Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945) the father of propaganda and Mangala Samaraweera
What makes Mangala Samaraweera, a.k.a. Mangy the most dangerous person in the UPFA government?
Remember Sudu Nelum (White Lotus)? 1995?
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, at the inauguration ceremony for the Sudu Nelum movement. (08/07/95)Wasn't it Mangy who designed and ran the Sudu Nelum campaign all those years? He let Nimal Siripala De Silva run it for some time, but everyone knew that the Sudu Nelum campaign was Mangy's baby.
Let us resolve to work with determination to keep the Sudu Nelum Movement that blooms today, without fading for a long time to come. If the people of all of our communities - Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher and of all religions join hands with a sense of brotherhood, "White Lotuses" of peace will bloom in tens of thousands in their hearts. Peace is the prerequisite for our prosperity. Our fervent appeal to the people on this occasion is to come together bound by a deep sense of brotherhood and create a durable peace which is the foundation for our development and prosperity.
The Sudu Nelum campaign at that point (even with all it's flaws and inherent corruption) was at that point the most progressive move in the country towards mainstreaming multiculturalism and pluralism. With several Non-Governmental Organisations supporting their effort the Sudu Nelum movement was able to do a fair bit of work. It is responsible to a great extent for raising rural people's understanding of the complexities of multiculturalism, and life in a multiethnic society. The level at which the PA Government coordinated with civil society groups and sought their support to reach the masses was astounding. They had a very clear understanding that in order to achieve peace, everyone had to be on board.
Unfortunately at that time the UNP openly sabotaged Chadrika's peace plans and the LTTE played along and broke the ceasefire and ensured a return to war.
Through the movement the Chadrika Government sought to use the massive mandate they had received to take peace to the people, to mainstream multiculturalism. Even when there was a war going on in the North and East, the Government insisted on keeping the Sudu Nelum movement and the Thavalama Peace Caravans and the National Integration Policy Unit funded.
Mangala Samaraweera, formerly a fashion designer, who went to to design school with Boy George and Sade, worked with Buddhi Keerthisena (Snr) on the Buddhi Batiks line of clothing, then Minister of Information and Media, used his understanding of the importance of symbols and icons to design a campaign that really made an impact. A lot of people thought he was working for peace because he had a genuine belief in making it work.
But over the past few years what we have seen is that Mangala has no committment to peace. He has no committment to anyone or anything.
By moving from working closely with civil society groups to stating at a press conference that even if the Free Media Movement and Sunanda Deshapriya stood on their heads the Government would not care, Mangala Samaraweera did not degenarate. He merely shifted his position to the stance that would most benefit him, and then engineered the environment.
Goebbels with Hitler, Mangala with Mahinda
Mangy was one of the main players in the engineering of the allaince between the PA and the JVP to form the UPFA two years ago
What was the logo of the Mahinda for President campaign? A white lotus. And was not the Mahinda campaign run on symbols and icons? It was amazing how the UPFA used the same icons and themes for the Mahinda campaign that they used in 1995. To go back to the same flower, and the words that they had spun for pro-peace propaganda, and to use them 10 years later to spin for a pro-Sinhala nationalist Presidential campaign is in my opinion, terrifying.
Goebbels at a Nazi rally. Mangala at a Sinhala Chauvinist Patrotic National Movement rally.
The UNP too has some skilled spindoctors, and they have more of them, but what is apparent is that none of them is as tuned into what will sell an idea to the people as Mangala is. He is a salesman of ideology. He has none of his own, but if you have one you want to sell, he's the man you want. And he sold Mahinda to the people well. He took the JVP's ultra Sinhala natonalist ideology, and the JHU's Sinhala Buddhist primacy ideology, and meshed it in with the followings of the SLFP/PA. Something that many people thought could not be done. To date he remains the most skilled spindoctor Sri Lanka has ever seen.
So here's to Mangala 'Goebbels' Samaraweera.