Truth, Lies and Mahinda Rajapaksa | Sunday Observer

Truth, Lies and Mahinda Rajapaksa

Sauce for the goose: Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chinese President Xi Jingping inspecting a 3D model of the Colombo Port City in 2014 after inking the deal to build the brand new metropolis on land reclaimed from the ocean facing Galle Face, Colombo. The original agreement signed between Sri Lanka and China provided 20 hectares of free hold land in the newly reclaimed city to China Harbour Engineering Corporation, owned by the Chinese Government. The new Government renegotiated that contract and
Sauce for the goose: Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chinese President Xi Jingping inspecting a 3D model of the Colombo Port City in 2014 after inking the deal to build the brand new metropolis on land reclaimed from the ocean facing Galle Face, Colombo. The original agreement signed between Sri Lanka and China provided 20 hectares of free hold land in the newly reclaimed city to China Harbour Engineering Corporation, owned by the Chinese Government. The new Government renegotiated that contract and changed the terms to 20 hectares granted to CHEC on a 99 year lease basis in 2015. In 2011 President Rajapaksa's Government sold 10 acres of prime seafront property at Galle Face to the Hong-Kong based leisure group, Shangri La, where the Ministry of Defence complex. The land was sold outright on a free-hold basis, rather than on a long-term lease

The former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has warned buyers of our national assets that he would review those deals when returned to power.

He has asserted most forcefully, that the current government had no mandate to sell national assets. He has vehemently condemned the “authoritarian manner” adopted by the Government in leasing out the sea port in Hambantota and the airport in Mattala- the outstanding national assets that he built for us after ending a debilitating war.

Mahinda Rajapaksa is outstandingly non-moral. He does not utter falsehoods. He does not speak the truth either. He manufactures facts. He is a strange creature, who lives in the world where knowledge exists on sufferance.

On reading the former president’s brave declarations in the print media the next day, this writer was reminded of that eloquent opening passage in Friedrich Nietzsche’s tract on “Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense.”

Nietzsche opens his unravelling of truth and lies with a beautiful fable.

‘Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing.

That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of “world history,” but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die.’

The German philosopher devised the allegory to explain the conduct of humans such as our former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Nietzsche then proceeds to explain how aimless and arbitrary human nature could turn out to be.

Nietzche devised this allegory to explain how the theatre of truth unfolds in the human mind. The truth is only a part of the process of thinking and knowing.

Hannah Arendt in recent memory helped us resolve the conundrum of truth even better. In her incisive work “Life of the Mind” she identifies the vital difference between thinking and knowing. “The need of reason is not inspired by the quest for truth but by the quest for meaning.”

Undoubtedly the deep-sea port at Hambantota is a national asset. By stretching our imagination to maximum permissible lengths, we may even label the Mattala airport as a national asset. They are however, assets acquired by heavy borrowing with the lenders breathing down our necks.

This incoherent government has singularly failed to explain in simple common-sense language why we had to lease these two ‘national assets’ to ease our debt servicing burden.

That allows our former President to excel in what he does best- manufacture of truth and fact.

What is truth? The Nietzsche the German philosopher dismantles truth in to identifiable components. Truth is “the sum of human relations rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding”

We have underestimated Mahinda Rajapaksa. He is the true discoverer of ‘non-moral truth’ in our midst.

Can we call him a liar? Not that easy. Not that simple. The liar is a person who uses the valid designations, the words, to make something unreal to appear as real. Our man does the reverse. He makes the real in to the unreal.

A man can say ‘I am patriot ‘when his real intent is to acquire that designation to alleviate some other immediate concern far removed from the wellbeing of the nation or the motherland.

The liar by means of arbitrary substitutions and reversal of events manufactures his own versions of truth. Mahinda Rajapaksa is the President who ended the war. Believability is an asset he claims just as he claims the sea port and the airport he built on money borrowed on exorbitantly high interest rates are assets.

He takes care to warn possible buyers of the two so-called assets and not lessees of the two ports. He owes some allegiance to his benefactors. His use of the third person plural in his folksy Sinhala idiom is both deliberate and deceptive.

Knowing and sensing lies is not possible if we are blinded by the charisma of the liberator and redeemer Mahinda Rajapaksa. Patriotic pride is the fog over the eyes of a gullible people. Deception then becomes the natural consequence of that false national pride.

Confronting this profoundly false, make believe world of fake patriots is not easy. The Mahinda ‘ Mafiocracy’ is only a new local incarnation of a process that has numerous precedents in human history.

Deception, lying, deluding, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendor, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention are not new phenomena.

With the thought that Mahinda won the war that nobody could win before him a good 40% of our electorate willingly permit themselves to be deceived in their dreams every night and in their awakening yawns every morning. 

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