By Shyamon Jayasinghe –May 9, 2017
“Politicians no longer ask the question if it is true; rather whether it will sell.”
What is this government of President Sirisena doing? Waiting, watching, ruminating while the old dictator is mobilising crowds unleashing his money and the moneys of other former UPFA government’s Ministers including his rich brother Basil Rajapaksa. Maybe Yoshitha’s phantom grandma has also put in some of the riches she is said to have earned after selling the sapphires mysteriously gotten from a heavenly angel. Sri Lanka is fairy land-although broke.
My primary focus is on the recent political developments running up to Galle Face May Day. Here, from so far away, we in Australia with a bit of political intuition can see the conspiracy unfolding before our eyes. Vickramabahu, perhaps Sri Lanka’s sincerest politician, announced an imminent danger in an interview that is becoming viral in social media. The old clan led by Mahinda Rajapaksa are hell -bent on coming back to rule until Mahinda dies. This must happen before the court cases get through. They are a desperate political junta. Desperate because their lives are at stake. When people are desperate they will do anything to survive. That is the human behavioural law. Maitripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe must know this.
The outlines of the conspiracy is getting clearer by the day. The junta gets round the once-respected GMOA to spearhead trade union activity when their primary responsibility is to heal the sick. This is one clear frontline of the Mahinda Rajapaksa strategy. More than any other trade union that of the doctors of medicine has the strongest blackmailing power. This is the first time in the world we have seen a noble elite of men and women, raised and trained by the money of taxpayers to look after the sick, the wounded and the dying, behaving in this outrageous manner. Trade unionism is a recognised right all right; but medical doctors and related health personnel are not expected to employ the right to strike unless after exploring every other avenue.
The GMOA, that never blinked an eyelid when Mahinda, while in power, set put the SAITM and gratuitously showering benefits on that private medical college. Only now does the GMOA see the immediate danger of SAITM. They are frantic about it and not willing to get into any creative solution by discussion with the government to solve the issue that was not the government’s creation anyway. GMOA is obtuse about viewing the problem from the point of view of the students already there. No, they want to organise islandwide trade union activity. Never heard of a GMOA attempting to get around workers in the petroleum industry and other critical industries to join them in a kind of hartal. A hartal is what this trade union is aiming at. Like the one in 1962 that drove away perhaps of Sri Lanka’s best Prime Minister, Dudley Senanayake. GMOA now wants to drive away the new government of yahapalanaya that was elected by the people sans any controversy about election manipulation.
Any out -of -the box proposal of the government, is meat for the GMOA mill in this collective effort. It is astonishing that its rank and file does not see through the manoeuvres of its leaders. Doctors are supposed to be educated, critical and enlightened. Aren’t they? The move to form a regional trade agreement with our neighbouring India (ECTA) is opposed. What have doctors got to do with such policy matters?The best part of this is that the agreement is not even finalised for public consumption. It is in the process of negotiation. Agreements for leasing land to China in Hambantota partly as a way of solving the massive debt trap with that country that Mahinda Rajapaksa had created and partly as a sound concept of foreign direct investment with the potential of generating jobs for our youth, is opposed.
What more? It looks like the government will have to consult the GMOA in future before they moot any future projects. Why not give such a modus operandi constitutional status in the proposed new constitution? Good idea. Doctors would also be able to make big bucks like other politicians.The country will then be saddled with a serious problem of trying to find doctors who can heal our sick.
While these background developments were on the burner, Mahinda and his men organised a May Day in Galle Face. Crowds of people were packed into buses and lorries and brought to fill Galle Face.
“See! We have filled Galle Face,” the former dictator cried. Unlike in the other two rallies of the UNP, SLFP and JVP we hardly saw any party caps among the audience. With the black money in possession, the downtrodden from villages in Down South were persuaded to attend. Jocular artists like Wijeweera were made to perform.
The highlight to me was how Wimal Weerawansa was introduced as, “the man who went to jail due to his heart-pouring and overflowing love for the country.” Is that why Wimal was arrested? He is charged for embezzlement of some millions of rupees of public funds and diverting houses constructed out of taxpayer money to his kith and kin. What an overflowing patriotism that was! Poor Wimal tried his old antics of going on a non-dying fast- unto- death but none took him seriously. It was like calling,”Wolf! Wolf!.”
To cap it all, was the May Day speech of Mahinda Rajapaksa, where he became utterly jingoistic underlying the need to save the motherland! It was rabble rousing and insular intone-full of deception and what we now know as “alternative facts.” The term became famous and instantly entered the lexicon of politics after Donald Trump’s senior Adviser, Kellyanne Convey, fist used it.
Mahinda has quickly learnt from the Trump campaign of lies. From the Trump campaign the world began to realise that “politicians no longer ask if its true; rather whether it will sell.” Mahinda knows well to create alternative facts that will sell. Above all, he threatened to bring a similar crowd next time and take over the government! Can you beat that?