20 April, 2024


Is Yahapalanaya At Risk Of Losing Its Life?

By Vishwamithra

“To know nothing of what happened before you were born, is to forever remain as a child” ~ Cicero

Good governance, however much it looks easy to shout about on platform and introduce, is incredibly hard to sustain even for a short period of time. The present government is proving it. With each passing week and month, the level of trust and confidence and the enormous expectations the people placed on the incoming government are evaporating. And they are evaporating fast, albeit the forced resignation of Ravi Karunanayake, the former Minister of Finance and the firing of Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, the former Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana. The people are opening their eyes. They thought that they displaced a regime of corruption and nepotism and it does not seem to be so. At the beginning itself, the incoming government made many strategic blunders:

1. Not holding the General Elections immediately after the Presidential Elections.

2. Making a Cabinet of Ministers look like an inflated body of massive and unworkable committee. The present Cabinet consists of 48 in number!

3. Absence of a macro economic plan

4. Continuance of the Presidential System. Instead of an overhaul of the Constitution, the passage of the 19th Amendment has paved the way for a confusing state of governance.     

Let’s take these one by one.

Not holding General Elections immediately after the Presidential Elections

The new government of Maithripala Sirisena lost all its sheen and sense of urgency with which the Rajapaksas were rejected at the elections when much awaited General Elections were not held immediately after the Presidential Elections. The electoral advantage that the incoming new Administration would have had was given away by this imprudent decision. It was certainly a political one. Whether it was taken by new President Sirisena alone or a combined one arrived at with the consent of Ranil Wickremesinghe, the then Leader of the Opposition, soon to become the Prime Minister of the new government, is not publicly known. Yet that decision cost a great deal of lead time and the political momentum the new government would have gathered was lost. But one reality was known to everyone interested in politics. That was the fate of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and that of Maithripala Sirisena as its de jure leader.

New President, Maithripala Sirisena must have calculated that, had the General Elections were called immediately after the Presidential Elections, the SLFP would have suffered an immense loss. Had that happened, Maithripala Sirisena would not have liked to be the person under whose watch the SLFP disintegrated. From the point of view of the SLFP and Sirisena personally, the calculus was right; but in the long term interest of the country, it was a terrible decision. He could have reached an agreement with the UNP leader, even if the SLFP were to lose badly in the General Elections, a coalition government between the two parties, UNP and SLFP, was possible. The advantage Mahinda Rajapaksa obtained as a result of the postponement of General Elections paved the way for the emergence of a formidable Joint Opposition made up of some senior SLFPers who were no longer Minsters and Deputy Ministers etc. A coalition need not be between two strong parties. In the 1965 Dudley Senanayake coalition, the then Federal Party which had only about 14 parliamentary seats was an integral partner of the coalition. Demosthenes a Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens once said thus: “small opportunities are often the beginning of great enterprises”. Both Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe missed that opportunity owing to their own shortsightedness. This was a self-inflicted wound and the country is now paying the price. And that was a tremendous strategic blunder of the current coalition.

Size of the Cabinet

The size of the current Cabinet of Ministers, 48 in numbers, is beyond sustenance. Mahinda Rajapaksa had a Cabinet even larger than this and within the main Cabinet, he governed the country through an inner Cabinet that consisted of himself, his two brothers Basil Rajapaksa and Defense Secretary (although not in parliament, Gotabaya Rajapaksa had more powers than a Cabinet Minister) and his Secretary of Finance (once again, not in parliament but as powerful as a Cabinet member). 

The current Cabinet comprises of 48 Ministers. That is an unbelievable number for a small country such as ours. And it is unwieldy, to say the least. Being a coalition government and having to please everyone is no excuse. Follow the the various compositions of Sri Lanka’s Cabinet since 1947:

D S Senanayake’s Cabinet in 1947 – fourteen (14)

Dudley Senanayake’s Cabinet in 1952 – fourteen (14)

Sir John’s Cabinet in ‘53 – fourteen (14)

S W R D’s Cabinet in ‘56 – eighteen (18)

Mrs. Sirimavo B’s Cabinet in ’60 – sixteen (16)

Dudley Senanayake’s Cabinet in ’65 – eighteen (18)

Sirimavo’s Cabinet in ’70 – twenty two (22)

J R’s Cabinet ’77– eighteen (18) to twenty one (21)

Mahinda Rajapaksa made a mockery of both the Cabinet size and its composition. Collective Responsibility, a lofty ideal of the traditional parliamentary system was thrown out the window. Scant respect was paid to routine matters such as meeting on one particular day of each week at one particular time. The usual Wednesday morning Cabinet Meeting changed at the whims and fancy of the President. Cabinet secrets were available in the open marketplace for sale.  The nation’s highest decision-making body became a mass meeting! All these historical facts may be boring to the curious reader, but it is vital that it is placed on record so that future governments are made aware of these unpalatable facts and figures. India, a county that has 1.2 billion population has only twenty Ministers, including Prime Minister. Sri Lanka which has 22 million people has forty eight (48). That is not including those so-called State Ministers. It’s the height of absurdity! All credibility is gone. Those in power never realize how much the masses hate to see these bigwig politicians roam about the country in Mercedes and BMW cars. Hate and jealousy are extremely destructive emotions.

Lack of Macro Economic Plan

Apart from the ‘One Hundred Day Program’ which was unfurled at the Presidential Election campaign, the government did not spell out a macro-economic plan for the country. Nor did they look to have one the way in which they got about. A lot of tactical political moves were made just to satisfy some unhealthy elements in the SLFP. Other than the Megapolis and Western Development Ministry, which of course does not seem to be having any accelerated tone into the work of the outfit, no scheme, program or visible development is taking place in the country in any sector. Expansion or development of highways as was done during the Rajapaksa regime is no new development.

The advantage any government would have in developing highways is that it is one part that is visible to the public. Mahinda Rajapaksa realized it and chose to invest heavily in that type of economic development. Our highway infrastructure was developed but hardly any townships emerged along these highways which aspect of development that might have been able to sustain those highways in the future. Mahinda Chinthana was a load of crap filled with political slogans and pseudo-patriotic rhetoric. It was not a strategic approach to economic development. The current rulers must, even late in the day, produce a plan that is a well-thought out and researched economic plan that would indicate a strategic slant to the country’s economic welfare.

Constitutional Reforms

Abrogation of the Presidential system of government was one of the key components of the ‘One Hundred Day Program’ the current rulers promulgated at the Hustings. Yet they seem to be quite comfortable with a mere Nineteenth Amendment and its somewhat easy passage in parliament. This is a very complicated issue especially in the context of the very diverse and convoluted minds inside the coalition, particularly those who identify with the SLFP. It would have been not so complicated, nor mind-grueling to have proposed an amendment to the constitution with the current President being named as the succeeding Prime Minister, had a total annulment of the Executive Presidency. We do have constitutional and legal luminaries among our judicial ranks who could have helped the government had they so chosen to seek them out.

Instead of adopting a strategic approach to the country’s burning problems and issues the government became entangled in ‘retail politics’. That is a sure way to lackadaisical governing style. The government seems to be bogged down in a constant crisis-management mode.

On the positive side, the very ouster of the Rajapaksas from power was a tremendous leap for a nation that was increasingly becoming accustomed to a grossly warped and corrupt culture. We have not got over it and signs of getting over it are not on the horizon either, yet a consistent clamoring from outside forces should not stop. Forced resignations of two leading Ministers won’t be enough.

*The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com  

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Latest comments

  • 3

    The author’s favourable bias towards the greens is well known and is at levels that he should be embarrassed.

    Its all good to list the number of ministers until JR, why not list the no. in CBK time ?

    Continuance of the Presidential System…..it was continued because Ranil’s ultimate dream is to become president!

    Lack of macro economic plan: I thought Ranil was an economic wizard who needed one opportunity to turn this country into paradise. He has that opportunity, doesn’t seem to be doing much!

  • 2

    Will Dr Ranil leave Sira and form a UNP Government?…….Kandy Kirra who has five Family Members on his Staff said his Party has 106 MPs,……….Kirra is not a Ranjan …….. Add the Vellala Party Samandana & Co, it is an absolute majority……Why are the Yahapala suckers waiting ?………While Sira is tightening the Noose around Dr Ranil’s Knackers, through the Bond Commission?……..Wonder whether Walasmulla Wije (WR) has a copy of Dr Ranil’s Phone Log during his mate Dr Mahendran’s first Yahapalana Bond Auction?……

  • 1

    We need to simply compare the rule under Rajapakse regime with the current regime rather than pointing at this government. If anyone had a big expectations from this government, they must be not Srilankans. The major achievement of this government is that it saved the fall of democracy into a family dictatorship. How can you expect from a govt which has no proper majority in the parliament? You and I know how good are our politicians, our civil servants, our military and our police force? Can you change these people?

    • 2

      What family dictatorship dude? Did’nt MR held elections everytime all the time?
      What democracy we have now? Where is the XXXing elections?

  • 2

    “Forced resignations of two leading Ministers won’t be enough.” That’s right Mr Vishvamitra – the government must resign in toto.

  • 2

    Yahapalanaya is not a coalition government. Even Sambandan’s Opposition is not the real Opposition. They all signed secret pacts with each other before the presidential and the parliamentary election. Yahapalanaya is a disaster from the start. They lied to the people to get elected. 95% of what they have said are lies, they know it, that’s why they don’t hold elections. People haven’t asked for a new constitution. Yahapalanaya don’t meet voted people’s demands but is eager to give things that people don’t ask for (i.e; a constitution).

    Whether you like it or not, Mahinda is the most popular political personality right now. Sure, he had his flow but excelled in his presidency. On the other had Chandrika was the most incompetent president Sri Lanka ever had, she was a dictator too and jealous of Mahinda.

    • 0

      You are wrong she selected Malinda as the Presidential candidate against the majority of SLFP members and instructed Sirisena, Siripala and another Five Ministers to help MR win. Basil upset everything,

  • 0

    Chandrika’s photo is unflattering.

  • 0

    Mahinda Rajapakse knew he was not doing a good job that is why he went to elections and lost the prisential elections two years before the inteded time. There is no question that Mahinda Rajapakse govt Corruptions were ata peak and Mahinda rajapakse was playing Alibaba and forty thieves as he helped his henchmen to suck the life blood from the system as much as they can. That is why People voted for Horapalanaya headed by MY3 and Ranil. This duo proved that there are no thieves in the previous govt except so many accusations, or press releases about thefts by the previous govt, spending millions for different people but achieved nothing. but, the Horapalana journalists do not write about thefts, robberies, incompentancies, malpractices, mismanagement of the horapalna govt. I do not understand why no one writing artiles complaining about the how horapalana govt is suppressing journalists. Is it just journalists corporating with the govt or they being paid silently such as giving free laptops and money. It is for sure, Mahinda Rajapakse had foreign enemies. Because, Ranil Wickramsinghe too recrtuis, idiots and thieves to importanft positions. Arjun Mahendran and another former Tamil Central Bank – Secretary are who are not Sri lankan citizens are best examples. Maithripala doe snot give any leadership simply because he wants to protect his position in the system. —————- Sri lankan needs rewriting 19th amendment and make the President more strong. then the cunning prime ministers like Ranil can not try to circle less powerful President from another party. If not horapalanaya should disintegrate and SLFP alone should produce the govt. Anyway, the same 225 thieves govern and no new introductions until the next elections.

  • 7

    None of these things have damaged yahapalanaya like the bond scam. That is one unbelievable act where the prime minister kicked 22 million Sri Lankans in the face.He is a rogue and an utterly self centered rascal.

    Look at him. Is he fit to be a leader ?

  • 3

    Vishwamithra still trying to hoodwink the readers. “Yahapalanaya” was a mere slogan as subsequent events since 2015 amply demonstrated. The authors didn’t have any intention of establishing a genuine yahapalanaya. The massive Central Bank robbery soon after the presidential elections, sacking of chief justice Mohan Pieris through a chit, appointment of Ranil W as PM who did not command majority confidence in parliament were the clearest signs of the beginning of an avapalanaya. Vishwamithra et al can publish all BS but as he himself acknowledged the people are beginning to open their eyes if not done so already.

    Rajapakses may have been corrupt (then the current mob is even more corrupt as evidence shows). However Rajapakses delivered economic growth after a historic achievement in defeating terrorism and demonstrated that they were far better/effective managers. When it comes to leadership and management skills, the current mob (led by RW+MY3+CBK) cannot even come 100 miles closure to Rajapakses.

  • 3

    All past and present leaders are looters,but M Rajapaksha is a great leader we ever had.so need to bring him to power again to develop our country(to rescue from Indian empire).

  • 2

    UNP all over you, Are you trying to put the blame on someone?
    Are you still apologising for gon palane?
    Are you still white washing thieves?
    Economic policy is selling the country in pieces.

  • 1

    The biggest disappointment is that yahapalanaya could not implement the reforms promised.

    1 pension reforms with a contributory mechanism to govt employees
    2 reducing the 1.6 million state sector workforce which is one of the highest in the world compared to population
    3 private medical education including Minimum rules for medical education
    4 reforms in fertilizer subsidy
    5 productive use of state owned land
    6 pricing mechanism for fuel and gas
    7 flexible Labour laws which encourages private sector to hire
    8 accountability of university lecturers for the quality of output
    9 SoE reforms including Sri Lankan, SLPA, CEB and CPC
    10 Constituional reforms

  • 1

    Yahapalanaya died some time ago. The body lies waiting for the last rites to be performed. The danger now is that the ‘body’ is beginning to give off a bad smell, and WE the People are begging for this ‘bad dream’ to end, and the body buried. We had so much hope, given the useless government of the Great Liberator, it was not difficult to be better. But our hopes were dashed.

    Our greatest fear is that unless Good Young Fresh Blood comes forward to rescue this blessed land, we will end up having the same rogues and crooks succeeding this lot. Aiyoo! Aiyoo! Api Mala!

    As for the size of our cabinets, there are two theories:

    1 cabinets grow to accommodate the numbers that needed to be kept onside,

    2 cabinets grow to compensate the incompetents needed to be rewarded

  • 1

    The ousted MR alliance has not brought of” good governances and rule of law” said by MS, whatever the case that only betray mandate promised by MS and their alliances was counting 6.2 millions voters of Sri Lankan.
    The combining three core leaders of MS, Ranil Wicks and CBK were old -orthodox that are sub-par intelligence as a political strategist. They does not have a political programmed and tasks of wining strategist past as a Rulers since 1977 to 2005. Do not forget the simple truth during their ruling regimes did not delivered nothing to our National politics and Economy of Island?
    What happen during War against state of Sri Lanka by Tamil-Terrorist of LTTE and TNA proxy force of that time non of them of current leaders of (MS, Ranil Wicks and CBK) has mange to crush Terrorism in Island ?
    It was during war an impure competition of politics of that failure of set of policies which UNP and SLFP core leaders through-out the history.
    Indeed after wining suitituion in 2015 January 9th they have NOT that sharing and working together either across People, Classes or our- Nation was the ONLY WAY TO UNDERMINED MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR OUR COUNTRY and PEOPLE.
    By starting against “Corruptions” of previous MR alliance, while spreading ideologies of anti- China hysteria, with such deep scar being left in very social fabric of Sri lanka? Or it was UNP, MS and CBK only try to bail out not the country, but that UNP trying to further alienate USA, UK and Indian or Western Powers.
    The truth is that current Sri Lankan economy has played an mistakably role, but it was only helpful for CB Bond scam as one of the financers—- Perpetual Treasuries to looted public funds become Rich.
    In cursing let along now we are fighting ,one of the debtor nation a far from welcome of political tactics democracy and the Global Market>
    We not at WAR. New features and prevailing conditions we want peaceful building our nation Economy.

  • 0

    Vishwamithra starts with Cicero quote “To know nothing of what happened before you were born, is to forever remain as a child”
    Yes, the marginalisation of minorities as a “sacred” policy is hardly ever remembered. Do you Vishwamithra?
    Vishwamithra laments: “…………The people are opening their eyes. They thought that they displaced a regime of corruption and nepotism and it does not seem to be so…….”.
    Corruption has gotten so well established and knows no borders.
    “……On the positive side, the very ouster of the Rajapaksas from power was a tremendous leap for a nation that was increasingly becoming accustomed to a grossly warped and corrupt culture………..”.
    Yes we leapt indeed but ended up at the same level.
    The answer to Vishwamithra’s question “Is Yahapalanaya At Risk Of Losing Its Life?”
    is “Yes but will be born again as Nava-Yaha….whatever”

  • 3

    Vishwa, What are you trying to pretend? People of Sri Lanka gave all the opportunities to this Yahapalana government but Y-leaders dropped every ball and lost all the matches. Now people are mad like hell just like the cricket fans at Dambulla and Pallekele. Even patience has limits!
    And now not only Y-leaders, but the entire country is in a quagmire/deep shit. It is not only stinking but now has reached epidemic level like dengue. You cannot do anything to cure (change) it, and if you keep quiet and do nothing, you will be dead! The president, who is believed to be a democrat, says there won’t be any change of government till 2020. The so-called dictator MR held elections almost every year and gave us the choice to decide! Therefore, he was called a dictator! And these Yahapalana leaders have no balls to hold even a single local government election! And they boast about themselves ‘democrats!’
    Vishwa, Whom are you blaming now: the people who voted this ‘wonderful’ government to power? Stop this slavish boot-licking like some print and electronic media do in Sri Lanka. It is not difficult to be an impartial analyst/journalist if you stop thinking like a green-slave!

  • 1

    After overthrown of MR and alliance by MS led forces in 2015 January 9th has bring back to country and people for the another 50 years backward . This is what that aim of USA, UK and Indian, as well as Tamil Disposes +TNA want to do? The majority people has to admitted that defeated in all arena of the nation disorder of democracy and Parliamentary values ?

    By TNA,JVP and NGO’s trying all Undefined Rule of Governances that injected into democratic Institutions by UNP divisive voice is more dangerous than headed local and Foreign political power by short period of time.

    The UNP leader going SELL ALL NATIONAL WEALTH and unchained economic sovereignty,beware New plan Economy New War against People of Sri Lankan?

    But majority people of Sri Lankan always here to build and crated own sustainability Economy that UNP led misrule left miserable economic-political-social environment country after 1948.
    By and large consent of majority using right to votes by People only way to overcome this tragedy occur under regime in power!
    The proposed New Constitution by attempted to all political means to SEPERATE one country into TWO Nation lands by UNP-Ranil and CBK .>
    After end of war of 30 years of Tamil Terrorism that UNP respond with even not grater creativity when its confronted with New Difficulties and hostilities in Island wide…..Sri lanka!
    Our nation democratic of curiosity is always since 2015 January !!!

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