Whatever the Rajapakses say at a given moment is the truth

Tisaranee Gunasekara | Published on August 29, 2011 at 3:16 pm

“They should believe us” – Gotabaya Rajapakse (Interview with India Today)

The saga of the ‘Rock of Hambantota’ is of pivotal-importance in understanding the working of the Rajapaksas’ regime. Whenever the UNP, the JVP or the media mentioned the existence of a huge rock blocking the entrance to the Hambantota Port, the regime reacted with spluttering-outrage. The Rock was dismissed as a malignant lie.

The rock is a malignant lie

Four months ago, the Deputy Minister of Ports and Highways challenged UNP Parliamentarian Harin Fernando “to come to

Gotabaya Rajapakse and Mahinda Rajapakse with troops

the harbour and show the rock he talks about” (Daily News – 20.4.2011).

Just three months ago, the Chairman of the Ports Authority proclaimed, “There is absolutely no truth in these rumours about the rock formation at the Hambantota Port…. If they remember the day we filled the harbour basin with water, it was the blasting of the last strip of the rock that let the water in…. Now we have cleared almost 85% of the rock…. The remaining volume is very small” (The Bottom Line – 8.5.2011).

Last week the Ports Authority admitted, “it has asked China for $40 million loan to demolish a massive seabed rock obstructing the entrance of its new $1.4billion Hambantota Port” (Reuters – 23.8.2011).

The rock is not a malignant lie

So the Rock of Hambantota is real, it is blocking the entrance to the Port and a massive loan is needed to blast it (the environmental impact of this exercise remains to be felt). The regime was lying when it repeatedly claimed that the Rock did not exist.

Any feasibility study worth its name would have warned about the dangers the rock portends. The harbour was built, in post haste, obviously in disregard of such advice, because the President wanted a port (named after him) in his hometown.

Elaborate ceremony

The sensible course of action would have been to delay the harbour-inauguration until the rock-blasting was complete. But that would have interfered with the Rajapakse plans to turn the Port into a birthday-gift for the President and to parade it as a key component of

Hambantota Port, inaugural operation overseen by First Lady Shiranthi Rajapakse

his second inauguration-celebrations.

So an elaborate ceremony was held, at enormous cost to the public, and the Magampura Mahinda Rajapakse’s Port was inaugurated by President Mahinda Rajapakse. But the entire exercise was an expensive-hoax perpetrated by the regime on a credulous public, for the greater-glory of the Rajapakses.

Colossal lies

The authorities were lying, knowing full well that the port would be non-functional so long as the rock remained. Did the regime think it could make the public believe that the harbour was functioning normally and that massive-ships were queuing to enter this Wonder of Asia? Perhaps the colossal lie of a fully-functional port could have been maintained for much longer if the Opposition and the media remained silent. Little wonder the Rajapakses are so viscerally opposed to media freedom and are trying to fragment the Opposition into smithereens.

Old and new truths

The pattern is discernible. When a problem arises, barefaced lies are used liberally to deceive the public and silence critics. If, and when, the regime is compelled to admit to the truth (or parts of it), no apologies are made for misleading the public. The Old Truth is flushed down a ‘memory-hole’ and the New Truth is smoothly inserted in. The public is expected to accept unquestioningly the New Truth while forgetting completely the very existence of the (often antithetical) Old Truth.

The zero-civilian casualty myth is an ideal case-in-point. For more than two years the regime maintained that it won the war without killing a single civilian; those who questioned the veracity of this fantastic-claim were denigrated as traitors. Then the regime did a volte face and admitted that some civilians were killed. The new orthodoxy of some civilian casualties has thus replaced the old orthodoxy of zero-civilian casualties, sans explanations or apologies.

Different truths at different times

So the Rajapakses never lie; they just tell different truths at different times. Whatever they say at a given moment is The Truth. The problem about credibility is effaced by wiping-out the previous truths. The patriotic public is expected to believe wholeheartedly the Present Truth and forget completely the Past Truths. This method enables the Rajapaksas (and their politico-propaganda acolytes) to maintain the greatest of all lies, the foundational myth of Familial Rule – the political and moral infallibility of the Rajapaksas.

Nothing is as it is officially portrayed

‘Assume Nothing Is as It Seems’, when it comes to unravelling the Libyan rigmarole, advices Journalist and Author Jon Lee Anderson in a New Yorker article tellingly titled ‘Five Rules of Thumb for Libya’. That advice seems apposite for Rajapaksa Sri Lanka as well. Here too ‘Nothing is as it seems’ because nothing is as it is portrayed by the regime.

The government is about to appoint another APC to promote national unity. This shift in emphasis tallies with the Rajapakse belief in the non-existence of the ethnic problem and their oft-repeated assertion that the Tamils (and the Muslims) do not have any special problems or insecurities.

The ethnic problem will thus be morphed into the unemployment problem or the development problem. And a commission with such an amorphous mandate would be able to keep itself going indefinitely, thereby providing the regime with a useful façade for its Sinhala-supremacism.

The disjuncture between reality and its official portrayal is everywhere. Recently the regime announced an elephant census; the environmentalists hailed the idea until a minister let the cat out of the bag.

Capturing baby elephants

The real purpose of the census is to identify strong young calves for capture. (Incidentally, capturing baby elephants – thus tearing them from their herds and their natural habitats – and taming them – partly by inflicting pain – may be consonant with Sinhala-Buddhism but not with the teachings of the Buddha.) Thus an exercise, supposedly undertaken for the benefit for the elephants, was actually motivated by antipodal concerns.

Language rules are being used to the hilt to keep the multiple-facades in place When some of the weeping willows lining the Independence Avenue were felled (reportedly because these are non-national trees) the Environment Police did nothing to stop that act of vandalism.

Killing street dogs

Instead, according to media reports, the Environment Police is busy killing street-dogs (in the 2,600th Sambuddhathva Jayanthi Year), as part of a mega-drive to beautify Colombo via class-cleansing (expel the poor humans and kill the poor dogs).

Land-grabbing, a major motive underlying the Colombo beautification campaign, is currently affecting one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Lanka. “State lands, including the region around the Somawathie Chaitiya Sanctuary have been issued to an American fruit company for banana cultivation, according to environmentalists. The company, Dole, has acquired 62,500 hectares in the following areas – Buttala, Uva Kudaoya, Galle, Puttalam, Dambulla and Somawathie” (The Sunday Times – 21.8.2011).

The legal owners of the land, the Wildlife Department and the Mahaweli Authority, maintain that they know nothing of this transaction. The land was reportedly given by the army. If so, it was an illegal deed. According to the CEA Chairman, “We didn’t hear about the project. We didn’t issue any EIA to the company” (ibid). That is another illegal deed.

Vellupillai Pirapaharan almost destroyed Lankan Tamils, in the name of Tamil Nationalism. The Rajapaksa-Siblings are undermining Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans in the name of patriotism. Power-at-any-cost is the real name-of-the-game.

Transcurrents



2 Comments to “Whatever the Rajapakses say at a given moment is the truth”

  • of course hooray for the dictators

  • Very nice, i suggest webmaster can set up a forum, so that we can talk and communicate.



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Hambantota port inaugural operarion on port opening first lady present

Whatever the Rajapakses say at a given moment is the truth

“They should believe us” – Gotabaya Rajapakse (Interview with India Today) The saga of the ‘Rock of Hambantota’ is of pivotal-importance in understanding the working of ...