the magnificent - he means it
"When everybody's somebody, then no-one's anybody."
Does Milinda Moragoda remind you of that line? If Milinda Moragoda
is Athulathmudali without the charisma, and Gamini Dissanayake without
his magnetism, then Milinda Moragoda is a political everybody, right?
who? Says Milinda Moragoda of course. Last week, Milinda Moragoda
was sitting in the Eastern province, talking to students of the
Eastern University, with Rauff Hakeem by his side.
takes a break from discussing deadly issues such as political unrest
in the East, and switches to something profound. You can see it
in his look. He gazes heavenward. It is a signal that everybody
should hang on to this vastest, mostest and latest profundity. Which
course. "My colleagues say I am funny,'' he announces, and
Eastern University students thought they had problems. " My
colleagues think I am funny,'' he goes on. "Because I don't
think of only one side. I think of both sides in an issue. I am
like that, I am different.''
So here he
is. Modern visionary. Thinks of both sides in an issue. Hear hear
only - or his most vocal - political pitch sorry, is that he is
different from all other politicians, his pitiable humdrum "
colleagues.'' That you have to hand it to him is true. He is the
only politician who spends half the time talking about himself,
and how he is different from the rest of the pack. He has something
to say, this one. While all others try to talk about the issues,
however insincere or hypocritical they may sound - Moragoda talks
about himself. Don't believe it? See this week's MTV footage on
which Moragoda 'discusses the burning problems of the East.'
Moragoda is a sacred-cow, says one of my liberal companions. That's
because he is involved in the peace process. Anton Balasingham likes
him in a scholarly kind of way (even though he is more chummy with
G. L. Peiris - that's right, G. L. Peiris takes first place in the
vital Balasingham friendship stakes
), and Moragoda has been
talking to a lot of big people about peace. Sacred or otherwise,
let us look at his CV. Milinda Moragoda is the ultimate CV kind
of politician. If you take the CV off the late lamented CV Gooneratne
- well, at least he will end up with the Gooneratne. Take the CV
off Moragoda, and he just won't be 'Milinda Moragoda' anymore.
CV says he is a Graduate of the Master of Business Administration
(MBA) Programme of the Institute for Management Development (IMD)
in Switzerland. From 1994 to 1995 he was a Fellow of the Center
for International Affairs at Harvard University. Buying a summer
at Oxford is easy, and so what's buying a single post-grad year
at Harvard for a self-confessed one helluva businessman? (Ask a
former Liberal Party MP, who also liked to sit together with Muslim
So then, where
exactly does Moragoda's modern vision come from, if it is not exactly
from his educational achievements? He says himself - who else dares
speak for Moragoda? - that he didn't destroy the environment to
get elected. He says he didn't do what other politicians did, which
is to think on only one side of the issue. He says he is not like
other politicians, period.
So there. Milinda
Moragoda is the politician - the only one mark my words, Moragoda
will be highly offended if you don't put him in a class by himself,
even if its fourth class - who is distinguished not by what he did,
but what he didn't do.
But how uncanny
that truisms can be very true sometimes? Athulathmudali was distinguished
by Mahapola and his abortive impeachment putsch, Dissanayake by
his Mahaweli and his impeachment putsch, Wickremesinghe by his tenacity,
Karunanayake by CWE, and Milinda Moragoda by what he didn't do,
because he has done exactly that - nothing so far. Alright alright,
photo opportunities in Sattahip, and negotiating in Uruguay or some
godforsaken niche, and if Moragoda says that makes him different,
who am I to argue? But imagine the possibilities for his future.
If Moragoda can say he is the only different politician by doing
nothing in such a short time, what a unique politician he can be
if he continues in this vein doing nothing for his entire future
You will hesitate reading that epitaph, when Milinda Moragoda's
figure is carved in stone at Galle Face green, with the legend -
the only politician of his time who dared to be different.
In small letters,
will it say of his political career:
did nothing (really) for peace.
did nothing for the economy.
did absolutely nothing for the Eastern province Muslims.
- he truly dared to be different?