22 March, 2019

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After One Year In Office; Maithri’s External & Internal Battles Continue

By Ranga Kalansooriya

Dr Ranga Kalansooriya

Dr Ranga Kalansooriya

“What the hell is going on ha..?”

“With What?”

“With this government, what else..?”

“Why? What is the issue?”

“They are not putting anyone (of former regime) behind bars no… They are not delivering what they said”

This is a conversation that I had earlier this week with a person whom I knew from a Western Embassy. She (a Sri Lankan) had been a strong supporter of this Yahapalana regime.

No wonder that many such Yahapalana supporters are repeatedly raising this question for the past several months. Many noises on corruption were made, many promises to get those involved behind bars were made on the election platforms, but the desired deliverables are yet to be made.

When looking back, this is one of the major accusations against this new government. It was easily said than done. In fact, the hopes of the people who voted for Maithripala Sirisena exactly a year ago were extensively high and managing those hopes became the biggest challenge for both President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for the past one year.

Whatever said on the electioneering platform, re-establishing democracy that had been devastated for over a period of a decade could not be accomplished within twelve months. Apart from delivering the tough election promises President Sirisena had to face an equally tough challenge of securing his command within his own party. However, he has so far well managed to maintain his grip through granting ‘rewards and perks’ in winning loyalty but yet to reach a comfortable stand as the party leader. Though many were critical of his way of handling UPFA nominations at August 17 general election by granting contesting opportunity to his rival Rajapaksa camp, President Sirisena’s action has managed to confine the one-time most powerful man to just as a Parliamentarian.

Nevertheless, Rajapaksa will continue to challenge him and create ripples from within. This will certainly require more investment of time, energy and compromises from President Sirisena that may sometimes distract him from his own promises of Yahapalana. A classic example for this phenomenon was the appointment of several defeated candidates through the national list to Parliament, a tough decision he had to make amidst many criticisms in a bid to strengthen his own grip within the party as well as within the House. Political reality is far from election pledges in such instances.

Nevertheless, it is extremely important that President Sirisena establishes his full command within SLFP if Yahapalanaya is to succeed in an environment of political cohabitation. The January 8 regime brought a new culture of consensual politics, at least for a limited period, but this virgin concept is yet to be grasped by our politically savvy society in its true sense.

When it comes to corruption, the new government had a double challenge. The first was to re-establish systems and institutions that fight against corruption as those entities were either silenced or completely shut down. The second was to take action against those corrupt individual big wigs as promised during the electioneering campaign. True enough, the process against corrupt individuals of the previous regime has been extensively slow due to many technical reasons. Deputy Minister Ajith Perera at a recent television talk show explained this situation well and claimed that in some instances the process may take seven to ten years given the nature of operations in law enforcement agencies. This is when acting according to the Yahapalana principles. Otherwise putting someone behind bars could easily be done as it happened during the previous regime, he said. Thus, it seems the government is sandwiched between two dilemmas and caught in a paradox.

But, it has been successful in taking concrete measures through establishing systems and strengthening institutions against corruption and mal governance. Though diluted to some extent due to heavy political bargaining within the House – predominantly due to the pressure by Rajapakse camp, the 19th Amendment has been a significant achievement in correcting such mistakes and bringing the country back on democratic track. The autocratic system of governance was abolished – peoples’ representation was honored. Even after year-long deliberations, the much awaited Right to Information Act would see the light of the day within a couple of months. The recent waves of protests and the vociferous social media landscape prove the fact that the freedom of expression has been ensured, though the traditional media is yet to enjoy this golden opportunity. These are cardinal steps in strengthening the basic rights of the citizen.

Re-building the image of Sri Lanka among its own international peers would have been the toughest challenge of the year. The country transformed itself from the pariah status to decency – both on policy as well as diplomacy. We had a foreign policy of arrogance and non-engagement while our key diplomats in main global capitals were busy with their own businesses and drawing immense benefits form government deals. Cronies and kith-and-kin ran the foreign service for their own benefits at the expense of poor tax payers and nobody was bothered.

Be that as it may, the Yahapalana regime has completed its first year in office amidst many achievements and some failures. What has already being done is far from necessities but those could be bold enough in marching forward on the path of good governance. As Nalaka Gunawardene rightly said in his recent columns, this is a process – not a set of individual activities. Expectations are still at its peak and managing them well have to be done with extra care.

What is the biggest challenge that it would face in the coming years? To my mind, it would be building national reconciliation through a credible process of transitional justice. Nationwide process of consultation is now on drafting a new constitution that would further strengthen the reconciliation process. In fact constitutions are to meet the needs of the day. The 1972 constitution was to ensure true freedom of the country by establishing executive, legislature and judiciary through independent mechanisms from the British Monarch while the 1978 constitution was to strengthen the executive for a sustainable economic development of the country. This strengthened executive system boomeranged and got into its worst practice for the past two decades. Thus, the need of the day, mainly in a post-war environment is to ensure national reconciliation and ethno-religious harmony. Both President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are seems to be committed to this cause but several ugly elements are still raising their ugly heads through different brands. One such movement is talking about Lion Blood (Sinha – Le) these days. These efforts should be nipped in the bud before they create another blood bath in this country.

But, whatever said and done, people are still awaiting to see some errant former big wigs are getting punished without further delay. This will remain a challenging encounter to the government, irrespective of any other achievement that it would make in the future.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    2

    If the latest version of Sinha-le is the Mantra of the Racist MR and his UNEDUCATED THUGS the end of Srilanka is much too nearer than further.
    It will take another century or more to be recognised as a democratic country , until then forever will be a despotic Racist ,undemocratic country and eventual puppets of America .
    SL will soon see a massive brain drain.
    SL is already behind India in intelligence and spoken foreign languages. The Swabasha Sinhala only has created COLD BLOODED RACISTS ILLITERATES. 60 Plus years of INDEPENDENCE HAD CREATED THUGS AND FROGS STILL LIVES IN THEIR OWN (BUBBLE ) WELLS who hates any other country or individuals doing well.

    Buddhism the noble Reigion has been used for their own fancy castle existence.
    We do not see good mannerism , family values , decency ect.
    The schools are teaching kids to steal , murder, and Lie??? What the future holds for them??
    As we know the bubble has burst now and the pseudo belief that China will come to rescue is all a delusion ..

    • 0
      0

      Dear Analyst,

      Yours is an EXCELLENT and TRUE analysis of our pathetic situation.

      Too many people without the necessary background, without the necessary grounding, education and reading , have gone into parliament and collectively helped LOWER the standard.

      Throughout it all, there have been too many good people who have remained silent, allowing evil to rise, prosper and hold sway.

      The solution is too complex and complicated to even contemplate.

  • 4
    0

    A reasonably well balanced view, but it doesn’t include the glaring indifference on the part of Sirisena with regard to his appointment of his own kith and kin to positions of authority.

    This was closely followed by the obnoxious Ranatunge’s own nepotistic deeds and, more recently, his petulant actions following his (and his brother’s) loss at the SLC elections – another nepotistic action with dollar signs flickering in their minds’ eyes.

    Ravi K lost no time jumping on the bandwagon. And so it goes!!

    From reports in LEN and other sites, it appears that corruption is also alive, well and thriving and the polity awaiting the promised arrests of the criminal elements are reduced to ‘waiting for Godot’!

    Two steps forward and one step back???

  • 5
    3

    Sorry mate.. You got it all wrong.

    The real battles are the ones which the Dalits have to fight against the Yahapalana Police which is now run by Batanada’s stooges.

    Hirunickers openly abduct a Dalit during working hours , And tell the Public big ass bullshit lies.

    But the Cops haven’t the balls to even open their mouths let alone arrest Hirunockers.

    But the dirty Cops have the balls to go and ask for free Boose from Dalits who were having a wedding party in Ambilipitiya.

    Following the refusal to hand them free Arrack, the whole Police Force converge and beat the crap out of the poor people and kill one of them by pushing him over the Balcony.

    What a disgrace.

    And the stupid Police Media spokesperson already acts as the Investigator as well as the Judge in front of the National media.

    Yahapalanaya is only 12 months .

    Just imagine what would our Dalits get in the next 48 months.

  • 1
    4

    All the present moves of the Maithri-Ranil Govt:appear to be on the Back foot.This of-course is due to the Rajapakse factor.Even though Rajapakse is only an MP,the Maithri-Ranil duo are only too conscious of the fact that the man could upset the Apple cart,in his characteristic style of elimination through Violence!

  • 0
    0

    Somewhat balanced analysis. Yet it is not going to help this Government to win back already lost public PERCEPTION of “Yahapalanaya” – Good Governance. Both the President and the Prime Minister should have at all times kept in mind the “Himalayan Task” of defeating that all powerful regime of MR and who and who helped to achieve that victory. Some would say that Ranil held the “KEY” to victory. No, not at all. In fact MR was waiting for Ranil to contest so that he would have a walk over; but quite “UNEXPECTEDLY” and taken by surprise, the “Common Candidate” emerged along with the massive backing of Rev. Sobitha, Civil society organizations and some other political parties. Were it not for that “Uprising” against the emerging “TYRANNICAL” regime of MR; (that which Ranil as the Leader of the then Opposition failed miserably to fathom); Ranil alone contesting would have uplifted him (MR) to be the next “DICTATOR” the country would have produced. So Ranil owes it to MY3 for securing that Prime Minister role from January 8t to August 18th, 2015. That is an irrefutable fact.

    Now with all the “Pomp and Glare” having established a Government on the popular slogan of “Yahapalanay”; what tended to ERODE the PERCEPTION and CONFIDENCE of the PEOPLE. That is what is VERY IMPORTANT and RELEVANT to convey to the PEOPLE and not what these “Structural Changes” carried out during the one year period.

    The very FIRST action that tarnished the IMAGE and PERCEPTION of the people was the Central Bank “BOND ISSUE” that directly connected the newly appointed Governor to his son-in-law. To make matters worse, the supposed to be corrective actions taken solely by the PM brought in a STINKING atmosphere to “Yahapalanaya”. The acknowledgment of that fact was highlighted by no lesser person than the President himself, who said in an address to the Nation: “I advised the PM to tell him (Governor CB) to resign to settle this matter”. What do you think the PEOPLE to perceive out of that statement? This was the very first “SPRING BOARD” jump that gave MR camp to prominence. Next came the appointments to State controlled Institutions. Here again Ranil took the lead, in that, the personnel appointed to the Board of Directors of Sri Lankan Airlines. Like in the case of the appointment of the Governor of Central Bank, he, without batting an eye lid IMPORTED three people from abroad to handle the affairs of a major, major loss making Public Corporation, even IGNORING the contents of the Waliamuna Report. The PEOPLE then confirmed their SUSPICIONS on this PM and made up their minds as to where the WIND is blowing.

    To add insult to injury, the President too did the same acting like a “JACKAROO” by appointing his own brother to be the HEAD of the Public Telecom Industry, who was not at all qualified or competent in the outfit. That further confirmed where the DUDES were heading. Then came the REAL “PERAHERA”, seen in the front lime were the Minister of Finance, Minister of Shipping, the Minister of foreign Affairs, on and on that trend continued and continuing up to now. What a CATASTROPHE for the Yahapalanaya.

    Yesterday, we saw another “Pinch of Salt” added to make the SOUP more HORRIBLE to consume. That was the “Presidential Official Song for 2016”, but just removed from the U’TUBE.

    So before these PANDITHS offer explanations on the the so called “Achievements” of one year, isn’t it time and urgent need to REGAIN the LOST CONFIDENCE and the PERCEPTION of the people in Yahapalanaya – the Good Governance. Mr. President and PM the dark clouds are not showing any white linings.

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