Wonder what kind of supple granite material, malleable to the touch Navin Dissanayake uses to engrave his solemn promises to the nation? Certainly it cannot be a chip of the old stone block kings of yore used to inscribe their edicts and record momentous events for posterity; or even the polished marble his late father [...]


What kinda rock do you use, Navin?


Wonder what kind of supple granite material, malleable to the touch Navin Dissanayake uses to engrave his solemn promises to the nation? Certainly it cannot be a chip of the old stone block kings of yore used to inscribe their edicts and record momentous events for posterity; or even the polished marble his late father employed to etch his solid political stance.

Speaking this Wednesday at a news conference to explain why he refused a bribe of Rs. 100 million offered by three people from government ranks to stay with UPFA and not cross over to the opposition camp as he did on Sunday, he said, “I had already given my word to Maithripala that I am with him and, like my late father, when I give my word, my word is engraved on rock.”

How heartening to hear that this eldest son of UNP stalwart the late Gamini Dissanayake whose sterling qualities were eulogised by Ranil Wickremesinghe at the same meeting, has not forsaken his old habit and reiterated his need to once more inscribe his promises on his reusable slate of molten lava of the lowest viscosity after a cooling off period of barely two months.

Navin and Lanka on their wedding day: "Patience is the 'mantra' I recite to him all the time"

For it was only on October 13 that he renewed his solemn oath of allegiance to the UPFA government before a crowd of farmers gathered at the Nuwara Eliya District Secretariat to receive seed potatoes distributed by him.

This is what he told them: “Once I received votes from one party and crossed over to another. I was criticised, for it was a wrong thing to have done. I did so to give strength to the President to end the war and I think I am vindicated today. But I will never again cross over from one party to another. I give you that promise. 43,000 people voted for me. I will never again betray those voters and go to another party ever again. We cannot develop Nuwara Eliya as we are not getting adequate funds. We must fight for that. The thing is not to establish farmers’ societies but to get about Rs. 20 or 30 million. Then we can solve the problems of Nuwara Eliya instantly.”

Rs. 20 million to transform Nuwara Eliya in a jiffy must now seem like seed potatoes to him compared to the bribe of Rs. 100 million he claims he was offered by the Government merely to stay with the UPFA. He has also been taken to task for not revealing the names of those who allegedly tried to bribe him. But he is not to be blamed on that score. He is not shielded with the cloak of parliamentary privilege granting him immunity for any possible defamatorily utterances made outside the well of Parliament. Neither is he the president to enjoy constitutionally guaranteed absolute immunity. Instead, in the circumstances, he should exercise wise discretion and not make allegations casting aspersions on others if he is doubtful he has the proof to establish truth as a defense to counter any defamation suit. The Government has since lodged a complaint and ordered the CID to begin an investigation.

Then on November 30, came the final break, the great perfidy, the broken promise. It came last Sunday morning not like a bolt from the blues but more like the predictable appearance of a rainbow after the rains have passed and the sun looks set to shine. If, as he himself put it at the media conference, he had betrayed the UNP in 2007 to strengthen the presidency to end the terrorist war, then his betrayal of the UPFA now in 2014 was to end the presidency itself.

Navin Dissanayake is the son of two UNP presidential candidates: his late father Gamini and his mother Srima Dissanayake who was dragged into the frame to contest against Chandrika in 1994 when her husband Gamini Dissanayake was tragically killed by the LTTE in a bomb explosion. As the son of a national leader whose campaign against the LTTE cost him his life before he could get down to the job of eliminating terrorism, Navin would have had the UNP lights dancing at his feet and the UNP rank and file eating out of his hands. But instead of becoming the darling of the party, he opted to become Judas to the party faithful. Unlike his Trinitian father Gamini, there was no ‘respice finem’ for him and, without looking to the end, Royalist Navin chose to be an insignificant minister of the UPFA Government and departed from the besieged UNP citadel, leaving Ranil and a few other knights to hold the fort.

The single dubiously significant contribution he made was to provide the parliamentary numbers for the Government to enact legislation as it wished by a two thirds majority; and vote for the deplorable 18th Amendment to the Constitution, thus bringing darkness to Lanka’s democracy which he now admits was a mistake; the sort of grievous error a serpent bewitched Eve may have belatedly realised she had committed after giving into temptation and bringing woe to the world.

Had Navin not crossed over in 2007 with a bunch of other turncoats led by his father-law who marooned them on the UPFA bank and crawled back to the UNP burrow in less than a year to become the then deputy leader of the party, such a blue blooded political pedigree would have catapulted him to the highest echelons of power at Sri Kotha and he would have posed a great challenge to the son of slain UNP President Premadasa, Sajith Premadasa for the mantle of the UNP’s future leadership.

This Monday he returned to the fold; and though it was a rousing garlanded homecoming he received from the welcoming UNP committee and notably from Sajith Premadasa, it was, beneath the bonhomie of the hugs and the kisses, still the ignominious return of the stained prodigal, still branded with the indelible stigma of the unprincipled turncoat.

But no matter. Denied the wise counsel of his father for the last 20 years, which no other, not even an ambitious father-in-law can provide, Navin has had to steer his own raft in the white waters of today’s turbulent, ever changing political streams. That he has come so far without going under speaks much for his political adroitness to stay afloat and holds promise. He can still be the man his father Gamini Dissanayake would have ardently desired him to be. However, he must first learn two basic facts of life.

First he must learn to take his wife Lanka’s loving advice and not be too impatient to eat of the sweet but poisonous fruits of expediency. As she once said speaking of Navin’s main weak point. “Lack of patience. Patience is the greatest virtue out of all. This is the ‘Manthra’ I have been reciting to him,” How true. He must learn to believe in the maxim that everything comes to he who waits with patience. Even though quirks of fate sometimes cause it to give the odd slip which may happen in the sad case of Ranil if Maithri comes a cropper, it generally holds true as a guiding philosophy of life. On the other hand, if Maithri turns the tables, Ranil will have his dues served on a platter; and his stoic patience would have paid off.

Secondly, in order to make good in the real world of today’s seedy politics, maybe he should learn to follow the practice of the newly emerged breed of politicians from all sides of the political divide. And realise that, if he is to make any more promises to the nation in the future, it is best he writes it on shifting sand instead.

The double speak of JVP and Bodu BalaSUNDAY PUNCH 2

Once again in a considerable display of the contempt with which they hold the masses’ intelligence, both the radical JVP peddling its Marxist prattle, and the Bodu Bala Sena hawking its counterfeit Buddhist ware, have deemed it fit to engage in their tried and tested, fluently employed double speak to con the people into believing that they alone are the sole guardians of the nation’s morals and her sovereign laws; and what they profess to say is what they will actually do.

Consider how, as self-acclaimed possessors of high principles and cherished values, their individual duplicity has made these two diametrically opposed parties unite as strange bedfellows conjugating in a room denied light.

Take the JVP first. On November 24, the JVP triumvirate comprising political leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, propaganda chief Vijitha Herath and political bureau boss Lal Kantha held a media conference at their ‘Kremlin’ headquarters at Pelawatte. Addressing the gathering Dissanayake said that there are some main problems that beset the nation today. They are, he said

- People have been denied democracy and freedom;
- the economy is mishandled;
- masses do not get equal opportunities;
there is disunity and suspicion among different communities and religious groups;
- fraud and corruption have increased;
- the country has to struggle for good governance and
- the country has been isolated internationally

He said a broad social transformation was necessary to take our country and the people away from these crises. He declared that it was the JVP’s singular aim to build the broadest mediation to topple the Rajapaksa regime. But no, whilst they would campaign to defeat this government, they would not support the UNP-led joint opposition candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

Funny isn’t it? Though they claim their hearts bleed for the masses and their crying wish is to put an end to the rotten state of Lanka, they stop short of giving the driver a helpful push forward when the vehicle of change is geared and ready to roll. But in their bid to oust the Government, wouldn’t they be helping Maithripala to have his joyride to victory, anyway? Isn’t that the likely destination their campaign to topple the Government, will lead Maithripala to? So why the pedantic drawing of lines?

Now take the Bodu Bala. Stepping out of the Fort Magistrate’s Court on Monday, after a charge of threatening behavior against a lawyer on court premises was withdrawn by the complainant lawyer on the grounds that hatred does not cease by hatred, the Chief of the Bodu Bala Sena Galagoda-atte Gnanasara Thera addresses the media and states that he never said that the Bodu Bala supported the President.Referring to the foreign conspiracy theory that had been paraded again by Wimal Weerawansa who conveniently uses it to explain away every adverse occurrence, the monk said that it is the intention of the Bodu Bala to defeat this conspiracy of foreign powers to overthrow the government, at all costs. “We will carry out a campaign to make people aware of this dangerous situation,” he declared. But no support to President Rajapaksa.

Later at a media briefing to further deny that the BBS supported the President, he stated, “for the Bodu Bala to take such a decision to defeat this foreign conspiracy against Lanka there has been only one reason. We have been guided by only one motive and that is national security. We do this unconditionally. We dedicate ourselves to this task on behalf of the nation.”

In other words what Gnanasara is stating is that while he never said that the BBS would support the president, he won’t allow foreign nations to upset the status quo. But isn’t that the likely destination their campaign to defeat the supposed foreign conspiracy to topple the Government, will lead Mahinda Rajapaksa to? So why the pedantic drawing of lines?

So there you have it. The JVP saying it will campaign to defeat the Rajapaksa regime but will not support Maithri. And the Bodu Bala saying it will unconditionally extend support to the Government to defeat a foreign conspiracy and maintain the status quo on the grounds of national security but will not support President Rajapaksa to win the election.

Is it due to some sort of incorrigible weakness on the part of these two parties that prevent them from telling the people where they actually stand without attempting to disguise their actual positions in so ludicrous a manner? What does it achieve?

Or have they themselves come to realise that the image of the man they secretly wish to win would be irreparably damaged if they declared open support; and that therefore a red herring cause must be ostensibly advocated to achieve victory for the candidate of their choice?
Meanwhile, the two candidates must be heaving sighs of relief that these two radical parties on the loony fringe have kept a comfortable arms distance from being associated with them. Maithripala must know that the meager five per cent or less the JVP says it has within its power to muster will not necessarily bring him victory even as Mahinda Rajapaksa must undoubtedly be aware that the Bodu Bala vote bank contains no more than a handful and will not bring him the triumph he desires.

Their support will not tilt the victory balance but, on the contrary, even as a man is oft judged by the company he keeps, any stamp of approval forthcoming from these two groupings, one a Marxist band with blood on their hands, the other a rabid renegade brigand of religious fanatics, may spell the kiss of death and might even bring possible defeat.

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