Where President Mahinda Rajapaksa went wrong?
Posted on February 25th, 2016
Dr Sudath Gunasekara Secretary to Former Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and President Sinhala Bauddha Jestha Puravesiyange Sanvidhanaya Mahanuwara 24.02.2016.
I have never had any relationship with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, either political or personal. I have made only one personal request from him through Mr Lalith Weeratunga his Secretary, whom I came to know as a Committee Member of the Sri Lanka Administrative Services Association when I was its President from 1991 to 1994. The subject my request to MR was a road to my ancestral village Meemure, which was never done in spite of my repeated requests. As such I have no hosanna to praise him either. Any way I am not hasty to blame him as I do not know whether Lalith had passed on my request to him. I also failed to get even an interview to discuss this matter with him. Finally rather desperately I invited him to visit my village in 2014 to witness the pathetic conditions of this historic village and its people. My personal experience tells me that if I had made a similar request to President Premadasa or Lalith Atulathmudaly I am hundred percent sure both of them would have definitely come and taken prompt action on my request and today Meemure would have been an entirely a different village. Was it my misfortune or the bad luck of my village and its people I do not know. In 2004 sept I wrote an article from America supporting him under the caption Who are the real enemies of Bandaranaike Policies” In that article I supported him to the hilt and I was the first person to have predicted his victory in 2005 Presidential Election. It appeared in the Island and Prabath, Editor wrote back saying Sir your piece went down very well. I do not think any other person would have done better” I also sent a copy to MR with a congratulatory message after the Election. But he never had the courtesy even to say thank you.
Nevertheless even today I admire MR as the most outstanding President and national leader of Sri Lanka in contemporary history for the following highlights among his achievements as a Head of a so-called poor Third World State.
- Winning the war against the LTTE terror, the most dangerous and savages terrorist outfit in the world acclaimed as undefeatable, and unifying the country after 30 years of terror, killing, mayhem and disaster. It is true that it was the three forces that fought the battle, died in thousands and won the war. But it was MR who gave the political leadership as the Commander. Had he hesitated, as all his predecessor Presidents, by this time Sri Lanka would have been definitely two countries? Not only he was determined to end it but he also openly declared his stance to the world as a real leader, thereby taking a very big risk.
2 He stood firm against India and the Western bullies in defense of this country and his people as a true leader and a patriot
3 He also kept the so-called Minorities in their places. He declared that there are no minorities and there is only one nation in this country, though he did not specify Sinahla as the nation
4 He adopted the correct and strategic foreign policy by aligning with China and Pakistan when there was none to help this country to fight the terrorist
5 He achieved a mission which even world powers like USA and Russia could not do
6 His achievements at Hambantota, the Harbour and the Airport
7 The vast network of infrastructure development all over the country, where the pride of place goes to the net work of super highways like Colombo-Katunayaka and the Southern highway he achieved while engaged in a massive an extremely arduous war
8 By defeating the LTTE he liberated the whole nation from terror, fear and death of hundreds of people occurring daily in every nook and corner of this country and brought peace and sanity and enabled a fear stricken populous to live freely after 30 long years of terror and uncertainty.
9 He never betrayed the country like those of the UNP in the ilk of JR and Ranil and even Chandrika
Even if he had done nothing other than winning the war against the LTTE and ending the 30 year war no one can dismiss him as a failed leader like Chandrika, a rainbow leader, who had done nothing for 11 years other than destroying all what her great and illustrious parents had done from 1956 to 1977. As such whatever his political enemies say, in my opinion he stands above all other Modern Heads of State in Sri Lanka as towering Himalaya. His place in Mahavamsa is already engraved in golden letters as a Great leader of this Island nation who followed the footsteps of Dutugemunu who defeated Elara in the 2nd century BC and Vijayabahu 1st who chased away Magha the intruder in the 11th century.
What is more is the 2009 war was a much more difficult task than the historical and conventional wars of the Kings in every respect. For example the art of war, the scale and the parties involved were poles apart. The historical war was confined to the land and they were fought between two parties only, south Indian intruders vs the native forces. Even the Indian Government was not involved in those wars. But the 2009 war was three dimensional and it used much more sophisticated weapons; in addition to the local LTTE Tamil terrorist the Government also had to face the whole world on their side Headed by India and supported by UK, USA, Norway and the entire Western block and the so-called Tamil Diaspora spread all over the world who provided large sums of funds and military assistance; India provided the training, armory, money and military advice and assistance against the Sri Lankan Government; they also barred the supply of military equipment to the Sri Lanka Government while providing enough supplies to the LTTE; in addition most of these countries provided military advice as well. Meanwhile the western block as well as India exerted pressure on the President to stop the final battle and USA had even secretly made arrangements to rescue Prabhakaran and top LTTE leaders before which the Sri Lankan forces eliminated the enemy at Nandikadal. Immediately after the war he carried out a massive development programme, unprecedented in history, in the North and the East having allocated the largest sum of money for any area thereby recording the highest rate of growth in the Island.
The way how the masses rallied round him and visited him at Medamulana after the election from all over the country like no other leader defeated in election anywhere in the world alone sufficient to judge his popularity as a charismatic leader. Isn’t that an authentic barometer of this man as a national leader?
Then why he lost the Presidential election?
In spite of all these achievements why did MR lost the Presidential Election. Most people attribute his defeat to external factors like conspiracies by International community and Indian RAW manipulations. But if you carefully analyze the election results you will find that it was the Tamil and Muslim block vote which actually changed the balance. In addition the JVP and new votes blocks were also critical factors. All these vote bases together with the UNP block vote determined to come to power after long years of starving upset the balance. It was not the popularity of the Common candidate which mattered. Even Ranil himself would have won it. For that matter any common candidate would have won it. Because more than anything else it was the ungrateful and revenge full Tamil and Muslim vote base that mattered in that election.
Although these were the major factors that contributed there were other factors which I think were even more important for MRs defeat. MR alone is responsible for all this which he earned mostly in the post 2009 period. I put them in to two categories as follows.
1 Blunders MR did which he should never have done as an elected Head of a State
1 The arrest and imprisonment of Sarath Fonseka, the acclaimed war hero, and the way he was treated for the wonderful job he did as Army Commander to win the war.
2 The way Sirani Bandaranayaka CJ was sent home and treated for not supporting the Divineguma Act in spite of her supporting the 18th Amendment
3 The infamous 18th Amendment seeking election for a third time as the President
4 Failure to take actions against people like Mervin, Duminda, Mtuhettigama and many others who had committed serious crimes under his Government
5 Rampant nepotism like appointing his close relation with no professional qualification as Ambassadors Chairmen of Corporations etc
6 Appointment of Basil a novice to politics, as a senior Minister who messed up and betrayed the Kandyan peasants by scrapping the Kandyan Peasantry Commission and the Upcountry Development Authority that cost loss of all the Kandyan areas.
7 Above all going for early elections while he could have waited the full period during which time he could have mended some of the mistakes he did. (In fact on 2nd of Dec 2014 I wrote to him on this matter and advised not to go for early elections) But all that fell on deft years
8 His heavy dependence on occult science and believing people like Sumanadasa Abegunawardhana
9 Overestimated overconfidence and miscalculation of his vote strength and the mirage of trust he had on Tamil and Muslim opportunist politicians and inability to ascertain their hypocrisy in the correct perspective like all other Sinhala leaders in the post Independence period
10Holding the NPC and NEP council elections
2 Things which should have been done but he never did
1 Immediately after the war was over he should have scraped the 1987 Rajiv -JR Pact and also
abolished the Provincial Councils and all unconstitutional steps taken under the 13th Amendment forthwith, such as
- a) Giving unconditional Citizenship to all Indian Tamils on the Estates and
- b) Making Tamil an Official Language
2 A Failure to abolish not only the Provincial councils but also the very provinces carved out by the British to perpetuate their divide and rule policy to meet their strategic, economic and political colonial agenda
3 Failure to abolish the Proportional electoral system and the District MP system and to restore the previous simple first-past-the –post system which would have eneured every electorate to return a member to Parliament
4 Failure to RE-establish the Tun Rata, Ruhunu, Pihiti and Maya, the most appropriate geopolitical division to this country as that was the time tested political divisions for almost nearly 2500 years. That alone could have put an end to Communal and divisive politics in this country and paved the way for permanent ethnic reconciliation and also saved 2/3 the cost of governance in this country. This proposal I had brought to his notice several times for the past 10 years
5 Dismal failure to sack Maitripala Sirisena from the Party as soon as he left to contest as the Common Candidate. Had he done it immediately MR would have still continued as the President of the party and would have even won the August elections and got appointed as the Prime Minister of the people. That would also have put MS in a precarious situation with his feet neither in SLFP or UNP either.
6 His failure to tell the world that this is the only Sinhala Buddhist country in the world and Sinhalese are the nation. And Tamils and Muslims are only two ethnic minority groups. Since he came from Mgama in Ruhuna, the land of the nation’s hero Dutugamunu, he had the legacy to do so than any other. In fact when I predicted his victory in 1905 Presidential Election in an article in the Island under the caption Who are the real enemies of Bandaranaike Policies” I expected him to be a Dutugemunu reborn.
- His failure to make Sirisena the Prime Minister at least on the second term
- 8 Not listening to well meant advice given in good faith by the Mahasangha and people like Nalin Silva and me
9 Neglecting the Kandyan areas and allowing Basil to abolish the Kandyan Peasantry dept and ountry Development Authority
10 His inability to build up a single popular regional leader of stature from the Kndyan region who would not have deserted him in adversity and be an asset to him and the country at large.
11 Put the minorities in their places and declared this land as the Sinhale that was ceded to British in 1815.
Had he been able to achieve this agenda he would have definitely ended up as the unassailable leader who retrieved the pristine Lanka that was lost in the 13 the century and continyed as the nation’s leader for many more years to come.
I have never being SLFP or UNP though I have been associated with the SLFP in my student days from 1956 to 1962, mainly due to the Sinhala Buddhist nationalism that emerged in 1956 under S.W.R.D, The Veyangoda Central College where I did my UP and my colleagues at the University at Peradeniya most of whom were from Central Colleges have exerted a tremendous influence during these formative years. But since I joined public service in 1962 I have strictly adhered to public service rules and regulations as a public servant though alternatively both UNP and SLFP have labeled me as a SLFP man or a UNP man whenever they were in power. This was mainly due to my refusal to grant their requests which were inconsistent with rules and regulations and often went against public interest. I always thought though it is a duty a public servant to carry out the policies and programmes of the Government of the day it was more important to do the correct thing in the interest of the public in the ultimate analysis. So in this mental frame work I had the courage to say no to people like Tamara Ilangaratna, U.P.Y Jinadasa, Gaminij Disanayaka, W.M.P.B. Disanayaka Chief Minister CP, Dharmadasasa Banda, Lalith Atulathmudali, Renuka Herath, Luxman Jayakody and even President Wijetunga over the years. Some of them got angry with me. But I survived and finally ended up as the Secretary to Mrs Sirimavo Bdaranaike, the first woman Prime Minister in this world, maintaining the independence of Public Service and proved that a public servant. Of all these political p[ersonalitiesI had my best relationship with Ms Bandaranaike, Lalith Atulathmudali, Gamini Disanayaka and Tamara Ilangaratna.
Why I print these few words here is just to tell my readers that I am not a torch bearer to any politician. These are my personal views as an independent citizen who is concerned only over my motherland, my nation and my religion.