21 April, 2019

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Maithri-Ranil & The Coherence Deficit

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

The defeat of the United National Front at the April 2004 Parliamentary Election can be attributed to the fact that the then President, Chandrika Kumaratunga pulling the political rug from under its feet by taking over three key ministries. Supporters of that Government have lamented this fact. Indeed, Ranil Wickremesinghe inherited in 2001 an economy that was in shambles and a nightmare security situation. Few would have expected him to perform miracles in just three years. His supporters bemoan the fact that the Government was not allowed to serve its full term and claim that had Kumaratunga acted differently the party would not have faired as poorly as it did.

All that is conjecture, though. While the UNF may have suffered because it didn’t have the time to implement its election pledges and then be subject to fair(er) assessment, there was also the vexed issue of its approach to the issue of national security. The chosen path was the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), a flawed document if ever there was one, and one which demonstrated a sophomoric understanding of the key protagonist, the LTTE.

The UNF alienated the Sinhala polity by signing the CFA and worse by offering puerile justifications. The LTTE was the LTTE, as always viewing ceasefires, peace talks and such through a military lens (as acknowledged Lawrence Thilakar, one time international spokesperson of the LTTE). The Government was naïve (to be generous in description) and paid for its naiveté. In short, the arrogant, arbitrary and anti-democratic move of Kumaratunga appeared legitimate simply because the UNF had played into the President’s hands.

The Government simply could not sell the CFA to the electorate. At the time, they had the state media as well as most of the private media on their side. Even the President, although she was the leader of a party in the Parliamentary Opposition, was ideologically on the same page as the architects of the CFA. Apart from her aforementioned move to subvert the Government, Kumaratunga did not throw any sand in the wheels of the UNF’s ‘peace process’. The UNF’s communication strategy as far as the CFA was concerned was a joke, one can conclude in retrospect.

However, was it just incompetence that wrecked the party? No. The issue is that even the best advertising campaign cannot sustain loyalty to an obviously flawed product or brand.

All of the above is but preamble to a consideration of the current Government’s woes with respect to communications. When a longtime critic of the previous regime who was also an ardent supporter of the CFA urges this Government to ‘talk to the people’, just 15 months after Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated, one can safely conclude that things are bad in the communications department. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu discerns ‘a lack of focus’ the symptoms of which he lists in an article titled ‘Let’s talk in the new Year; the Government to the People’ thus: ‘a President more concerned about the leadership of his party, a prime minister who seems to be firefighting on a number of fronts with ministers in between of varying degrees of competence and a loquacity approaching the biblical Tower of Babel’.

Saravanamuttu wants to Government to dialogue with the people on two broad areas: the ills of the previous regime and the rationale for change and reform. He correctly points out that ranting and raving about the past without a single major conviction only feeds cynicism.

He has not said a word about this Government being comfortable with nepotism, being ok with partying with by and large the unsavoury folk who benefited from their friendships with the Rajapaksas and nothing about the financial scandals and shady practices of this Government (Central Bank Bond Issue Scandal and the self-serving acts of the SLT Chairman). Nothing about the 180 degree turn on the Port City Project. That’s another aspect of the communication problem. These things are too large to hide and this Government has not (perhaps for lack of time and for inheriting ills, to be generous) been able to create a blanket such as ‘victory over terrorism’ that the previous regime used to great effect.

With respect to ‘change and reform’, Saravanamuttu focuses on his bread and butter issues: constitutional reform, transitional justice ad reconciliation. He does not flesh these out and he need not, for he has expended enough energy already. In this regard he is only advocating the repetition of a failed methodology of imposing upon the majority the will of a bunch of federalists who cannot get over the fact that separatism and its strongest advocate, the LTTE, lost out. He wants the report of the Public Representations Commission on Constitutional Reform’ to be the basis for ‘change’. If the LLRC was flawed due to its composition, this body is worse [See ‘Scuttling reconciliation from within’].

If the Government wants to market such a report, it will be as difficult or worse than marketing the CFA.

It’s about flawed producers and flawed products. They rarely if at all secure loyalty among consumers.

These are not the only communication problems that the Government has. The major issue is coherence or rather a massive coherence deficit. The Prime Minister and the President have on occasion made contradicting statements. Rajapaksa vilification has supplanted policy statement as the thrust of the Government’s communications strategy. More than all things it seems that this government is hell bent on mimicking the previous regime in all the wrongs it was guilty of. We are not seeing nepotism and cronyism declining. We are seeing these openly affirmed. Politicians and their near and dear are making bucks and ironically some of the buck-makers used to be quite cozy with the previous regime as well!

There are and always have been multiple tools and media to communicate, Saravanamuttu is correct. The problem is, you cannot communicate if you don’t know what to communicate. To put it bluntly, you can’t communicate ‘Yahapalanaya’ if there’s very little that is ‘yaha’ (good) in your ‘paalanaya’ (governance). You can’t sell rhetoric when you are in Government, you are required to market delivery. The Government can talk, as Saravanamuttu urges it to do, until the cows come home, but if you lack coherence, you are not going to be doing much by way of communication.

The bottom line, which by the way Saravanamuttu’s alarming ‘call for communication’ is but a symptom, is that the Government has rendered itself speechless (‘kata uththara nae’) on a number of counts and this just 15 months after Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated. The loquacity that he speaks of, ironically, is an indication of this condition. That is the communications problem in a nutshell.

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  • 9
    4

    Coherence deficit should be inevitable- in any national/consensual groups/govts.

    What this pundit – 10000000000000000000% MR apologist- is trying to say is clear to anyone. This man has lost his credibility as no others sofar.

    Haward should have been blind to allow the kind of writers to abuse the name but stay smeared as MS ever has been.

    • 8
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      Quoted from current President:

      ‘විදේශීය කාන්තාවක් දූෂණය කරලා ස්වාමියා මරා දැමූ තවත් සභාපතිවරයකු පක්ෂයෙන් අස් කරලා ලිපියක් යැවූ විට සුසිල්ටත් (former UPFA secretary) මටත් (former SLFP secretary)රජ ගෙදරට එන්න කියලා ඇහුවා කාගෙන් අහලද මගේ සභාපතිවරයා අස් කළේ කියලා, වහාම අස්වීමේ ලිපිය ආපසු ගෙන්වා ගන්න කිව්වා’

      Tourist murder to have raped case: A letter to the president was timely posted signed by susilṭ and me – then the former President- made King asked me to come home and questioned who asked us to take the action this way interms of my chairman and forced to repeal theresigation immediately – this is how Mr Megalomanic acted as teh president.

      • 7
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        Quote from current president- Sam Bandara

        (If the quotation is right)

        You’re very late to reveal it to media excellency sir; You should have exhibited your bravery just after the incident.

        Had it been revealed at the same time what a difference we could have made and experienced.

        Revealing it now may give a negative impact upon your political career.

        • 4
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          Whoever you are, this is really new and i am like others nor politicians – a few days only Current president opened this to the press.

          He clearly says, the letter sent to former president was critised by him and ordered them to cancel… that is how MR RAJAKSHE governed this country. It was a curse actually, NEVER he the like should be peoples represenatives. I believe it is system of the country allowed him to get elected as the prez.

    • 6
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      Malinda Seneviratne

      RE: Maithri-Ranil & The Coherence Deficit

      Incoherence of Malinda Seneviratne.

      Are you still on MaRa MaRa ChaTu MaRa AmaNa MaRa’s payroll?

      • 2
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        No, he is now on, Gala-gedara Mula-tto, Gala-gedara Mula-tto, Gala-gedara Mula-tto bandwagon, joining me, your bond holder.

    • 2
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      You may be right .. this man with the Haward lable, seems to be continuing his efforts as no other.
      He has never called a spade a spade… uttering nonsensce being away from teh burning fire was his nature from day 1.
      At the end of the day these journos should raise the quesiton, if they are at all satisfied with them, the manner they are upto … This nation needs unbiased men as journos to wake up the nation that have long been captured by Mahinda Rajaakshe facism:

      Alone what as current President makes clear – විදේශීය කාන්තාවක් දූෂණය කරලා ස්වාමියා මරා දැමූ තවත් සභාපතිවරයකු පක්ෂයෙන් අස් කරලා ලිපියක් යැවූ විට සුසිල්ටත් (former UPFA secretary) මටත් (former SLFP secretary)රජ ගෙදරට එන්න කියලා ඇහුවා කාගෙන් අහලද මගේ සභාපතිවරයා අස් කළේ කියලා, වහාම අස්වීමේ ලිපිය ආපසු ගෙන්වා ගන්න කිව්වා’Tourist murder to have raped case: A letter to the president was timely posted signed by susilṭ and me – then the former President- made King asked me to come home and questioned who asked us to take the action this way interms of my chairman and forced to repeal theresigation immediately – this is how Mr Megalomanic acted as teh president

      MR reactions in this regard has been beyond all morals and ethics. Had Prince Charles et al NOT put the pressure on the MR adminsitration, nothing would have done interms of the MURDER.
      This is the true nation of Rajaakshe, whoever whatever being explained to defend him today.

  • 7
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    Dear MS,

    “The bottom line, which by the way Saravanamuttu’s alarming ‘call for communication’ is but a symptom, is that the Government has rendered itself speechless (‘kata uththara nae’) on a number of counts and this just 15 months after Mahinda Rajapaksa was defeated. The loquacity that he speaks of, ironically, is an indication of this condition. That is the communications problem in a nutshell.”

    Lack of communication were not the reason former cabinet ministers to break away from YOUR GOD FATHER MAHINDA ?

    Today, almost every minister sat with Rajakshe then dare to express their realities. Lack of commmunication was the main factor Rajakashe to fall that deep. He himself was not aware what happened to him. He was a carcature of Basil and Gota. Latter two siblings abused formers power … ask you son or daughter, they can clear you this easly MS.

  • 9
    3

    What started out as a marriage of convenience is gradually turning out to be more like a marriage going to hell. Nepotism, crony-ism, bribery and corruption. All standard fare for a Sri Lankan government in these times. As you pointed out, these are all the same old jokers having another go at playing WE the people out. With the surrogate thugs dictating affairs, decent people have no stomach to go into politics. Of course, disenchantment with this lot will only lead to the high probability of a return of the Great Liberator. Then the blood-letting will really start (and it won’t be the tigers who suffer this time).

    As they say in old Palangathurai, ‘Api Malla’ (we are done for!)

    • 5
      8

      This is still in srilanka where every 2nd would be pro crime/abuses than anti.

      So I never thought all will turn to 100% okay even if any govt would take over. But remember, the days of MR – not even his cabinet ministers were given due freedom.

      It was like Zimbabwe – fully functioned dictatorship. Be it to SRILANKEN or other, all these were like their own properties.
      Let alone, they did not let urban dwellers in peace at night, those princes became above all laws held in country and ran night races…. hope not you are born yesterday.
      And BBS thugs took it to their hands and attacked fellow srilankens creating new form of clashes between sinhala folks and muslims.

      Actually, those food issue of Muslims were handled by BBS LEAD and the govt just mesmerised at bbc dogs how they fiercely attacked the muslims.

      I travelled to lanka toward end of Nov 2015. There i myself felt my god – what happeend to lanka… from teh first step from Airport, I had a bad feelling being unable to digest everytihng.. why the people are made so fools by Rajakashe. It was his world.. made world. Be it was in a bus or anywhere I just walked down in Colombo, his sky high portraits were displayed.. as if everything is grabbed by him. REMEMBER ?

      • 5
        2

        “”I travelled to lanka toward end of Nov 2015. There i myself felt my god – what happeend to lanka… from teh first step from Airport, I had “

        Village lass fled to the west in search of gold dust what a shame.

        When Colombo 7 bred minorities have gone there about the same time and said Wow!
        there are no pot holes and the stump flyover which was exhibited on the way to Colombo was non existent but new flyovers.
        I asked them how you felt and the response was sweet- much better than before and we had a pleasant stay boating, worlds end, watching animals and birds in their natural habitat- it was about nature.The affairs of the folk was what they asked for and it is theirs (very western in thought and deed)

        you don’t have to think to speak the truth about your motherland.
        you villagers were born fighting and that was independence.

        There is a saying villagers say and its for you: If you look up and spit it falls on you.

        • 1
          1

          Your comment is an anoher example for pompous lankens.

          • 0
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            Whom?

            • 1
              2

              Alfred,
              to just ignore what is being explained – Timbuttu as an another show off person has attacked the messenger right away.
              From what he wrote, we feel that the man should be coming from urban environments attacking the rural. Majority of lankens are villagers.
              What matters is the substance of the contents added by Dolalange: I think we can hope any good future so long we make no efforts to clear where MR ended up so wrong. That has nothing to do with ” If you look up and spit it falls on you.”

    • 3
      0

      “”That is the communications problem in a nutshell.””

      All that work and nothing to show for it??

      rabble-rouser
      That was because imports are growing faster than exports leading to a widened trade gap requiring the country to depend principally on remittances to part-finance the deficit.

      The economy is never black and white that is your plight.

      Not worth is an example that does not solve the problem when there is at least one.

  • 5
    0

    This guy not only has no shame being the eternal apologist for his fallen idols, he is also (as his history will prove) an expert in double-speak.

    But here’s a gem from the horse’s ass: “However, was it just incompetence that wrecked the party? No. The issue is that even the best advertising campaign cannot sustain loyalty to an obviously flawed product or brand.”

    Suits his heroes to a T!

    And then he goes on: “It’s about flawed producers and flawed products. They rarely if at all secure loyalty among consumers” – another gem!

    Give us a break, man – your credibility is shot, so enough of the bullshit!

    • 3
      2

      He is just a mutation.

      That is why he cant pulse it adequately.

      We ve got more of them Ananda. No matter realities lie miles away from their arguments – they just ignore and drive further. The kind of journos cant contriubute to the change that we really need let alone from now on.

  • 1
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    yahapalana regime is saying they have to pay debt that was stolen by former MR regime, this people will get the money from people and pay the debt. that means this yahapalana facilitating the MR regime corruption. people gone mad.

  • 0
    0

    Sam B, if Sirisena is an upstanding person as he portrays himself, he should have left his post immediately. No,no,no – he bided his time until ensnared by Madam in a coup !!! No guts no principles just preach, preach preach ……… Also it is not clear if the guy was already convicted by court or not at the time – if he was not you could not just remove without at least an internal inquiry surely? MS’s looking back in anger may not be the best policy, anger can cloud memory of real events and facts.

    • 2
      0

      most known country withalmost same PE election results can be Israel. NOt the lastone of them but a previous one. If my memory is right they had an election with the outcome 51% to 49% winners and defeaters respectively. With all difficulties they fight the war for over 50 years or so not being able to come to a consensus moslty is clear to everyone.

      Our war activites was put to end in 2009, we are not even somewhat near to see permanent peace in the country by resolving the long overdue problems of the people. Instead of getting close being united as one folk – three are enough culprits within the nation …that make every effort to live their political indulgencies rather than making their minds up for the common solution:
      Mahinda Rajakashe led men are nationalists, ultral nationalists, chaunists, rascals and rascal supporters, rascal and crime breeders – all these we would not overlook if we study all the happenings inthe country alone during the last few years.

      There, the civilized defeated group candidate was never seen as behaving harm as Mahinda Rajakashe is doing today.
      Defeated leaders should and must behave well in a democracy accepting the defeat finally.
      But the group led by MR today make every effort to react the other way around sending a message across the globe they are just and another bunch of thugs that would do anything everything to protect them being convicted. May be there are 1-2 in the group be clean all others have grabed people s funds as no other.
      Not even Ruwandian defeated parties would behave so.
      Not even indian defated parties would behave so.

      Even if we call us a nation blessing with higher literacy rate, our people are easily manipulative for any pitty gains. Which is the common factor in entire developing countries. However, this cant go that far so long the majority folks rise against these bunch of thugs marginalizgin them once and forever.
      Let s see it happening sooner than later.

  • 1
    0

    If the readers that comment, read and analyse the article instead of making personal remarks they may one day learn something. It appears most Sri Lankans (if those commenting are representative) are incapable of moving beyond the Rajapaksa blaming or calling anyone who do not engage in Rajapaksa blaming as Rajapaksa apologist! Go get a life and in the process a brain!

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