14 November 2019

Flip the script, Citizen (a note to myself)!

Do citizens go where they will or are they led? Do they lead or follow? Do they have a free choice or is choice framed in ways that disqualify certain journeys and destinations? Karl Marx, in 'The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,’ said ‘“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.’ 

Pierre Bourdieu, the French Sociologist captured this structure-agency dynamic by observing that there are structuring structures and structured structures. We are not helpless but our potency nevertheless is limited. We make choices but among options permitted.   

So we will select. We will vote. We pick a candidate and a political formation. They claim to be revolutionary and committed to revolution. Yes, those words have been appropriated and distorted beyond recognition, but worse, we buy the nonsense. Sometimes we call it ‘change’ of course, but short-change is the typical yield that voters have had to consume for decades.  

Sure, there are consolations. The happiness of victory-moment, for example. One or two out of a million promises deliver — that’s a possibility. Crumbs, really.  There’s the occasional biggie. Victory over terrorism. The Right to Information Act. Few and far between, that’s what history tells us. They deliver some, but take away more and of that which is taken away they keep a sizable chunk. 

Marx’s thesis proceeds thus: ‘The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.’

Think about all the campaigns this election season. Think of all the election campaigns you’ve lived through.  Forget ‘epochs of revolutionary crisis’. Forget the preoccupation with revolutionizing themselves and creating something new. Even in non-revolutionary moments laden with revolutionary rhetoric we see a conjuring up of past spirits and deploying them in the service of achieving political objective. We see the borrowing of names, refreshing of battle slogans, re-wearing of old costumes. There’s disguise and borrowed language.  

So, after the pantomime is done, when costumes and makeup are no longer needed and when scripts are dumped in waste paper basket we get to see what’s what. Tragedy or farce. Wine and bottles, new and old. 

Should we resign ourselves to this inevitability? Should we say ‘well, this is the best that structures allow?’ Maybe we could talk about revolution. We could talk about stripping disguise, wiping off makeup and ripping apart rhetoric as an everyday practice and not something we briefly consider and even if we do postpone for another day.  When politicians say quoting John F Kennedy (not knowing that Kennedy was quoting Khalil Gibran), ‘ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,’ we could respond, ‘what you are really saying is ‘do something for me.’  

Ask not what you can do for your current political hero, citizen. Ask not what he or she would do for you, citizen. Ask instead what you have done, are doing and could do for one another. Before and after elections.  

Anticipate what they would say during election-season. Flip the script. When they begin sentences with ‘I will…,’ stop them and say ‘Thank you, but no, for we have heard those words before and have decided to talk a different language and write/read a different script.’ 

It is time to talk engagement out of a political arena where we are made to be spectators or else performing monkeys. Well, it was always the right time for engagement to have become something else, but then we’ve not delivered to ourselves, have we? 

Let us write with our lives the revolutionary poetry that will power resolve, boost the determination to contest tyranny in all its forms, naked or disguised, in sizes inflated and proportions deliberately diminished so they will go unnoticed. Citizen, your hour is not done. It is never ever done, for tyranny like all things is subject to the eternal laws of birth, decay and death.  Citizen, remember that overarching structures are not emotional, that their relentless and clinical reasoning will readily discard a tyrant and a tyranny whose use-by date has passed and pick other players often dressed in the garb of change and revolution. Citizen, innocence in such matters is a luxury you cannot afford. 

Citizen, don’t ever forget that your most pernicious and tenacious enemy, i.e. the tyrannies that rain blows on things held precious, often pick you as the most loyal of accomplices even as you rant and rave and fight against them. Citizen, reflect on life-practices, from moment to moment, one thing to another, conversations that are pushed aside or bleed into other conversations. Reflect on the drudgery of the diurnal, citizen. There are innumerable ways in which you play enemy even as you believe you have devoted time, energy, mind and heart to defeat that very same enemy.  

We inhabit structures of oppression. The oppression leaves marks that seem inedible. On our bodies and minds are the signatures of oppression inked. 

Quo vadis, citizen? Where are you going, friend? As you run against intruder do you entertain the possibility that you could disappear into the body of intrusion? Citizen, your voice is an instrument that is of great value to the enemy. The enemy will try to purchase it. The enemy will like a ventriloquist make you utter the words that will detract from your purpose.

There’s a tomorrow beyond election and elected. We do not stand in Elysian Fields, not as hero nor as applauders of hero and heroics. Neither do we inhabit Unhappy Land. Our work has not ended for it has not begun, for it is the kind of work that never ends. Election after election, regime after regime, we’ve learned and unlearned this truth.  

Citizen, you lost nothing by resolving to stop unlearning. Let’s just flip the script. All the time. In the everyday of our struggles, our minor victories and terrible defeats. The person crowned as king could be friend for awhile. The true friend is by your side. The truest friend and the worst enemy is resident in you. That’s a body we need to turn inside out, citizen. 

Quo vadis, citizen? Into battle or away from it? To read a terrible script or to write something afresh? There’s no time more auspicious than the after-election moment to reflect on all this, ask the tough questions and attempt answer.  Let us wish ourselves luck, citizen. Let us wish ourselves love.

13 November 2019

Carbon-neutral electioneering: Gota sets an example

This is not about all the candidates, their policies, their relative merits over other candidates or chances of winning. This is about carbon footprints. 

Time was when elections were marked by violence. Before, during and after elections. The Mother of All Violent Elections was of course the presidential election of December 1988 when Ranasinghe Premadasa’s UNP and Rohana Wijeweera’s JVP competed with each other for the tag, ‘The Worst Brute’. Premadasa won that battle. That’s another story.  Elections since then have been less and less violent. This time, there’s hardly any violence reported apart from a few isolated scuffles.  

Then there was pollution. Clutter in the form of posters on every square inch of walls. Clutter in the form of cut-outs, hoardings and of course polytene banners and decorations. Garbage, cluttering places where rallies have been held. We’ve managed to do without these for the most part, the last thanks largely to the example set by the JVP.  

And yet, even factoring these positive developments, election campaigns cost the environment. Today we can even measure it fairly accurately. The enormous amount of energy used results in carbon dioxide emissions. The use of paper and electricity also cost the environment. They add up and make what is called the Carbon Footprint. The carbon footprint of an election campaign as a sum of the ‘footprints’ of all campaigns of all candidates. 

So far, there has been no mentioned whatsoever of this issue by any of the campaigns. Except that of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The campaign team or rather a section of the team tasked to think of such things has estimated that carbon neutrality can be achieved only if 20,000 trees were planted, taking into consideration average mortality rates and a reasonable buffer for unexpected destruction of trees. This is new. It’s fresh. Wholesome.  With the campaigns scheduled to wind down by midnight Wednesday the 12th of November, Gotabaya’s campaign has planted 26,000 trees across the country with the participation of local communities. That’s probably supporters. 

The campaign team maintains that each tree will have a geo-tag that makes for monitoring and that allometric equations will be used to infer the carbon content stored in these trees by using data such as height and diameter of the plants.  The monitoring and verification is to be done by an independent organization. Time will tell if enthusiasm for all this will outlive the campaign. That itself will be a challenge and will tell us something about this candidate. 

Of course, this does not mean that a) Gotabaya will win, or b) if he wins it would be better than if someone else does. What it means is simple.  Gotabaya’s campaign would have left something positive on the ground. 

The benefits will accrue to the people of Anuradhapura, Jaffna, Mahiyangana, Horana, Kaduwela, Ruwanwella, Ampara, Padukka, Dompe, Polonnaruwa, Kegalle, Nuwara Eliya, Wellawaya, Matara, Homagama, Weerawila, the Mahaweli Zones and indeed every place where major rallies were held. nd it won’t be just the loyalists. Even those who vote for someone else would one day enjoy the shade, reap the fruit and of course breathe cleaner air. That’s freedom of a kind. ‘Nidahase Husma’ (The Breath of Freedom) is an appropriate label for this element of the campaign.

The carbon-consciousness apart, there is an obvious propaganda element to the exercise. That said, it is indisputable that Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s campaign team has come up with a fresh, unique and wholesome thing which any of the other candidates could have also adopted but didn’t. Ideally it will set a trend (like the JVP’s post-rally cleanups) and carbon-neutral election election campaigns will become the norm in Sri Lanka. 

If only Sajith Premadasa could have extended his 'whatever you say, I will better it' policy to this element of Gotabaya's campaign! If only Anura Kumara Dissanayake and other other candidates got into a 'more green than you' kind of battle! They did not. They may in future elections. And we would have Gota to thank for it.  

11 November 2019

ලිබ්බන්ගේ අලුත් ලව් එක

ලිබරල්. මේකට හරි සිංහල වචනයක් නැහැ. ලිබරල් පක්ෂයට සිංහල නමක් නැහැ. පත්තරයක් තිබ්බ මතකයි. ඒකට කිව්වේ 'ලිබරල් නිදහස'. ලිබරල් කියන වචනේ එක එක විදිහට තේරුම් ගන්න පුළුවන්.

ආර්ථික විද්‍යාවේ ලිබරල් කියනකොට අදහස් වෙන්නේ වෙළඳපොළවල්.  පොළවල් නෙවෙයි, වෙළඳපොළවල්. ලිබ්බන්ට වෙළඳපොළ කියන්නේ 'දෙවියන් වහන්සේ' වගේ දෙයක්. පෙනෙන්නේ නැහැ ඒත් හරිම ආදරණීයයි, සානුකම්පිකයි, සර්වසාධාරණයි, සර්වසම්පූර්ණයි. 
සමහරුන්ට ලිබරල් කියන්නේ නිදහසට සමාන වචනයක්. නීති නැහැ. රීති නැහැ. වටිනාකම් නෑ. සදාචාරය කියල දෙයක් නැහැ. සංස්කෘතිය කියල දෙයක් නැහැ. උරුමය, ඉතිහාසය වගේ දේවල් නැහැ. ලොක්කෝ නැහැ. මුරකාරයෝ නැහැ. ඉරි කෑලි නැහැ. ඕන ..කක් වගේ දෙයක්.  ලංකාවේ ලිබබන් සහ ලිබරල්වාදය ඔය විදිහට විස්තර කරන්න පුලුවන්.

සජිත් ප්‍රේමදාස කරලා තියෙන්නේ ලිබ්බන්ගේත් ඒ හරහා ලිබරල්වාදයේත් රෙදි ගලවන එක. 

ලිබ්බෝ දූෂණයට වංචාවට කැමතිම නැහැ. එහෙමයි කියන්නේ. ඒත් සජිත්ට ඒවා ගාණක් නැහැ. එජාපයේ නියෝජ්‍ය නායකයා සජිත්. සජිත් මහා බැංකු කොල්ලය ගැන වචනයක්වත් කිව්වේ නැහැ. ඒ නිසා ලිබ්බන්ට තවදුරටත් වංචා දූෂණ ප්‍රශ්ණයක් නෙවෙයි.

සජින්, මර්වින් සහ පරණ රාජපක්ෂ වහල්ලු
ලිබ්බෝ ඒ දවස් වල සජින් වාස් ගුණවර්ධනට මර්වින් සිල්වාට පලු යන්න බැන්න. සජින් ක්‍රිස් නෝනිස්ට කණට ගහපු එක අලෙවි කෙරුව. මර්වින් නිලධාරියෙක්ව ගස් බැන්ද එක අලෙවි කෙරුවා. දැන් එයාල සජිත්ගේ වේදිකාවේ. පක්ෂ සංවිධායකවරු. සජිත්ට එයාලා චෝයි. ලිබ්බන්ටත් එයාල චෝයි. 

පාටලී චම්පික රණවක සහ සිංහල බෞද්ධ අන්තවාදය 
ලිබ්බන්ට ඒ කාලේ චම්පිකව පෙන්නන්න බැහැ. චම්පික ජාතිවාදියෙක්. චම්පික අන්තවාදියෙක්. චම්පික වර්ගවාදියෙක්. චම්පික යුදවාදියෙක්. ඒත් කම්කරු සජිත් 
දැන් සිකියුරිටි චම්පිකව වැලඳගෙන. ඒ විතරක් නෙවෙයි අගමැතිකමත් පොරොන්දු වෙලා. චම්පික සජිත්ට චෝයි. ලිබ්බන්ටත් චෝයි.

ලිබ්බෝ ජාතිකවාදයට කැමතිම නෑ. දේශප්‍රේමීන්ට කැමතිම නෑ. තක්කඩියන්ගේ අවසාන ලැගුම්හල දේශප්‍රේමිත්වය කියල ලිබ්බෝ නිතරම කියනවා. ඒත් දැන් සජිත් තරම් ජාතිකවාදියෙක් නෑ. සජිත් තරම් දේශප්‍රේමියෙක් නෑ. පපුවට ගගගහා සජිත් රට ජාතිය ගැන කතා කරනවා. ලිබ්බෝ මීක් නෑ.

ලිබ්බන්ට රණවිරුවෝ පෙන්නන්න බෑ. තේනුවර රණවිරුගාය අතුගාලා දාන්න ඕන කියල කියද්දී ලිබ්බෝ හුරේ දැම්ම. මාර වැඩක් වුනේ -- දැන් සජිත් තරම් කව්රුවත් රණවිරුගායෙන් පෙළෙන්නේ නැහැ. ලිබ්බන්ට අවුලකුත් නෑ. ලිබ්බන්ට රණවිරුගාය හැදිලා වගේ.

මරණ දඬුවම 
මෛත්‍රීපාල සිරිසේන මරණ දඬුවම ක්‍රියාත්මක කරනවා කියල කියද්දී ලිබ්බෝ හැඬුවා. වැලපුනා. 'මිනීමරුවා' කියල මෛත්‍රීට බැන්නා. දැන් සජිත් කියනවා මරණ දඬුවම ක්‍රියාත්මක කරනවා කියල. ත්‍රස්ත ක්‍රියාවලට සම්බන්ධ හැමෝම මරන්න සූදානම් කියල කියනවා. ඒ කියන්නේ යුද්දේ අවසාන වෙනකොට සජිත් ජනපති වෙලා හිටියනම් අත්අඩංගුවට පත් වුන නැත්තම් ත්‍රිවිධහමුදාවලට භාර වුන 15,000කට අධික එල්.ටී.ටී.ඊයට සම්බන්ධ අය මරල දානවා. පාස්කු ඉරිදා ප්‍රහාරවලට සම්බන්ධ වුනා කියල අත්අඩංගුවට ගත් අයත් සජිත් මරයි. ලිබ්බන්ට ප්‍රශ්නයක් නෑ. ලිබ්බන්ට දැන් මරණ දඬුවම චෝයි.
හේතුවාදී බයිලා 
ලිබ්බෝ විද්‍යාවට කැමතියි. තර්කයට කැමතියි. බොහෝ ලිබ්බෝ හේතුවාදීන් කියල කියාගන්නවා. ලිබ්බෝ කේන්දර විශ්වාස කරන්නේ නෑ. නාඩි ශාස්ත්‍රය විශ්වාස කරන්නේ නෑ. පේන බලන්නේ නෑ. ආගම් කෝචෝක් කරනවා (දේවවාදී ආගම් ගැන නම් මොනවත් කියන්නේ නැහැ -- බයට වෙන්න ඇති). ඒත් කබීර් හෂීම් මිලියන 2.3ක් විතර වියදම් කරලා නක්ෂත්‍ර අතිරේකයක් පළ කරගන්නවා ලංකාදීප පත්තරේ. අහල නැති නක්ෂත්‍රකාරයින්ගේ අනාවැකි වලින් පිරුණු අතිරේකයක්. 'සජිත් දිනනවෝ!' කියල කියව ගන්නවා, ගාණකුත් ගෙවන්න ඇති. ලිබ්බන්ට ප්‍රශ්නයක් නෑ.

ආර්ථික ලිබ්බෝ සුබසාධනයට අකමැතියි. වෙළඳපොළට ආදරෙයි. සජිත් නත්තල් සීයට ඇඳගෙන අරකද මේකද දෙන්නම් කියල පොරොන්දු වෙනවා. හිටු කියල. ලිබ්බෝ නිහඬයි. ලිබ්බන්ට හදිස්සියේ සුභසාධනය චෝයි වෙලා. 

සත්ත්ව කරුණාව
ලිබ්බෝ සත්තුන්ට ආදරෙයි. විශේෂයෙන්ම අලින්ට. ලිබ්බෝ සත්තු මරල බුදින එක ගැන කිසි දෙයක් කියන්නේ නෑ (කුකුළෝ, ඌරෝ, එළුවෝ, කකුළුවෝ, හාල්මැස්සෝ, ඉස්සෝ, කූනිස්සෝ). අශ්ව රේස් ශේප්. බලු ෂෝ ශේප්. ඒත් ලිබ්බෝ සත්තුන්ට ආදරෙයි. සජිත් සත්ව අයිතීන් ගැන ප්‍රකාශයක් අත්සන් කරන්න යන්නේ බූරු කරත්තයක. ලිබ්බන්ට ඒකෙ අවුලක් නෑ.

කැලෑ ලව් 
ලිබ්බෝ කැලෑවලට ආදරෙයි. ගස් වලට ආදරෙයි. වනාන්තරවලට ආදරෙයි. විල්පත්තුව කපද්දී ප්‍රොෆයිල් පික් එක 'සේව් විල්පත්තු' කියල වෙනස් කරපු ලිබ්බෝ සජිත් කැලෑපාලුවෝ එක්ක ලව් කරද්දී නිහඬයි. ගස් වන්දනා කරපු ලිබ්බෝ දැන් පොරෝ වන්දනා කරනවා වෙන්න ඇති. 

දැන් ලිබ්බෝ වෙනස්. රණවිරුගායට ලව්. සුභසාධනයට ලව්. මරණ දඬුවමට ලව්. දේශප්‍රේමීත්වයට ලව්. සත්ත්ව හිංසනයට ලව්. කැලෑ කැපීමට ලව්. ජාතිකවාදයට ලව්. අන්තවාදයට ලව්. යුදවාදයට ලව්. හොරකමට ලව්. ගොන්කමටත් ලව්. 

ලිබ්බෝ. ලිබ්බෝ? සජිත් ප්‍රේමදාස ලිබ්බන්ගේ රෙදි ගැලෙව්වා. ඒක හොඳ දෙයක්. බලාගෙන යද්දී ලංකාවේ ලිබ්බෝ ලිබ්බෝ නෙවෙයි. ලිබරල්වාදය ගැන ලොකුවට කතා කෙරුවට ලිබ්බෝ ඇත්තටම ඇන්ටි-ලිබරල්. සජිතේ මේ බව දන්නවා. චම්පිකත් දන්නවා. සජිත්ගෙන් ඇහුවට වැඩක් නෑ. චම්පිකගෙන් අහන්න. චම්පික මොනවත් ලොකුවට කියන එකක් නෑ. කින්ඩියට වගේ පොඩ්ඩක් හිනාවෙයි. පොඩි වංගුවක් දාල ලෙස්සලා යයි. 'ලිබ්බෝ නෙවෙයි බං උන් ගල්ලිබ්බෝ!' චම්පික නොකිය එහෙම දෙයක් කියයි. ඕක කියවගන්න අමාරු නැහැ.

බලාපොරොත්තු වන්න: ජාතිකවාදීන් ගේ අලුත් ලව් එක

Sajith Premadasa undressed the liberals and how!

The word is used, well, liberally. ‘Liberal’ can be and is used to describe an economic system which takes the ‘market’ as ‘god’, all-loving, all-compassionate, perfect and so on. Then there are people who take the word as a proxy for ‘free’ and ‘freedom,’ as in there are no rules, no bosses, no one with a cane ready to whip your bottom if you do step out of line. Well, no lines either!  

In Sri Lanka, though, liberals or rather those who call themselves liberals are a bit different. They do worship markets, they don’t give two hoots about convention and indeed disparage anything that is even remotely associated with convention: norms, values, culture and heritage for example.  Well, Sajith Premadasa seems to have ripped off the liberal facade.  

These liberals ranted and raved against corruption and misrule. Sajith Premadasa, Deputy Leader of the UNP (no less!) knows all about his party’s role in the Central Bank bond scam.  He’s ok with it. The liberals are ok with it too.

They used to rant and rave against the likes of Sajin Vaas Gunawardena and Mervin Silva, as many who support Sajith have ranted and raved. They talked of how Sajin assaulted Chris Nonis. They were livid at Mervin’s antics — thuggery at Rupavahini, tying an official to a tree etc.  Well, Sajith has embraced them, given them party-organizer posts and is quite snug (and smug!) having them share his political stage. They are good boys now. The liberals are ok with all this.

They used to rant and rave against Patali Champika Ranawaka. He was called names: Sinhala Buddhist racist, chauvinist, extremist, war-monger for example. Well, Champika has been promised the prime ministership in the event Sajith wins. Patali is a good boy now. The liberals are ok with him.

Liberals would decry anyone who said things that could be called ‘nationalistic’ or ‘patriotic’. ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel,’ they quoted. Again and again. Well, look who is the chest-beating, feet-stomping patriot now!  Why, it’s Sajith Premadasa. Liberals who were spouting anti-nationalist rhetoric are ok with it now. 

Liberals, for a long time, took issue with anyone who talked of the ‘ranaviruvo’ (war-heroes). They made caustic comments about human rights violators not being heroes. They picked up and re-chanted Chandragupta Thenuwara’s contention that the ‘ranaviru gaaya’ (fascination with war heroes) should be buried once and for all. Then, suddenly, Sajith Premadasa beat his chest and said, essentially, that he himself suffers from and is proud about his ranaviru gaaya! The liberals are ok with all this.   

When President Maithripala Sirisena announced that he would implement the death penalty, liberals cried out in horror.  How brutal, how nasty, how uncivilized, how yucky! That’s how they responded. Well then, Sajith Premadasa says he will not hesitate to execute people involved in terrorist activities. This means, by the way, that had he been President at the time the LTTE was defeated, he would have executed some 15,000 LTTE cadres who were either captured or had surrendered to the security forces. The liberals are not saying ‘chee, chee’ now. They are ok with it.  

Liberals like to think of themself as champions of rationality and science. Not for them the hocus-pocus of religion (well, they are ok with god-related religions, but that’s another story), palm-reading, crystal-gazing, superstition or astrology. Well then, Kabir Hashim takes out an astrological supplement in the ‘Lankadeepa’ for some Rs 2.3 million. He gets some unheard of astrologers (probably paid them too) and fills it with wild predictions of Sajith winning. The liberals are ok with it. 

For decades liberals with even a basic knowledge of economics ranted and raved against the welfare state. They were silent of course about the state subsidizing capital and capital interests, but were livid about handouts and other subsidies. Well then, Sajith Premadasa comes out to play Santa Clause or rather promising to play Santa, saying he will give this, that and the other. No talk of where he’s going to find the bucks. Nothing of the fact that it will be the people who will have to pay for all this. The liberals are ok with it.  

Liberals love animals. Especially elephants. They are ok with eating dead animals (chicken, cattle, pigs, fish, crab, prawns, sprats, goats etc). They are ok with dog-shows and horse-races. Now then, Sajith Premadasa wants to sign a declaration on animal welfare and animal rights. He goes for this in a carriage driven by ponies. Liberals are fine with this. 

Liberals love trees. They are all for conservation. Protection of protected areas and so on. Well then, Sajith Premadasa stands proudly, arm in arm, with those who have engaged in the wanton destruction of forests. Liberals are ok with this. 

The liberals are NOW ok with the following: welfarism, hocus-pocus, capital punishment, ranavirugaaya, scoundrels scampering to their proverbial last refuge, animal cruelty, deforestation, racism, extremism, crooks and theft. 

Liberals. Is that an accurate description? Sajith Premadasa has demonstrated that it’s way off the mark. He has stripped them down to their skins. And lo and behold! We find rank conservatives who really don’t believe any of these lovely notions they swear by and claim to champion. Party loyalists. Nothing more. 

Sajith Premadasa knows. Champika Ranawaka must know too. Sajith is not exactly endowed with an intellect that’s anywhere close to Champika’s. Ask Champika about liberals, liberalism and what’s under those masks. Ask him if they are bunch of humbugs. He will smile in that sly way he does and change subject with a snide comment. Read it as ‘yes’.  

07 November 2019

DANGER: The MCC Compact is down, but not out

There’s an agreement on the table which could thrust Sri Lanka into an inextricable bind where knot could be tightened at will by another country through multiple means.  The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact. 

The US Government has been working tirelessly to get it off the ground. Few if any are purchasing the rhetoric about it being a ‘Sri Lankan draft, made by Sri Lankans with Sri Lankan interests at heart.’ The ‘drafters’ were operating from Temple Trees. They were supervised (a generous term) by the MCC. There was a scandalous rush to obtain cabinet approval. 

The probable reason is that the movers and shakers felt that there was an imminent ‘danger’ of regime change. The stated reason is that Sri Lanka would miss out because new rules disqualify countries in the Upper Middle Income category. 

Interesting. The MCC probably has valid reasons for such a limitation. As of now, according to the World Bank, Sri Lanka IS an ‘upper middle income nation’. What this means is that Sri Lanka, like any other upper middle income country, is not in dire need of the so-called benefits of an MCC Compact. Sri Lanka barely satisfies the criteria of being among the poorest 75 countries. In terms of per capita income Sri Lanka is ineligible. The assessment score is computed by considering several criteria, naturally a design to make it possible to approve or disapprove. 

The US Embassy in Colombo and Jenner Edelman, Sri Lanka Country Director for the Millennium Challenge Corporation have pooh-poohed at concerns raised. They have not once mentioned that the MCC has terminated agreements with Niger, Yemen, the Gambia, Tanzania, Nicaragua, Honduras, Madagascar, Armenia, Mali and Malawi. Neither have they mentioned that the Nepal Parliament has been debating the MCC Compact for five months. 

The MCC Compact ‘Recitals’ state that the Government has consulted with the private sector and civil society to determine priorities. This is akin to a condition for eligibility. [See Page 1 of the Agreement]. However, there has been no consultation whatsoever with the people of this country. The draft was not made public. Public views were not solicited.  The Bar Association had access only to what is little more than a concept paper. The National Institute of Security Studies, which comes under the Ministry of Defense, commented extensively on the drafts of the SOFA and ACSA agreements but not on the MCC Compact, which makes us wonder whether that outfit was deliberately kept in the dark.

The Government has rushed to defend the Compact. Mangala Samaraweera not only defended the agreement but as is par for HIS course unleashed invectives on Ven Ududumbara Kasyapa Thero who started a fast unto death in protest. More on that later. Champika Ranawaka said ‘there’s nothing wrong’.

Well, there is much that’s wrong with the MCC Compact. Outside of general and healthy suspicion of any move by the USA (for reasons too well known to warrant enumeration) and the insane rush to push a ‘grant’ (typically it’s the beggar that begs, not the giver!), there’s much in the print and small print that should be of great concern.

The rhetoric regarding poverty alleviation is downright silly.  The targeted districts named in the so-called ‘Parcel Fabric Map’ covers districts that are below the national poverty headcount index. The move is essentially to survey, document and ‘free’ parcels to what would become a volatile land market. The safeguards of various land alienation schemes to protect poor farmers would be immediately dismantled. The vulnerable will be pushed to sell. In any case, enumeration is the first step of a time-tested process of plunder. It’s like documenting the fauna of Sinharaja as precondition for gene piracy. Markets facilitate it and markets always favor those who can demand from AND supply to them.

The most dangerous element is ‘control’. The Compact not only gives a foreign government absolute access to data that could be sensitive, but is full of clauses which in effect force Sri Lanka to submit to Washington. For those in happy-pill land, here’s some information: The MCC Board is made up of representatives. These include the MCC's CEO, the U.S. Secretary of State who is the chair, the Secretary of Treasury who is the vice chair, the administrator of USAID, and the U.S. Trade Representative.   

The MCC Compact will be governed by international law. Wow! A supposedly Sri Lankan project, designed and run by Sri Lankans for the benefit of Sri Lankans and funded by a grant (not a loan) cannot be governed by Sri Lankan law! Wow, again! Naturally any disagreement by any government will be sorted out in international courts. Need we say we would be severely handicapped in this regard? 

The Compact makes for ‘a Land Policy Research Group (LPRG)’ purportedly to ‘assist the government to conduct research and policy studies’ to gather information for land policy decisions. MCC will kindly help hire the staff and fund study tours for them! Ahem! Aha!

The MCC can, according to the agreement, terminate matters at will with no costs whatsoever. Sri Lanka, if wisdom kicks in at some point after the agreement is signed, can terminate at great cost. 

If indeed, Sri Lanka needs to do what’s set down in the project document, it does not require MCC support. The land project costs US $ 62.7 million over five years. That’s a little over $ 12 million a year. Much larger sums are wasted every year.  Why then should we agree to a design that could have serious infringements on sovereignty not to mention as serious social and political fallout?  

Happily, the peaceful protest by Ven Kassapa Thero (ridiculed by Mangala Samaraweera with acerbic comments reserved for the Maha Sangha) quickly yielded an undertaking by SLPP Presidential Candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa that all agreements signed from the time the election was announced until results are released will be reviewed keeping in mind the country’s interests including sovereignty. Sajith Premadasa, happily, followed suit. Better late than never, one might say, for the gentlemen has said nothing about the MCC even though he is a member of the cabinet that approved it! The fast was abandoned once Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe gave a written undertaking not to move on the MCC Compact.  

The fact that the candidates from the two main parties have given this undertaking is a good sign.  What Champika Ranawaka and Mangala Samaraweera have to say now would be interesting. So too leftists, liberals and others supporting Premadasa who defended the MCC Compact tenaciously when the SLPP started criticizing it. 

It pays to be wary. We should not be lulled into complacency by the statements issued by politicians during an election campaign where anything and everything can be promised only to be forgotten and/or rubbished later. 

malindasenevi@gmail.com. www.malindawords.blogspot.com



03 November 2019

Towards a Primer on the 19th for Confused UNPers

There’s dissension in the ranks, people. Not that it’s something new. We are talking about Sajith and Ranil. A few weeks from now we will all see who laughs last and then we will see the last-laugher laughing long.  That’s for later.  

For now, let’s focus on the 19th Amendment because there’s been words exchanged about the prime minister or rather the post of prime minister should Sajith ‘Baby’ Premadasa become President. 

Baby Premadasa says this is a presidential election and not an exercise to elect a prime minister. He’s correct. He has ‘appointed’ a National Security Minister however, even though this is not about electing one.  It brings us to the 19th Amendment.

Many who are supporting Sajith these days cheered the 19th Amendment. Mind you, not too long ago, they were saying that the 225 MPs and the President ‘should go!’ They also said the main political parties should be dumped! They, in all probability and like most MPs, haven’t read the document: not the draft (as the Supreme Court did) nor the document finally presented to Parliament (as the Supreme Court did not). 

They claimed that the President’s executive powers had been clipped (yes, they were) and that the Prime Minister (that’s Ranil Wickremesinghe) now called the shots (not exactly true).  Well, not just them.  Leftists, liberals, Born Again Democrats, Funded Voices, Candlelight Ladies, Colombots and other Kolombians said it. Believed it.  

They all discovered a sudden love for Sajith Premadasa after he expressed presidential ambitions. Perhaps they thought ‘anyone is better than Ranil’.  They forgot that Baby Premadasa was part of the Yahapalana Regime, from President Sirisena’s nepotism immediately after being elected, through the Central Bank Bond Scam and even now when the country’s sovereignty is about to be squandered via the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Compact. Sajith uttered not a word of protest. 

ANYWAY.  Those who thought the PM called the shots (and who expressed disgust at the incumbent), all of a sudden saw ‘hope’ in Baby Premadasa.  He would set things right, they claimed and still claim. Well, Old Man Ranil is not buying any of that. ‘I will be Prime Minister when Sajith is President’ he said. Sajith for his part said ‘I haven’t made any statements regarding any posts except that of the Minister of National Security (Sarath Fonseka).’ Now, wasn’t it the PM who decides on cabinet portfolios as per the 19th? Funny isn’t it? But Baby Premadasa disagrees obviously. So hasn’t he read the 19th or is it that their noises about prime ministerial powers being greater than those of the president just one big fib?  

On the other hand, these very people claim that if Gotabhaya Rajapaksa wins, it will be Big Brother Mahinda who will call the shots. Why?  ‘The 19th, stupid!’ They claim.  

So it seems that the UNPers are confused. In one instance (if Baby Premadasa wins) the President is the boss, but in another (if Gotabaya wins) then the PM has sway. As per the very same piece of legislation, the 19th Amendment!    

And they are upset also about Ranil Wickremesinghe’s status should Baby Premadasa win. ‘Maybe Sajja Boy, contrary to rhetoric, agreed to let Ranil be PM,’ they worry. ‘In any case, Ranil can’t be removed until Parliament completes 4.5 years as per the 19th,’ they sigh. In this case, it’s not about Ranil’s power vs Sajith’s power but Ranil as a thorn.

Well, if they actually read the 19th, they would know that under certain circumstances the Prime Minister can be removed and that Parliament could also be dissolved. If they had even a basic understanding of the political culture in this country and the behavioral patters of politicians, they would know that dynamics can change very fast immediately after a major election (remember January 2015?). 

But no, they’ve not read the 19th. They are confused about the 19th. They are letting outcome preferences conjure all kinds of billas (no, not the kind that were used to pick out ‘insurgents’ who would be later be summarily executed outside of judicial process, often by being burnt alive, following torture of course during Papa Premadasa’s time, a time that Baby Premadasa vows to take the country back to!).  They are anxious about a Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa having sway over a President Gotabaya (as per the 19th) even as they claim that a President Baby Premadasa would have at his beck and call a Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.

Maybe Baby Premadasa himself has no clue. He seems to be in a zone unto himself in Silliness Land and therefore could be as ignorant and/or confused as the UNP’s various mouthpieces in this electoral season.

The Yahapalana Regime was marked by incompetence. What Baby Premadasa is promising therefore is incompetence compounded by confusion. And he wants our vote. Really? Really, really?   

malindasenevi@gmail.com.  www.malindawords.blogspot.com


Pad-Man and Flag-Man, Daddy and Sonna Boy

Wild promises and pledges are part and parcel of election campaigns. Sajith Premadasa has certainly been quite liberal in dishing out goodies or rather promising to do so.  And yet, the promise of sanitary pads for women does strike a chord.  Makes sense. 

Of course it would be an insult to all women to believe that any woman would vote for someone just because he or she promised free sanitary pads and thereby allow them to save a few bucks. Sri Lanka, moreover, is now officially an Upper Middle Income Country and such trinkets hardly make saving-waves.  

Still.  Good move.  

Baby Premadasa’s pad-pledge reminded me of something Daddy Premadasa did way back when he was President (the most brutal and bloody presidency ever, let us not forget).  Two days before Independence Day, Ranasinghe Premadasa made an appeal to the entire country: fly a national flag! Out of fear or agreement, many did. That’s not what’s interesting. What is remarkable is that the shops were flooded with national flags the very next morning. Someone had already produced the flags. Someone clearly made a killing on Papa Premadasa’s ‘nationalism’.  Aloysius Mudalali was that someone.  

So now, more than 25 years later, we have Baby for Daddy,  feminism (the terms used by his cheering squad of leftists and liberals) instead of nationalism (‘pseudo’  should be the prefix), and Capital Maharaja instead of Aloysius.  Reminds me of the first paragraph of Karl Marx’s ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte’: ‘Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.’  Daddy Boy’s time was tragic (for the people) and Sonna Boy is an unqualified farce!  

Aloysius helped Daddy and the media stations of the Maharaja helped/helps Sonna Boy.  ‘You help me, I help you’.  Same old, same old.    

Nevertheless, the sanitary pad promise is a good one, let me repeat. To paint it as some kind of championing of women, women’s issues and the promise of a feminist president is on the other hand, laughable.  

Two issues. First, who pays? Daddy didn’t use Treasury funds, but he pulled one over the people. Baby Premadasa is no different.  It could have been worse, of course. For example Baby Premadasa’s yahapalana government made and still makes a big song and dance about insuring all school children.  A good thing on the surface, just like the sanitary pads. Who pays? Why, the people!  And who benefits? Why, the private insurance companies and private hospitals! 

And there’s even more to the sanitary pad story than meets the eye.  Baby Premadasa’s government imposed a tax on sanitary pads. Naturally, this makes for increased demand for ‘free pads’. In moves Premadasa Junior, beating his chest and promising the same. Neat, ain’t it?

A petty retailer’s trick, this pad business, nothing more.  Like father, like son. Not surprising.  After all, Baby Premadasa can’t stop talking about Papa’s genes.  He’s clearly inherited his father’s penchant for such tricks.  

Neat.  And cheap. Not very presidential, though.  

01 November 2019

19 වන ව්‍යවස්ථා සංශෝධනය, 'පඹ අගමැති' සහ එජාප පඹගාල

මණ්ඩලේ කචල් මචං. කචල් කියන්නේ මම කරුණාවන්ත නිසා. කල්පනා කරලා බලන්න. සජිත් කියනවා මේක අගමැතිවරණයක් නෙවෙයි ජනාධිපතිවරණයක් කියල. හී ඉස් කරෙක්ට් මචං. බට් ද එජාපය ඉස් කන්ෆියුස්ඩ් මචං.

[වැඩේ තියෙන්නේ සජිත් කියන්නේ හොඳ එජාප කකුලක්.  2015 ඉඳල අද වෙනකල් එජාපය ප්‍රධාන යහපාලන ආණ්ඩුව කරපු කිසිම මෝඩ, ජඩ, තක්කඩි වැඩකට සජිත් නෙවෙයි විරුද්ධ වුනේ. අර්ජුන මහේන්ද්‍රන් එක්ක, රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ එක්ක, රවී කරුණානායක එක්ක, මෛත්‍රිපාල සිරිසේන එක්ක කෙලින් හිටගෙන හිටියා. කොටින්ම ජනපති වුන වහාම මල්ලිට ටෙලිකොම් එක දීලා 'ඥාති සංග්‍රහයට' තිත තියන වෙලාවේ ඉඳලා රනිල්, රවී, මහේන්ද්‍රන් එකතු වෙලා මහා බැංකුවට විදින මොහොත හරහා ඇමරිකාවට රට විකුණන මේ මොහොත දක්වා සජිත් හිටියේ සීරුවෙන් හිටං!]

හරි. දැන් කතාකරමු අගමැති ගැන. කතාකරමු ජනපති ගැන. 19 වන ව්‍යවස්ථා සංශෝධනය ගැන. 

'ජනපති බලතල අඩු කෙරුවා. දැන් ඉතින් අගමැති අතේ තමයි බලය තියෙන්නේ.'  19 උඩ දාන කාලෙ එජාපයේ ලොක්කෝ වගේම එජාපයට හොරෙන් ලව් කරපු සහ ලව් කරන වම්මු ගල්ලිබ්බෝ ඇතුළු (ෆේක්) ටොයියෝ කිව්වේ එහෙමයි. එහෙම කියපු අය දැන් කතා හරියට කරන්නේ අගමැති කියන්නේ පඹ තනතුරක් වගේ. රනිල් තුමා එක පැත්තකට වෙලා පපුවට් ගගහ කියනවා 'සජිත් දින්නොත් මමයි අගමැති' කියල. සජිත් අනිත් පැත්තට පක්ෂයේ ලොක්කව දෙකේ කාසියට දාල කියනවා 'මම තනතුරු බෙදල දීලා නැහැ' කියල. ඒ කියන්නේ තනතුරු බෙදන්නේ ජනපති. ඒ කියන්නේ 19බොරුවක්. 


එයාලගෙම තර්ක වලට අනුව ගෝටා ජනපති වුනත් මහින්ද අගමැති වන නිසා 19 වන ව්‍යවස්ථා සංශෝධනය ප්‍රකාරව රට පාලනය කරන්නේ මහින්ද. ගෝටා නෙවෙයි.  ඒත් සජිත් දින්නොත් රනිල් අවුට්. රනිල් විතරක් නෙවෙයි, මොකා අගමැති වුනත් ඒකා පඹයෙක්.  ගෝටා දින්නොත් ගෝටා පඹයෙක් (අකෝඩින් ටු ද 19ත්), ඒත් සජිත් දින්නොත් රනිල් පඹයෙක් (අකෝඩින් ටු ද 19ත්). කැන යූ මේක් අප් යුව මයින්ඩ් මචංලා? 

කාරණය මේකයි. මෙයාල ව්‍යවස්ථාව ගැනවත් රට ගැනවත් රට පාලනය කරන එක ගැනවත් බොරුවක් ගොතන්නවත් දන්නේ නැහැ. කොටින්ම පඹයෝ. කොන්දක් මොලයක් නැහැ. පඹ ගාලක පැටලිලා ඉන්නේ ඒක නිසා වෙන්න ඕන, ලේඩීස් ඇන්ඩ් ජෙන්ටල්මන්.


පෑඩ් එකයි ෆ්ලෑග් එකයි, තාත්තයි පුතයි

රණසිංහ ප්‍රේමදාස ජනාධිපති සමය මතක් වුනා. නිදහස් දිනයට දවස් කලින් ප්‍රේමදාස නිවේදනයක් නිකුත්කරනවා මේ වගේ -- 'නිදහස් දවසේ හැම ගෙදරකම ජාතික කොඩියක් ඔසවන්න.' 

ඒ කාලේ ප්‍රේමදාස කියන දේවල් නොතකා හිටිපු අය අඩුයි. භීෂණයේ ද්විත්ව පියවරුන්ගෙන් එක්කෙනෙක් ප්‍රේමදාස නේ. අනිත් එක්කෙනා රෝහණ විජේවීර. කොහොම වුනත් නිවේදනය නිකුත් කරපු දවසට පහුවෙනිදා සියලු නගර වල කඩ සාප්පු වල ජාතික කොඩි විකුනන්න තිබුනා. පොලිතීන් කොඩි. මාරම නිෂ්පාදනයක්. එක රැයකින් හිටං!  කව්ද නිෂ්පාදනය කෙරුවේ? කාගේ සාක්කුවටද සල්ලි වැටුනේ?  අනේ අර අහිංසක ඇලෝෂියස් මුදලාලි. ප්‍රේමදාසගේ කල්‍යාන මිත්‍රයා. 

දැන් ප්‍රේමදාසගේ පුතා, ඒ කියන්නේ සජිත් ප්‍රේමදාස, කියනවා තමන් ජනපති වුනොත් රටේ හැම කාන්තාවකටම නොමිලේ පෑඩ් බෙදනවා කියලා. හොඳ පියවරක් ('හොඳ පියවරවල්' ගැන පසුවට කතා කරමු). ප්‍රශ්නේ මේකයි. මේවට සල්ලි කොහෙන්ද? මහා බැංකුවෙන්! ඒ කියන්නේ ජනතා මුදල්. පෑඩ් සංස්ථාවක් රටේ නැහැ. එතකොට කොහෙන්ද පෑඩ් ගන්නේ? ඔන්න බලන්න සජිත්ගේ ටිකිරි මොළේ -- පෑඩ් ආනයනය කරන ප්‍රධාන සමාගමක් තමයි කැපිටල් මහරාජා සමූහ ව්‍යාපාරය. එයාලගෙයි සජිත්ගෙයි සම්බන්ධය ගැන දන්නේ නැත්තම් යූටියුබ් එකට ගිහින් පොඩි රිස(ර්)ච් එකක් කරන්න. සජිත් ගැන වැඩියෙන්ම වීඩියෝ ක්ලිප් සිරස දාපු ඒවා මැතිවරණ කාලය පැත්තකට දාල ඊට පෙර වීඩියෝ ක්ලිප් සලකල බැලුවොත් තේරෙයි සජිත් කාගේ ඉත්තෙක්ද කියලා.

සජිත් කලගුණ සළකන කෙනෙක් වෙන්න ඇති. ජනතාවාදී ස්ත්‍රීවාදී ටෝක් එක්ක පෑඩ් කතා කිව්වත් පෑඩ් ප්ලෑන් එකේ යටාර්ථය ඕකයි. වැලේ වැල් නැති වම්මු, ගල්ලිබ්බෝ, ටොයියෝ සහ ෆේක් ටොයියෝ දන්න නමුත් නොකියන රහස තමයි ඕක. එයා විකුණන්නේ ස්ත්‍රීවාදය. තාත්තා ගසා කෑවේ ජාතිකත්වය. 'එයාල අපට උදව් කරනවා අපි එයාලට උදව් කරනවා.' ඕකයි තියරිය. ඕකයි මතවාදය.

හොඳ පියවර ගැන සැක කරන එක හොඳයි.  තව එක උදාහරණයක් ඉදිරිපත් කරන්නම්. පාසැල් සිසුන් රක්ෂණය කරන එකත්  ඔය වගේම 'හොඳ දෙයක්'.  කාගේ සල්ලිද? ජනතා සල්ලි. කාටද වාසි? රක්ෂණ සමාගම් සහ පුද්ගලික රෝහල්. නියමයි නේද?

පෑඩ් වලට අදාළ තවත් දෙයක් තියෙනවා නෝනාවරුනි මහත්වරුනි. පෑඩ් බද්ද පැනෙව්වේ සජිත්ගේ යහපාලන ආණ්ඩුවම තමයි. පෑඩ් ගණන් ගියේ එහෙමයි.  එතකොට ෆ්‍රී පෑඩ් වලට ඉල්ලුමක් තියෙනවා. එතකොට ඒක මැතිවරණ පොරොන්දුවක් වෙනවා. කොහොමද පොඩි ප්‍රේමදාසගේ ටිකිරි මොලේ?

ඒ ගැන මම නම් පුදුම වෙන්නේ නැහැ.  තාත්තගේ ජාන ගැන නිතර කතා කරන අතිජාත පුත්‍රයාගේ ජාන වල තාත්තගේ සටකපටකම් තියෙන්න ඕන. එක ස්වභාවිකයි. මට දුක වම්මු සහ ගල්ලිබ්බෝ ගැන. මේ තරම් ලේසියෙන් අන්දන්න පුළුවන් තත්වයකට පත්වෙලා තියෙන එක ගැන. 



31 October 2019

The MCC: did the ‘going devil’ break the earthenware crock (koraha)?

Guess who will get the last laugh! 

Elections come and go. People and parties come to power. They come and go. Agreements sometimes have longer shelf lives.  This is why we have to be very worried about the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact which Cabinet approved recently.  Sure, it’s a ‘project’ that was mooted a long time ago, negotiations having begun way back in 2001 when too Ranil Wickremesinghe was Prime Minister. However, time has not lessened its controversial nature.

The US Government and the MCC have maintained that it’s a Sri Lanka led process, meaning that the document was authored by Sri Lankans. The Government has maintained that it is an agreement that will benefit Sri Lanka. 

Strangely, though, neither of these two ‘camps’ have bothered to make public the document, even in draft form.  Perhaps it is not ‘strange’ given the sway that the USA has over this government and especially the UNP. Perhaps it is not strange given that the Finance Minister, Mangala Samaraweera, has always held the USA in high esteem and given the impression that he is the point man in Sri Lanka for US interests of all kinds, political, military and economic.  

Perhaps it is not strange that that this decision was made with a major election just two weeks away. Perhaps it is not strange that the USA has wanted this agreement as well as SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) and ACSA (Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement) signed this year (meaning ‘before the election).

What it means is that the USA, known to be risk-averse in such matters, possibly sensed a regime change. If the MCC Compact could wait for 18 years, why not a further three weeks? If SOFA and ACSA are Sri Lanka friendly agreements, why should the USA (and not Sri Lanka) push them so ferociously? And if they were so harmless why is the USA and the United National Party (UNP) so cagey about them? Why keep things under wraps until the last moment? Should we not conclude that they have reached a point where they can’t wait any longer? ‘Couldn’t wait any longer,’ because they have a good sense of what might transpire on November 16, 2019, shouldn’t we conclude?  

This Government is out of order. Just to keep things in perspective Sajith Premadasa is part of this Government. He is a Cabinet Minister. He has not raised one word of objection to the MCC Compact, SOFA or ACSA. Well, he has not raised any questions regarding the Central Bank bond scam either. Nothing about corruption, nepotism, rank incompetence and abuse of state resources either. In fact he has abused his authority in his little ministerial empire, so one could argue that he doesn’t have the moral authority to question cabinet colleagues. 

It is the secrecy and the almighty hurry to see the MCC Compact through before November 16 that makes it scandalous. The document itself is heavy. What was ‘released’ are the sunshine parts, obviously. The devil will be in the detail and rest assured these details will come out. BEFORE THE ELECTION.  Sajith who is the Yahapalana candidate and who is made of the Yahapalana DNA will be held accountable, rest assured. 

The genes tell a story. It’s not the father-to-son thing that we are talking about here. It’s the truth of association and partaking that Sajith cannot escape from. He is for better or worse the Yahapalana baby. The Yahapalana voice. He cannot run away from the last five years of misrule and incompetence. He cannot pretend he was not part of that party.  

This is why Sajith Premadasa must make a statement about the MCC compact.  Will he go along with it in the event he becomes President? Will he scuttle it?  Election outcome notwithstanding, he has to speak up. He has to defend it or condemn it. The problem is that he has offered his silent consent by way of being a member of the Cabinet that approved it!  

But this is bigger than Sajith Premadasa. This is bigger than his campaign, which is providing laughs that make Maithripala Sirisena’s and Ranil Wickremesinghe’s foot-in-mouth statements seem halfway intelligent. In short it is no laughing matter.  

The Yahapalana Government turned the term ‘good governance’ into a cuss-word. The UNP was supposed to do wonders with the economy. Wickremesinghe and his team claimed that they inherited a massive debt burden. Well, they’ve made it worse, haven’t they? 

They talked of mismanagement and waste. Pruning waste would yield enough for massive economic turnaround and amazing development, we were told. Zilch on the ground. The growth rate (by which the UNP’s neoliberals swear) is abysmal, with only Afghanistan’s performance being worse. No wonder that not a single big-name businessman attended the much hyped ‘business forum’ organized by Sajith Premadasa’s campaign team. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s event was packed to capacity, not by ‘brought-in’ crowds but people seen as business leaders. 

It’s the ordinary folks who count, however, when it comes to an election. They are certainly not cheering the Yahapalana Government. Even if we counted out the wrecking of national security that facilitated the Easter Sunday attacks, the disappointment and even disgust is palpable on the city streets and in the villages (those places that Colombots, Funded Voices, Born Again Democrats, Candlelight Ladies and other Kolombians are ignorant about).  

The MCC could, theoretically, make for a far more pronounced (and abiding) US footprint on the island. And the USA is NOT Sri Lanka’s friend. Nothing demonstrates this more than the machinations of that country in Geneva, interestingly supported by people like Mangala Samaraweera who literally wrote the country into a hole with Resolution 30/1 of the UNHRC.  

There’s an apt Sinhala saying about the destructive ways of those on their way out: යන යකා කොරහත් බිඳගෙන යනවා (yana yakaa korahath bindagena yanava). The ‘going devil’ will wreck everything before he leaves. Is that the story of the Sajith Premadasa’s Cabinet approving the MCC Compact? The wrecking is disturbing, obviously. It also means that there’s a devil on the way out. Small consolation but consolation nevertheless.

malindasenevi@gmail.com. www.malindawords.blogspot.com     

28 October 2019

Oh! Those terrible days!

Do you want to go back to the days of ‘this,’ ‘that’ and ‘the other’? That’s fear-mongering UNP/Sajith-style. 

Remember Thajudeen? Remember Ekneligoda? Remember Lasantha? Remember Thajudeen? Remember Ekneligoda? Remember Lasantha? Remember Thajudeen? Remember Ekneligoda? Remember Lasantha? Remember Thajudeen? Remember Ekneligoda? Remember Lasantha? Remember Thajudeen? Remember Ekneligoda? Remember Lasantha? 

And that’s a campaign? Well, OLD HAT. A badly made old hat, one may add.  But wait, that’s not the whole campaign — there’s a truckload of promises too. This, that and the other. Cheap stuff. Hardly convincing.  But wait again, that’s not all — there’s the daily dose of sophomorisms (if one may call it that) dished out by the candidate himself. Good entertainment. That’s about it.

That said, we need to talk about ‘terrible days’.  They include the following: the Lasantha-Day, the Ekneligoda-Days that have now dragged into years, the Upali Tennekoon Day, the Keith Nohyr Day and the Wasim Thajudeen Day. We also have the days of Sajin Vaas Gunawardena and Mervin Silva. Then there’s the Navy Rugby Team days. Seasons, rather. 

Some of them were indeed terrible and it is certainly a scar on the previous regime that the perpetrators were not brought to book. Fingers were pointed in two directions: at Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Sarath Fonseka (regarding Lasantha, Upali and Keith). Fingers were pointed to the Rajapaksa ‘boys’ with respect to Thajudeen. In Ekneligoda’s case, the name circulated back then was Champika Ranawaka. The UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe said Fonseka was responsible for Lasantha’s murder. The work of Lasantha, Upali and Keith (all journalists) could have well earned the ire of Fonseka but certainly not Gotabhaya. That’s what the timeline says.

That said, relevant agencies mandated to ensure the safety of the citizenry failed. This has to be acknowledged. Authorities tasked to bring perpetrators to boot failed. Almost five years after the Rajapaksa regime was defeated and thereby removing the ‘political interference factor’ so-called, the perpetrators are still at large. Gotabaya  called the investigators to record his statement, but this has not happened. Fonseka is sitting pretty (for now) in the Yahapalana Government. Mervin Silva and Sajin Vaas Gunawardena have been embraced by Sajith Premadasa’s campaign.  

So, that’s the length, breadth and depth of ‘terrible’.  It came with a determined and successful exercise to rid the country of terrorism, followed by unprecedented development.  Sure we have the charges of human rights violations, but that’s just an accusation. The accusers are almost exclusively people who have upset that their outcome preferences have not materialized.  The ‘evidence’ submitted so far amount to little more than unsubstantiated claims submitted by politically compromised sources. 

Oh! Almost forget! The economy. Mahinda Rajapaksa is accused of leaving behind a massive debt. The economic whiz-kids of the UNP made it worse. 

Tragedy, then, can be manufactured. Things can get inflated. We could also stick to the facts.

So let’s talk ‘tragedy’.  Take human rights violations. Take the scuttling of democracy. Take the media freedom or rather it being shelved. Take the targeting of a particular community.  Take extra-judicial killings in the North and East. Take corruption. The UNP of the JR-Premadasa Era sweep the honors with respect to all these things. Well, the JVP weren’t exactly babes in the woods either. Neither were the LTTE, which outlasted JR, Premadasa and Rohana Wijeweera. 

Then we have the Chandrika years. Remember Rohana Kumara? Remember how the efforts against terrorism were sabotaged by the so-called peace brigade of Chandrika, Mangala and their NGO cahoots. Remember Victor Ivan calling Chandrika ‘Chaura Regina’ (The Thieving Queen)? Remember the Wayamba Election? The UNP has forgotten those years. Conveniently. Why? Well, Chandrika joined the anti-Rajapaksa team. That’s why!  One forgets the wrongs of those who one once berated for wrongdoing after they join the team. Sarath Fonseka is a classic example of this phenomenon.  

Then we have the Yahapalana years. Did I hear someone chuckle? Did I hear someone sigh? Is that someone sobbing I hear? Well, they certainly made a mess of things didn’t they? Nepotism, corruption, grand theft (of the Central Bank, no less!), weak-kneed foreign policy leading to the country’s sovereignty being conceded in Geneva, feeding religious extremism on account of stupid exercises to promote reconciliation and secularism, the list goes on. Add incompetence there. That’s a biggie. Massive biggie. Add constitutional tinkering to serve party interests. Add witch hunting. Add suspicious deaths under police custody. Add the postponement of elections.  Add the non-holding of elections. Add ‘democracy as a notion the Yahapalanists don’t know the A, B and C of’! 

Sajith Premadasa’s pals did all that, let us not forget. Sajith Premadasa clapped, let us not forget. And he operates as though he has to provide more laughs during the election campaign than his yahapalana team produced in the last five years!  

Terrible years. Yes. We’ve seen them. We’ve had good times and bad times. The worst were those under JR, Premadasa, Chandrika and the Yahapalanists (Sirisena and Wickremesinghe with the silent approval of Sajith Premadasa). Yes, Mahinda’s time was not ideal. But his tenure is not a patch on the ones of these others when it comes to ‘terrible’.  

Will Gota be different/better? I am not a Sumanadasa. I want these yahapalana morons out. We simply can’t afford the idiocy which, as of now, is being displayed and represented by Sajith Premadasa.