21 November, 2018

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Back To Square One: What Next?

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

In spite of the landslide victory to the SLPP at the local polls, the acrimonious campaign between the MS-RW couple, driven almost to the verge of permanent divorce, and the theorization of constitutional pundits and soothsayers about the future design of the government, the country is back to square one with the same faces and with the same policies. How much of pressure from international players like India and the US was brought in to save the MS-RW matrimony one can only guess. The main question now facing the country is, what next?

The voters who showed their utter disgust of the MS-RW regime in the local elections are not worried about any constitutional changes or who holds which ministry in the cabinet. (In fact the voters know the character and background of each of the ministers, their deputies and other representatives in the parliament. Nothing is a secret in a country like Sri Lanka). But the voters’ main concern is about the rising cost of living and corruption in government circles. In a way these two evils are interlinked. Corruption in public administration is partly the cause for rising cost of living. On the one hand, the government’s commitment to work within a neoliberal open economy makes it hard to contain cost increases, a greater part of which is imported. If the regime decides to intervene in setting prices arbitrarily, that will earn the wrath of its international managers, which will prove detrimental to the regime’s international dealings in the future. On the other hand corruption adds to the imported costs, because the middlemen will always pass the corruption cost on to the final consumer. Eradicating corruption will certainly remove the locally added component of the cost of living. The problem is therefore systemic and cannot be tackled in a piecemeal fashion.

On corruption, Transparency International has shown that the situation remains as it was when the new rulers came to power in 2015, although with the promise of eradicating it. Their failure to bring the culprits from the former regime to books and allowed the new ones to escape from justice demonstrates either the government’ lack of commitment or its incompetency or both to cure this cancer. No wonder they received the drabbing from voters in the local elections. When the echelon at the top itself is corrupt cleaning up the subaltern is an impossibility. With the issues of cost of living and corruption remaining unresolved the government’s confidence deficit in the eyes of the public will only widen.

What is the alternative? The SLPP cannot expect it to be swept to power at the next general elections simply on a protest vote against the current regime. In fact, there is no guarantee that their success at the local polls will be repeated at the national one unless its economic policies and solution to the ethnic issue manifest radical changes. The former MR regime was also working within the neoliberal open economy paradigm in spite of its close links with China. One important lesson that China’s rapid economic development teaches to the world is the way it operates its markets. The market is given freedom but within the parameters set by the Chinese Five Year Plans. This is why some economists describe the Chinese economy a ‘bird cage economy’, where the bird is the market and cage is the plan. To apply this model to Sri Lanka will involve systemic change but will go a long way in containing the rise in cost of living provided corruption is also tackled at the same time. Is the SLPP or any other opposition party prepared to undertake this radical alternative?

The ethnic conundrum is a running sore in Sri Lankan polity. No national party irrespective of its hue wants to solve the problem, because by solving it the party loses the trump to win another election. Ever since SWRD let the ethnic genie out of the bottle no political party, including the ethnic parties, has demonstrated a sincere commitment to put the genie back where it was, in the interest of the country and nation. From JR to MR and MS and from FP to LTTE and TNA this had been the sad story. SLMC of course is an irrelevant element when it comes to national issues.

Corruption demands a clean and heavy hand at the top to be eradicated. The current one at the top has disqualified itself by its proven incompetency and lack of commitment. Corruption also was the major problem to the MR regime, which brought its downfall in 2015, in spite of its victory in the civil war. 

The country is now back to square one politically after the latest hullabaloo, but is nowhere near to find solution to its ailing problems. It is time a new leadership emerges to take the nation in a new direction. Some argue that Sri Lankan democracy has matured by adopting a two party system. Yet, what is the difference between the two? One is Pepsi Cola and the other is Coca Cola.

*Dr. Ameer Ali, School of Business and Governance, Murdoch University, Western Australia

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    “In fact the voters know the character and background of each of the ministers, their deputies and other representatives in the parliament. Nothing is a secret in a country like Sri Lanka” – And still the same voters made SLPP to so said, “landslide victory”. Protest vote, huh?

    We can love an honest rogue, but what is more offensive than a false saint?
    -Jessamyn West

    • 0
      0

      Isharath quote attributed to Jessamyn West ~ ” We can love an honest rogue, but what is more offensive than a false saint?”
      Plenty of ‘false saints’ around.
      Can you name an ‘honest rogue’?
      You seem to have fallen for the MR plea “A known devil better that and unknown devil”

      • 2
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        Pillai:

        Who recently became the likable while many disapprove of his notorious past records? I guess MR’s plea was known devil vs unknown angel (a fallacious one)

    • 1
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      Dr. Ameer Ali,

      We the People gave the message to those who were protecting the former crooks and the current crooks.

      Back To Square One: What Next?

      Now those who were protecting the former crooks and the current crooks, will play a joke on We the People.

      The Prime Minister already played his joke today.

      Await the joke by the President.

  • 3
    4

    AA.
    As usual very good analysis. The solution is still very illusive.
    Time to think outside the box.
    How about agreeing to elect a Monk as executive president. There are many of them with the right educational qualifications; more qualified than the one’s the country has had.
    It might work. The culture of impunity and corruption will be significantly less.

    • 5
      2

      “How about agreeing to elect a Monk as executive president”. Trying to be sarcastic?

      • 2
        1

        Isharath
        Is Mufti Rizwi a monk?
        He has no idea as to human rights – good attribute!

        • 2
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          K. Pillai:

          No, he is not a monk. Exactly, he has no idea about human rights.

          Thanks

    • 6
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      Sarrrij,

      Education? Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe is the world’s most educated president, and greatest American presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln did not have any decent schooling at all. Up to a certain extent we can also say R. Premadasa compared to others we have had.

      Lord Buddha said “Desire is the root cause of all evils”. Greed leads to corruption which leads to impunity ultimately. Even if you pick a clean monk (as there are many) How can you be sure that monk is going to be clean forever? Few years back RW was known as Mr. Clean.

      SL definitely has many potential young leaders with the right determination and love towards the nation – But the issue is that corrupt politicians know the art of concealing them from the gullible masses who, unfortunately make up the majority among Sri Lankans – entire nation suffers. (I said majority of Sri Lankans, not specifically one single community)

    • 3
      2

      Sarrij – How about electing racist Gandasara?

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 1
    0

    The entire blame has to go to MS. There is no moral, economic justification in his decisions. He does not seem to understand what is executive decision. Very much amateurish. Can he explain to the citizens of this country how he amassed his wealth? It is a question whether the constitution allows one to be president under such these circumstances? He should be impeached at the earliest, together with all those who cannot explain how they amassed their wealth. It is apparent that Sri Lankan administration is unconstitutional and need immediate policing.

    • 2
      0

      Ad,

      I don’t think MS is a capable person to be a leader, especially after seeing how he behaved during the last days of election campaign.

      Then again, he is a victim too. It is like you pick a student reading for A/L, and forced him to sit for BSc final. Now the things look mind boggling. It is unfair to expect more from a person who was not prepared to be a president, or even had a dream of becoming a president until last few weeks of the election in 2015.

      Ranil has been dreaming for so many years, yet couldn’t confidently stand against MR, found a pawn to win a mandate – Both MS/RW don’t show any leadership qualities here.

      (though I am not a fan of MR) On the other hand, with all that notoriety, MR has proved himself a leader by making a brand new party towards its victory in a shortest period possible. .

  • 0
    1

    The SLPP performance was NOT a landslide victory. The language/religion-divide was recycled. The slogan “Tamils must be kept in bondage to prevent Eelam” worked. This is “Back To Square One”
    “What next?” Lankans are being conditioned to accept “Corruption” as a necessary attribute to patriotism? This will take us to a ‘square-of-no-return’.
    Ameer, you suggest the outside pressure has kept MS/RW together. MS&RW were willing! They may have learned a lesson that this wait-and-see over corruption issue will not work. They must go ahead with the investigations without delay.

    • 3
      1

      Pillai:

      “Tamils must be kept in bondage to prevent Eelam” worked – Then why did it not work in 2015 according to you? Or did you see any sign of MS/RW giving the green light to Eelam during the last 3 years?

  • 0
    0

    There is no way to eliminate Crooks Politics Lankawe. The “democracy” of Lankawe is lopsided or skewed thesis different than the democracy engaged in anywhere else.

    Lankawe Democracy is only to install dictators to manage (suppress) the Tamils. In that process the election system is fine-tuned only elect utter racists only. There is no way the people can reject a candidate, if they don’t like. Apparently the baseborn that creates these systems has no understanding of those; then what the stories of the Modayas are managed by these systems. They never had any idea whom they are voting for or why they are voting. They just discharge the obligation of the Mutton Biriyani and the sip of arrack. The election systems containing efficiently built numerous backdoors so all the rejected can be recruited back by the parties again. Excusing and granting impunity to the world worst criminals like Old King is part of the leader selection to rule process of the country.

    The current mixed system employed for Local government made sure, it is not bad guys, even the bad parties are guaranteed to getting back to power. In future changing a bad government is not possible. All the parties will always have a hand in the government. People rejecting any party’s government does not make any sense because they are going to have the same party in their ruling government. If you call this as democracy, then the Greek Grammar has to be re-written.

  • 0
    0

    When Religious dignitaries Enter politics they forget the religious teachings and rely on their own teachings— Murder and Mayhem

  • 0
    0

    What’s next to square one is Square two. Got it .?

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