24 September, 2023


Extend Positive But Critical Supp To The RW-MS Administration

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR), his posse of crooks and gangsters and the cohorts of racist rabble rousers incited by Wimal, Gamanpilla, Dinesh and heaven knows why Vasu, have been seen off. MR energised the UPFA campaign but his presence steeled an opposition that ensured its downfall. Every Muslim in Lanka voted him down; the Negombo, Colombo North and West and Nuwara Eliya results illustrate total consolidation of anti-MR sentiment in the Catholic and Tamil communities; the liberal middle classes vomited en mass. A nightmare has been averted but the next step in Lanka’s voyage has not begun. The way ahead is daunting and dimly lit but it would be wrong to greet the new government with cynicism. We must step forth in a positive frame of mind but at the same time not be naïve or have illusions about obstacles on the way.

First I have to pause and congratulate the champions who won landslide victories. Mahinda Deshapriya and his Elections Department staff, by recent Lankan standards, were exemplary. Recall the fate of independent Chief Justices under MR or JR, or the previous constraints on Deshapriya himself. Congratulations also to the police and a multitude of government servants whose commitment is worthy of praise. Given freedom from political interference Lanka’s public service can rise to the occasion and give us confidence of continuing improvement. Let us remember to back public servants against errant politicians; when next you see a moneybag or a wayward politico harass a policeman or a public servant, speak up and intervene in support an officer doing his duty. Build direct trust between citizens and public servants and bypass this breed of political middlemen.

Maithri RanilTo prepare for a journey one must make prudent prior judgements about what to expect along the way. Expectations may prove wrong, too optimistic or pessimistic and entail midstream course correction, but there is no way to face the “What shall we do” challenge except by first asking “What is the likely trajectory of this government”. Who is the ‘we’ that I refer to? It is a wider throng than leftist like me; a large multitude came together to defeat Rajapaksa – democrats, leftists, civil society activists, religious groups, artists and plain citizens – that is my ‘we’. The ‘they’ who ‘we’ have to relate to are the political leaders, policy makers and of course the bourgeoisie and the bureaucracy who call the shots. Thankfully M&R types of bourgeois democratic states are susceptible to ‘our’ pressure.

A judgemental approach

Three dimensions of the RWMS government need exploration; the Democracy Question, the Economy Question and the National Question. Quick, useful judgements are not difficult. Ranil-Maithri (R&M) will be better than the Rajapaksa alternative on the National Question, that goes without saying, but it will also be agreed by the ‘we’ that the minorities will see improvement not only in relative but also in absolute terms. For example though federalism will be rejected, harassment and the climate of fear will ease and land and resettlement related matters will advance; this despite Wigneswaran and Gajendran’s truculence – futile truculence that the Jaffna voter yet again rejected. The Muslims for their part see their leaders well ensconced on the inside track.

[Observe I use R&M or M&R interchangeably as appropriate. Taking account of political realities Ranil more than Maithri is the source of power at this moment, so mostly it’s R&M. However, and this is imperative for stability, I envisage a continuing smooth working relationship between them].

Concessions to the Tamils on territorial and devolution matters will be constricted by fear of a Sinhala backlash – the defeated ghouls have nothing to disrupt the government with but rabble rousing. What is one to make of a public that can be led by the nose into communal epilepsy over and over again for 60 years? I am truly troubled by this perhaps unique instance of unremitting mass ethno-hysterics. That is an aside; the point here is that though RW and the current UNP government are not chauvinist, neither do they have the political clout or moral courage to stand against communalism. Right now it is President Sirisena’s missive to MR demanding an end to inflammatory racism that is more inspiring.

The big risk now is on the other foot: Will portions of the UPFA racist rump that survived the 17 August debacle attempt incitement? President Sirisena, both as SLFP leader and as head of state, has his work cut out for him. His strategy, welcome by RW, prepares the ground for a national government. This is one motive for Sirisena’s albeit questionable machinations within the SLFP. The other motive is a long overdue cleansing of the Aegean Stables of Rajapaka muck and toadies within the SLFP and UPFA. On this matter Sirisena must be unrelenting and ruthless, or he will rue the day he softens his resolve.

The JVP though no longer as Tamil-averse as before is unlikely to assist in making concessions to Tamils, but it will be helpful about soothing the Muslims. R&W may be stuck between a rampaging UPFA, a pleading TNA, a truculent Wigneswaran and an unhelpful JVP, if it were to appease Tamils. Taking everything into account a plus ½-point award on the advance-expectations scorecard in respect of the national question is in order.

Democracy, good governance, less corruption, and law and order will see improvement. In the long run however be alert because the GG name notwithstanding, the UNF will have its share of crooks. Aggressive public, civil society and media intervention, more aggressive than in recent months is needed. Though some analysts assumed the UNF-JVP trade-off was be a zero sum game (a seat for the JVP would be one less for the UNF) as I foresaw in last week’s column it was quite different. The JVP campaign hugely damaged the UPFA and accounts for the decline in its votes much more than hapless police inquiries and anaemic legal interventions.

RW surely will not trample on democratic rights and misuse police and judiciary, at least in the first instance, to the extent the Rajapaksas did. I hope future governments will take note of the bloody nose MR was given, twice, 8 January and 17 August, and never again venture on the ghastly path of abuse and intimidation. But let us not store too much trust in personalities, RW included. The Batalanda horrors are shrouded in fog, so I suppose RW is entitled to the benefit of the doubt until something definitive is revealed by RW himself or by others. Nevertheless let us stay on guard as under stress this government too may lean to authoritarianism. I awarded ½-point on my advance-expectations scorecard for the national question; to be consistent I will have to mark the government at ¾-point on the democracy-cum-GG item.

I am disappointed that my call for a tactical vote for the JVP in selected districts failed to win converts or get prominence in print though it did get attention in the electronic media. The JVP garnered an impressive 540,000 votes but managed a total of only six seats; not enough to make an impression in parliament and not consonant with the huge responsibility that now devolves on its shoulders and the proven ability of its leaders. The rejection of Rosy is another example of Lanka’s voters making wrong (soda bottle) preference choices.

The riffraff in the UPFA preference choices is a consequence of its election strategy – Rajapaksa at the top, Tiger-behind-every-cadjan-fence racism, nomination of deplorable candidates and a photocopied-from-somewhere programme. The UPFA brought back into parliament stuff like Johnston, Arundika Fernando, Keheliya, Ratharan-Hora Rohitha, Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Nimal Lansa, and what a pity it threw out Mahinda Samarasinghe. And my god the UPFA’s batch-toppers in Colombo were incendiary rabble-rousers, Weerawansa and Gamanpila. This turnout of buffoons is all of a piece of what has happened to the UPFA and portends a raucous parliament, particularly if MR decides to enter the chamber and allow his presence to be the focal point of a vermin cluster. This makes Sirisena’s intervention to clean out the SLFP doubly important before the habits of the next parliament become set.

The government’s economic programme

The RW government will pursue pro-business policies, that is foreseeable, but it cannot adopt blatant neo-liberalism as JR did. There is no room for rank neo-liberalism either internationally or within the domestic balances of power. There will be privatisations, some necessary to improve efficiency some to sweeten the gravy train for businessmen. The Arjuna Mahendran case and an attempt in the 1990s as Minister responsible for BOI to the bully then Director of Telecoms and push through a price inflated duopoly (SLT was already a licensee) telecoms system with Singapore’s Call-Link company as an investor reveals RW’s stubborn streak. I don’t dispute that he is financially clean but he has an inclination to stand by friends even when they are wrong. Checks and balances are always been essential in politics, more so now given RW’s clout in this government. We don’t want an MR again, not even an uncorrupted one; and no thank-you a for 21-st Century Lankan Lee Kuan Yew either.

Political necessity and the nature of coalition government will ensure populism in economic policy; those who envisage a tough austerity programme are barking up the wrong tree. RW’s 60-month programme is all well and good but has to be guided by intelligent directive principles. We have to wait to see the ideology behind this coalition government’s directive principles. On the investment there will be balance between China, the West and India. Hence on the Economy Question an award of ½-point is in order, bringing the total to one and three-quarters out of three in respect of my three advance-expectations.

This government won’t be a monolithic UNP animal, it will be a mish-mash; it will be a UNP-SLFP national government with SLMC and Champika partnership, some left and upcountry Tamil input and under obligation to a variety of civil society pressure groups. It will reflect a Sirisena presidency and a RW PM-ship. Stabilising support will come from the TNA. It will be malleable and there will be space for independent activity, influence and manoeuvre. This is the crucial point that tips the scales in favour of affirmative engagement. At the same time I believe that in the long run the force for change on the left will be the JVP, but that’s a topic for another essay.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    Declared war against unarmed Tamils,Killed and chased them, occupied their land with the blessing of the UN. Now converting into colonies. Where is the justice. The UN is not for good and justice. Only looking after the Masters. No human rights.

    • 2

      Kumar, I mostly agree with you. But is not, President Sirisena becoming a NATIONAL JOKE with his National Government and National List of corrupt clowns who were rejected by the people..?!

      There is no need for a national government full of corrupt SLFP criminal clowns, who will now all want to be Cabinet members.
      Sri Lanka needs a cabinet of 10 members only and Ranil should now refuse to tango with Sirisena and his National Government of SLFP clowns.

      Let the UNP rule with the help of the JVP and TNA and there should only be 10 Cabinet members.
      SIrisena has made a royal mess of the SLFP rather than cleaning out that corrupt party of Mahinda Jarapassa and his cronies. He should have refused MR and his cronies nominations..

      • 0

        Dodo you are right! Only after the this generation of corrupt politicians who like kings, with their special “parliamentary privileges” and are a corrupt political caste with a high level of immunity for their crimes, will there be good governance and a new political culture in Sri Lanka.

        We need a new and young, intelligent and clean generation of politicians, not these old coots who make back room deals to accommodate each others’ corruption.

        What is a national government and who needs it?! Sirisena is simply trying to make sure that UNP and SLFP are now again covering up each other’s corrupt and scratching each other’s backs – across party lines and through national governments!

      • 0

        Tamils need to be strategic and SEQUENCE their demands.

        First push the Sinhala UNP establishment towards good governance and the Law taking its FAST course against the corrupt and criminal Mahinda Jarapassa family and all their corrupt cronies who are also racist.
        This will kill 2 birds in one stone because with these racist corrupt thugs locked up, minority rights and power sharing will become much easier.

        Hope the TNA has the brains to see this and will work COLLABORATIVELY with Ranil on the good governance agenda, rather than jump the gun and make demands for Federal state in the Northeast.

  • 2

    Majority in democracy defeated by minority tails and Muslims in
    Sri lanka. Majority Sinhalese who were the protected democracy of Island was defeated by US Indian, UK & EU countries.

    Well combine forces of all Tamils who are belongs to many Left Tamils win the election by hook or crook which defeated majority democracy loving Sinhalese. What a world! Where is Justice and Fairness of Democracy’s world. Tamils who have take GUN RULE politics won by
    so-called democracy.

    We Sri Lankan do not want this pattern democracy.
    World has upside down!

    Sri lanka Tamil racist and chauvinist are joyful and happy of UNP-Ranil, CBK and MS election victory by votes has been rigging and misled by Foreign forces led by Indian-RAW and US-CIA.

  • 0

    This good governance thing, We are in the last bus people. IF we do not support MS and RW.

  • 4

    Success of the Ranil-Maithree Government would largely depend on the TNA. If the TNA does not pursue an agenda that would appear to the Rajapakse’s four million odd constituency as a “sell-out” to the Tamils, it will provide breathing space for the UNP/National government to push the economy forward and establish a framework for good governance.

    The only way Rajapakse can claim relevance to his supporters is to show that he is the defender of “Sinhala-Buddhist interests”. This is the oxygen for his continuation in public life and his despicable politics.

    The onus is with the TNA in particular and the wider Tamil community in general to shelve the demands for devolution and work with the new government to improve the economy, to build pluralistic values, and bring about a positive change in the civil society. This is essential to lift the country out of the morass in which it wallowed for more than half a century now.

    If, however, the TNA presses ahead with its demands (however justifiable), that would be construed in the South as a prelude to Eelam. That will undermine the new government and make Rajapakse relevant in the eyes of the four million who voted for him.

    It is essential to rid the country of the political scum the Rajapakse Family represents.

  • 2

    Dr Kumar At least remembers Batalanada Ranil .

    It is important when the Elite , Anglicans and the Wahabis are all in a sate of euphoria about how good they are going to get from their new heroes Mr Wikremasinghe’ and Mr Sirisena.

    Velallas can’t be that thrilled after listening to Mr Wickremasinghe’s double oath in front of Mahasingha.

    Mr Solheim issued a statement yesterday, warning that the charge sheet is coming soon and the new Government must be ready and prepare the defence if they haven’t already done so.

    The names on Solheims charge sheet obviously are from the great majority of the inhabitant population who voted against the UNP .

    And their children and or their loved ones.

    What protection would they have from Mr Ranil Wickremasinghe when Mr Wickremasinghe has a a MOU with the TNA and the GTF.

    • 0

      Ado Sumaney:
      How about producing the document that must exist when you claim “Mr Wickremasinghe has a a MOU with the TNA and the GTF?”
      How about the truth at least ONCE, even though we would then cease to recognise you.

    • 0

      Balangoda Associate Sumaney

      For the country’s sake you better take with you the Balangoda man along with his cohorts the dried pumpkin, Maapila and gonuwansa to oblivion where all of you will find the eternal journey to the Abyss.

  • 3

    “Given freedom from political interference Lanka’s public service can rise to the occasion and give us confidence of continuing improvement. Let us remember to back public servants against errant politicians; when next you see a moneybag or a wayward politico harass a policeman or a public servant, speak up and intervene in support an officer doing his duty. Build direct trust between citizens and public servants and bypass this breed of political middlemen”

    Well said

  • 1

    Kumar David:-

    “Given freedom from political interference Lanka’s public service can rise to the occasion and give us confidence of continuing improvement. Let us remember to back public servants against errant politicians;”

    Totally agree. The number of Sri Lankan Public Servants who have left their Motherland, due to Political Interference are too many to List!

    Our Sri Lankan Expats, trained in Sri Lanka are now sharing their Expertise in Foreign Climes!

  • 1

    “It is a wider throng than leftist like me”!

    You must be the only one in this country who refers to an America- Taiwanese agent as a “leftist”. Don’t denigrate leftists for heaven’s sake.

  • 5

    If District Mininsters are to be appointed, as reported today, what is the point in having Provincial Councils, Presdeshya Sabbas and the proposed Gam Sabbhas?

    Will this not politicise the district level administration, further?

    Will this not undermine the concepts built into the 13th amendment?

    Why bring back a concept that in conjunction with the fraudulently elected DDCs opened the gates to an armed revolt?

    Is the proposal a balloon of mischief floated to undermine the incoming government?

    Is this a device to offer ministerships to more MPs?

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 3

      Dr. R. N,

      I fully agree with you that the appointment of district ministers will be a retrograde step. That idea could have had some meaning prior to the formation of provincial councils but not now. Where would the CM of a provincial council stand in relation to a district minister? Why this duplication or overlap of political authority? I have a feeling that Ranil is not honest about devolution of power.

      Sengodan. M

    • 1

      Ranil Wickremasinghe. the Prime Minister has indicated the solutions for the so-called National Problem, will be found within the contours of the 13th amendment, in an interview with Ram of Hindu. He has also emphasized that the substance of devolution matters more than the descriptive terminology such as Federalism. I hope the TNA and its MPs take note of the wisdom in this pragmatism.



      • 1

        It is the same Ranil who mentioned about appointment of District ministers, positions which are irrelevant today.
        Sengodan. M

    • 1

      Jobs for the boys mate…

      10 SLMC, 1 ACMC, Chamapaka, Rathne, Rajitha, Navinna ,Dissanayaka, and who ever boarded the gravy train at the last minute

      Plus 90 real UNP MPs … Right

      How on earth can Batalanada fit all these bodies into 23 big ones and 23 small ones in the Cabinet.

      The losers have no such problems.

      The boss has even given them a choice if you want, take them . If not still they can be in the Opposition under him.

      And they got 18 plus 18 to pick from..

      How cool.

      I thought the original plan was to have just 4 Ministers.

      Samabandan a Wahabi and two others to look after the PCS in the North , South , East and the West.

      So that there won’t be any issues with removing armed forces, giving police powers and full land rights.

      Come to think of it ,although it sounds better than 13 Vigeswaranas with their own Police and Land banks, it was just another gimmick of Yahapalana Architects.

  • 1

    K.A Sumanasekera

    Karma will take care of Mahinda Rajapaksha, not for getting rid of LTTE in Nandhikadal, but for the criminality in the rest of the country, for the way he ruffled the entire nation; it is just not you are living comfortably, but the entire society that means….. trust what Buddhism pronounce!

  • 1

    Writer seems to be Tamil origin who want divided Sri lanka.

    His political strategies are in two ways;

    First Split SLFP into two,, divide Sinhalese into pieces by exterminate tactics of eliminating Sinhalese race from Island.

    Second Divide Sri lanka, one Tamil state and other for non-Tamils,
    all in all back by Indian-RAW and US,UK,EU countries.

    Indeed promotion JVP is another New Project undertaken by Tamil-moderators the very vested interest of long-term goal of Tamil Eealm puppet state in North.

  • 3

    Kumar David

    The Democracy Question, the Economy Question and the National Question are the three pillars on which the entire governance should be built

    Why bring back the discredited district minister system again?

    Why not empower the Provincial Councils and the local authorities.

    If you want to devolve power at village level do it through the provincial Councils.

    It should be 13A +.

  • 2

    Positive but critical support to the government by all progressives. Well said, Kumar.

    Sengodan. M

  • 0

    Out of the 3 pillars of Democracy Question, the Economy Question and the National Question, the National question must be resolved before the other two questions. You cannot have democracy and economic progress when you a national minority as second class citizens. Power should be shared in a united and undivided country. The Sinhalese and Thamils should compete with each other in developing the country as a whole.

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