Answer to the question ‘Who can save Sri Lanka?’
Posted on January 10th, 2019

By Rohana R. Wasala Courtesy The Island

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.

  • Haile Selassie (Emperor of Ethiopia 1930-74)

The admirable feature article ‘Who can save Sri Lanka?’  written by T.M. Premawardana (presumably in Sinhala) and translated into English by Fr J. C. Pieris (The Island/January 2, 2019) invites constructive critical comments. Hence this attempt at offering some personal suggestions for what they are worth.

However, Premawardana’s piece opens with an observation that is hard to support:

The people of this country did not accept the overturning of power, enacted on the 26th of October 2018 as a political victory. Only the people, paid and instigated by the politicians to light crackers, did so. Nobody spontaneously came forward to celebrate it. After the news of the dissolution of the Parliament they became still more silent.”

In the present writer’s opinion, this is the exact opposite of the popular reaction among ordinary Sri Lankans to the news of that unexpected presidential move.  After reading independent media reports on the internet that this writer considers, based on evidence, to be authentic and unbiased, he stated the following personal view of how the masses responded to the change of government effected on October 26, 2018: The news about Mahinda Rajapaksa having formed a government at the invitation of the president generated a wave of public euphoria across the country: firecrackers were set off in celebration not only in the south but also in the north” (‘Stop outsourcing democracy, hold an election’/ The Island, November 29, 2018). If, as Premawardana alleges, the level of enthusiasm in celebrating the event fell short of what could have been expected on the basis of the scale experienced in the aftermath of the Sri Lanka Podu Peramuna (SLPP)’s sweeping victory at the local government election on February 10, 2018, at  least two strong reasons can be suggested to explain it: these presidential actions were entirely unexpected, and the news took time to reach the ordinary people, which is one reason; the other reason is that in view of Sirisena’s previous role in the Yahapalanaya, his sudden sea change was treated with suspicion by a section of the general public.

The judiciary has settled the disagreement between the executive and the legislature about the happenings on October 26. The president, the parliament, and the public are now abiding by its decision. They accept that constitutionally justice has been served. However, there are criticisms of the judgement among legal experts, about which most ordinary citizens including this writer are ignorant and cannot express any idea, for or against. But the fact remains that a highly unrepresentative legislature is still continuing to legislate, and that a national list (i.e., unelected) MP from a regional party that polled less than 5% of the national vote acts as the most powerful legislator in parliament.  (That the current parliament does not represent the public will was irrefutably proven by the drubbing the mutually estranged Yahapalana partners suffered at the February 10, 2018 local government election). So, the strong perception among the public that the continuing state of affairs constitutes a serious of breach of natural justice will not go away until free and fair parliamentary elections are held soon, and people’s sovereignty restored.

Returning to Premawardana’s opening comments, it is a constantly manifest fact that Mahinda Rajapaksa doesn’t have to bribe people, or to instigate them  by unlawful means, in order for them to celebrate any significant achievement the country makes under his leadership. He has already made history as the only democratic leader ever in the South Asian region (probably in the whole world) who has been constantly visited by grateful citizens in such large numbers wherever he appears, be it his home or some other place, after being defeated at an election. (People still believe that he didn’t deserve to lose in 2015. They soon realized that it was an engineered regime change in which, foreign sponsored NGOs and the JVP, among others, played significant roles.)

In a very recent  article in Sinhala carried in a widely read online journal under a title that may be translated as ‘Who takes responsibility for plunging the people into destruction on December 13 after 51 days of bright new hope?’  (Lankaweb/January 3, 2019), Charles S. Perera, a barrister of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, London (which is recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious professional bodies of judges and lawyers, according to the Wikipedia), has the following to say about the roles of the NGOs and the JVP in the present crisis (this writer’s translation):

These NGO and JVP puppets have no concern for the country, the nation, or the religion; neither any sympathy for the general public who have suffered as a result of three and a half years of Yahapalanaya. The NGO puppets have absolutely no feeling for the people. They only want to pander to the (whims and fancies of) foreigners and Diaspora Tamils. The Marxists of the JVP, acting under the delusion that a wonderful opportunity has come for them to gain power, and being blinded by their hunger for the same, are engaged in a plan to reinforce their influence by working in partnership with the TNA and the UNP. Busy promoting the passage of 20A, they have no time for looking into the privations that the people undergo.”

If the people did not accept the replacement of the UNP-led government on October 26 as Premarwardana claims, he should explain his reasons to assume such a thing.  But the ordinary people have enough sense to understand that there are absolutely no grounds for them to prefer the dismissed administration to the temporary caretaker government that the president thought it urgently needed to install for the express purpose of electing a new parliament. The record of the Yahapalanaya cannot be hidden from the highly literate, intelligent and informed Sri Lankan public. The Yahapalanists have done little significant development work worth talking about during four years of their arbitrary rule. They only harped on a nonexistent ‘debt burden’ alleged to have been incurred under the Rajapaksa governments of 2005-2014 (as Ravi Karunanayake revealed recently – lankacnews). Instead of acquiring further economic assets for the country, the Yahapalanists sold out many valuable national assets already acquired by their predecessors. Meanwhile, their mainstay to date has been carping attacks on the Rajapaksas and the prominent government functionaries who had served under them; not a day passed without the Rajapaksas being excoriated for all ills besetting the nation at present. In the process, they have only succeeded in betraying their justifiable (electoral) fear of the Rajapaksas, whom the people have not forgotten for the great service they did by leading a successful national campaign to rid the country of the scourge of terrorism, and by bringing about steady, equitably distributed economic development across the country.

Prewardana states at one point: We have to live in a society, which is highly degenerated. But, our society has always managed to safeguard one eminent quality, the great quality of never tolerating uncouth politics.”

Isn’t a highly degenerate society that nevertheless rejects ‘uncouth’ politics a contradiction in terms? Our society as a whole is not such a degenerate one, as demonstrated by the remarkable forbearance and peacefulness of the overwhelming majority who repose their faith in democracy in today’s trying circumstances, in spite of many provocations at that. The term ‘uncouth’ is repeated at least ten times in the text (showing the importance to the writer Premawardana of the idea in the original that the word ‘uncouth’ stands for). However, probably, the equivalent Sinhala adjective in the original is ‘ashista’ (uncivilized). Since this writer has not seen Prewardana’s own text, he doesn’t know for sure whether he actually uses the word ‘ashista’, but it is most likely. The word ‘uncouth’ is hardly a correct rendering of the strong Sinhala adjective ‘ashista’ or the equivalent that the context calls for. (This is with humble apologies to Fr Peiris for this writer’s apparent presumption.) The English word merely means ‘lacking good manners, refinement, or grace’, according to the Oxford Dictionary. Obviously, lack of ‘polish or poshness’ cannot be what Premawardana means. (The well known ‘couthness’ of the notorious characters involved in the alleged central bank bond scams of 2015 and 2016 has never been in question.) ‘Barbaric’ would have done better in the context. Our people are much more disciplined and dignified than the handful among the 225 MPs that sometimes misbehave in parliament. It is true that the ordinary people do not tolerate rowdy politics, as Premawardana correctly points out. That’s also why the present parliament is detested by the public irrespective of their individual party allegiances.

Premawardana, to his credit, describes the tyranny of the JR Jayawardana era with concrete evidence of wrong doing. Jayawardana had promised a dharmista samajaya or a righteous society, during campaigning for the 1977 parliamentary election which the UNP that he led won with a four fifths majority of seats, defeating the previous ULF administration under Sirima Bandaranaike; but JR’s policies were not conducive to the creation of a righteous society. Strangely, Premawardana fails to make any reference to the R. Premadasa period (1989-1993) that followed. During that time, governmental tyranny became really barbaric thanks to the terrorism unleashed on the people by the JVP, immediately triggered by its violent opposition to the 1987 Indo-Lanka peace accord under which the Provincial Council system – 13A – was forced on Sri Lanka by an interventionist India. However, Premadasa himself was an opponent of the accord that violated Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. The brutal suppression of the equally brutal terror movement by the Premadasa government claimed the lives of some 60,000 young Sri Lankans involved or suspected to be involved in it. Most of them were in their late teens or early twenties. These selfless young idealists were almost entirely Sinhalese Buddhist. They were not racists; they were not communalists or religious bigots. They laid down their lives for a better future for the whole country. The tragic truth was that they were innocent dupes of an outdated Marxist political ideology that would never succeed in Sri Lanka. The case of the abduction, unlawful incarceration, and killing of  twenty-five schoolboys on some frivolous grounds in Ambilipitiya between October 1989 and January 1990 was one of the many gruesome incidents of that kind  that shocked the nation. Lawyers Mahinda Rajapaksa and Vasudeva Nanayakkara, both then active against UNP tyranny, appeared for looking after the interests of the victim students at the Ratnapura high court. (See the Sinhala language book ‘javipe 2veni kaeraella’ or ‘The Second Insurrection of the JVP’ Volume I by journalist Dharman Wickremaratne, December 2016). The glaring omission on Premawardana’s part must be an inadvertent one. However, it would be a mistake if Sajith Premadasa, without a proven track record, and without the ability to escape the menacing shadow of the behemoth of his own party leadership, hopes to beat Mahinda Rajapaksa in mass appeal at this juncture.

The post-independence political history of Sri Lanka is that of a still continuing struggle between nationalist forces that used to be mainly represented by the SLFP until recently (but now by its new incarnation the SLPP) and the opposing bloc comprising the West oriented UNP, certain communalist minority politicians (who somehow manage to have the best of both worlds for themselves personally while betraying the long term interests of all communities by aligning themselves with the dominant one of the two major parties at any time (but not all Tamil and Muslim politicians are communalists), and the constantly rejected, futureless Marxists (currently marooned in the ramshackle JVP). The anti-nationalist bloc, especially the UNP faction of it, has always received Western backing. It was revealed recently in an online source (The writer cannot recall the relevant URL at this moment) that Americans have tried to surreptitiously intervene in Sri Lankan parliamentary elections in favour of the UNP since 1956, in which year they did so in order to help John Kotelawala, the then incumbent UNP prime minister. The undeservedly vulnerable situation of the country today in this regard is not beyond the comprehension of the ordinary people.

Many modern media commentators and political analysts, and even some government and opposition MPs look back upon the seven decades after independence during which the two major parties the UNP and the SLFP  ruled alternately, each by itself or as the principal partner of an alliance with smaller parties, and claim that the country achieved nothing during that period. This is an absolute falsehood, though very popular among certain would be prophets of modernity in the social media, who set much store by an alleged need to destroy the  traditional Buddhist cultural foundation of the country. Both the UNP and the SLFP of the past did much to change the country for the better in various ways despite disagreements between them, though. On the whole, however, the perennial conflict between the aforementioned ‘blocs’ has constantly frustrated the forward march of the country. A section of the same intelligentsia is even more remiss in advocating the leadership of the crumbling JVP for restoring Sri Lanka to a healthy state. They seem to congratulate themselves as discoverers of an infallible truth hitherto hidden from the allegedly less enlightened older generation of Sri Lankans. The writer would like to remind these intellectuals that the fallacy that the JVP represents the best alternative to both the UNP and the SLFP is at least fifty years old, and that it has been repeatedly debunked over that long period.

The Sri Lanka that emerged in 2009, after nearly three decades of civil strife caused by separatist violence, was laying a solid foundation for a decisive break with the past in the following five years. It was the natural culminating achievement of nationalism in Sri Lanka that embraced all Sri Lankans without any sectarian divisions, be they communal, cultural or religious. But nationalism is today condemned as racism by its critics, who are the real racists. This must change.

Premawardana concludes: ‘With some activism organised to unite all the people with the thrust towards good governance we might be able to create a powerful people’s movement over and above political parties’. True. That is exactly what the truly patriotic monks that the people know and look up to (few of the Mahanayakes are among them)  are doing. The Sinhalese Buddhists who form the majority and who are being presently ill treated for all their accustomed tolerance and patience are ever beholden to His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith for speaking up recently, as he has repeatedly done over the years,  for the protection of the Buddhist cultural heritage of the country for the whole world to hear, while the most important of the Mahanayakes are  looking on passively.

Premawardana’s proposal is excellent, but it will prove impractical, because no new people’s movement will be successful unless it draws on the support of an already established political leader of adequately proven ability, humanity and honesty. The country is not without such a leader.

Finally, this writer’s answer to the question ‘Who can save Sri Lanka?’ is, as implicit above: The ordinary Sri Lankans organized under a good leader of their choice. His appeal to the powers that be is: Please allow them to do that, without poking your noses into their affairs.

8 Responses to “Answer to the question ‘Who can save Sri Lanka?’”

  1. Christie Says:

    Wo can save the Sinhalese?

  2. Dilrook Says:

    Thank you Christie. That is the right question to ask.

    “Sri Lanka” means different things to different peoples of the island. There is no concensus. It is futile to talk about “Sri Lanka” from a single ethnic point of view. It is irrelevent to others.

    Who can save the Sinhalese? Certainly not any political clan that ruled the island nation for 70 years.

  3. Christie Says:

    Thanks Dilrook.

    It is interesting to see how India and Indian Parasites have managed to make Sri Lankan and Sinhalese the same.

    it started with the formation of Sri Lanka Freedom Party in 1951by Indian Colonial Parasites and India with SWRD who had a lot of friends of Indian Parasites.

    I know no Sinhalese will agree with me on this matter.

  4. Nimal Says:

    Only people who could save us are the colonial types, if they ever care for us. We are our own enemies. We need another 1815.

  5. Dilrook Says:

    @Christie

    This part is not exactly true.

    [Quote] It started with the formation of Sri Lanka Freedom Party in 1951. [Unquote]

    It happened in 1972 with the Republic Constitution. We kicked out Britain and India quickly replaced it. Just a year later Indians were given Sri Lankan citizenship and voting rights. Indian interference gradually worsened.

    Most Sinhalese are driven by hate and love in political decisions. They cannot logically comprehend complicated matters. British were bad but Indians worse.

    The 1947 Soulburry Constitution is the best we ever had. ‘Sinhala Only’ was legal according to it. Depriving Indians Lankan citizenship was legal. Various other progressive legal moves were legal according to it. Turning the country federal was illegal. But all these are illegal as per the current Constitution except federalization which is legal!

    Sirima was fooled by Indians to split from Britain so India could interfere. We Sinhalese love symbolism than substance. We cheered it not knowing it opened to doors for India to interfere and even invade.

  6. Randeniyage Says:

    Dilrook says, “Most Sinhalese are driven by hate and love in political decisions. They cannot logically comprehend complicated matters. British were bad but Indians worse. “.

    Not exactly true.
    Most Sinhalese were fooled by JR in 1977 due to foolishness of of the leader at that time.
    Most Sinhalese were fooled by Sirisena in 2015 (not Ranil) due to foolishness of the leader at that time.

    These Sinhalese were fooled because previous leaders failed to take advantage of country’s situation at that time.
    What Dilook pointed out (Indian alliance of Sirima) was a political slogan of JR at the election meetings. He said he would fight until last drop of blood if India invaded. When he said this I was only 10m from where he was standing. When India actually invaded 10 years later, he was helpless as Americans did not get involved at all.

    Our main enemy in India. All I can say is they are not satisfied with Ranil at the moment. Ranil will try to implement Indian orders last moment, if not it will be his opponents who will implement those orders after wining. Either way Sinhalese will be finished.

  7. Christie Says:

    Thanks Dilrook

    Who was behind the formation of SLFP? One of them I know was one of the Hidramanis. Most of the discussions were keld at the Galle Face Hotel .

    Banda was a poor beggar like N M Perera and Phillip.

    Indian Cabal financed N M (Captan) And Phillip (Gnanam) as far back as 1927 before Banda. Now it is an open secret with Mahendran fraud how Indian Parasites finance Sinhala politicians.

    I agree with you that it all started to happen openly with Sirimavo.

  8. Vaisrawana Says:

    The Island reported today that 169 out of the 225 MPs (=all members of the Constitutional Assembly with the exception of the four or five from Wimal Weerawansa’s NFF who withdrew from it) skipped the CA’s first meeting in parliament yesterday (Jan. 11). It means that even a large number of government MPs chose not to attend. So, the foreign sponsored constitution making plot seems to be already a lost cause. For the first time in the life of the present parliament , that is, after nearly three and a half years of its five year term, they got their real opposition leader in Mahinda Rajapaksa, who performed his duty by speaking against the government where he had to . He stressed the importance of electing a new parliament to avoid further chaos in governance, since the present parliament has no legitimacy. Others including Champaka Ranawaka who, however, spoke nonsense as usual, proposed holding parliamentary elections before continuing with the constitution making program.

    The theme of the above article is the same: Dissolve parliament immediately and give the people a chance to elect a new parliament. Of course, elections involve an element of gambling. Therefore picking on a winning horse is also important.

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