By Rusiripala Tennakoon –
Many things are happening and many things are scheduled to happen. More revelations of corruptions and deals follow in rapid sequence of concurrence. Startling as they are one wonders whether such things can happen in an environment of a firm commitment to eradicate corruption and ensure good governance.
In the political front, within the government there are developing uncertainties. Both the main coalition partners appear to be in trouble due to mounting pressure from within. For the UNP the situation is aggravated due to the surfacing of corruption & malpractice related issues.
High way deals that the media expressed most recently has shattered the silence maintained within close doors. The contract is faulty and stinking with mis-representation of facts which now transpire to be untrue and concealed with dishonesty. Total value of the plunder is in the range of Rs. 1.5 Billion ($100 Mn) as alleged.
Individual corruption record of some highly placed UNP Ministers has made the situation worse. Minister Malik Samarawickrama’s name came out in connection with a corrupt land deal in the Kotte, Rajagiriya area which will certainly have to be investigated. A No Confidence against another vociferous Minister Rajitha Seneratne was ruled out but the allegations raised there will be in public circulation very soon. Some of these matters either remain suppressed in Bribery & Corruption inquiries and some others such as the Modera Fisheries Harbour deal are under investigation. Public statements coming from new comers to the UNP like Dr. Harsha De Silva expressing sheer disgust over the prevailing affairs have added to the confusion. What is going on is not mere corrupt activities but appear to be daring instances of callous disregard to principles of Good Governance and Public Opinion.
The other coalition partner is not placed any better. Due to some taken into the government to fill the gap through the National List submerging the pending corruption and abuse of authority allegations and some with pending investigations and inquiries, the SLFP in the Government too is under attack and slander. The SLFP’s. Anti-corruption commitment is tarnished to that extent and the UNP is well aware of this situation. Some Senior SLFP Ministers have started openly stating their dis-satisfaction about the current state of affairs. Labour Minister Seneviratne is in the fore-front and already has declared his position in no uncertain terms.
According to him they are continuing in the coalition with no desire but only owing to their party loyalty. They do not appear to be much concerned about punishing the bosses of the former regime. Instead they seem to be more inclined towards and unity in the party to enable them to stand alone abiding by the party principles. The developments taking shape towards the Local Government Elections will further influence the widening of differences in the coalition.
In the meantime after the forced resignation of Minster Ravi Karunanayake the UNP back benchers have come to the fore front up in arms against the slow moving action to prosecute the wrong doers of the former regime, mainly the Rajapaksha clan. With the change of the Justice Minister they expect a speeding up of the action plan to put as many as possible behind bars. Although such expectations are contrary to the modus operandi by their leader, who without the knowledge or approval from his back benchers is inclined in his own direction to maintain a balance of the counter forces to the advantage of the UNP in an amiable manner. But looking at the ongoing actions it appears that the process of hunting has been accelerated and many new court cases are reported daily.
The overall unity situation for both the coalition partners is also coming into controversial areas due to the termination of the Agreement under which they were working together, in August. There will definitely be a very strong public cry and a more serious concern by the civil society, clergy and such other organizations clamouring for a period of real good governance to pressurize both parties to agree on a public program oriented towards delivery rather than rhetorics. These bodies will also demand positive commitments towards solving of current priority social problems instead of long drawn utopian targets which was the escape life line for survival.
Impending financial crisis and the poor performance of the management of the economy as reflected in the international forum outlooks will make matters worse for those trying to proceed by passing the imminent risks in a climate of strong constraints.