Allowing our destiny to be hijacked
Posted on June 12th, 2017

BY SHIVANTHI RANASINGHE Courtesy Ceylon Today

At a recent media briefing, civil organizations instrumental in establishing this government lambasted the Yahapalana leaders for not reshuffling the Cabinet as per their instructions. It was following such an instruction that the Military Intelligence Director, Brigadier Suresh Salley was removed from post. The government’s perfidious attempt to do away with our country’s unitary status and the foremost place given to Buddhism is also because of these instructions.

Last month, provincial councillor M.K. Shivajilingam warned our country’s President against visiting the North for a week. Last week, HRW urged the government to take decisive action to protect the Muslim’s interests. Yet, there is a stoic silence over the plight of the Sinhala Buddhists in the North and East (N&E).

General Daya Ratnayake exclaimed that our war heroes deserve the noble price for tolerating patiently the numerous harassments they are made to face, despite protecting our country from the enemy. Military intelligence is equated to contract killers. Officers have allegedly earned millions from abusing State resources. Yet, those who destroyed thousands of lives and property worth millions of rupees are apparently political prisoners. Despite their refusal to mend their ways, they are being released to society, sometimes with a fatherly pat on the head.

Clearly, our destiny is being hijacked.

This is a manifestation of a multitude of causes. Chief among is our democratic system. Theoretically sound and a success in the West, this somehow got twisted in Sri Lanka. As the winner is not the one who makes the most sense, but who garners the most votes, our focus is not on policies, but maintaining the block vote.

Most Tamils and Muslims support Tamil and Muslim political parties respectively. These political parties keep their block vote by instilling a majority versus minority complex in their voter. The sense of being victimized for being the so-called minority has proven to be very effective.

Some of the ‘examples’ such as the Official Language Act where Sinhala became the official language is obsolete. This was 61 years ago, in which for 30 years Tamil too has been an official language. Discounting politics, all communities live amidst each other, except in the N&E, in harmony and peace. Yet, this feeling of victimhood is very powerful. Thus, whatever the provocations from their own aggressive, extremist political entities who espouse bigotry, violence and separatism, the voter stays put.

Though the likes of Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera’s antics embarrass the Buddhists, those of Azad Sally, Rishad Bathiudeen et al do not seem to faze the Muslims. Nor do they seem concerned over the vandalism of Buddhist places in the East by extremist Muslims, where as Buddhists anger over the destruction of Muslim businesses.

Muslims are the most tightly-knit, brotherhood-like community. They are extremely faithful to their religion and beliefs. Thus, they pray five times a day, observe Ramadan and disregard family planning. As a rising population, they do not take injustice quietly, even if the victims were guilty of provocation.

However, these are done not to intimidate the Muslims. The Beruwela and Aluthgama incidents were created to distance the Muslim community from the Rajapaksa administration. It was part of the regime change architecture. The objective of the recent violence is again not targeting the Muslims for being Muslims, but for what it implies. The speed at which the HRW picked it up is interesting.

Upcountry Tamil politicians differ sharply from the N&E Tamils. The former holds tea estate at ransom to win demands for their voters. Despite the poor yields and declining markets, these political party dominated trade unions have won regular pay hikes and other benefits for the workers.

The Tamil National Alliance is not concerned winning such demands for their voters. Unemployment and substance abuse is rife in the region. Climate change is adversely affecting the already arid place. Indian poachers are stealing the Tamil fisherman’s daily catch, while destroying the seabed and its life. The archaic caste system is still penalizing the vulnerable.

The TNA is bothered by none of these. Their only focus is demanding self-rule. The strong undercurrents and deep rivalries take a distinct secondary place. Even Anandasangaree, Secretary General of Tamil United Liberation Front, who protested over the appointment of Mavai Senathirajah as leader and president of Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi, pipes down.

He linked Senathirajah with the LTTE. Recognizing the TNA would render a great injustice to those victimized by the LTTE terrorism, he said. His lone voice soon petered out.

What this community truly believes is difficult to say. They have still not spoken against the many LTTE atrocities committed against them. Nor have they castigated the TNA, who, as the willing political servant of the terrorist group, silently sanctioned the atrocities.

Quite unexpectedly, this April, ex-LTTE cadres in their hundreds held a massive demonstration against the Northern Provincial Council that is headed by the TNA. Their demands were, to keep the agricultural projects and preschools under the Army control and not hand over to the NPC, who will deny them jobs and to be absorbed into the Civil Defence Force to work under the Army.

This sudden eruption indicates a revolt from a severely oppressed group. Will this gather momentum or oppressors manage to suppress this remains to be seen. For the time, N&E Tamils appear to be undivided.

The Sinhala vote is mainly divided amongst the United National Party, Sri Lanka Freedom Party and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna. Just as the Tamil politician use ethnicity to keep their voters together, the Sinhala politicians use social class. The Muslim and Tamil parties, irrespective of their internal differences, keep their entire community together. The Sinhala politician however has created deep divisions between the haves and the have-nots.

LTTE was the result of espousing racism. JVP insurgencies were the result of creating class distinction. The SLFP and their political allies are mostly left oriented. They all preach socialism and communism, but practice capitalism. There was a time; JVPers would be at road junctions with tins to collect coins from commuters. This is not the case now, but from where or whom they are getting money is unknown. With money, they have become a Jekyll and Hyde party.

Interestingly, when the JVP cadres were fighting during the second insurrection, their leader, Rohana Wijeweera lived a capitalist life as a planter. When this writer asked Vijitha Herath whether this duplicity did not bother him, his answer was it was the best disguise for no one would expect a communist leader in such an environment.

Blaming the affluent society for the ills of the society is no different from pinning the blame on another race. The same feelings of being victimized, penalized, subjugated arise and with that anger, jealousy and a hatred to that society. Thus, when the bus companies and tea estates were nationalized, the nation looked on with glee.

The best parallel example we have is the agitation over The South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine. We must be the only nation where students protest over the education of other students, whom the government cannot afford to educate. Likewise, nationalizing the bus companies and the tea estates destroyed the industry, as well as their owners.

Avant Garde Maritime Services Chairman, Major Nissanka Senadipathi vowed not even to establish a tea kiosk in Sri Lanka again.

Under him, over 7000 retired servicemen were employed and countless others benefitted from his largess.

The JVP insurgencies scared away the well to-do villagers. Many disposed their properties and left the country. This entrepreneurial and educated society was the backbone of the country. They did much to establish, maintain and manage schools and temples. Often they donated property for these purposes. They also invested in businesses, creating employment.

The pro-West UNP, the party of the haves, with its capitalist, liberal and free economic thinking, deliberately overriding nationalistic priorities and domestic industries, failing to address the common man’s woes completed the destruction of the society.

We, loyal to our political theories above all else, failed to realize different challenges need different solutions. A country, especially one as ours coming out of nearly 500 years of colonization, that has left its people deeply affected, its culture, demography, administration and identity altered beyond recognition, cannot be wholly capitalist nor socialist.

Instead of realizing this, we are divided as capitalists and socialists, and each vying for power. When one won, the focus of the other was to somehow discredit the opponent and destabilize the government, so as to come into power. Hence, our post independent history is an oscillation between UNP and SLFP led governments.

Again, this should have theoretically created the best watchdog. Instead, the Opposition engages in virulent campaigns, tarnishing the good name of worthy opponents such as T.B. Ilangaratne.

Mahinda Rajapaksa is a rogue, but Prabhakaran is supremo. Projects the country needs gets branded as white elephants and ego boosters. The Gal Oya Project was to fill with silt within months. Maththala became a paddy storage. The Chinese are keen to gain a firm hold on the Magampura Port – the world’s biggest swimming pool.

We believe these misinformation and falsehoods, because our aim is to somehow back our party to power, irrespective of their ability. This is how we allowed our destiny to be hijacked.

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6 Responses to “Allowing our destiny to be hijacked”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Agree with the last paragraph.

    [Quote] We believe these misinformation and falsehoods, because our aim is to somehow back our party to power, irrespective of their ability. This is how we allowed our destiny to be hijacked. [Unquote]

    However, the battle has never been capitalist verses socialist or class. UNP is not capitalist and SLFP is not socialist. Both are a combination of both systems. UNP is more capitalist and SLFP is more socialist. Whatever that wins the election seems to be the political and economic ideology of both parties and the Joint Opposition.

    Nationalism is another misnomer in Sri Lanka. Generally right-winged parties are nationalist but not in Sri Lanka. UNP is right-winged on the economic front but leftist on the nationalist front. SLFP is leftist in the economic front and right-winged in the nationalist front. A political pickle.

    To align it with stable democracies, the SLFP has to be either capitalist while keeping its nationalist fervour or give up nationalism keeping leftist economic policies. It did flirt with this idea during Chandrika’s time but failed. Can the UNP become nationalist keeping its capitalist stand or become socialist keeping its anti-nationalist stand? This too cannot happen again after UNP’s nationalism ended in 1951.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    Only a MILITARY-SANGHA takeover can save SL.

  3. Christie Says:

    Shivanbthi; the recent genocide of Sinhalese started with the so called 1956 rebellion. Planed, Funded, Managed and carried out by India and Indian Colonial Parasites.

  4. Christie Says:

    “This too cannot happen again after UNP’s nationalism ended in 1951.”. Thanks Dilrook, a great sentence. There were Socialist before 1951 funded by India and Indian colonial parasites. eg, N M and Phillip. They could not get much of Sinhala votes. So the Third Eye of India picked up SWRD and got the job done.

  5. SA Kumar Says:

    Only a MILITARY-SANGHA takeover can save SL.- Indian keep their finger in their mouth ??? or is that final plan ?
    USA-Ananda Where are you ???

  6. RohanJay Says:

    For once I agree with with Lorenzo a Military-Sangha takeover is probably whats going to get SL back on track purely for security reasons as I believe there is a credible security threat to Sri Lanka coming from radical islam as it seems like it has gained a firm foothold in the eastern province of the country. Good news is neither India or Sri Lanka do not tolerate violence from muslim extremists as history of both countries have shown also, hands arn’t tied by the political correctness of the west security forces in India and Sri Lanka are well equipped to defeat the Islamic extremist threat to south asia. I also have to add that these Islamic extremists are covertly supported by western govts to destabilise target countries and overtly supported by wahabbi radical islamic countries like saudi arabia. Where a lot muslims visit from the eastern province and some come back to Sri Lanka very much radicalised.

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