Government unfazed facing “a dangerous moment” | Sunday Observer

Government unfazed facing “a dangerous moment”

5 September, 2021

Covid spells the end of neo-liberalism and that’s apparent from the reverse of course engineered by Joe Biden the US President.

Rapacious untrammeled free market policy is coming to an end and the controls placed on essentials by the President of this country are a precursor to that in our neck of the woods.

These measures are a result of Covid-19. However, they can also signify that the bell is tolling for those who took the neo-liberal route and exploited the downtrodden, the working classes largely invisible to them. The last Government took neo-liberalism to its most disruptive nadir.

They jacked up taxes on the middle classes and targeted a wealth tax on the piggy bank accounts of little kids. Talk about neo-liberalism gone berserk.

The price controls on essential food items are a measure that requires resolve and doggedness. It would not have been done by a UNP or SJB Government that’s too much in troth to the comprador.

There is more Government intervention, though not of this sort, today in the so called ultra-liberal economies of Western nations. Notably in the USA, the Biden Government is spending more on infrastructure projects as a stimulus.

The “affluent society” paradigm exposed by economists such as Galbraith where he showed that full employment and being wedded to continuous growth leads Governments to be “hands off” resulting in crumbling infrastructure — is being dismantled by Biden as he feels the pressure to stimulate the economy after the stagnation brought on by Covid.


Why the Opposition here is screaming about planned Government infrastructure projects is not merely questionable in this context — it is pathetic. The new Marine Drive extension to Panadura is being pilloried in some opposition backed circles. But these are the projects that would inject some life to a post Covid economy in this country. They say the “Most Dangerous Moment” in World War II was when the Japanese bombed this island, then Ceylon. The book by that name was written by Micheal Tomlinson, a prolific writer who has authored scores of other work, many also based on wartime events.

The 1942 assault on Ceylon was called “the Second Pearl Harbour” and was dubbed the most predictive and anxious phase of WWII as it would have been decisive if the Japanese attack on Ceylon had succeeded.

Today, we are possibly facing the most dangerous moment in remembered post-independence history, probably more dangerous than when Vellupillai Prabhakaran destabilised the nation with his unrelenting campaign of violence.

Today’s economic challenges appear even more daunting than when that demonic warlord was rampaging through the country.

The nation needs decisive measures to come out of this period of debilitating forex scarcity — and the President has decided he would take extraordinary measures to do battle with the rapacious hoarders and black-marketeers who have decided that the people be damned, they are ready to make a killing. If we come through this critical phase, somebody else would have to write a book, and it can’t be Tomlinson.

Today the pundits are having a field day because they think they can get back to running the Government by manipulating their favorite UNP and SJB politicians.

Its gob smacking to see the NGO folk claim that they want a role in the current battle against Covid, but have not been given any opening by the Government. This is fascinating. Thousands upon thousands of folk are reeling from the impact of a Covid-19 stricken economy with incomes slashed and sometimes no means of a livelihood. NGOs don’t however want to put up their hands and help these besieged folk. Instead they are bleating on about a “lack of a role to play.”!

If the UNP was in Government — or its clone offshoot the SJB — it would have been cosying up to neo-liberal friends. But this sort of overreach to hold hands with someone — anyone — because things are going badly at home, never paid off.

A parallel can be drawn from 1942 again, the “most dangerous moment.” Those such Subash Chandra Bose of the Indian independence movement began collaborating with the Japanese and that wasn’t such a good idea even for those from Sri Lanka’s early left movement who had similar dalliances.

Bose was expelled from the Indian Congress by Mahathma Gandhi for this audacity. The early Ceylonese Left Movement cannot be blamed for their prospecting with the Japanese when the youthful right-wingers, namely J.R. Jayewardene and Dudley Senanayake had discussions with the Jap wartime leadership to that end as well. The older and much more pragmatic D. S. Senanayake is said to have put a stop to all that.


Sri Lanka is charting it’s own course at this critical juncture in the throes of a pandemic. In any event the SJB leader seems to be in love with his own voice, and incapable of catching any of the nuances of the political developments of his time, in his dazed state.

This Government has decided to come out of the current chaos with its core principles intact. Some including former Central Bank types have decried the fact that the country is not genuflecting before the IMF, but the Government wants to deal with this “dangerous moment” and not be totally consumed by it. The current Rajapaksa administration has managed to keep the export sector humming even though the SJB, JVP types want to close down these too, no doubt smelling blood and a good opportunity to bring the regime down to its knees. When the chronicle is written about this “dangerous conjuncture,” all of these Shenanigans would be recorded and that would not cast a very flattering light on the JVP — but what can be expected from a party which engineered crippling strike action in Colombo and the Western Province when the Security Forces were battling it out with the LTTE in the last stages of the battle against terrorism in 2009?

The right wing is gung-ho today perceiving that the Government is in trouble, but is further distancing itself from the people who never took kindly to elements that pursued short term political gain, when the nation faced a dangerous foe.

When hundreds of thousands of village youth were sacrificing their lives to stave off the LTTE, the UNP chimed in with “any bovine can go to war,” (ona gonekuta yudda karanna puluwan.)


Someone has observed that the JVP has come to a point that will cause its top rung and middle level leadership to be assaulted with broomsticks if they ever visit the villages in Sri Lanka. That’s because the rural salt of the earth believes that the teacher marches and so on, caused the current Covid wave, and will not forgive the JVP’s obdurate support for these activities.

Today the SJB, JVP types are inveighing against the Government price controls introduced to avert food shortages in a crisis situation — but this policy of expediency in opposing needed retaliatory measures with short term political gains in mind has never paid dividends.

The SJB is talking of free markets but when it’s precursor the UNP was in power the free market ethos was in pieces because the Government of the day taxed the Small and Medium Enterprises out of existence.

Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that the SJB types are losing their vanguard operatives such as Killi Rajamahendran and Mangala Samaraweera to Covid-19. Nobody has any grouse with the dead and all sympathies are with the near and dear of these two prominent people who are no longer in our midst.

But it’s almost a totemic signifier — with all due respect to the dead — that the UNP/SJB is losing its inspiration just when it’s rank and file is launching a selfish assault on Government policy under the misapprehension that they can ride to power because the Government is faced with a tough battle against Covid-19.

To make a note for the record, the SJB is handicapped today in the absence of these two aforementioned figures. That’s because it’s current set of pygmies don’t have anything else except out of control oral orifices spewing grandstanding nonsense.

Mangala Samaraweera and the other mentioned worthy had at least some political savvy with which they could mount a fight even if we disagreed with their politics, but the crop that’s left behind doesn’t have any of that.