The threat of fascism has taken a new twist with UNP State Minister for Child Affairs Vijayakala Maheswaran taking the focus away from the religious and pious advise to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to live up to the Hitler name that he is associated with. It has also pushed aside to some extent the troubles faced by Mahinda Rajapaksa and the SLPP over the report in the New York Times about Chinese funding for the MR Presidential race in January 2015. It is the new spin of politics in the country, which is raising major issues for both the Government and the Opposition, drawing both influential foreign forces and the divisions of internal politics into the conundrum of governance in Sri Lanka.
The news of the resignation of Austin Fernando from the office of Secretary to the President, turns another light to the many controversial issues of governance that has dominated public interest in the past few months; with the revelations from the Bond Scam moving beyond what was expected from that probe. They are not confined to the UNP, Arjuna Mahendran and related conflicts of interest, but extending the recipients of perpetually crooked generosity, embracing both the UNP and SLFP, and certainly many others in elevated quarters of governance.
Vijayakala has gleefully waded into the politics of hatred with her call for the renewal of the LTTE. It could hardly be a ‘slip of the tongue’ as she says, but a deliberate thought on what she, and possibly others in Tamil politics too, think of the status of ethnic politics in the country. In fact, although not stated so directly, the Northern Province Chief Minister Vigneswaran has also made several public statements that held high the role of the LTTE in the cause of Tamil people and politics. What has now happened, is that a Minister of State of the UNP-led Government, praising the LTTE terrorist leader, and looking for the return for those Prabhakaran Tamil Tiger decades to serve the needs of the Tamil people. The attack is certainly directed against the UNP, and in the current political context it is hardly the stuff that Ranil Wickremesinghe would want to face.
Vijayakala should also consider the recent tearful farewell the Tamil people of Vishvamadu gave to Col. Ratnapriya Bandu of the of the Civil Security Department, who worked for the rehabilitation of former LTTE cadres, which shows a different attitude among Tamils who had served under the LTTE, by force or conviction, in those hard decades of a terrorist war. This shows there are other aspects of Tamil thinking, and understanding of the situation under the LTTE, which is far removed from Vijayakala, and still has hopes for genuine reconciliation.
Spur to racist forces
Her statement, apart from its highly questionable content and deserving of the strongest criticism, is the stuff that is ideal to spur the racist thinking among both Tamils and Sinhalese, and arouse majoritarian forces among the Sinhalese, seen take place in Parliament, and the statements issued by many political and religious personalities and organisations, calling for her removal from office – as State Minister, and possibly from Parliament too.
The use of Vijayakala for that terrible mockery of parliamentary procedure this week, was in fact a larger show of the failure of the content of democracy in this country, although we are the oldest democracy in Asia, and the oldest Asian Parliament. The criticism of Vijayakala by UNP Ministers and backbenchers too, and the quick action by the Speaker to refer the matter to the Attorney General, was the ideal situation to move a Motion in Parliament against her performance, and take it to the proper legal consequences.
What happened instead was a total distortion of the parliamentary process, which raises many questions about the parties and candidates that desire to be chosen by the people at the coming elections. It also poses a major question about the substance of democracy in the country, and whether we are heading away from the goals of democracy.
Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and the UNP will have to work with speed to take the necessary disciplinary procedure against Vijayakala. There will be rising calls for her removal from Parliament, on the alleged matter of violating the Constitution. This must be left to the Courts to decide with speed, and not become a delay by recusals, leading to increased concerns about the independence of the Judiciary.
Vijayakala has also raised questions about the success of the yahapalana policies in bringing about post-war reconciliation, which should worry both President Sirisena and the Prime Minister; and also concerns about the moves towards fascism in the country, which needs serious consideration.
The fascist message
Sri Lanka’s worries about fascism is not confined to the individual – Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who is known as Hitler (and not denied) – but also to a wider trend in the world, especially in the West, where the rise of populism is showing increasing signs of a possible return to the fascism that led to World War II and could push back the post-war democratic progress in the West. it is interesting to note that Gotabhaya Rajapaksa himself had referred to the news about the call for Hitlerism led by him to be ‘fake news’, which is the very stuff of Donald Trump, who is himself showing strong trends of anti-democratic policies, much closer to fascism.
Vijayakala’s call for a return of the LTTE, will certainly give more strength to the voices of those who see the need for a renewed authoritarian governance in Sri Lanka, which is the very stuff of the Rajapaksa Regime that was defeated by the people more than three years ago. While the populism, especially in Europe is against immigration, and moving to major restrictions on immigrants and their children by the US today, the fascist rise here has all indications of being against minorities – both ethnic and religious, and economic development that is business driven and not social and public driven.
The authoritarian – pro-fascist – message gets stronger with the publicized meeting of the Rajapaksa brotherly trio – Mahinda, Gotabhaya and Basil -this week, with the necessary religious rituals, and the statement by Mahinda Rajapaksa that Gotabhaya’s “Viyath Maga” was in keeping with the Mahinda Chinthanaya. It would be interesting to know which edition of the Mahinda Chinthanaya is the stuff of the Viyath Maga. Is it in the promotion of business interests of the money makers of the Rajapaksa Regime, and does it accept the abolition of the Executive Presidency, but would add to its powers and unlimited continuance as Mahinda did?
Those limited voices against the Heil Arya Sinhala Gota Hitler forces, who are having some impact in the media, but show little success within the Joint Opposition and the Rajapaksa political retinue, must have some cause for concern because the publicity for the Rajapaksa brotherly gathering did not give any place to the fourth brother, Chamal, promoted by these non-Gota voices as the likely choice for the presidential candidate.
The refusal to reject fascism by the Hitler namesake, and the many moves being made to say the call by the Anunayaka Thera of the Asgiriya Chapter for a Hitler-led military awakening to build this country was a call for a religious righteousness in national leadership, continues to ring hollow in the wider public mind. But, the realities of politics and the decline in the democratic process and democratic thinking, certainly gives much cause for concern about the revival of a dictatorial family trend in the country.
Ports of political worry
The loud rejections by the Rajapaksa forces of material in the recent New York Times of a Chinese company, engaged in port building in Sri Lanka, funding the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidential election bid, does not take the story away.
The very mention of the details of a government investigation seen by the writer (and associates) of this story, places a burden on the Government to come out with everything it has on this Sino-Lankan political crookedness. The name of the bank that issued the cheques is given, so the probe cannot be difficult for any authority.
There can be no question the NYT could have given priority to its anti-Chinese and pro-American interests in this story. That is part of international relations. But, those affected are us in Sri Lanka. It is thus necessary for people here to know the truth about these allegations, and how much these may have contributed to the Chinese economic impact on this country. Also, the efforts by members of the JO to threaten the local journalists who contributed to this story needs the strongest condemnation in support of Media Freedom.
This exposure underscores the need for urgent and careful action, by legislation to control the funding of all elections in the country, whether from Perpetual crooks here, or Chinese or any other companies engaged in whatever development projects.
The strengthening of Democracy, demands Clean Elections – away from manipulative and crooked funding of politicians and political parties.