Gota for the endgame
Posted on June 29th, 2016

By Rohana R. Wasala (Courtesy The Island)


And we shall play a game of chess,

Pressing lidless eyes and waiting for a knock upon the door.  From ‘A Game of Chess’( the second canto of The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot)

Meaning of the epigraph

These lines from Eliot contain an allusion to the comedy A Game at Chess” (August 1624) by Thomas Middleton. It is a rather pornographic play where the action is in the form of a game of chess, which follows the stages of a seduction. The chess pieces are shown as human characters and states. The dramatist declares in the prologue that his play is based on a game of chess in which checkmate will be given to virtues’ foes”.

The latest stage of the ethnic conflict has become a political game of chess that represents an attempted rape of the unitary state of Sri Lanka.

Legitimate fear

For the establishment of a peaceful, prosperous, democratic society in Sri Lanka to become a reality, the legitimate fear of the majority Sinhalese that the unitary character of the Lankan state will soon be irretrievably lost must be allayed. We should not ignore the fact this fear is shared by the reasonable major proportion of the minority population living peaceably with the majority. The country took the initial step towards reaffirming and consolidating such a harmonious Sri Lankan nation in 2009 with the crushing of LTTE’s military capability. The defeat of armed separatist terrorism was a monumental victory for all Sri Lankans, made possible by the coming together of all the communities – Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, and others (no doubt, somewhat coerced by circumstances) –  under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. For the peace and security and the tangible economic development we have achieved as a result of that historic victory all Sri Lankan citizens made voluntary sacrifices in unity. That unity was deeper and firmer than the spirit of unity and mutual support we normally see in action in our society during natural disasters like the 2004 tsunami and the recent havoc caused by floods and landslides. The post war reassertion of kinship was due to the popular realization attained after the bitter experience of terror that, after all, blood is thicker than water.

Federalism no solution   

National unity cannot be achieved by dividing the land and its resources unequally among different ethnic communities, which is what federalists are in effect demanding. There are many internal and external reasons why federalism is unacceptable for us. Within the country, roughly, according to the last census taken in 2012, the majority Sinhalese account for 75% of the population, Tamils 15%, and Muslims 10%. But, while, numerically, the Sinhalese predominate in the southern, western, and central parts of the country, Tamils and Muslims form majorities in the northern and eastern provinces respectively. The three communities are intermingled across the country; then there are geographical, demographic, economic, cultural, and historical factors that dictate against federalism as a solution to the Tamil problem. Externally, federalism is likely to jeopardize existing regional stability because it will inevitably be subject to the full force of India’s covert or sometimes (as in our case) cynically barefaced  irredentist designs over her small neighbours. For these and other equally cogent  reasons, the late constitutional lawyer and distinguished diplomat H.L. de Silva said, addressing  a seminar on Indian federalism” at the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies, Colombo, in 2003: The Federal solution to end the ethnic conflict is like a snake a drowning man clutches onto in desperation to stay afloat…..Federalism is the beguiling serpent which by its fatal sting will bring an end to this precious Republic”.

Need for a strong oppositional leadership

At the present critical juncture, our country needs a strong oppositional leadership to democratically channel in the right direction the growing popular discontent with the current state of affairs in the country  so that the government may feel compelled to correct its course in the national interest, if anything has actually gone wrong. The citizens of the country have a duty to help the government to restore, instead of reverse, the positive trends  that the previous Rajapaksa government initiated, such as the restoration of democracy  to the north and east which had been worst hit by the conflict, the promotion of peaceful interaction between the different communities, the strategic management of foreign relations without relinquishing its responsibilities to the nation and without sacrificing national dignity, independence and sovereignty, and the maintenance of equitable economic development across the country.

Mahinda’s undiminished popularity

The more the current regime harasses the leaders of the successful former UPFA government and its senior officials leveling at them spurious charges of corruption, mismanagement of the economy and foreign relations, etc., the deeper and the more widespread the public disaffection with the former. The overwhelming crowds that attended the Joint Opposition’s ‘Janatha Satana’ (People’s Struggle) protest rally at Hyde Park Colombo on March 17, and its May Day rally at Kirulapana one and a half month later  both attended by Mahinda Rajapaksa have demonstrated this fact very clearly. That vouches for his domestic popularity. The rousing reception accorded to Mahinda in Japan by the Sri Lankans working and living there is an indication of his unmatched popularity among the Sri Lankan Diaspora in that country. Even the native Japanese joined them in extending this honour to him as we saw in the media.

Gota for the endgame

I am not competent enough in politics to offer advice to a great leader. But I allow myself to believe that Mahinda knows what he must do with his still growing popularity to save the country from the looming danger of federalism and eventual fragmentation of the country. I guess that he will form a new party or other organization and have nothing to with those of his former colleagues who left him to join Maithri. They have become Maithri’s sacrificial calves (rather, cows) for the purpose of protecting his and their own interests. Maithri will not seek a second term, and he will never prove false to Ranil. Mahinda cannot be in his agenda any longer, except it be for a repetition of the past.

But Mahinda will not be betrayed by his own brothers and the grateful people of the country. If Mahinda starts a new party or alliance, he is sure to co-opt his brother Gotabhaya. I am sure if that happens Gota will prove the greatest asset he and the country can possess at this dangerous point in our history. Gota will serve the nation with or without high office. He will help it play the endgame successfully, delivering the checkmate on the country’s foes.

These are my personal opinions for what they are worth.

3 Responses to “Gota for the endgame”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Sri Lanka is already a federal country. It ceased to remain a unitary country in 1987 with the passage of 13A.

    The unitary clause of the constitution has no meaning (as with many other Articles in the constitution).

    No unitary country has Chief Ministers presiding over provincial councils elected by the people and endowed with irrevocable powers. Even the parliament cannot revoke powers of the provincial councils – a salient feature of a federal country. The nation’s sovereignty vested in the people and exercised by the parliament is therefore wrong. It is also vested in provincial councils as the parliament (and the people) cannot (emphasised) determine the destiny of the nation without bringing on board the provincial councils.

    In fact 13A goes far beyond India’s federal model. This is why the TNA is now demanding the Switzerland model as going to the Indian model is a step backward in federalism.

    The challenge today is to convert federal Sri Lanka into an unitary Sri Lanka after almost 30 years. It is almost impossible.

    The first step to do so is to understand beyond mere words that Sri Lanka is already a federal country.

    We must not place trust in any politician (Mahinda, Gotabhaya and all others) without them committing to a policy that will bring back the nation’s unitary status. If not, we as a nation must adapt to the current federal structure to make sure we survive as an unique ethic and religious group.

  2. plumblossom Says:

    All patriotic organisations should get together and come up with an alternative constitution which preserves the unitary status of the country absolutely. This should be presented to the Sri Lankan people as an alternative to the federal constitution that is to be drawn up by treacherous Ranil, Sirisena, CBK and Mangala. Also there are fifteen acts which should not be allowed to be approved by parliament under any circumstances since they are extremely harmful to the Sri Lanka people and Sri Lanka as a country.

  3. anura seneviratna Says:

    ” we as a nation must adapt to the current federal structure to make sure we survive as an unique ethic and religious group. ”

    How can a “nation” at the same time downgrade to a unique ethnic and religious group? We the Sinhela nation has already given in to settler communities so they have become separate small nations due to lack of Sinhela national leaders in the past and now. In one national country only ONE nation is a natural law except in SL. Now this may sound like a pie in the sky to many Sinhelas and unachievable to revert our national sovereignty violations to its justifiable state. This bending over attitude of us is why the settler communities are in the driving seat of the Sinhela country and pushing for more arrogantly. This is a sad situation for human integrity.

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