26 June, 2019

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Blackmail Brazenly Scripted Into ‘Good Governance’

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

President Maithripala did it. Quite unabashedly. The President, who is also the leader of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) summoned those Members of Parliament who identify with the ‘Joint Opposition’ and outlined what was licit and what was illicit in his (Maithripala’s) book of ‘good governance’. He declared that ‘any member who continues to contravene party decisions and work in an unacceptable manner, they will be removed from their organization positions’. What was unacceptable, going by what’s been reported is ‘working against the party’.

It’s all subjective. It’s all about what Sirisena considers right and wrong. If ‘working against the party’ is a cardinal sin, then first and foremost Sirisena should strip himself of leadership for two serious ‘contraventions’. He crossed party lines and sided with the party’s arch enemy the United National Party (UNP) to run for president. Secondly he actively worked against the coalition led by the SLFP during the last General Election, frequently appearing on the UNP stage to support that party’s candidates. Moreover he worked against both the SLFP and the coalition (United People’s Freedom Alliance – UPFA) by crippling its central committee and unceremoniously and undemocratically removing the General Secretarties of both entities. The fact that the evicted later embraced him is irrelevant to the relevant principles – party loyalty and democratic spirit.

President Sirisena

President Sirisena

Sirisena would be hard pressed to defend his decision to allow candidates rejected by the electorate to enter Parliament through the back door called the ‘National List’. He was, in that moment, clearly ‘working against the party and those who voted for the party’.

Now Sirisena would have to claim that all this was ‘acceptable’. Acceptable for what reason? Simple: Sirisena saying it is acceptable, nothing more and nothing less. That’s ‘democracy’? Yes. Why? Simple: Sirisena says it is so.

What’s he doing here? What’s happening here? Well, he’s doing what his predecessors did. He’s doing what JRJ did with undated letters of registration and what Mahinda did with his famous ‘files’ (on MPs). He’s blackmailing members of his party. He’s told them that if they don’t ‘think, see and do what pleases Sirisena, then they’ll lose their posts as party organizers’.

Of course he has the power to do so without issuing such threats, but then again he has to issue the threats in order to dissuade them from taking part in the planned Joint Opposition march from Kandy to Colombo. If he said nothing then they’ll go ahead without any fear (only to be disappointed later when he dumps them, one supposes). Clever.

Clever, but out of order. ‘Out of order’ because Sirisena came to power promising change. Sirisena came to power vowing not to do what Mahinda did. Sirisena came to power vowing to uphold democratic principles. He came to power waving two flags, one embroidered with the word ‘Democracy’ and the other sporting the term ‘Good Governance’.

Perhaps people believed that Sirisena actually knew what these terms meant. Perhaps they suspected that he didn’t have a clue but went along either because they felt Rajapaksa had to go or because they wanted the tyrant they favoured (the ‘our man’ factor). Nevertheless Sirisena cannot run away from promises without being called out. He cannot pretend not to know for he’s always been surrounded by good governance tuition masters. They would have told him, as Uvindu Kurukulasuriya correctly points out that allowing members give voice to conscience is a fundamental principle of parliamentary democracy. Party leaders, secretaries of any other office bearers cannot presume on the behalf of any member. Well they can, but then they lose the moral authority to wax eloquent about democracy. Not that they would lose any sleep about such things of course, going by what we’ve seen since January 8, 2016, but nevertheless the point that the good governance tuition masters are not making must be made.

So, ladies and gentlemen, it is official. You can all retire any hopes you’ve entertained about Sirisena (and Wickremesinghe) delivering good governance and democracy. Blackmail has been scripted in and it’s not even in small print. It joins nepotism, intimidation of political opponents, threatening of journalists, grand theft, protection of thieves and so on. Did someone whisper ‘change’? Did someone else say ‘Quite Mahinda-like’? Did a third person say ‘You could also say Chandrika-like or Ranil-like or Premadasa-like or JR-like’? Bottom line: threat is in, conscience out, never mind that the targeted are, like the targeting, conscience-less. There’s a flag fluttering from the lead vehicle of the ‘Good Governance Government’. There’s bold lettering: BLACKMAIL.

POSTCRIPT:

Through all of Sirisena’s anti democratic antics and through all the many instances where he’s thumbed his nose at ‘good governance’ Ranil Wickremesinghe has been silent. We have to bring him in here because ‘Good Governance’ is a house in which the two are co-heads of household. They said it. That’s Ranil and Maithri. They spoke of cohabitation, of marriage and the strength of the marital bonds.

*Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer. Blog: malindawords.blogspot.com. Email: malindasenevi@gmail.com. Twitter: malindasene

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Latest comments

  • 6
    10

    Dear Malinda,

    Excellent article. We need the journalists with back bone. Not the Jaha-palanaya boot licking journalists.

    • 7
      2

      Sunil Daha,

      Had Linda stood up to MR then with that backbone you talk off, today he will be with Lasantha and crowd. He is damn lucky because Sira is at the helm today. Anyway what did Linda do then? Was he not boot licking MR?

    • 9
      1

      Malinda DID NOT have a backbone before Jan 08 2015, but has GROWN one since. THIS is very good! Message for Malinda: Massage your backbone every night before you go to bed, lest you revert to being the invertebrate you were.

    • 7
      1

      WOW…. That was a spot on backhanded complement!

      /We need the journalists with back bone. Not the Jaha-palanaya boot licking journalists. /

      Malinda is a Jara (or Mara) palanaya boot licking journalists.

      Remember what Malinda said in a memorial lecture on Lasantha Winckermathunge in 2013.

      “Let us talk about media and Sri Lanka. It is not the best of times, ladies and gentlemen, let me assure you this. My fellow panelists will elaborate on this, I am sure. We can do an enumeration exercise but I think it is better to touch on the issues that are too often skirted around, again for politico-ideological reasons”.

      But, he did not touch them hard. He said,

      “It is not the worst of times either. We’ve lived through worse. That however is no consolation. All it means is that we can get better.”

      “We are constrained by the fears, arrogance, self-righteousness and readiness to silence of Governments, state agencies, state officials, our bosses in private media stations (owners and editors included) and by our own preferences”

      “Lasantha, who we are remembering here, was creative. Lasantha had courage.”

      But, there was no hard word of criticism regarding the media people who were killed, assaulted, made to disappear, threatened….

      Look at the way he presents hemself in a post-election article:
      “Mahinda was no saint. As I have pointed out since 2005 in articles to the Daily Mirror, Sunday Island, Sunday Lakbima News, Sunday Observer, Daily News and The Nation, Mahinda could have but did not transition from popular politician to respected statesman.” https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/let-us-not-forget-the-rajapaksa-tyranny/
      But I don’t remember reading any such thing on Mahinda at the way he wrote this piece when Mahinda was in power.

      See the way Malinda gloats about Mahinda in 2010:
      Then there’s the economy. In 2005, few predicted that we would be in the middle of a ‘global financial crisis’. Few predicted that there would be an oil price crisis or that food prices would escalate and so on. How would Ranil have responded? Unless he suffered some kind of ideological shock, he would do what the UNP has always done: privatized remaining national assets. The People’s Bank, Bank of Ceylon, State Mortgage and Investment Bank and the National Savings Bank would have gone the way the Insurance Corporation went. For a song, no doubt. To cronies, no doubt. We would have USAID writing our agricultural policies and Robert Blake (and later Patricia Butenis) becoming de-facto leaders of this country.
      http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2010/01/nation-must-decide-did-or-did-not.html

      When the Management decided to close down The Nation, Malinda was tols, “You are entirely responsible for the downfall of the newspaper. The newspaper was on an extremely racist line. You thought of selling racism to get going. You were in heaven after having a soosthi. You though 50,000 copies were sold. Even 500 copies were sold with difficulty. Because of you, all of us are on the road now.” It seems, Malinda was left speechless.

      Look at this article he wrote just before election, ironically tiled, “Who is Afraid of Mahinda Rajapaksa”. There was not a single word against Mahinda, was respectfully referred to as ‘President’ throughout the article.
      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/whos-afraid-of-mahinda-rajapaksa/

  • 6
    1

    Sira is still the executive president and he calls the shots.Joint Opposition is made up of a team of fraudsters, murderers, rapists, i feel sira should me more robust with the 40 thieves. I wonder why the Phoney Political Scientist Dayan J is silent or else has he teamed up with uvindu and malinda to do the dirty work on behalf of JO.

  • 9
    0

    The biggest problem with Yahapalanaya is that it did not offer the free laptop and other perks previously granted to Malinda, so he can pretend that these empty missives from the PM and Sira are equal to the murderous Rajapaksa cult, including the burning of presses and TV studios, the disappearances and deaths of journalists, and the white vanning to oblivion of any one who didn’t toe the line. Clearly a Harvard education does not dim the hypocrisy.

  • 3
    3

    Quite right about the kind of ‘good governance’ practised by Sirisena.
    He has no qualms about accommodating crooks in his government and playing
    party politics. What happened to the promise to do away with the executive
    presidency? What about the code of conduct for parliamentarians?
    We don’t give a damn about any party. Needed an honest statesman, he clearly isn’t one.
    Time to send him off with a boot in the backside.

  • 4
    3

    This is not blackmail but maintaining party discipline. As leader of the party this responsibility lies on his shoulder.
    What’s the use of having a leader and executive board if members are not going to follow party decisions.

    • 3
      1

      That may be so, but what’s worrying is Sirisena’s
      continued association with the scum from the MR regime.
      He doesn’t care who he gets into bed with,or about cleansing
      his beloved party of crooked scoundrels.

  • 4
    1

    Blackmailing and bribing are common tools used in modern democracy. How do you think former President Mahinda Rajapaksa amend the constitution enabling him to run a third term? Lankans saw through it and defeated him on 08 January 2015.

    Lankans installed UNFGG. Today not many of the jumbo cabinet will tell us what the acronym UNFGG is! Never mind. If Maithripala does not meet expectations, Lankans will show him the door.

    Milinda uses emotive terms like “ ……(Sirisena) crossed party lines and sided with the party’s arch enemy the United National Party…”. Arch enemy? Arch adversary maybe!

    An example of blackmailing: Remember John Edgar Hoover? He controlled American intelligence service for nearly 40 years and was Director of FBI from 1935 till 1972. Hoover consequently amassed a great deal of power and was in a position to intimidate and threaten sitting presidents. Richard Nixon was recorded as stating in 1971 that one of the reasons he did not fire Hoover was that he was afraid of reprisals against him from Hoover.

    • 0
      0

      K.P

      “How do you think former President Mahinda Rajapaksa amend the constitution enabling him to run a third term? Lankans saw through it and defeated him on 08 January 2015.”

      Can you go through this and comment again:

      https://youtu.be/xIoqholH508

      Soma

  • 7
    0

    /He declared that ‘any member who continues to contravene party decisions and work in an unacceptable manner, they will be removed from their organization positions’.

    Huh! What is your problem with this mate? He said ‘contravene party decisions and work in an unacceptable manner’. As long as the member (of course, not YOU) does not contravene, they have nothing to fear, right?

    Yes, it is subjective. But, this is not YOUR Rajapaksa Rule, where Rajapaksas decided what was right and what was wrong. This is a democratic setup, and Mr Sirisena does not have ‘all the power’ to handle the rebels with whichever the way he wanted.

    Sirisena ran in the election under another symbol. What the party did after? They invited him to be the leader of SLFP. Mahinda himself handed over the position as the party was behind Sirisena.

    But, Malinda, you have no right to question Sirisena. Because you were under the wings of Rajapaksas and were well taken care of by them during their rule. Did you ever question any of Mahinda, Gota, Basin, Namal, Chamal, Sajin,….. actions during the rule of Kurakkan Samagama?

    You call this a blackmail, after propping Kurakkan Samagama for years. Shame on you mate.

  • 7
    1

    Malinda however much you may continue your barrage of features to CT you stand exposed with plenty of dirty linen coming out from readers and facts that many in the public were not aware,The positive act of CT is that when some take a “holier than thou” attitude all the chinks in the armour of the writer stand exposed things that we never knew in the past.
    If you have been an Editor of a newspaper in the past the past will haunt you even though you may now try to have a halo round your head now.

  • 0
    3

    A very good reprimand. Now let’s democratically guide them along the democratic path, before they start doing what they did in the 90’s :

    1) Comprehensive tax plan and the courage to tackle Elites for due taxes.

    2) Throw an extra lifeline to China, Russia,

    3) Maybe some Tamil bonds will work….albeit good Tamil bonds for unified country.

    4) Do we have a choice with USA?…………..US is going to set up base in Trinco, isn’t it (with either Trump or Hillary….mostly with Hillary)! Never mind, as long as we retain Sinhala Buddhist status – is that a promise(now that the good Cardinal has sanctioned it too)?

    • 0
      0

      …in the 80’s*

    • 1
      0

      Another ramona thought:”……… as long as we retain Sinhala Buddhist status ………..”
      Buddhists must follow the teachings of Buddha. “Retaining” the BBS type Buddhism in Lanka or Wirathu type Buddhism in Myanmar will be frowned upon by Buddhists.

      There is nothing called Sinhala/Thai/Myanmar/or whatever Buddhism ramona.

      • 0
        1

        K.Pillai ,

        It’s about human heritage rather than religious purity meant for arahants.

  • 2
    0

    The ends justify the means

  • 3
    0

    As a leader of the party, he does have control over his party members. So, why these gloomy inferences?

    Sri Lankan is undergoing a golden era where freedom of expression can be abused to the fullest with no fear.

  • 5
    0

    Malinda has done it – and “quite unabashedly” to boot!

    “It’s all subjective” he says, stressing the obvious, whilst indulging in subjectivity, just to prove the points he made when he was busy defending the Rajapakse regime and their countless crimes against the State and its citizens.

    I’m not arguing with the points he is making about the current lot, just wondering at his appalling double standards that exposes his blatant hypocrisy – not that we weren’t aware of it before!

    Come on, Malinda – it’s time you either shut up or be consistent in your espoused values and not take us for a bunch of idiots who don’t see through your crap.

  • 5
    0

    Where was this journalist when MR broke all the rules. I did a quick search and didn’t find an article that exposes Mahinda in the manner MS and RW are exposed in this article. I am not completely against of what he has stated herein but it exposes this journalist’s severe bias of that is equal to the flaws of MR,MS and RW all put together. So what is he really standing -up for and for whom?

    This is a jurno with a hidden agenda.

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