10 February 2012

A note on a ‘labyrinthed’ man*

In February 2010, not too long after Mahinda Rajapaksa was re-elected President, I pointed out in an article titled ‘Observations on the “labyrinthing” of Sarath Fonseka’ that men and women who have the potential to be great leaders suffer great falls because they lack omniscient eye, are humanly frail, are often blinded by ambition and sometimes too complacent on account of inflated sense of self-importance. Humpty, I noted, cannot be put together again regardless of the best efforts of all the king’s horses and men. 

Today we have Fonseka literally in a labyrinth.  Quite apart from the fact that the relevant horses and man cannot pull him out, it is doubly tragic that they are not even interested in getting him out. Oh yes, they make the noises, put up posters, organizer poorly attended picketing campaigns and pass around a petition for signatures, but two things stand out: a clear lack of enthusiasm and political skill. 

From Day 1, i.e. when Fonseka declared that he would contest it was clear he would lose. Only the politically naïve and mathematically challenged of the pundits attempting prediction could conclude otherwise. It is one thing to be confident of victory and quite another to believe one’s own frilled propaganda.  Of his key allies, the JVP stood to gain by being part of a visible campaign.  Had they put forward a candidate the true strength of the party would have been revealed.  Tagging on to Fonseka in the Parliamentary Elections saved some blushes but only just.  Ranil had to pull out of an election he knew he would lose.  Fonseka’s ambition proved to be a convenience. 

That was then. What now?  The JVP has a slogan. The UNP too.  Consider a different scenario. Imagine a Fonseka sans litigation headaches.  Who would need tons of panadol?  Some might think ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa’ and I have no doubt that the President would feel a few degrees more insecure than he does right now.  Fonseka, though, would be a bigger headache to the JVP and to Ranil Wickremesinghe.  A free Fonseka would dwarf the likes of Tilvin Silva and Anura Kumara Dissanayake into specks of dust. A free Fonseka might even cause disgruntled elements in the UNP to salivate if they were to envision him as party leader.  Fonseka, if he played his cards correct, might have even taken over that party, not because he is a better democrat than Ranil but precisely because he is not and this fact is appreciated by the party’s rank and file (regardless of rhetoric to the contrary). 

Today, the JVP and Ranil have some tidbits to munch on while Fonseka has to put up with rice and pol sambola.  Rajapaksa has the cake so to speak.  And of course the icing. 

Back in February I wrote that Fonseka was a victim of the labyrinth that he willingly and naively got people like Mangala Samaraweera to build for him.  He’ll note that the cheer-leaders are not sharing the hard cement of prison with him.  He’ll note that the option-less JVP got a slogan and that they got an extra seat courtesy their hero’s incarceration. No qualms about that, Fonseka will note. 

Fonseka, given ambition, inflated self-worth, political naiveté, political developments beyond his control, the play of political interest by other stakeholders etc., finds himself in a labyrinth today.  He cuts a sorry figure, not because of his plight, but the fact that he’s as much to blame as is the vindictiveness perhaps of his detractors.  It is time that he realizes that he has no friends, and certainly not in the JPV and UNP. 

It is easy to blame Fonseka and brush it all off as ‘serves him right’.  Indeed, a strong case can be made for such a position.  While granting that a hands-tied Fonseka cannot make Mahinda Rajapaksa too unhappy, it is important to understand that the regime has to factor in Fonseka’s mean-spirited, utterly treacherous and patently irresponsible ways.  He has been flipflopping so much about the white-flags story that no government tasked with safeguarding a nation’s sovereignty could do anything less than ensuring he be kept quiet. No, not because they want the truth suppressed, but because they cannot trust him to be honest.  He can lie in order to exact revenge for perceived wrongs and has proved he is not above putting vengeance above nation.  And he’s not Private Fonseka, he’s the former Army Commander.  Even a lie from a mouth that big can have disastrous consequence for nation and citizen. 

All this is irrelevant though when placed in the context of the overall framework of the law.  Laws should not be broken or twisted and principles should not be selectively applied even in the best interest of the country because it creates bad precedent.  Regardless of the ‘necessity’ element, there is clear ill-will in the execution of proceedings against Fonseka and it does not matter whether the man intended to slaughter the Rajapaksas and their friends within 24 hours of being elected President (if that had happened of course). 

Fonseka, in his labyrinth, doesn’t have many friends or options.  Assuming the hard-to-believe ‘innocence’ of the man, Fonseka does have one friend. Himself. He has one option: trusting no one and transforming himself into a prisoner of conscience and wisdom.  It will be hard.  There might be little or no return, certainly not in a politically meaningful sense.  As of now he has some sympathy but given his ways this is not the kind of pity that translates into votes. The identities and track records of his comrades-at-arms (former) do not help either.  He has to recover self.  Somehow.  He has to meditate on his errors.  Courage and tenacity he has and this is good.  Wisdom, penitence and humility; these he will have to acquire. 

*This was first published in October, 2010 in the Daily Mirror. Re-posting, to mark Sarath Fonseka completing two years behind bars.
Reactions:

7 comments:

Shaik Ahamath said...

It is difficult to accept that a man this naive could lead a competent army. He certainly had the credentials for it but in political terms he was just a baby being manupilated by the UNP, JVP and TNA giants. He neither had the street cred to manouvre a simple embezzlement without betraying the immense trust placed upon him by the very Rajapakses he appears to loathe so much. His stubbornness could be his undoing. As he had not admitted his guilt to all his crimes and suffer the consequences in one go, he has left himself open to be tried one at a time and the likelihood of him being incarcerated forever.

Wasantha Bandara Ranagala said...

Fonseka no doubt earned all disqualifications you have mentioned during the last leg of his peak. Could you apply a parallel equation on the others who claim the fatherhood of victory and show their past and present performances to justify who are the real bandits?

MR, Gota, Basil, Shavendra et al, the front runners. Take each of them separately; open their cupboards and you will see piles of skeletons stinking to the high heavens. And from the day one of victory more and more skeletons are filling their cupboards.

When they dismantled the Fonseka cupboard what was there to display. No skeletons but odourless and dried up faeces of rats.

Notwithstanding his innocence on all charges, it was political immaturity that made him go berserk, threatening all the rogues of serious consequences on his victory and he would have definitely done that with no amnesty, for sure.

The unscrupulous Rajapaksas gave him enough rope ……. At the rate things are happening in both rogue camps he might come back to fight another day. So don’t just right him off. Hope, you will be there to write that chapter too.

manuri said...

well hope that u too will live to write that chapter as one commentator suggested....

but what you say is true that none of them including anoma is not really interested in getting this pathetic fellow out....all what they do is come before the media and utter some nonesense that doest make sense....

At this moment I am not thinking about anyone but his "American eduated'daughters....why for king"s sake that they cant tell their dad to keep that freaking mouth shut....It is not MR or Gota it is his freaking Big mouth that got him ended up in where he is now...

may be staying in there would have given him the insight to the sri lankan politics that fellows like mangala and anura ....cannot electic him the president...

I was watching a news clip the otherday of MR walking near somewhere in Anuradhapura...and talking to the ppl near by ..,,how connected he was at that very moment with those villagers there.....while in the cell fonseka should learn that Nazi style of politcs will not be helpful to him in the final count...MR should set him free...fonseka has proved beyond doubt that he will not be the president....

Malinda Seneviratne said...

the cupboard was not bare. :) fonseka talks as if he won the war single-handedly, which is pure rubbish and shows what kind of ego-maniac he is. can't think of anyone (and certainly not gota or shavendra) strutting around and showing even a fraction of the braggadocio fonseka has shown. fonseka, would have had to start by bumping off all the rogues HE surrounded himself with. the man cannot claim to have scruples!

Daya Gamage said...

Daya Gamage says....
Fonseka would have been another Pinochet if he won. The US when deposing Salvadore Allende in 1973 in Chile did not expect Pinochet to become the worst offender of human rights and rule of law. Some US diplomats in the State Department wanted a 'regime change' in Sri Lanka and encouraged Fonseka to meet Rajapaksa at the field. There was no regime change and there was no emergence of another Pinochet. Wickremasinghe and the JVP wouldn't have been surviving even to hold placards in front of the Fort railway station if Sri Lanka's Pinochet won. I am serious aboiut what I am saying because I did some public diplomacy in the US State Department for more than twenty five years - Daya Gamage

Wasantha Bandara Ranagala said...

Sri Lanka got no choice but defending the present regime in the face of imminent threat emanating from the terrorist rump backed by the west.

In this backdrop it’s not Fonseka issue that we have to address at this hour but survival. Worst, the likes of Ranil and the NGO clique who almost surrendered the sovereignty of Sri Lanka to terrorist are at the forefront of freedom call for Fonny.

That shrouds the reality and adds credence to what Malinda has written.

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that Gen.Fonseka is competent in his profession. That does not mean he won the war singlehanded nor make him suitable to be a President overnight.

But Malinda is right. Had he conducted a gentlemanly campaign and not surrounded himself with the bankrupt parties whose policies are diametrically opposite, he could have evolved in time to be an asset to Sri Lanka politics. Pity it had to come to what it is.