25 February, 2018

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Hip Deep In Shit – A Brisk & Brusque Verdict 

By Sarath de Alwis

Sarath De Alwis

A Verdict Earned

President Maithripala Sirisena has earned the verdict given in local government polls. He appointed candidates defeated at the parliamentary elections through the national list and made them cabinet ministers. In electoral democracy, failure is decisive. Overturning the people’s verdict has a price.

The verdict rendered at the local government polls is brisk and brusque. Brisk means quick and sudden. Brusque means blunt and rude. The people have quickly and suddenly decided to halt the Maithri-Ranil circus. The astounding margins with which the people have repudiated the ‘yahapalanaya’ of the President and the Prime Minister is conclusive evidence that the people have been blunt and rude. Hence the brisk and brusque title ‘Hip Deep in Shit’.

We can draw some satisfaction from the fact that we now have systems in place to hold free and fair elections. Democracy presumes that we are all rational creatures. All who vote at elections can relate truth to reality and vice versa. Identifying truth is not easy in this age of instant news, gossip and kite flying. It calls for prudence, courage and one’s own idea of virtue.

People are wise

We who are impudent enough to comment on voter behavior often forget that people are wise. The President’s principal platform was on his determination and ability to eliminate corruption. He promised to punish the corrupt in this government and those in the previous government. The Prime Minister assured that crooks will be punished, loans will be paid back, jobs created, and everybody will be wired to Wi-Fi. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s task was much simpler. The regime that replaced his is equally or more corrupt. They are inept as well. Mahinda’s claim resonated. No one would claim that he was inept.

When election results are excruciatingly discomforting, the temptation to interpret them is irresistible. Politicians and political parties are good at misinterpreting dismal performances.

President Sirisena under interpreted and over interpreted his mandate according to his personal whims and political fancies. He promised to be a single term incumbent and then decided to fortify his powerbase for 2020. He voluntarily reduced his term and later sought Supreme court ruling on the precise expiry of his term. 

Preaching and Practice

He condemned nepotism and family bandysm. “If you were to ask me how I became the common candidate I don’t think even I could give you a proper answer. I see this as some sort of a miracle. I was a part of this Government with a lot of heartache having witnessed rampant corruption, nepotism and family bandysm which is a part and parcel of this government.”

One of his first appointments was that of his brother to the top job in Sri Lanka telecom. His son in law has an assignment with the Ministry of Defense. He never tires of reiterating his commitment to fight corruption. He publicly reprimanded the executive head of the Bribery Commission for producing retired defense high-ups before a magistrate. The director general of the CIABOC resigned.

The Common Candidate for the Presidency was a civil society creature. Civil Society expected the elected President to adhere to the agreed policy agenda. The hybrid government was a two-headed donkey that was stalling. Civil Society activists soon discovered that the President had his own advisors. Affairs of state were of such import and significance that they required analysis by more astute minds than those of some well-meaning academics and idealistic activists. It was time to jettison civil society dreamers of ‘yahapalanaya’.

Ranil’s Manifest Destiny

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesnghe is a man convinced that ruling this island nation is his manifest destiny. The success of the common candidate was therefore a bitter pill to swallow. The hybrid government was a farcical orchestration. A selected coterie held all strings and the puppet at the top was expected to conform and comply. Thanks to Sobitha thero’s insistence the 19th amendment has lifted the lid. The Bond Scandal unraveled over two years. 

Mahinda’s brother in law lost billions running the airline for seven years. Crony Charitha’s brother seems determined to match that performance and has succeeded admirably in the last three years.

The last three years are qualitatively different from the years under Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency. If we did not mind his business, he left us alone. He held elections and won them fair and square by persuading people with whatever it took for him to win. He didn’t rush elections. He went about the business of elections quietly and patiently. He was not stupid enough to hold island wide elections in the middle of a presidential term which could be construed as a test on performance.

Since 8th January 2015, we have been subject to naked manipulation, blatant lies, systematic spin and downright dishonesty. In Mahinda’s time we were informed or directed. Mahinda did not preach. In contrast there is no end to Maithri’s sermons and Ranil’s lectures. Mahinda’s coercive state apparatus was anchored to reality. He was the arch pragmatist not seduced by idealistic trivial. 

The Inconvenient Truth

Maithrpala Sirisenas benign governance is totally detached from reality. 

Political truths are terrible to deal with. Post-election truths are not only terrible but are mind boggling. The mixture of fact, opinion and conjecture that partisan analysts resort to are not worth our attention. Plain speaking is the need of the hour.   

The people have given their verdict. Honest crooks are better than dishonest crooks. Skim off on contracts with foreign parties. Don’t rob our pension funds. Naked ambition is preferred to ambition wrapped in false altruism. Better to have good war winning crooks than crooks who shield other crooks. 

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Latest comments

  • 6
    2

    Sarath, thanks for writing this. As I pointed out earlier on CT, that joker from Melbourne (whom both of us know) was writing rubbish about Ranil;s worth as the saviour of Sri Lanka. Though I am not a great fan of Mhainda R, I now firmly believe that the country fell from frying fan to the fire as a result of 2015 regime change. I believe that he should now retract all his praises and ask for forgivenness from people whom he insulted. Bugger him!

  • 2
    0

    Silly as always, holding this Island-wide Voting during a mid-term of a Presidency must have its results!!. It can be also considered a blessing in disguise to Democracy, in that all past and present Culprits of corruption, big and small will have to be dealt with, in the own interests of personal politics of current
    leaders. Voters are bound to take such action for future consideration. Will GG act?

  • 1
    0

    SL always voted for either the UNP or the SLFP in alternating elections, being fed with the inefficiency, corruption & waste of the ruling party, hoping the regime change would bring a better tomorrow but it has always been the case of changing the pillow to cure the headache. However, now with the return of the Rajapakse regime in the cards, it’s not writing on the wall that is spelling doom but a clear sight of a tsunami that is going to drown this country in massive corruption, waste & incompetence in an unprecedented scale

    Sirisena was a bad choice. Probably Ranil & CBK thought humble MS could be manipulated but instead we had a dithering, incompetent, hypocrite who, instead of cooperating with the coalition, knew only to play to the gallery, opposing any progress at all levels, interfering with accepted norms & processes (probably due to his lack of education), & brought in rejected, established thugs & yobs back to Parliament, expecting their support to consolidate himself in power but in actual fact, these yobs conspired to bring Rajapakse back.

    Although Ranil had the driving force behind him, has thrown away his final card of credibility by clearly demonstrating his lack of integrity, choosing his cronies over the country which he had pledged to serve. So once again, come election time, we have a dilemma of choosing the ‘best’ out of a bad lot but one thing for certain, the demise of MS, & good riddance to him & his family of opportunists. As for Ranil, he will continue to hold the leadership of the party & will be quite happy as leader of the Opposition, guaranteed with Rajapakse in power.

    SL needs a Muhamad Bin Salman. The 32 year old new leader of Saudi Arabia is gradually bringing Saudi Arabia to the 21st century by not giving into extremist mullahs & cracked down hard on corruption, for which, Saudi Arabia has become world famous for, by locking up the rich & powerful wheeler dealers, including his own relatives.

  • 4
    1

    I cannot understand the keen Concern about the election results by various writers
    I can only think of what the former Singapore premier Lea Quan said:-
    “Elections in Srilanka is an Auction to Distribute Non Existing Resources” very true.

    • 4
      1

      In Sri Lanka, people have very short memories. Therefore they vote for the same two parties alternately, expecting different results from the last time.
      What to do, aney? Sri Lankans are stupid, no?

  • 2
    0

    To read the celebratory comments on social media about the Pohottuwa’s success in the LG polls, makes one think the General Elections just concluded.

    Hopefully, those who are in power know how to count and read!

    The message is loud and clear. Stop the bull-shit. We know the difference. Next; you are all going home….

  • 0
    0

    Hip deep of Shit both inside and outside.

  • 0
    0

    Powerful analysis.We kept faith in MS but he failed us miserably.The momentum Sobitha thero steered is all about good governanace. That momentum brought MS and RW combination into power.We knew deviation form that momentum would be a political suicide and the first step to that was taken by MS when he appointed lost candidates to parliament through the back door.This was definitely going against the mandate by public supporting for good governance. We all know he did not stop form there and his lack of vision for the country and his obsession of his party has shown over and over he is not the right choice to lead the country .However,I commend on one thing as he is the only person did something to curtail the powers of executive presidency and as a result democrasy is little stronger and we could witness a fair election after a long period of time.
    RW on the other hand quietly and patiently got on with his job.We all knew he has the brains and vision to run to country. He did not waste time appeasing public but worked hard in bringing up important reforms to the constitution specially with regard to the national question which is commendable.However,he also has ganged up with game players like Malik Samarawickreme and credible individuals who want to work hard for the betterment of the country were sidelined such a Harsha De silva.He managed to escape from Batalanda commision conveniently but the entire country know he could not be that innocent when crime of that extent took place in his back yard.He is unlikely to getaway using the same innocent card in Bond scandal and his credibility is severely hampered and contributed to the downfall of UNP in the recently concluded election.

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