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Mahinda Chinthanaya and Obama Thinker-naya

By Gamini Weerakoon

(February 22, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian)
Prophets are not recognised in their own country, it is said. In this country prophets and even 'visionaries' are not recognised even though this wisdom is lapped up by today's 'Greats' abroad.

Our Environment Minister, Champika Ranawaka, on the eve of elections to the North Western and Central Provincial Councils discovered that Mahinda Chinthanaya (vision of Mahinda Rajapakse) had progressed much beyond recognition in the West and is being implemented by leaders of Western nations like Presidents Barack Obama of America and Nicholas Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain.

The entire juggernaut of publicity of the UPFA government, ignored this Ranawaka discovery or perhaps thought it was too late to impact on the PC elections the day after it was announced in the Daily News. Nonetheless, The Sunday Leader being a keen student of the Mahinda Chinthanaya commented editorially in its last issue, despite being called 'traitors' and all that.

Historians say that great minds have agreed from historic times. Buddha, the Greek philosophers, Confucius and even Christ who lived around the same era seem to have had parallel thoughts. Maybe it went down the ancient Silk Routes just as much such thoughts travel today on Mihin Lanka routes influencing the minds of Obama, Sarkozy and Brown.

Bad Bank

We identified the influence of the vision and thoughts of our President, when Barack Obama's $ 787 billion Stimulus Package to revive the faltering American economy was being hotly debated. Among the strategies thought out had been the establishment of a 'Bad Bank' - an institution that would pursue and hold 'illiquid or toxic assets' that continue to hurt the balance sheets of banks.

These 'illiquid' or 'toxic assets,' in simple English, we believe, means 'bad debt.' The idea was to transfer all bad debts of banks to the proposed Bad Bank and make the banks that had gone bad good banks. This Obama Vision - call it Obama Thinker-naya - had its origins in the Mahinda Chinthanaya.

1. Remember the founding of the famous or infamous Mihin Lanka? It was originally funded by a bank whose CEO was the father of the CEO of the airline. And where did this bank get its funding from? From the Treasury! Now the Obama line of thinking runs parallel. Where would the proposed Bad Bank have got its funds from? From the US Treasury!

In Sri Lanka we have not proceeded ahead with this concept of a Bad Bank beyond financing Mihin Lanka but it has tremendous potential not only for Sri Lanka but the developing world where Bad Banks can absorb bad debts that have to be realised.

All those loans take by our politicians from state banks on a 'never-never' basis can be transferred to the Bad Bank. Borrowings running into billions by state institutions such as the CEB and the Petroleum Corp can be transferred to the Bad Bank and who would pay the accrued bad debts of the Bad Bank? The people of course, through the Treasury, just as much as it was envisaged in the Obama package.

Unfortunately latest reports on the Obama package say that this concept of Bad Bank had been shot down in flames by a vigorous opposition in Congress.

But as some financial buccaneers say: don't worry about sources of finance. Just print the money. Anyway that's what they have been doing!

Military strategy

Readers should be already familiar with the claim that Mahinda Rajapakse had disproved military pundits that a guerrilla war cannot be won by military means. He has done it and a Wall Street Journal analysts had said so.

Now, isn't Barack Obama doing the same thing? As a liberal and pacifist, he had called for a halt to the war in Iraq and said he would pull out US troops. But now he is sending troops from Iraq to Afghanistan - 3000 last week and another 16,000 more soon. Shades of Rajapakse? Talk peace and step up war.

Political strategy

Political parallels between Mahinda Chinthanaya and Obama Thinker-naya are abound. Obama wants bi-partisan consensus. Rajapakse wants bi-partisan decimation. Obama has kept on Robert Gates as Defence Secretary and most probably would invite former Commander of the US forces in Iraq and Foreign Secretary Colin Powell to accept a key post.

Mahinda's bi-partisan decimation proceeds from invitation for political cooperation followed up by swallowing a faction that agrees to cooperate. UNP. JVP, LTTE and now the TMVP are still limping minus their limbs.

Obama has brought in Hillary Clinton as Foreign Secretary, one of the most powerful American politicians who contested him for Democratic Party nomination. It's a daring move.

Mahinda Rajapakse differs. He does not want clever guys around, preferring loud mouthed, supposedly tough guys like Vermin. The Oracle, G.L. Peiris is kept away at a safe distance in some trade promotion ministry. Poor G.L. has learnt the hard way: In politics it is not clever to show that you are too clever.

Our politicians have a warm affection for fellow duds. Will Mahinda Rajapakse offer Chandrika the Foreign Minister's post? No she's too clever and powerful, and has Bill Clinton in her pocket - er, handbag.

Only last week it was reported that when asked at a book launch in India what she thought was an ideal way to end the Sri Lankan conflict, she had said: I don't think the President wants to listen to me.

Barack Obama has a vision, probably that of Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King. Mahinda Rajapakse's vision is more complicated. It keeps on expanding to include 'all things good and beautiful' and of course deny all things bad and abominable. Its time this vision was put into writing and made more definitive.

-Sri Lanka Guardian

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