“When Ravana approached the end of his tether, there was a sequence of pitiable happenings. A devoted Brother (Vibeeshana) (Maithri?) deserted ranks and joined Rama. After battle was joined, he lost his brothers and able commanders in war…Kamban the emperor among Tamil poets described the mental state of Ravana in the Ramayana. “Ravana the King of Lanka, was in lamentable mental travail, like one deep in debt”. How true in the current scene! The founder of the Dynasty, very nearly the ‘King of Lanka’, who quadrupled the Public Debt, is now in deep trouble.” – ‘Comparison with the Last Days of Ravana’,
‘Presidential Election – Boycott Idea Crushed To Shambles’, S. Sivathasan(Colombo Telegraph, Dec 28, 2014)
"I have been totally against the abolition of the executive presidency, and totally for its retention in modified form (with the restoration of the 17th Amendment). Even in the years of armed, radical left opposition to the Jayewardene regime, for which I was indicted under the PTA and the Emergency, the executive presidency was never a target of our political or ideological attack"
As a consistent supporter of the tragic hero and the anti-hero, and as a Lankan, in the battle between Rama and Ravana, I support and defend Ravana. I’m on Ravana’s side; never Vibheenshana’s. That is why I supported Premadasa and that’s why I support Mahinda.
As my dear friend Rajiva Wijesinha would recall, I have, even at my most acerbically critical of the policies, ideological doctrine, structures, policy process and personalities of Govt and State, always and explicitly exempted Mahinda Rajapaksa from that critique, except for his sins of omission. This is not only in my public pronouncements, but in private conversation and on social occasions.
As such I have never advocated the defeat/removal of Mahinda Rajapaksa and would have done so only if it represented a step forward, which would have been the case ONLY with a Sajith-Karu ticket (i.e. with Sajith or Karu as candidate, and the other as PM). Even then, as I told Mr. Karu Jayasuriya months ago, I stand opposed in principle to the abolition of the executive presidential system and the handover of power to the parliament.
"I did hope that the Maithri accord with the JHU offered the opportunity of a mid-course correction, effecting a shift from abolition to the slimming down of the Executive Presidential system"
I have been also opposed, publicly, to the replacement or dilution of the electoral system of proportional representation by a predominantly first-past the post ‘mixed’ system.
At no time would I have thought positively or charitably of a post-Mahinda dispensation in which the dominant personalities were Ranil and CBK. I regard such a prospect as a dangerously reactionary retrogression.
I agree with the lucid reading that emerges from Tamara Kunanayakam’s piece in the Daily Mirror, re-posted by DBS Jeyaraj under the telling caption (excerpted from the text)“A Vote for Sirisena is a Vote for Ranil”. I did hope that the Maithri accord with the JHU offered the opportunity of a mid-course correction, effecting a shift from abolition to the slimming down of the Executive Presidential system, and I said this to Maithri at our discussion on December 7 (on the evening of my lunchtime conversation with President Rajapaksa), but that hope was belied with his Dec 10 Human Rights Day speech to the Civil Society conclave, the Maithri Manifesto (p. 14 of which reiterates in bold type and a box, ‘the abolition of the executive presidential system’) and Ranil’s exegesis at the recent Business Forum.
"As for the Foreign Ministry and foreign policy, I’d rather take my chances with Mahinda and GL, -- and yes, even with Gota in the mix—rather than with Mangala Samaraweera under Ranil or CBK"
I have been totally against the abolition of the executive presidency, and totally for its retention in modified form (with the restoration of the 17th Amendment). Even in the years of armed, radical left opposition to the Jayewardene regime, for which I was indicted under the PTA and the Emergency, the executive presidency was never a target of our political or ideological attack.
I am acutely aware that almost all left/progressive administrations in Latin America and elsewhere are supporters and incumbents of Executive Presidential systems.
The Executive Presidency was the product or by-product of revolutions generated by progressive political thought, both liberal-bourgeois and radical, and is therefore in evidence in those societies with a revolutionary political tradition: USA, France, Russia and China. By contrast, the parliamentary model is that of Britain with its comparatively un-revolutionary, conservative tradition.
It was clear to me by December 10, 2014, three days after my discussion with Maithri, that the fast-track (100 day) surrender of executive power and authority was a serious commitment and that we shall find ourselves in a situation in which the most powerful person in the country is not Maithripala, but precisely Ranil or CBK.
"I regard Mahinda just as I did Premadasa, as a tragic hero scorned by the hypocritical Colombo elite, and my support for Premadasa and Mahinda are in perfect congruence with Rajiva Wijesinha’s recollection of my ideological disposition in our first substantive conversation, at Radhika’s birthday party I believe, exactly three decades ago"
Given my long held and articulated views, I have two major reasons—(a) the Executive Presidential system and (b) the RW+CBK bloc--to support Mahinda Rajapaksa as the lesser evil. As for Gotabaya, while my policy criticisms of him remain, at least he is indubitably a patriot, unlike the pro-Western appeasers of fascist separatism, Ranil and Chandrika, who will rule the roost after Maithri abolishes the Executive Presidential system and abdicates power to parliament and the Cabinet on/by April 20.
How can anyone find surprising my decision to oppose an outcome in which Ranil Wickremesinghe the official representative of the global Right, the International Democratic Union headed by the US Republicans and the British Conservatives, emerges a key decision maker, while Mahinda Rajapaksa, a staunch advocate of national sovereignty, is sent packing?
My critique of Ranil has remained consistent since the day in the late 1990s that Ranil linked up with the IDU and shifted the UNP’s stance on the LTTE in line with the Liam Fox agreement. Rajiva would agree that Ranil has been pretty consistently positioned (except during the Premadasa presidency and its immediate aftermath) on the ideological and programmatic rightwing of the right-of-centre UNP. It is Rajiva who most memorably reminds us of Ranil’s conduct during the days of JR Jayewardene; conduct which appalled their distinguished uncle, Bishop Lakshman Wickremesinghe. Luckily for him, he passed away before Batalanda.
As for the Foreign Ministry and foreign policy, I’d rather take my chances with Mahinda and GL, -- and yes, even with Gota in the mix—rather than with Mangala Samaraweera under Ranil or CBK, especially since the Maithri manifesto fails to mention ‘non-aligned’ or ‘non-alignment’ even once, and the opposition campaign is marked by Sinophobia.
Readers may recall my stance during the impeachment motion against President Premadasa. It is the same compulsion-- rather than any “carrots and sticks”-- that make me get off the fence, come out in defence and support of Mahinda Rajapaksa.
I think it has always been fairly evident that I would support an electoral replacement of Mahinda only by Sajith Premadasa, while I would certainly have considered it had Maithripala Sirisena not been willing to abolish the executive presidency, leaving Ranil and Chandrika as the winners.
To conclude on a note that is at one and the same time personal, ideological and conceptual, I regard Mahinda just as I did Premadasa, as a tragic hero scorned by the hypocritical Colombo elite, and my support for Premadasa and Mahinda are in perfect congruence with Rajiva Wijesinha’s recollection of my ideological disposition in our first substantive conversation, at Radhika’s birthday party I believe, exactly three decades ago. In my perspective and Weltanschauung, the central categories have remained the triad ‘State-Nation-Hero’; a triad with ancient roots in political and philosophical thought as well as literature.
I believe that the political parting of ways between Rajiva and me, just as that between me and erstwhile ideological comrades, among whom are well-regarded commentators with a consistent track record of frontal opposition to Mahinda since his nomination in 2005, is sourced in the following: their perspective is essentially that of civil society and privileges issues of governance, while mine is state-centric or statist, and privileges and operates on the axis of the dialectic of the State and the individual (tragic) hero.
As a product of a Catholic school and having been mentored by an Italian Jesuit and historian Fr. Vito Perniola (my late mother Lakshmi’s spiritual advisor) my attitude to the Maithri-CBK-Ranil revolt is that of Ignatius Loyola towards the Protestant Reformation. I’ll remain loyal to the Pope and help him with a strong intervention in the ‘battle of ideas’.
Comments - 0
Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.