A pons asinorum (bridge of asses)for Mahinda to cross
Posted on March 13th, 2016

By Rohana R. Wasala Courtesy The Island

Thou dost conspire against thy friend, Iago,

If thou but think’st him wronged and mak’st his ear

A stranger to thy thoughts. – Othello , the eponymous hero of the Shakespeare play of the same name

The political stability that Sri Lanka enjoyed for a brief five years after the conclusion of the civil conflict in 2009 accelerated economic development and social progress in a nationally secure, peaceful environment. Of the tangible economic development achieved there was statistical proof; Sri Lanka reached middle income country status. To anyone who looked on the social scene with an unprejudiced mind it was obvious that the general lot of the masses was steadily improving; fast infrastructure development was taking place, with new roads, bridges, schools and hospitals being built across the country and  rural electrification projects being extended to cover the entirety of remote regions until recently devoid of a power supply; major housing schemes and mega construction programmes building  seaports and airports and fisheries harbours were launched  and completed with assistance from friendly nations. National unity that had been seriously threatened by many decades of  divisive politics indulged in by a few communalist minority politicians in contemptuous disregard of the innocent wishes of the sensible majority of ordinary masses was gradually being restored and reinforced. But  what is the status of the country’s economic prospects today? With the recent downgrading of Sri Lanka’s Long Term Foreign and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) by the international credit rating agency known as Fitch Ratings  a Negative Outlook has been assigned to the IDRs, which is likely to adversely affect investor sentiment, not a happy augury for our economic future as a nation. The government is blaming the previous Rajapaksa administration for accumulating enormous debts while completely ignoring the remarkable development that was achieved using those debts.

The humble but dignified leadership of the non-communalist, independent-spirited  Mahinda Rajapaksa was the single most important factor behind the impressive achievements that Sri Lanka made earlier. However, a little more than a year ago, the internal and external anti-Rajapaksa (i.e., anti-Sri Lanka) forces managed to derail and destroy his visionary nation building plans, and put paid to his dreams of turning Sri Lanka into the Wonder of Asia. They did this mainly through a relentless propaganda campaign against Mahinda in which exaggerated allegations of corruption and misgovernment with little or no basis in truth was the principal mode of attack. This is a strategy routinely used by the US to bring about ‘regime change’ in countries that follow independent policies that don’t serve its geopolitical agenda in a particular region, something we have on the authority of senior American social critic and political activist Noam Chomsky.

Strangely,  Mahinda’s own success as president contributed to his unexpected ouster, at least in part. This was because, first, it attracted the malicious attention of international interventionists, and second, his unique popularity, once he was ensconced in power, led him to be lulled by a false sense of security, and left some simple things undone which the public expected him to do as a matter of course like reining in the confirmed wrong-doers in his ranks who are now barking at him from the other side (I mean those unscrupulous persons among people’s representatives that the inherent weakness of the election process in a democracy seems powerless to eliminate). He wanted to perpetuate his rule, thinking that the masses shared in his belief that his rule was what the country needed for a few years more (which was not wrong, but the decision should have been left for the people to take at the proper time). He managed to strategically confirm this public trust in his policies through staggered elections which his alliance won. There was near unanimous agreement among the ordinary people that his leadership was indispensable for the country to emerge as a peaceful undivided nation after three decades of calamitous civil strife that severely obstructed economic growth. But the chinks in his armour were  discovered. These made him vulnerable to the calculated attacks of  foreign elements with vested interests who,  working in cahoots with their local acolytes, engineered his premature exit from power. (How circumstances conspired to deny Mahinda the victory that pre-poll opinion polls assured him will probably be an interesting subject for future investigators.)

Mahinda is currently being charged with attempting to divide the SLFP. His accusers are those who shamelessly betrayed the party in the past. But the common people are well enough informed not to waste time debating about the subject. With the defection of Maithripala Sirisena the powerful SLFP which Mahinda had built up and which he led suffered a severe blow. Maithripala’s victory as the ‘common’ candidate was considerably facilitated by his reputation as the close colleague and the eleventh hour challenger of his erstwhile boss the popular Mahinda. From a realistic point of view, there is now no question about the SLFP being divided, because the party is already divided and its vital components taken apart. Its vibrant engine has been forcibly removed and is waiting to be installed into a new vehicle, in which the authentic SLFP will eventually reincarnate in due course (unless there is some magical change of heart among the leaders that really matter). For the time being, the best scenario that may be imagined for that new vehicle, if circumstances allow it to be assembled, is one where it will be able to assume the role of a strong parliamentary opposition. Confronted by a brazenly authoritarian regime, the common people of democratic Sri Lanka are eagerly waiting for a credible opposition to emerge quickly.

It will be in the fitness of things if a strong SLFP-led opposition emerges under the leadership of Mahinda as soon as possible. In default of this, a Mahinda-led new party, alliance, front, or whatever it is called, must be launched. Current indications are that concerted  efforts are being made to reunite the already split party through a reconciliation of Mahinda and Maithri. The time for such a liaison is now long gone, and given the characters involved a reliable détente will be hard to achieve, if at all, but the attempt is not without some merit to it, if it returns the SLFP with its allies to the place that the people assigned them at the last parliamentary election. The UPFA won only 95 seats and were not in a position to muster enough numbers to form a government; it would have pleased everyone if they unanimously decided to lead the opposition, leaving the UNP to form its government with those parties that helped it win. The SLFP need not be in the government to save itself and serve the country. A powerful opposition led by the SLFP and its allies will be able to restrain a UNP-led government if and when it resorts to misrule. With their 95 seats they can deny the governing alliance its two thirds majority in parliament.

Mahinda has come to a pons asinorum that he must cross. This is obviously a tall order, but it is worth trying to meet it. I think it will bring justice to all who have been denied it under the prevailing circumstances, including especially UNP MPs who have been made to abandon their own dreams of power in the government as a result of having to accommodate defeated SLFP representatives, which thus will have the added advantage of kicking those unelected, only nominally SLFP, Iagos out of positions of power that they are usurping thanks to an initially desperate Maithri.

2 Responses to “A pons asinorum (bridge of asses)for Mahinda to cross”

  1. Dham Says:

    We should understand that most politicians do not even keep five precepts.
    Most even do not have a metal capacity to clearly see the advantage’s of having impeccably following Buddhism although they are Buddhist. The get confused Buddha’s teaching with Jesus’s message.
    Therefore we CANNOT assume Buddhist politicians go not have greed, hatred and delusion. Given the opportunity they too will fall for greed, not thinking dangers Sinhalaya would face 5 years ahead. They think they will be there permanently and they can solve ANY problem.
    Unless we appoint an Ahrahant to the position of 100% Executive President and beg him/her to live for 25 years with compassion to us, we need to safeguard the supreme position of the Sinhale BY LAW.

    If Mahinda is to comeback again he should be made to commit to this.

    1. He must be forced to accept that Sinhalaya is the 70% majority himself. Currently he is still thinking he should get the support of Muslims and Tamils to win. He is talking exactly like the west at the moment, except when talking to supporters. This must be stopped.

    2. He must promise a new constitution with minorities having its place, not “IMPLEMENTATION OF LLRC recommendations in 1 year” as he promised in 2015 general election.

    3. He must appoint a committee of presidential advisers headed by Nalin De Silva who could provide honest support.

  2. Hiranthe Says:

    I agree with Dham. First thing for me is to scrap 13A and bring back GA’s into administration before establishing Grama Sabha.

    He should also declare that this is a Buddhist country in which any religion can be practices.. This is not a multi religious country.

    He should also scrap Thesamalamei rules imposed on us by our colonial masters to project their imported labour.

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