20 October, 2017

A Presidency Under Threat: Money, Populism And Electoral Considerations

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

When I wrote about corruption last week, I concentrated on the structural absurdities that have been introduced into the allocation of development funding. Given the blatant deployment of this for electoral purposes, many politicians have the liberty to award contracts for projects as seems most beneficial to them, rather than the people they are supposed to serve. And while of course some development will occur, and perhaps a lot in some areas, the bottom line is that the people are no longer being fooled, as the last set of election results made clear.

But I would be remiss if I did not talk too of the perceptions of corruption at the top, since the general impression seems to be that what we have now is a kleptocracy. I should note that the President himself does not figure in these rumours, though he too must know that some who do are alleged to also act as agents on his behalf. And sadly – though given his excessive indulgence of those close to him, I can see other reasons for his weakness in this regard – his failure to discipline them is attributed to worry about what they might reveal.

SVGGiven what he has achieved however, there is little anger, except amongst those who disliked him in the first place. What is serious now is the erosion of confidence in those around him, and in particular with the immediate family. Thus, when I was recently in Kandy, I was told about a new hotel that was coming up that there were rumours that it was owned by Gotabhaya – and then later I was told that it belonged to Basil.

That both stories should be circulating indicated that these were rumours, and it is quite possible that they are unfounded – or even that they are being spread by those who do own the hotel, and who think their position will be stronger for whatever planning needs they have, if it is thought that powerful people were involved. But I was saddened by this, remembering my father’s old friendship with D A Rajapaksa, one of the simplest and most honest politicians I knew, who had almost no assets when he lost his Parliamentary seat in 1965 and travelled home by bus.

The story about Gotabaya upset me particularly, because I had unhesitatingly stood up for him when criticism first started about the powers the family had. I had been impressed by the confidence he had given the forces, not least because the corruption that had reigned previously with regard to procurement had been stopped. He was clearly the best man for the job at the time, and the country must continue grateful to him for what was achieved – and not least because all accounts are that he tried to fight the war as cleanly as possible.

What has happened then to sully his reputation? On the one hand, I believe that he fell prey in an unexpected fashion to the confusion caused by the 2010 Presidential election (which I gathered from the President only he and I had tried to postpone). When the President’s electoral strategy had to change, given that he had to face Sarath Fonseka instead of Ranil Wickremesinghe, there was stress on his chauvinist credentials. This has now become a mould that has taken possession of those who make decisions on behalf of the President. And they have become the prey of those who genuinely fitted into that mould, such as Wimal Weerawansa. Such people needed another hero, instead of Sarath Fonseka, so they recalibrated Gotabhaya. Hence the flirtations with the BBS, even though the President claims that the BBS is a foreign funded conspiracy to bring him down (and likely to be successful, unless he convinces Gotabhaya to escape from the mould).

The perception that he is the chief extremist in government then has contributed to increasing unpopularity amongst the bulk of the population. But this in turn has fuelled perceptions that he is a politician like any other, which also contributes to what I find particular embarrassing, given my previous spirited defence of the man, that he too is benefiting financially from his position.

And yet, if indeed he wants to contest an election, as he has now suggested is the case (contrary to the contempt with which he treated the proposal when the President had it put to him in 2010), then it is understandable that he needs a war chest. Whereas many previous Secretaries to the Ministry of Defence, or Defence Ministers, even had family involvements in arms procurement, Gotabaya was almost certainly squeaky clean. So it is deeply depressing that now he should seem different.

But all this should make the President reflect on the deep malaise that affects our political system, and introduce reforms that would alleviate the situation. Firstly, he must realize that the current electoral system is corrosively corrupting. When you have to compete in a whole District, and fight not just one or two opponents but the entire list on your side, of course you need massive funding. The alternative is notoriety, but even the President must by now realize that the country is not served well by pretty faces or sports stars or those who have been in jail, who have no idea of what should be done in Parliament. Even worse, many of them feel they deserve executive office because they got a large number of preferences in the polls, whereas this happened because people with three votes simply cast one or two of them for names they knew. This has also contributed to the large number of family members being elected, but they too demand positions on the strength of their fathers having been individually (as opposed to collectively) popular.

Changing the electoral system then would reduce the squandering of funds that have to be obtained through corruption – which often involves skimming off large percentages from public money that should be spent on development. And it would also help to reduce pressures to fill the executive with dead wood – or rather parasites that see ministerial office too as a way of making money (or providing jobs at increasing expense to the people).

But Gotabaya’s popularity before he saw himself as a politician should also make the President reflect on how he could reconstitute the executive, to make it efficient without imposing on its members the need to achieve electoral success. Vasantha Senanayake has shown the way through his proposed constitutional amendments, which remove members of the Executive from Parliament.

This is the practice elsewhere in the world where you have Executive Presidencies. The American President can choose anyone he wants to run government departments, and in France or Russia, while politicians can be Ministers, they must leave Parliament for this purpose. And in such countries the majority of Ministers are technocrats, who fulfil the demands of their departments, not those of their electorates.

Even under the Westminster system, where Ministers have to be members of Parliament, there is room for professional talent. Most parliaments have a second chamber through which necessary expertise can be brought in, as was the case with Manmohan Singh or Arun Jaitley now. And in many Parliaments there are safe seats so that those running departments do not have to curry favour. Even while they serve the interests of their constituents, the bulk of their energies can be expended on serving the country at large, not those whose votes they desperately need.

The capabilities of Gotabaya, of P B Jayasundara, of Nivard Cabraal, of Lalith Weeratunge are obvious in comparison with those of the others who run things now on behalf of the President. And even Basil achieved much more when he was not a Minister than now, when he has to play electoral politics while also running economic development as well as constitutional and structural reforms. As for the others who currently govern the President’s policies, Namal Rajapaksa and Sajin Vas Gunawardena and GL Peiris, they also are concerned with their future positions, which affects their decision making capacities, such as they are.

I cannot then understand why the President does not institutionalize a system that would allow him to make maximum use of talent, rather than allocate ministries or developmental initiatives or international relations to people he knows are mucking things up for him. And the comparatively positive reputations of the technocrats I have mentioned suggests that perceptions of government corruption will be much less if the changes Vasantha Senanayake has proposed are implemented.

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Latest comments

  • 11
    1

    This president is not only a bad ruler. This president is a bad father, a bad husband and a bad brother also a bad son.

    With his corruption,KUDU, GANAJA, KASIPPU, GANIKA, HORA, BORU, MERA, SOBHANA, WANCHA, PHOTO+TV SAVVY, MANOLLA MINIMARUM, WAHALA BUSINESS, US$ BILLIONS MASS-SCALE PLUNDERING OF STATE MONEY…… workS that every SL knows today;

    1) has ruined the future political prospects for Hon. Namal Rajapakse, as a young politicians
    2) brought shame and disrepute to his wife
    3) stained the names of his brothers Hon. Chamal Rajapakse, Hon Basil Rajapakse, Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapakse
    4) brought shame on late Hon. D. A. Rajapakse, father who had a clean name and was known as a key founder members of SLFP under Hon. SWRD Bandaranayake.

    As such how can he be a good president or a leader to people of SL?

    Thanks
    @SenakaDEZS

    • 3
      3

      Rajiva Wijesinha –

      RE: A Presidency Under Threat: Money, Populism And Electoral Considerations

      This is called Dynastic Politics, and semi-dictatorship, nepotism, and hegemony of the cronies in the “Republic” of “Sri” Lanka.

      This is the current planned pecking order for the Rajapaksa Dynasty, unless people get Common Sense and use their brains in their heads and vote out the Dynasty and the cronies.

      2015- 2021: President Mahinda Rajapaksa

      2015- 2021: Prime minister Basil Rajapaksa

      2021– 2027: President Basil Rajapaksa

      2021- 2027: Prime Minister Namal Rajapaksa

      2027– 2033: President Basil Rajapaksa

      2027- 2033: Prime Minister Namal Rajapaksa

      2033– 2039: President Namal Rajapaksa

      2033 2039: Prime Minister ???? Rajapaksa

      2039– 2045: President Namal Rajapaksa

      2039- 2045: Prime Minister ???? Rajapaksa

      • 0
        0

        Amarasiri,

        Yes, all the above Presidents and Prime ministers can have more fun at Southern Nanthikandal harbour lagoon……or could be the Presidents and Prime Ministers at Hague prison. What ever they wish.

        Good luck dreamers.

    • 3
      1

      All those who respect drugs, road commissions, crimes friendly activities, anti-muslims, land grabs, attacking fellow men for their survivial, chain robbers, casino lovers, alcohol and postituiton lovers, unlawful way of life, unethical way of life, rascal minded IRC life, lawlessness, lethargy, passiveness, anti educated will bring vote this man SRILANKAS Mugabe Mahinda Persy Rajapakshe into power. Definitely that would be the case. But the very same people would be made clear with the facts and figures about the ground reality of the country by all opposition parties, their affininties will change like a fall of glas instantly.

      • 0
        0

        BETTER CANT BE PUT.
        all these you mentioned above are already in the parliament.

        Rohitha Abeywardhana the man was bitten by a snake shortly soon after he was about to be arrested for all the financial abuses that he is reported to have made during the very short period in power, and few handful of naive and ill orators seem to add the their thoughts to the current regime, while the majority of them stay silence. Hakeem is as if he is almost a dead figure. He is caught and cornered by the incumbent as exclusively nothing he is allowed to express in terms of Justice. Justice that MR has introduced to the country by grabing and interfering CJs as he thought is right is the worst ever thing the brutal man has made to this day.

        If a man would be elected to lead the nation should bring the basics. That is honesty and law boundness. None of these are seen in MR. If you want to see why the drug traffickers stay scot free today is connected with MR s passivess to go against them – he just wanted Drug whole sale business men to finance his election campaigns NOT thinking about the real danger of drug addict of the youth in the country. Why cant they react as Malaysians or S pore did/do.

    • 3
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      Longer Meehakaraka Rajapakshe leads the nation, stupider will become the many.

      Since he has no brains. None of his decisions are compliant with any ethical or moral values. Nor has he got any kind of dignified nature by birth. This kind of men can drive us to ruins only. Sad the nation is infected by his blatant lies. Simply blatant lies. Gone 5 years were more than enough to show if he is honest. No, he was only busy with commission makers while paving all avanues to their revenues

  • 6
    2

    Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has the dirty balls of Rajiva Wijesinha firmly in his hands. When Gotabhaya goes down Rajiva will be dragged down. Only then Rajiva will be able to spill some useful beans. This weekly ranting is becoming so boring that CT could do well not publishing them unless some truth is exposed.

    Rajiva Wijesinha is one of the top three [Edited out] who diverted the UN Human Rights Council process. If Genocide is proven then Rajiva would definitely go down for complicity. With only War Crimes charges the pressing problem non-military personnel still have serious threats hanging over their heads and Rajiva might have to go shopping only in Beijing and Moscow for the rest of his life.

    Rajiva Wijesinha’s role in forestalling UN Human Rights Council efforts such as installing a monitoring mission for Sri Lanka with criminal lies upon lies is as much a factor as any role by Gotabhaya to boost ‘confidence’ to scheme and kill innocent civilians in their thousands.

    The only reason SajinVG hasn’t been asked to give a good kicking to Rajiva is because the Rajapaksa family do not want to accelerate the process of turning the professor in to a witness in cases to come within two years.
    Also we must remember SajinVG is recuperating a hurt toe.

    Humble DA Rajapksa my foot.

    • 0
      0

      Shocking!
      [Edited out]

      But when I first met George Rajapaksa in LA, who now goes with the name Gotabhaya Rajapaksa I thought he was Malay.

  • 4
    7

    Why has CT posted the pictures of Sajin Vass again? It has little relevance to the article, but seems intended to put off the reader. Does Prof Rajiva have any control of the images posted or is CT being mischievous?

    • 5
      2

      The pictures are Rajiva’s coded mischievous way of reminding us that the boy with rambuttan balls and a coconut head is Mr Tomorrow’s smiling pimp (as he was to daddy cool years ago in the land of the spitting camel).

    • 2
      2

      Because if the foot Chris Nona broke is not healed on time, he’s next in line to be head butted by coconut head?

  • 1
    1

    We’ve heard the expression “b.s.” to describe stuff like this. However, considering the [Edited out] from where this rubbish is coming, [Edited out]

  • 3
    3

    Was this Professor born yesterday?..

    Didn’t your new mates say Gota bought Apollo and Hotel Intercon as well.

    • 5
      3

      K.A Sumanasekera

      “Was this Professor born yesterday?..”

      No.

      He was Born on 16 May 1954 and he now is 60+ probably he is 25 years younger than you are.

  • 4
    3

    Why can’t the good professor write something real like, how a card carrying member of the Swiss LTTE got the contract to renovate our Govt pad in Geneva?

    Or he may be able to outsource it from his academic mate Dr Dayan, as it was done at the time the latter scored his one and only heroic win for us against the mighty Diaspora and Ms Pillai.

    And ever since we have been losing to Ms Pillai every year.

    Wonder whether the LTTE Contract Boss, buried a SL Charm ( Kodivinayak says my Elders) under the Office Room floor,

  • 4
    1

    In making the comment “I should note that the President himself does not figure in these rumours”, how honest is Rajiva? There are enough rumors that not only the Rajapakse Family but the President is also involved in shady deals. In the recent past all the UPFA ministers who appear in talk shows are trying to white wash these rumors. Very soon Rajiva is going to reverse his comment.

  • 6
    0

    “I should note that the President himself does not figure in these rumors”….yes the president is a new born innocent baby who is so pure and clean like an angel in heaven.

    “President claims that the BBS is a foreign funded conspiracy”….yes that is why he is allowed it to run riot?
    Very nice, now Rajiva must think the readers are new born babies !

    Gothabaya squeaky clean ? The Sunday Leader might disagree :-)

    P B Jayasundara…..wasn’t he found guilty and barred from holding public office by the SC?

    Nivard Cabraal??? Less said the better…

    Wow this article is so full of holes !!!

  • 3
    0

    Professori has been trawling his lexicon looking for words that will help him to distance himself from the main suspects when the dog-catchers come calling.

    Our Rajiva, the poor mans Nonis, is indeed an oily operator. He mouthed all the lies of the Regime when the going was good, and now that people have had time to take stock and clarify and quantify all the damage done, Professori is looking for a bolt hole, and for words to cover his back as he escapes.

    Poor Daddy must be turning in his grave.

  • 6
    0

    How does Rajiva (born in 1964) remember D.A. Rajapakse (died in 1967) to say:
    “But I was saddened by this, remembering my father’s old friendship with D A Rajapaksa, one of the simplest and most honest politicians I knew, who had almost no assets when he lost his Parliamentary seat in 1965 and travelled home by bus.”

    How could he remember all this as a kid three year old. This cannot definitely be his own knowledge but what he concocted or heresy. This itself shows that Rajiva is a big humbug. If he said that his father said of his old friend…, then it is somewhat credible, but not the way he has said it. May be he does not know (or too young to remember) that those days all MPs commuted by bus or train unlike today going in SUVs with escorts. They were given free train and bus passes (for all family members.)

    Hasn’t he heard and noted that Dahanayake, then Prime Minister who lost the elections in 1960, called a taxi to Temple Trees and went to Fort Railway Station and went home to Galle in 3rd class. Isn’t that remarkable?

    • 5
      0

      Ha ha well caught, I had to laugh out loud at this guys many machinations !

    • 2
      1

      hey Jesti, he was born in 1954 not 64

    • 0
      0

      Professori would have been but a teenager in 1967 and his balls would probably not even have dropped. When I was thirteen I was thinking of girls, girls, girls, food, food, cricket, rugby, soccer and long sea baths at Uswetikeyawa (in that order and proportion). So it is amazing that Professori was already into political analysis at the time D A R lived, and died.

      Time and time again, our Professori has twisted credibility in his claim to become the Forest Gump of our island paradise.

      Dom Pachaya!

  • 3
    0

    Are’nt we all fools? Rajiva writes hoping someone in the Rajapakse camp will notice his conflicted loyalties. And, we oblidge by emphasising on his motives!!

    Rajiva, Sri Lankans are hospitable but selfish people. We are naive but also shrewd. We can act clueless when it is advantageous, and be cunning too. We all can recognise a crook when we see one! Mahinda and Gotabaya are not victims of their circumstances. They and their henchman have created the evolving circumstances to suit their rackets.

    And there is that minor thing called the law, which they have thwarted at every juncture.

  • 2
    0

    This bugger Rajiva’s father was a Pension Rogue. He was hauled before Courts and he had to return one Pension. Rajiva berated his cousin RW in the most disparaging manner using filth. He tries to tell us that he believed Gota was squeaky clean. My Foot! The scum bag Gota is not only dishonest but also a cold blooded murderer. At the rate Rajiva is discovering his one time acquaintances as Corrupt, he will soon realise the Intellectual Corruption he has committed aiding and abetting the lot, not for nothing but for his own gain. The son of a Pension Fraud.

  • 4
    1

    I am grateful to the mother of Rajapakshes for stopping with 3 children. I do not know whether she is living to know the curse earned by her children.

    • 0
      0

      @ Dr Najimudeen

      “I am grateful to the mother of Rajapakses for stopping with 3 children”..

      Who is then the mother of the 4th child???

  • 6
    1

    Good article Professor. However, I do not know why the intellects and scholars like you hang out with a “plutocratic”, “kleptocratic” and morally bankrupt government to degrade yourselves to mere charlatans. Your words do not mean anything in action to our hapless masses or augur well for the future of our country. Your rhetoric reminds me of an astute quote from a genius mind of Alexander Pope who said that “words are like leaves; and where they most abound, much fruit of sense beneath is rarely found.”

  • 2
    0

    Re Rajiva Wijesinghe’s words “I should note that the President himself does not figure in these rumours [about corruption]”, here is something.

    When the tsunami struck in 2005, it was the end of the financial year. An INGO immediately gave US $2 million in end-of-year left-over funds to Rajapakse at Inner Flower Road. It was sent to him because he was PM and President Chnadrika was away. The money was diverted into Rajapakse’s Helping Hambantota fund. Later when newspapers raised the issue of diversion of funds, it was claimed that the donation was for the Helping Hambantota Fund. By then Rajapakse was President and the atmosphere was turning difficult for INGOs. So what could that the relevant, harried INGO do? They agreed that the donation was for Helping Hambantota!

    So much for the president not figuring in these rumours.

  • 3
    0

    My man, your time has come and gone. Jettisoned like a ” karapincha ” leaf by the powers. MR said you were given the cabinet position for his respect to your father. Gosh! how good you must have felt, your position wasn’t because of your abilities but for your fathers.

    Oh my, how you eloquently defended the regime, when the regime was hand held by the JHU to wage war.

    Do continue writing. They are fun to read.

  • 3
    0

    Only God can save this country if it is run by the morons in the two photographs.
    .

  • 0
    0

    Why now?

    After eating from that hand for 5 years, he is now biting it!

    All these happened in the last 5 years. Protests must have been made then.

    No point locking the stables after the horses have bolted.

  • 0
    0

    Do not take this Rajiva too seriously.

    He is a chameleon. Keeps changing his colours.

    In all his rants he somehow succeeds in giving an undeserved sheen to the jaded image of the Rajapaksas.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Prof.you are an educated person . You are a prof on your own right and with your academic credits. Yet. You have not exposed The corruption of MR and co yet. If you do not know pls listen to JVP leader for more information on this. Then you could write a full account of it.

  • 0
    0

    Rajiv Wijesinghe, with this one article I have lost all faith in you. You are nothing but another G.L.Peiris and Weerawansa singing for your meals.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Professor

    Who was given the reports by the Commissons in the following please:

    List of Commissions of Inquiry and Committees Appointed by the Government of Sri Lanka (2006 – November 2013), Centre for Policy Alternatives, January 2014, http://f.cl.ly/items/2c0m2i0Y3V2A2D2X052C/A%20list%20of%20Commissions%20and%20Committees%20appointed%20by%20GoSL%20since%202005%20_December%202013.pdf

  • 0
    0

    Ah Gamini the brother of Ranil is back ! Dr Seneviratne ,I like sajin vass’a face which is very sri lankan. A snub nose with no bridge , large calculating eyes which stare at you in an ill-bred way, just below the eyes a dark patch,a narrow forehead-all, They all can talk but very few can write logically-all very simian like uneven features and qualities

  • 0
    0

    Sorry I am no fan of the profesori

    but he is my fathers class mate at STC and my father was born in 1953 so he should be about the same age
    so I think the inferance that he was born in 1964 is wrong.

    but this guy still cannot call a spade a spade

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