By Muhammed Fazl –
“He who is prudent and lies in wait for an enemy who is not, will be victorious.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
When I wrote about a possible Coup d’état in Sri Lanka to the Colombo Telegraph few months back, I was actually referring to a possible scenario where an ambitious and a rare military officer takes matters in to his own hands. But little did I expect loathed and dreaded characters to take a cue from it.
Having come to know of the mobilization of para-military forces by the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa to unleash violence against any and all forms of dissension against the Mahinda Rajapaksa government, I find myself jolted out of my laid back lifestyle and heading towards the unknown where I believe only the fittest could survive. As much as it is reliable, journalistic ethics dictates that I do not disclose or endanger my sources of information at any stage. While I expect ‘officers’ from the state intelligence apparatus to visit me in the immediate future, the threat of bodily harm, disappearance or death itself seems more of a definitive now.
Played at the highest and the lowest levels, it is ‘game on’. With state resources, state media and the repressive state law enforcement departments being part of the election campaigns of the ruling type, attention of the common candidate-led opposition seems to be focused only on their grass roots level campaigning efforts at present.
With only few weeks to go for D-day, the kingdom of the once mighty Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR) seems to be falling apart at a rapid pace with every day passing. Using bankrupt slogans such as ‘Videysha Balaweyga’ (loosely translated as ‘internationally supported’) to identify the opposition coalition, the ruling class seems to have been blind-sided as well by the unexpected cross-over of Mr. Maithripala Sirisena and his entourage to the opposition ranks.
Having already conceded defeat at the ballot-box, instead of directly campaigning for votes with the masses, negative strategies such as confronting opposition supporters violently, bribing opposition legislators/party organizers and blocking of independent news feeds and news channels among others, seems to be the order of the day. Yet, with all their resources and funds at their disposal, the disgruntlement of the voting masses with the present regime was clearly evident when seeing their euphoria and their sudden interest in politics soon after the name of the common candidate was announced.
Enter Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, my old friend and the secretary to the Ministry of Defense. The man of the moment that he is, with so much to lose, rises to the occasion once again. While revelations by credible insiders of a sinister plot to suspend the Constitution and impose Martial Law on the false pretext of maintaining law and order may sound a little far-fetched, costly it would be to the campaigners for justice and to the opposition parties to overlook the said inevitability.
To recap what we already know, the following just might be the precursor to what is to come once the popularly elected opposition candidate is ‘disposed of’:
1. Third time service extension for the notorious DIG Anura Senanyake.
2. Appointment of the infamous former IGP Mr. Mahinda Balasuriya who once established a separate police unit to ‘safe guard’ the name of the Rajapaksa family, as the new Secretary to the Ministry of Law and Order.
3. Actions of the Army commander Lt. Gen. Daya Ratnayake in removing the profile of General Sarath Fonseka from the Army website, the deployment of over 40,000 army personnel in the Northern Province in order to prevent or intimidate the Tamils from exercising their voting rights and the complicity in the Aluthgama carnage when marauding mobs linked to the Rajapaksa government went on a murderous rampage.
4. The Secretary to the Ministry of Defense being the brother of a presidential candidate, thus giving rise to a conflict of interest and partiality towards his brother’s camps when maintaining law and order especially during times of elections.
5. Removal of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake.
A conspiracy theory or a doomsday soothsaying to some, once again, information of a sinister plan to create anarchy and lawlessness in the country in order to justify the suspension of the Constitution and impose martial law shouldn’t be taken lightly by no means. The government that sent the only 4-star war-hero General to the ‘dog-house’ for threatening their interests, blink an eyelid they will not to ‘eliminate’ politicos in national garb if deemed as a threat to the corrupt dynasty. The concerted effort in arming supporters/henchmen of politicians linked to MR with hand guns may also herald the beginning of another state of fear.
Equal to task and patriotic to the sense, the existence of a new breed of revolutionaries seems to have been overlooked by the Gotabaya Rajapaksa-led old guard. And this factor alone would be their undoing and the subsequent ‘extinction’ of their kind. While ‘paradise-on-earth’ themed palaces have been constructed in Seychelles for the young and the restless Rajapaksas, hundreds of millions of US Dollars of public funds seems to have been transferred out to safe havens as well. Even though the tide has turned against the astrology-reliant Rajapaksas, Plan C seems to be full-proof for now at least.
Earlier than expected storms or gloomy weather forecasts, having ‘private planes’ (Mihin Air) on stand-by mode at a ‘private airport’ (Mattala) and waiting to take-off at short notice may just prove the usefulness of the new airport after all.
*The writer is an independent social/political activist and can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org and through FB (Fazl Muhammed Nizar).