Fonseka’s swansong
Posted on December 4th, 2009

By Asoka Subhawickrama, Sydney, Australia

Sarath Fonseka choosing the swan as his election symbol is indeed prophetic. Legend has it that the song of the swan heralds its impending demise. The non-superstitious would call it mere coincidence and others may argue that Fonseka’s is crowing and whinging, not singing, but the quirk is weird, indeed.

There is a saying “Old soldiers never die, they just fade away”. But in Sri Lanka, they get blown away, at least the brave heroic types.

One of the very best soldiers we had was General Denzil Kobbekaduwa, much senior to Fonseka. As Denzil led his soldiers from victory to victory, his fame skyrocketed. Whilst peaceful Sri Lankans hailed him as the 20th Century Dutugemunu, Tigers feared and detested him like the devil incarnate. Ironically, his rapidly increasing popularity was perceived by those in power at the time as a bigger threat than that posed by the Tigers.

Finally, on 8 August 1992, Denzil was blasted by a bomb planted by an “unknown party”. Several high ranking officers, including the equally heroic Brigadier Wimalaratne and Rear Admiral Mohan Jayamaha were blown to pieces together with Denzil.

When fingers were pointed at the late President Premadasa, he wept inconsolably. In a vain attempt to clear his pitiful name of the horrendous crime he definitely didn’t commit (he had been accused of many others, though). Premadasa publicly pleaded, “Please assassinate me, but not my name”. The true villain behind the attack on Denzil’s party was never discovered.

Another valiant officer who was deeply hated by the Tigers was Major General Lucky Algama. On his retirement after many a victorious battle against the Tigers, he – unfortunately a born UNPer – was persuaded by Ranil Wickramasinghe to join his political campaign. On that fateful day of 18 December 1999, Algama, the disciplined military man he was, appeared punctually on the UNP podium as the election meeting started. Only a few minutes ticked away before a bomb exploded killing Algama instantly. Curiously, Ranil who was billed to preside the meeting, was “a bit” late and escaped. Again, fingers started pointing at others.

Next was Major General Janaka Perera, a soldier who had made a name in the media as a clever war hero. On his retirement (premature, some say because CBK mistrusted him) and after a stint as a diplomat, he was offered the UNP nomination for the post of Chief Minister of NCP. Janaka, hailing from a very dark-green-blooded family, gleefully accepted Ranil’s invitation.

This was the time when the real war against the terrorists had started under Mahinda’s leadership. Ranil beseeched Janaka to condemn the way the war was being fought. That was one of the main reasons for Ranil’s offer of the top nomination to Janaka.

Janaka knew it and tried his best. But, to his amazement, he found that the war was being prosecuted in an exemplary fashion as never before, both politically and militarily. And, the committed soldier he was, Janaka couldn’t bring himself down to concoct deliberate lies about military manoeuvres and strategies. In Ranil’s eyes, what little criticism Janaka dished out was inadequate and ineffectual. It is said, that during this period, every morning and evening Ranil lambasted Janaka for not doing enough to sabotage the war effort. Ranil was angry and disgusted with Janaka’s performance.

Finally, the inevitable happened. On 6 October 2008, Janaka, his wife and a host of others were blasted into smithereens at the opening of the UNP office in Anuradhapura. Strangely, again Ranil was absent at the moment of mayhem and escaped as usual. On this occasion, fingers were pointed even at the government, in the state of sheer madness triggered by the inability to even guess who was behind the heinous crime.

The stage is now firmly set for Sarath Fonseka, widely sung supreme war hero of our time. As the Tigers are now generally regarded as a spent force, if and when the predictable happens to Fonseka, most gullible people (that is the majority of Sri Lankans) would believe that it was engineered by Mahinda’s government. Fonseka’s whinging about reducing his protective guard would give much credence to such a belief. No amount of explanation would erase the inevitable damage to the reputation of Mahinda et al.

If the Rajapakses are as astute as seen more often than not, they would provide top notch protection to Fonseka and even rein in their mangy dogs who have snarled at him in the recent past. The belief that Fonseka is safe because the Tiger suicide cadres are almost wiped out is misplaced. We must realize that not only there are remnant Tamil terrorist cadres in the country, but that Fonseka could be taken out by mere contract killers. It is well known that both these groups are symbiotically linked to the enemies of the current government.

As for Fonseka, who is in a perpetual ego trip, no advice may work. However, at least in a fleeting sane moment “”…” if such moments exist – it would be healthy for him to think about the villain who was behind all the assassinations of the past soldier heroes. After all, Sri Lankans want Sarath the war hero to live, not die in vain and ignominiously like Janaka.

The scoundrel responsible for the deaths of the great soldiers is also responsible for the assassinations of his own party leaders so that he could rise up the ladder, one rung at a time (one rung up and two rungs down). A born loser, one of the most despicable characters in Sri Lanka’s political history, he is the one who conferred with the Tigers and contrived the demise of Lalith Athulathmudali, Ranasinghe Premadasa and Gamini Disanayake.

Unless he wakes up from his dream soon, General Fonseka would never see the day of the election, he is only a disposable pawn in the villain’s power game.

Asoka Subhawickrama

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