26 September, 2020

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In The Name Of God, Go! – Credibility & Stability Need A Change Of Prime Minister 

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!” – Oliver Cromwell to the Long Parliament

Addressing the Government front bench in 1971 in the wake of the April Insurrection, with only a handful of MPs on his side, the Leader of the Ceylonese Opposition JR Jayewardene explicitly echoed Cromwell’s famous exhortation to the Long Parliament as it departed: “In the name of God, go!” Six years later, the electorate endorsed him. Today in 2018, the UNP, the Government and the Parliament should say the same to Prime Minister Wickremesinghe—the “Long Leader” of the UNP.

Mr. Wickremesinghe’s chosen appointee as Central Bank Governor has caused great damage and has now violated a court order. The PM has led his party to a drastic defeat yet again. He is known to be unviable as a Presidential candidate and a Presidential election looms 18 months hence.

He was the Minister of Law and Order and in the 1980s was very familiar, so to say, with the Police and the STF—and yet these institutions failed to crack down when the anti-Muslim riots broke out in Ampara and Kandy.

His removal as PM is necessary for credibility, stability, the end of the power struggle in Cabinet, and for crisis management as a whole. His removal as party leader is needed for the UNP to avoid dropping into the mid or low twenty percent range at any and all upcoming elections. He is, in short, a failure and a disaster all round. He must go or be made to. This is the background of the slow burning fuse that is the no-confidence motion.     

Pro-Yahapalana ideologues and personalities, foreign and local, intervened in the post-Feb 10th crisis within the Government and “mediated informally” or held “informal negotiations” with the President, which averted the attempt to remove Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and prorogue Parliament. That was silly. What President Sirisena was attempting was the political equivalent of “keyhole surgery” which would have made a small incision and removed the offending PM, gangrenous due to the Bond scam, without however disturbing the coalition with the UNP or damaging the UNP. By dissuading him, the Yahapalana well-wishers, fans of the Ranil-Chandrika-Mangala troika, succeeded in driving the contradictions underground, where they are now encysted, turning malignant and metastasizing.

There is now a publicly visible and political active zone of dissent and disaffection within and between the government’s constituent parties. Today, the UNP has a web of cracks and a drop in morale, both of which are visible and audible on TV. There is a manifest loss of faith in the leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe, with UNPers at all levels, starting with the Parliamentary group, increasingly unconvinced that he is more asset than liability at any future election.

If this weren’t enough, the SLFP is also undergoing differentiation, with most MPs dialoguing with the JO as the Provincial Council elections draw near, with some others wanting to remain within Government while intensifying resistance against the PM and a dwindling faction opting to collaborate with Ranil.

The no-confidence motion project would never have been conceived if not for the deferment of the President’s decapitation strike. Warding the President off, the Prime Minister and his fans such as Jayampathy Wickremaratne argued that the only way to get rid of him was a no-confidence motion. So, a no-confidence motion it became!

Whether or not the motion gains the relevant number of signatories and passes in Parliament is of secondary importance. What is important is that it will gravely weaken the PM just as the no confidence motion which JR Jayewardene as Leader of the Opposition (supported by the LSSP which had just left the coalition government) moved against Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike on the alleged irregularities in the valuation and disposal of her lands under the Land Reform act, was defeated in Parliament but led to the appellation of “Binduwathee” and damaged her irreparably with the General election 18 months away.

The JO and the SLFP or its majority faction, are on a path of gradual convergence in a common cause. This drawing together is the signal that the old anti-UNP center-left alliance is being recreated, in this first instance, as an action bloc, a grouping engaged in a united action on a single issue. This exploratory dialogue is a game changer. It means that common ground is being explored. The pontoon bridge is being slowly cobbled together, over which will pass the number of SLFP MPs who will deprive the Government of its two thirds majority, and more importantly, that percentage of the SLFP’s  residual 13% votes needed for the JO-SLPP to top the 50% mark.

By helping keeping the lid on and the safety valves tightly shut, the pro-Yahapalana ‘crisis managers’ have helped the steam build-up and that steam is now threatening to blow the lid and the pot off the stove. At least in part, the recent riots were a manifestation and by product of this, just as July 1983 was in part, catalyzed by the postponement of the scheduled parliamentary election by means of a fraudulent and coercive Referendum held six months earlier, in December 1982.

At the time, Trotskyist leader Vikramabahu Karunaratne opined that the UNP’s IMF driven economic model was partly responsible for the social disaffection that took the distorted form of ethnic rioting. In a more nuanced analysis Dr. Newton Gunasinghe wrote in the Lanka Guardian on the nexus between the Open Economy and the riots, arguing that Sinhala businessmen, accustomed to protectionism, perceived themselves as relatively disadvantaged by the opening up of the economy to the free play of market forces, local and global, and that this factor fed into the ghastly riots.

In the run up to the most recent civic violence, instead of de-escalating the mounting political crisis and the crisis of social legitimacy (due to the Bond scam) by means of the removal of the PM,  crisis management by external players has actually succeeded in escalating the internal political struggle and thereby the government’s crisis and the state’s paralysis.

In point of fact, the mediatory “informal conversations” should not have been with the President. They should have been with the Prime Minister, persuading him to leave quietly. Post bond-scam and the Feb 10th defeat, the PM is the problem, not the solution—but the pro-Yahapalana civil society intellectuals and the DPL community misperceive the President as a greater part of the problem than they do the PM. The reality however is that the PM is the problem while the President is part of the solution.

After the recent riots, can any rational person really think that things can go on without credibility being restored, and that credibility can be restored without any change in the Government’s profile; without a change of leading personalities until 2019-2020? The government must regain its legitimacy and capacity to function by selecting a new Prime Minister. Nothing short of that is substantive enough a change to stabilize a dangerous situation. There has to be a moderate nationalist personality from within this Government who has won sufficient confidence of the Sinhala Buddhist majority or can earn its trust, fronting as Prime Minister—or else the next crisis on the streets may destabilize the system as a whole. 

In making the choice for change as between the President and the PM, the President cannot be made to go, short of an impeachment which won’t happen because the JO is not going to be seen to help decapitate an SLFP President and strengthen the sitting UNP PM. The President stays till late next year. If so, then who has to go? Obviously, the PM– and the ones who are removable, namely some of the current holders of the Ministries.   

The pro-government ideologues are laying on a smokescreen about the so-called mandate of January 8th 2015 and the alleged reform agenda. They say that the mandate is intact and the reform agenda must be returned to with redoubled commitment. They seem unaware that politics is not quintessentially, about adhering to mandates and reform agendas. Politics is about power, interests, threats—and perceptions of interests and threats—and of course, survival. The President, the SLFP and quite a few UNP MPs are thinking in these terms, and understandably, even rightly, so.

Surely there can be no reasonable doubt that the UNP-SLFP alliance will not last till 2019-2020? It is not a question of whether it will end but when. The upcoming Provincial Council election will be a marker event. The President, the SLFP and the many in the UNP are wondering how they can face the Provincial Council elections with Ranil Wickremesinghe as PM and UNP leader. The UNP is nervous at the prospect of mounting a campaign and getting out its own voters.

Speaking of “reform agendas”, reform is good, yes? As a social democrat I’d say yes as a general rule and most of the time, but not always. Reform is good when it makes things better. It is bad if it makes things worse. It all depends on the results of reform. The nature of those results depend upon the content, direction and pace of reform.

The events since Feb 10th demonstrated that the 19th amendment requires rectification, because it has created a situation of deadlock, where an executive President elected by the majority of the people of this country taken as a whole, cannot remove a Prime Minister who has been elected from a much smaller area and with a far smaller vote.

The deadlock over the 19th amendment also showed the need NOT to tamper overmuch with the 13th amendment. What if we enhance devolution as the PM wants, and we wind up with a situation in which the President cannot remove not merely the PM but also the Chief Minister? Wigneswaran will be as difficult to remove as Ranil Wickremesinghe seems to be. Imagine being stuck with both, however badly they conduct themselves? What if we have a situation such as in 1990 but the Constitution as been so amended that we cannot remove the Northern Chief Minister or dissolve the Northern Provincial Council in the way that President Premadasa did then?

Can any sane person seriously think that a Government which has been rejected at a municipal election and is in bad shape internally, should really risk a referendum on a controversial new Constitution, with a little over 18 months to go before a decisive national election? Does anyone with a grain of good sense think that the UNP and SLFP are in any mood or shape to fight a referendum campaign against a JO-SLPP which has a vastly popular leader and no leadership crisis, on the move? Does any prudent individual think that new federalizing Constitution and a Referendum campaign–in which an army of monks and ex-military officers and men will be campaigners for a NO vote– will help rather than harm inter-communal reconciliation?

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Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    The only way out from this quagmire is bringing Gota! May be temperamental but an achiever!
    This will answer a Stable government, No underworld, Sinhalese insecurities! Stronger economy.

    Can anyone suggest a better solution/better leadership or set up without personally attacking me ?
    (Native you can come out from your general cynical role and provide some solutions)

    • 0
      0

      Srinath G.

      Why are you suggesting an American an alian for Presidency the first to use Atom bomb which burnt to death 150000 Japanese in a second.For that matter we can call for applications worldwide and select a person. May be we can also think of Obama without a job now. In a country where Doctors protest when we get Doctors and Ambulances from India do you think its ok to import politicians. Again as most of our MPs do not know to behave in Parliament we can also allow aliens to contest elections.

    • 1
      0

      srinathan.gunaratnam

      ” The only way out from this quagmire is bringing Gota! May be temperamental but an achiever!”

      What has he achieved on his own?

      “This will answer a Stable government, No underworld, Sinhalese insecurities! Stronger economy.”

      Duminda Silva was not a member of underworld but a family friend.
      He couldn’t stop his own family looting the coffer and misbehaving.
      He couldn’t/wouldn’t charge his nephew for murder.
      He couldn’t stop his kid brother charging 10, 20, 30% on all new contracts.
      He didn’t know or foresee the cost of giant projects such as, harbours, airports, power stations,………………….
      You couldn’t or wouldn’t tell him off for him being a public racist. This is what the national hangman said recently:

      “the main reason for most of the issues in the country was the result of following the advice of NGOs rather than seeking advice of the Maha Sanga.”
      Daily Mirror
      2018-03-12

      “(Native you can come out from your general cynical role and provide some solutions)”

      It is not a choice nor a race between two public racists, Dr Gota and FM Sarath, too dangerous and too costly for democracy.

      Just because both desperately want to live in a mythical/Utopian land people should not be fooled or punished for desires of tyrants.

      A Sri Lankan spring might help. However you know who hijacked all those old middle east revolutions. Two things Dr Gota might hijack it or the Sinhala/Buddhist fascist might use it to their advantage.

      Unless you find a way of prohibiting ALL those politicians and state functionaries who were/are in office from holding future elected or unelected office then there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

      You ask yourself a question being the majority in this island why are the Sinhalese and Buddhist wasting their resources defending or voting for the crooks, murderers, rapists, ….. war criminals, morons, racists, bigots, …………… ?

      Its time you woke up from your slumber in order to wake others from theirs.

  • 12
    1

    Ranil does not take this idiot Dayan seriously. The more Ranil ignores DJ’s vicious and highly strung desperate shots the more desperate that DJ becomes. This fellow is stark mad-I tell you

    • 3
      1

      Ranil only has Maname Saimon to support him now! So keep doing it under 1000 covers. [Edited out]

    • 1
      0

      So you still like the taste and the stink of this of this total loser Ranil Wickremesinghe ? Go get a life.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 3
    1

    Can u give an example of one good act done by Ranil for the last forty years. Absolutely nothing. He has to go.please go . I will worship you . Please go for God’s sake or for devil’s sake. I am a staunch UNP supporter. You are an utter failure. Rajapakse clan also can do nothing. He too has to quit. All members of the present parliament too have to go. All are very corrupt.

  • 9
    0

    Dayan Jayatilellka,

    STOP writing rubbish in the name of HUMANITY .

    • 4
      0

      …and for Gods Sake!!

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 7
    0

    All these days Dayan only wanted a job. Hobnobbing with the likes of Lord Naseby. Now he has set his eyes on the soon to be vacant UNHR High Commissioner.
    From holding a ministerial position in EPRLF cabinet? Good luck Dayan

  • 4
    0

    srinathan.gunaratnam

    ” The only way out from this quagmire is bringing Gota! May be temperamental but an achiever!”

    What has he achieved on his own?

    “This will answer a Stable government, No underworld, Sinhalese insecurities! Stronger economy.”

    Duminda Silva was not a member of underworld but a family friend.
    He couldn’t stop his own family looting the coffer and misbehaving.
    He couldn’t/wouldn’t charge his nephew for murder.
    He couldn’t stop his kid brother charging 10, 20, 30% on all new contracts.
    He didn’t know or foresee the cost of giant projects such as, harbours, airports, power stations,………………….
    You couldn’t or wouldn’t tell him off for him being a public racist. This is what the national hangman said recently:

    “the main reason for most of the issues in the country was the result of following the advice of NGOs rather than seeking advice of the Maha Sanga.”
    Daily Mirror
    2018-03-12
    continued:

  • 4
    0

    Continued – sorry I exceeded over 300 before uploading my earlier comment.

    srinathan.gunaratnam

    “(Native you can come out from your general cynical role and provide some solutions)”

    It is not a choice nor a race between two public racists, Dr Gota and FM Sarath, too dangerous and too costly for democracy.

    Just because both desperately want to live in a mythical/Utopian land people should not be fooled or punished for desires of tyrants.

    A Sri Lankan spring might help. However you know who hijacked all those old middle east revolutions. Two things Dr Gota might hijack it or the Sinhala/Buddhist fascist might use it to their advantage.

    Unless you find a way of prohibiting ALL those politicians and state functionaries who were/are in office from holding future elected or unelected office then there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

    You ask yourself a question being the majority in this island why are the Sinhalese and Buddhist wasting their resources defending or voting for the crooks, murderers, rapists, ….. war criminals, morons, racists, bigots, …………… ?

    Its time you woke up from your slumber in order to wake others from theirs.

  • 1
    0

    If this man wants to displace RW he must indicate who with. It simply cannot be any of the Rajapakses. We cannot alternate between two sets of rogues. RW thieved not for himself as he is already loaded. Rajapakses killed robbed and maimed only for themselves and keep themselves alive in politics by constantly beating the communal drum. Without this drum, they are a lost group. Progress in Sri Lanka depends on giving up communal politics. Rajapakses cannot do that. Yet, it is true that MR (not his family) remains the most popular politician in Sri Lanka at least among the Sinhalayas. That is the tragedy of Sri Lankan politics. If both RW and MR go away together, it would be great. There must be a retirement age for politics. MR is well passed it. RW must retire as well. He is a tainted figure. But, who do we have to replace them?

  • 5
    0

    Dayan out of all people ,how can someone like you of such high intellectual capacity sing this song of political hypocrisy ?

    You know very well deep down that it is a day light whole sale deceit of all the people in this country to Change political Leaders and party while still holding onto a constitution that gives complete freedom to all politicians of all races and their entire goons and their civil staff to get away with anything and everything .

    It also provides the goons to destroy a whole community taken as the bogeyman.

    It is the Constitution that need to be Changed ,not Ranil ,in the same place if it was a ruthless person this constitution would have helped him to send the whole community in to refugee camps or a bloody civil war.

    • 0
      0

      FAHIM KNIGHT “like you of such high intellectual capacity ” Fahim you must be joking. dayan will perform fellatio to keep himself in the lime light.

  • 1
    3

    How many times I told this obnoxious character not to appear in public

  • 1
    0

    Today any form of threat to any individual / community should not be taken lightly , The government need s to prove to the public how serious they are,I believe the temporary ban on the Social media though was not 100% fool proof due to freely availability of VPNs, it did reduce and curb mostly the spread of fake news and that is something to appreciate,because we are still a socially immature people,we do not have it in us to examine the truth ,we are too emotional people ,we are a people yet not fully recovered from the past violence ,we need the freedom ,but at the same time we need to be monitored and told that we are monitored, this is the right way to discipline.

    Now that The government has full access to all social media apps on case by case , they should consider any hate speech or threats made to any individuals ,communities or groups as not just racism or bigotry ,it should be legislated as sedation , remember when individuals or groups freedom of speech and rights are threaten it actually threatens the stability of the entire nation, thus such people should be taken to task no matter how light the threat is.

  • 1
    0

    Hubert / March 15, 2018
    1 3
    How many times I told this obnoxious character not to appear in public
    an open threat?????????

  • 1
    0

    Dayan, you are wrong.

    ” What is important is that it will gravely weaken the PM just as the no confidence motion which JR Jayewardene as Leader of the Opposition (supported by the LSSP which had just left the coalition government) moved against Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike on the alleged irregularities in the valuation and disposal of her lands under the Land Reform act, was defeated in Parliament but led to the appellation of “Binduwathee” and damaged her irreparably with the General election 18 months away”.

    That was a creation of JRJ. JRJ was called pus ataya.

  • 0
    0

    FAHIM KNIGHT “like you of such high intellectual capacity ” Fahim you must be joking. dayan will perform fellatio to keep himself in the lime light.

  • 1
    0

    Dt.. Dayan .

    Please enlighten me ,I know nothing of politics.

    As a novice ,can you please explain to me how it is correct to remove The Prime Minister when there is ample evidence that his group did well in the local or whatever election you call it.

    And let The President remain while there is plenty of evidence his group shamelessly lost .
    I do not really understand Sri Lanka Politics,,,

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