Friday Freaks farcical fear-mongering
Posted on June 4th, 2020

H. L. D. Mahindapala

In these critical times it is necessary to scrutinise the public statements of our academics / intellectuals to understand the hidden political agenda they push in the guise of objective analysis for public guidance. Take, for instance, the case of two ex-Vice Chancellors, Prof. Savitri Goonesekere and Prof. Arjuna Aluvihare of the Friday Forum. In their latest outburst they raise a leading question that can evoke only hysterical laughter: So why is there demonisation of the old and the faith in the new?”

This is, indeed, an astounding question, coming as it does from two of the Vice-Chancellors of the two of the leading universities in the nation. If it came from a kindergartner one could accept it as infantile stupidity. But when two ex-Vice-Chancellors raise this question one is entitled to question the calibre of the intellect of some of our academics heading our universities.

They know – or, at least, should know – that the history of humanity has advanced by demonising the old and investing faith in the new. Nothing has changed without going through this process. Even science has advanced on this principle. Newtonian physics was replaced by Einsteinian physics on this principle. If humanity did not go through this process we would be stuck in the dead past forever. Even snakes slough their skins for new ones. So why can’t human beings?

But Professors Goonesekere and Aluvihare are raving and ranting against change which rejects the dead past and embraces the new – the eternal and universal law of nature. Of course, this question is raised by them in relation to the move of the Government to hold elections that would elect a new Parliament. However, the context in which it is raised is irrelevant because impermanence and change are universal laws applicable under all circumstances. Not even the two professors can stop it with their ridiculous questioning. Besides, democracy is based on the fundamental principle that everyone has the right to demonise” the past, and/or the status quo, and invest their faith in a new world.

It is apparent that the usual anti-Rajapakse litigants in the NGOs were desperately running around looking for heavyweights outside the courts to create a climate of pressure that would influence the thinking of the judges. In particular they were hunting for big academic titles to counter the weight of Vice-Chancellor of the Jayewardenepura University, Sudantha Liyanage, whose lawyer Aly Sabry argued convincingly that the President’s action of dismissing the old Yahapalanaya Parliament on March 2, as provided in the Constitution, was legal. There is nothing undemocratic or illegal in dissolving a dismissible Parliament, as laid out in the Constitution, and testing the will of the people for a new Parliament, even under the prevailing circumstances. So the two academic clones rushed into print for the second time to make their presence felt in the Supreme Court. The irony is that this entire gang was arguing for democracy by obstructing the holding of elections which, according to their arguments, would have to be postponed forever and a day as there is no vaccine in sight for the Coronavirus, as indicated in the best of scientific assessments. The worthlessness of their arguments were confirmed by the Court when it dismissed all their anti-Rajapakse concoctions.

These two academic pundits threw in their bit to obfuscate and mislead the public – not to mention the Supreme Court – with an inane question ever asked in the history of rational thinking. They went further and stated : Yet today, political leaders in the government and their assorted supporters, jurists, scholars, professionals, business leaders and opinion makers express views indicating they want to bury the Parliament – some for six months, some for five years, and others for all time.” The operative phrase is bury the Parliament”. The time period was left as variables – short, long or permanent.

However, what the two Vice-Chancellors imply is that investing faith in a new parliament would lead to the burial of parliament for all time. Translated into simple language, what they mean is that the new parliament, which is going to be in the hands of the Rajapakses, will bury parliament, courts and all other democratic institutions and establish a monarchy. This, they say, is against the trend of this country which has had no monarch since 1972. This is the stuff that these two academics produce to derail peace and stability in these critical days. These are two theoretical kattadiyas who could not solve the life-threatening ragging in their universities when they were Vice-Chancellors. Now they are writing prescriptions for the ills of the nation. What credibility can there be in their utterings particularly when they are seen as agents acting to promote an anti-Rajapakse agenda?

The two Vice-Chancellors are arguing that placing any faith in the new parliament” is a sinister political crime that should be avoided at any cost because it would bury the Parliament for all time”. But in any vibrant democracy burying the parliaments which had passed the use-by-date is a necessary periodical ritual for the survival of a healthy and functional democracy. In fact, the right to bury old parliaments” in order to find faith in new parliaments” is the ultimate test of a democracy. The alternative is to perpetuate the old forever.

These two academics are acting like political necrophiliacs with a maniacal obsession for the dead past which they can’t revive even with their best theoretical sorcery. They are also concerned that the dates for burial may vary. They say that some may want it buried for six months, some for five years, and others for all time.” How much nuttier can these two pundits get?  Yes, of course, considering that the old Parliament was the one that (1) handpicked and imported Arjuna Mahendra to rob the Central Bank, (2) refused to act on the  warnings given by the best of intelligence sources about the threats of Muslim terrorists that killed hundreds, (3) dabbled in some of the  worst corrupt deals,(3) covered up crimes through parliamentary procedures, (4) perverted parliamentary principles by crooked means of slipping into bills clauses not approved by the courts, (5) violated basic principles of appointing a leader of the opposition without a majority to back him, (6) allowed the MPs to feather their nests (7) engaged in Parliamentary and other privileges to avoid facing charges of corruption etc., who wouldn’t want to bury a Parliament that had abused power against the will of the people. It is all these factors and more that cries for the election of a new Parliament burying the old one. I personally do not mind if a Parliament that had passed its used-by-date is buried forever and ever.

Despite the debasing of the Yahapalanaya Parliament – undoubtedly, the worst Parliament that I’ve known since I was a lobby correspondent of the first Parliament opposite the Indian Ocean in the fifties –these two academics are against the election of a new Parliament. They are raising fears (unfounded, of course) of Parliament being closed down for ever leading to a permanent monarch. Quite plainly, the Friday Freaks are not fighting for principles. They are fighting to push their hidden agenda of perpetuating the old Parliament. But that hope was buried by the Supreme Court. The Court has, in its wisdom, written the final obituary note on the old Parliament. Amen!

Glorifying the Old Parliament is one way of avoiding elections – the only means of testing the will of the people, which in any case is due any time now. So why are they obstructing the holding of elections, given that the management of the Corona virus under the Rajapakse regime has received global commendation? Clearly, the anti-Rajapakse lobby is not aiming to preserve or protect democracy. They are targeting the Rajapakses to prevent them from winning the forthcoming parliamentary election, whenever it happens. In the absence of any substantial arguments to attack the Gotabaya Rajapakse government they have taken to fear-mongering as a last resort. Take the following examples as reported in the Sunday Times:

Fear 1: The Friday Forum (TFF) has questioned whether the Government is demonising the old Parliament in the expectations that the new Parliament it desired will adopt and enact a Constitution that will do away with Parliament and the courts.”

Fear 2: Is it possible, there is an expectation that the much desired new Parliament will adopt and enact a Constitution which will do away with familiar institutions known as Parliament and the courts (the two other pillars of governance in a parliamentary democracy? TFF said.”

Fear 3: The Rajapakses will take on the mantle of kingship.”

It is quite apparent that all these are imagined fears brewed in the addled brains of the Friday Freaks. They haven’t advanced even a subatomic particle of evidence to prove that their imagined fears are inevitable.  Raising fears does not amount to rational thinking or sober analysis of the ground realities. All the fears listed above add up to a veiled attack on the Rajapakses. They are raving because they fear that the new Parliament will disentangle and liberate the nation from the 19th Amendment – a constitutional knot that has tied and immobilised the nation. Like everything else that Ranil Wickremesinghe touched it was a disaster. It could not even sack the IGP, a handpicked nominee of Ranil, for the criminal negligence of his duties and responsibilities that led to the deaths of hundreds of civilians. Before examining any one of the fictitious fears of the two academic clones it may be necessary to examine their heads of these theoretical weirdos.  

The main thrust of their statement is summarised in the headline: Friday Forum questions Government motive behind demonising the old parliament”. Everyone knows that everyone, including some of the UNPers, have been demonising the old Parliament. Only these two academics from the Jurassic Park think that the Government is demonising the old Parliament”. Based on this fiction these two ideological clones proceed to declare that the new Parliament of the Rajapakses will abolish, the parliament, and the other two pillars of parliamentary democracy without a scintilla of evidence to back their claim.  In any case, their fear-mongering does not reflect any exceptional or original conceptual thinking.

The common tactic of the anti-people, pro-West ideologues located in so-called think-tanks has been to project fears, fantasies and fictions about the end of democracy each time a pro-national leader takes over the leadership of the state. I remember vividly how this gang, including the media allied to them, went berserk propagating these fears of dictatorship and denial of democratic rights when President Ranasinghe Premadasa was fighting two terrorist groups – one in the south and one in the north – within the democratic framework. Today the bomb-maker of the fascist JVP, Victor Ivan, who led the media attack against President Premadasa is elevating him to the ranks of a model leader who introduced and implemented innovative people-oriented programmes for the well-being of the nation.

I also remember how the media, the Churchmen, the environmentalists, the academics, the Lalith-Gamini duo went ballistic condemning the construction of Kandalama, the award-winning hotel designed by Bevis Bawa. Their hysterical cries predicted a dreadful environmental disaster for the scenic tank nearby and the forested neighbourhood. These doomsayers were silenced by Kandalama winning successive awards for preserving and maintaining environmental excellence shortly after it was constructed.

The campaign launched by these anti-national forces against the Rajakases is no different. Today they are running scared of the people who elected President Gotabaya Rajapakse. They fear that the same wave that elected the President will invest their faith in the new Parliament. Not knowing how to stop the next pro-Rajapakse wave they have resorted to scare-mongering about the Rajapakses doing away with the Parliament and the courts. The Rajapakses are seasoned political leaders who have been in and out power to know how far they could go with the power invested in them. The notion of running a government without parliament and courts can come only from putrefying brains going down the drain to a cesspit of political hate.

The Government, on the other hand, is waging a battle to keep democracy alive by holding elections. The underlying principle that keeps all democracies breathing and alive healthily is the power of the will of the sovereign people expressed through elections. In fact, the current battle of the Government is to have elections. It is the opposition that is attempting to postpone the election indefinitely under various pretexts. But Parliaments and elections are interdependent. One cannot exist without the other. Nor can democracy. Since the ultimate sovereign is the people it is their will that must prevail in a Parliament and that can function only if there is an election.

As things stand there isn’t a better time than now to hold elections. The Government has proved that it has the capacity to keep Corona virus under control, or at least at manageable levels. There are risks no doubt. The London Independent (2/6/20) reported that four had died in Congo from a new attack of Ebola. This news warns the public about the dangers of viruses that can raise its head anytime, anywhere.  Since there is no certainty about a date for developing a viable vaccine (some predict the end of the year) are we going to wait indefinitely for the arrival of the antidote to hold elections?

All factors –including the Court decision — point to the option of fighting the election and COVID-19 simultaneously.  The choice is either to manage a likely spike in COVID-!9 (as we do now) with elections or live without an election with COVID-19 still hanging overhead at varying levels, since there is no vaccine to combat it. There is no guarantee of not having a spike of COVID-19 if we don’t have elections.  We will not know which is riskier until the elections are held. It is a gamble we will have to take since there is no cure in sight. Any doubts of not having an election has been removed decisively by the Court.

The nation should be grateful to the Supreme     Court for burying the Old Parliament and investing faith in the new tomorrow than postponing elections sine die on imagined fears.  

One Response to “Friday Freaks farcical fear-mongering”

  1. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    HLD !!! I have known Arjuna Aluvihare as a tiny boy. We grew up together in the 1stPort of Colombo, Sea Scouts. Arjunas mother was also a Doctor, if I remember right, and they lived in Castle Street.

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