Pathos. Comedy. Revelation. President Sirisena’s Sermon to a ‘Captive’ Cabinet

Michael Roberts

Having been forced to accept an UNP government by a Supreme Court decision in December 2018 after he had attempted to ditch them in a coup from above in late October, President Maithripala Sirisena utilised the opportunity provided by the swearing in of a new UNP Cabinet under Ranil Wickremasinghe on 16th December 2018 to deliver a sermon to a captive audience of ‘enemies’ who were, ironically, about to enjoy the fruits of victory and destined to assume state power.[1] Sirisena’s Address was delivered in Sinhala and is marked by pathos, recrimination and selective biographical tales from the past that illuminate aspects of Sri Lankan politics.

 

I only watched a small part of this video ‘performance’ when it was aired in mid-December and was fascinated by the expressions of the captive’ UNP leadership. Darshanie Ratnawalli’s efficient translation, with its useful asides on reactions among the ‘captives, enables me to essay a political commentary that, I hope, will stimulate meaningful discussion.

I note, here, that I knew little about Maithripala Sirisena’s political career till this episode occurred. I had never heard of him when he split from the Mahinda Rajapaksa camp and the SLFP in late 2014 to team up with the UNP led by Ranil Wickremasinghe to contest the General Elections of January 2015 on a “Yahapālanaya platform.”[2] This ignorance remained till this month [because my interests were devoted to other topics]. Sirisena’s plaintive biographical recollections in his Cabinet Sermon, however, demand attentiveness to his political paths and I have begun to pick up information on this man Sirisena (b. 1951).

My reflections are set out here in point-form. They will not adhere to the temporal order of Sirisena’s remarks. Nor do I claim comprehensiveness. Arising from that moment of political crisis initiated by the Sirisena Rajapaksa combo in late October 2018, I seek to add more provocations.

A = When Victors are “Captives”

The political crisis developed when President Sirisena was so disgusted with the Yahapālanaya government in which he had been so central a figure that he joined in machinations with Mahinda Rajapaksa’s grouping in late October 2018 and attempted to set up a new government. The resistance mounted by the Speaker of the House of Parliament, the UNP and numerous agencies centred on Colombo together with judicial challenges which resulted in a Supreme Court[3] decision in mid-December led to the failure of that attempt. President Sirisena had to bite the bullet and accept Ranil Wickremasinghe as the Prime Minister and swear in a new Cabinet of Wickremasinghe’s choice in mid-December 2018.

But that formal moment of defeat permitted a pageant which he seized upon: a pageant where he caned and upbraided his ‘captors’ for their many ‘sins.’  The ruling cabinet of victors, including the PM’s wife, had no option: they had to wear the admonitions and insults (though the PM’s wife had protected herself: she was safely buried in her mobile smart-phone).

YES. There were many admonitions ………. many unpalatable truths it would seem to an ignorant outsider like me.

So, what we witness not only pictorially, but in operatic sound when we take in the words, is the makings of Sri Lankan parody in the style of, say, Don Quixote – that famous tale from Miguel de Cervantes. Sirisena’s accusative sermon carries punches, but it is also threaded by a plaintive note of pathos (sympathetic pity). He casts himself as judge, prosecutor and victim on a stage that he himself had helped, willy-nilly, to fashion.

B = Facing the Fate of a Gaddafi

In my reading one of the most poignant and significant facets of Sirisena’s lamentation is his expectation of being dragged along and killed like Gaddafi — mercilessly. This picture crops up on several occasions. It marks the pathos within his sermon. Gaddafi, as we all know, was a dictatorial tyrant and few would lament the short shrift that he was given when the tables were turned in Libya. But Sirisena is not harping on any justifiable fate. Rather he was referring to a verbal threat he himself had recently encountered to indicate that he was quite prepared to be subject to a humiliating mutilation meted out by his virulent local enemies.

His presentation of self, here, is populist [see Special Bibliography below on this term]. He was prepared to accept humiliating beatings from his contemporary enemies in the sturdy knowledge that he was not in the wrong, but a martyr with a reasonable cause. He was, in brief, ready to be ‘gaddafied’ even though he had no mantle of tyranny on his head.

C = A Man of the People for the People

The picture of himself that Sirisena has is quite clear: he is a man of the people and with the people.[4] This self-portrait is presented via [selective] sketches of his biographical history. While subjecting each of these moments to critical investigation, we must nevertheless absorb Sirisena’s reading of his own career as a significant imperative within his recounting of his thinking and goals. This selective reading is deployed in his Presidential Sermon as a justification for his break from the UNP forces led by Ranil.

D =Missing Dimensions: How Sirisena was drawn into the UNP-American Combo

Before proceeding with any interpretation of Sirisena’s contentions and his slashing criticisms of a regime in which he was a central figure, we must jump back in time and consider HOW he, as an SLFP man working with the Rajapaksas, came to be a President in a combination centred on the UNP and including the TNA and Muslim parties.

Grapevine political gossip conveyed to me by a senior journalist and another friend in Colombo indicated that Chandrika Kumaratunga and the Venerable Maduluwawa Sobitha Thero had been the brokers – the kapurālas in local terminology – who mediated Sirisena’s breakaway from the Rajapaksas in late 2014 to become a Presidential masthead of a coalition that secured power in early January 2015 on what is identified as the Yahapālanaya (Good Governance) programme. My grapevine sources indicated that Nimal Siripala was among the candidates considered for this role; but was assessed as untrustworthy.

In other words, Sirisena was regarded as more pliant and controllable. The validity of this grapevine data is indicated by the fact that Meera Srinivasan presented feature interviews with CBK and the Revd Sobitha on the 22nd and 30th November 2014 in The Hindu newspaper’s reportage.[5] The further implication arising from The Hindu’s favourable outlook on the new alliance is that the Indian government in Delhi was pleased with the new prospects.

Ah! There is another question to which a definitive answer is not feasible, but which we must bring into our purview. Were there other powerful agencies in the background working towards an overturn of the Rajapaksa dynasty? Was the US government and its many arms involved? A former journalist of senior status, Philip Fernando in USA,[6] indicated that Sirisena had been awarded a scholarship to an US university in 2013. Daya Gamage chipped in with a detailed article leavened by his experience in working within the US embassy in Colombo in the late 20th century.

Gamage’s essay is of startling import and is central to our explorations, though it cannot provide cut and dried evidence of US hands in the coalition forged against the Rajapaksa regime in late 2014. Gamage tells us that the US Embassy consistently works with USAID and other such agencies to identify and nourish potential leaders in a variety of fields within the island. The political arena was one of their prime interests and in June 2013 Maithripala Sirisena was chosen to receive a Harvard Health Leadership Award – “the first occasion a Sri Lankan had won this award”.

The Harvard Public Health Education Institute receives some of its funds from USAID in Washington. That the latter’s office in Colombo had worked in conjunction with the US embassy to identify Sirisena and nourish his ego is the thrust of Gamage’s argument. It is on this foundation that Gamage concludes that Washington also had a firm covert hand in the selection.” It is possible, even likely, that Ranil Wickremasinghe had a hand in this choice, because another Sri Lankan journalist[7] indicated to me – quite independently — that Ranil had identified him as a potential masthead as early as 2012.

Caution is required here. A definitive answer demands information on the channels linking US agencies to the work of the two alliance brokers CBK and Revd Sobitha and the links between any US agency and Ranil’s UNP. Whether local NGO”s were also involved in this process of patching together a coalition that could defeat the Rajapaksa behemoth is an ancillary question.

Such terrain, of course, is pitch black country.

As we know, the Yahapālanaya coalition that was formed against Rajapaksa’s umbrella grouping (the latter known as the United People’s Freedom Alliance or UPFA) succeeded in winning 51.28% of the vote at the Presidential Elections of 9th January 2015 – upsetting the bloated expectations of Mahinda Rajapaksa (and his astrologer). The electoral pattern of voting is significant and demands greater scrutiny in statistical detail than space permits here.[8] We will return to that dimension, albeit sketchily and inadequately, later in this essay.

Compare with the Ethnic Distribution at the Census of 2011

 

 

 E = Lashing Ranil and the UNP

Whoever identified Maithripala Sirisena as a pliable masthead for the Yahapālanaya combo had hit the nail on the head. Sirisena admitted this in the course of his plaintive tirade. But eventually, as he stressed, the penny dropped: the happenings in government circles around him simply went against his own leanings and rural populist background. He wielded his Presidential powers and existing inconsistencies in the constitution[9] to team up with Rajapaksa camp in an attempt to seize parliamentary power. But, as we know, the Supreme Court (possibly a court packed with pro-UNP urbanites if Sirisena is to be believed?) blocked this coup.

Sirisena’s despair and anger boils over during the ceremonial moment created by the failure. His lashings provide us with a devastating picture of the disasters associated with the Yahapālanaya administration in the period 2015-18 [and thus himself too]. The main accusations are

  • The Central Bank bond scam of over Rs 1000 billion perpetuated by Arjun Mahendran whom the Prime Minister had insisted on appointing as the head of that institution;
  • The failure of the several departments and the Minister of Justice to pursue investigations and charges relating to this fraud;
  • Buckets of corruption among Members of the Cabinet and the political class in general …. a cascade that has led to “the rape” of the good governance concept that was the Yahapālanaya rallying cry;
  • The signing of the Singapore Free Trade Agreement without due consultations with departments and ministries central to that issue – with the result that it was now beset with “grave shortcomings.”

Presenting such claims in a rambling and disjointed manner, Sirisena went on tell the team that had defeated his moves and now held him ‘captive’ as reluctant partner that he had consulted several legal experts in making his moves in late October to set in motion a process that would necessitate another set of elections (i.e. the populist route to power).

In sum, then, Sirisena’s lecture was at once an accusatory lashing, a lament and a pleading justification for the course of action he had taken in late 2018.

But, analytically speaking, it marks a fundamental divide within the Sinhala peoples: setting “Country” versus “Metropolis” – in a variant of the patterns in world history where the “Country” takes on the “City.” In this oversimplified distillation I am stressing the fact that the majority of Sinhalese of the rural countryside were ranged against

  • electorates in and around the metropolis of Colombo;
  • electorates in the hill-country where those identified as “Indian Tamils” (or Malaiyaha Tamils) have substantial numbers and
  • electorates in the north and east where SL Tamils and/or Muslims have total dominance or substantial presence.

This pattern was disrupted in the Presidential election of 9th January 2015 because Sirisena’s local networks of support in Polonnaruwa District (electorates 129, 130 and 131) weighed in heavily on the side of the Yahapaalana Coalition. That weightage was enough to swing the Presidential Vote in favour of Sirisena by the margin 3.7 percent (less the 1.14 cast for other mad-cap candidates).

The histrionic and visceral reaction of the cosmopolitan haute bourgeoisie of the Colombo metropolitan area supported by the liberal and radical intelligentsia drawn from a wide spectrum of social origins when the Sirisena -Rajapaksa combo sought to overturn the existing parliamentary caucus in October-November 2018  has been an eye-opener. Bill Deutrom, a Burgher engaged in social work in the north central plains, responded to some articles that I sent him with a remark that is as laconic as perceptive: “[the essays] will not convince people who have already made up their mind based on emotion, ethnicity or with a hatred for Rajapaksa.” This observation led me to posit the picture of a battle taking place in Sri Lanka that is not uncommon in world history in many places: namely,” the Country[side]” raging against “the City”. Let me qualify that picture now by indicating that “city’ stands for Colombo city – so that the analytical condensation should be that of “Countryside versus Colombo” (or Hegemonic Metropolis).

This picture is a configurational capsule that is at once spatial-social-ideological.

In Sri Lanka, of course, this ‘simple picture’ is modified – and complicated – by the ethnic divisions and the fact that the chauvinism of elements of the Sinhala populace over the decades past and recent has generated fears among the two Tamil blocks and the various bodies of Muslims in diverse localities. Since all the ethnic groups and most locations seem to produce extremist elements, suspicions and emotional responses feed off each [note Pictorial Appendix].

Sirisena’ diatribe now provides further grist for this interpretation. But the most intriguing facets within the various political alignments in Sri Lanka have been the stance alongside Ranil and the UNP taken by some of the radicals and Marxists of yesteryear as well as a new generation of civil libertarians. This has arisen because of their devotion to civil liberties and a visceral hatred of Mahinda Rajapaksa. The evidence here is derived from the public outpourings of such personnel as Victor Ivan, Jayadeva Uyangoda and Amarakeerthi Liyanage as well as assorted conversations I have had with friends in recent years.

I shall deploy the passionate and lucid essay presented by Uyangoda on the 5th November 2018 as my evidence. He tells the world that he had wholeheartedly supported the Yahapaalanaya coalition of late 2014 because of his trust in “Maithri.”[10] While his antipathy to the Rajapaksas would have led him to support Ranil on instrumental grounds, his support for the new coalition became “a politico-moral duty” once Maithri figured centrally in the configuration. For Uyangoda, Maithri was “a man [the voters] could trust, identify themselves with and entrust their democratic political destinies” … and “one [who was indeed] the last hope of democracy in Sri Lanka.”

Given this background, therefore, Uyangoda felt utterly betrayed in October/November 2018 by Sirisena’s alliance with Rajapaksa and the violation of the existing constitutional principles in moves that “single-handedly reverse[d] Sri Lanka’s path to democratic recovery and consolidation … He did so by, as far as I understand the constitution, violating both the letter and spirit of the 19th amendment of which he was a co-author.” Here, then, was a staunch Marxist from yesteryear in what seems to be a cogent democratic voice.

However, Uyangoda’s radical and liberal trappings were immediately challenged by another commentator, one with a Trotskyite lineage, namely, Vinod Moonesinghe. Moonesinghe inquires why the ardent democrats in the Yahapālana government did not object to committee-stage revisions in the 19th Amendment that were quite undemocratic in procedure or protest at the continued postponement of the Provincial Council elections. He charges Uyangoda et al with only being “committed to the civil liberties of the elite.”[11]

Uyangoda  

Moonesinghe’s argument is summarized thus: The judgement of the Supreme Court, whatever the motives of the judges, is broadly perceived by the mass of people as being detrimental to democracy, (a) by putting back in the seats of power a regime which had proved itself not only incompetent, but venal, and totally dependent on the diplomatic corps of the Western powers; and (b) by preventing the people from voting.”

Moonesinghe’s leanings are evidently populist and thus favourable to Rajapaksa;[12] but his dissection of Uyangoda’s double standards serves to underline my argument that the thinking of the radical intelligentsia within the metropolitan areas of Sri Lanka has been dominated by a hostility to Sinhala chauvinism in their midst to such a degree that they downplay, dismiss or erase central strands in the political dispensation today and over the last decade or so. These strands are

A – the import of Tamil chauvinism and/or nationalism within the Sri Lankan political dispensation;[13] and

B ­– the operations of Western governments, UN agencies and local Sri Lankan outfits that are extensions of this Western consortium.[14]  

Both A and B are condensed assertions which risk oversimplification and enter scenarios that demand investigation as well as elaboration via lengthy dissertations.  B, for instance, refers to public operations in support of such spheres as financial management, electoral practices and good governance;[15] but also implicates subterranean practices that are not easy to document. Such summary statements must suffice for the purposes of this essay.

In brief, the cosmopolitan radicals of yesteryear and their younger cohorts of today are so focused on the Near Enemy within their locality that they do not recognise a Far Enemy – initially the LTTE under Pirapāharan and now the TNA and others pursuing Thamiilam under the benign flag of “self-determination.[16 – note Pictorial Appendix].

In this configuration, the vocal majority in the Metropolitan City (that is, Colombo) is in alliance with the Tamils of the north and the Tamils and Muslims of the East as well as the those leaders representing the Indian Tamil interests of the hill-country and Colombo.[17] This is the situation now in 2018/19. In the election in early 2015 that division was modified by Sirisena’s presence and the swing towards the UNP coalition within the north central provinces.

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PICTORIAL APPENDIX:

THE NEAR DANGER: One reason why SINHALESE RADICALS side with the UNP and the Cute Western Interventions in Sri Lankan politics and thus SIDELINE the OTHER RABID Force in the Sri Lankan Political Dispensation — namely “THE FAR DANGER”

Demonstrations in Toronto and London in 2009

Tamil women in demonstration in Sri Lanka in 2012  on behalf of their ‘missing’ kin [one wedge in more complex background moves …. and their underlying politics]

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SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY

Chandraprema, C. A. 2016  “Creeping Self-Determination: Committee on Centre-Periphery Relations paves that road,” 25 November 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/11/25/creeping-self-determination-committee-on-centre-periphery-relations-paves-that-road

Colombo Telegraph 2018 “Five Top Diplomats in Colombo Warn Sirisena of Dire Consequences: Sirisena Delays Official Response to Speaker’s Letter,” 17 November 2018, ……….. ……….. https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/five-top-diplomats-in-colombo-warn-sirisena-of-dire-consequences-sirisena-delays-official-response-to-speakers-letter/

Donaldson, Tony 2018Western Neo-Colonialism Today: An Incisive Note from Tony  Donaldson,” 12 June 2018, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/06/12/western-neo-colonialism-today-a-g-string-revelation-from-tony-donaldson/

Ferdinando, Shamindra 2004 “Focus on costly propaganda blitz,” 21 January 2014, http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=96314

Gjuruparan Kumaravadivel 2018 “The Situation of the Tmils in the Present Sage,”  7 November 2018, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/11/07/the-situation-of-the-tamils-in-the-present-saga-guruparan/

Krishan, Francis 2018 “President Doubts …,” 16 Dec. 2018, https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-12-16/sri-lanka-president-reinstates-wickremesinghe-as-premier

Gamage, Daya 2008 “Barack Obama & Civil War in Sri Lanka; Robert Blake’s Mind-Set; Negating R2P Psychology Build-Up,” 2 November 2008, http://www.asiantribune.com/?q=node/14004.

Gamage, Daya 2011 “Tamil Issue in Sri Lanka: US Policy Development 1981-1995,” 5 June 2011, http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2011/06/04/tamil-issue-us-%E2%80%93-sri-lanka-relations-proper-perspective-part-one-policy-development-

Gamage, Daya 2014 “The American Agenda for Sri Lanka’s National  Issues, 1970s-2014,” 5 July 2014, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/the-american-agenda-for-sri-lankas-national-issues-1970s-2014/

Gamage, Daya 2014 “How Washington nurtured Maithripala Sirisena in 2013-15 tos erve Its Ends,” 19 January 2019, https://wordpress.com/post/thuppahi.wordpress.com/33665

Leelarathna, Hassina 2015 USAID urgently called for $3.4 million to support UNP in 2015,” elections,” https://srilankaexpress.org/usaid-3-4m-support-unp-2015-elections

Liyanage Amarakeerthi 2018 “An Open Letter to the Chinese Ambassador in Sri Lanka,”17 November 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/17/torture-risk-sri-lanka-mahinda-rajapaksa

Moonesinghe, Vinod, 2018 Repositioning Uyangoda et al in the 21st Century Political Dispensation,” 17 December 2018, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/12/17/re-positioning-uyangoda-et-alin-the-21st-century-political-dispensation/

Peiris, Gerald 2018Peiris Confronts Samarasinghe and Other Pundits,” 19 November 2018,  https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/11/19/peiris-confronts-samarasinghe-and-other-pundits/

Ratnapala, Suri 2018 Sacking RW, Appointing MR & Dissolution of Parliament are unconstitutional,”Colombo Telegraph, 19 November 2018,https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sacking-rw-appointing-mr-dissolution-of-parliament-are-unconstitutional-prof-suri-ratnapala/

Ratnawalli, Darshanie 2018 “Utter Constitutional darkness in Sri Lanka. A Sunday Times Editorial falls prey,” 19 November 2018, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/11/19/utter-constitutional-darkness-in-sri-lanka-a-sunday-times-editorial-falls-prey/

Ratnawalli, Darshanie see Sirisena

Roberts, Michael 2006 “The Tamil Movement for Eelam,” E-Bulletin of the International Sociological Association No. 4, July 2006, pp. 12-24 [reprinted in Roberts, Fire and Storm, Colombo, Yapa, 2010, pp. 203-18].

Roberts, Michael 2013 “Towards Citizenship in Thamilīlam Sri Lanka’s Tamil People of the North, 1983-2010,” South Asia Research, 2013, 33: 57-75.

Roberts, Michael 2014 “Hero Figures and Hitler in Young Pirapaharan’s Thinking,” in Roberts, Tamil Person and State, Essays, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2014, pp, 69-89.

Roberts, Michael 2015 Robert Blake on ‘U.S. Perspectives on Sri Lanka,’ 24 October 2008,” 8 September 2015, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2015/09/08/robert-blake-on-u-s-perspectives-on-sri-lanka-at-chennai-24-october-2008/

Roberts, Michael 2015 “Targeting Sri Lanka by playing ball with Tamil Extremism,” 24 July 2015, http://groundviews.org/2015/07/23/targeting-lanka-playing-ball-with-tamil-extremism-2008-14/

Roberts,  Michael 2015 “Ambassador Blake in Never-Never-Land: Misreading LTTE Capacity in Early 2009,” 26 August 2015, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/ambassador-blake-in-never-never-land-misreading-ltte-capacity-in-early-2009/

Roberts, Michael 2016 “Saving Talaivar Pirapāharan,” 6 April 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/saving-talaivar-pirapaharan/

Roberts, Michael 2018 Where USA sought to arm-wrestle Sri Lanka in March-April-May 2009,” 11 May 2018, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/05/11/where-usa-sought-to-arm-wrestle-sri-lanka-in-march-april-may-2009/

Roberts, Michael 2018 “Pirapaharan’s Thamililam, 1990-2009: Aspirations and Achievements,” 6 September 2018, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/09/06/pirapaharans-thamililam-1990-2009-aspirations-and-achievements/

Roberts, Michael 2018 “Pirapāharan’s Inspirations and Mind-Set,” ……………………… https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/08/10/pirapaharans-inspirations-and-mind-set/

Roberts, Michael 2018 Gridlock and Hocus-Pocus in Sri Lanka underwritten by Prejudice, Exclusion plus False News,” 25 November 2018,   ……………………… …………………………. https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/11/25/gridlock-in-sri-lanka-underwritten-by-prejudice-exclusion-false-news/

Roberts, Michael 2018 Hatreds. Chasms. Bill Deutrom’s Insights on the Political Impasse in Sri Lanka,”  16 December 2018,  https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/12/16/hatreds-chasms-bill- deutroms-insights-on-the-political-impasse-in-sri-lanka/

[Sirisena, Maithri] 2018 “The Dressing Down of the Century: Sirisena’s Scathing Sermon to His Captive Cabinet,” 14 January 2019,  https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2019/01/14/the-dressing-down- of-the-century-president-sirisenas-scathing-sermon-to-his-captive-cabinet/

Srinivasan, Meera 2014 “Chandrika returns to Politics,” 22 November 2014, …………………. https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/chandrika-returns-to-politics/article6622566.ece

Srinivasan, Meera 2014 ‘Many Sinhalese too unhappy with Rajapaksa’ [Sobitha Thera], 30 November 2014, ….. https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/many-sinhalese-too-unhappy-with-rajapaksa-says-buddhist-religious-leader/article6649039.ece

Thuppahi 2018 Western Neo-Colonialism Today: An Incisive Note from Tony Donaldson,” 12 June 2018, ………. ……. https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/06/12/western-neo-colonialism-today-a-g-string-revelation-from-tony-donaldson/

Uyangoda, Jayadeva 2018 “The Political is Personal : An Essay in Despair from Sri Lanka,” 5 November 2018,  https://thewire.in/south-asia/the-political-is-personal-an-essay-in-despair-from-sri-lanka

Uyangoda, Jayadeva 2018 “Jayadeva Uyangoda’s Lament from the Heart in November 2018,” 17 December 2018,  https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2018/12/17/33125/#more-33125

Waduge, Shenali 2018 “Sri Lanka: Foreign Envoys flout Principle of Non-Interference/Non-Intervention & Diplomatic Protocols,” 10 November 2018, http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2018/11/10/sri-lanka-foreign-envoys-flout-principle-of-non-interference-non-intervention-diplomatic-protocols/

SPECIAL BIBLIOGRAPHY: Roberts on Mahinda Rajapaksa and Populist Processes

2009 “Some Pillars for Lanka’s Future,” Frontline, 19 June 2009, 26: 24-27 …. http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl2612/stories/20090619261202400.htm

2009 “The Rajapaksa Regime and the Fourth Estate,” 9 December 2009, http://www.groundviews.org/2009/12/08/the-rajapakse-regime-and-the-fourth-estate/

2009 “Sinhala Mindset,” 9 Dec. 2009, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/the-sinhala-mind-set/.

2009 “The Rajapaksa Regime: Brickbats, Plaudits,” 17 December 2009, http://groundviews.org/2009/12/17/the-rajapakse-regime-brickbats-plaudits/

 2010 Challenges Today: Weevils of the Mind,” 26 May 2010, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2010/05/26/challenges-today-weevils-in-the-mind/

2010 “Intolerance: Hues and Issues,” Nethra Review, 11/2, December 2010, pp. 20-21.

2011 “Populist Politics and the Sooriyawewa & Premadasa Stadiums,” 26 September 2011, http://transcurrents.com/tc/2011/03/populist_politics_and_the_soor.html

2011 “Mixed Messages and Bland Oversimplification in President Rajapaksa’s Independence Day Speech,” 11 February 2013, http://groundviews.org/2013/02/11/mixed-messages-and-bland-oversimplification-in-president-rajapaksas-independence-day-speech/

2012 “Mahinda Rajapaksa as a Modern Mahāvāsala and Font of Clemency? The Roots of Populist Authoritarianism,” 25 January 2012, https://groundviews.org/2012/01/25/mahinda-rajapaksa-as-a-modern-mahavasala-and-font-of-clemency-the-roots-of-populist-authoritarianism-in-sri-lanka/ …. Reproduced in my web site with another title: “Mahinda Rajapaksa: Cakravarti Imagery and Populist Processes,” 28 January 2012

2012 “Populism and Sinhala-Kingship in the Rajapaksa Regime’s Political Pitch,” 29 January 2012, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/populism-and-sinhala-kingship-in-the-rajapaksa-regimes-political-pitch/ … since republished in Asanga Welikala (ed.) Reforming Sri Lankan Presidentialism, Colombo, Globe Printing Works, chap 17.642-55.

2014 “Ideological Cancers within the Sinhala Universe: Roadblocks in the Path of Reconciliation,” Groundviews, 10 May 2014, http://groundviews.org/2014/05/10/ideological-cancers-within-the-sinhala-universe-roadblocks-in-the-path-of-reconciliation/  AND https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/ideological-cancers-within-the-sinhala-universe/

2016 Where Majoritarian Part subsumes the Whole: The Ideological Foundation of Sinhala Extremism,” 28 July 2016, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2016/07/28/where-majoritarian-part-subsumes-the-whole-the-ideological-foundation-of-sinhala-extremism

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END NOTES

[1] See Krishan Francis, “President Doubts …,” 16 Dec. 2018, ………………………………………………… https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2018-12-16/sri-lanka-president-reinstates-wickremesinghe-as-premier

[2] Grapevine political gossip (for instance email from my friend Mohamed Mowzil) indicates that Chandrika Kumaratunga and the late Madulawewa Sobitha Thero were among those who in the intrigue that consolidated this combination. The extent to which the American establishment and/or local INGOs and NGOs working with USA participated in this process.

[3] Sirisena’s comment on the personnel appointed to the Supreme Court in the post-election period raise concerns, but I do have the wherewithal to address this topic.

[4] Indeed, this is how Uyangoda read him in 2014/15 and was thereby encouraged to support the Yahapaalana consortium quite wholeheartedly (Uyangoda 2018).

[5] See Srinivasan 2014a and 2014b.

[6] A Peradeniya graduate from my time a the University Philip was a  senior journalist at Lake House in the 1970s when he moved to USA in 1979.

[7] It is best that his identity is not revealed.

[8] A careful study of the voting patterns in 2012 and 2015 is demanded here. I do not have that capacity ….. nor the time to venture into this field. If existing studies help I welcome references.

[9] Despite the vehemence and certitude with which several political scientists and legal experts have contended that the Sirisena/Rajapaksa intervention was illegal, others with equally impeccable backgrounds, have argued otherwise in cogent arguments.

[10] “My absolute lack of personal acquaintance with Sirisena did not prevent me from developing a personal admiration for him. In his public persona, I saw him as a mild-mannered, gentle and restrained individual with no ruthless political ambitions…. I found him to be a charming and sincere political leader, not corrupted by the pretensions of Colombo’s political elite” (Uyangoda 2018).

[11] Grapevine whispers that contend that Uyangoda is on the payroll of the Centre for Policy Alternatives need to be substantiated.

[12] Note the selection of essays by myself present below as “Roberts on Mahinda Rajapaksa an d Populist Processes.”

[13] For a partial picture see Roberts, “Pirapaharan’s Thamililam, 1990-2009” and “Pirapāharan’s Inspirations and Mind-Set.”

[14] See Donaldson 2018; and Roberts “Targeting Sri Lanka by playing ball with Tamil Extremism,” 2015. NB: as this item was being inserted an recent article by Tamara Kunanayakam that will enlighten readers on this topic came to my attention: see “Nationalism versus Sovereignty: The Case of Sri Lanka” in Sri Lanka Journal of Economic Research, Volume 6(1,) November 2018, pp.125-146 …. also now introduced in Thuppahi as https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2019/01/27/creeping-imperialism-in-sri-lanka-via-neoliberal-impositions-and-the-unhrc/.

[15] Note the quotations from the US Aid statements in May 2015 presented in Leelarathna 2015. Again, in October-November 2018 the interventions of Western ambassadors were quite public and were criticised by spokespersons on the Sinhala Right as going beyond diplomatic protocols (see Waduge 2018).

[16] See Chandraprema 2016. Also note Guruparan 2018. The concept of “traditional homelands” presented initially in 1949 by the ITAK (aka Federal Party) has been one of the foundational subterfuges sustaining this line of thinking –though the 19th century notion idea that the SL Tamils were a “a majority community” on the same par as the Sinhalese provide an even deeper intellectual lineaments for this form of politics (personal communication from Jane Russell)

[17] At the census of 2011 the Indian Tamils made up 50.57% of Nuwara Eliya District, whereas the Sinhalese were just 40.17% and the SL Tamils 6.5% — ……………………………………………………………………(see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuwara_Eliya_District). There is a considerable bloc of “Indian Tamil” in the City of Colombo too and, more vitally, many business enterprises, with the gold, rice and other trades partially or wholly dominated by their big men.

3 Comments

Filed under accountability, american imperialism, centre-periphery relations, communal relations, conspiracies, cultural transmission, devolution, disparagement, doctoring evidence, economic processes, electoral structures, ethnicity, governance, historical interpretation, human rights, Indian Ocean politics, landscape wondrous, language policies, life stories, LTTE, modernity & modernization, Muslims in Lanka, nationalism, patriotism, plural society, politIcal discourse, power politics, prabhakaran, Rajapaksa regime, reconciliation, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, slanted reportage, sri lankan society, trauma, truth as casualty of war, world events & processes

3 responses to “Pathos. Comedy. Revelation. President Sirisena’s Sermon to a ‘Captive’ Cabinet

  1. Hugh

    According to some RAnil was not there, and that it was the Apologists for Rajapakse’s who created false propaganda to that effect.Why would Rajapakse supporters try to embrace a politically dead man.? Rigor Mortis has almost set in. The truth is the otheR way around. ThAt RW gate crashed the wedding to get some political mileage!

  2. Ivan Amarasinghe

    ” A definitive answer demands information on the channels linking US agencies to the work of the two alliance brokers CBK and Revd Sobitha and the links between any US agency and Ranil’s UNP.” observes Roberts. The following may furnish clues/facts: The Island mentions our “sensational” revelation

    The Island’s Shamindra Ferdinando had the following response to this report. In a column titled Bid to derail ‘One Belt, One Road ’surmounted, he wrote:

    “Recent sensational revelation made by former Times of Ceylon journalist Hassina Leelarathna, in respect of USAID making available urgently required funds to the tune of US 3.4 mn, to the UNP-led 100-day administration, in the run-up to the August 2015 parliamentary polls, is the latest illustration of US intervention. The funds had been meant to provide, what the USAID called, visible support to the newly elected administration. US made fresh commitments though the USAID in spite of contemplating a lesser role for the agency here a few years ago.
    https://srilankaexpress.org/usaid-3-4m-support-unp-2015-elections

    “The US-based Leelarathna, who co-edited with her husband Deeptha, the first Sri Lankan newspaper published in the US years ago made the disclosure on the basis of information she had obtained from USIA on the basis of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Accordingly, USD 3.4 mn had been released from Complex Crises Funds (CCF) which was meant to make available USD 40 mn in support of governance, rule of law and economic reform in Sri Lanka.”

    Also checkout Ferdinando’s blog:
    http://slwaronterror.blogspot.com/

  3. Pingback: Simple Blundering Simon: Gideon Haigh’s Venture into Sri Lankan Political History | Thuppahi's Blog

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