Posted on June 5th, 2018


Maithripala Sirisena’s extraordinary speech at a commemoration for the monk Sobitha on 30th May 2018 proves beyond any doubt that he (Sirisena) is a completely unscrupulous, unethical and unprincipled politician:  a pure opportunist.[1]  He will say or do anything as long as it serves his personal and political ends at any given time.

However, this might be the very attribute that helps the Sinhalas to get him to go quietly and let the person that almost every sensible person in this country now expects will be the next President to take power as soon as possible.  Sirisena’s single greatest fear at the moment is what will happen to him and his family when the Sinhalas take over in 2020.

So, all that the Sinhalas have to do is give Sirisena an iron-clad guarantee of safety, and he’ll walk away.  In this article, I shall briefly set out my reasons for saying that Sirisena is a pure opportunist, and also my proposal as to what the Sinhalas can do to take advantage of this.

  • The Opportunist

To give just one example, Sirisena in his speech at the monk Sobitha’s commemoration says: ‘The One-Hundred-Day Program was one of the silliest things ever undertaken by this Government.’[2]  Recall that, the ‘100-day Program’ was Sirisena’s signature campaign pledge in the run up to the January 2015 Presidential Elections.  I am informed on good authority that there is video footage of Sirisena holding the leaflet in question aloft and pledging himself to it before a Buddha Statue.

I haven’t had the pleasure yet of watching that clip, but I do know that on page 5 of his Manifesto for the 2015 Presidential Elections, he says this:

‘Along with the political leaders and people who are with me I will implement in two stages a programme to stabilize the country.  The first stage is the Hundred Day Programme to solve urgent issues.  For that purpose a National Unity Alliance Government will be established for a hundred day interim period.  This programme will be implemented through a National Government comprising the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, the United National party, the Jathika Hela Urumaya and representatives of all other political parties in the present Parliament who are willing to join this programme.  The leader pf the Opposition Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe will be appointed as the Prime Minster of this National Government.’

‘Second, I will implement a six-year programme to build an ideal country through the government that will be established after the General Elections to be held after hundred days.  I have no greed for power.  I am only fulfilling the historic task entrusted to be to build and stabilize the country.[3]

(I should mention that the aforesaid Manifesto is the sole basis for Sirisena’s purported ‘January 8th Mandate’ and to the best of my knowledge was accepted as such by the Supreme Court during submissions in the Special Determination on the 19th Amendment,  The Manifesto is part of the record in those proceedings.)

Thus, according to his recent statement at the monk Sobitha’s commemoration, the entire first limb of Sirisena’s purported plan to rescue the country is a farce.  Where does that leave the second – i.e. the purported ‘six-year programme to build an ideal country?’  We now know that after the General Elections in August 2015 he established a ‘National Government’ using 45 SLFP MP’s who had no mandate from their voter to do any such thing.  In other words, a subverted democracy was to be the basis for the ideal country.

Finally, as for Sirisena not being greedy for power, in January he invoked Article 129 of the Constitution and petitioned the Supreme Court to find out whether he could stay in power for 6 years instead of 5. (The Presidential term had been shortened to 5 year as per the pledges made in the 100-day programme!)  In short, every one of the points he makes in the aforesaid key paragraphs of his Manifesto, is a lie or made in bad faith.  I repeat he is the quintessential opportunist.

  • The ‘Deal’

When one is dealing with a person who is a pure opportunist, it is useless trying to ‘reform’ the chap, or even to get angry at him.  He is only doing what comes naturally to him.  It is far better to make it worthwhile for him to con someone else.  So, the Sinhalas must get Sirisena to turn on the persons and parties that helped bring him to power, because, in his own estimation, just as it was convenient for him to side with them in 2015, it is now convenient for him to reject them and side with the Sinhalas.

Who are the persons and/or parties that brought Sirisena to power?  They are:  Ranil, the Tamil Separatists, the NGO’ists and the foreigners, i.e. the U. S., India and the U. K.  Of these, Ranil has his UNP base and his Old-boys network and he can go back to those once the Sinhalas take over.  The Separatists have their various rackets to continue the push for Eelam.

The NGO’ists have made enough money pushing Yahapalanaya policies and programs over the past 3 years and will make even more once the Sinhalas take over, because their donors will pay more to dislodge the Sinhala’s again.  Only Sirisena will be left high and dry, because, his ‘45’ will drop him like a soiled handkerchief the moment the Sinhalas win.  So, Sirisena’s best hope is to get on the good side of the Sinhalas themselves.  All that the Sinhalas have to do is offer him a good enough deal.  For what it’s worth, I propose the following.

The Sinhalas will approach the Mahanayakas of the four nikayas and say that they (Sinhalas) will take a solomn vow, at a place of undisputed sanctity for the Sinhalas such as the Ruwanweli Seya, in the presence of the assembled Sangha along with the Mahahanayakas, and swear by everything sacred to them that, if Sirisena abdicates a year prior to the end of his term (i.e. in November 2018 instead of 2019) the Sinhalas will not raise a finger against him, his family and anyone else he designates.

Sirisena’s henchmen and hangers-on, and (this is hard for me) the ‘45’ can retire in peace.  Let them can take their ‘winnings’ – i.e. bags of cash, gold chains, gems and jewelry, penthouses, SUV’s, BMW’s, and whatever else they have hoarded during the past three years if not earlier – and just go, no questions asked.  As for Sirisena, he can retire to his official residence in Colombo (which will be given promptly) or his private chalet (I presume in Polonnaruwa) and enjoy life.

He can go for walks in the paddy fields, chat with his old school chums, banter with the villagers, play with his grandkids, whatever he wants, in perfect peace and tranquility.  There will be no court appearances, unseemly summons to various ‘investigating agencies,’ interviews with prosecutors, endless meetings with lawyers, and in general, the humiliation of being lorded over and treated like a common criminal by men and women who, when he was President, would have licked his slippers on command.

Sirisena will draft the contract for his side.  He can insert whatever conditions he wants.  The Sinhalas will even ‘sweeten’ the deal with a little something extra:  an honorary or ceremonial title, say, ‘Vice President.’

To digress a moment, I am informed on good authority that the Sinhalas are busy drafting a number of Constitutions which they hope to put to the People before the 2020 Elections so that candidates who ask for Sinhala votes know exactly what is expected of them, and there’s no backtracking once elected.  I am sure the Sinhalas can be persuaded to work something like a ‘Vice Presidency’ into one of these drafts.

Being a ‘Vice President’ albeit in a purely ceremonial capacity will enable Sirisena to continue to command the allegiance if not the respect of his henchmen, something no doubt very important to a retired politician, if not a former President.  I am reminded of King Lear’s poignant reply to his daughter Regan when she tells him that he no longer needs a retinue of a hundred knights, and recommends that he reduce it to a more manageable number.  He says:

‘O, reason not the need:  our basest beggars are in the poorest thing superfluous; allow not nature more than nature needs, Man’s life is cheap as beast’s.’[4]

To return, the Sinhalas will sign the aforesaid contract in the presence of the assembled Sangha and the Mahanayakas.  The contract will be in writing, and the Sangha will enforce it, not this or that Sinhala.   Under the circumstances, no Sinhala, especially a politician, will dare violate such a contract, and hope to continue in ‘business.’  It is as iron-clad a guarantee of safety as any person can ever hope to have in Sri Lanka.

If one looks at the above from the point of view of a pure opportunist, I can’t imagine why Sirisena wouldn’t jump at the aforesaid deal.  Not only will he ensure his safety, he will instantly become a hero to the Sinhalas, a modern-day Sirisanghabo!  And this in turn will help him make a run for the Presidency again, in the distant future, if he so wishes.  In any event, I urge the relevant ‘authorities’ among the Sinhalas to put some serious thought into this matter.

[1] I am relying on the text of Sirisena’s speech published in the ‘Divaina’ of 31st May 2018 under the title, ‘Dina Seeye Vedesatahana Gena Mama Danne Ne’ (‘I don’t know anything about the 100-day Program,’  Divaina, 31st May 2018, page 9; also, Daily Mirror, ‘Sobitha Thero Didn’t Ask the Common Candidate to Breat Into Banks,’ Daily Mirror, 31st May 2018, Page 1

[2] ‘Sobitha Thero Didn’t Ask the Common Candidate to Break Into Banks,’ Daily Mirror, 31st May 2018, Page 2

[3] Maithri:  A Stable Country, New Democratic Front, 2015, , page 5

[4] King Lear, Act 2, Sc 4


  1. Christie Says:

    The only deal left for Sirisena is what Sobitha did. One already gone the other is not as we do not have great monks like Somarama.

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