In dependence
Posted on February 7th, 2017

By Rohana R. Wasala

This year, we are supposed to be celebrating 69 years of independence from the British. But, with  the national security deteriorating, the economy taking a nosedive, and inter-communal relationships unravelling as never before, one could wonder what there is to celebrate. The disconcerting truth is that, politically and economically, we have been returned to the state of dependence on foreign interlopers that we were deemed to have left seven decades ago. When all’s said and done, May 2009 saw the end of the Tamil separatist problem that had plagued our country since 1949 and frustrated all our efforts to forge ahead as a free people; it also marked the beginning of an era of national resurgence in the economic, social and political spheres. This was not to the liking of internal and external elements with different personal axes to grind. The country’s determined march towards progress was conspiratorially brought to an abrupt end.

Only those citizens who have a genuine love for Sri Lanka as their inalienable inheritance, as the land of their ancestors who built up a unique island civilization, and who do not look upon it as a piece of earth to grab possession of, or to plunder, are determined to see it survive into the future as one undivided country.  It was that just aspiration of the Sinhalese that is now being challenged. Nationalism is not a bad thing; it is not the same as racism. The majority of the ordinary British and the Americans have discovered this recently, though the long entrenched subversive Western media are trying to misrepresent the situation. The ordinary British and Americans have never been our enemies, though their rulers have been nothing else. However, we need not worry about whether the British and Americans accept or reject nationalism. That is up to them as free peoples. As for us, we must embrace nationalism since we cannot willingly give up our historical national identity.

What Sri Lanka was granted in 1948 was the status of a ‘dominion’. ‘Dominion status’ is defined in Encyclopaedia Britannica (updated 1998)thus: Although there was no formal definition of dominion status, a pronouncement by the Imperial Conference of 1926 described Great Britain and the dominions as autonomous communities within the British Empire, equal in status, in no way subordinate one to another in any aspect of their domestic or external affairs, though united by a common allegiance to the Crown and freely associated as members of the British Commonwealth of Nations.” Our independence was therefore effectively hamstrung by two conditions: allegiance to the (British) Crown and membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations. So, theoretically at least, we became an ‘independent’ dominion within the British empire; we were not made really free. The British empire was even then only nominal, but that is a different matter. As far as we are concerned, we are still subject to imperialist intervention in our affairs.

It was the ‘Brown Sahib’ class politically led by the leader of the United National Party Mr D.S. Senanayake (and by his successors after his sudden death in a horse-riding accident in 1952), who stepped into the shoes of the departing colonialists.  Brown Sahib” was a derogative term used by critics of that class. It was applied to natives of South Asian countries that the British ruled as their colonies who had been influenced by European/British culture and thinking, and who adopted a Western lifestyle and a servile Western bias in politics. In Sri Lanka, they were toppled from power democratically in 1956 by an alliance of parties led by Mr S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike the leader of the SLFP, ushering in the ‘era of the common man’. He preferred a  socialist economic model to the UNP’s capitalist one. It was Mr Bandaranaike who initiated nationalising private or foreign owned assets such as the Trincomalee harbour and oil companies. The changes that Mr Bandaranaike brought about had been long overdue. (By the way, Mr D.S. Senanayake who Mr Bandaranaike disagreed with and hence parted ways with to form his own Sri Lanka Freedom Party, was also a genuinely patriotic nationalist, though he had to serve the interests of his West-oriented reactionary class under the then prevailing circumstances; in spite of his comprador social background he was an honest Sinhalese Buddhist political leader who had great empathy with his people.)

An event that impressed on the public the fact that we hadn’t still moved away from the shadow of British imperialism even after the 1956 ‘revolution’ was when the suspects of the 1971 JVP insurrection were formally accused of rebelling against the queen of Britain, instead of against the Sri Lankan state/ government. It was a legal requirement, a corollary of the country’s dominion status. (Incidentally, the queen has sent warm greetings for this year’s independence day celebrations, as reported in the media; that is nothing unusual, for she is the head of the commonwealth.) Under Mrs Sirimao Bandaranaike’s SLFP-led coalition of left parties that had swept the polls in 1970, a republican constitution was adopted in 1972, that significantly distanced the country from the sphere of British influence. The UNP government of Mr J.R. Jayawardane that ousted Mrs Bandaranaike in 1977, drafted and promulgated the second republican constitution (1978), which still operates. Both those constitutions were formulated by local constitutional experts and were adopted by MPs who had been elected to office by the people. Not the same thing can be said about the proposed constitutional reform or reformulation program. According to informed critics, the yahapalana government has not got a popular mandate to bring in a new constitution. The genuine will of the multiethnic public has not been ascertained to guide the current constitution making process. Federalism is what the government wants to introduce to please the Tamil diaspora, the Western powers and the Indians. But it will only alienate the communities from each other, instead of uniting them into a single sovereign people. It threatens to put a forced end to our 2600 year unitary state of Sinhale. Some foreign NGOs and some local media seem to have been paid money to bamboozle the ill-informed public into accepting the new constitution when it is submitted for a referendum.

The right-leaning UNP has always been pro- West. The left-leaning SLFP was always opposed to the UNP’s foreign policy orientation and its basic capitalist economic strategy associated with total reliance on the private sector. On the contrary, the SLFP prefers a more non-aligned foreign policy, and a more public sector based economic model that, nevertheless, takes care of the local entrepreneurs . The uneasy ad hoc alliance that forms the so-called yahapalana regime is actually the baby of a shotgun marriage between two rival groups (the UNP and a section of the SLFP) that hardly ever see eye to eye with each other regarding those two important matters. This malformed creature is likely to reverse the historic victory of 2009, which itself was the culmination of the transition that was launched by the pioneer of the SLFP in 1956. Will the Brown Sahibs eventually succeed in eliminating the common people, though the latter are deemed to be sovereign?

It is doubtful whether our average legislators, most of whom are innocent of knowledge, intelligence, and common sense, have taken at least a cursory glance at the constitutional proposals. During a political debate broadcast on Sirasa TV some time ago, a participant (I’m not sure if it was an MP, PC or LG councillor) was asked by the moderator to explain what he understood by the term ‘mega-polis’. The panel member’s response must have surprised the viewers, for he said that since the law and order situation in the country was in a bad way, with the crime rate rising, this was an important subject, implying that, to him ‘mega-polis’ meant a ‘mega’ police! If he had wanted to find out what the minister of mega-polis development was actually responsible for, he would have learnt what ordinary people know: that a mega-polis means a large city. If they remain ignorant even about the subjects of their ministers, it is hard to imagine that they would make an effort to read through the new constitutional proposals to see what the obscure constitutional experts are trying to enforce amidst a chorus of dissent from patriotic citizens.

Written on February 4, 2017

7 Responses to “In dependence”

  1. Christie Says:

    අපිත් වෙනත් බිරිතනි-ඉන්දියානු හිරු එලිය වැඩි යටහ් විජිතයක්.දෙවන ලෝක යුද්දයෙන් පස්සෙ බිරිතානි ඉන්දියානු අදිරදය වෙන්වෙලා ඉන්දියානු අදිරදය පටන්ගත්ත. අපි අද ඉන්දීයානු යටත්ව්ජිතයක්. මුරුසියත් ගුයානාවත් ඉන්දියානු යටත් විජිත.

    We are an Indian colony like Mauritius and Guyana. After the second world war the British-Indian Empire dissolved and the Indian Empire continued.

    Rohana; can you please comment on my comment, How could you explain Former Presiden Hon. Chandika Bandaranayake-Kumaranathunga purchacing five bottles of expensive whisky and paying with American Express Card.

  2. aloy Says:

    Christie,

    You must understand the basic difference:

    One day you are a uni dropout living on the dole. Next day you are a multi billionaire (18 billions to be exact) who would sign the agreement to transfer the ownership of the product made with hard work at the very place you received the dole. That is the story of Jan Koun, an immigrant and the developer of WhatsApp.

    Similarly oneday you would be the baby sitter earning ten pounds per sitting in London and next you would be the two time president of a country because there are enough (fifteen million to be exact) modayas in that country. This is the story of bandit queen.

  3. Christie Says:

    Aloy: Once I met an Indian Colonial Parasite in Singapore. During our discussion he referred to people like “Sinhalayas are Modayas”, Fijiyans ate Fools and Malays Are Stupid.

    This is part of the Indian imperialist brainwashing. How come there are about 300 million untouchables in India.

    For the Indian colonial Parasites we Sinhalese are the untouchables.

    Yoy talk about Jan Koun who made money and there are lots of them who had done similar things. The credit should always go to Microsoft founder.

    Those rich people are not our concern.

    The Indian Colonial Parasites who had a free ride on the British made their fortunes from their victims like us and blacks.

    I have not heard of Bandit Queen Baby sitting in London for a living. She had enough funds from Indian colonial Parasites to live on like her paternal aunt who lived in London and was supported by Indian Colonial Parasites there.

    For the Sinhalese the important thing is the Indian Colonial Parasites who are billionaires who came to British Indian Colonies without a cent.

  4. aloy Says:

    Christie,

    “Yoy talk about Jan Koun who made money and there are lots of them who had done similar things. The credit should always go to Microsoft founder.”
    This is wrong. Two third of machines including mobiles in the world are run not on Windows but on Linux kernel. You said the rich people are not our concern, but I do not agree with you. Because we do not have independence to do what we want only our people go to other places. We are not short of talent. They can get inspiration from what they see in rich countries. One guy who passed out just five years or so ago from Moratuwa developed a search engine after going to US and the google owner (who incidentally was broke once and had to rely on $10,000 donation from a friend to continue working) bought his product for $5 million to shut him off from that project as he found him to be a threat to google. Our politicos kill talent by deliberately putting the most useless man to the top place and shut it to others at lower level.

  5. aloy Says:

    I myself sat in one office with two other senior engineers in RDA head office at one time and for one and a half years our job was to sign payment vouchers for things like turfing in Gam Udawa sites during Premadasa/Paskaralingam era. That is the independence the professional had in SL then.

  6. Randeniyage Says:

    Aloy,
    I sat there too! (1986-1988). My job was to play 304 with juniors and eat the lunch packet.

    Irony is I came there after designing 1 km long elevated highway 6 lane dual c’way 3+3) on single piers in a foreign country! I came back because I felt I should serve our motherland, not due to private reasons!

    I checked one foot bridge built on Premadas’s directions which washed away just after 1-2- weeks of usage. It was wrongly designed and gone through our rigorous Lankan checking regime including one PhD (late Dr. Silva) , Mrs. Pieris and Mr. Paranagama ( I don’t think he was involved). We quickly covered it up the mistake to save our fellow 304 players.
    I sat in Mrs. Pieris’s room when not playing 304.

  7. aloy Says:

    Randeniyage,

    That is the exact period I was in Works Department of RDA. After that all of us were transferred to now defunct RCDC (present day Maganeguma). There I had some freedom. I was put in charge of Production and design section. It was me who introduced the use of ABC (Aggregate Base Course) for the first time in Sri Lanka in Mahiyangana. As usual there was a lot of opposition from mandarins in R&D of RDA as they were used to the Tar Macadam system used by colonial PWD. But now everyone knows ABC like abc.

    At that time all the road maintenance of the country was under RCDC and there was a huge demand for Bituminous Emulsion for the process known as sand sealing of pot holes. The emulsion manufacturing plant which was under my care could produce only about half the demand. To remedy the situation I suggested to my people that we should fabricate another plant (a duplicate) from the spare parts given for maintenance by the Swedish manufacturer of the plant. The only hitch was the computerised control unit which the manufacturer wouldn’t supply. For that I got a technical guy living very close to Sethsiripaya to fabricate electronic part that couples various components with a computer at a cost of only Rs. 12,500. That was the only expenditure for parts except an advertisement I had to place in news papers at a cost of only Rs.10,000 to popularize the use of emulsion. Everybody was happy and Swedish supplier was surprised when he came to see another plant similar to his working in our yard. Only after about two week I came to know that every body involved in the job except me had been paid bonus of about one months salary for the job that took only about a month and I was sure even my name would not have been mentioned anywhere. I found it difficult to get the payment passed for the two expenses mentioned above through the accounts department which was manned by one Walter and the presidents brother, Kumarasinghe at that time as there were various queries.
    So much for encouragement to innovation in SL. I decided to leave.

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