The Great Dictator Must Not Return

by Wimalanath Weeraratne

Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe and Lakshman Kiriella and S. B. Dissanayake

Socrates (470/469 – 399 BC) credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy was one in many who had to pay with his life for standing up for what he believed was right.

“If I am to live longer, perhaps I must live out my old age, seeing and hearing less, understanding worse, coming to learn with more difficulty and to be more forgetful, and growing worse than those to whom I was once superior. Indeed, life would be unlivable, even if I did not notice the change. And if I see the change, how could life not be even more wretched and unpleasant?”

It is said that his fellow Athenians accused Socrates of “refusing to recognize the gods recognized by the State” and of “corrupting the youth”, crimes which carried the penalty of death. He could have recanted his words- Socratic philosophy, accepted falsehood as the truth and saved his life.

Similarly, Catholic priest, philosopher, mathematician, poet, and astrologer Giordano Bruno (1548 – 1600) backed the Copernican view – the view that the earth orbits the sun, and that the earth is not the center of the universe. He also had to pay with his own life. He held the thoroughly modern view that distant stars are orbited by their own planets. He stated that the universe is infinite in size and has no center thereby challenging heliocentrism, which was a dogma then held by the Roman Catholic Church. He was imprisoned for seven years during his trial was taking place.

Bruno defended himself insisting that although he accepted the Church’s dogmatic teachings, he could not accept heliocentrism and plurality of worlds. Although he was admonished to abandon his claim and was demanded a full recantation, Bruno refused. On 20 January 1600, Pope Clement VIII declared Bruno a heretic and was burned at the stake in Rome.


Changing colour and tune

Minister S. B. Dissanayake who in the run up to 2015 Presidential Election called his incumbent Party Leader President Maithripala Sirisena as ‘namby-pamby master’ and later on switched camp and once having obtained a ministerial portfolio from the National Government, started attacking Sirisena’s antagonists (hinting at former President Mahinda Rajapaksa as ‘Kala vedda’ (Civet)). However, again he has come to limelight saying that it was not Mahinda Rajapaksa who should take the blame for the defeat, but his sibling,once powerful Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, who is slated to become the party leader of the new party to be formed by the Joint Opposition.

“Honourable’ (emphasis intended) MP Namal Rajapaksa too says it is Basil Rajapaksa who hastened Rajapaksa’s defeat. Even our MPs who sit in the opposition accept this claim. His conduct created wrong impression of Mahinda Rajapaksa in the hearts of the people and led to his defeat. Organizers, provincial councilors, and ministers were frustrated with Basil, not with Mahinda Rajapaksa. His challenge to break the party is a joke,” retorted Dissanayake.

Although Basil Rajapaksa deserves such criticism, we are in no position to cheer Dissanayake. Why did the MP stay silent whilst enjoying all the perks and benefits during the Rajapaksa regime and coming out with criticism only now? Could he, if he was really genuine worked in tandem with several other progressive MPs and urged the Rajapaksas to walk the path of reforms?

Neither Socrates nor Bruno ever thought about the consequences when they stood for what they thought was right. A true intellectual or a genuine patriot would fight to win not his argument but the truth.


No permanent enemies or friends

‘No Permanent Allies, No Permanent Enemies. Only Permanent Interests’ was the title of a book authored by renowned Israeli diplomat Avi Primors and it is a popular saying in the Western world now. It can be applied to Sri Lankan politicos as well. Majority of politicians are henchmen and yesmen of the dynasty in power, be it of the Senanayakes, Jayawardenes, Bandaranaikes or Rajapaksas.

Not only S. B. Dissanayake but also Dilan Perera, Vijith Vijayamuni Soysa and scores of others too safeguard Sirisena purely because they were able to obtain ministerial concessions from the Sirisena administration.

For many of us Sri Lankans who struggled to defeat nepotism, family bandism, fascism and hegemony unleashed by the Rajapaksa regime, it is nothing but surprise to see relicts of the previous regime still sitting amongst an administration that fought hard for good governance.


Feudal serf mentality

Although the local version of feudalism – ‘Rajakariya’ was abolished in 1833 by Colebrooke-Cameron Reforms, it seems that it is hard for Sri Lankans to get rid of the feudal serf mentality. During days of the monarchy, the two main dynasties – Moriya and Lambakarna – took turns in ruling Sri Lanka like today; it is no different, except for the fact that at present we have a hybrid of the two main parties.

In conjunction with the 68th National Independence Day, Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said that steps would be immediately taken to regain economic independence too in the full sense of the word. He added that the country was saved from isolating itself thanks to the prudent foreign policy of President Maithripala Sirisena. Did the Minister ever oppose President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s move to isolate Sri Lanka when he was sitting in the Rajapaksa Cabinet of Ministers? Wasn’t there economic independence when he was Deputy Economic Development Minister under the watchful eyes of Minister Basil Rajapaksa, for whom he served faithfully till January 8, 2015? Does not the same Minister Abeywardena who praised Rajapaksa’s rigidity and unbowing attitude then, eulogize Sirisena’s flexibility and diplomacy now?


Real change?

One may say Sirisena does not resort to political revenge. In fact one might say he is ‘too soft’ on his opponents. Prasanna Ranatunga, Dilum Amunugama, Kanthi Kodikara, Dhanasiri Amaratunga, Duminda Silva, and Senarath Jayasundera were removed from electoral organiser position of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) as the last resort. However, on the other hand, action is yet to be taken against politicos and military personnel who colluded with the Avant Garde debacle and the killings of The Sunday Leader Founder Editor Lasantha Wickrematunge, journalist Prageeth Eknaligoda, rugby player Wasim Thajudeen.


Lacille de Silva debacle

However, sacking of the Secretary to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry to Investigate and Inquire into Serious Acts of Fraud, Corruption and Abuse of Power, State Resources and Privileges (PRECIFAC), Lacille de Silva, has raised many an eyebrow as PRECIFAC had achieved much progress during his tenure. As an administration that truly believes in transparency and good governance, the United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG), must explain to the public reasons for de Silva’s expulsion. The government must also explain the rationale behind ordering all news website operating in Sri Lanka to register with the Ministry of Parliamentary Reforms and Mass Media before March 31 and issuing a veiled threat that any news website that fails to register within the stipulated period would be considered ‘unlawful.’ It must also be explained to the public whether Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who is the son of a media mogul who won the prestigious Golden Pen Freedom Award, is following Rajapaksa’s draconian media policy of attacking journalists and media organizations that do not toe the government policy.

Wickremesinghe went to the extent of stating:

“… I am asking them to get in line with the new line of thinking, and I have given them sufficient time for it. If they fail to get in line, without writing lies, they have the opportunity to leave. We won’t tolerate this.”

He must explain whether his toleration of media is any different to the treatment meted out by the Rajapaksa regime.

In addition, Higher Education and Highways Minister Lakshman Kiriella used unparliamentary language and accused a media person of biased reporting.

“Doesn’t the Minister have powers to write a letter? We did not use these powers after the Yahapalana government came into power. This is our fault. These powers were fully used during the Rajapaksa regime.”

If he’s truly committed to good governance, Kiriella must explain whether the Universities Act, No. 16 of 1978 really empowers him to issue letters to universities recommending persons for employment.

Ideally he should explain what he intends to do when fully using the powers vested by the Universities Act.

“In the run up to the Presidential Elections, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Kelaniya spoke against President Maithripala Sirisena. But we let them be. We did not chase them out. In fact, another foremost proponent of the Yahapalana government, former President of the Federation of University Teachers’ Association (FUTA), Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri, claimed the very act of influencing the appointment of a lecturer breached a fundamental principle espoused by the National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG). This is a grave situation!”


The Great Dictator

In his most successful comedy – The Great Dictator - Charlie Chaplin plays both ‘Adenoid Hynkel’ (a satirized Adolf Hitler) and a Jewish barber who is Hynkel’s spitting image. The barber eventually replaces Hynkel, who has been arrested after having been mistaken for the barber. On nationwide radio, the barber, impersonating the dictator, declares an end to anti-semitism and a return to democracy.

Just as ‘The Great Dictator’, Mahinda Rajapaksa was replaced by Sirisena-Wickremesinghe duo and his brand of fascism and totalitarianism were ended, they must not think of putting themselves in the dictatorial shoes and act as ‘The Great Dictator’.

Just as much as the right-thinking public of Sri Lanka should not allow Rajapaksa to make a comeback, the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe duo and all the politicians truly committed towards good governance, must not let any other leader or party resumes the act of ‘The Great Dictator’.


7 Comments for “The Great Dictator Must Not Return”

  1. raj

    If these leaders were part of Adolf Hitler’s government, These leaders would have defended Hitler government and denied any war crimes committed against Jewish people.

  2. Trevor Jayetileke

    The late Hon.Anura Bandaranaiye who was invited to join the ruling Government of the day with a Portfolio refused on the grounds that our Parliament was just a “Carnival of CLOWNS” and he did not want to be a part of it at that point in time.
    His decision and comment stands true to date.
    Even if we form a National Government it will not change anything.
    The fact is that in reality we “Lack Capability” as a People to rule our selves., and this was publicly stated by the German Ambassador quite recently which is perfectly true.
    After 450 years of Colonial rule we are quite happy to let the Neo Colonial Rulers do our bidding like before like writing our Constitution., we just cannot get it RIGHT. But when we get some foreign grant or loan we know how to spend it quickly and ask for more and also pocket a good percentage of it.
    We are like LOTUS EATERS., and this mentality won’t change.
    This ERA is our last chance as we have turned full circle and the same opportunity Singapore got after WW2 is now starring in our face.
    We have to grasp the nettle and the S-W Duo has to get all these CLOWNS together and instill into them the Political Will to do what Lee Kwan of Singapore did for Singapore without a drop of Crude oil or even water of their own. The Rajapakse ‘Guggernaut’ could have done it but they went on the Rampage after defeating the LTTE in 2009., and should sit back for the sake of Posterity and let the new Regime do what is required. Unfortunately so far they too are looking for ways to achieve this GOAL but have found nothing Tangible except help from spent forces returning home to offer help like Dr.Coomaraswamy (LSE), Paski former Sec. to President Premadasa and Nirg Deva Aditya (EEC). What we need really is someone with the ability of Sir Oliver to make things happen and if i could be of help I am sure I can try doing now what Sir Oliver did then for SL.
    I have done a lot for SL from Australia from behind the scenes ( in Container Trans-shipmet, National Carrier, Mobile Telephone provider which are all from Australia ), and even for Cricket as the Secretary of the Australia Sri Lanka Council Inc. in Melb. between 1994-2004 (CBK Term)., and Oil Exploration (MR Term ) which very few know and others in SL are not aware of. Give me the chance to make a difference but be quick because I am like those wizards who have returned home to help save our Nation are getting old ( 75 in November 2016). I am not coming to do what is going to help me but to help SRI LANKA to be self-reliant and the main reason why our “Rating” has been down graded because we are taking the “Hard Decisions” expected to get things right.
    Lee Quan was no Magician but his Magic Recipe had “Confucius ingredients” in the POT., and we as a Buddhist Nation have to live up to those Principals.
    May the Triple Gem Bless my Wonderful Motherland Lanka and its intelligent PEOPLE who deserve better LEADERSHIP for future generations like in LKY.

    • Alawathugoda Banda

      Trevor not a bad statement, unfortunately you have forgotten the reason why we are in this big mess and the predicament. There were only one true national leader who understood the Sri Lankans; D.S.Senanayake. his untimely death paved the way for the others to build “Cesspool of Corruption”. You are just living in it.

  3. Trevor Jayetileke

    Sorry we are “NOT TAKING THE HARD DECISIONS” to get things RIGHT.
    Please correct

  4. sarath

    meka hariyata Hotu Geni deela kehi geni gatta wagei.

  5. Sangaralingham

    No body that is the politician it seems not working for the welfare of the country it’s people it seems most are opportunists not knowing what is going what will happen not being aware of what may be happen. As politicians they we hope read up yo date with current with local national international new .they not just sit in parliament pay attentions to details etc. some may be reliable responsible from what is going on what media say few are opportunists

  6. Gon Ponil

    If President Rajapakse is to return or not —-is a decision for the Sri lanka public only. Not for your newspaper or India or many western countries or me (I have just one vote- I will give it to the person I believe deserves it)

    You people need to come down to earth. We appoint politicians to represent us and not to do what ever they wish to do. We pay them a salary to do a job. Just like any job- if they cannot perform or do not do the job they will not have that job as we will take it away from them.

    I do not have to point this to you. But as a newspaperman you need to think deeper.

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