing system and not to changer it. Aragalaya demands more than those reforms and they go to the very ideological foundation of the system.

It is to the credit of these youngsters that they have not aligned with any political party. However, they cannot remain apolitical indefinitely. Politics is a necessary evil of our time. Therefore, they have to reach out for a workable partnership with likeminded political organizations. There a few if aragalaya cares to look around. Pragmatism and not theoretical dogma should guide its political behaviour. This is an opportunity too good to miss. Alternative is continuous chaos and loss of the country’s sovereignty. In short, aragalaya promises redemption from the original sin.

*Dr. Ameer Ali, Murdoch Business School, Murdoch University, Western Australia

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Latest comments

  • 16
    2

    Ameer, the original sin happened when that idiot SWRDB gave an undue prominence to those yellow robed s**t bags in 1956. Now you cannot unscramble a scrambled egg! Have fun!!

    • 2
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    • 1
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      (Part I)
      Jit,
      “The original sin happened when that idiot SWRDB gave an undue prominence to those yellow robed s**t bags in 1956”
      Agree, that was THE ‘PUBLIC CASTING’ OF THE ISSUE!
      However, became pronounced after UNIVERSAL FRANCHISE, ‘Donoughmore’ Constitutional reforms, 1931 by WHISPERING AND COHESIVE PRESSURE APPLIED TO PROMOTE SUCH THINKING AND ACTIONS!!
      Be that as it may!
      The GREATEST DISTURBING “DOWNSIDE” OBSERVED WAS by so called educated ‘people’ ascended to power thereafter 1960 onwards, including SWRDB’s spouse and nephew (FDB) and all of different shades and hues, not acting TO REMEDIATE THE MATTER AND RESTORE “STATUS QUO ANTE”!!!
      Mostly because, FEAR OF BEING CLASSIFIED A ANTI-PATRIOTISMS BY THE MAJORITY!!
      They did not see the downside of removing English required for trade and also as the Language of modern text books and reference books!! Instead they had a translation programme of text books to Sinhala and Tamil!!
      In the process lost the opportunity for future generation’s new publication and revised Text book content!! They mad ensure that information, kept away from public for over 35-40 years until early 2000, when popular text books in English had more advanced content, which was devoid in the Sinhala and Tamil translations!

    • 1
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      (Part II)
      If you want verification, please peruse the Sinhala text book, physical chemistry by H L Hayes of 1990’s and the English text of the same era!! YOU WILL FIND OUT THE LATTER HAS MORE ADVANCED CONTENT ON NUCLEAR CHEMISTRY AND RELATED TO MEDICINE, WHEREAS THE FORMER IS DEVOID OF IT!!! THE ENGLISH TEXT IS 26TH EDITION AND SINHALA/TAMIL VERSION IS TRANSLATION OF THE 13TH EDITION OF THE ORIGINAL ENGLISH TEXT!!
      Pity the students and the lacuna caused in their knowledge BY THE IGNORANT POLITICIANS, OF SRI LANKA, yearning to become ‘RULERS’ NAY, “KINGS” BY HOOK OR BY CROOK!! ‘MaRaJa’, uncrowned Kings!?
      PATRIOTS OR TRAITORS??
      No wonder, SL is ‘Wonder of Asia’
      They refused to see the anomalous situation or the damage it was doing to future generations of Sri Lankans and the Nation??!!!
      They could have, seen the difference that was being made by other countries around the world – Shining example Singapore or the depravity of Myanmar which had a military government and discrimination against Muslims??!!
      Their wisdom was masked by Sinhala Buddhist prejudice and thought, everything would be fine!!!
      Alas, unfortunately, it is now, late realisation (or is it??) was not to be realised!!!???

  • 10
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    I do accept that the “ Original Sin” committed ( Race and religious discrimination) by the GoSL soon after assuming POWER in 1950s as the main reason for BANKRUPTCY. To get over the sins that has been committed is to have a complete overhaul of current political setup is needed. Let us put 3drafts of new constitution to the Public Referendum as a first step to put the country in order

    • 7
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      Naman

      In Sri Lanka people are being driven by unadulterated racism, greed, jealousy, sense of entitlement, race religious rage, ……

      Please watch this clip:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYR4AW2QCV0
      Minimum Bonus is Rs 1,500.

    • 4
      0

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  • 3
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    I have read sinterferenceeeents in CT. So many articles and comments are written in CT about the Economy of the island and the Rajapakse swindlers who brought the country to a stage of bakruotu We could in short identify a few parameters that caused the disaster, They are
    1. Ethnic Policy
    2. Corruption
    3. Bad Constituion
    4, Involving Buddhism in Politics
    5. Spending on Defense
    6. Political interference in all sectors
    7. Very bad Econnomc pallning
    8. Bad political thinking
    9. Not utilising avilable resources

    8. Concentran of Power in Political family

  • 16
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    Sinhalese Buddhist supremacist rulers and their society have made Sri Lanka into a beggar’s paradise in 74 years. When will this Sinhalese Buddhist Hubris end? Will the Sinhalese people ever realize the folly of their leaders and their society for the ruin the country is facing now?

  • 0
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    Sin is not politics. Sin requires forgiveness from the one sinned against. The king rules over all people regardless of their ethnicity, majority or minority. The king has limitless power to release triumphant mercy in his unconditional love for those made in his image.. He has already paid the price for the sin of humanity. Why not receive it and change and live in a united society without warring for supremacy of other’s worldly goods which have no meaning after this short spell on earth. Our life is eternal and we can choose where we spend it.

    • 0
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      davidthegood,

      “The king rules over all people regardless of their ethnicity, majority or minority.”

      This is the kind of political structure Asian cultures actually crave – a monarchy, not a democracy. That is why in 2009, people were calling Mahinda as “MaHaRaja.” The so-called “democracy” is a nice idea, but it is more suited for the West, as it matches their history and economic development. This is what an Australian researcher wrote:

      “Most East and Southeast Asian cultures also contain significant elements of hierarchy and paternalism, none of which have been challenged by an indigenous equivalent of the European Enlightenment or the French Revolution, with their emphasis on freedom and reason.4 Cultural perspectives originating in the region therefore stem from and tend to lead to a web-like relational or communitarian view of society where everyone knows his or her place in a social hierarchy.”

      There is an understanding that people are different, yet when it comes to politics, all countries are expected to conform to some Western notion. It is a contradiction.

      • 1
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        (Part I)
        Lester the Jester,
        “The king rules over all people regardless of their ethnicity, majority or minority.”
        This is the kind of political structure Asian cultures actually crave – a monarchy, not a democracy. That is why in 2009, people were calling Mahinda as “MaHaRaja.”
        1. YOU ARE SPOT-ON!?
        2. RIGHT ON THE MONEY!?
        3. ABSOLUTELY RIGHT W/O QUESTIONS!?
        4. HE IS THE REKNOWN SAVIOUR/MESSIAH!?
        The king is well remembered for his accomplishment, without reservation, but was also Finance minister in the period before December 2014 and from October 2019 until the younger sibling, well known as ‘Kaka’ took over in September 2021 – period when the fruits of victory in 2019, made them fully intoxicated to do away with all taxes and peg the USD, unworkable rate of conversion!?
        So, what you say is that the populace are very happy with the decision of the “MaHaRaja” was right and acceptable to the citizenry, according to your reasoning, which may be convoluted as usual, but let us accept it for the moment for argument sake!!??
        That being the case, then why these “ARAGALAYS”??

      • 1
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        (Part II)
        Are you suggesting that the populace at large are stupid as none else to do that???!!! Vote as emancipated electors and protest the decision??
        That will be done only by NITWITS, and THEREFORE I DO NOT AGREE THAT THE POPULACE ARE SO STUPID TO DO SUCH NONSENSE!?
        One thing in that respect I agree with you, is that QUISLINGS OF THE LOWEST KIND DO SO!!
        You should educate them that these ARE JUST DESERTS OF A KINGDOM (NAY AUTOCRACY), bestowed on them by God for the labours of the wiz kids who installed and propped them up!!??
        All 6.9 million only and not the residual of the franchised citizenry of the island, enable the “MaHaRaja” to deliver “vistas of prosperity and splendour”, including eating the so called ‘KUNU’ from china purported to be organic fertiliser to be eaten as it is shipped, not to be used on the agricultural fields to propagate Rice and essential food??!!
        The wiz kids paid USD 6.8 million for that FIASCO, when they did not have the money to buy rice, dry food, fuel and gas, which they begged – the begging was done by the then Finance Minister (FM )January – March 2022

      • 1
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        (Part III)
        – The 7 brained sibling, best known as 10 percent!!
        You can figure out whether the FM of the country is an official of the government of DSRSL or otherwise, and if you have any doubts as to it then you are not up to the required IQ level!!
        Go back to Kindy and also sing “Que Sera Sera” to boot??!! You may get the answer!!!
        Very happy for a person, following our Buddhist culture and teachings to the “Letter” and to be content of the governance of the “MaHaRaja”, and the just deserts delivered bay all the Messiah used to govern the country to your esteemed self’s utmost PLEASURE??
        What more in this earth can one expect – THAT IS ETERNAL BLISS AND BE CONTENT??!!
        AVOID AVARICE and hiding ill-gotten earnings from state coffers of an ASIAN COUNTRY IN AN AFRICAN COUNTRY BY “MaHaRaja”??!!
        True as expected that in this Stone Age going to AFRICA from ASIA and finding the “ill-gotten loot” is an impossibility!!!??? It’s FANTASY!!!

        • 0
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          “It’s FANTASY!!!”

          It’s a fantasy for idiots like you who cannot write a proper sentence in English. Stick to your three-wheeler job.

      • 0
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        Lester, You say a monarchy, not a democracy and I totally agree. God always wanted a theocracy, a monarchy, a kingdom where a loving God king rules to give all he has as inheritance to his image obedient children. It is called kingdom rule and not political rule for murder and robbery and all the self centered evil, totally forgetting the others in the world.

        • 0
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          David,

          Yes, monarchy is an alternative to capitalism. Think about capitalism logically. It was successful in the (European) West because colonialism provided unlimited access to the resources of conquered peoples in Asia, Africa, and South America. Industrialization in the West was therefore very logical, it was simply the optimization of these resources. Globalism is pseudo-colonialism. The West calls the shots as long as the USD is the reserve currency. Some East Asian countries appear to have successfully adapted to capitalism, but it is a mirage. There are massive holes and divisions within. In truth, with the exception of Japan, these East Asian countries have simply copied the West, including its technology, like blind monkeys. “Success” is due to the Confucian work ethic. Anyway, globalization has reached the level of critical mass. Either futuristic technology provides a bailout or the world order will be turned on its head.

  • 9
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    Dr. Ameer Ali

    “It started with Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR), the strong man president who like a wizard promised “vistas of prosperity and splendour” through an undefined alternate development path. “

    Think about it ya.
    If not for this single handed strong man president the situation could have been much much worse. I suggest we elect him election after election.
    If there is any objection please let Gota know about it.

    • 1
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      Agree in full— thats the way to go guys cut nose to spite face.
      Thats the vision and making patriotic if possible in Cardinals infallible words.
      Soverign indeed. Wheres the winner.?……in the queue.
      whose the culprit ?……..adult franchise

  • 3
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  • 5
    1

    Naman

    In Sri Lanka people are being driven by unadulterated racism, greed, jealousy, sense of entitlement, race religious rage, ……

    Please watch this clip:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYR4AW2QCV0
    Minimum Bonus is Rs 1,500.

  • 3
    2

    As I mentioned many times before, the origin of our wizardry keeps shifting to historian’s convenience. As Ameer Ali rightly said, it’s INdependence we never had. There are wizards among authors and commentators too , who not just failed to identify but offer excuses and few go to the extent of defending such political wizards.The signs of bankruptcy was there to see, in early 2000. All in all a land of wizards.

    • 2
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      Origin of Lankan wizardry quoted by our historians and commentators 1) Ukrain onflicts 2) Covid crisis 3) Gotha’s prosperity and splendor 4) Mahinda the mother of all looters 5) race conflicts 6) JR”s free fall economy and normalising corruption 7) SWRD the father of racism 8) INdependence we never had. This discussion is akin to quoting cause of death in a diabetic patient . Is it the recent sepsis or years of uncontrolled blood sugar levels or just the unhealthy lifestyle, poor compliance and personality / family traits.

  • 1
    1

    On Economic matters, I listen to Ameer Ali. I trust him to be as good as anybody on the scene. Nay, even better!
    .
    But, I would stress one tragedy more.
    .
    Despite the mismanagement and irregularities, had there been NO LOOTING we could have escaped the crisis.

  • 1
    1

    Wizadry , Socery, yes lie it deny it, and now for the Sea faring stuff.
    Be it on land or sea…..Look East but live in the West our masters know best !

  • 3
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    “In both Bangladesh and Singapore people are united as Bangladeshis and Singaporeans rather than as Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Chinese and so on.”

    Its true of Singapore, but not of Bangladesh. It is a known fact how the Hindus and Christians are treated in Bangladesh, subjected to oppression and discrimination. Is the author not aware of this fact, surprising!!!

    • 0
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      V P Singam

      Not like muslim of percecution in Myanmar

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