Photograph: Lakruwan Wanniarachchi/AFP/Getty Images from Guardian

The breaking news that JR Jayawardana had won the 1977 general election by a 5/6 majority is one of my vivid childhood memories. Perhaps, the fact that my father was an ardent supporter of the United National Party led by Junius Richard Jayawardana, commonly known as JR, compounded the significance of that memory. JR Jayawardana asked for a mandate to build a just society (“Dharmishta Samajaya” in Sinhalese) and an open economy. There was no TV at that time, but his Green posters on lamp-posts, buses, and walls highlighted this attractive slogan. He passed the 1978 constitution that gave sweeping powers to the executive president to build the so called just society. That included powers to over-rule a decision of the Supreme Court. Then he locked the constitution by changing the electoral system from a winner take all system to a representative system that made it extremely hard to win a 2/3 majority to change the constitution. He started to build the just society by stripping his opposition candidate Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranayake’s civil rights to participate in politics for seven years and by expelling her from the parliament, citing abuse of power during her term. The justice system in the new order did not find anybody guilty of stoning judges, burning the Jaffna library, or for perpetrating crimes in the 1983 riots. Public mistrust and despair grew day by day but the impending catastrophe was invisible in the glare of extreme presidential power. The economic policies in the new order however achieved a growth rate of more than 7.5%. Some were mesmerized by rising buildings in Colombo, new roads, TV, and numerous other fantasies made available in the markets. My next vivid memories are in two bloody armed uprisings – one from the South, and the other from the North – that continued to torture the minds social fabric of Sri Lankans till recently.

As a child, I was keen to read about an ancient Sri Lankan King known as Dutugamunu.  He lead an army to fight with King Elara who ruled the Northern part of Sri Lanka in 161BC. As soon as King Dutugamunu won the battle, he ordered all citizens to respect the tomb of defeated King Elara at all times. That included an order to get down from the horse whenever they passed the tomb. There was no United Nations at that time to impose international ethics of war, but it is said that this voluntary demonstration of nobility won the hearts of both Sinhalese in the South and Tamils in the North to unify Sri Lanka.

Let this be the backdrop to discuss the petition “Urge the release of former commander of the Sri Lankan Army and Presidential candidate General (Ret.) Sarath Fonseka” that has received more than the required 25,000 signatures on “your voice in our Government” section of the official White House web site.

Why should the Obama administration pay close attention to this?

In addition to the above two cases from Sri Lanka, let me remind two exemplary incidents of profound respect for people’s voice behind defeated leaderships found in the US independence struggle and in the civil war.

During the American independence struggle, the battle of Saratoga came to an end with British General John Burgoyne with his survived soldiers surrendering to General Horatio Gates in New York on October 17, 1777. In the surrender ceremony General Burgoyne said “The fortunes of war, General Gates, has made me your prisoner”. In reply, General Gates said “I shall always be ready to testify that it has not been through any fault of your Excellency”. What should be celebrated in this historical negotiation was the maturity of both military leaders to respect the aspirations of people represented by both groups of survivors.

At the end of American civil war (1861 – 1865), General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant. General Grant paroled General Lee without resorting to the legitimate opportunity to try him for treason. This and the steps taken by President Carter to absolve General Lee of all wrongdoings only helped to forge a better union than permanently sealing hateful sentiments.

During the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr highlighted the danger of unfair laws that some rulers abuse to oppress those who hold opposite views by saying “remember, all what Hitler did was legal”.

Jailed Sri Lankan common opposition presidential candidate Sarath Fonseka obtained 40% of the votes in the 2010 presidential election. President Rajapaksa became the only president after JR Jayawardana to enjoy a 2/3 majority if he ever wished to reverse the anti-democratic elements of the 1978 constitution. To our astonishment, he did the opposite. He abrogated the independent judiciary committees under the 17th amendment to the constitution, so that he can appoint judges at his discretion. Under these circumstances, everything President Mahinda Rajapakse does against Sarath Fonseka may be legal. However, a cardinal historical lesson being repeatedly highlighted in the above historical examples of dealing with a defeated leader has been neglected in the nature of these legal maneuvers against Sarath Fonseka. Compounding the blow to the sentiments of the people represented by Sarath Fonseka, president Rajapaksa and his media men arrogantly defended the present policy. Daily Mirror reported that “President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said he was ready to consider a pardon for former army commander Sarath Fonseka if his family makes a request to that effect in the proper procedure”. Reports elsewhere suggested that this “proper procedure” involves Sarath Fonseka’s family going to the foot of the president to beg for pardon for some crimes the state accuses him to have done. President Rajapaksa further went on to say that “It is immaterial whether you deliver a petition with millions of signatures to President Barack Obama or adopt any other strategies but the final decision rests with me”. He left out one choice – to come and kneel down in front of him and beg for pardon. What if Sarath Fonseka and the public represented by him believe that he should not surrender to unfair terms?

During president Premadasa era, MP Mahinda Rajapaksa went to Geneva to complain against human rights violations in Sri Lanka. I am sure he did not expect president Premadasa to say “your flight to Geneva is in vain Mahinda. It will be directed back to me, and you know what I will do with it”.

This time people chose to petition the Obama administration. Will he just revert it back to President Rajapaksa as he boasted?

###

The author is a lecturer at King’s College London, and a former Radcliffe fellow at Harvard University.

  • Zay Guevara

    Sarath Fonseka is not the ‘common’ candidate,he represents the neo-colonialist,lead in Sri Lanka by the comprador bourgeoisie UNP.

    • Then why did the TNA and the JVP support him?

      • @Blacker

        Why didn’t you mention the UNP?

      • Off the Cuff

        Logic has desserted PDunce.

      • For it to desert him, it would have had to be present at some point in the past 😀

  • Sudharaka

    The writer does not seem to have much knowledge about what he was talking about. 17th amendment, at best is a farce. It is good that it was never implemented. It may look good on paper, but had it ever been implemented we would have now been in a perfect anarchy. It would never have led us to so called depoliticized institutions, but to a set of institutions that are politicized by more than one party. In that connection, we all have witnessed how the constitutional council saga ended. 17th amendment may be good for a country where the state is powerful, not for a country like Sri Lanka that is extremely vulnerable to outside forces with vested interests. For example, none of us would want to have the appointment of IGP being jeopardized by a group of parties that are working on instruction given to them by a western embassy. Not that I disagree with the notion these government institutions need to remain depoliticized, but 17th amendment is certainly not the way forward.

    The writer also found it unpalatable why Sarath Fonseka (or his family) should beg a pardon from Mahinda. I am not sure if the writer has ever listened to some of the speeches given by Fonseka during 2009 presidential campaign where he outlined in detail the punishments (including the dimensions of the prison cells) that will be given to Mahinda and Gotabhaya in the event of him winning the election. Although Mahinda rightfully deserves an apology from Fonseka on that grounds, I however believe that the pardon should be sought not necessarily from Mahinda, but from the peoples of Sri Lanka for his role in inflicting our heroes in war crimes based on hearsay. In this connection, I again believe the writer is ill informed for he does not seem to know how Fonseka undeniably reiterated those white flag allegations during an election rally. Had the writer done a simple on-line search for the relevant video clip, he would not have ended up in this uncomfortable situation.

    • Thrishantha

      Sudharaka starts by shooting the messenger. However, what he says about the 17th amendment in my message is interesting. Such democratic provisions are good only for strong states? what makes a strong state strong? Only size of the country/natural resources? There are ample examples to the contrary. Sri Lanka could be more stable by getting more people to respect the way it is Governed. It is only then, the full potential of its human and natural resources would be harnessed. It is childish to have grudges over what competing candidates say during election rallies. The few historical cases presented in the article show the emptiness of such revengeful behavior, and the merit of the opposite qualities.

  • B.Fernando

    JR created a monster to rule the Country. He never thought for a moment what will happen if Criminals creep into the Parliament and a power crazy lunatic to lead them. Today all are paying for that mistake. There is no law & order in the Country. Police protect the criminals. People do not trust the politicised judiciary. The once peaceful, democratic Sri Lanka is now a lawless Banana Republic, and the people have lost all their rights. God save Sri Lanka!

    • wahab

      Mr.B fernando you are right 100%.

  • rana

    From the way Gen SF was dragged and jailed, it is very clear he was jailed for contesting the elections. He was jailed 30 months for the charge that he did not disclose , four yars before his retirement, that his son-in-law has an interest to a company which was awarded a contract when SF was chairman to the tender board. Another charge to steal his pension is he discussed his futute with others. How many politicians did corruptions openly by bringing adulterarted petrol, destroying imported chicken, cocunut etc, and not even charged for destroying public funds. How many LTTE leaders like Karuna, KP, Pillayan, George Master , Daya Master never charged for their brutal killings, abductions. If the law is same all should be charged. Even those who crossed the road were fined. Gen SF was the person who commandered the war to victory without running away. He saved Jaffna twice falling to LTTE. His imprisonment is political revange, nothing else.

    • Thrishantha

      Rana, General Sarath Fonseka did not even bother to register as a voter, but focused on his duties. This shows that he did not have any intention to do politics. However, he was charged with the offence of doing politics while in uniform. The main witnesses were Government ministers with conflict of interest in the case! What is appalling here is that president Rajapakse’s son got on the political stage while in uniform ( http://www.caffesrilanka.org/Navy_Chief_warned_over_Yoshitha_campaigning_for_MR-5-1633.html ). If justice is equally applied to all citizens, where is the court martial?

      • Injustice aside, the fact that SF didn’t register as a voter is hardly a sign of him not being interested in politics 😀 Did the fact that he was a presidential candidate somehow escape you? Not registering as a voter simply shows that he had no understanding of politics.

        • Thrishantha

          (not)registering to vote means different things to different people. For a person doing politics while in uniform, it is highly unlikely that registering to vote will be insignificant. It is more unfair to assume that all those who don’t register to vote have inferior understanding of politics. Then, Wimal Weerawansa must be a toddler in politics.

      • What not registering means to different people isn’t what we’re discussing; we’re discussing what it means in the case of SF, a presidential candidate, and it was you that brought up this point. If it has no specific meaning, why did you bring it up?

        Since you say that “registering to vote is highly unlikely to be insignificant”, I assume that you mean it is highly likely to have been significant. So what is that significance? You claim it shows a lack of interest in politics; and yet the man was a presidential candidate. Are you saying that a man running for the highest office in the land is uninterested in politics??? Does this even make sense to you?

        If the “mawbimey pomeranian” is not a registered voter, that’s his business; he isn’t trying to be president; just the presidential lapdog. Such individuals garner the vote for their party leaders, not for themselves; unlike SF.

  • Is it possible to prosecute judges who had acted mala fide, at least after their retirement?

  • Nihal Perera

    The economic policies in the new order however achieved a growth rate of more than 7.5%.

    It shows that JR was not a dictator, despite his introduction of the EP. A dictatorship is prone to high inflation and even hyperinflation (Zimbabwe is a good example), not annual economic growth rates of 7.5%. In the case of Mahinda Rajapakse, annual inflation was 11.6%, 12.1%, 15.8%, and an astonishing 22.6% for the years 2005, 2006, 2007, and 2008, respectively. See http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=ce&v=71 for more information.

    More importantly, if JR was a dictator, he would have made it possible for himself to be ruler for life, such as the present incumbent is doing . Look at Castro, Gadaffi, Hussein, Mubarak, Mugabe, etc. The goal of these men was/is to stay in power at any cost, to accumulate more wealth for their families and small circle of associates. Naturally, such a goal conflicts with the whole idea of an electoral system, and quite often other aspects of the Constitution which are designed to ensure the electoral system runs smoothly.

    • wijayapala

      Nihal, why you get so spastic whenever anyone criticises JR?

      If JR was not a dictator, then why did he cancel the 1983 parliamentary elections??? What other government had suspended democracy in this way?

      Nihal should become more aware of the high inflation rates during the JR regime. Prof John Richardson had written about this and I hope Nihal’s googling skills are up to snuff. Here’s what wikipedia says:

      “However, rising unprecedented inflation generally made the public frustrated with the government, leading to a series of Opposition-led strikes, culminating in a General strike in 1980 which was crushed by the police and armed members of the UNP’s trade union wing. Thousands of workers were summarily sacked after warnings.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_National_Party

      • Nihal Perera

        It seems you’re unaware of the definition of “open economy.” Dictators are not proponents of an open economy. For an open economy to produce tangible benefits, it is necessary to let the private sector “do its own thing” with a minimum of government interference. As opposed to subsidizing an endless number of military-run businesses, letting the State take over unproductive businesses, and selling off prime real estate to the highest bidder (China) in exchange for military cooperation .

        Why don’t you post the actual inflation figures, instead of making up some gobbledygook? From the data I have given, it seems that MR has the record for inflation (22%).

      • Off the Cuff

        Dictators and an Open Economy

        World over governments wanting to stay in power through repression now have a new model to follow, “The Singapore model” which roughly goes as follows:

        “Claim you have a free press but control the newspapers completely; claim you have the rule of law while making sure judges comply with government orders; claim you have human rights but deny your citizens any; claim you have freedom of speech but sue, bankrupt and imprison anyone who dares to criticize; claim you have freedom of protest and assembly but arrest and jail anyone who publicly assembles or protests; claim you have equality before the law but give special privileges to some but not others; claim all races are equal but Chinese are more equal than others” Singapore strongman Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore Model

        Wong Kan Seng, the Home Minister is Lee’s Cousin. Tan Pei Ling, the little girl who makes a fool of herself and yet became an MP, is the wife of the Secretary of the Prime Minister. Ho Ching, the woman who runs Temasek the State Wealth Fund is the Prime Minister’s wife. Lee’s other son runs a government listed company. Tony Tan, Lee’s hand picked President’s son has avoided military service. And the list goes on if the reader cares to add.

        Let’s not pull punches and say it as it is. Singapore is nothing more than the Lee family’s private possession which he runs with compliant and trustworthy relatives and friends. And that’s it. After all blood is thicker than water.

        Gopalan Nair
        Attorney at Law
        Disbarred from practicing law in Lee’s Singapore and refused entry to the island for criticizing Singapore’s judiciary.
        Actively practicing law in California and in good standing at the California Bar.
        Member in good standing as a lawyer in England and Wales (Barrister).

        Several members of Lee’s family hold prominent positions in Singaporean society, and his sons and daughter hold high government or government-linked posts. His elder son Lee Hsien Loong, a former Brigadier General, has been the Prime Minister since 2004. He is also the Deputy Chairman of the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), of which Lee himself is the chairman. Lee’s younger son, Lee Hsien Yang, is also a former Brigadier General and is a former President and Chief Executive Officer of SingTel, a pan-Asian telecommunications giant and Singapore’s largest company by market capitalisation (listed on the Singapore Exchange, SGX). Fifty-six percent of SingTel is owned by Temasek Holdings, a prominent government holding company with controlling stakes in a variety of very large government-linked companies such as Singapore Airlines and DBS Bank. Temasek Holdings, in turn, is run by Executive Director and C.E.O. Ho Ching, the wife of Lee Hsien Loong. Lee’s daughter, Lee Wei Ling, runs the National Neuroscience Institute. Lee’s wife, Kwa Geok Choo, used to be a partner of the prominent legal firm Lee & Lee (wiki)

      • Nihal Perera

        Off the Cuff,

        Singapore is not a dictatorship. What I have noticed about a dictatorship are the following: 1. lack of a free press, 2. using the military to crush any opposition, 3. nepotism, 4. elections that are not free and fair, 5. closed economic policy or an economic policy that veers towards the latter, 6. a high-level of nationalism and anti-Western sentiment, 7. low levels of per capita income, 8. a workforce that, on average, lacks technological sophistication, 9. high inflation due to the government’ endless desire to print money and other such economic mismanagement, 10. discrimination against a particular minority/religious group, 11. political interference in the judiciary, and 12. secret camps to house political detainees. Singapore is only guilty of (1) and (3).

      • Off the Cuff

        Nihal Perera,

        You say “Singapore is not a dictatorship”

        Your opinion is at loggerheads with Singaporean Gopalan Nair,
        Attorney at Law, Disbarred from practicing law in Lee’s Singapore and refused entry to the island for criticizing Singapore’s judiciary. Actively practicing law in California and in good standing at the California Bar. Member in good standing as a lawyer in England and Wales (Barrister).

        Lee warned against “insensitive evangelisation”, by which he referred to instances of Christian proselytising directed at Malays. In 1974 the government advised the Bible Society of Singapore to stop publishing religious materials in Malay

        Many Singaporeans have criticized Lee as being authoritarian and intolerant of dissent, citing his numerous mostly successful attempts to sue political opponents and newspapers who express an unfavorable opinion. International media watchdog Reporters Without Borders has asked Lee, and other senior Singaporean officials, to stop taking libel actions against journalists (wiki)

        Lee Kuan Yew governed from 5 June 1959 – 28 November 1990.
        Was Prime Minister for 8 consecutive terms.

        You wrote “No, that is not the real litmus test of democracy. If the ruler can reign for life, regardless of “election results”, it is no different than a monarchy or dictatorship . Ever heard of term limits? . Term limits exist for a reason.”
        http://groundviews.org/2011/12/22/a-petition-to-president-barack-obama/#comment-39957

        Forgot your own definition so soon?

        Is that not Disgustingly Dishonest?

      • Nihal/Heshan gets very upset when people bring up Singapore. He’s under the impression that as long as a country’s economy is on track the leader cannot be a dictator 😀 Which is why China is a liberal democracy according to Heshan. Btw Heshan, what happened to your promise to leave GV forever and ever amen if DJ proved you wrong? Lol

  • Magha

    To believe that Sri Lanka is vulnerable to out side forces with vested interests if 17th amendment was not abolished is a cheap political propaganda by sycophants to justify brazen violation of Democracy in this country .
    What Thrishantha Nanyakara had shown in his Article is absolutely correct that the independence of the Judiciary was eroded by the abolition of the 17 th amendment to the constitution . The 17th Amendment was brought to the constititution because the system of executive Presidency with unlimited powers found to be flawed in the first place.
    The two military tribunals held against Gen Sarath Fonseka were absolutely unconstitutional .They were unconstitutional because Retired Army Commander Gen Fonseka’s had been cleared from his military status by the constitutional law of the country in order for him to be the Presidential candidate at 2010 elections . Therefore following the elections the defeated candidate shouldn’t have been brought before a Military tribunal under the sacrosanct constitution of our country . Hence those Military tribunals against him were fraudulent and unconstitutional. Thus Gen Fonseka should be exonerated from all charges and neither he nor his family have to request the President MR to pardon him .
    It was the mistake of the former Attorney General allowing to proceed with Military tribunals against Gen Fonseka that had further tarnished the image of the system of Judiciary in Sri Lanka .
    This on line petition signed by 25,000 people will bring this matter in to a another level now with the unraveling mockery the former AG Mohan Peiris had made at the UN Human rights council recently, that he has evidence that disappeared journalist Prageeth Ekanaligoda had sought asylum in a another country .
    This regime can’t fool the International community , perhaps people of Sri Lanka for a while but not all the time .

    • justitia

      General Balagalle, former army commander (along with Elections Commissioner Dayanantha Dissanayake) was punished by the Supreme Court for preventing thoudands of voters from voting in the December 2001 parliamentary ellection, by being fined and being made to pay damages to the peitioners who filed the case.There was no imprisonment.

      http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=8600

      But Sarath Fonseka was imprisoned for contesting the presidency while in uniform,by a military court of officers lower in rank than him – which court was later pronounced as equal to all courts in the country.

      Later, General Balagalle was promoted,even with corruption charges pending against him. (and, the Elections Commissioner was not allowed to retire).
      Justice Mark Fernando who held that votes cast at home by President Chandrika Bandaranaike,PM Ratnasiri Ratnayake,Defence Minister Ratwatte and Speaker Anura Bandaranaike were invalid, while being the seniormost Judge was not appointed as Chief Justice by Chandrika.
      Justice differs from president to president, as does the gravity of offences by army commanders!

  • wijayapala

    Dear Nihal

    It seems you’re unaware of the definition of “open economy.”

    And you appear to be unaware of the definition of “dictator,” which has nothing to do with open or closed economies.

    Why don’t you post the actual inflation figures, instead of making up some gobbledygook?

    Sadly it seems that it is Nihal Perera who is the master of gobbledygook:

    Inflation % for 1980: 26 (so much for Nihal’s gobbledygook that MR had set the record for inflation)
    http://www.economywatch.com/economic-statistics/country/Sri-Lanka/year-1980/

    1981: 18
    http://www.economywatch.com/economic-statistics/country/Sri-Lanka/year-1981/

    1982: 11
    http://www.economywatch.com/economic-statistics/country/Sri-Lanka/year-1982/

    1983: 14
    http://www.economywatch.com/economic-statistics/country/Sri-Lanka/year-1983/

    1984: 16.6
    http://www.economywatch.com/economic-statistics/country/Sri-Lanka/year-1984/

    We are eagerly awaiting Nihal’s attempt to backtrack out of his earlier rhetoric regarding inflation and dictatorship.

    More importantly, if JR was a dictator, he would have made it possible for himself to be ruler for life, such as the present incumbent is doing.

    Contrary to what Nihal believes, JR’s dreams of contesting the 1988 election were dashed by his enormous unpopularity among all Sri Lankan communities. Nihal does not understand that under the 18th Amendment, the incumbent still has to contest and win elections which is the real litmus test of democracy.

    Given that Nihal had no answer to the fact that JR had cancelled parliamentary elections, his total ignorance on the definition of democracy is quite understandable.

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Wijayapala,

      Quote
      Nihal does not understand that under the 18th Amendment, the incumbent still has to contest and win elections which is the real litmus test of democracy
      Unquote

      You have hit the nail on the head.

      “You can take a Donkey to water but you cannot make it Drink”

      • Nihal Perera

        Nihal does not understand that under the 18th Amendment, the incumbent still has to contest and win elections which is the real litmus test of democracy

        No, that is not the real litmus test of democracy. If the ruler can reign for life, regardless of “election results”, it is no different than a monarchy or dictatorship . Ever heard of term limits? . Term limits exist for a reason.

        Term limits further important values of democratic equality and freedom. Term limits reduce inequalities in legislative power across districts and over time. More important, term limits make democratic choice far freer. Term limits solve a collective action problem and lessen the seniority penalty that makes it difficult for districts to oust ideologically unsatisfactory incumbents. And term limits reduce barriers to entry that discourage challengers and thus limit ballot options. Any furthering of those values furthers core democratic objectives.

        http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-328es.html

        In other words, elections by themselves have limited value. Term limits are essential.

      • Off the Cuff

        Another priceless goof

        Nihal says “No, that is not the real litmus test of democracy. If the ruler can reign for life, regardless of “election results”, it is no different than a monarchy or dictatorship”

        Wow that is a very big IF as far as Democratic Lanka is concerned where Election Results have always been respected.

        When will these pontificating goofs end? Ha ha haa

        Wijepala says “Wije’s best has landed an egg on poor Nihal’s face!”

        Cannot agree with you more Wije but it wont be the last for sure.

      • wijayapala

        Nihal, we’re still waiting to hear you confirm or deny that Franklin Roosevelt, who served four terms as US President until his death, was a “dictator-for-life.” Until then, whatever gobbledegook you write has no credibility.

      • Nihal Perera

        Off the Cuff,

        Wow that is a very big IF as far as Democratic Lanka is concerned where Election Results have always been respected.

        Indeed; after losing the election, Sarath Fonseka was imprisoned for daring to contest! Also, let us not forget how MR “won” the election against Ranil. Only by offering the LTTE a large sum of enemy! You call this a free and fair election? Of course, if the election is not free and fair at the outset , then it is redundant to talk about the foregone conclusion.

        When will these pontificating goofs end? Ha ha haa

        When SF kneels at the feet of the former “human rights lawyer”, and begs for mercy, the “human rights lawyer” will use his dicatatorial powers to “pardon” SF. That is the situation as it stands.

        Wijayapala,

        Nihal, we’re still waiting to hear you confirm or deny that Franklin Roosevelt, who served four terms as US President until his death, was a “dictator-for-life.” Until then, whatever gobbledegook you write has no credibility.

        Terms limits were not imposed on the US Presidency until after Franklin Roosevelt left office. So your example is entirely irrelevent. Roosevelt did not amend the Constitution to keep himself in power, unlike the Honourable Reincarnation of Dutugemunu.

      • Off the Cuff

        Nihal Perera,

        The goof refers to your definition of the litmus test for Democracy and your definition of a Dictatorship and a Monarchy not about SF.

        quote
        “No, that is not the real litmus test of democracy. If the ruler can reign for life, regardless of “election results”, it is no different than a monarchy or dictatorship”
        unquote

        Let’s examine your GOOF in detail.
        You say “If the ruler can reign for life, regardless of “election results”….

        Pontificating Rubbish.
        Let alone reign for life, not a SINGLE elected leader of Lanka has ruled after losing an election.
        Place your facts before GV to prove your case.

        You further say that if the above is true then “it is no different than a monarchy or dictatorship”
        Unfortunately for you, your first statement is untrue.

        When will these pontificating goofs end?

      • Nihal Perera

        Off the Cuff,

        Let alone reign for life, not a SINGLE elected leader of Lanka has ruled after losing an election.

        You are assuming that every election held in SL has been free and fair. This is not the case. It is well known that Mahinda Rajapakse won the 2005 election because the LTTE enforced a boycott in the North and East. It is open to debate whether the LTTE accepted a bribe in return for enforcement of such boycottt, but all the evidence affirms that the latter is true, not false. The election results should have been annulled until the voters in the North and East were allowed to vote. This was the case in the USA, for example, in the election between Bush and Gore; when a discrepency arose as to dysfunctional ballot boxes, the results were put on hold until the ballots were recounted.

      • Off the Cuff

        Nihal Perera,

        Elections are held by the Govt in Power which has at it’s disposal all the Govt resources including the Armed forces and the Police.

        Despite the power, in Lanka, not a single Govt continued to govern, after losing an election.

        The Govt in power has always Respected the Verdict of the voter and Relinquished Power, bowing out gracefully, allowing the newly elected, to form a Govt (since 1931).

        There have been 14 Parliamentary elections since 1947 and 6 Presidential elections. An every time the incumbent lost, there has been a change of government.

        There are no exceptions.

        The Voter’s Verdict has always been respected.

        Hope you have the Intellectual Capacity to understand the above.

        If you can factually counter what I have stated, you are welcome to try. However, I doubt your capacity do so and as usual you will descend to irrelevant rhetoric.

      • Nihal Perera

        Off the Cuff,

        So you believe that if one section of the populace is prevented from voting by an armed militant group, then the election is still free and fair? You believe that bribery and intimidation are acceptable norms in an election? You have answered both of these questions in the affirmative.

        Thank you for your input; it looks like Rajapakse Ltd has just “won” the next several elections!

      • Off the Cuff

        Nihal Perera,

        Despite the power, in Lanka, not a single Govt continued to govern, after losing an election. The Govt in power has always Respected the Verdict of the voter and Relinquished Power, bowing out gracefully, allowing the newly elected, to form a Govt (since 1931).

        The above is an extract from my previous post.

        The point made is that even a govt in power had to relinquish power and could not use either the Armed Forces or the Police (which they controlled) to remain in power, after losing an election.
        There has been NO EXCEPTIONS.

        The Lankan Electorate has a long history of kicking out Govts in Power every time they decided to do so.

        You seem to be having trouble keeping focus.

        If you can factually counter what I have stated, you are welcome to try. So far, you have proven your inability to do so, by avoiding the question an attempting to hide behind irrelevant rhetoric.

        As expected, a factual counter response is a difficult proposition for the intellectually bankrupt.

    • Nihal Perera

      And you appear to be unaware of the definition of “dictator,” which has nothing to do with open or closed economies.

      Actually there is a strong correlation between a dictatorship and whether the economy is closed or open.

      Zimbabwe: In an age of the free market and open economy, Zimbabwe is regressing by adopting frightening characteristics of the discredited closed economy .

      http://www.newzimbabwe.com/pages/parly9.12920.html

      North Korea: The most closed economy today is probably North Korea

      http://www.economypedia.com/wiki/index.php?title=Closed_economy

      Cuba: Despite its relatively closed economy , Cuba was affected by the global economic downturn

      http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/cuba-e

      Libya: A closed economy until the revolution, the Libyan government has inherited huge foreign assets

      Iraq: With sanctions following the Gulf war, Iraq became a closed economy dominated by inefficient state- owned enterprises and no incentive to raise productivity

      http://merln.ndu.edu/archivepdf/iraq/State/60857.pdf

      We are eagerly awaiting Nihal’s attempt to backtrack out of his earlier rhetoric regarding inflation and dictatorship

      Obviously, you have never heard of the hyperinflation caused by Mugabe’s disastrous economic policy, or the hyperinflation ensuing from the Versailles Treaty which propelled Hitler to the Chancellery. In recent times, the highest rate of inflation has been in Zimbabwe, due to land reforms undertaken under a dictatorial government.

      Given that Nihal had no answer to the fact that JR had cancelled parliamentary elections

      The best that Wijayapala can do to defend the madman at Temple Trees is point to a parliamentary election cancelled by JR. The fact of the matter is, JR was the one who introduced the EP into the new constitution; he could have made himself President for life. A dictator does not respect a two-term limit; perhaps Wijayapala can find an example of a dictator within the last 50 years, who has willingly stepped down after two terms (two elections) in office.

      • wijayapala

        Nihal, as expected you failed to deliver. I provided evidence that inflation was greater under JR, and the best you could give us was some gobbledegook on Zimbabwe. Sorry, but you’ve lost!

        In recent times, the highest rate of inflation has been in Zimbabwe, due to land reforms undertaken under a dictatorial government.

        Given that your continued flatulence does not disprove the fact that inflation was the worst under JR, we can dispense with it. Unless you are comparing JR with Mugabe?

        A dictator does not respect a two-term limit

        Is Nihal now claiming that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a DICTATOR???

      • Nihal Perera

        Wijayapala conveniently ignores the fact (or perhaps he doesn’t know at all) that JR was the first President to choose an open economy model for SL. JR invested heavily in housing and infrastructure projects, which required the Central Bank to print money/borrow it, as well as lower the nominal interest rate, therefore the high rate of inflation during the JR Jayawardene period is both acceptable and understandable. Inflation was high during Mahinda’s first years because he borrowed heavily to finance the war, but why is it high now? So far the only infrastructure that Mahinda has invested in is a new port, which is largely dysfunctional, and an expresseway. He has not built any long-term housing projects for ordinary people; there are still Tamil IDP’s living under trees in the North. JR gave Sri Lanka the Mahaveli project; one of the largest irrigiation and hydroelectric projects in the world. . He created free trade zones and brought in massive foreign investment. Under Mahinda Rajapakse, soldiers are being used to sell vegetables at fixed prices in vegetable markets! Instead of letting private enterprises compete with State enterprises, Rajapakse’s strategy is to inject even more bureaucracy into the State enterprises. JR’s number one goal was economic growth, not defence, which represents yet another major difference with Mahinda.Defense expenditure was only 1.4% of the national budget in 1982. This was at a time when ethnic tensions in the North were reaching a high point. JR was investing more in civil administration than the military. In other words, the military had no ability to impact public policy in the Jayawardene government.

        Given that Nihal hasn’t been able to show how cancelling elections is consistent with democratic norms and practices

        Mahinda has only given a few crumbs to his followers, and what is the result? As expected, the followers will ferociously guard the crumbs, even though, the crumbs are still crumbs at the end of the day. One of the crumbs that Mahinda likes to periodically give his hungry followers are farcical elections. Of course, Mahinda is not the first to do this.

        Dictatorships and Elections

        Dictatorships often abuse the term “elections.” Former countries of the Soviet bloc, called “people’s democracies,” held regular elections, but citizens were forced to vote only for candidates of Communist parties or their satellite parties. Often taking over 90 percent of the vote, the Communist parties claimed greater legitimacy than Western political parties. The fallacy of this claim was made clear in the period from 1989 to 1991, when publics in many Central and Eastern European states mobilized to peacefully overthrow their governments and initiate the democratization process.

        The fabrication of electoral results is another form of rigging common to dictatorships. Sometimes, however, dictators misassess their own popularity and allow a relatively free vote to be held, believing that they cannot lose. Through voter mobilization and vigilant oversight, citizens have used such opportunities to make democratic breakthroughs (as in Chile in 1988, Poland in 1989, Serbia in 2000, and Ukraine in 2004). Many dictators, however, respond to public dissatisfaction by strengthening their control. In the last presidential election in Belarus in 2006, Alexander Lukashenko manipulated the electoral process to achieve an unbelievable Soviet-era level of 83 percent of the vote.

        http://www.democracyweb.org/elections/principles.php

    • Nihal Perera

      Also, Wijayapala should comment on why his hero promised to abolish the EP in the “Mahinda Chinthanaya”, but instead has used the powers granted by the EP to abolish the last remnants of checks and balances in the Constitution, thereby making himself dictator for life!

      • wijayapala

        Also, Nihal should comment on why a “dictator for life” should have elections at all; the fact that he must have popular support to remain in power proves without a shadow of a doubt that he is NOT a “dictator!”

        The best that Wijayapala can do to defend the madman at Temple Trees is point to a parliamentary election cancelled by JR.

        Given that Nihal hasn’t been able to show how cancelling elections is consistent with democratic norms and practices, Wije’s best has landed an egg on poor Nihal’s face! 😉

      • Nihal Perera

        In fact, the reason MR holds so many elections is clear: (I) it will strengthen his hand in the Parliament, (II) the SLFP will win the election 99.9% of the time, and (III) it is good way to ridicule the Opposition and garner public support for the SLFP from people like Wijayapala. Does Wijayapala believe MR will have so many elections if there is even a remote possibility that the latter will lose? As I said, these elections are a farce; it is the dictator throwing crumbs to his followers.

  • Thrishantha

    From the above discussion, it seems to me that we tend to ignore bitter facts and cover up our favorite political parties giving them blank checks to rip us off. The reason why I touched on the open economy and high growth rate during JR Jayawardana era was to suggest that rapid economic development was not a counter balance to bad Governance. It also suggests that “stability first, freedom and justice second” is a myth. In fact deterioration of rule of law, notion of citizenship, and justice will certainly orient a country towards chaos, and the final tsunami will hit the lives of the rich and the educated first, because they have more things to lose than the poor. So, covering up injustice will boomerang. Just look at what happened to Indonesia after the collapse of Suharto family. Those who maintained and benefited from that corrupt economic model suffered first. So, please try to rise above party politics and counter injustice in the name of your sons and daughters.

    • @Thrishantha

      Are you trying to equal the Suharto family with the Rajapaska family? It’s sad to say, but the Rajapaksas’ have outdone even the Suhartos’. There is no longer a method to the madness happening in SL. A good case in point is the killing of the British tourist in Tangale. Another example is the AL results…
      http://www.dailymirror.lk/top-story/15688-errors-in-alevel-results.html

      • Jim Angleton

        So dear bean

        2012 should be the Year of Living Dangerously to quote Suharto’s predecessor ? 🙂

      • Thrishantha

        @presidunce, I didn’t want to single out Rajapaksas. The simple point is that we should not cover up bad politicians knowing that they harm our rights and the law that protects us. There are these block voters who do this mistake that backfires on them harming others too. Even the floating voter, by voting the less evil party out of two choices, give the wrong message that they endorse what the bad politicians do to fellow citizens. Instead, we can use our ballet paper in a more meaningful manner by making it invalid. That is also a big message-“come with a better track record next time. I have no choice this time, but I am not going to let any of you rig my vote either”. This will build the most powerful block of floating voters.

  • wijayapala

    Wijayapala conveniently ignores the fact (or perhaps he doesn’t know at all) that JR was the first President to choose an open economy model for SL.

    Nihal Perera conveniently ignores the fact (or perhaps he doesn’t know at all) that JR was the first Executive President, period, which means that JR also was the first President to pick his nose, the first President to scratch his backside etc.

    Most importantly, JR was the President who started the glorious 30-year war. Nihal was too modest to describe JR’s excellent record with communal violence: 1977 riots, 1981 burning of Jaffna Library, and Nihal’s personal favorite 1983 Black July that started the war. Without this war, Sri Lanka would have wasted the billions of funds on useless things like health and education.

    JR gave Sri Lanka the Mahaveli project; one of the largest irrigiation and hydroelectric projects in the world

    Nihal Perera conveniently ignores the fact (or perhaps he doesn’t know at all) that the Mahaweli Project was an entirely state-run project that disrupted the lives of the Tamils. Here is what University Teachers for Human Rights-Jaffna had to say:

    “The open economy policy of the government which has been in power since 1977,superimposed on a legacy of minority oppression, placed the country on a new course of rising impoverishment, labour unrest and mounting corruption in public life.This greatly exacerbated a latent tendency to insurrection in both the North-East and in the South. The spirit in which minority questions were handled since Ceylon became independent in 1948, had by July 1983 given considerable popular legitimacy to the incipient militancy in the North-East. The character of the presiding government did not allow for a resolution of the minority question through statesmanship and accommodation.

    “Certain key questions will be addressed in this special report, and tentative answers suggested. It will be seen that Weli Oya resonates beyond narrow military considerations and petty corruption, encompassing the broader issues such as systematic discrimination and state aided ideologically motivated colonisation upon which the entire national question is founded. Some of the unresolved and most troubling concrete issues raised by this study are:

    Why were nearly all of the original Tamil inhabitants of the area, many of whom were victims of the 1977 communal violence trying to rebuild their lives, driven away in order to institute a development project?

    “Why does official Mahaveli Authority literature claim that there are more than 3000 families in System L of the Mahaveli Project (Weli Oya) whereas the number is barely around 500?

    Why does the government dump massive funds in an irrigation scheme (an estimated Rs 150 million from the Mahaveli Authority alone during 1993) where there is little water in prospect?

    “While tens of thousands of Tamil and Muslim refugees whose houses were destroyed by the forces have languished for over two years in the nearby Trincomalee District, without sighting a minister or even receiving the Rs 500/= for temporary cadjan shelter, two powerful ministers rushed to Weli Oya following the military debacle of 25th July to oversee arrangements to resettle the displaced Sinhalese.

    “Is the government really being benevolent towards these hapless Sinhalese, or are these people pawns in a deadly game?

    http://www.uthr.org/SpecialReports/spreport5.htm

    We are eagerly awaiting Nihal Perera’s answers.

    Defense expenditure was only 1.4% of the national budget in 1982. This was at a time when ethnic tensions in the North were reaching a high point.

    So in other words, Nihal Perera is arguing that JR intentionally avoided preparing for the very war that he started- hence its 30-year length.

    • Nihal Perera

      Wijayapala finally admits Sinhala-Buddhist fundamentalism started the war; in a different thread, Wijayapala was trying to blame the colonialists. It looks as if JR bashing has a positive therapeutic effect on Wijayapala, as far as extracting the truth is concerned!

      The war did not begin because of 1983; the war began because of the Sinhala-Buddhist fundamentalist mindset promoted by Anagarika Dharmapala that then led to SWRD’s language policy, and Sirimavo’s standardization. If we look at the evidence carefully, the 1983 riots did not kick the Tamils out of the civil service or prevent them from getting a place in the University. The real impact of the 1983 riots was that India jumped to the LTTE side with unconditional support, culminating in the Indo-Lanka Accord. Without Indian support, the LTTE would not have reached the level that it did militarily; neither would it have exhibited the level of diplomatic clout that it did.

      “The open economy policy of the government which has been in power since 1977,superimposed on a legacy of minority oppression, placed the country on a new course of rising impoverishment, labour unrest and mounting corruption in public life.

      Total rubbish.

      UNP @ DEVELOPMENT
      The Victoria diversion enabled the water flow via the Mahaweli ganga by theerection of the gigantic Dam. This is the SL’s tallest Dam measuring 338 feethigh and 1400 feet long. A sluice gate at its middle comprises four parts,each 30 feet high and with a 50 foot base. The VictoriaDamnourished aland area of 730 squaremiles andcould storefour lakhs15000 cubicacres of water. Thewater supplied by the dam for irrigation purposes annually is 926 000 cubicacres. The power grid which was constructed in conjunction with it couldproduce 370 megawatts of electricity.

      Likewise, the Yoda canal on the Southern Bank of Minipe diverted theMahaweli water collected by the Victoria Dam to cultivate 200,000 acres of land in Mahiyanagana and Maduru Oya.

      UNP @ DEVELOPMENT
      It is believed that because the Yoda canal and the Ulhitiya Oya are joined tothe Dam, the amount of water that can be collected is immense. The reservoir had the capacity to develop 10,000 acres of land.

      http://www.scribd.com/doc/21273401/The-Mahaweli-Project

      Perhaps Wijayapala has a superior proposal to irrigate 200,000 acres of land and simultaneously provide 370 megawatts of electricity?

      Of course there are environmental considerations associated with the building of these dams, but the simple truth is clear to anyone: as far as infrastructure goes, the damn is far superior to a dysfunctional port whose water level at one end is too shallow for cargo ships, and whose construction is delayed by a gigantic rock! Or perhaps when it comes to infrastructure, Wijayapala prefers the cardboard cutouts of MR plastered all over Colombo!

      • Nihal Perera

        *the dam, not damn

      • Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam

        Nihal Perera

        Thank you, for the witty write ups here.

        It’s your thoughts that are important in a debate not a few grammatical mistakes 🙂

      • wijayapala

        Wijayapala finally admits Sinhala-Buddhist fundamentalism started the war;

        Could Nihal Perera kindly show where Wije has made that admission?

        in a different thread, Wijayapala was trying to blame the colonialists.

        Wije most certainly blames the British for the ethnic conflict that preceded the war.

        If we look at the evidence carefully, the 1983 riots did not kick the Tamils out of the civil service or prevent them from getting a place in the University.

        Nihal Perera conveniently ignores the fact (or perhaps he doesn’t know at all) that the Tamils who did not get a place in the civil service or university did not join the LTTE. Prabakaran was a school dropout.

        Total rubbish.
        UNP @ DEVELOPMENT

        It is sad to see that Nihal Perera could not find any outside sources to substantiate his fantasies about Mahaweli than the UNP, hardly an objective source.

        Here is what Asoka Bandarage had to say about Mahaweli and how it failed to help the Sinhalese while dispossessing the Tamils.

      • wijayapala

        Nagalingam, do you agree with Nihal Perera that JR Jayawardene was one of the best leaders that Sri Lanka had?

  • I wonder if people like Wijayapala comment here on their own time, or do they get paid in some way for trying to whitewash the present PresiDunce and his henchmen? People like Nihal are lone voices in the wilderness…

    http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/15764-attempts-to-undermine-investigation-of-britishers-murder.html

    http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/15739-hasty-release-cause-for-blunder-sb-.html

    Sri Lanka today, is a democracy only in name. What happened to the British national and his wife, the A/Level results fiasco, and the Baharatha Lakshman murder (to name but a few examples) very very rarely happens in a democracy. In SL today there is no justice or accountability. Just the law of the jungle…and the jungle is run by a bunch of jackals while their loyal subjects…the jackasses shout ‘Jayawaywaa’ light crackers and eat kiribath… 😀

    • Yes, of course, Duncy; everyone who is smarter than you and who have arguments that are beyond your grasp must naturally be in the pay of someone. Only the stupid work for free, right?

  • PitastharaPuthraya

    Wiyapala, Offthecuff and Nihal Perera,

    I suspect that your wanting to win the argument makes the truth lost in the wilderness.

    Everything is connected like links in a chain.

    Sirimavo’s economic policy and ‘dictotorial’ tendancy paved the way for JRJ to come to power with thumping majority.

    His primary intention was the economic development in Singapore, Thaiwan, South Korea model which is with less decocracy, and rights. He opened the flood gates in 1977. The quality of life of all the people increased dramatically. We tasted Mysoor dhal, tinned fished, white suger, Maldive fish, apple, grapes, sausages, felt the softness of imported clothes, watched TV in the first time of our lives because of his economic policies. Only a few had even a Upali or Unic radio. Fridge was a super luxury.

    It is a fact that he extended his term by hoodwink and was unable to extend for a third term because of the JVP problems, situation of the country and his unpopularity. Just before Premadasa’s name was proposed, a senior UNP politicians (Probably it was Wijepala Mendis. I am not sure) proposed JRJ’s name and got the approval of the ‘committee’.

    It is my opinion that JRJ misread the general public. If he behaved as a ‘dictator’ it was because he thought that was the ‘shortest’ way to economic development. Singapore, Thaiwan, and South Korea developed under semi-dictatorships. In those countries political freedom came after the economic development. JRJ must have thought it was the correct way.

    He was different from the other dictators we know and MR in many ways. He did not amassed wealth for him and his family. He did not have a son/grand son as his successor. He did not have his relatives in top government posts. He used an old Jaguar and lived in his old bunglow in Ward place.

    However, his way of governance created many firsts, which his sucessors imitated with glee to date. Treatment of 1980 strikers, interfereing with judiciary, government behaviour during 1983 black july, banishing the TULF from the parliament, Sirimavo’s civil rights, are few of them.

    When the flood gates were opened in 1977 people were able to be rich with many hitherto unforeseen ways. Some of them, who were uneducated, uncultured bullies with tendency for thuggery showed interested in politics. The killing of the British tourist in Tangalle was done by a politician, who should be able to trace his ancestory to that post 1977 generation.

    Then Premadasa and Chandrika came. Were they better than JRJ? In my opinion they were worse.

    MR came to power on a different platform. Patriotism as opposed to economic development. Logically he should be worse than his predecessors. Is he? yes definitely?

    It is my assumption the way we progress on this downhill path we should end up with a dictatorship very soon. The closest we got was the last presidential election. If SF had won it probably we would be enjoying a dictatorship todsy. If I am to thank for MR for anything it was his decision to scrap all SF’s ambitions to be t

  • PitastharaPuthraya

    continued from my previous post. Sorry for the inadvertent disruption.

    If SF had won that election we whould have been enjoying his style of dictatorship and MR and his brother would have been in jail. If I am to thank MR for anything done after he became president it was his decision to remove SF from power as soon as the war was won. If he had been allowed to continue he would have shown us his true colours. (However, I do not approve his subsequent imprisonment throught seemingly illegal military and civil courts). Although MR (and his brothers) took the decision to ‘demote’ SF to safeguard their own positions the by product of that decision was the postponement of a dictatorial regime for a few more years. However, that joy will not last long as MR and his brothers is slowly changing in to a regime with dictatorial tendencies.

    I do not think the Rajapakshas Regime is a dictatorship at the moment because they do not have to. Without being a true dictatorship they are able to run the country with a ‘de facto’ dictatorship. Is there anything that they can not do if they want? The judiciary, AG’s department, Police, PSC, all on their side. Is there any important institution which does not do what they say? Very soon they will change the Sri Lanka Medical Council to suit their needs.

    As long as the public is with them and does not give a damn about what is happening to the country they would run the country as they do now. One day when the public is no longer buy their story the will turn their guns towards them and real dictorship would start to show their colours. With no active opposition they would treat the same people who sang hossanna to the ‘King and Princes’ Rajapakshas with same ruthlessness they treated ‘Tamils’, Media, opposition,etc years ago.

    • Thrishantha

      Hi pitastharaPuthraya,

      Unfortunately your “could have been…”, “would have been…” outcomes of a Sarath Fonseka administration are mere imaginations without any evidence. Let’s try to worry about what really happened based on facts. President Rajapaksa passed the 18th emendment allowing him to appoint judges at his discretion. And this was hurried via the back door even without Gazzetting to do the least justice to the voters. These are facts that we should be worried about, than making imaginary accusations on opposition candidates. Maybe a lot of voters became victims of the well organized
      fear mongering campaign launched through state media against opposition candidates.

    • wijayapala

      PP,

      Everything is connected like links in a chain.

      Apologies for injecting my religious views, but that is not how causality works. The actors in each “link” had the capacity to make decisions and not simply flow along with previous events. In those terms, the overwhelming culpability for the war points to JR and his goons.

      Sirimavo’s economic policy and ‘dictotorial’ tendancy paved the way for JRJ to come to power with thumping majority.

      So in other words, you are (correctly) pointing out that the most far-reaching negative effect of Mrs. B’s rule was bringing the real villain to power?

      The quality of life of all the people increased dramatically.

      Are you really so daft to believe that ordinary people were able to afford all the luxuries you are talking about, especially with the rampant inflation??????

      He did not amassed wealth for him and his family. He did not have a son/grand son as his successor. He did not have his relatives in top government posts.

      None of those change the fact that JR was the leader who started the war.

      Then Premadasa and Chandrika came. Were they better than JRJ? In my opinion they were worse.

      What did either of them do that compares with Black July?

      As long as the public is with them and does not give a damn about what is happening to the country they would run the country as they do now.

      There is a saying that in democracies, the people get the leaders that they deserve.

  • PitastharaPuthraya

    Wijayapala,

    I do not think that anybody can dispute the fact that the quality of life of people has been increased since the openning of the economy in 1977.

    Even with the inflation people enjoy the latest technology, eat good food, have more leisure time, dress in better clothes, have access to better helath facilities etc. thanks to the open economy.

    I you had lived under Sirimavo’s ‘socialist’ rule you would undersand what I say. The food rations, bread queues, rice barriers, kerosene smelling clothes, crude brown suger, prohibition of cooking rice in hotels on tuesday and thursday, the power of ‘cooperative manager’, black markets etc are few reminders of Sirimavo’s closed economy.

    JRJ did not sart the war. It was the inevitable result of cumulative effects of the policies adopted by all the post-independent Sinhalese Buddhist regimes. JRJ happened to be the leader of the country when the war broke out.

    Yes, I agree that he was primarily responsible for Black July. But, in my view, it was not the only or most imporant precursor for the out break of the ethnic war.

    All of our leaders since independence were equally responsible for the use of state violence to suppress the opponents in thei own ways. The intensity of the violence may have been different but it was always propotional to the violence of the opponents. In my opinion, the leader’s personality was not reflected by the severity of violence unleashed against their opponents. Therefore, JRJ and Premadasa, under whose regimes a 30,000 (60,000?) or more people were killed during 1987/89 were not fundamentally more vicious than Sirimavo, under whose regime only 10,000 youths were killed.

    According to my analysis JRJ is no the only ‘villain’ among our leaders.

    I said Chandrika and Premadasa (and MR) were worse than JRJ not in terms of the number of people killed but in terms of the general deterioraton of the quality of the governance.

    Sirimavo’s regime with all its problems had a vision to develop the country economically based on the accepted economic model at that time. It is my opinion that the only other leader who had a vision to develop the country was JRJ.

    It is a well-known fact that political freedom is inextricably linked to economic development. Western style of democracy will never take a foot hold in 3rd world countries like ours unless the majority is economically emancipated. However, what JRJ did not understand was Sri Lankan public had enjoyed 30 years of democracy with regular elections and had been subjected to utopian socialist ideas more than a half a century by the time he came to power in 1977. He did not realize that Sri Lankan public was fundamentally different from their counterparts in Hongkong, Thaiwan, South Korea, and Singapore. Moreover, he did nto take our ethnic problem into consideration when he laid our his plans for economic progress. That was why he was unable to have become the Sri Lankan Lee Kwan Yu.

    The uniqueness of Sri Lankan psyche compared to the other Asian countries, which JRJ could to understand, is amply demonstrated by the kind of opposition they have for the private medical college in Malabe (SAITM) (and had for the PMC in late 80’s). Sri Lanka is the only South Asian country, which does not have private medical colleges.

    JRJ failed because he did not appreciation the fact that once it is tasted no one can take away the feeling of freedom very easily.

    How MR and his brothers are going to tackle this same issue would be a interesting topic for the coming years.