The dead ropes

Monday, 29 October 2018 00:14 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

YES, PRIME MINISTER! Sorry/State – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara


In politics, as in life, there are no permanent friends – or enemies. All is in flux. When circumstances or situations change, people go with the flow. Rare is the man (or woman) in public life who stays rooted in one dear spot. Although we ‘gravely’ wish some of them would take up permanent residence ‘six feet under’ – courtesy RAW, the Grim Reaper, No Confidence Motions, et al.

Stuff happens every day. Some days – like 11 September or 26 October – are worse than others. Whether we interpret it as enemy action or egregious happenstance says a lot about both ‘us’ as observers as well as ‘them’ as actors. However we do, there is no denying that reality is many layered and multidimensional. Especially in politics, the ‘truth’ might be good, bad and ugly – all at the same time… like the three main players on our political stage today.

Be that as it may, in a milieu where the uncertainty principle prevails – and we are all dead (or alive – at the same times) in the long run, let me essay a few ways in which we could interpret the events of the past few weeks, which came to a head as the last week ended:


The naïve view is that this is all a shock or at least a surprise to all and sundry. No one saw it coming. When it did, it was such a hopper-eating fiesta all over again. Sorry – not true. Weeks ago, the writing was on the wall… a visit by father and son to see ‘Big Brother’ across the Palk Strait; the rumours of an assassination attempt; that presidential visit to the Seychelles, that haven of tax cheats and other duplicitous bigwigs.  


The cynical view is that it is all a managed spectacle in which the political ruling class moves us the duped people around the chessboard while they cynically exchange knights for rooks. Or queens for crooks! If so, the only question that remains unanswered: is it a solitary Machiavelli pulling the strings from behind the scenes as well on centre stage – manipulating his way from a junior minister in a jumbo cabinet to executive PM in a post-constitutional reform neo-government? Or is it an oligarchic cabal of actors from across and below and between the MR-manufactured artificial political divide? Is MS in the game? Or is he a pawn? 


The tactical view is that it’s not limited to local petty politics but part of a larger regional if not global game for a lucrative slice of the world’s largest maritime and littoral states pie. The US, India à la RAW ex parte Modi and/or China cum Exim Bank are all key agitators. And we’d better like it or lump it. Because in a decade, Sri Lanka will be the cynosure of the next trade war as well as the oceanic stage for a showdown between regional and international powers. True story! 


The bottom line from a purely subjective perspective is that we the supposedly constitutionally safeguarded people have been deceived and double penetrated by our politicos for the umpteenth time, which is unlikely to be the last. That many staunch democratic-republicans are losing their newfound hope in our erstwhile national project is understandable. But also unnecessary. And we would encourage civil society in all its glory or gaucheness to fight the good fight and continue to rage against the dying of the light. Even when the new hope seems gone. Or especially when…


The dominant mode among ordinary democratic republicans like you or I is that we’ve been right royally screwed over… in fact, double penetrated – and it would have been a threesome, but I doubt our head can get it up hard enough to make a bra-throwing lady Lanka even faintly interested, be she inebriated or not, if she’s permitted to buy booze. So let me end my controlled diatribe on why I, like y’all, have no confidence in political personages any more…

  • I have no confidence in Maithripala Sirisena. Because we elected him three years ago to do just one job. But he has tried to do three and failed at all. #ExecPrezMustGo!
  • I have no confidence in Ranil Wickremesinghe. Because we trusted him to be a gentleman politician and put Sri Lanka back in her rightful place in the sun. But he has done nothing but pander to the old boy network while making smart comments about the political opposition and gadding about the globe like a would-be statesman to assure the Western world that there is nothing to fear from China when he has all but admitted to India that this is all he fears. #PMsucks
  • I have no confidence in Mahinda Rajapaksa. Because we thought that after we sent him home with a resounding message post his two-term fiasco, he would learn a lesson and stay away. But he has rattled sabre, roused rabbles, and rounded the worst troops possible for safeguarding a return of the Rajapaksa regime under any banner – be it brother or son with him as proxy power behind the game of thrones. #Potboilers

By the way, I still have faith in the offices that these fallen antiheroes held or still hold. But that man Acton had it right. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

There is no greater heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it. A war hero, a republican champion and a could-have-been statesman have proven that in spades to us their electorates.

Have you seen how great men are almost always bad men? And even mediocre ones can be uglier than their respective public images!

(Journalist | Editor-at-large of LMD | Writer #SpeakingTruthToPower)

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