Hafeel Farisz confuses what I have said about Gotabaya and Gunaratnam, both of whom are the most interesting figures I find in the Sri Lankan public arena today, because they come from two different streams of struggle of our conflicted contemporary history—two different civil wars.
Farisz tries to impose on me a choice between Gotabaya and Gunaratnam.
The choice is between the Ranil-driven status quo and President Sirisena heading a recomposed coalition
Putin has blood on his hands because he saved his country from Chechen terrorism
This country needs to be built up to its fullest potential.
Farisz tries to impose on me a choice between Gotabaya and Gunaratnam. I do not consider it a choice, but a sequence of different stages of socio-historical evolution. I do not believe that any society can tackle all its major problems right away. I strongly feel that Sri Lanka has many tasks and challenges that need to be tackled at different stages.
At no point did I say that I wished for “Gunaratnam’s ideas to triumph.” What I present is a three dimensional picture — (a) Sri Lanka’s present crisis and possible solutions, (b) Sri Lanka’s potential as a country, a State and (c) Sri Lanka’s potential as a society.
The choice facing Sri Lanka today, by which I mean in the current situation, from the present moment up to the national elections of 2019-2020, is obviously not between Gotabaya and Gunaratnam. In real time, it is a choice between President Sirisena on the one hand, and Ranil-CBK-Mangala on the other. The issues are a new quasi-federal Constitution which fully transfers land and police powers to Provincial Councils, the Geneva Resolutions and the massive economic sellout.
In the short-term, there are two possible scenarios/outcomes. Firstly, the choice is between the Ranil-driven status quo and President Sirisena heading a recomposed coalition which may be dominated by the SLFP or a UNP minus the Wickremesinghe-CBK faction, with the JO either inducted as a coalition partner or recognised as the parliamentary opposition.
Secondly is a combination of the defeat of the present government at a Referendum — scheduled, says The Economist (London) towards the year end -- combined with a strike wave generalising itself, and a backlash against anti-military Special Courts, leading to a crisis of governability and the replacement or re-composition from below or above, of the government. This is the ‘Hartal’ August 1953 scenario.
With or without either scenario, I am exceedingly-confident that the UNP government will lose the next elections as they did in 1956, 1970, 1994, 1999, 2005 and 2010. That is when The Choice comes in.
Imagine this island. Imagine a 3D holographic projection of this island. What if four teams, (A) Ranil-CBK-Mangala, (B) Gotabaya-Mahinda (I say it in that sequence because Mahinda cannot contest for the presidency), (C) the JVP and (D) the FSP were invited to present their visions as holographic projections, and we had to vote on them, knowing that we were voting for the kind of Sri Lanka we wanted now and in the foreseeable future?
I for one would vote for the Gotabaya–Mahinda vision on the modernisation-developmental front. I think Team (A) is dangerous and should be replaced forthwith and “by any means necessary” as Malcolm X said. I do not believe that either the FSP (Gunaratnam) or the JVP is currently capable of taking over the responsibility of developing this country, but I do believe they may have the capacity to mature to that point after 15-20 years. To put it more simply, I think this country needs to be built up to its fullest potential. I think that would mean adopting a basically East Asian/Chinese paradigm of State-led development and modernity. Given our non-Confucian culture, I do not think we can fully achieve that, or rather, I think we can realistically achieve only the (Mahathirian) Malaysian model within this East Asian paradigm. That is our future task, and can be realised only by a Gotabaya-led or driven administration, an administration in which he is President or pillar of a Sirisena-Gota-Mahinda troika.
Where does Gunaratnam come in? We need a strong, magnificent new ‘home’ that can last for generations, even centuries, and Gotabaya is the only one who can clear the ground, lay the foundation, design and build it. But I do envisage a possible and necessary renovation of the ‘superstructure’ for a future generation of occupants and that renovation needs, to my mind, the consciousness of a combination of the FSP and JVP, particularly in the domain and dimension of South-North brotherhood / sisterhood.
"Both Gotabaya and Gunaratnam have blood on their hands. They both fought in our civil wars. Neither has made a self-criticism of the excesses and crimes of those times. However, as Jean Paul Sartre said, one cannot make history without “Dirty Hands” (the title of one of his plays), and both have evolved since then"
Both Gotabaya and Gunaratnam have blood on their hands. They both fought in our civil wars. Neither has made a self-criticism of the excesses and crimes of those times. However, as Jean Paul Sartre said, one cannot make history without “Dirty Hands” (the title of one of his plays), and both have evolved since then. Of course one cannot compare the two, since Gotabaya fought in a war of national reunification and later helped save his country and restore peace. Gunaratnam fought in a civil war in which his party murdered the most humane, enlightened progressive we ever produced—Vijaya Kumaratunga! But both Gotabaya and Gunaratnam and their ideologies can contribute positively, though greatly unequally, to the future of this country. Premadasa was responsible for rescuing his country from the JVP’s barbarism and that did mean a lot of blood, but I regard him as one of our greatest leaders. Mahinda, who presided over our victorious war effort, was even greater. Deng Hsiao Peng was responsible for the events at Tien An Mien Square, but he was one of the finest leaders China and Asia ever produced; uplifting his country from poverty in record time for any country in the world, and without the benefit of Colonialism. Putin has blood on his hands because he saved his country from Chechen terrorism and is helping Assad save his country from Al-Qaeda and ISIS. He is a great leader. Lenin, Mao and Stalin were responsible for many deaths but they were great historical icons. Although ruthless, Lee Kuan Yew was a great statesman who architectured the Singaporean miracle. Gotabaya as President or the driver of a Gotabaya-Mahinda-Sirisena combination is our best bet for a sustainable, modern Sri Lankan miracle.