19 October, 2018

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Catering To The Demand For A Strong Leader 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

With the next presidential election due before the end of next year, and with a possibility that an early election might be called even by January next year, the question of who might be the next presidential candidates is getting to the fore. There has been speculation that the felicitation ceremony for Health Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne on obtaining an international honour was a launching pad for his bid to be a presidential candidate from the government side. The opposition has not been without its share of contestation too. The statement issued by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s office that he had not yet decided on who should be the opposition’s presidential candidate, and to disregard the claims that he had already selected his brother Gotabaya, is an indication of the tensions beneath the surface which are not limited only to the government.

On the government side President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appear to have worked out an accommodation, even though both of them are believed to be interested in contesting the next presidential election. Each of them is doing his utmost to garner public support but without attacking or discrediting one another. This is a positive development compared to the aftermath of the disastrous local government elections of February 2018 which saw the government parties receive a drubbing in many areas they had previously won. President Sirisena’s abortive attempts to remove Prime Minister Wickremesinghe from his position added to the negative impression of a government that was divided and unable to govern the country effectively.

In the past few days President Maithripala Sirisena has embarked on a programme to declare open a number of development projects under Pibidenu Polonnaruwa, (Blooming Polonnaruwa), his home district. He has said similar projects would be extended to other districts too. He has already asked SLFP members to organise their propaganda machinery. The UNP is following suit with a Gamperaliya (transition of villages) for development. The government is currently implementing three major accelerated development projects namely, ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’, which is being spearheaded by Prime Minister Wicremesinghe, and the ‘Gamperaliya’ and ‘Grama shakthi’ with the aim to develop villages. However, this policy of coexistence between the government parties might not be sufficient to win the hearts and minds of the people.

Strong Leader 

The Sri Lankan ethos is to look to strong persons to solve problems rather than to institutions. Whenever people have a problem they will look for some contact they have within the system to whom they can appeal to, or bribe, rather than rely on the system to deliver. The common discourse today regarding politics is the need for a strong leader. The primary aspiration of a disillusioned population who vote for change in the hope of their betterment is that they are looking for stability and order and for a strong political direction that will not waver. To most of those people the current government has been a disappointment. As a coalition of two parties, each of which are going their own way, the government has only been able to move by fits and starts.

In addition to the general population, specific groups, such as the business community, also need stability and order if they are to risk their investment in an economic venture. However, with regard to investments in Sri Lanka, the evidence is not at all positive. Ministers make declarations of policy that are reversed in quick order by others in the government. Investors complain that there is no one-stop-shop in Sri Lanka, where there is no inordinate delay. If there is a one-stop-shop where there is no delay, investors would much prefer this, as they know how to factor in the additional cost into their projections of future earnings. The more successful local businesspersons are those who have been able to identify a powerful-enough minister and to work with him (or her) to get the project off the ground and running. The fascination with former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s possible candidacy comes from this sense of having a strong leader who will ensure that things get done without unnecessary delay.

The government appears to be mindful of these concerns of the electorate. President Sirisena’s declaration that he will reinstitute the death penalty serves to create the image of a strong leader. Public opinion is in favour of the death penalty and the president has sought to capitalize on this issue, while projecting himself to be a strong leader. Another opportunity that President Sirisena took up is the issue of a salary increase for parliamentarians. The party leaders in parliament had agreed with the view that as the salaries of parliamentarians were linked to those of members of the judiciary, and since the salaries of the judges had been increased substantially, the salaries of parliamentarians should likewise be raised. The president pointed out the contradiction in the fact that the party leaders, including those from the opposition, had made no objection to the proposals and has refused to approve the salary increase.

True Strength

The president’s efforts to project himself as a strong leader who is willing to take tough decisions is likely to be intended to counter the opposition’s seeming monopoly on the possession of strong leaders. Both former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother former defense secretary Gotabaya are credited for being part of the triumvirate, along with Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka, who won the “unwinnable” war against the LTTE. The former defense secretary is widely seen as the most potent of the possible opposition candidates. This may explain why the meetings he summons are attended by wide swathes of the country’s business leaders and intelligentsia.

On the other hand, the government’s true strength, and which is in the national interest, is that the two party alliance of UNP and SLFP, and the further engagement with the ethnic minority parties, is essential if there is to be a political solution to the ethnic conflict which is the country’s long unresolved problem. Until this is solved, Sri Lanka will remain a divided polity, although united in territory by the strength of its military. The ground reality today is that the SLFP is only a shadow of its former self with the bulk of its active members now with the SLPP which is led by the former president. But it still can muster the support of a significant enough number of voters, which added to the UNP votes will give the two parties a strength that neither party can muster separately.

Although the public perception is that the government is ineffective and not doing much, this is not an accurate description of reality. Development projects are taking off with international support. The government has brought in a variety of new laws, the most important of which is the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. The 19th Amendment in particular could not have been passed if not for the current government alliance. This has given the space to those appointed to various state bodies to make their decisions free of political interference. The media is filled with statements by opposition leaders who are giving dire warnings about the betrayal of the country by the government. There continues to be pressure on Sri Lanka to follow international law in its internal affairs. Nevertheless, the best course for the government would be to continue with the existing partnerships.

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Latest comments

  • 9
    0

    That strongleader has to tell the people that nothing comes for free.
    We have free health care as good as in Canada (lines are longer the toilets are dirtier but the out comes are equivalent for most diseases except for cancer), we have higher level of free education than Canada (Universities are free here not in Canada), we have very good road system, a public transport system that penetrates most of the country and charges next to nothing (Ok the buses and trains are bit derelict and not always on time, but it is dirt cheap in world standards), and we have almost two third of the population of Canada on a land mass that is 150 times smaller than Canada. We have no fossil fuel or significant mineral deposites. or a large landmass that can be used for import oriented agriculture, so how are we to pay for all that free and cheap stuff?
    And that strongleader will need to tell the people how.

    • 2
      1

      Wannihami,
      You have done very good comparative analysis of a developed world (Canada) with Srilanka which is a under developed country. We have a very good free health, free education, transport system etc. However, you have failed to compare other side of the story. Srilanka with a population of 22 million have a military personal of 300,700 compared to Canada’s 36 million population have a military personal of 88,000. Canada has a successful devolution whereas Srilanka do not have devolution of power. Canada is a stable country with very good human rights unlike Srilanka is not a stable country with poor human rights. Srilanka is a corrupted nation compared to Canada. There are lot of money is wasted in Srilanka compared Canada. Srilanka can become a developed nation like Canada with free education, health, and effective transport system if we can find a leader who honestly eradicated corruption with firm committement and a proper devolution of power to North East.

      • 0
        0

        Sri Lanka is located next to Tamilnadu which is the hotbed of Tamil chauvinism. Canada is not. Sri Lanka faced a terrorist war for 30 years against the most brutal terrorist org, Canada did not . Sri Lanka has devolved power according to the 13 A and there is a chief minister in NPC who is busy peddling in cheap Tamil Nationlism. Does the Canadian government’s misadventures in mideast and rest of the third world affect its HR record? NO right? Sri Lanka is not stable due to Tamil separatism and ineffective leadership. Sri Lanka was stable under MR.
        Sri Lanka can never ever have so called proper devolution to North and East (Not North East ) because we can never make Tamils satisfied.

    • 0
      1

      The government must get their priorities right and spend money as appropriate. What is happening today is that the unaccountable politicians are selling the country on inappropriate unaffordable projects to pocket the commissions . Death Penalty for corruption is a must

    • 0
      1

      wannihami suggests ~ “That strongleader has to tell the people that nothing comes for free.”

      But then comes the super-strong leader who says, “Yes I can Yes I can Yes I can. I will reduce tax and reduce prices”.

  • 1
    5

    MAithripala Sirisena has suddenly wken up and talk lot of people oriented nice things. I don’t think, except for the stupids, Ranil is a presidential candidate. In his heart he knows some how this way or that way he will be in the parliament. thzat is th eminimum. Right now Rajapakses as well as Ranil are very minority friendly. Which country in the world is that minority fiendly. all the democratic countries world are very different from Sinhale.

  • 7
    0

    No demand .
    He messed up Sri Lanka politics .
    He should have a big heart to go home after his term

  • 1
    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/

  • 0
    0

    I was some what disturbed to read in this article: ” The fascination with former Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse’s possible candidacy comes from the sense of a strong leader who will ensure that things get done without unwanted delay”. Is this the “QUALITY” of “LEADERSHIP” that Sri Lankan “Intelligentsia” promotes? First of all, these “Intelligentsia” who try to find and promote a LEADER for Sri Lanka must understand the very basic principle of “Leadership” i.e. “The Leadership is an Affair of the Heart”. Purely and simply put, exemplary leaders excel at improving performance from families to nation States of liberating the heart. So, in another analysis it is simple to say “Love is the Soul Of Leadership”. Do any of these personnel that we speak of today as “Possible” leaders proved to us that there is out there among them to name as a “Single Possibility”? NO. Then we must “Discard” all these proven leaders as of today and look for a NEW and an ALTERNATIVE LEADER who can at least measure up to some standards of leadership “PRACTICES” such as (1) Model the Way (2) Inspire a Shared Vision (3) Challenge the Process (4) Enable others to Act and (5) Encourage the Heart. We have people out there who would measure up to these standards; but unfortunately, the PEOPLE are not presented with such persons by the Political Parties; Civil Societies; Professional Organizations; Intellectuals; Religious Bodies and Media. Why that is not done? The answer: All these entities are concerned with nothing but Organizational and Individual “BENEFITS” and “WELFARE”. All these mentioned entities have so far either FAILED or FEAR (or both) to tell the Leaders: You Either Lead by Example OR You Don’t Lead At All. That is why a CHANGE is not happening.

  • 1
    2

    Articles of Mr. Jehan Perera prove that he is an outstanding journalist.

  • 2
    1

    We changed players to bridle the culture of corruption/nepotism/impunity. To our dismay we find that the new team is steeped in the same culture. The new players came from two clubs and there are signs of check of sorts.
    Has taken us couple of years to realise that the two teams are twins. Soon we have to decide which one is the better baddy.

    We may take a gamble with the present team. They may learn how to govern as a coalition.
    Jehan has put it elegantly.

  • 0
    4

    People want a drastic change, they have lost interest in MS, RW, or any of Rajapakses.

    Even the party names like, UNP, SLFP, UPF, TNA,SLMC, SLPP are boring to them.

    There must be novel concepts from parties & surfacing of hidden charismatic people is expected.

    Let me name some

    Bandula Gunawardena, Tissa Attanayake, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, Mahinda Samarasinghe, ……. Senanayake, ……. Wijewardena, (sorry, 1st names?)

    Believe it, Bandula G & Tissa A. & AKD are the best to attract people.

    • 1
      1

      People want drastic change in SL. But unfortunately it is a democratic country and that change can never be achieved.

    • 3
      0

      Yu are crazy, every one you mentiones except perhaps Anura Kumara are third rate politicians

      • 0
        0

        Abey

        Amidst the fear & frustration of returning of Rajapakses &/or RW & his buddies; in the short run, isn’t it good promoting a probably least dangerous people rather than dreaming an unavailable favorites.

  • 2
    1

    so sad is Sri Lankan politics. Sri Lankan politics is turning out to be very weak democracy with nepotism of all kinds..
    consider this .. why do we send unqualified people into politics .. why not public have will to elect only good people.. I mean honest, educated.. dictated and hard working..
    in Sri Lanka post of MPs a fame .. it earns money. it is for life,, Until a MP dies he enjoy all public money. so. it is like wining a lottery. so I think it is public who should be blamed for this.

  • 2
    3

    Dear Jehan P
    I am yet to see a documented propòsal of a ‘political solution’ which encompasses at least 90% of the total population of ‘minorities’ scattered across Sri Lanka.
    Everyone talks about a polical solution but leaves it others to propose one.
    Regretfully nothing ever has come out from you either.
    As a main stream contributor to the subject will you sketch your proposal as some kind of respect for those of us who regularly read your valuable articles.
    I have this notion that in view of the demographic distribution of the minorities across the island no political solution exists which covers at least 90% òf them. I JUST WANT TO BE PROVED WRONG.
    Soma

    • 0
      1

      Soma ~ “……..I JUST WANT TO BE PROVED WRONG……….”.
      We are digressing from Jehan’s message.
      Leave this aside for the time being. So you want a 90% mandate?
      Did SWRD B have a 90% mandate for the “Sinhala Only”?
      Did SLPP get 90% mandate for the language/religion-divide?

      PS: We appreciate your desire to be ‘proved wrong’.

      • 1
        0

        Mr Pillei
        I said
        “I am yet to see a documented propòsal of a ‘political solution’ which encompasses at least 90% of the total population of ‘minorities’ scattered across Sri Lanka.”
        Your response above clearly implies that you haven’t either.
        Soma

        • 0
          0

          Can you find a province where 90% of the total population of Sinhalese live? Can you find a Srilankan constitution that changed with 90% Sinhalese?
          Can you tell us what was the proposal put forward by The Mahinda appointed all party committee lead by Professor Vitharne? Did they provide a political solution for those 90% minorities scattered across Srilanka?

    • 2
      0

      somass

      “I JUST WANT TO BE PROVED WRONG.”

      As a card carrying full time member of the noisy bigoted Sinhala/Buddhist minority naturally you are wrong all the time. If you have the constant urge to jump over the cliff we cannot stop you.

      You have been wrong
      You are wrong
      You will be wrong.

      We cannot stop you from committing suicide.
      You need to see a psychiatrist.

      • 0
        1

        NV
        I said:
        “I am yet to see a documented propòsal of a ‘political solution’ which encompasses at least 90% of the total population of ‘minorities’ scattered across Sri Lanka.”
        and you say in response:
        “You have been wrong
        You are wrong
        You will be wrong.”
        Where is that document which proves me wrong?
        You are a master of evation – you can justifiably take pride in that.
        Why did you give up politics and leave it to the ‘sole representatives’ who made a mess of it and dragged you all down to Nandikadal? Even at this stage your talents are invaluable to fool the International Community.

        Soma

  • 1
    3

    Jehan’s forecast is good for nothing. When Jehan was writing advices to New King to collect the support on Lord Naseby and repeal UNHRC resolution, Thero did understand the “Thank You Letter” fraud New Kin did and broke that out. Jehan just bangs for the bucks. No substance inside.
    I wonder if these writers are political analyst or PhD in Panthams. Jehan is at least four months behind to Thero. About six months ago Thero switched over his Pantham praises from Old Brother Prince. Last February that guy stupidly worked with both China and America. Old Royals had forced him to leave to America during the LG election. They hired New King’s corporation on that. So Rice mill owner spread a hoax of arrest imminent and needed to escape to America. This rendered him virtually caught by America. So, in January he had given his consent to US. When he escaped out of there, he directly went to China and said ok there. His weak part is China more than America. Old King practically has no say at all in America. But China minds every word said by Old King. It cancelled a graduate degree offering for Old Brother Prince because Old King objected. But that will not happen in US. If he goes to America he may have to arrest Old King. If he goes to China, he will have to surrender to China, under the brother’s control. That will put his safety in jeopardy relating to America. The possibility is entire Old Royal family would get together and act like selecting him only to distract Local Modayas and International Community Modayas. There are lot of tails are waging now to him. But Thero, the shrewd calculator, has deserted him. We have to wait and see if he can stand for election and if so how his leadership would go.

  • 3
    0

    What about the Bond Scam?
    Is Singapore giving safe haven to him?
    We cannot allow this hanky panky to continue.

  • 4
    0

    Dear Jehan Perera and all participants,
    have any of you seen any winning party attempting to do anything good for the Country? Are the Journalists doing any critical and prompting Journalism for helping the Government to implement what is essential immediately. See the Journalists taking part producing a candidate worthy of the Country? We see these elections time and time again and also we the Country going down and down again! What seems to be the main issue on election platforms? Not the Country requirement at any time. It is always misinformation and making capital out of negative thinking created from the platforms. Whoever gets the power, within the next 4 years have to make the best hay while the sun shines. Irrespective of the state of the poor and the victims of oppression, the power of the Government rolls down the Country deeper and deeper. The changing of Government depend on how to oppress the minorities and not how to uplift the poor. You can very well know from how the Yahapalnaya came into existence and why? Is it because of the promises made to bring in Jurisdiction for the criminals? The Journalists will not understand what is going on because they have to tow the line with the Top Executives. There will be no constructive good criticism, but supportive arguments for the bad performers. Now there should be supportive journalism for the rejected past leaders because they are strong? in what? in killing the most citizens?

  • 3
    0

    Our past political system produced only rouges as leaders. People must now opt to choose someone outside the political community to take over and redefine the entire culture to respect sovereignty and justice.

  • 2
    1

    Dr Ranil went to Tripathi, kissing a good looking Chick on the way, which surprised many in Colombo including some in Dr Ranil’s own Cheer Squad.
    May be Dr Ranil hasn’t much faith in Dr Jehan’s Prayers..
    Dr Jehan’s List of Strong Leaders does not include the real Homo Erectus like Field Marshall Ponny which is a shame.
    That dude single handedly eliminated Mr Pirahaparan and his 500 Commanders..
    And he even volunteered to take on the Justice Minister Job to eliminate the Crooked Cops and the Pathalaya.
    And jail the Rajapakasas..
    Dr Jehan putting Dr Ranil and My3 Sira Combo as the Best for the for the Interests of the West , NGOs and Colombo Elite and the Vellalas is understandable.
    Although My3 Sira swears in public that there is no separate Homelands.
    Like Sira’s so many other statements, there is nothing there to worry about really , because Sira seems to learn the facts always after the event.
    Anyway Sira is on record saying that He will never allow a Rajapaksa to ever become the President never again.
    Dr Ranil’s new Draft of the Constitution is in fact revolves around Chopping Off the President with a 2/3 majority in Parliament.
    With the P118, plus the Sampathar and Anura Kumara Parties, Dr Ranil already has more than what he needs.
    Perhaps Dr Ranil wouldn’t need them , because My3 Sira may do it himself to prevent a Rajapaksa ever becoming the President……

    • 3
      1

      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      “Dr Ranil went to Tripathi, kissing a good looking Chick on the way, which surprised many in Colombo including some in Dr Ranil’s own Cheer Squad.”

      Why should Ranil kissing his own wife surprise/bother anyone, of all you?
      Had he kissed anyone other than his sweet heart, the wife would have hung him by his b***s. You will do well to remember she has a degree in English, MA in Women’s Studies, a PhD in feminist research methodology.
      She will eat you for English breakfast.

      “Dr Jehan’s List of Strong Leaders does not include the real Homo Erectus like Field Marshall Ponny which is a shame.”

      The herbivorous (plant-eating) dinosaurs are strong and huge and lethal. So is Gota.

      • 1
        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

          KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

          Dinosaurs died because of its size and its refusal to evolve. So will the Sinhalese because the Sinhala/Buddhist noisy minority prevents them from evolving, unable to adapt and unable to change.

          • 1
            0

            Same thing happening to the Tigers in Sri Lanka because they are focusing only on the prey and refuse to lookup and see for themselves that there are so many elephants who are thriving in numbers and the entire running field is a small island with a hard to cross boundary of sea. Large numbers drowned in Nandikadal too. The remaining are surviving on the wildlife food programme run by the International Community.
            Soma

          • 1
            0

            Dear Native,
            Balangoda man to Hambantota man….
            If it is not evolution, I don’t know what to call it.
            Sinhala evolution has been phenomenal especially in the last 50 years until Jan 2015..
            You seem to have a point there,
            But it is not the reason which you have mentioned.
            It is Dr Ranil and his UNP agenda to stop any more Evolution of the Sinhala Buddhists for obvious reasons.
            That is the reason for Dr Ranil’s FTAs ETCAs and the Partition Policies…
            White fellas did that quite well to put in a 300 year hiatus on the Evolution of Sinhalese,
            Sinhala Buddhists in particular who are the great majority of the inhabitant population by confining them to the Bush.
            And cutting off their access to Education and Employment by enforcing “English only” Policy….
            Because of it the White fellas didn’t have to physically Partition the Land.
            History is going to repeat this time with the added feature of permanent Homelands for the poor in particular if the Sinhala Buddhists do not stop Dr Ranil and his Cohorts….

            • 0
              0

              KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

              Balangoda man didn’t evolve into a crook, war criminal, drug peddler, Tsunami hora, 10%, ………………………………… a bigot, a racist, a stupid, …………………….

              “Sinhala evolution has been phenomenal especially in the last 50 years until Jan 2015..”

              On the other hand Sinhala/Buddhist evolution has been notoriously speedy, soon it will hit the bottom. The problem is that it will take everyone with it and crash with no hope of return.

              An evolution in reverse from human being to Ape.

  • 1
    0

    Moar navel gazing. Provincial council elections will come soon. Don’t be surprised if SLPP secures more than 50%.

    Also its absurd to expect the SLFP to play second fiddle to the UNP and become its indentured serf. The UNP-UPFA experiment failed abysmally.

    Even if they do come together, don’t think such serfdom will get anything beyond 5% of the SLFP/UPFA vote. UPFA/SLFP got 12% last election because they tried to appear as some form of alternative to the UNP. don’t think people will vote for the godai peon of the post colonial bootlickers.

  • 1
    1

    Latest Gallop Poll results, if a Presidential Election is held on 3/8.18:
    Ranil 46%
    Gota 35%
    My3 9%
    Fonseka 8%
    Pallewatte -7%
    Sangakkara .6%
    Sugandhika .5%
    Nagananda .2%

    • 1
      0

      Pallewatte getting negative result? How did this Charulatha Gallop Poll Company cook this? Does someone in the Company know that ( -7) is less than ( 0.2)?

      • 1
        0

        K Pillai

        Pallewatte had scroed 0.7%

        Please add up the total – comes to 100%

        (I only copied from their website, – was my mistake)

    • 1
      0

      Charulatha

      The latest – Ranjan Ramanayake has indicated his desire to run for President (to comply with the Constitution, he is going to marry a lady and divorce after the victory). Would this affect Ranil’s 46% or will Ranjan also steal from Gota, Sira and Fony?

      Will Ranjan score a landslide victory across the board.

      Gallop poll must do a separate survey.

  • 1
    0

    We, like to speculate a lot, perhaps it is a guess, based on available data and weighing the odds. What struck me in reading the article is that whenever a person already in power seeks re-election, he resorts to grandiose schemes and the examples quoted, namely that of MY3 and UNP certainly fits the hypothesis. Are these schemes result oriented? Now MY3 + UNP gave the people an agenda of action when contesting the Jan 8, 2015 elections. If we itemize the contents and draw a checklist, what fraction of it was achieved? When one is in opposition and contests for elections all the rascals who foresee that the crowd would come to power would spend for the elections, give some dead rope like free WIFI, to get into position to amass wealth. When one is in government and contests for elections all the bureaucratic rascals would take you for a good ride in luring you for grandiose schemes. A young guy, a very minor bureaucrat, way back in 1969 and 1970 had gone to interview the traders in Pettah and came to the conclusion that UNP would win 66 seats in the 1970 general elections. This was believed by the brains of the UNP at that time. What happened? It won only 8 seats. That young guy then later became a Minister under President Premadasa and this episode is recorded in his life story. What matters is service to the people winning their confidence and not promises or grandiose schemes. Is that done?

  • 1
    1

    According to latest Gallop Poll Sugandhika gets more votes than Nagananda. Fascinating how Sri Lankan voters see things.

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