Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Dayan Jayatileka
Posted on March 15th, 2017
C. Wijeyawickrema, LL.B., Ph.D.
In the crazy field called Sri Lankan politics in 2017, the latest news item is the open letters written by Dr. Jayan Jayatileka promoting Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as the winning candidate for the 2020 presidential election. We must thank Dayan for the service he is rendering, single-handenly, to expose the game played by RailW, CBK and MangalaS, all members of the federal-this war is not winnable crowd, to break Sri Lanka into pieces of warring segments as in South Sudan, East Timor, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. Lebanon, Israel and Palestine are old cases of this old game.
One must give room for people to evolve and mature politically and spiritually. It took NM and Colvin 30 years (1935-1964) to take a tray of lotus flower to the Dalada Maligava. Even Vasudeva is now for devolution of power to people (Tamil?) only if if it is within a unitary state. As a person who watched Dayan’s writings I am pleased that he is not a Tilakasiri, Tisaranee, Rosy Senanayaka or a Bahu anymore. I have no concern if he is supporting MahindaR.
But when it comes to Gotabhaya, who is not a politician like MahindaR, the Sinahala Buddhists, poor Catholics and reasonable-minded people of other ethnic groups such as Arun Tambimuttu, Karuna and most recently Izeth Hussein, one cannot give Dayan a free ride, without qualifications. This is because Gotabhaya with all his weaknesses as a military-trained human being in politician’s shoes, he is perhaps the best thing people in Sri Lanka has to save their country from total ruin, so near and so far at the same time.
Recently, I saw an e-mail sent by Prof. Nalin de Silva and I felt that it is nothing but fair to give Dayan an opportunity to respond to some concerns we have about his views he had in the past. If he has changed like MahindaR and Gota as he says in his latest writings, then we have nothing to worry about him. For this purpose I am copying below a reply I wrote to him printed in the Island newspaper, after which Dayan was fired from his Geneva assignment. Amazingly, this essay written in July 2009 is still not out of date in what it discussed. Dayan did not answer the questions asked then and now he has an ideal opportunity to answer them for our benefit.
The Island, July 1, 2009
‘Sinhala Bushism’ and the 13th Amendment
C. Wijeyawickrema, LL.B., Ph.D.
Sinhala Buddhist chauvinists
Dayan Jayatilleke, Ph.D., (DJ), writing as the son of the late journalist Mervyn de Silva, has utilized the American idea of the Father’s Day for three related purposes: (1) to try to prove that Bushism (militarism) does not work even in an otherwise unbeatable Israel, and (2) that Bushism (Sinhala over-lordship) cannot succeed in Sri Lanka, and (3) Sri Lanka’s peace and prosperity lies in his 13-A now and 13-A plus later plan (The Island, 6/22/2009). In this process, he has added a yet another appellation to the “list of adjectives” developed by the Colombo intellectuals since the 1960s to designate Sinhala Buddhists. Interestingly, he received immediate endorsement for this project from the American-living anthropology professor H.L. Seneviratne (HLS) of work of kings (1999)” fame (The Island, 6/23/2009).
Unfortunately, DJ’s project was based on false data and a biased perception, dialectical, or otherwise. Despite the fact that at least since 1961 Erich Fromm has shown us that Karl Marx was not a Marxist (Marx’s concept of man, 1961, p. v), DJ operates with the thinking that “the un-dialectical mind would unable to grasp” what is happening with regard to Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict (The longest war: Sri Lanka’s identity conflicts and conflicted identities by Dayan Jayatilleka, Official government website of Sri Lanka, 7/28/2008). In reality, when white capitalist conspiracy masks are removed, Marx and Engels appear more like Buddhists and not Hegelians. Jenny Marx’s letter from London to Herr Weydemeyer asking financial help, described the sufferings she, her husband and the children went through on a daily basis without food and even rent money (p. 244). Marx was no Lenin, Stalin, Castro, Mao, NM or Colvin.
Perhaps, like his father those days, DJ is still a Colombo-living prisoner of the Tamil separatist paradigm that first began in the Madras Presidency and in Colombo, Ceylon, in the early 1920s. These prisoners cannot act reasonably because they have to react to separatist action. In trying to paste the “Bush doctrine” (“the Bush tragedy” is the title of Jacob Weisberg’s 2008 book) to Sri Lanka, DJ reveals an inability to understand the Middle Path in Buddhism upon which the Mahinda Chinthanaya is based. Furthermore, he is oblivious to the theory of “give war a chance” (not to get trapped by the premature peace-making games of the white politicians). I suspect for those who lived in a “this war is not winnable” world, not very long ago, what had happened to the Prabakaran war machinery on May 18, 2009 must have been a terrible mental blow.
Moshe Dayan and Anwar Sadat’s biography
Our Dayan missed Moshe Dayan when he talked about Israel and Sharon’s counter attack in 1973. He mentioned Sharon in 1973 but missed Moshe Dayan in October 1973. This was not like the typo error that he immediately corrected in HLS’ endorsement (The Island, 6/24/2009). It is a fatal error consuming the gist of his father’s day message. My perception of USSR, Nasser and Israel has changed considerably after I read Sadat’s autobiography (Anwar el-Sadat: in search of identity-an autobiography, 1977). I hope Dayan too will find time to read it and learn from it.
The real Gamal Abdel Nasser was not the man we in Sri Lanka thought we knew. He was a lousy leader. Actually, Sadat was the real statesman with higher qualities who did not wish to challenge Nasser when Nasser was alive. We thought that he was some lesser known deputy who came into prominence after the death of Nasser. Sadat wanted to erase the humiliation his country received under Nasser due perhaps to an international conspiracy rather than to Israel’s military genius (the early morning raid of Egyptian war planes). He defeated Israel in October 1973 (page 256), and it was a landmark in military history. Israel was rescued by Henry Kissinger and the quick arrival of American war planes. Think of the Vadamarachchi rescue operation (July 1987) with Indian jets. Sadat said he could fight with Israel but not with USA.
I came to know the other side of Israel’s humiliating defeat by accident from an account in a military journal. The October 1973 Israel defeat was so disastrous and decisive that Golda Meir, the PM, offered to submit her resignation. Moshe Dayan, the war hero in 1967, broke down and wept, and it was alleged that he even contemplated committing suicide. Even in Lebanon, more recently, Israel could not defeat the Hassaballah fighters and had to withdraw after destroying buildings and killing civilians (I doubt if Hassaballah had more fire power than Prabakaran). Therefore, DJ’s case of an invulnerable Israel and then use it as an argument against relevant, reasonable and necessary future military strategies of Sri Lanka has no factual validity.
It is an open secret that Israel survives because of American money and weapons (as alleged, even if it has its own nuclear weapons it is in a highly vulnerable situation). The ultra powerful Jews lobby in the American political system assures that this connection continues flawlessly. Even as one’s private opinion (official Sri Lankan government website entertains his opinions), it is unfair to project that GOSL after November 2005 ever entertained the view that there was a purely military solution to the separatist problem in Sri Lanka. The Buddhist approach followed under the Mahinda Chinthanaya disproves it. There has always been a desire to reach a reasonable political compromise, but not what the remote-controlled white colonial political agents wanted to enforce.
Give war a chance
The decision for new military bases in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi are in accordance with the theory of “give war a chance” and it is not an unreasonable one. Any attempt to taint this security work as Bush acts go against the military science as well as Buddhist politics. (“Give war a chance,” Edward N. Luttwak, Foreign Affairs, July-August 1999, 36-44; “There is a military solution to terror,” Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2008; “Lessons from Sri Lanka,” Washington Times, 6/22/2009). A reasonable political solution cannot work without reasonable military security. Same rule applies for the decision to create a Coast Guards’ Service which was at least 30 years overdue. One cannot cure a cancer by feeding it or by leaving remnants of it or leaving any possible room for it to re-surface. These rules should now apply to Tamil terrorism, just like they applied ruthlessly to the Sinhala terrorism in 1971 and 1988-89.
The discoveries of buried weapons on a daily basis in the former CFA 2002 areas confirm the thesis that Harvard professor Monica Duffy Toft presented in her essays and in her book “The Geography of Ethnic Violence: Identity, Interests, and the Indivisibility of Territory, 2003. Total defeat brings lasting peace. To quote her:
“Wagner hypothesis, stressed that balance of power best explains why military victories result in the most stable outcome in ending civil wars. The destruction argument constitutes an important and logically consistent explanation for why a military victory might result in a longer lasting peace and a more stable base for a postwar recovery. The logic reduces to a single hypothesis:
The more completely an adversary’s capacity to fight in a civil war is destroyed, the less likely war will recur.
With one side defeated, the defeated side’s capacity to reignite the war is substantially reduced and thus the likelihood of war recurring is lower. In other words, if a military campaign destroys the adversary’s capacity to fight, then the question of postwar resistance to the winner’s policies cannot logically matter. “Victory,” in such a case, would effectively leave the state with a single actor.”
So try to become modern-day King Ashokas after that task is accomplished.
Platform of broad provincial
The argument that despite its power Israel is full of headaches is used by DJ to make a hurried demand for a political solution of a unique kind ignoring geography and history (history is past geography). This demand fits within the notorious Colombo paradigm and its daughter Tamil separatism. The 1984 “a search for a solution” project of DJ’s father was most probably based on a mindset of a separatist prisoner. Not just the political families in Colombo but the others elites in Colombo also shaped their lives in and around the separatist paradigm of SJVChelvanayagam and GGPonnambalam. The B-C and D-C pacts were the best examples on this ‘action-reaction’ behaviour. The reactions were often not reasonable. To agree to give land powers to a set of politicians who professed a right to a traditional homeland in the Eastern Province with a Tamil state party formed in 1949 was foolish and suicidal. In 1987 with 13-A, India forced GOSL to implement this stupid decision. Sri Lanka had a narrow escape under the CFA 2002. God Vishnu made Prabakaran go crazy and reject it! Now after thousands of Hasalaka heroes we are back again in 1987.
DJ has a duty to answer a set of questions now in 2009 because he has more information today than what his father had then.
1. Does he want to empower the people or give some ruling powers to a set of corrupt and dishonest politicians?
2. Did the seven PCs in the South help the people in any manner better than the days before 1987?
3. 13A was imposed on Sri Lanka by India by military threat. Does he not think that this humiliation should end by erasing it?
4. Can anybody argue that 13-A is a legal part of the constitution (even if it is a bahubootha constitution) when it was passed after obtaining resignation letters from MPs?
5. Does he know that 13-A accepts a traditional Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka’s NP and EP?
6. Why is that “Tamil ethnic identity” (group right versus individual rights) cannot be accommodated under a non 13-A set up, such as a river basin-based, language-blind regional demarcation method so that “water wars” etc. will not become future problems?
7. When India decided after forty years of paying lip services to constitutionally embrace the Panchayathi Raj Institutes (1973rd Amendment, 1993) as the vehicle to empower villagers why is it that Sri Lanka has to go to language-based Provinces?
8. Why should people shoulder the burden of a white elephant called 13-A simply because India wanted to create an official Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka?
9. As the data below clearly indicate, 13-A’s plan to ‘accommodate Tamil ethnic identity’ by creating a Tamil homeland, at the same time promotes race-based thinking and suspicion in 157 out of 160 electorates (based on 1976 Census data) where people now live in harmony. The majority report of APRC thought the solution to this is build Tamil police stations in the south. What is DJ’s stand on this?
10. Does he not think that the best future will come by teaching children Sinhala and Tamil from grade 3?
Think global, act local
Why Sri Lankan Tamils cannot have their “aspirations” (group rights?) achieved under a unified Sri Lanka with Tamils as well as others empowered at the village council-level as proposed by the SLFP in April 2007? Col. Karuna’s demand, “Give us what Colombo gets” is rapidly spreading among the local Tamil politicians as well, yet a group of Colombo people want to take the country to two language-based spatial units. The empowerment of Tamils and others should take place at the village level and they should be given the opportunity to develop a hierarchy leading up to a District-level unit if they decide so and not because some Colombo people think due to various other reasons and influences. Rajiv Gandhi gave 13A to escape from a headache his mother had caused.
That does not mean we are ‘harbouring a snake inside our undergarments’, as a popular Sri Lankan saying goes. Sri Lanka meets the promise made to India as regards 13A by empowering people at the village level with most governmental functions allocated to VCs (Grama Rajya concept). This way only a few functions will be handled by the national government. After all this was the path India decided to follow with Panchyathi Raj Institues in 1973.
Group rights demarcation on a scrambled egg
When language or race or religion is used as a yardstick of demarcation of political units the devil in man or woman gets a better chance than the saint in him or her. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Belgium are good examples. In the case of Sri Lanka in 1977 (based on 1976 Census data) there were 17 electorates with 50% or more Tamil voters and 20 with 5-49% Tamil voters. 120 electorates had 0.4 -4.99% of Tamils. Some 157electorates in 1977 (total 160) had small, medium or large Tamil populations. What this means is that Sri Lanka is a scrambled ethnic egg. It is absurd to think of group rights in this situation. 13A wanted to unscramble it and 13-A plus wants to eat it clean (unscrambled).
Apart from the obvious geographical factor that unlike India Sri Lanka is a tiny island which with a modern highway can be traversed in 3-4 hours (a moderate bullet train can do it in less than 2 hours), Sri Lankans will be fools to stick to what India did to Sri Lanka in 1987 now in 2009. What is needed is strengthen individual rights and more representation at the national level. Teaching Sinhala and Tamil to school children from grade 3 will remedy any aspiration requirements within 10 years!
Tamil country with a UN seat
DJ has a duty to explain to the country how he is going to deal with the world Tamil movement’s desire for a Tamil country (“There is no state without a Tamil, but there is no state for the Tamils,” World Confederation of Tamils, 2006, www.tamilnation.org) under his 13-A plus formula. Sri Lanka with language-based 13-A region with police and land powers if 13-A plus wins the day will be an irresistible attraction, a magnet for dreamers of a Tamil state. There will always be the Tamil Nadu politicians promoting racism, just like the Kachchativu issue or any other garbage that they can pick as political fodder and to keep the pot boiling. The Tamil diaspora as well as some Tamils in Colombo will go to any extent to arouse Tamil racism in the Tamil homeland. Then a Vartharaja Perumal will appear again from nowhere. Already a new term has emerged as, “structural genocide.” Anything under the sun can come under it!
Former UNP Minister Rajitha Senaratne has candidly said, “Do what is needed today.” (The Island, 6/26/2009) but that should not be the attitude of those who think of Sri Lanka beyond the next 10 to 15 years of political survival. There is, no doub,t that at the next general election ex-service personnel as candidates will teach people like him a basic patriotic lesson. When DJ says 13-A now, 13-A plus later (Lankaweb, 6/15/2009) with a cover phrase “within a unified state,” he is either not sincere or not smart.
Give access to North
It is so funny that some American officers are demanding free access to North as a condition for help as if they had helped Sri Lanka before May 18th 2009. Why they want access and what they really do when they get access is documented page after page in the Report on the unethical conversion of Buddhists of the ACBC- appointed commission (2009). The army found it physically on the field. A careful reading of this thick report (400 pages) reveals that 13-A (and 13-A plus) will become part of a global conspiracy to implement in Sri Lanka the three interconnected processes now taking place in the flat world: (1) clash of civilization project as planting democracy (2) Christianization of Asia as making poor countries more civilized and R2P bound, and (3) liberalization of global economy via World Trade Organization and NGO-INGO sisters as remote-controlled colonialism. In all three areas the white politicians in a failed capitalist free market system of Europe, USA and Canada are blatantly applying double standards while facing increasing humiliation of the Buddhist kind (of the Upatissa and the Nalagiri Damanaya type).
DJ makes a desperate attempt to connect the November 2005 victory with a broad left-center front. Mahinda R won because of the JVP-JHU support and not because of popular LSSP or CP. Even the SLFP of CBK side did not support him. These are the people now kissing MR’s foot not ring. HLS identified 2005 November election as a contest between a Jathika president and an Arthika president (The Island, 11/9 and 11/11/2005). The Jathika candidate was called a war monger not a moderate. MR became the legitimate inheritor of the late Ven. Soma’s work to bring back self-respect and dignity to a humiliated Sinhala Buddhist majority. Except during 1956-1959, there was no “progress” in Sri Lanka. In fact the country went down the drain until after November 2005. Those who cannot win a single seat in the general election has no right to talk about the legitimacy of 13-A in or out of the APRC circle.
Arrogance of power
DJ does not have to go to Prof. Nye to show the power of soft power. The late U.S. Senator William Fulbright in his book, The Arrogance of Power, 1966, preached to his people what Americans could and should do. Amazingly, this timeless classic has lots of Buddhist politics which would help President Obama tremendously, if he cares to read it. When he was the president of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, former science advisor, who has a Tamil and Muslim ancestry, said that Buddhism provided solution to world’s problems. The American professor Robert Thurman in his book, “Inner Revolution: life, liberty, and the pursuit of real happiness (1988, chapter 9: Hope for the Third millennium, the reunion of outer and inner) offers advice to American politicians on how Buddhist principles could be utilized to create a better America. It is not perfect, but the Mahinda Chinthanaya Programme is a real world application of these ideas. Therefore, without adequate study it is unfair for DJ to talk about “Sinhala over-lordship.”
We have no way of knowing what DJ’s father thought about the 1962 police-navy coup or the statement quoted below made by Professor Gunapala Piyasena Malalasekera. This statement applies equally well today in 2009 with regard to Sinhala people as well, which Gen. Sarath Fonseka summarized recently as “minorities should have equal rights but they (Colombo Tamils) should not make unreasonable demands.” But DJ is in a position to read the 2009 ACBC report mentioned above and let us know what he thinks about it.
“The Buddhists wish—and quite rightly—that in this country where they form 70 percent of the population, Buddhism should be recognized as the predominant religion of the people. In the rest of the world, Ceylon is regarded as essentially a Buddhist country, and they want this claim established here as well…They will not be content to remain in the position of inferiority to which they have been reduced by 450 years of foreign occupation… They have no desire to make Buddhism the State religion—in spite of the cry raised by self-seeking politicians— but they want the State to help them rehabilitate themselves and undo some, at least, of the injustices perpetrated against them during the days of their subjection.”
(quoted from a speech by Professor Gunapala Malalasekera, President of ACBC reproduced in Times of Ceylon, January 15, 1956, and referenced on page 196 of the book, “Ceylon: Dilemmas of a New Nation,” by W. H. Wriggins, Princeton Univ. Press, 1960)