Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part IX – NEPOTISM

Nanda Wanninayaka   

Jokers (and jerks – including Mr. Anura Dissanayaka) apart, there are two mainstream candidates in the run-up to the presidential election on November 16, 2019. Well, whether you like it or not, it is Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (GR) and Mr. Sajith Premadasa (SP) who are the frontrunners for the contest and the others are just vote spoilers.

In these few articles, I am comparing and contrasting the two persons in question in 10 areas of concerns in alphabetical order. This penultimate post deals with how NEPOTISM would affect the rest of the country with one of these two ascending into power. Read Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part VIII – NATIONAL SECURITY for the previous post.  The next and the final post would be dealt with the ORATORY SKILLS of the two candidates. You can read it in the post Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part X – ORATORY SKILLS.


The origin of the term nepotism dates back to the 17th century. (From French népotisme, from Italian nepotismo, from nipote ‘nephew’ (with reference to privileges bestowed on the “nephews” of popes, who were in many cases their illegitimate sons. – Well, contrary to the popular belief, the nepotism these days also means favoring both family and friends, not only the family anymore.


Gota has the disadvantage of being at the receiving end as far as nepotism is concerned due to the long line of Rajapaksas that held high offices between 2005 and 2015, both as elected politicians and recruited officials in various government institutions. I don’t think the public complains much for Gota holding the post of the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense & Urban Development because he has accomplished the unimaginable in that capacity. But it is the other Rajapaksas – maybe except for Mr. Chamal Rajapaksa, the moderate member of the Rajapaksa dynasty – get most of the blame, not to mention the three sons of the former president Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa (jokingly referred as the Three Idiots.) People have reasonable fears that the same will keep happening if Gota becomes the president and you can’t rule out such a possibility given Rajapaksas’ past behavior, can you? This doesn’t mean that fear of nepotism should deny Gota a presidential term with his past achievements as a strict disciplinarian and successful execution of precise work. There is a big portion of the population that believes the country should run under a dictatorship to make things right and they think Gota is the one.


Well, the Premadasa clan does not have a lengthy political dynasty that runs for several generations but the previous United National Party (UNP) regimes have repeatedly shown the other form of nepotism, giving undue and unfair advantage for the friends of the leader. This was proved right with the late presidents J. R. Jayawardene and R. Premadasa and the present Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremesighe went berserk by favoring his friends whenever he became the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. So, with this type of past of the UNP, there are reasons to believe that Sajith also would give in to nepotism. I personally don’t believe who Sajith is trying to show he is as I can very well remember how humble his father R. Premadasa showed he was during his presidential campaign. Immediately after rising to power, his true color was shown by becoming the most ruthless leader of the country since Independence. So, there is a big possibility of history repeating itself.

Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part VIII – NATIONAL SECURITY

Nanda Wanninayaka   

Jokers (and jerks – including Mr. Anura Dissanayaka) apart, there are two mainstream candidates in the run-up to the presidential election on November 16, 2019. Well, whether you like it or not, it is Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (GR) and Mr. Sajith Premadasa (SP) who are the frontrunners for the contest and the others are just vote spoilers.

In these few articles, I am comparing and contrasting the two persons in question in 10 areas of concerns in alphabetical order. This post deals with how the two candidates might impress the citizenry in the sensitive issue of NATIONAL SECURITY. Read Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part VII – MINORITY SUPPORT for the previous post.  The next area, NEPOTISM, would be dealt with the post Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part IX – NEPOTISM.)


Everyone was complacent that Sri Lanka gained durable peace with the annihilation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorists by mid-May, 2009. Nobody anticipated peace to come for good that soon with the end of a bloody war that lasted for almost three decades. In most parts of the world where wars ended in the recent past, for instance, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. even though so-called “dictators” and jihadists were wiped out, still suicide bombers, car bombs, surprise attacks, prevailed big time. And they continue to this day whereas in Sri Lanka, from the day the terrorist leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed and his bloody terrorist organization declared that “the guns were silenced,” not a single suicide attack or bomb was blasted. So, I used to describe this situation among my foreign friends who asked if Sri Lanka was safe to travel, “Yes, buddy. Sri Lanka is perfectly safe. No bombs explode anywhere in Sri Lanka now. If anything explodes over here, it would be popcorns,” with great pride. Alas! Cowardly attacks on Catholics and Christians on Easter Sunday this April by Muslim terrorists changed the whole complex of the social fabric of Sri Lanka. The peace achieved after much sacrifice done by literally the whole nation shattered into pieces within a course of a few hours in a single day.

  • Gota

Gota is considered as the most successful official in the whole history of the war against Tamil Tigers. Nobody expected him to win the war in just three years which had already dragged for more than 25 years. Everyone (well, at least except Professor Nalin De Silva and I) thought the war was unwinnable and we won’t see peace coming during our lifetimes or that of our kids. But Gota got everything under control and hence the whole credit for him. But the 4/21 Jihadist attack on devotees showed how fragile the national security had been and how easily the security establishments took things for granted so much so that even the clear warnings issued by local and foreign intelligence services were grossly ignored resulting mass scale casualties. Everyone shared the sentiment that if Gota was in power, this wouldn’t have happened. So, peace-loving Sri Lankans, which I guess a heavy majority of the citizenry, would want to give Gota another go, even with his flawed track record of alleged human right violations, corruption and unleashing terror on media personnel and media institutions. So, he has a big chance of winning the presidential election this November beating his younger counterpart. having said that, one must remember that in politics, 1+1 does not always give the mathematical total of 2. So, it is better to expect the unexpected on November 17th, just in case.

  • Sajith

The public opinion is that whenever a UNP government came into power since the Tamil Tiger terrorism started in 1983, national security was at stake and it even worsened during the periods where Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe became the Prime Minister. The gross killing of members of the intelligent units and informants was the norm of the UNP led governments. Betraying the very people who risked everything for the motherland by exposing them in public was something that cannot be expected during even peacetime, let alone during a bloody war. Yet for all, frankly speaking, to secure the support of the ethnic minorities, the UNP found appeasing terrorists and separatist elements more useful than the national security of the bellowed motherland. Sajith cannot escape saying that he was not party to this. He was very much a member of the ruling party every time this happened and his late father, Mr. Ranasinghe Premadasa has earned the bad name as the first Sri Lankan president to reward the Tamil Tigers with a large number of weapons, cement and an undisclosed amount of monies. Even worse, it was him who ordered some 600 plus policemen to surrender to the Tamil Tigers ultimately resulting in them being killed in cold blood. So, when it comes to national security, Sajith is way below Gota. But with the way the curious case of ethnic minorities manipulates Sri Lankan politics, Sajith is way ahead of Gota in terms of garnering voted from ethnic minorities as he has been able to win the support of extremist elements of both the Muslim and Tamil alliances. Especially the Muslim leaders who are dead scared of the ordeals they will have to go through due to their alleged links to the Muslim terrorists who were involved in the Easter Sunday attacks will do their best to convince their constituents to vote for Sajith so that they won’t be prosecuted, or disturbed. This is why I mentioned above that the logic of 1+1 does not always give the result 2 in politics.

Mandelization of Ranil Wickremesinghe

Ranil Wickremesinghe

Ranil Wickremesinghe Photo Credits

Nanda Wanninayaka

Ranil Wickremesinghe was never my hero. He wasn’t anybody’s hero for that matter I guess, especially those of his own party, the United National Party (UNP.) Politics was never his field of expertise or his field of interest. I have read somewhere when his uncle, the late president Mr. J. R. Jayewardene (JRJ) asked him to join politics, the former had flatly refused and said, “Please, please uncle. Politics is not my field of interest. Just let me be like this.” or something to that effect.

Well, Mr. JRJ has done several mistakes in his political life.

  1. JRJ politicized the then well-established civil service by giving the powers of the civil servants, especially the District Secretaries – who were then called “Government Agents” – and the Divisional Secretaries – who were then called “Assistant Government Agents” – to the conceited and corrupt bunch of politicians from the ruling UNP who were then called “දිසා ඇමති” (District Ministers.) The whole governing system was turned upside down as a result and the repercussions are seen and felt today than ever.

  1. Introducing the Open Economic Reforms in an unprecedented and hasty manner creating lot of chaos in the country which totally disturbed the lifestyles of the people. Local industries collapsed like a card of dominoes and the hitherto surplus of the balance of payment became a huge deficit and the whole country was submerged in a quagmire that never was able to get out of to date

  1. One of the gravest mistakes of JRJ was masterminding the notorious “Black July” in 1983 and letting his own UNP goons to kill, wound and loot the Tamils living in the South of the island. JRJ’s thugs did not stop at that but were given an “unofficial license” to rape Tamil girls and women. These heinous acts were understandably reciprocated by the Tamils who were the dominating ethnic group in the North and East of the Island. Being the all-powerful executive president of the country, JRJ never took the correct path of quelling this unwanted riots and what happened in the aftermath of this is the history.

  1. I think the worst mistake JRJ did for the country was getting this very lethargic and non-practical young man, Mr. Wickremasighe to the political arena. You don’t need any example as to show how disastrous JRJ’s decision was as you can see Mr. Wickremasinghe as the living example himself. He was never a decent public speaker. His body language while he does public speaking especially in the local language, Sinhala is so terrible and he becomes a bigger comedian than Mr. Bean the world famous comedy character performed by the British actor Rowan Atkinson. Moreover, Mr. Wickremasinghe never understood the heart or the pulse of the people in the country. Maybe at least some of his moves were meant to be productive to the country but the way he communicated those to the masses wasn’t convincing at all. It was easy for the opposition to make mincemeat of him of anything he put forward for the country due to this weakness of him. He was easily made the traitor of the country even when he tried his best to be the patriot. I don’t want to go any further describing this poor man, the biggest failure in Sri Lankan politics anymore.

Ranil Wickremesinghe

Ranil Wickremesinghe From

Instead, I will come to the root cause of the current issue of the sudden political destabilization. Let’s recap how the incumbent president, Mr. Maithripala Sirisena was brought to the wrong side of the presidential elections in 2015 as the common presidential candidate by the UNP-led coalition. They say politics make strange bedfellows but this queer union of Mr. Sirisena and the UNP-led coalition made the former in totally uncharted waters. It was apparent that the money, energy and the huge election campaign masterminded, funded and carried out by proxy actors locally was actually was done with the generous help of India, USA and some of the powerful countries in the unholy NATO camp that made the former Gramasewaka (village headman,) the president of Sri Lanka, something nobody expected to happen even in wildest dream before January, 2015. As expected, once elected, the president became a big joke, maybe a little less jocular than Mr. Wickremasinghe, his Prime Minister. Okay, let’s leave it at that.

The ex-president, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Machiavellian politician he was cracked up to be, cracked himself a few weeks ago by idiotically masterminding a constitutional coup that made himself the Prime Minister with the support of a minority group of unreliable MPs in the parliament by putting the country in the doldrums. He should have waited till the current parliament completed its mandate given by the voters. If it continued its full run, in one and half years’ time that was left to it, it would have crumbled from its inside. But Mr. Rajapaksa was so power-hungry that he joined Mr. Sirisena, the former’s arch enemy who betrayed Rajapaksa big time and robbed his apparently inevitable chance of being elected as the President of Sri Lanka for a record and a historical third time. The two unlikely pair joined hands after what looked like a constitutional gimmick that paved way for the President to appoint Mr. Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister of the nation while there was an incumbent PM who was already in office. This shouldn’t have happened under ANY circumstance. Mr. Rajapaksa should have weighed the pros and cons of the situation. But you cannot expect that type of logical reasoning from an experienced politician who trusted his “official soothsayer” than an opinion poll or two to test the waters and called a presidential election two years before the stipulated time and ended up losing his presidency two years shy of the allocated period.

By then, the incumbent Prime Minister Mr. Wickremasinghe was already immensely unpopular and the best thing to do should have been letting him stay in power for the rest of his office and wait till he faces the General Election which was already swaying to the Rajapaska’s newly created party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), which was already the main contender and the fresh thing in the menu. But what megalomaniac Rajapaska did was something totally unacceptable ethically, politically and strategically. Mr. Wickremasinghe was at the receiving end as he messed up big time right from the beginning of his office and the UNP would have faced a humiliating defeat at the general election with dodgy Treasury Bond scam, corruption, inefficiency, ever-increasing inflation, monthly increase of price of fuel and the heavy tax burden on the public to sway even his traditional vote base to Rajapaksa’s camp, even though it would have been only an agony of choice for the voters to elect someone from both the mainstream parties. But Rajapaksa would have had an upper hand in defeating UNP-led collation even without the support of the president Sirisena and his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP.)

But everybody knows how power-hungry the Rajapaksa clan is. They are not the only megalomaniac clan in Sri Lankan politics.  Think of Senanayake, Bandaranaike, Premadasa clans too. This is part and parcel of the politics in the subcontinent and you can’t help it. But this time Rajapaksa did the worst gamble in his entire political life and he got the already unpopular PM out of his office and made himself the Prime Minister. The process was seen as something done by the president but we know what happens behind the curtains in the corridors of power in Sri Lanka.

So what has Rajapaksa got at the end? The good-for-nothing Wickremasinghe has become the “Mandela of Sri Lanka” now. Mr. Wickamesinghe didn’t have to waste 27 years in a prison to become Mandela. Only thing he had to do was continuing his idiotic governing style but both Sirisena and Rajapaksa “Mandelaized” the born-loser Wickremasinghe. Now he has got the sympathy of his traditional vote base which was drifting towards the Rajapaskas. Furthermore, Wickeremasinghe has become the doll of the Western powers and the Western media now and is the zero-turned-hero without much ado.

So, what have Sirisena and Rajapaska got on their plates? Going down the drain to the political dungeons of Sri Lanka? The chances are that even if you win this political standoff and survive the constitutional crisis, you will still be the at the receiving end of the public at large. Local and international media and the rest of the world will ensure you have a hard time and you will have to fight a Do-or-Die battle to cling on to power.

One might justify the former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (CBK) taking some of the Ministries from the then Prime Minister Wickramasinghe’s government in 2004 that ultimately led to an early dissolution of the parliament which brought CBK’s United People’s Freedom Alliance coalition get back the power in the House. At that time, the country was at a crucial crossroad with the unpopular peace deal brokered by the Norwegians and signed between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which was condemned by the majority of the country. Everybody thought that the country would be split into two which would create an inevitable border war.  There was no sympathy towards the then Wickremasinghe government as the sympathy of the public was with the CBK government. But at this time, there was no such immediate threats to the National Security of the nation. Even the so-called federal solution which was being demanded by the mainstream Tamil party, the Tamil national Alliance (TNA) was not to become a reality. The two main reasons the Wickremasinghe government had not to provide a federal solution was that it did not have enough time left to go for that even if they wanted and the second reason was that the country was not ready for it. Mr. Wickremasinghe being in power for 3 years of wasn’t able to convince the people, especially the majority Sinhalese, that federal solution was a viable solution to the long standing standoff between the majority and minority ethnic groups of the country. But as a result of this unethical and undemocratic overthrow of the Wickremasinghe government helped getting it the sympathy of the TNA and the rest of the minority parties as well making Mr. Wickremasinghe a lot more powerful than the Prime Ministerial powers he enjoyed and continue to enjoy to date being the de facto Prime Minister despite Rajapaksa is the official, yet, they say, the unconstitutional Prime Minister.

I am not a political analyst but I have lived 46 years in this Island and this is what I feel about this unnecessary quagmire the country is plunged into with this power struggle. Even if the Sirisena-Rajapaksa camp is to successfully survive the constitutional crisis, all what we can expect is the country would be thrown into a quicksand from the present quagmire and the public would be the ones who suffer. Everybody knows Lord Acton’s famous statement, Power corrupts and extreme power corrupts extremely. So, my compatriots, live with it.

බණ්ඩාරනායිකෙලා, ඇටපට්ටුලා සහ වන්නිනායකලා

රනිල් වික්‍රමසිංහ අගමැති, ජනපති නොව ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ අධිරාජයා වුවද මට ඉවසිය හැක. ඉවසිය නොහැක්කේ විදේශීය මාධ්‍යවේදීන් ඔහුගේ නම උසුරුවන විදියයි. පහත දැක්වෙන සාකච්ඡාවේ NDTV මාධ්‍යවේදියා ඔහුව හඳුන්වන්නේ “රනිල් වික්‍රෙමෙසිංගෙ” කියාය. එය කොහෙත්ම මාධ්‍යවේදියාගේ වරදක් නොවේ. රනිල් සහ තවත් බොහෝ ශ්‍රී ලාංකිකයන් තවමත් ඔවුන්ගේ නම් ඉංග්‍රිසි අකුරින් ලියන්නේ බ්‍රිතාන්‍ය යටත් විජිතවාදීන් ඔවුන්ගේ පහසුවට අපේ අයගේ නම් ඉංග්‍රිසි අකුරින් ලියූ ආකාරයටය. සේනානායකෙලා, බණ්ඩාරනායිකෙලා, කොටෙලාවලලා මෙන්ම ජයෙවර්ඩෙනෙලා අප රට පාලනය කළේ මේ නිසාය.

වරක් මට මෙරට සුකුමාර ගණයේ පෞද්ගලික බැංකුවක ගිණුමක් ඇරඹීමට ඇවැසි විය. සුරතල් පෙනුමක් තිබූ බැංකු සේවිකාව මගේ ගිණුම් අයදුම්පත්‍රයේ සහ වාහන බලපත්‍රයේ නිවැරදි ලෙස ඉංග්‍රිසි අකුරින් මගේ නම සහ වාසගම (NANDA WANNINAYAKA) සඳහන්වී තිබියදීත් උඩඟු ලෙස උඩදාගෙන වැරදි ලෙස (WANNINAYAKE) ඉංග්‍රිසි අකුරින් මගේ වාසගම බැංකු පාස්පොතේ මුද්‍රණය කළාය. මගේ වාසගමට ඇය හිතාමතාම කළ අපහාසය නිසා මම ඇයට ඉතාමත්ව කාරුණිකව කියා සිටියේ මෙවැනි බරපතල වැරදි නැවතත් සිදුනොවන ලෙසට තහවුරු කිරීම සඳහා මම ඉදිරිපිටදීම මගේ වාසගම සිය වතාවක් ලියන ලෙසය. ඇය එයට විරෝධය පෑ නිසා මම බැංකු කළමනාකරු හමුවී කිව්වේ ඔබේ බැංකුවට වැදගත් වන්නේ සහ නිවැරදිව සඳහන් කළ හැක්කේ මගේ මුදල් මිස මගේ නම සහ වාසගම නොවේනම් මට ඔබේ බැංකුව සමග කිසිම ගනුදෙනුවක් ඇවැසි නැති බවයි. මම වෙනත් පුද්ගලික බැංකුවකට ගොස් මගේ ඇවැසිතාවය ඉටු කර ගතිමි. මම ඒ බැංකුවේ ගිණුමක් ආරම්භ නොකළ නිසා ඔවුනට ඒ බැංකුව වසා දමන්නට සිදුනොවූ බව මම දනිමි. නමුත් සෑම ගනුදෙනුකරුවකුම වටින ආයතනයකටනම් මේ පණිවිඩය වැදගත් වනු ඇත. 

අඩුම තරමින් මගේ එකම එක ශිෂ්‍යාවක්වත් මම වාසගම් ප්‍රශ්නය කතාකළ පසු ඇයගේ වාසගම නිවරදිව ලියනු දැකීම මට සතුටකි. නිමන්දිතා තත්සරණී දිසානායක වන ඇය ඇගේ වාසගම ඉංග්‍රිසි අකුරින් ලියන්නේ දිස්සානායකෙ (DISSANAYAKE) ලෙස නොව දිසානායක (DISANAYAKA) ලෙසිනි

මම හිතන්නේ අපේ නම් ගම් නිවැරදිව ලිවිය හැකි පිළිගත් පොදු ක්‍රමයකට අපි යාවත්කාලීන වියයුතු බවය. මහාචාර්‍ය නලින් ද සිල්වා සහ ප්‍රකට බ්ලොග්කරු අජිත් පැරකුම් ජයසිංගෙද (Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe) මේ නම්වල අලකලංචිය ගැන මට කලින් ලියා ඇත.