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Old Wine in New Bottles - How the RaWick-Moragoda political decoction is being redistilled into a Tsunami Tonic by the alchemy of Chandrika and Amunugama.

R Chandrasoma

The world is changing and it is indubitably true that a poor nation such as ours cannot afford to be oblivious of the turns and mutations that agitate the great concourse of powers that lie beyond our shores.

Over the decades our trade has become lop-sidedly dependent on the whim of the foreign entrepreneur. Men and women in their thousands seek employment overseas in a new kind of thralldom that shames us as a people.

Our language and culture are increasingly bastardized and we witness an inexorable turning-away from indigenous norms and values that mere decades ago were regarded as sacrosanct. In speech and dress those that are regarded as role-models by the still unsophisticated majority of Sri Lankans delight in flaunting their cultural worldliness and attunement to the ways of the foreigner.

Indeed, the fawning servility to the foreigner (and, conversely, a great and hidden contempt for the natives) is the outstanding characteristic of the new business and political leadership of Sri Lanka. Many -like migrant birds - have alien breeding-grounds to which they retire periodically when the going gets tough.

The current political imbroglio is partly the result of these societal transformations that have a dynamic of their own. Nevertheless, in apportioning blame, it is the high-profile apostates and cultural turn-coats in the political directorate of this country that must be held chiefly responsible.

A clash of cultures, if not the primal cause is at its very root. It is one in which an anglicized upper class - ensconced in brief leadership - is hitting a brick wall in its headlong mission to make Sri Lanka a clone of that dazzling western archetype that is so dear to their heart.

Some explanation is necessary at this point. Although politically inflammatory and treated with great circumspection by 'southern' demagogues, religion and territory are part of the nexus that defines the culture and identity of a nation.

They are inviolate in the sense that they are not so easily discarded as food-habits, accents and styles of dress. It is here that the (old) RaWick-Moragoda outfit miscalculated disastrously and lost an election.

They worked for a 'New Sanitized Lanka' in which the Sinhala-Buddhists merely defined a demographic category without special privileges but with 'human rights' as envisaged by foreign advisors.

Since foreigners 'marketed' religion, the natives must do likewise or perish. Land had no link with ethnicity except in the areas where the fierce Tamil warriors lived. All this was, of course, for the plotters and back-room boys of the leadership - the latter practiced a kind of political ventriloquism that was designed to appease and lull into complacency those who had doubts about the hidden agenda of the UNF.

It is common knowledge that the RaWick- Moragoda plan was blown away in a watershed election that saw a new quasi-nationalistic and nativist group riding on the back of a moribund SLFP to be a new force in Parliament. This welcome demarche did not resolve matters - indeed, a rancorous political incongruity was briefly masked so as to strike a winning posture in the great political game of ousting the Greens.

This holding strategy succeeded and the Greens were driven away before they could do lasting damage. Alas, the President - the leader of the winning side - was a strange chimaera or graft hybrid.

While her political exterior was defiantly Anti-Green, she had a 'soul' or inner self that throbbed in sympathy with all that the Greens so desperately sought to achieve. Among the things dreamed of were the establishment of a de facto Eelam by covert initiatives, globalization, unbridled market freedom, English as the predominant language, a free-market in relgion with Buddhism sidelined, the selling of state enterprises to foreign bidders, the debauching of indigenous values and the transformation of ancient Sri Lanka into a vassal state of brown-skinned mimers.

Cornered politically and with her term as President rapidly drawing to a close, CBK is presenting this old wine (fermented by none other than the notorious Green Vintners RaWick & Moragoda) in a shiny new bottle that is said (on the label) to be the sovereign remedy for Tsunami Victims.

The reality is that Messrs Chandrika & Amunugama have snitched the formula from the Greens for the following reasons -

(1) They (i.e. CBK, Amunugama and their close advisors) are spiritual bed-fellows of the Greens.
(2) The Foreigners are backing them,
(3) The Tamils are delighted.
(4) Peace will dawn and the exhausted peace-brokers will garner the wherewithal for a snug retirement overseas.
(5) The poisonous breed of Sinhala Nationalists will go the way of the Dinosaurs.

If this five-fold advantage is insufficient grounds for the adoption of the re-vamped RaWick-Moragoda formula, there is another circumstance that pushes her inexorably to the right. The JVP (and, to a lesser extent, the JHU) are now the revivalists and flag-bearers in what was earlier the domain of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.

The President cannot cut a figure in this domain and dominate politics in the way her father did half a century ago. She is a self-confessed enemy of Sinhala-nationalism and her role as a Messiah of the dispossessed is thoroughly discredited.

What else can she do but to pre-empt the ideological terrain of the Greens while pretending to be a re-builder and peacemaker?



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