By Rusiripala Tennakoon –
What is unfolding in the Sri Lankan political arena seems rather deceptive and distorted. Fast changing scenes on stage make things so confusing and what is visible is not the “ground truth”. Country is, as it appears, learning to live with it. The developments unveiling indicate the dust is somewhat settling and the atmosphere is clearing. But is this the reality?
The agitational trends are gradually diminishing, creating a hopefulness of an early resolution of the crisis centered on shortages in essential supplies needed for day -to- day life in the wake of the restoration of Law and Order amidst claims that it is by extralegal measures taken. The concerns and intervention by opposition political forces and human rights organizations focusing on the modus operandi adopted, is also, on the increase heavily influenced by external forces including some foreign missions here. Let us examine a few issues currently in focus in this context.
Is the Form of government ludicrous?
We have a government of strange formation. A party elected with an overwhelming majority choosing a defeated candidate brought into the house under special provisions,( to accommodate one representative from a party on the basis of percentages received country -wide at the election), to lead the government. The UNP, a party losing all seats in the general election benefited by this provision to send in one MP through the national list. He was nominated as the Prime Minister to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the sitting Prime Minister, by the President who himself had earmarked to tender his resignation shortly. When the President subsequently resigned the nominated PM succeeded him as the Head of the government with only himself as a MP from his party. He was elected by the parliament to be the President to run the balance period of the Presidency by a majority vote, and is to present a Policy statement at the ceremonial opening of the new session of the parliament as the new President. Now whose policy is he going to present to the Parliament? His own OR one agreed with the political party which nominated him?
There are many areas undecided in this parliament. The cabinet is incomplete. The size of the cabinet depends on how many other political parties will agree to join the Government. Accordingly, it can be presumed that the policy statement is going to be a nominal proposition covering broad concepts than any specific plans because the new Cabinet Ministers will have to make some contribution towards the policy plans unless they have conceded that they will agree to any, come what. Then, the question that would arise is will such an ad hoc policy statement would suffice the requirement for a sustainable economic policy plan called for by the IMF and the World Bank before considering any assistance to us?
The panacea of an All Party Government “sarva pakshika anduwa”
The on- going debate and the center of focus is about the formation of a government represented by all parties in the parliament. But will there be a consensus reached on this? As it is, of course, it remains a very distant hope due to the several interests and concerns expressed publicly by the various parties. The variances are so wide, innumerable and masked with hot and cold reactions.
The President has already announced the expectation for the formation of such a government and it is reported that he has written to all MPs individually too. It remains to be clarified whether he has sought their views on a policy plan to address and fulfill the required needs. This leaves us with the big question whether a comprehensive policy plan would be the aim of a government of consensus OR whether the current government is only trying to share the burden and the responsibility of addressing the burning current issues among all squarely. A scape goat tactic in the old- fashioned wat to distract the people’s attention! The pitfalls we can visualize in this process are many. It can be a carrot dangling before those aspiring positions , power and benefits so that once thrown as offers it can lead to a quarrel going far beyond the need of the hour among the members of the same party. Members of the public do not see why the entire parliament cannot concede to work as one government dedicated to resolve the crisis and agree on a sustainable long term policy plan without any differences to be carried forward. But it is not difficult t apprehend that each party is only concerned with how they can come to power next overriding the others.
It will be an easier task to agree on the allocated number of portfolios for each party proportionately to the number of seats they have in the parliament now and allow each party to name their contenders with a dead line. Country is fed up of maneuvers and manipulations witnessed so far.
In the event of a failure to reach consensus the parties can agree to replace their National List MP quota with substitutes to be chosen from a common list of knowledgeable educated persons who could positively contribute independently towards the formulation of a sustainable economic policy acceptable to the International Organizations. So that we will have a new blood group of capable 25 , free of previous convictions in this parliament to serve a current interim period pending an election to select a new parliament of choice of the people.
Stances of IMF, World Bank and other international bodies
It is understandable that all these institutions insist on acceptable economic policy plans for the country. We have several instances before disregarded the reforms recommended to us as conditions to be observed for the revival of our economy. If we adhered to those, we would not be facing the difficulties we are confronted with today. Successive governments equally share the responsibility for these failures.
The introduction of these conditionalities repeatedly show that our politicians were not only incompetent in handling the affairs by themselves but have neglected their responsibilities in carrying out the roles as true representatives of the people. Hence the concerns of the international bodies about the internal politics of a country is not totally unjustified. No organization would be interested to deal with a careless and irresponsible government. Especially when the governance is tainted with rampant corruption the focus will be much more serious. What we are facing today is the result of these shortfalls on our part.
In this context the temporary political maneuvers we are indulging in may not satisfy the international agencies as measures sufficient to convince that we are on the right track and direction. Also, may not help to hood wink them. So, when the country is demanding an opportunity to correct the situation the changes made should reflect those thoughts to be accepted as meaningful steps. Therefore, the sooner ending of the term of this parliament and paving the way for a new general election is an essential means of establishing that the country is determined to bring about a positive change.
In such a situation the IMF and the WB may take us more us more seriously to consider granting an interim relief to help us get over this crisis. However, till the last EFF granted to us in 2016 we have never defaulted any repayments to the IMF. It is unfortunately on record that the last tranche of the 1.5 Billion USD facility granted in 2016, was not released in full to us for some reason and we only received 1.3 Bn. instead which is a kind of non-compliance on our part.
The virtually forced and pressurized advice to default & restructure loans, unpeg and float the dollar, and run to the IMF in such a situation in retrospect show us that many things have gone wrong. The need and emphasis for short term measures to strengthen the inflow of exchange through various steps too were overlooked and by passed by those in authority. All these have added to precipitate our dwindling economy in a faster phase. Let us therefore, reexamine these shortfalls and sensibly plan to steer the economy out of this mess at this stage.
Missions and Diplomatic Relations
WE are aware that there is a UN treaty called the Vienna convention on diplomatic relations governing the affairs of foreign missions in any country. This convention clearly sets out the functions of a Diplomatic Mission in Article 3 of this convention.
Inter alia these functions are;
1. Representing the sending State in the receiving State;
2. Protecting in the receiving State the interests of the sending State and of its nationals, within the limits permitted by international law;
3. Negotiating with the Government of the receiving State;
4. Ascertaining by all Lawful means conditions and developments in the receiving State, and reporting there onto the Government of the sending State;
5. Promoting friendly relations between the sending State and the receiving State,and developing their economic, cultural and scientific relations;
Unfortunately we are witnessing actions, initiations and steps taken by some missions in Sri Lanka beyond these basic involvements as stipulated in the convention. In certain instances they appear to be direct interventions in the areas of lawful actions of the government. We are compelled to state as peace loving citizens that the ordinary people are looking up to the State to provide them the security, freedom and protection through legal means. When Law and Order is violated by one section those affected as a result will have no option other than to seek the protection from the State. There is a mis-conception by the Law breakers that the Foreign Missions are supportive of their action. We appeal to the foreign missions to refrain from making public Statements about such matters and the missions to report to their States if so required and necessitated, instead.
Sinhala_Man / August 3, 2022
Yes, all too often some of us have been making fun of him, but here he shows a keen awareness of the issues.
Little wonder, I guess. What has been happening here, on this island, is an example of incredible corruption, and also of ineptitude. It is true that our voters are pretty ignorant – this so called 100% literacy means little, in the absence of clear reasoning.
It’s got so bad, that therein may lie some hope for us. The entire SLPP and Ranil will be thrown out. Let us not be so defeatist as to imagine that it is inevitable that they will be replaced by people who are as bad. That possibility is there.
The challenge for us is to so campaign, and so educate the people that a better future awaits us. We will be poor for many decades, however good the next leaders are, but this is a land “where every prospect pleases”, and much still remains intact.
chiv / August 3, 2022
Rusiri, started with Govt but ended up criticizing diplomats. He quotes Vienna Convention, as though we have been following it. No financial institution including IMF or WB will lend to a politically unstable country. They also want to see corruption tamed, that means “Rajapaksa free government”. (is that too much to ask??). Obviously IMF is not interested, WB outright refused, Japan has suspended and no country is concerned other than India. Thanks to Rajapaksas, Aragalaya and economic meltdown, now that Silly Lanka and it’s corrupted politicians are thoroughly exposed. Lanka can continues with it’s BS , but will not get a penny.
chiv / August 3, 2022
Rusiri, Have you ever heard in a dire situation, our citizens pleading foreign countries NOT to lend any money to government ???
SJ / August 3, 2022
“There is a mis-conception by the Law breakers that the Foreign Missions are supportive of their action. We appeal to the foreign missions to refrain from making public Statements about such matters and the missions to report to their States if so required and necessitated, instead.”
There were foreign hands at play and that was inevitable, The Aragalaya had dubious sources of funding (including a major US funded NGO) that were partly responsible for depoliticizing the protests.
The Aragalaya’s failure to become an all-island phenomenon remains its weakness. The Aragalaya seems to be getting its act together, not to yield the kind of ‘instant revolution’ that some dreamed of, but a slow process of education and mass struggle.
The parliament can only be incidental to the struggle.
I think that access to social media is the undoing of the US Ambassador.
The US is well reputed for running with the hare and hunting wit the hound. That is the imperialist game of divide and rule.
Having won influence in the country under the GR-BR combine to secure shady business deals and even revive some dead projects, the ambassador must be a little baffled by the turn of events.
She will correct course soon when the Aragalaya finds its new direction.
chiv / August 4, 2022
“Running with the hare and hunting with the hound”. Yes you can say that. That is how they managed to give a”royal send off ” to Zawahiri. Taliban signed peace pact with the U.S ,not to shelter terrorist. Now Taliban is in catch 22. Saying they didn’t know about his presence would come across as a big lie, because the spot he was killed is just 600 meters from Presidential Palace. On the other hand accepting would be admitting to breach of agreement. Zawahiri was hiding in Pakistan until few months ago, when he was secretly moved to Afghan under the auspices of Haqqani. Only the network was aware of the move and not even the Deputy PM. Now the suspects for leaking information are Afghan Defense Minister (son of Taliban FOUNDER Omar) or Foreign Minister who owns many real estate businesses in Pakistan. And you think U.S hasn’t figured about Aragalaya and stupid Lankan politics.
chiv / August 4, 2022
This warning goes to not just al-Qaeda but Taliban, Haqqani and all those who wish to terrorize U.S. One of the reason Pakistan is now bankrupt is because of harboring Bin Laden. The question of who leaked is hounding the Taliban leadership, as it has given a jolt to their reputation. I remember you gloating that Taliban has won the war and will test U.S further. As Biden said during the withdrawal, U.S doesn’t need the physical presence anymore. Though not planned, withdrawing troops made Zawahiri, confident in picking his new safe house, now fully under the control of Taliban. Sweden and Finland are approved by U.S senate to join NATO. And if China still wants to flex muscle over Taiwan, let them try. I am sure Chinese are not stupid as our retarded Lankans.
SJ / August 4, 2022
I will not shatter your daydreams.
But the fact remains that the US has used its agencies to both subvert governments and to support governments.
We had the best example with the LTTE here.
The complexity of shady deals of the US with Islamic fundamentalist terror cannot be explained by one-liners.
chiv / August 5, 2022
I too will not shatter your DELUSIONS that China and Russia have not used its agencies to both subvert and to support government. We had the best example with the Rajapaksas here. (donating millions for election campaign). The complexity of shady deals of your comrades, China, Russia with global terror cannot be explained by one – liners. If you care, read what Harendra de Silva has to say about “populist create insecurity by illusions of deception by envisaging invasions by the West or by neighbors ( American Imperialism, Indian expansionism or Islamist / ISIS take over etc). They can also create real insecure situations to confirm insecurity, like in Easter bomb attack.
SJ / August 5, 2022
If these tales too help your emotional health.
So be it.
chiv / August 6, 2022
Haven’t we heard enough of Mao’s tales, adventures of comrades, Silly Mao socialism ——. Think before you gloat.
chiv / August 6, 2022
” Over to you “. From Real Professor, Harendra de Silva (Pediatric Medicine) to Retired Professor (populism).