18 April, 2021

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Calm Down, Wake Up, Change & Fulfil The Promises

By Gamini Jayaweera

Gamini Jayaweera

President’s Vision 

As soon as Mr. Maithripala Sirisena became the President of Sri Lanka on 8th January 2015, an article titled “New President’s Vision – A Fantasy Or A Reality?” which was published in the Colombo Telegraph (CT) on 5th February 2015, I gave full credit to the new President for his speech on the 30th January for explaining his vision of creating a new political culture in Sri Lanka and the humility which he demonstrated as the leader of our nation which had not been seen in the history of our political sphere. I also went on to say, “If the new President governs our country exactly the way he has outlined in his address to the nation, there is no doubt that he will become one of the great leaders in Sri Lanka.” The new President did not have an ego like many other politicians in the country and indicated that he would like to solve problems with discussions, respecting other opinions and compromising wherever possible to achieve the maximum benefits for the people of Sri Lanka.

Peaceful Election

One of the main objectives of his Vision, as he explained in his address, was to change the political culture in Sri Lanka to eradicate unlawful behaviour by the politicians and their supporters during pre and post-election periods. Though there were some minor incidents, by and large the recent Local Government elections were peaceful compared to the previous elections where fear, intimidation, thuggery, and murder were the highlights of the elections. Full credit to the President and his Unity government for setting up Independent Commissions and implementing the Law and Order in the country to maintain the peace during the election period.

New Found Freedom

Another important part of the vision was to allow the people to enjoy the freedom of speech without intimidation, freely exercise the workers’ right to take industrial action for their rightful demands, stage peaceful and legitimate protests without fear, publicly expose the fraudsters irrespective of their status or the political affiliation and exercise our freedom to criticise the government activities/policies which are harmful to the nation. It is a fact that the Unity Government has liberated the society from the brink of dictatorship. They freed the media outlets to make constructive and destructive criticism without any punishments. They allowed legitimate and unjustifiable demonstrations to take place against the government organised by the Opposition parties, Trade Unions, and Citizen Groups without fear and intimidation.

Failed Partnership

The other important objective was to change the mind-set of the politicians in the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP) to work together in partnership to govern the country for the duration of the current parliament. Both the President and the Prime Minister agreed on this strategy with the blessings of the MPs in the UNP and most of the MPs in the SLFP to set up the Unity Government. In another article titled “Can the UNP/SLFP Partnership Survive In The Long-Run?” published in the CT on 30 August 2015, I challenged the members of both parties whether they can change their deep-rooted attachments to certain party policies, agreeing to work on Mutual Objectives, and changing their firmly established behaviours to embrace the general principles of Partnering Culture. I also questioned whether the newly elected MPs from the UNP and the SLFP would be able to seize this opportunity that was open to them because it required a great deal of time and effort to change the hearts and minds of the membership to embrace the new partnership culture. But both parties have failed to take up the challenge for narrow minded political and personal gains.

The UNP and the SLFP partnership failed because both partners had hidden agendas, were holding secret meetings to undermine each other, acted dishonestly and did not trust each other, but raised accusations against each other to try and demonstrate to the country that one party is better than the other. At the same time both parties were engaged in “deals” to protect corrupt politicians for political and personal survival. Both parties also failed to take the responsibility for praise and blame as a single partnership for the successes and the failures without undermining each other.

LG Elections

After the Local Government (LG) election results on 10 February, the government and the opposition politicians, media outlets, and some party supporters are asking to remove the Prime Minister and dissolve the Unity Government, etc. It is reported that even the President has asked the Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe to step down from the premiership and hand it over to someone else because the members of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) are not willing to support the Unity Government if Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe continues to be the Prime Minister.

This is an unfair and unethical demand by the President and the members of the UPFA because they are also equally to be blamed for the substandard performance. It is a fact that most of these UPFA MPs did not whole heartedly support the Unity Government. It is also a fact that most of these MPs have one foot in Mahinda camp and the other foot in Sirisena camp and are waiting to jump in to any camp if they could grab a position with perks. Even the President Maithripala Sirisena has recently stated that some Ministers and MPs are having friendly talks with him in the day time and the same Ministers and MPs are having discussions with the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the night time. That is one of the factors which contributed for the down fall of UPFA & SLFP in the LG elections. If so, a reasonable person would expect that the President would ask those Ministers & MPs to resign from the UPFA before he requests for the PM to step down. After all, in this LG election UNP polled 32.61% of the total votes where as UPFA polled only 8.90% and SLFP polled a mere 6.26%. Is there any legitimacy or justification for their demand for the PM to step down?

Mistakes and Inactions

The President and the Prime Minister must accept the fact that both made some deplorable mistakes during the last 3 years. The President was praying for the future, hoping that one day the SLFP would become a united party under his leadership hence turning a blind eye to the members who often contravened the party discipline. The Prime Minister has made many errors in his judgements including his dealings with the nominations and appointments of personnel to important positions in the government institutions. The following is a summary of some of those mistakes that in my opinion have given a bloody nose to the Unity Government in the LG elections:

  • Appointment of defeated SLFP candidates from the National List as Ministers and State Ministers. Most of these Ministers are very close to the former President. 
  • Creating a “Jumbo” Cabinet by awarding ministerial/deputy ministerial posts to majority of the members in the Unity Government.
  • Failure to conclude investigations into the killings and disappearances of media personnel and the rugby player Thajudeen. 
  • Not acting to nip the “Joint Opposition” in the bud before it became a challenging political party which benefitted from the use of the SLFP / UPFA infrastructure facilities. An article titled “Time Is Right To Deal With The Joint Opposition” published in the CT on 7 January 2016, I have highlighted the importance of making a timely decision on this matter.
  • Failure to take disciplinary action against the members who violated the party discipline. During the past 3 years, how many times the public were told that the SLFP’s Central Committee (CC) was going to take disciplinary actions, but no actions were taken against the rebels. I highlighted the dangers of inaction in the article titled “Are The SLFP CC Members Naïve and Day Dreaming?” published in the Colombo Telegraph on 31 March 2016.
  • Appointment of former Governor of The Central Bank and the PM’s insistence of continuing with him long after the allegations of a Bond Issue scandal.
  • Allegations about “deals” with the members of previous regime to delay or suspend prosecution for alleged bribery & corruption, drug dealings, and mis use of public funds.
  • Failure to take immediate action to remove the former Finance Minister from     his position as soon as allegations of misconduct in public office surfaced in the public arena.
  • Appointing “old School” friends who lack experience and expertise to responsible positions to manage government institutions which have failed miserably. Failure to replace them when they are not performing.
  • Failure to listen to majority of the MPs in the party other than to the members of the “inner circle” who are making things difficult for the President, the PM and the other MPs. The failure to realise that members of the “inner circle” do not have all the answers to economic, social and political problems.
  • Appointment of some advisers who have abused their power, mis-used

the public funds & foreign aid and failed in their policies during the late President Premadasa’s administration.

Calm Down, Wake Up, Change, And Deliver

The voters have issued a stark warning to the Unity Government, but It is not a cataclysmic failure for the President to sack the PM or dissolve the government. The Unity Government has got 2 more years to rule the country and hope they make use of that time wisely to correct their mistakes. As late Prime Minister of Britain, Sir Harold Wilson said, “a week is a long time in politics.” The parties in the Unity Government must restrain from making knee-jerk reactions to the outcome of LG elections. In this situation both parties do not want “Clever” politicians to resolve the issues but they need wise heads to make practical and sensible decisions to move forward.

Remember in 1956 general election UNP managed to get only 8 seats in the parliament after governing the country for 8 years since independence. But the party members did not quit politics, abandon the party, and join the other parties leaving it to face the natural death. They reorganised, changed their policies and rebuilt their party to win 66 seats in the 1965 elections to govern the country. Likewise, in 1977 general election SLFP was reduced to 8 seats after governing the country for 7 years. They also reorganised, changed their policy position, and rebuilt their party to win 105 seats in the 1994 elections to govern the country.

Most Sri Lankans are surprised and disappointed about the behaviour of some of the MPs in the SLFP and the UPFA for their reaction to the substandard performance at the LG polls. Some of them wanted to abandon the partnership with the UNP and join the opposition rather than fighting to regain the confidence of the people who have temporally abandoned them. As Vince Lombardi said, “It’s not how many times you get knocked down; it’s how many times you get back up”.

This is not a time to quarrel and score political points to sabotage the principles of the “Yahapalanaya”. Of course, all partners in the Unity Government must understand and accept that they have failed to deliver the basic principles of the partnership to carry out the promises given to the public in the last Presidential and general elections. 

It is high time for the President and the Prime Minister to “eat humble pie” and publicly apologise for their mistakes and inactions during the last 3 years and take immediate action to make a significant shift in their behaviours. They should work together to eradicate deep-rooted cynicism and the lack of commitment by some members in the Unity Government. The President, The Prime Minister, and the Ministers in the Unity Government must contemplate on the real reasons why they have garnered such a poor reputation for “good governance” in the recent LG elections. The people of Sri Lanka deserve a Real Change to live freely and peacefully irrespective of their race, religion, and social status in the society. It is time to Calm Down, Wake Up, Change, and Fulfil the promises given to the public in the presidential and general elections.

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Latest comments

  • 6
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    Soon after the local election result Sri lanka went to a period of political turmoil and utter confusion. Why is it? It was mere local election. It was not a general election and it was not a presidential election. What is the difference between local, general and presidential elections? it is very much clear to any discerning students of politics and public too know that now.. yet, why MR and co did not try to make a political mileage out of it? It is due to the huge swing into voting . It is true that many public this time changed the side .. It does not mean MR and co automatically got any power and I do not think even next time he would have any support. The entire world know what good and bad they did for Sri lankan.. People have not forgotten it. Sorry to day MR did damaged Sri lankan economy badly during his second term. There is no doubt about it .. Huge damage has been done by him and yet, this government did not take action for many reasons. It is said Ranil is hiding them.. It is true that he has been protecting some thieves..? it is sad judiciary is not allowed to act freely in Sri lanka.. So sorry to say that ..
    first politicians need to read the Sri lankan constitution and know the difference between all these elections… Neither President nor PM needed to worry about this election result and why did not they created the panic in politics in recent weeks? all what they need to do.. UNP and SEFP and other parties is to work hard to win the votes in the next general election..BEFORE that all thieves should be locked down: So we could see how people vote

  • 1
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    Gamini Jayaweera, Well said, you really hit the nail on the head. The two present leaders don’t seem to care a straw for public opinion , they seem to think their years of experience in politics cannot be matched by any other. They may have thought they can fool all the people all the while. In the first place they don’t see the ground reality or they refuse to see the clear writing on the wall. In our comments in this column we have suggested that both leaders should make an apology to the Nation. and to renew the pledge they made at the last two general elections ie,to bring all who plundered and pillaged before the Law. but instead what have they done , actually they were in league with them and became their saviours. This is the root cause of their failure in the LG elections. Even at this late stage if they can be converted with the saying ” Mea maxima culpa” people will forgive you and you could make amends for the treacherous political conduct. It is said people become wiser but we haven’t seen this in Sri lankan politicians, but they have reached professional standards in illegal activities. During the past three years we have seen this in our legal procedure. May the Triple gem bless you both.

  • 0
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    Your article (first from another white washing elephant Shyamon Jayasinghe) is the the second which DO NOT blame Ranil and the gang planning well before he was appointed as the Prime minister within the first 40 days of the 100 day govt, a humongous bond scam. Even to date we know with two COPE committees and one PCOLI report and investigation and Two Committees appointed by Ranil himself, only about OE BOND SCAM. Two other bond scams which were very successful unlike the first one YOu blsme PResident and the UPFA. According to you PResident gave well written speech. but, even at that time Ranil had planned his robbery. So, why do your talk is naked and disrepectful to the reader. YOu think that readers are dummies. Just Accept There is enough evidence to say that Ranil,RAvi the LIAR and Arjun Mahendran planned during the PResidential election time and excuted the first one within the first 40 days. Why UNP is this Pathetic, dishonest, naked Thives. WE can apply every word in the book to them say they are just lowly low scum. It is the voters that they showed their Arrogance, Arrogance and dishonesty and became PALHORU. Prove me wrong.

    • 0
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      Jim,
      Please remove your ” coloured glass” and read the article again.
      The writer has given a well balanced account of the mistakes made by the both partners in the Unity Government.

  • 0
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    President should apologize for not firing Ranil wickramsinghe and RAvi the LIAR at the earliest opportunity available. Other wise he shoul dnot apologize make Ranil looks better. YOu should acknowledge that Ranil abused the naivety as a PM or PResident. Ranil showed how low he was.

  • 0
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    Ranil wickramsinghe is a Leech. IT was a yahapalana govt. Ranil was handling the PM part. He did not do his job. there is ample evidence to show it. where is Lichchavi-Mall type kingdom. where is his i million jobs. In Klavanchi,kudi he had said he is not raising the living conditions because he is not the president. Understand the weight of the statement. Journalists can write. but, voters wil understand. I think this is or will be your daily routine.

  • 0
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    sinahaasle punditi

    Did you know the Super patriotic Smart ass Brigadier has been recalled.
    Poor children, they will have to terminate their UK English education and return back to this island all because their father is a stupid smart ass patriot.

    I wonder how the wife is going to manage the hot Sri Lankan weather.

  • 1
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    1. Unity will be continues for another two years as that is how Perks can be milked.
    2 .There will be never be any unity in government; it is only for 19A. So the dysfunctions continues.
    3. Tug of war of PM will be continue for another 2 years.
    4. Opposition question is settled and Joint Comedy will not come back for that under the continuation of the current situation. So Government Party partner TNA is the Opposition.
    5. Number of the ministers will increase. My guess is from 6 to 10.
    6. The Central Unity disease will forced to all level governments by exporting the FPTP and PR.
    7. These all will be repeated including Minters number increase when the PC election come.

    8. No need to repeat of these at the end of 2 years. That time Yahapalanaya is gone.

  • 3
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    Good analysis. Change we must, but mindsets need renewal before actions. Lot of religious activity was done frequently, some even being comic as their hearts were not involved in those rituals. God rules over Sri Lanka, no need to run to Tirupathy, India. When submitted to the established laws of God and karma is reconciled, freedom to do the right in truth and justice is possible as from a loving Father’s rule. A false evil dictator God to be appeased with blood shed and rituals will get us deeper into trouble and we can never have greed for money bringing fulfilment.

    Without love and compassion, minds wont change because karma binds. So get rid. See how long it took an Executive with power to redeem the karmic mess of a wrong decision on SAITM with false accusation of standards, when the truth was that we were such robbers as to be not ready for foolproof private med. edu. Now SAITM transfer of assets to KDU for MBBS in ministry of defence. Now TAKE ACTION.

  • 1
    1

    Gamini JAyaweera. I think UNOP saved at least this much because the president stopped the elctioneering half way. MY3 heard UNP corruption exposing by the SLPP. that is Ranil gave Rs 20 milliom to 15 TNA MPs to get passed the budget.(this is what villagers say). Ranil paid Rs 50 million to Rs one billiom to Foot Note Gang. I heard there are others who know it. Yahapalanaya did not look after the voters. So, SLPP could expose and defeat UNP. I think President is keeping UNP because he also was part of the scam which is not het fully exposed.

  • 2
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    “Calm Down, Wake Up, Change and Deliver.” Will our Sillysena and Ranilpaksha put on their thinking caps and deliver by sending our Tsunami Hora and cronies to a place where they rightfully belong?

  • 0
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    Sirisena does not represent any section or segment of the Sri Lankan polity. The UNP represents the thoughts,philosophy, and interests of the West. It also through its policies shows distinct support to the minority ethnic and religious communities and that involves an obvious antipathy towards the Sinhala Buddhists. The UNP also supports the interests of traditional land and poetry owning class. Sirisena by aligning himself with U NP has lost any support that he may have had from the Sinhala Buddhists whose powerful base has been captured by the SL PP which seeks to represent it. Resultantly Sirisena is like the naked Emperor who has just lost his kingdom. This is exactly what happened to Chandrika after the LG polls. Her domestic staff who have supported the family for generations, and the people of Attanagalla who blindly voted the Bs in election after election have now turned away. They, who not long ago proudly announced that they will vote not only for Banda but even for his pair of slipppers if he nominated them, have finally turned against her. Not because her sister is consorting with a aTamil, but as she has turned against the Sinhalese.It was not long ago that she announced publicly that her son was ashamed to call himself aSinhalese. That comment has not gone unnoticed, but her alignment with the arch enemy theUNP has made the task of rejecting her easier even for her domestic staff. The future if any for her lies not in Sri Lanka.

  • 0
    0

    Gamini Jayaweera
    In CT of 05 February 2015 titled “New President’s Vision – A Fantasy Or A Reality?” you advised the coalition to be cautious.
    In CT of 30 August 2015 titled “Can the UNP/SLFP Partnership Survive In The Long-Run?” you called for give-and-take. (The parliamentary elections were on 17 August 2015)
    Coalition governments involve months of negotiations. The MS/RW partnership was done in secrecy often outside the country. The fact that it survived this long is laudable. The LC -thingy exposed the fissures. There was only one solution and this has been reached. From now on the coalition must show their strength and win the next term.

  • 0
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    At the time this President was elected, I was very much aware that he had run against his own party, the UPFA, and against the UPFA candidate at the time. I cannot even remember the party he was in. He sided to give a huge boost to the UNP leadership (not a bad thing it itself) and promised to make Ranil the PM. Such behavior is not something that people admire, I would think. Now he is going against the UNP. Surprised?

    Many Sri Lankans did not or would not see through the hype of the 2015 Presidential, although some later regretted the decision. Also, the parliament remained the same, so if it was corrupt and roguish, I knew then that it would continue to do so (assuming it was, I am not saying it was).

    Will Sri Lanka to succeed in the next two years, even under the present government?

    Let’s used judgment and common sense in addition to our party prejudices and try to guess the outcome this time. I predicted the result of this LG election, and there is another election on the way.

    “Wake Up, Change & Fulfil The Promises”

    I hope so, but it does not look very plausible. Surprise me.

  • 0
    0

    Good analysis but the general public already had this knowledge except that facts have been put in an order for easy understanding.

    People know the difference between an LG & parliamentary elections but it’s the politicians of both sides deliberately made it & fed it to the mind set of people to be taken as a referendum.

    That’s the reason for the public to demand through the JO the winner, drastic changes according to their short term political dreams.

    However the ability of mainstream politicians to adjust according to the reasonable demands of people, will be helpful to bring normalcy & justify GG.

    Ability to appoint a new PM will do a lot to prove good governance; he’s lost credibility. It’s the responsibility of the UNP as well as the president. National interests must be ahead of party solidarity.
    Need not say that the 2015 election was held in order to prosecute members of previous regime.

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