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Selected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha
7 March 2001
By Churchillian wit, Chandrika Kumaratunga is a good politician. Why? Churchill once quipped that the politician should have, 'the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn't happen'. This is what Chandrika has been doing since she assumed power in 1994. Her latest interview with India's prime-time power-peddler N.Ram to the Frontline magazine (March 3, 2001) has to be assessed along these lines.
In my view, Chandrika has become a specialist in malingering as a terrorist victim. Malingering in medical context means, 'conscious simulation of mental or physical illness in order to gain some end.' She has told Ram:
Six years ago, the same Chandrika, in an interview to the Island newspaper in Sri Lanka, complained,
Just prior to this, to a question asked by the Time magazine interviewer, "Why are you pushing so hard for peace?", Chandrika has lamented,
There is a syndrome known to doctors as Munchausen syndrome, named after Hieronymus Karl Friedrich Frieherr von Munchausen (1720-1797). He was a German swashbuckler renowned for his mendacious fables of his prowess as a soldier and sportsman. Thus, according to the Oxford Medical Companion (1994), patients who tell fantastic and patently untrue tales of their illnesses are said to be victims of Munchausen's syndrome. In a similar vein, Chandrika's posturing as a terror victim is an example of Somarama 'shock'.
It is a fact that Chandrika lost her father in 1959. She was only in her early teens when her father Solomon was assassinated by Somarama Thero. But there are tens of thousands of Tamil teenagers and children in Eelam who have lost their fathers and mothers to state terrorism. One thing which differentiates these victims from Chandrika is that, not a single mother of theirs became the prime minister of Ceylon. Thus, on relative terms, Chandrika had a privileged upbringing, protected by the cocoon of power during her growth phase. Because of someone's fault, Chandrika even now, has never learnt to accept responsibility for her own actions or ineptness. She has bleated to Ram:
Even after six years in power, Chandrika's list of agony-makers is endless. Until now she has specifically named, Pirabaharan and LTTE, UNP, other 'Tamil parties', Sri Lankan army, her own bureaucrats, SLMC and the current Constitution of Sri Lanka. For reasons of propriety, she omits in public discourse many others like Buddhist clergy or her potential usurpers in the SLFP such as uncle Anuruddha Ratwatte or Mahinda Rajapakse.
While answering to another question, Chandrika laments about the other 'Tamil parties' as follows:
There, one has the answer for the much-publicised prospective reform for the maligned Constitution. Despite all the tub-thumbing oratory, she will serve out her term of presidency, without abolishing it. Also, she had put it aptly:
The Tamil parties she refers to are those which buffeted her in power, the EPDP, EPRLF and PLOTE. Has she bothered to think or explain, why these 'Tamil parties' lost out, even when playing the election game according to the obnoxious standards of her team? The interviewer N.Ram also had remained silent without prodding further on this issue.
That during Chandrika's tenure of executive office, the sinister range of the Somarama legacy is expanding can be attested by the recent news report which appeared in the Island newspaper of January 18, under the caption, "Saffron robed man leads robber gang". Here it is:
It is a moot point to ponder why the politician Chandrika and journalist N.Ram never bother to discuss terrorism of this kind. Is it because, as William Butler Yeats had mused in his 1938 poem, 'The Old Stone Cross',