And now the monks join the power play!
The last days of Prabhakaran, and the last hurrah for an Eelam extracted by military means came to an end in Mullivaikkal, on the shores of the Nandakadal, where a type of
Mangrove (Kadol) flourished at one time. Originally a sleepy village by the shore, Mullivaikkal was sometimes known by a Sinhala name - Thibbatugala, where ``Thibbatu’’ is a thorny plant (Solonum indica) with edible berries. It is the same plant which has given the name to the village of the Head Priest (Maha Nayaka) of the Malwatte chapter, Ven. Thibbotuwawe Sri Sumangala, the leading spokesman for the senior monks who have now taken issue with the Rajapaksa government for indicting the ex-general Fonseka on charges which may amount to high treason. The name Fonseka itself comes from the Spanish and Latin, referring to a dried up (secho) fountain (fuente), as found in the more arid parts of the Iberian Peninsula - just the sort of area where the thorny Solonum indica would thrive.
When the 30-year war against a ruthless secessionist movement was crushed last May, the vast majority of ordinary Sri Lankan citizens were enthralled with the high drama and the historic nature of the occasion. The ordinary citizens, and even some of the intellectual fellow-travelers of the LTTE, all expressed their admiration and offered advice to the victors. Sinhala nationalist writers noted that the event was comparable to the achievement of Parakramabahu VI, and at last the country has been unified. The country was now ready for a peaceful trajectory forward. On the other hand, the anglicized, internationalized, human-rights sensitized, pure-Malt Colombo journalists claimed that this ``triumphalism’’ is highly inappropriate. It should be a moment for somber gravity. It should be the occasion for purging the ranks. It is the time to get rid of war criminals, abductors, racketeers, prune the power of the centre and empower the fallen. Waterloo, Versailles and Yalta should be replayed, but in reverse, with the victor kneeling to the fallen.
In fact, now that the troublesome Prabhakaran has been got rid of, it was high time the reins were handed back to the class of "urbane, civilized’’, people who have always ruled the country. They know how to keep the Blakes, the Browns and the Clintons in the kitty.
They hobnob with the Tamils, Muslims, Marxists, and the Sinhalese as long as they are all members of the same social clubs -they are "so broad minded". Unfortunately, the village yokels - the majority of voters - cannot comprehend all this. That is where the disgruntled ex-General, the Fuente-secho was to come in handy. He can talk to the ``Gam vaesiya’’ in the yokel’s language and make a ``believable change’’ to this sordid state of affairs. He can stand tall as a Patriot and outdo the Sinhala Chauvinists.
Aren’t the Sinhala Chauvinists at one with the Buddhist monks? Aren’t they always going to be with the Maha-Indra from Maedamulama? That is where years of ``inter-faith’’ activity and Colombo socialization have paid off. The Mhanayakas were, after all, truly rural kids from Thibbatuweva, Udugama, Wewaeldeniya and Dauldena.
While the podi-hamuduruwo of the less influential temples go after the village politicians, the real Maha Nayakas will move with the polished, urbane, upper-crust leaders. A different set of values, far different to the narrow nationalism of the village yokel prevails in the upper classes that the Mahanayakas find themselves in. The Mahanayakas, even though of rural origins, consider it a part of their status to take up to this ``Maha Ihala broad-mindedness" without hesitation. The Mahanayakas can do better than the cassock-wearing Anglicans in appearing more WASP than they. They can be even more Catholic than any Jesuit father in attitude. They might even spell the title as "Mahanaike" - to be in the league of the Bandaranaikes. They can show to the world that they don’t back the narrow chauvinism of the Rajapaksas. They too were for "believable change".
Kandy did vote for believable change. Alas, the possibility of such believable change was thwarted by the village yokels voting in droves in support of the Maha Indra from Maedamulama. Worse than that, Funete-Secho has been humiliated, hurt, jailed and he is awaiting trial. At no stage of this drama were the Mahanaikes consulted - there is the rub. The class of people who should be ruling has come and asked the Mahanaikes to intervene. It is the "right thing to do". That will establish, in the eyes of the "Ihala Minissu" that the Mahanaikes can keep up the ``Tathvaya" and "broad-mindedness" expected of them.
Let us see who is the boss? That is the whole issue here.
The Maha-Indra from Maedamulama and his Gothabaya Brother have become "too big" for the taste of the Mahanayikes. The monks hold that it is the Mahanaikes who should prevail. The leaders of the class who should traditionally be in power have come and they have spoken. The Mahanayikes agree. They want the Fuente-Secho freed - not just pardoned. You cannot have the execution before the trial, without being Gilbertian. Neither can you pardon an accused before the trial.
Gam Vaesiya, Ontario, Canada