Would Asgiriya Chapter Anunayake Thera’s Birthday Anusasana Advice to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa Bring About the Emergence of an “Arya Sinhala Hitler” in Sri Lanka?


Lucien Rajakarunanayake

Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa arriving at the FCID on Monday. Picture by Rukmal Gamage
Former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa arriving at the FCID on Monday. Picture by Rukmal Gamage
The twists and turns of politics are moving into fresh confrontations both within the government, and between the government and opposition. The call for a local Hitler by a senior member of the Maha Sangha continues to hold the interest in the political debate, while Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Joint Opposition will certainly have to face questions about Chinese funding for MR’s election in the Presidential Poll in January 2015, and Mahinda Rajapaksa is offering to be a political courier to bring his cousin Udayanga Weeratunga for investigations on corruption.

The birthday anusasana where Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was asked to follow the Hitler tradition of using the army to rebuild what was seen as a fast declining country, continues to echo in the discourse on politics, with Gotabhaya himself stating the reverend monk’s counsel was for him, which he clearly understood, while those who did not understand it are making a big noise about it.

It is interesting to know what exactly is understood by anyone, listening to an important anusasana or advisory sermon by one learned in religion, who reminds a former officer of the Sri Lanka Army, who as Secretary of Defence, is said to have been known as a Hitler, and is a likely candidate for the next Executive Presidency, to follow the example of the German Nazi leader, and give leadership to the Army to face what is seen as the noticeable decline in the country.

The letters published in the media show an interesting twist in thinking about Hitler. There was one writer (in The Island) who had learnt from his readings about Hitler, when in the UK, that he was a vegetarian, a teetotaler, a non-smoker, and an Austrian. He never learnt about the Nazi concentration camps, and more than six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. There is also light reading that reminds us of how many in the early days of World War II, had a high regard for Hitler, as part of the anti-Colonial British thinking over here. But, many of them did change their thoughts when the truths about the Holocaust were revealed. The defenders of the Hitler message are at great pains to say that what the Anunayake Thera wanted Gotabhaya to be was a ‘righteous leader’ – in the context of righteousness as found in Buddhist teachings. There are also some who recall Adolf Hitler’s special interest in the Aryan race, and his thinking of Germans as a higher race. We did have politicians and lay people in our country who were impressed by this Aryan interest of Hitler – Caucasian people of Nordic descent, who are not Jews. The way the current thinking goes, it is not impossible that we would soon see supporters of a new Arya Sinhala Hitler, who would take the leadership of this country, with the full support of his family of authoritarians, who are seeking a return to the offices of power they held not too long ago, and the business interests who benefited most from that regime.

It is certainly surprising that a monk of the rank of an Anunayake of the Asgiriya Chapter of the Siyam Nikaya, having to use an example of a Hitler for the benefit of this country, which we are told was his goal. It is necessary to tell those who try to explain the Hitler goal in terms of a ‘dahaemi’ or righteous leadership, shown to Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. Was there no ‘dahaemi’ leader in all the history of Buddhism and the teachings of the Buddha, to seek such an example in the most brutal dictator of the modern age? Is the burning down of the Reichstag by the Nazis in 1933 a sign of the righteous leadership that was to follow from Adolf Hitler? We do have a parliament that needs major changes, but will any righteous or ‘dahaemi’ leader think of burning it down?

This Hitler rhetoric, which Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says was meant for him and was understood, certainly calls for much better education on political history worldwide in this country, especially in the education of those who will preach messages of righteousness to their followers, of whatever faith or conviction.

The China benefits

Talk of how Western powers funded the political campaign that saw the major political change, defeating of the Rajapaksa Regime in January 2015, has been the frequent chorus of the Joint Opposition (JO) and other forces opposed to the coalition of unity in office today.

The Western powers who they see as being supportive of the LTTE’s separatist agenda, and Indian interests which are certainly opposed to the LTTE, but are opposed to the Rajapaksa, are seen as the key funders and manipulators of the political campaign that saw the defeat of the authoritarian Rajapaksa Regime. The weak publicity strategies of the government, being more involved in internal divisions that in larger issues outside, have done little to meet this propaganda of its opponents. But there is new information of a major foreign influence that funded the Rajapaksa political and polls campaign, which does turn a new light on the political realities of Sri Lanka.

The New York Times (NYT) has reported on June 15, 2018, that the Mahinda Rajapaksa campaign received large payments from Chinese sources, which were linked to the Hambantota Port and Mattala Airport construction projects, associated with China’s own efforts to tilt influence away from India in the South Asian region.

What is most interesting in the NYT report is that these payments from Chinese companies were confirmed by documents and cash cheques detailed in government investigations, seen by the NYT. What is disturbing is that Sri Lankan officials involved in these negotiations had underscored the intelligence and strategic possibilities of the Hambantota and Mattala locations, and had gone beyond the commercial considerations of the projects.

As the January 2015 election moved closer, payments from Chinese companies had moved more to the former president’s office. It is reported that US $ 7.6 million was dispersed to affiliates of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s campaign. Just 10 days before the poll US$ 3.7 million had been given for printing of T-shirts and other promotional material, US$ 297,000 given for gifts to supporters of the candidate, US$ 38,000 paid to a popular Buddhist monk supporting the Rajapaksa presidency, and cheques totaling US$ 1.7 million given to pro-Rajapaksa volunteers via Temple Trees.

Knowing the nature of the campaigning that was done, with T-shirts and other publicity gimmicks at enormous costs, there is little doubt that the Rajapaksa campaign did receive funds from so far unknown and undeclared sources. The case decided in Court about ‘sil redi’, is just one example of the propaganda strategies. The news of the large sums of money that was removed from Temple Trees just as the election results were coming is also an indication of the corruption that was taking place.

It is now the duty of the Government to make clear statements on whatever investigations have been conducted on foreign funding for the Rajapaksa campaign at the last presidential poll, and take steps to prevent such expenditure in all coming elections in the country.

Namal Rajapaksa stating that the NYT report has inaccuracies is hardly the required response to it. Why not give details of the amounts received and what they were used for.

Udayanga courier

Mahinda Rajapaksa is now giving assurances that his cousin, Udayanga Weeratunga, Sri Lanka’s former ambassador in Russia, who is allegedly associated with massive corruption over the purchase of MiG fighter jets from Ukraine, will be brought to Sri Lanka by him, with the government still failing to bring him from Dubai, despite an Interpol Red Alert.

The former president has certainly made an interesting offer. The question arises as to why he had to wait so long to make this generous offer, when he knew for a very long time that Udayanga Weeratunga was wanted by the Sri Lankan authorities for a serious probe? Udayanga Weeratunga did meet him abroad on several occasions when the country was taking steps to have him brought down to the country. Is it because the Interpol alert is now moving into action, and he sees a good opportunity to give special assistance to his cousin, whom he would bring down?

Courtesy:Daily News