Totalitarian trends in JR, Felix, Premadasa, MR and Gota
- A dictatorship in Sri Lanka will never be a benevolent onewithout any doubt will be a malevolent dictatorship.
- Authoritarianism and totalitarianism are other forms that have been spoken of in political science.
- Vijaya Kumaratunga the SLFP candidate who lost by a slender margin of 45 votes escaped unhurt when he was shot at; a person close to him succumbed to injury.
- Lalith Athulathmudali threatened to dispatch strikers to Kanaththa and Gamini Dissanayake, escorted a trainload of hooligans to Jaffna to rig DC election in 1977-88.
As the Dailymirror reported on Friday, ‘the President emphasized that he would not allow tarnishing the aspirations of the people of this country they bestowed on January 8, 2015’. The freedom and democracy demanded by the people have been ensured not only 100 per cent, but 200 per cent in the country after putting an end to an era of dictatorship.’
This is an effort to present some features and workings, one sees in authoritarian leaders and regimes in Sri Lanka in the past. They say history is the greatest teacher and history repeats itself, though dictatorships and authoritarian rule seems a vanishing model in contemporary politics.
Types of regimes described by Greek philosophers a couple of millennia ago were Oligarchy, Tyranny and Democracy.
Authoritarianism and totalitarianism are other forms that have been spoken of in political science.
Engagement of armed forces to suppress demonstrations by unarmed citizens in Weliweriya-Rathupasswala under Rajapaksas caused former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Madam Navi Pillay to comment Sri Lanka as heading in ‘an increasingly authoritarian direction’.
Many believe that the Jayewardene Regime [1977-88] was Authoritarian but it wasn’t a dictatorship.
President JR Jayewardene preferred not to hold the General Elections scheduled for early 1983 and conducted an alternate with a fraudulent referendum.
"Brothers JR and HW Jayewardene shared a hidden anti-Tamil loathe in them: HW’s QC-ship was delayed due to granting QC-ships to Tamil senior lawyers of the time. Professional rivalry or jealousy was the cause they say."
JR, the opportunist-racist and some of his Ministers in 1983 July purposely brought about riots against the Tamils and allowed Sinhalese hooligans to kill, rape, loot and humiliate the minority, set ablaze their businesses, whilst the Police and the armed forces were watching the fun.
Brothers JR and HW Jayewardene shared a hidden anti-Tamil loathe in them: HW’s QC-ship was delayed due to granting QC-ships to Tamil senior lawyers of the time. Professional rivalry or jealousy was the cause they say.
JR introduced a draconian amendment to the Constitution and dismissed a people-elected Tamil Opposition leader and MPs. JR’s anti-Tamil intolerance was exposed in an interview with London’s Daily Telegraph during Black July ‘83.
He was pretty hard “Now the Tamils have to take care of themselves. I cannot help them…I have to look after the interests in South…”
Vijaya Kumaratunga the Naxalite?
In an act of random choice or personal whim, he removed the Civic Rights of his leading political Opponent Sirimavo Bandaranaike; falsely accused, prosecuted and jailed the Opposition’s main political campaigner and popular film idol Vijaya Kumaratunga over a ‘Naxalite charge’.
He sacked 60,000 Government Servants who went on strike for a salary increase; compelling 58 of them to commit suicide. Mahara by-election and Jaffna DC election [Wayamba PC under CBK] will remain red marks on the history of free and fair elections— the Mahara election petition, though the Courts rejected on a technicality, highlighted JRJ’s alleged use of immunity cover to make a bogus statement on the character of Kumaratunga, who was freed from detention as there was no evidence against him.
Vijaya Kumaratunga the SLFP candidate who lost by a slender margin of 45 votes escaped unhurt when he was shot at; a person close to him succumbed to injury. Minister of National Security Lalith Athulathmudali, who threatened to dispatch strikers to Kanaththa and Gamini Dissanayake, who escorted a trainload of hooligans to Jaffna to rig DC election in 1977-88, Ranjan Wijeratne in 1989-’92 and Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte in 1994-2005 and finally Gotabhaya Rajapaksa during Rajapaksa regime are alleged to be responsible of many atrocities committed or violations of democratic norms during their tenures.
The systematic ending of established institutions and the structure of controls in Government is a strong signal that the State is moving towards an authoritarian rule.
People in Rathupaswala wanted drinking water, Negombo fishermen asked for fuel subsidy, factory workers for welfare; they protested for not granting basic and fundamental rights, but they were treated militarily and violently by Rajapaksas.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Sri Lanka 163 out of 179 nations in 2012 on its global Press Freedom Index.
"Ranjan Wijeratne in 1989-’92 and Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte in 1994-2005 and finally Gotabhaya Rajapaksa during Rajapaksa regime are alleged to be responsible for many atrocities committed or violations of democratic norms during their tenures."
After a thrashing victory in 2010, MR amended the Constitution to boost his power over the Judiciary and Civil Service and ended the two-term Presidency limit.
MR’s brother Gotabaya ran the security machinery and elements of the economy as Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development; the B-in-L, a planter headed [or ruined] the State airline. Other brother Basil handled the vital Economic Development, and eldest, the Speaker of Parliament. Several in the family circles served as Diplomats and Chief Ministers.
Rajapaksas arrested Sarath Fonseka who contested MR at Presidential elections. Fonseka was detained by the Military Police. In August he was convicted by Court Martial and stripped of his medals and rank. A month later, the Court Martial, serving under Gotabaya, found him guilty of Arms Purchasing offences.
During Jayewardene rule hooligans, with connections to the ruler, were let loose on Opposition activist, Judicial Officers and Minorities; even SC Judges were not spared.
Permitting dishonesty and making it the only way one could reach and achieve something in life they make a complete generation of liars and robbers with the ruler at the top.
A style that makes everybody contaminated with corruption, so no one can challenge the other.
Quietness and harmony are encouraged by making corruption widespread; the thinking in such regimes is that ‘your file is with us’ which means you have to remain loyal.
Criminal Justice Commission law and Felix
Felix Dias Bandaranaike believed in ‘a little bit of totalitarianism’, this he mentioned during a ceremony held at the Russian Embassy where he was the Chief Guest.
The vision of Felix Dias, to take successful control of the Judiciary and nearly manage the Judicial Service was vehemently objected to by the Legal Fraternity in the early 1970s.
FDB had an exceptionally radiant mindset: to most in the Cabinet, he was the power at the back of the Government.
Bandaranaike [FDB], the controversial man had a dream for an informal system of administration of justice. When there is a transformation in any field there is potential for disagreement. The capacity to ride storm and craving to do so is what makes an autocrat. They say there is Little Hitler Psychosis concealed in the subconscious of every person; in FDB it began to grow steadily. He introduced the Criminal Justice Commission Law which allowed statements by the accused against others acceptable.
All politicians entertain the idea of ruling forever; think they have a right to rule for the good of the society, and become uncomfortable with the theory of the Rule of Law which they think would arrest the development procedures commenced by them.
A disagreement ensued between Felix and Victor Tennekoon CJ over the first sitting of the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice alleged that the Minister had taken over the ceremony, he wrote saying that the invitation has been drafted without any mention to him and desires the guests’ presence at the inaugural ceremony of the SC.
"All politicians entertain the idea of ruling forever; think they have a right to rule for the good of the society, and become uncomfortable with the theory of the Rule of Law which they think would arrest the development procedures commenced by them."
The CJ emphasised the fact that the Judges of the SC had previously taken their oaths and fit in office and no supplementary act was needed. He further stated that it must be one that was left to the SC to make a decision on the date the venue and the presenters. In refusing to attend the ceremony, the Chief Justice stated, that he took the decision with hesitation and that he was doing so in the interests of the establishment. Some good work done by Felix on the development of the legal system was regrettably eclipsed by his ‘weaknesses for ‘a little bit of totalitarianism’.
JR Jayewardene’s Tamil Intolerance
JR Jayewardene, who took over the ‘A little bit of totalitarianism’ deprived Felix’s Civic Rights through a Presidential Commission, a law based on the infamous CJC introduced by Felix himself.
At the tail end of his career, FDB was seen seated in the lounge of the Law Library like an ordinary human sans his haughtiness and pomposity.
"The dictatorial nature of the Rajapaksa regime left little space for balanced decisions with respect to the allotment of finances, enlistment of investments and essential human resource improvement."
The dictatorial nature of the Rajapaksa regime left little space for balanced decisions with respect to the allotment of finances, enlistment of investments and essential human resource improvement. Dictators always select their officials and advisers on the basis of loyalty alone. These advisors tell their leaders only what they would like to hear. The public dialogue turns out to be a biased one-sided affair.
Lee Kuan Yew, the ‘benevolent dictator’
In his book, ‘On Liberty’ (1869), John Stuart Mill argued in favour of democratic rights for persons, he did make an exclusion for what he called today’s developing nations an idea of benevolent dictator.
It was a popular expression in the early 20th century as a prop up for colonial rulings. The man who transformed Singapore from a meagre agrarian civilization into one of Asia’s wealthiest countries, Lee Kuan Yew, the most successful political pragmatists in the region, is also called a 'benevolent dictator’.
During his thirty-one year rule he applied laws that were supposed to be tyrannical, and endeavoured to dismantle Opposition: the local politicians, who pay tribute to Lee Kuan, know well, that he was an authoritarian, who suppressed disagreement ruthlessly. However, he is often looked upon positively for his role in transforming the nation.
A dictatorship in Sri Lanka will never be a benevolent one-without any doubt will be a malevolent dictatorship. The 25-century old culture and traditions will not permit or tolerate a dictatorship of any form, benevolent or otherwise. People who wanted Good Governance and democracy should not be let down as they deserve a better future.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has”.-- Margaret Mead.