18 September, 2020

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Changed Circumstances Favour Good Governance Coalition

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to nominate his arch rival former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to contest the general elections from his party came as a major shock especially to the president’s closest supporters. To make matters worse for them, the president also gave in to the demand that the former president’s allies also be given nomination despite the poor reputations most of them suffer from on account of their conduct during the previous ten years of their period of government. There was a vain hope that the president would reverse his decision at the last moment. One of the civil society groups that campaigned for the president at the presidential election in January met him and reported that he had asked them to wait until the day after nominations closed.

The belief that President Sirisena would act at the last minute to upset the former president’s comeback bid had a rational basis to it. Soon after his election victory, President Sirisena was widely reported to have said that he would have been six feet underground had he lost the presidential election. He followed up on this statement by rejecting the former president’s comeback bid as prime ministerial candidate of the SLFP. He had said that this would give an opportunity to those who had failed to win the presidential election by the ballot to accomplish their objective through a bullet. President Sirisena even prohibited members of the SLFP from attending the” bring back Mahinda” rallies organised by the former president’s supporters.

There are many theories about why President Sirisena suddenly changed his mind and gave nomination to the former president. These include inducements from China and even blackmail. But the more likely explanation is the president’s growing sense of isolation from the two major political formations in the country. By crossing over from the SLFP to contest the presidential election as the joint opposition candidate, President Sirisena lost his legitimacy with the SLFP voter base which, by and large, remained with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. But thereafter President SIrisena found to his discomfiture that the UNP-led government that he had appointed in fulfilment of his election campaign promise was making decisions without taking him into confidence.

Positive Fallout 

It is unfortunate that as the country heads towards a decisive general election, President Sirisena’s stock among the general population is no longer as high as it was. Earlier he lost most of the SLFP by breaking ranks and contesting the presidential election as the joint opposition candidate. The 5.8 million voters who cast their votes in favour of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa would have viewed President Sirisena with disfavour. Now after his nomination of the former president to the SLFP parliamentary list, it is likely that the 6.2 million who voted for him would feel betrayed, as their vote was a negative vote to defeat the former president. By bringing this very person back to the centre of the SLFP’s campaign at the general election, he is seen to have acted against the mandate he asked for and received.

Ranil Champika RathanaHowever, there has been positive fallout of the president’s turnaround. This action of the president has compelled the fractious coalition that defeated former president Rajapaksa at the presidential election to unify again. This is because they see the re-entry of the former president into national politics as the biggest threat to themselves and the changes they seek to make to the polity. By unleashing the former president and his allies upon the electorate, President Sirisena has mobilised the coalition of political parties that united behind him eight months ago to oust the former president from the most powerful position in the polity. The decision of the JHU and dissident sections of the SLFP, along with several ethnic minority parties, to join the UNP in a coalition can re-forge the winning combination that defeated former president Mahinda Rajapaksa under even more unfavourable conditions than presently exist.

This time around there will be at least two factors that will assuredly be in favour of the anti-Rajapaksa coalition. The first is that the state machinery will not be controlled by the former president and his allies. During the presidential election in January, they were able to utilise the state machinery to the maximum degree. During the election campaign, the area of weakness that could not be addressed with any degree of effectiveness by any countervailing authority was the abuse of state resources, including the state media, by the government. PAFFREL for instance reported that the abuse of state resources was three times greater this time than at the previous presidential election. On this occasion, however, and after the passage of the 19th Amendment there is a greater degree of independence for state authorities vested with the power to conduct elections and to monitor them.

Changed Paradigm 

The second factor that will make a difference is the paradigm shift that has taken place over the past six months. During the past six months the paradigm has shifted and national security and the issue of the revival of the LTTE and ethnic and religious conflict is no longer at the centre of people’s attention. By way of contrast, until his defeat at the presidential election and the loss of governmental power to him and his allies, the former president and his government stoked the fears and passions of ethnic conflict, the LTTE and national security in the hearts and minds of the people. Every effort was made to keep the people in fear and to utilise the possible revival of the LTTE and the division of the country to instil apprehension in the people.

However, since the presidential election campaign began in November 2014, the issues that have begun to take the centre stage are those of corruption, abuse of power and inter-ethnic and the need to promote inter-religious reconciliation. With the change of government after the presidential election, the national security state is no longer given so much emphasis. There has been a sense of relief and ease amongst the general population, and especially the ethnic and religious minorities, who feel a greater sense of confidence in the law and order machinery of the state, which has more independence to act with integrity.

Finally, there is also a third factor that could decisively swing the election in favour of the anti-Rajapaksa alliance of political parties. This is the role that President Sirisena himself might play during the election campaign. He was elected on a platform that promised clean government and good government. The president’s commitment to the passage of the 19th Amendment to the constitution that reduced the powers of the presidency earned him a reputation of being a statesman. After agreeing to the nomination of former president Rajapaksa and his allies, President Sirisena made a public speech in which he pledged not to abandon the “silent revolution” that took place at the presidential elections. This will also be in keeping with his promise to the civil society members with whom he met, and to whom he promised favourable action after nominations close on July 13.

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Latest comments

  • 9
    0

    The real sons and daughters of the land are waiting for to be in their team Mr. President. Are you game? Let’s bin the trash where it belongs.

    • 1
      0

      Good one Mr. Perera.

      Basically, Sirisena is a product of extremely corrupt political culture in Sri lanka, and a product of Moda Sinhala nationalism. He cannot fully break with his own past history and the corrupt political culture that has made him an accidental president of sorts!

      This is why Prez. Sirisena who should have refused nomination to those with exceptional charges of corruption, because he came to power on an anti-corruption platform, has not done so. Mahinda Jarapassa has exceptional charges of corruption against him.

      Sirisena is learning on the job now – how to be a good president in the Miracle of Modaya aka. Sri Lanka because there have been NO good presidents in the country..
      JRJ, CBK and Mahinda Jarapassa have perpetuated the rot in Political culture and nearly destroyed the social fabric of Sri Lanka. If at all Sirisena is following the US presidental model of bi-partisan and non-partisan cooperation with the two main political parties.

      Analysts of political culture in Sri Lanka need to understand Corruption and its class, caste, and regional dynamics in alliance politics in Sri Lanka is needed..

      Sirisena is also not at home with the Colombo 7 and 3 politicos of the Ranil and CBK political elites who are also corrupt but in a more classy way, either. Sirisena is different from the Jarapassas, though both have rural backgrounds. Sirisena is a GENUINE and GOOD BUDDHIST and a simple person who is not sold on western consumerism and the name brand life style that the uncouth Jarapassa family loves. Jarapassas have some of whom know the meaning of racism from living in the US have a “love hate” relationship with western culture and civilization. The Jarapassa family wants desperately to belong to ‘high society’ in Sri Lanka and the global 1 percent or global elite. Sirisena is not keen on high society because perhaps the gap is too big but mainly because he is a simple man. But at the end of the day, Today in Sri Lanka, the majority of both the village (gama) politicians and the city (colombo society) politicians are corrupt – morally, intellectually and literally. In the context, One can but hope that if the SLFP wins Mahinda Jarapassa (who is asking fro more security because the more corrupt you are the more military security you want), will not be given the Prime Minister post by Prez. Sirisena. Long live democracy in the miracle of modayas!

  • 11
    1

    “President Sirisena was widely reported to have said that he would have been six feet underground had he lost the presidential election.”

    Sirisena gave nominations to the gang for this Election because he was threatened by Mara that he will be buried six feet underground if he didn’t give nomination.

  • 3
    19

    Jehan Perera

    Why are you saying ‘Changed Circumstances Favour Good Governance Coalition’.

    There is no change of circumstance.

    Only thing definitely happen is my sweet Mahinda will become the Prime Minister next month.

    • 4
      2

      NIRMALAN:

      We all have an axe to grind against MR. Call him what you want, and I would even call him a thug. However, there are reasons why I would favour him being given a slot to contest.

      It is the test of the times. Has the SLankan society matured to understand what it means by democracy and good governance? Was the win by MS a one-off affair where the electorate had to send a subtle message to MR that he was far removed from the general populace? And that now they have forgiven him and will like to give him a chance?

      Alternatively, the time may have come for the people to tell MR and his gang that the Jan 8 election results were not a fluke and people had enough of MR’s antics instead of the parable and rattle rousing ego that MR has been bewitched with. If that happens, then it may be a nail in the coffin and he has to pack up his bags, so would his gang and brothers. That may well mark the end of days of his tryst with tyranny.

      • 0
        1

        jansee

        ‘We all have an axe to grind against MR’ – Oh! No, no, no…….

        Mahinda is my man with the vision for Sri Lanka. He has a place in my heart and it is my bone of contention that he will have a outright victory.

        How can you call him a thug? He is my angel.

        • 0
          0

          NIRMALAN:

          I quite agree your Mahinda mama had a vision, to plan with his siblings to plunder the country. I wonder how much of that he diverted to you. Make sure your bone doesn’t crack after the elections.

  • 12
    2

    MS would have saved ‘Yahapalanaya’ and the nation by rejecting MR nomination. The nation waited till the last minute for MS to reverse his decision and it did not happen.
    MS has succumbed to his party loyalty and put the country to the second place. It is unfortunate that he has slipped from position of a statesman to a mere chairman of SLFP.
    Now it is the responsibility of the citizens of Sri Lanka once again to save the country from going back to the hands of the deposed self styled dictator and his cronies. In the process they may even have to criticize the party under which the nomination was given and its chairman.
    It is unfortunate that MS will be regarded as a weak president and gradually fade from the memory of the people under the UNP led future administration.

    • 8
      1

      It is true that MS would have rejected the nomination of MR & Co under the SLFP but we don’t exact reason or circumstances why couldn’t do as he promised earlier. We may not know until he open his mouth and tell the truth to the people. I don’t know whether he will tell the truth before this election. If he is honest to his people and the Nation he should tell the truth and should not join the hands with those dirty hands he refused to shake after Presidentil election. It is also a fact that you cannot clean the SLFP junk that was firmly deposited over the decade with blood, black money, lies, threat, and brutality. Unfortunately nearly half of the population of this beautiful island lived in the darkness denying access to the truth and the true information under the cover of Buddhism & Patriotism.

      It is the duty of the civil society and the leaders of good governance to invest on liberating those people who are trapped in the dark walls.

  • 6
    1

    Well stated. Let us wait in the hope that Jehan’s hopes will bear fruition. Bensen

  • 1
    0

    Very realistic analysis and the factual situation which prevails today.President Sirisenas image has dropped to zero within a week after he is reported to have endorsed the nomination of MR. However, MS could still rectify this damage by explaining to the Nation and staying nutral which will greatly enhance his lost reputation. The Nation anxiously awaits to hear from the President. However his continued silence is puzzling.

  • 3
    0

    Maithripala Sirisena has proved he is a weak leader. Not a leader who will stick to his ground whatever may happen. By giving nomination to a person who was rejected by the people 8 months ago he went back on his promise to usher in an era of good governance and a corruption free society. Sirisena lauded as the hero of the January 8 revolution is now a zero, indecisive, vacillating and cowardiceness!

  • 0
    0

    For once the Tiger Loving Catholic liberal is right. He was always wrong on Tigers, the Army and MR but I agree with you. RW and UNP led coalition will sweep the polls and get a landslide. MR and his vainglorious despotic team will not even get 3 million votes.

  • 0
    0

    mysterious deaths and rapes are the yahapalanaya in Tamil areas. Two governance s one by the security division painted by the other which is elected one. visible governance and invisible governance.

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