Connect with us

Opinion

25-point common framework for a re-founding of the center-left

Published

on

BY DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

1. The last time the Sri Lankan citizenry suffered materially in a manner remotely similar to the current suffering was in 1970-1977. The leader of the day never led the nation again. It took 17 years and her rebellious daughter, who was not associated with the suffering of the past and who professed drastically different economic policies, to get the party re-elected.

2. Today’s Pohottuwa will never be re-elected while under Rajapaksa dominance and any Rajapaksa will take decades – while the memories of generations fade, together with the narrative–to be elected to the country’s top spot (as in the case of ‘Bongbong’ Marcos).

3. This leaves a simple choice for SLPP members: (a) dump the Rajapaksas and free the SLPP (b) denounce the Rajapaksas and flee the Rajapaksa camp immediately, or (c) go down with the ship at the next election and every election after that for decades.

4. SWRD Bandaranaike and his Silent Revolution of 1956-1959 were dualistic, but was primarily progressive and secondarily reactionary. It was progressive in its social, economic and foreign policy aspects and reactionary in its linguistic aspect. SWRD strove to reverse that reactionary aspect with the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact but he was blocked from doing so. (Had he been an elected President he could have seen it through).

5. What remains valid in SWRD policies are the progressive aspect of 1956, fused with the B-C Pact of 1957, but with an honest and total rejection of Sinhala Only and the majoritarian, exclusivist or hegemonistic ethno-nationalism that gave rise to it.

6. There cannot be a return to the Sirimavo Bandaranaike economic model or its celebration. That model caused semi-malnutrition. People were rooting in garbage cans for papaw skins. The SLFP and its Left partners were swept away for 1 ½ years (and the Left partners, for far longer) because of the suffering associated with the statist-closed economy model. The UNP coasted for years by rekindling that mass memory of suffering.

7. Vijaya Kumaratunga’s SLMP project, breaking away from the SLFP, was the kind of Left the country needed and still needs—free, open, tolerant, democratic, pluralist, anti-racist, anti-imperialist—and Vijaya himself was a precursor of the Aragalaya consciousness.

8. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was correct to break with the Sirimavo-NM Perera economic model but was wrong to go well beyond the progressive thinking of her economic advisor Dr Lal Jayawardena and turn to the right, exemplified by, but not restricted to, privatising and foreignising the ownership of the plantations (in contradistinction to President Ranasinghe Premadasa who chose to award renewable five-year management contracts, not ownership, to Sri Lankan, but not foreign private companies).

9. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was horribly wrong not to prosecute the war to a finish and resort instead to a Norwegian peace-keeping exercise, the failure of which was underscored by the LTTE attack on the Katunayake airbase and crowned with the assassination in Colombo of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar. In the matter of negotiations and the PTOMS, Chandrika went against the advice of Kadirgamar just as she went beyond the policy parameters of Lal Jayawardena in economics.

10. That the war could have been won with the same army and the same General Staff was proceed by the victory under the political leadership of her successor Mahinda Rajapaksa and General Sarath Fonseka whom CBK had transferred from Jaffna to the Volunteer Corps in Colombo, despite his sterling performance in saving Jaffna from the LTTE advance in 2000 after the fall of Elephant Pass, by blocking the Tigers at Kilaly.

11. Had Chandrika fought Prabhakaran with the resoluteness her mother would indubitably have brought to bear, she would have won it, and been well-positioned to successfully reintroduce her August 2000 draft Constitution, thereby resolving the Tamil National Question. It is her irresponsible failure in not doing so that opened the road for the rule of the Rajapaksa Clan and the prolonged spike in Sinhala Buddhist militarist-chauvinism.

12. Given Ranil Wickremesinghe’s track record of appeasement and capitulation vis-à-vis the LTTE, it was by far the correct decision to opt for Mahinda Rajapaksa over him as President in 2005, though CBK clearly preferred a different outcome.

13. The first term of Mahinda Rajapaksa was historically a triumph, winning a decisive victory over the LTTE in a war that many previous leaders had fought and dismally failed to win.

14. The beginning of the decline of the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency and that of the collective Rajapaksa project, and the transition from the positive as the major aspect to the negative as the major aspect, began with the dismissal, dismantling and dispersal of the teams that won the ground war and the diplomatic war (in Geneva)—most dramatically and disastrously manifested in the unjust jailing of war-winning General Sarath Fonseka.

15. The second term of Mahinda Rajapaksa was comparatively progressive, chiefly because the alternative remained Ranil Wickremesinghe. There was considerable economic growth and buoyancy, partly due to the legitimate recourse to Chinese loans but partly to the little noticed yet massive and imprudent recourse to private international borrowings. Beneath the comparatively progressive achievement the putrefaction had set in. Gotabaya and Basil Rajapaksa had carved out their respective spheres of influence.

16. The shooting of Bharatha Lakshman Premachandra caused the first fissure in the SLFP, just as the incarceration of General Fonseka had fissured the support bloc early in 2010. The Chilaw, Katunayaka, Rathupaswela and Welikada shootings, which as in the case of Bharatha Lakshman, were traceable to one camp—the securocrat camp–within the Government, ensured electoral defeat in 2015.

17. The Central Bank bond scam, neoliberal economic program, “foreign judges” sellout Geneva resolution of 2015, and attempt to introduce a non-unitary Constitution by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe warranted and justified a fightback by the Joint Opposition (JO) in favour of a Mahinda Rajapaksa comeback.

18. It also justified the detachment of the bulk of the SLFP from the then SLFP leadership which was in coalition with Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the founding of a new party, the SLPP.

19. The limiting of its membership to the SLFP, rather than structuring the SLPP as a party that would invite and absorb the Joint Opposition (JO) as a whole, facilitated the entrenched dominance of the Rajapaksa Clan within the SLPP.

20. The prevention by the 19th amendment of Mahinda Rajapaksa running for even a non-consecutive third term, opened the road for the Gotabaya Rajapaksa succession project which dated back at least to the hyping -up of his wartime role in the book Gota’s War published within the second Mahinda Rajapaksa term (2012).

21. The Gotabaya Rajapaksa project reflected and reinforced the acknowledged dualism of Gotabaya’s personality. The largely rational-managerial side predominated in 2016-2017, perhaps up to mid-2018. The Sinhala supremacist, militarist and irrational side kicked-in from mid-2018, dramatically expressed in Gotabaya’s needless defence of the senior cleric who called on him to “be a Hitler” during the sermon delivered on his birthday that year.

22. The most prudent and progressive decision for Mahinda Rajapaksa and the SLPP at the time would have been to opt for Dinesh Gunawardena or Chamal Rajapaksa as candidate. Instead, the need to tilt the longer-term succession in favour of Namal Rajapaksa, probably tilted the candidacy in Gotabaya’s favour.

23. The Easter Sunday massacre which was possible due to the mysterious behaviour of high-ranking intelligence personnel who did not pass the Indian intelligence warnings to their institutional and political superiors, and the resultant wave of Islamophobic militancy—which had commenced as far back as 2012 with the BBS, itself commended by Secretary/Defence Rajapaksa—sealed the Gotabaya Rajapaksa candidacy, and did so as a Sinhala religio-racist, militarist, proto-fascist project, rather than the earlier rational-technocratic one (2016-to-mid-2018). The overnight ban on synthetic fertiliser-pesticide-weedicide was the most emblematic manifestation of this irrational mindset. It was possible because of the hyper-centralisation of power in Gotabaya and the Presidency through the autocratic 20th amendment.

24. After a massive popular uprising deposed Gotabaya rule, the SLPP had the options of voting for Dullas Alahapperuma, or nominating Prof GL Peiris or Dinesh Gunawardena for the Presidency, in the parliamentary ‘electoral college’ process. Instead, it chose to enthrone its traditional adversary Ranil Wickremesinghe in a presidency he had always been kept away from by the citizenry. This represented the ultimate degeneration, the Ground Zero, of the SLPP and the Rajapaksa Clan’s political trajectory. From a progressive phenomenon on balance, the Rajapaksas and the party they run, has turned into a reactionary rightwing bloc, which props up a leader who has no popular mandate even as a parliamentarian.

25. The only hope for the traditional center-left is without and against the Rajapaksas. It is the path of the de-Rajapaksafication and indeed the de-familisation or de-cartelisation of the center-left political space. If the center-left owes allegiance to an oligarchy, it cannot be described as center-left or progressive.



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion

Nelum Kuluna poses danger to aircraft

Published

on

The top of Nelum Kuluna (Lotus Tower) stands 350 above sea level in the heart of Colombo City, as the air navigators of old would say, sticking out like a ’sore thumb’. It has to be lit up in accordance with the Aircraft Obstacle Lighting recommendations contained in Annex 14 of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Convention originally signed by Ceylon in 1944.

A free-standing tower of that height is required by international law to be lit up not only at night with red lights, but also with high visibility white strobe lights during the day.

Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be on always during the day. The authorities concerned must realise that the strobe lighting during the day is not for beauty but for air safety, especially these days, when the air quality and visibility are low during the day.

Have those in charge of the tower been briefed properly on the legal requirement and the use of proper lighting? In case of an accident, this certainly will have implications on insurance claims.

I wonder whether the ‘Regulator’, Civil Aviation Authority Sri Lanka would like to comment.

If not rectified, it will be just a matter of time an aircraft will be impaled by the Nelum Kuluna.

I M Nervy (Aviator)

Continue Reading

Opinion

Simple questions to Sirisena and Gotabaya

Published

on

If Sirisena had not been informed of the plans to explode bombs on 21st of April 2019, as he has claimed, shouldn’t he have taken immediate action to call for explanation from Nilantha Jayawardena, then head of State Intelligent Service (SIS), who had been notified several times about the impending attack by the Indian intelligence.

Sirisena and Jayawardena should be prosecuted for allowing a mass murder to take place. Further Sirisena should be made to explain his famous uttering, “I will reveal everything, if somebody tries to implicate me”.

Why did Gotabaya, who announced his candidature for presidency almost immediately after the Easter Sunday attack and promised to punish those who were involved in it, pay no attention to Nilantha Jayawardena’s failure in taking necessary action with regard to information he received, instead he was given a promotion?

President Ranil Wickremesinghe at a meeting with USAID Administrator Samantha Power on September 11, 2022 had said that Scotland Yard had been requested to review the reports and reach a final conclusion on claims that there was a hidden hand behind the bombings.

We do not need Scotland Yard, just get an honest set of Sri Lankan police officers to question Nilantha, Sirisena and Gotabaya to find the “hidden hand behind the bombings”

B Perera

Continue Reading

Opinion

Open letter to Sirisena

Published

on

Y you were in Singapore when the Easter Sunday attacks took place. You claimed that you had not been informed of the intelligence received by your intelligence officers. However, the Supreme Court has ordered you to pay Rs 100M as compensation to the victims of the terror attacks. The reasons for the decision are stated in the judgement.

Acting on a claim that there was a conspiracy to assassinate you and former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya you caused the interdiction and arrest of DIG Nalaka Silva, who was held in custody without bail for a long time.

In his testimony to the Presidential Commission  of Inquiry, Silva said that he had been interdicted while plans were in place to arrest Zaharan.

Due to the arrest of DIG Silva, Zaharan escaped arrest. Silva was never charged. Zaharan continued with his plans and the rest is history.

After the SC order you have been claiming that you have no money to pay the Rs 100M as compensation. You are asking for public help to pay compensation to Easter carnage victims. You even accepted some money collected by a person called Sudaththa Tilakasiri, who begged from people.

You have said publicly that you submitted your asset declarations. I suggest that you sell all your assets declared in the declarations before asking for funds from the public.

Hemal Perera

Continue Reading

Trending