Clarity is power
Posted on October 9th, 2020

By Rohana R. Wasala

While surfing the net this morning (October 6) I saw a flash of a You Tube video purportedly uploaded by Niroshan Premaratne, former UPFA Matara District MP (2015-20) from the Wimal Weerawansa-led Jatika Nidahas Peramuna. He failed to enter parliament in the general  election held on August 5 this year. It must have been a great disappointment to him personally; but it certainly was more so to the JNP and its loyal followers, and the general public who  loved to hear him talk in parliament while championing the nationalist cause and launching  devastating verbal onslaughts on the yahapalanaya. Before becoming an MP in 2015, Premaratne was a  popular TV host of star quality at ITN. In that capacity, he had demonstrated his skills as a well informed and articulate journalist. When he became a politician, the nationalist camp greatly benefited from his oratory. Premaratne lost the election this time, but not through his fault; perhaps he was too good for his own survival among his rivals. At only 40, he need not worry about that. Though he belongs to a different party, he also took to parliamentary politics under MR’s tutelage. There is time for him. 

The video that  I glimpsed today bears testimony to his brilliance as a political commentator and communicator. In the video someone offers one half of a cracked coconut with its fresh white kernel to a hungry grey monkey gazing down from a tree at the invitingly gleaming food. The person places the coconut half on the fork of a lower branch, where it sits rather precariously. In trying to grab it, the clumsy monkey drops it. Poor monkey! Because of his stupidity or clumsiness, he lets a golden chance of having a sumptuous meal slip through his fingers. The very short episode shows that Premaratne’s ability to communicate a message with clarity remains intact. 

I don’t know whether Premaratne actually intended to convey what I am arbitrarily attributing to the video here. But, I wonder, doesn’t  he want to suggest, not seriously though, I mean with a touch of relaxed humour, that the government is running the risk of losing the opportunity offered by the overwhelming popular mandate that the SLPP won at the August election to repeal 19A and bring in 20A in preparation for introducing a completely new nation-friendly constitution that will ensure a safe future for all communities, while also confirming the survival of the Sinhalese and the Buddha Sasana, through the Rajapaksas’ apparent preoccupation with the appeasement and accommodation of the likes of Rauff Hakeem and Rishad Bathiuddeen? I for one do not believe that  they want to go out of their way to please these nincompoops, and kick themselves down the ladder  by disowning devoted nationalists like Wimal Weerawansa and the monks who were basically instrumental in recalling the Rajapaksa rule that ended terrorism in 2009 and ushered in an era of communal harmony and general national resurgence. Besides, where is the need for the Rajapaksas to run after duplicitous opportunists even suspected of having had dealings with Islamic suicide bombers, when the SLPP has in its ranks genuinely unbiased Muslim politicians like JNP’s national list MP Mohamed Musammil, who, while serving as his party’s media spokesman, proved to be a great communicator? Will the sensible Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims who compose over 90% of the parliament allow a handful of Muslim turncoats to decide the country’s future? However, there is an important point that the government leaders should pay heed to. That is, the clarity of information it provides about itself and its actions is an essential item in its defence armoury.  

 ‘In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power’, says Juval Noah Harari (44), Israeli historian, author and public intellectual (introducing his book ‘21 Lessons for the 21st Century’, 2018). We may usefully adapt this observation of a scientific thinker to suit our country which is faced with an unprecedented threat to its very survival from doubly serious ethnicity- and religion-based extremism compounded by relentless geopolitical victimization, thus: In a country suffocated by anti-national misinformation, clarity is not only power, but the source of the very vital force that rejuvenates it. To be purblind to reality in this context as much as to deliberately obfuscate it, hoping that it might become something more acceptable, and more livable with, is dangerous, to say the least. Political correctness has its limits.

The President has assured that there is no political deal behind the release by the police of Rishad Badiuddeen’s brother. Unlike the previous regime, the present government will not interfere in such matters, leaving the law enforcement authorities to do their job properly without let or hindrance. Actually, I feel, it is unfortunate that situations arise that cause the President who is uncontaminated with the poison of party politics to issue such statements which give at least a modicum of recognition and dignity to those who don’t deserve it at all. 

Providing clear information without ambiguity to the public and the outside world about the good things that the government is doing is as important as the good work itself. Relentless witch-hunting from 2015 to 2019 failed to substantiate the many false allegations that the  yahapalana champions had raised against the previous MR government. This means that the war winning government’s failure to answer false corruption and other allegations against it in a proper convincing way without the truth being left to be accepted as self-evident, believing in the consoling thought that ‘satyameva jayate’ ‘Truth alone triumphs’, led to disastrous domestic and diplomatic consequences. Why risk the repetition of a catastrophic omission like that once again?  

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