5 March, 2024

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Celebrating Independence Or Inaugurating Dependence? 

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

We must celebrate the 75th Independence Day, otherwise the world will say that we are not capable of even celebrating our independence”, said President Ranil Wickremesingh(RW). Won’t the world also ask Mr. President, why spend on a tamasha when people cannot afford one full meal a day even?

In a few days, Sri Lanka will mark its silver jubilee year of independence from the colonial master Britain, but in a state of despondency and deprivation caused by a historic economic crisis and political uncertainties. President RW justifies the millions of rupees to be spent on this occasion as “investment in the country’s future”. But in actual fact, it is not going to be a celebration of independence, but inauguration of an era of dependence on a new master, IMF. How long would this dependency last depend on how quickly the economy is rebuilt and, more importantly, system changed. 

Strengthening this dependency is the India factor. It in the context of Indian Ocean geopolitics, India’s latest verve of economic assistance to Sri Lanka, such as the $4 billion worth credit facilities on generous terms, financing assurances to IMF and a number of growth positive economic initiatives, all couched in terms of civilizational duty and neighbourhood love, had not only created an atmosphere of optimism regarding IMF funding and financial assistance from other multilateral agencies, but also sparked a flurry of activities internationally, such as the visit to Colombo by Victor Nuland, the Under Secretary of Political Affairs in U.S. Department of State to meet RW, meeting between Ambassador Beth Van Schaack, Head of Global Criminal Justice in the Department of State, and the Canadian Tamil Diaspora, regarding resolution of the Tamil national issue, to which RW has made commitment , and visit by Ban Ki-Moon, former Secretary General of UN, for discussion with RW on climate change. All these indicate international support to the IMF backed RW’s One Policy Framework (OPF), which in geopolitical terms is meant to draw Sri Lanka into the Western camp via India, and to the chagrin of China. Thus, a new dependency is evolving and Independence Day celebration will inaugurate that that new era.        

But the irony of the situation is that no political party or coalition of parties including NPP, which are united in attacking the current regime and want to capitalize on the popular discontent arising from the harsh reality of 2023 budget, has put forward a better alternative than the IMF solution. Therefore, the only choice left to voters at the next election, if and when it is held, is to choose a party or coalition of parties that would manage this dependency wisely so that in the long-run at least the economy would stand on a strong footing to benefit future generations.  However, it should be noted at the same time that implementing the IMF plan without changing the underlying system and its political culture may help stabilize the macro foundation of the economy and set it on a growth path for some time, but there is no guarantee that there would be no reversal in the future. The system with its pernicious political culture is prone to mismanagement, misadventures and miscalculations.

It is quite normal for any economy operating in a global environment of open markets to experience fluctuations periodically owing to factors beyond its control, a phenomenon known as cyclical in economics. But cyclical fluctuations are one thing but disasters caused by systemic weaknesses are quite another. The latest episode of financial and economic disaster in this country is the cumulative effect of systemic weakness and product of its political culture.  Unless this culture is abandoned RW’s grand ambition to transform this economy into a First World miracle with assistance from IMF would remain no more than a phantasy. This is why credit must be given to the aragalaya youth for understanding the systemic origins of the crisis to raise their call for SYSTEM CHANGE.  RW regimes’ unreserved acquiescence to the IMF agenda, with overtures to unite the country by resolving the so-called national question with full implementation of the controversial 13th Amendment would not bring system change, but at best may end up smoothening few of its rough edges. 

Of all the parties and coalitions that are vying for power, only Anura Kumara Dissanayake (AKD) and his National Peoples Power (NPP) has categorically denounced the reigning political culture and vowed to get rid of it, which in other words mean system change. That riddance would put an end to a number of other evils associated with it, such as corruption, government unaccountability, politicization of public institutions including judiciary, mafia power, organized political lobbying along the corridors of power, and so on. It is this political culture that has ruined the country’s welfare system, including public health and education. RW’s OPF has no intention of changing this culture. Yet, NPP also has to work within the IMF economic framework. That framework in fact, has now become sine qua non for any party or coalition of parties that seek to capture power.

Only a government with a technocratic cabinet and market friendly policies based on principles of economic democracy and inclusive national identity that could mitigate the severity of hardship emanating from IMF agenda and make the dependency short lived and more beneficial. So far, only NPP with its technocratically capable team promises that possibility. Contrary to the propaganda that NPP is the rump of the insurrectionist JVP of previous century, it represents instead the voice of a new generation of young Sri Lankans who, like their counterparts in many other parts of the world, want a socio-political and economic system that guarantees every citizen dignity, freedom and economic justice.    

But the challenge facing this party is whether it would be able to sweep the polls in the next election. It was Alexander Hamilton who said that “people get the government they deserve”. Although the voting public in Sri Lanka had changed governments several times in the past, it does not mean that they are politically discerning to make the right choice.  There is therefore the possibility that they would succumb to the same ethnonational tantrums propagated by the reactionary elements and may end up choosing a government that they do not deserve. Yet, there is a glimmer of hope for a surprise outcome this time in the wake of the epochal aragalaya.  The younger generation is politically discernible, better educated and technologically savvy, unlike their parents and elders. What is more crucial is that demographically they hold the winning votes in almost every electorate. They are committed to system change and they could be the decisive factor in choosing the next government.

AKD is brimming with confidence, and RW realizes the danger. Although the President is wooing the youth to join his 25-year marathon, the best way to avoid a possible calamity is not to disturb the political status quo. India and its international allies also seem to support that choice. To the UNP-PPP coalition therefore, inaugurating the new dependence seems to be the best way to celebrate independence.  RW’s warning to the people not to disturb his programs, when addressing a crowd at Sri Maha Bodhiya in Anuradhapura on 28th January is testament to his determination not to allow any election at the moment.   

*Dr. Ameer Ali, Murdoch Business School, Murdoch University, W. Australia

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Latest comments

  • 11
    1

    Come hell or high water ……. Ranil is determined to celebrate his independence from the lifelong losing streak.

    Might as well give the poor sod a break ….. if he vanishes for ever after his 15 minutes of glory.


    In the parade they turned the 21 gun-salute on Anwar Sadat ………… just a thought …… nothing sinister ……. just a very pleasant thought ………

    Native, what do you dream of …… when you are fully awake?

    • 7
      2

      “So far, only NPP with its technocratically capable team promises that possibility.”
      A few years ago, there was this technocratic team with the likes of Channa Jayasumana, Seetha Arambepola, Nalaka Godahewa, Dhammika Perera, half a dozen Generals and Admirals……..
      We all know what happened.
      Being Technocratic is one thing. Capability is more difficult.

      • 2
        5

        OC
        Some of the best ministers had been people without formal training in their respective fields.
        But they identified competent persons, sought their advice, compared notes and decided honestly and wisely.
        One can be duped by experts as much as by any professional conman.
        The term is ‘street wise’ I would say.

        • 1
          3

          OC
          When a stupid idea gets absolute hold of even a reasonably intelligent person it is had to reason him/her out of it.
          This is not the first instance for AA.

          • 0
            0

            ” When a stupid idea gets absolute hold of even a reasonably Intelligent ( ???) person it is hard to reason him out of it, like the difference between Micro and Nano second. This is not the first instance for retired professor.

            • 0
              0

              Practice what you preach. I know, at your age, it’s near impossible but you still can try. You who whine about abuse, called someone a “wife beater”, pretending to be naive and stupid. You crossed the line, with your inborn narcissistic hypocrisy.

    • 5
      0

      nimal fernando

      “Native, what do you dream of …… when you are fully awake?”

      I have a dream that one day …………………………
      I have a dream that one day …………………………
      I have a dream that one day …………………………
      I have a dream that one day …………………………
      I have a dream that one day …………………………
      I have a dream that one day …………………………
      I have a dream that one day every crook shall be kicked out of the island, every murderer shall be charged, every freeloader shall be forced to pay, ….. every Kallathonie should be made to realise that going back to his or her mother land is the best option, ……

      I have a dream that one day every Mao’s ……… ……… be made to read, reread, ……

      • 6
        1

        Very good, Native!

        There’s a poet inside you struggling to get out …….. let him roam free: not be anyone’s slave …….. Ranil’s mental slave


        There are no real saints, only made into ones …….. for such an imperfect man, Mao cobbled together an unified China …….. his successors could work on

        Now, they are the 2nd largest economy …… and fast catching up ……in some areas their science and technology, R/D ……. have surpassed the rest ……

        Back in the day ……. their professors were sitting with us in our freshman engineering lectures ……… now, top 3 and 8 out of the top 10 are in China!

        Man, I would exchange Mao to any of the thieving bumbling bungling imbeciles we have had/have.

        The only leader who came close is Prabakaran ……. not many realize that: 75% see him only as a Tamil.

        Your great hero Ranil …… without worshipping the ground that Whites likes Churchill, Hitler, ……walked/walk on …….. should study our only great/worthwhile leader since independence.

        Adopt some of Prabakaran’s traits/principles.

        Like Ranil’s ……. do your mind work only in Black and White?

    • 1
      2

      nimal fernando, Give the sod a break is exactly what Malwatu/Asgiri are supposed to have given as asirvada to the sod who wanted Vasantha Mudalige killed. Thou shall not kill applies to all humans from the judiciary and with no exceptions even to all types of clergy.

  • 8
    0

    To save money in this juncture stop all these tri forces extravagaze and bringing these school children to parade etc
    Organise kiri bath pongal at galle face green with kites and crackers

    • 0
      0

      Bus the people to the GF Green?

  • 7
    3

    Dear Dr Ameer Ali,
    .
    Thank you for this neatly balanced but constructive comparison of the stances being now adopted by Ranil Wickemasinghe and the NPP.
    .
    So far I see only one comment; one of the witty sort that nimal fernando often regales us with.
    I make no apologies for wanting to dismiss Ranil in one of many ways. nimal fernando’s is one.

    However, in other recent comments he has given vent to the reservations that he often expresses. Committed Marxists (nimal is far from being one!) voice the same concern: To wit: the JVP has abandoned its commitment to carry forward the “proletarian revolution”. I don’t know much about Marxism, but I hope that NPP will demonstrate that it is possible to steer clear of too much ideology, but still work with commitment towards ushering in an age when human values are upheld, without giving in to all the dictates of the IMF.
    .
    To be continued

    • 5
      4

      I have listened carefully to what AKD has been saying. He promises pragmatism and efficiency. In the short term, we have to find “dollars” in this world dominated by market forces. He realises that the necessary short-term assistance can come only from the IMF. The NPP record is good. They are the only group that has refused to be drawn into co-operation with the present corrupt government. They have done this consistently.
      .
      I’m not going to get drawn into endless arguments with the likes of “leelagemalli”. He discusses nothing. He expects us to accept all his assertions, but when we want his views on details of what is being now advocated, he adopts dishonest strategies. When we discuss something we must know how points can be made. He moves goalposts, and expects us to agree to his ever-changing ground-rules.

      .
      I’m happy with what I see. I know how I will vote. I have to live in the hope that a majority of our citizens will vote similarly; it is up to about about 15 million individuals to cast their votes so that the final result will favour progress.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela (NIC 48 3111444V)

      • 3
        10

        SM and his supporters@

        They do not understand the need of the age in a society where racists, criminals and opportunists are the majority. At least two year period would be essential to rebuild the nation.
        I have a greater question@. If JVPrs or NPPrs yet fail to respect heterogenous thoughts of the people, how would they ever come rule this nation ?

        would they naively believe that they would work with foreigners not with same old srilankens ? The fact is they will have to work with the same folks that have no respect to meritocracy but to mediocracy and corruption promoting society.

        Whole lot of people in this country dont care about law and order and anti-corruption. Be them teachers, doctors, university dons, engineers, other staffers it is the same. They only criticise as a habbitual manner.

        • 3
          7

          cont.
          .
          In this interim period, they should also bring new laws and law reforms. JVPrs should see it right. It is no morally right that them to make efforts to grab power on their hand right at this highly critical situation.
          If nothing would be achieved from the current interim govt, they should act, but not by mobbing, but through improving the awareness of the STUPID majority.

          You (the kind of self-proclaimed fighters for a real change) should be more aware of it than the Sri Lankans abroad, including me, because you too lived in the same hell.
          tbc

          • 3
            7

            cont.
            .
            I have never worked in Sri Lanka and never will. I am joining today to give back some services to the less fortunate down there.

            I no longer want to change the mindset of the grim majority. My efforts were pointless.

            I am not naïve to see that JVPs are the only force – panacea- that will give saline to the nation.
            I see some progress in them, but the gap between their approach to grass root levels is remarkably high. J
            VPs like crying babies continue, however, if they really wanted to, they could do more to convey the message to all. I have added how in my previous comments to CT and other forums sofar.
            Even if they cry, it proves that there are no proper solutions to the dire problems of the nation.
            :
            I really believe, JVPs are just one tiny fraction of our society who like me believe that law and order should be put first. Those crowds that are seen in rallies are just Schaulustigeleute.
            We all wish our nation to be blessed with proper systems and move forward for the betterment of the majority, however, if the potential forces do not seem to have read it clearly, how can we ever hope?

    • 5
      2

      Many friends have told me that the Local Government Elections will not be held. That is how seriously they assess Ranil Wickremasinghe’s determination to scuttle them, because if they are held, with a good many Election Monitors also turning up in the country, he’s done for. The writing is on the wall.
      .
      The above paragraph is only my assessment; I hope that I’ll be proved wrong.
      .
      The latest quixotic news includes this:
      .
      https://economynext.com/sri-lanka-student-leader-wasantha-mudalige-released-from-terror-case-report-110919/
      .
      I myself have protested at what is happening. and I shall continue to do so.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJ50rwTNOLg
      .
      I cannot actually listen to all this (since I’m running out of data and and the money to buy some.) That’s probably part of Ranil’s calculations.
      .
      Others, who are better placed ought to now contribute.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela, currently in Maharagama

  • 7
    0

    King is Christian, PM is Hindu, Mayor is Muslim
    Church of England nothing to do with crackers, or foster/foremost
    When I was small I do remember buses and train carriages have warnings on the seats “prohibited” “only for clergies……..by above
    Palli Buddhism by sinhalayo the champions

    • 6
      0

      cugan

      Maybe it is the education system. We were taught a lot of rubbish in our (at least my) Buddhism classes & as a result, many blindly think it is offensive to be critical of monks when they dabble in politics, even thuggery, instead of providing spiritual guidance, which should be their sole objective. I am sure you are aware that in UK, apart from Christian & Muslim ‘faith schools’, primary school children are given an insight to all religions & though the Church is represented in the House of Lords, it does not have the status & power the SL Buddhist clergy have as ‘advisors’ to the govt.

      • 0
        6

        We were also taught a lot about how great British rule was.
        *
        Can a Muslim/Buddhist or Hindu become King/Queen of England? Unless Charles III converts. But he may be dethroned!

        • 6
          0

          SJ
          Not in my history classes but I remember how Anagarika Dharmapala was honoured for pulling down the British flag. What school did you attend?

          As for British Monarchy, its a heredity system & according to the British constitution, is the head of the church, so if he converts, even to Catholicism, he will have to abdicate. Anyway, Monarchy is outdated, only ceremonial & may not survive in the 21st century. The real power is with the PM & UK already has a practicing Hindu who is not ashamed of his faith. Happy to enlighten you

          • 1
            0

            Raj ,
            “Not in my history classes but I remember how Anagarika Dharmapala was honoured for pulling down the British flag”
            You are giving that charlatan more credit than he deserves. He wasn’t even born then. Also, it is doubtful whether the flag incident actually took place. Nowadays, it is useful to weave patriotic legends around Buddhist monks.
            https://www.sundaytimes.lk/080302/KandyTimes/kandytimes_0025.html

        • 1
          0

          You can carry anything for anybody, but can a Thilagawathi Suicidal Hindu like you become a Ma O in China. Anyway, who crowned Ma O in China as their emperor? Who the hell did it? Did you? Did you crowned Mao Dumb as emperor? Man what a horrible…..deed!

          Do you know it was Old Rowdy, the life time Chief Ayatollah of the British Commonwealth Corporation, who cremated Queens Elizabeth II and crowned King Charles, but not UK population?

          Instead of you wasted the money in Kokoo Suduthal, you could have bought a book in UK read it, a relaxing time for the hunter, hunted & and the gun!

        • 2
          0

          China’s man in Sri Lanka wants to know can a Muslim/Buddhist or Hindu become King/Queen of England?
          =
          Similar questions were raised by some Dumbos some years ago whether Asian, African, Chinese could ever become ministers or prime minister of UK. Well unlike China over a period of time people and the country has changed for the better. If this is not obvious those who raise stupid question should pull his/her head periodically wherever it is now and see what is happening now.

  • 19
    1

    “We must celebrate the 75th Independence Day, otherwise the world will say that we are not capable of even celebrating our independence”
    Wonder if RW ever thought how this statement would be interpreted. It indicates a stupid, callous man totally out of touch with reality & the suffering of millions of people. What is there to to celebrate when the country is bankrupt with millions in poverty? Furthermore, why do we have to show the world that we can throw a party with borrowed money? I can’t believe an educated leader would utter such inconsiderate rubbish.
    I lost confidence in RW after I saw him being interviewed by an Indian journalist about the Easter Bombings when he said (quote) ‘what to do? I was not informed’ with a stupid grin on his face. He didn’t appear to be serious then & now it’s confirmed. Is this the kind of leader who can reform the economy?

    • 2
      1

      Raj-UK, You have expressed it all very well. “what to do” Get rid of this dictatorial executive presidency and have the prime minister accountable to parliament. Then perhaps some judiciary will be able to practice the law they learnt so well at law school.

    • 7
      0

      Raj-UK

      “I lost confidence in RW after I saw him being interviewed by an Indian journalist about the Easter Bombings when he said (quote) ‘what to do?”

      He is trying to please all the people all the time, including deepti desperate silva.
      What could we do.
      deepti desperate silva will either tame him or take care of him.
      Therefore we could stop worrying.

      • 5
        0

        Native, 4 Billion is the cost to maintain Ranil, 1.5 Billion for Dinesh. Last year it was 3 Billion for Gotha and 1 billion for Mahinda. The expense allocation has gone up from Last year. Same for Cabinet members. What is the chances of Lanka recovering???

        • 4
          0

          Native,should IMF fund to maintain our President , PM , Cabinet offices. Expenses include travel , holidays , fuel …
          .all free deal. I don’t think even IMF staff will have such perks. Funny indeed.

        • 7
          0

          chiv

          I am sure we all know the colossal sum required to keep all the current & ex Presidents & PMs, as well as, MP & other minor politicians in luxury while people are starving, not to mention loss of earnings & burdened with higher taxation. In UK, the constitution allows only 170 paid Ministers, any more will only get their MPs’ salaries. No extra perks & pensions are contributory, just as for other citizens. Currently, I believe there are about 200 Ministers in UK but only 170 are paid by the govt. with the ministerial salary of £70k per year.
          Its time everybody demands the Presidency to be abolished & slimming down the cabinet, along with the generous perks.

          • 2
            0

            Raj-UK, You say abolish the presidency. Shout from the tree tops as that is the only lasting solution for the cover up of the corrupt national robbers. Recover these robbed assets immediately which are being shamelessly left to their grand children generation

  • 0
    0

    We must celebrate the 75th Independence Day, otherwise the world will say that we are not capable of even celebrating our independence.

    Now the world will say when the country is bankrupt it wasting the money by celebration besides the People are suffering then IMP monitoring how the usage of borrowed funds are wasted. The president wants to highlight himself to put in history books. Globally it is highlighting and cannot walk away from depts. As is using the funds on miscellanies no achievements

  • 1
    3

    Raj-UK. Ranil is the Curse of Srilanka or Srilankans. In Chinhalese it is KODIVINAYA

    • 7
      1

      hanchopancha

      I think Ranil is not the only curse to befall SL. The curse started with the Bandaranyakas but became deadly with the Rajapakses.

      • 2
        0

        Raj-UK, You have seen these curses. Then what is the need to wait for more deadly ones, and spend our money on tamashas to boost the cravings of leaders who wish to perform. Amend the constitution to abolish this dictatorial executive presidency not doing any good to the citizens who lack basic needs and are starving at the same time.

      • 4
        0

        R-UK
        You forgot the so-called ‘Father of the Nation’ who disenfranchied 10% of the population.
        Or was all forgotten and forgiven after 1965?

  • 2
    0

    Let’s allow Ranil to continue making a nuisance of himself for a while.
    .
    The development that we must welcome is that the NPP is reaching out in new ways. They need our help. AKD is making unprecedented efforts to get active in areas which probably have a population that understands only Tamil. There’s no Tamil section to CT, but you will be able to provide links to speeches in Tamil – but I don’t know them, and cannot find them, even.

    Eragama must be a Sinhalese name; Tamil speakers probably know it as Irakkamam. People like me, are complete strangers to that area.
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGjY2NxW85c 35 minutes

    NPP Srilanka | AKD | 2023.02.01
    .
    http://www.irakkamam.ds.gov.lk/index.php/en/projects/17-main-menu.html
    .
    Samnthurai
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tbmq-Z2W-KU – AKD speaks in Sinhalese, translated, a sentence at a time, into Tamil – 32 minutes, 31/01/2023
    .
    These 70 minutes are different from the stump speeches which I was faithfully linking you to; this relates to the man himself. He is questioned about himself.
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-VQ6nfYs0PE
    .
    On this English website which Tamil speakers visit, language is going to be a problem.

  • 1
    2

    So Rs 200 million is making all the difference to our future? Unthinking naysayers, they never complained when we had all the celebrations for 75 years. That Rs 200 million amount comes to USD 547,997.20 or 0.054% of USD 1 Billion, never mind the debt levels. Our tourism revenue per day must be that much.

    National presence is an essential part of Sri Lanka’s public relations, and is a confidence building measure. I agree with President RW.

    Can you imagine the tourists “Don’t go to Sri Lanka they are in a bad way they cancelled their independence day celebrations”

    The country is filled with bad-mouthing complainers and this was even before the crisis. Now we are losing what we had an were never grateful when things were better. I thought we had some smart people in this country. Maybe they are leaving.

    • 0
      0

      Vanguard , it appears people in the street are much more prudent than the money manager. Confidence building is not about celebrating INdependence. Trust me, tourist are more concerned about having fuel, electricity , essentials and emergency health services. ( unless they are in Lanka to participate in SURVIVOR show). How do you expect smart tourist to visit when smart Lankans are leaving ????

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