By Hilmy Ahamed –
President Maithripala Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa’s gamble to show their strengths in Galle and Kirulapone would be the final nail in the coffin of the “united” Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa would see an avalanche, charging him of destroying the SLFP. It’s yet to be seen how the die-hard SLFPer’s respond. There is no doubt, the split SLFP will need to go in to a long period of hibernation and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the present day crafty political fox would have been signing all the way to Campbell park. It was just a few years ago that critics labeled Ranil Wickremesinghe as a non-entity? His ability to weather the political storm confirms his maturity as a leader and there is no doubt that under his leadership, Sri Lanka has the best chance of getting out of the debt crisis, political instability, corruption and nepotism.
The welcome concept of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in uniting the SLFP and the United National Party (UNP) to address the core development and financial crisis facing Sri Lanka through a coalition that could come to consensus, putting country first before petty political differences is unprecedented. Regretfully, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s shameful foray into electoral politics posed the biggest threat to this noble cause. To save Yahapalanaya, the former undesirables were recruited in to government. The corrupt, leftist and the small Sinhala chauvinistic parties that would have been wiped off from parliamentary in future elections have done well to hoodwink Mahinda Rajapaksa to believe that he still has a role to play in the future of the nation as a leader. (A close friend of mine, aptly responded to this theory “hasn’t Mahinda and Co. made enough to “Rest In Peace”, haven’t they destroy enough of the democratic norms that we were so proud of in the South Asian region”?) Whatever the answer is, President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s refusal to bow down gracefully after the rejection of his leadership by the majority of the voters at the presidential elections in 2015 probably will go down in history as the biggest betrayal of Sri Lanka’s progress. President Sirisena, who still enjoys absolute executive powers, declared through the media his intention to act tough after May Day. Will this take the route of vengeance or just proper governance?
There is no doubt that Yahapalanaya has disappointed the majority who risked their lives to bring about the change in January 2015. Still, the democracy that has been re-established alone can be considered adequate compensation in the short term. There is a long road ahead and our good governance mechanisms should be strengthened to address corruption, rule of law, independence and transparency.
The entry of the “former rouges” in to the current government probably killed the noble Buddhist monk, Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero who spearheaded the Yahapalanaya concept. At least as a mark of respect to his departed soul, the true concept of yahapalanaya needs to be reestablished.
The current government’s sudden realization that the economy is in dire straights is laughable. Where were the brilliant economist and pundits who screamed from public platforms that they had the solution to ensure economic progress without burdening the people? Today, in power with a two third majority in parliament, they have forgotten the solemn promises of their election platforms. Nothing changes in Sri Lankan politics. Another replaces one bad lot and the citizens are betrayed. The new lot outsmarts the other in the corruption, waste and nepotism indices.
The Yahapalanaya’s first folly was the abandonment/suspension of the major development activity that had kept the economy alive. There is no doubt that this was done to inquire in to the alleged widespread corruption that was assumed as part and parcel of the Rajapaksa regime, but 16 months on, nothing has been proven or cleaned up. There is an absolute necessity to complete these development projects to ensure that the colossal funds spent are not lost.
The port city project is to restart soon and without any major change. The government continues with their hosannas of having negotiated better, but the citizens are yet to see the details. The other major controversy was the 8 billion that the government claimed was stacked away in Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s private bank account. This turned out to be the money from the sale of the Defense Ministry land at Galle Face that was to be used for the construction of the defense headquarters in Battaramulla. The government happily doled out this 8 billion and many more in a sunshine budget to win the August 2015 General Elections. Who is going to be held responsible for the colossal loses due to the delays in completing all these development projects?
It is indeed regrettable that the brilliant city planning undertaken by Gotabaya Rajapaksa has gone to dogs, or should one say, “dogs have come in to city planning”? Sri Lanka’s urban cities are fading back to the pre Rajapaksa era where garbage is not being collected, pavements have become a menace to the pedestrians, and the underworld has had a revival, to name a few.
Could anything get better after this May Day? The political Leftist turned capitalists who now cannot continue without their perks and privileges of office that were doled out during the last decade have turn to Mahinda for solace. They have convinced Mahinda Rajapaksa that he could lead them once again to victory. Isn’t it time that Mahinda Rajapaksa bowed out gracefully into his well deserved retirement, and support President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to expunge the corrupt and bring in true Yahapalanaya. Isn’t it time that only the best from the former regime are taken into the government and spearhead the noble ideals of Yahapalanaya. Would this mean hara-kiri for the Rajapaksa clan?
Isn’t it time that these desperate political leaders stop the colossal waste of public funds on May Day political tamasha? May this May Day bring sanity to the political leadership of the country and refrain from celebrating May Day as a political weapon? Let the real workers have their say every MAY DAY and politicians go back to take care of the legislature.