Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer! One Country, One Law, One BBS Boss? President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his regime crossed a Rubicon of sorts, with the appointment of Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara thero as the Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on One Country, One Law.
If President Gotabaya wanted a Sinhala hardliner he could have chosen former chief Justice Sarath N Silva. President GR’s choice, Ven Gnanasara has no legal background whatsoever, unless his brush with the courts over the invective hurled at Sandhya Ekneligoda counts as such in the eyes of the appointing authority.
Among his many accomplishments, Ven. Gnanasara invited and hosted the even more notorious monk, Ven. Ashin Wirathu of Myanmar.
The appointment of Ven. Gnanasara, not merely as a member but as Chairman, is not something the President can come back from easily, at home or abroad. For starters, I wonder what Justice Minister Sabry has to say.
Numerous diplomat friends have been writing to me saying much the same thing and asking the same questions. “Shocking” is the most often used word. My answer to their “why” question has been “more turbo-Trumpism on the road to Myanmar than even Netanyahu-ism on the road to Jerusalem”.
Given that over one hundred civil society personalities signed a petition opposing my nomination by President Sirisena as Ambassador Russia, it is surely reasonable of me to expect twice as many or at least considerably more than that number to sign a petition of protest at the appointment by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Ven Galagodaatte Gnanasara to the post of Chairman of the Task Force on One Country, One Law. I’m not holding my breath though.
Origin of the Ideological Virus
Commencing a shock nationwide conversion to organic fertilizer without the prior appointment of and a report from a Task Force of top agronomists, doctors, soil scientists, economists, etc., is like frontally charging the enemy without a battle plan or a General Staff. President GR’s organic fertilizer offensive is looking like The Charge of the Light Brigade.
Secretary/Defense Gotabaya Rajapaksa ensured the most modern weaponry affordable for the armed forces. Why is President Gotabaya Rajapaksa depriving our peasantry which feeds the nation, of the equivalent?
Government MP Arundika Fernando proclaimed in Parliament that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the only leader to resume and continue the policies of Sirima Bandaranaike and Dr NM Perera.
With Sirima Bandaranaike and Dr NM Perera as idols, along with the 1970s chants of the “world market” (loka velanda pola) as excuse, the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration will surely go the same way as the Mrs. B-NM dispensation.
Mrs. Bandaranaike, however, never made the peasants suffer badly. They grew richer in some areas because of the ban on imports of onions. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s policies are not enriching but creating poverty among the peasants. The political sentence will logically be far more severe than that inflicted upon the Sirima government of 1970-1977.
The continuity with Sirima-NM policies is only one part of the story. When Presidential candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa launched his election manifesto, he was seated together with his brother Mahinda and other siblings in the front row. Seated next to candidate GR (MR was on GR’s right) were Sinhala ultranationalist ideologues Prof Nalin de Silva and Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekara.
Prof de Silva has recently returned from his diplomatic posting, aptly enough, to Myanmar. LankaCNews embedded a Tik-Tok video in which he denounces the popularity tsunami of Yohani de Silva’s rendition of Menike Mage Hithe. In his view, Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan’s enthusiastic endorsement of her song was “not spontaneous, but manipulated” by India’s intelligence establishment as means of blindsiding the Sinhalese because of her war-hero father. His clincher was: “how can it possibly be, that a Sinhala song which is not so popular in Sri Lanka, is quite so popular in India?”
He wouldn’t know that Jimi Hendrix became a phenomenon firstly in the UK (with ‘Hey Joe’) and only then in the USA.
With Prof. Nalin de Silva, the co-founder of Jathika Chinthanaya, as philosophical-ideological guru, no wonder the GR regime’s ethos is so weirdly warped.
In a recent zoom symposium on ‘Provincial Council Elections and the New Plans for Eelam’ posted on ultranationalist ideologue Dr Wasantha Bandara’s FB, Ven Dr Medagoda Abeytissa recounts (at 2hrs 57 mts) that “Dr Dayan Jayatilleka told Gotabaya Rajapaksa during discussions at his residence on the inaugural seminar of Eliya, that he should announce he will not go beyond the 13th amendment, but it was I who, as Eliya Secretary, insisted that Gotabaya must not fall into Jayatilleka’s trap, because the danger was not going beyond the 13th amendment, but the 13th amendment itself!”.
Dr. Wasantha Bandara adds: “Ven. Medagoda Abeytissa should be applauded for waging an ideological battle to rid Gotabaya Rajapaksa of Dayan Jayatilleka’s influence and make him leave the country, or else the present administration too may have been misled.” The reference to “leaving the country” seems to be to my acceptance of the Ambassadorship to Russia.
With Ven. Dr. Medagoda Abeytissa in the President’s inner-caucus, there should be no doubt about the intent and content of the new Constitution.
The episode was of course before my published critique in May 2018 of GR’s economic doctrine unveiled at the Second Viyath Maga (Shangri-la) conference, followed by my public rupture with the GR project and camp over the ‘Hitler as role model’ invocation in June 2018. (“Be A Hitler’: The Dark Matrix That Can Destroy Sri Lanka – Colombo Telegraph)
Ven. Wendaruwe Upali thero whose 2018 birthday blessing for GR was “be a Hitler”, led the delegation of Bhikkhus on the inaugural flight to Kushinagar. With him and Ven. Dr. Medagoda Abeytissa in the President’s inner-caucus, there should be no doubt about the intent and content of the new Constitution.
The Sinhala voters, aren’t the most responsible, morally and politically, for installing the Gotabaya presidency.
The 19th amendment’s blanket ban that should instead have been a specific prohibition of a third CONSECUTIVE term; the co-sponsorship of the Geneva 2015 “foreign judges” resolution; the provocative, non-unitary (“orumittanaadu”) draft Constitution; the retro-CFA style permissive security environment which enabled the ignoring of Indian intelligence warnings and permitted the Easter bombing; all fueled the Alt-Right GR candidacy.
The withholding of UNP leadership from the Premadasa candidacy and the unconscionable delay in the declaration of that candidacy, the assertion that Ranil would be PM, the pronouncement that the MCC would be signed, combined to catapult Gotabaya Rajapaksa into the presidency.
Lanka’s liberal ideologues are as irrational and intemperate as the incumbent, and incessantly advocate the abolition of the Presidency just as he strives to expand it. Who will tread the Middle Path?
Fighting for Democracy & Reform
If Lankan liberalism and liberal-democrats really wish to make democratic change including Constitutional change it must recall how such changes are made. They are made in alliance with real social forces, and in the overall context including the aftermath of real battles.
The US Constitution was in the aftermath of the American revolution, i.e., the American War of Independence. The Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen was in the context of the French revolution. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was in the aftermath of the anti-fascist war waged by the Allies including the USSR.
The agencies of authentic liberal democratic change are not NGOs or think-tanks; they are people’s movements.
Today there is a real mass struggle by a real people’s movement underway in Sri Lanka, and that is the peasants movement. Lagging somewhat behind but in motion are the teachers and principals movement, the student movement and the workers (trade union) movement.
Authentic liberals, democrats, pluralists, anti-racists and reformists must at least, express their support and solidarity for those struggles. They should form an urban solidarity movement on the basis that Peasant Lives Matter!
Disclaimer: GR & THE BBS BOSS: TURBO-TRUMPISM ON THE ROAD TO MYANMAR Dr. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view