16 October, 2019

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Yahapaalanaya As The New Aascharyaya

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Spokesperson for the Federation of University Teachers Associations (FUTA), staunch supporter of the Maithripala regime and shrill advocate of good governance Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri posed a question to certain individuals on Facebook. He wants to know what they think are the political meanings of a political force Wimal Wererawansa, Dayan Jayatilleka and Vasudeva Nanayakkara are putting together with Mahinda Rajapaksa as leader (“විමල් වීරවංශ, දයාන් ජයතිලක සහ වාසුදේව නානායක්කාර යන අය එක්ව මහින්ද රාජපක්ෂගේ නායකත්වයෙන් ගොඩ නැගෙන කදවුරක දෙශපාලන අරුත් පිළිබද ඔබගේ අදහස් දැනගැනීමට කැමැත්තෙමි.”)

In the comment thread Nirmal says that others gathered around slogans such as democracy and good governance they could agree with and asks what kinds of ideas could unite the likes of Wimal, Dinesh (Gunawardena), Dayan and Vasudeva. Today, the question can be posed, ‘of what worth are slogans (such as good governance and democracy) outside of mobilizing-utility?’

At the half-way mark of the much talked of ‘100 Days Program’ we find that the Good Governance Train has come to a grinding halt in the all-important matters of repealing the 18th Amendment, scripting checks and balances into articles pertaining to the Executive Presidency, re-instituting the independent commissions and electoral reform. While some of the action is certainly laudable (the decision on pictorial warnings on tobacco products) and while there’s encouraging news about others (the Right to Information Bill), the past 50 days have essentially been a media circus marked by vindictiveness, eyewash and disturbingly a focus on minnows while letting sharks get away.

 

The brouhaha over Wimal Weerawansa’s wife’s date of birth is a case in point. Wrong is wrong and wrongdoers must be brought to book. No argument there. Selective and overzealous pursuit of suspects is not the answer though. Shenali Waduge makes some pertinent observations in this regard.

She surmises thus:

If under the MR Govt a wife of a UNPer had been arrested on similar charges as Wimal W’s wife, the following would have happened: 1) Non-stop flow of statements issued by envoys of missions in Sri Lanka, 2) Women’s Rights Group holding successive press conferences condemning the arrest of a mother from hospital and taken to remand custody, 3) UN Secretary General releasing a statement on ‘human rights violations’, 4) UNHRC head releasing statement on the ‘declining state of human rights’ in Sri Lanka, 5) Threats by foreign nations to impose sanctions etc because of political victimization, and 6) Media – local and international – writing editorials and media releases on the arrest. She concludes, ‘Now that their puppets are in power… its silence all round….not a sound from women’s groups either.’

This is conjecture. There is exaggeration. There is truth too. And there is a palpable inconsistency in the way ‘good people’ (self-styled) respond to things this Government does and the way they went hammer and tongs at the Rajapaksas. Part of it can be attributed to ‘early days’. The new government does deserve some ‘teething-slack’ even though the President the people elected and the Prime Minister he appointed are certainly no novices in the political game. ‘Slack’ however is not a check people can cash any time they like. It has an expiry date.

It was the President who came up with this ‘100 Days Program’. It is Ranil Wickremesinghe, Patali Champika Ranawaka and others like Dewasiri who made out that President Sirisena was serious about it. It was they who sold the yahapaalana-prajaathanthravaada (good governance and democracy) idea to the voters. If policy reform was so important the Government should focus on getting reforms done instead of indulging in circus-distraction. As things stand we have to conclude that the spectacle of exacting revenge for wrongs done to various individuals (rather than righting wrongs against the people) is more important to the regime than instituting reforms that make it tough for wrongdoers. What is evident is a fascination with the ‘Deterrent Principle’ rather than correcting systemic flaws that forbid wrongdoing.

During President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s second term there’s a word that came to be parodied by one and all: aascharyaya (‘miracle’, after the promise to turn Sri Lanka into the Miracle of Asia). It became a joke simply because for all the ‘development’ there were so many other things that were wrong, disgusting and clearly turning Sri Lanka into anything but a miracle. The same thing is happening to yahapaalanaya. It is becoming a word used instead of ‘confusion’, ‘craziness’, ‘nonsense’ etc. If it were only a jab by the opponents one could dismiss it as ‘sour grapes’ but disturbingly we hear it outside of the political commentariat. It’s on the street. In non-political context in social media. All over the place. Just like ‘aascharya’. 

That can happen only when skepticism grows beyond a certain point. Skepticism is being fed by this Government and that’s what is turning yahapaalanaya into another aascharyaya. It is fast become another one of those things that are too good to be true. The speed at which we are getting there is perhaps another important reason why Mahinda Rajapaksa is increasingly looking like a victim of the voters’ haste and ingratitude. An aascharyaya in fact. Ironically.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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Latest comments

  • 15
    4

    What is Shenali Waduge talking about. This woman, Sashi, was taken into custody for travelling around with false passports and i.ds. This had been obtained during MRs time. Why would anyone want a diplomatic pp if they are not entitled to it ??? Obviously to travel so that your bags are not checked .. which is exactly what she did. And why would anyone want their luggage not to be checked? We believe the Women’s groups, Human Rights groups etc shout about innocent people who are locked up. Sashi is not innocent by any stretch of imagination. So Shenali please shut up. In fact our rights have been violated again by releasing her. If the Weerawansa’s children couldn’t bear the shame of having their mother locked up, the parents should behave in a more responsible way. How did their children cope when they saw their father bad mouthing people on stage?
    Please do not continue to fight for the guilty. We are sick and tired of it.

    • 5
      8

      as the wife of an MP is entitled to a diplomatic passport. This can be verified easily. So anyone arrested during the previous government is automatically innocent where as anyone arrested by the present government is automatically guilty? Funny idea of justice and good governance some people have.

  • 11
    5

    Malinda Seneviratne – Mahunda Shill and White-Washer

    When is your Mahinda Rajapksa Shilling contract over?

    Do not expect the people with Common Sense will elect Crooks, Robbers and Criminals again. Once bitten, twice shy.

    [Edited out]

  • 8
    6

    Have to agree that the article is more or less on point.

    • 10
      4

      Sashi was arrested for a crime that was committed and that was done in total accordance of the law. This guy is targeting some shallow readers and wanting to cynically tap their nationalism to bring back his puppet master. Dont fall prey to that pls.

    • 2
      1

      CiTizen

      “Have to agree that the article is more or less on point.”

      Malinda’s typing is more or less on point of being ridiculous.

  • 7
    2

    Bringing a culprit or a gang of culprits starts with one of them committing a petty but obvious crime. This gives the police access to more information about their actions and accomplices. The woman concerned was arrested for such a crime and it will surely lead to further arrests. The arrest of that woman was done in accordance with the law. It wasn’t carried out by a white van. She was produced in courts and has even been granted bail. Why are you and waduge shedding crocodile tears over a legitimate process?

    “‘Slack’ however is not a check people can cash any time they like. It has an expiry date.”
    —-> You don’t realize yours was up a few months ago?

  • 1
    2

    This article would have looked credible if a UNPer’s wife or any similar person was arrested for a crime under the previous 9-year rule and the hu-ha raised by the human right watchers. Obtaining two NID’s or two passports with one of them false is a crime. Of course, there are much more serious crimes allegedly committed by the former rulers but they need investigations. Furthermore different ministers and investigating CID’s have different priorities and sensationalising crimes of loud mouths or women is popular among readers.

  • 1
    1

    In politics, sloganisation is a part of the game plan. “Aascharyaa” of MARA was one. Let us hope that “Yahapalanaya” would not be another slogan but something concrete for the better.

    The need for reform, say the 19th amendment to the Constitution is clear. But then all the internal debating as to its form should have been decided before the elections and by now presented as a bill. This lack of preparation can be misunderstood as a gimmick to hood-wink the voters.

    I take the liberty to quote the present health minister who is the cabinet spokesman who blames the law enforcement going for smaller fry, say on falsification of documents and not the big fish. Now allegation of corruption was well publicized and I for one am convinced that there was corruption in MARA regime because of the opulence displayed by MARA cronies. But then those who made the allegations should have all the evidence in their finger tips and presented them to law enforcement no sooner a regime change took place thus resulting the commencement of a sensational trial. But the public expectation has not been met and therefore tongues wag to the extent of saying either the voters have been duped or the accusers have struck a deal with the accused to share the loot. In plain Sinhala “උන්ට වඩා හපන් මුන්”.

    I will not go to the extent of analyzing all the short falls in implementation of the 100 day program as per the diary published. But there are folks who do that and day by day their frustration grows.It is important to be mindful of that.

  • 1
    0

    First it was “Dharmishta Samajaya”, then it was “Chinthanaya”, “Ascharya”, and now “Yahapalanaya”. A linguist or sociologist could write a thesis paper on how semantics have been exploited to gain votes here!

  • 1
    0

    There is nothing wrong with the arrest of Mrs Weerawanse, if it is in the process of the law enforcement by law enforcement authorities.

    There is everything wrong with it if it is done at the behest of the politicians.

    Would Malinda be able to tell us whether there has been any interference by the President, the PM or any of the ministers? Obviously there is no evidence in his article of such interference. Does Shenali Waduge provide any evidence of such interference.

    If not: “Wrong is wrong and wrongdoers must be brought to book. No argument there”.

  • 0
    0

    In Sri Lanka, leaders and parties come to power on slogans that most of the times they never intend to keep. SWRD came to power on the “Sinhala only in 24 hours” slogan aided by the “Panchabala vegaya”. Sinhalese people fell for it and laid the seeds for the 30 year war. On the other side of spectrum, Chelvanayagam mopped up the majority Parliamentary seats in North East with their stupid slogan “Tamil Arasu” camouflaging it to the other communities as “Federalism”.

    Later JR’s UNP wrested power from the SLFP-led coalition by their slogan to end the “Alla Battala era of Sirimavo government”. Sinhalese people fell for it and helped JR to establish his one-man dictatorship under the slogan “Dharmista era” for more than 12 years. Then Premadasa continued the UNP rule to a total of 17 years with his slogan of “Three Cs”(consultation,concession, consensus.

    In the 1994 Presidential election, Chandrika Kumaratunga came to power on a slogan on “Ending Executive Presidency” but never abolished it. In 2005, Mahinda Rajapakse came to power on the slogan of “Mahinda Chinthanaya” and entrenched himself in power for 9 years until his disastrous decision to go for an early election for a third term removed him from power. Now Maithripala Sirisena and his UNP cohorts had come to power on the slogan “Ekwemu” coupled with a promise of “Yahapalanaya”. Again now another slogan “Bring back Mahinda” is rapidly winning over the Sinhalese people.

    The inescapable fact is that none of these Sri Lankan leaders, except perhaps SWRD, kept their promises and pacts with the people of Sri Lanka. The same is happening now in the case of Sirisena. He will not be able to keep his promise of ending executive presidency and to bring about a culture of Yahapalanaya.

    Malinda you are right when you say that what we see today is a spectacle of exacting revenge for wrongs done to various individuals rather than righting wrongs against the people. We also see today Ranil sitting and taking decisions on behalf of the state without people’s mandate having made Sirisena a mere puppet who just occupies the chair as a so-called Executive President. Ranil is working to the agendas of the Americans and the Indians and is intent on keeping out China. Reneging on the international agreements Sri Lanka had made with China is a dangerous trend that would unnecessarily earn the wrath of an emerging world super power. It is also an unfriendly act against a nation that had helped Sri Lanka at times of need. Ranil and Sirisena should remember that it was the clout of China together with Russia with their UN Security Council veto powers that dissuaded US from its attempts to drag Sri Lanka before the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes. Sri Lanka,under Ranil and Sirisena, has shown ingratitude and become ungrateful to China which was a friend in need.

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