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I looked last week at Nalaka Godahewa’s account of why Mahinda Rajapaksa lost, which he attributed to the excessive influence of eight people who ‘were not listening to the voices of the grassroots anymore’. Though an intelligent analysis of some aspects of the last years of the Rajapaksa administration, the article failed to distinguish between positive influences and those who contributed heavily to the defeat.

I was happy though that Godahewa was complimentary about Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, and I wished he had also noted how effectively P B Jayasundara and Nivard Cabraal had contributed to the economic wellbeing of the country, certainly in comparison with the current mess. And I felt too that there was more to be said for Lalith Weeratunge, though he failed to exercise his undoubted influence productively.

With regard to the four others Godahewa identifies, I feel he is generally right, though there again the analysis could have been less perfunctory. And I was sorry he left out two characters who I felt did more than anyone else to destroy the President, though again neither has been accused of financial misdemeanours.

One was G L Peiris, whose influence Godahewa belittles in asserting that ‘Sajin Vas Gunawardena was a huge influence in the External Affairs Ministry, though officially … Peiris was in charge’. That does not reduce Peiris’ culpability for disastrous foreign relations, and his failure for instance to go to America to meet Hillary Clinton when she invited him, to reply to Man Mohan Singh’s letter when the Indians were debating which way to vote at the Human Rights Council in March 2014, to move on matters which were agreed with the TNA when we were negotiating with them and the President told us to proceed. Read the rest of this entry »

‘Surrounded by cronies and not listening to those who mattered’ is the explanation Nalaka Godahewa gave in an article in Ceylon Today on why Mahinda Rajapaksa lost. I found it most interesting, with added value from the fact that Godahewa was close to the former President, and indeed came to his rescue when both Indrani Sugathadasa and Tilak Karunaratne resigned as Chairs of the Securities Commission.

Since it had been made clear that both thought there was excessive political interference, I had my worries at the time about Godahewa whom I did not know at all. I have since made his acquaintance, and believe that he was a capable man who did not make money for himself. He had a more political orientation than his predecessors, which was also true of other technocrats who served Mahinda Rajapaksa. Two of these, P B Jayasundara and Nivard Cabraal, Godahewa cites as being amongst the eight influential people in the Rajapaksa administration. But I would hold that those two, like Godahewa himself, were people who did matter in terms of the contribution they made. The desperate efforts of the current government to find dirt on both Godahewa and Cabraal, and their abject failure to succeed in that nefarious effort, even while trying to protect Cabraal’s appallingly corrupt successor, make it clear that Rajapaksa did very well to have such capable people working for him.

Comparing what is now happening to the Stock Exchange with what Godahewa achieved, just like comparing the development of the economy under Rajapaksa compared to the current disastrous situation, makes it clear that economic and financial policies were not the reasons for Rajapaksa losing. In this regard I found Godahewa’s article disappointing, since it failed to distinguish between Rajapaksa ‘cronies’ who served him and the nation relatively well, and the destructive corrupt ones. Read the rest of this entry »

Rajiva Wijesinha


August 2018
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