26 October, 2020

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More Purposeful Government In The Making 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The resignation of Minister Ravi Karunanayake due to a disclosure of conflict of interest in the issue concerning the Central Bank bon scam appears to have galvanized the government to take action against its political opponents whom it accused of far worse wrongs, including murder. Much to its chagrin the government has found that the reforms it has instituted, in particular to empower state institutions to act independently, are being used more resolutely by those who wish to undermine it than by the government itself. Two examples would be the protests against the lease of the Hambantota port to China and the SAITM private medical school, the grounds for both of which were laid by the previous government.

When the electorate voted at the presidential and general elections for change of government, they did so because the promises that the new government leaders made were ones they could identify with. The pledges to bring those accused of vast corruption and abuse of power under the former government, and to institute good governance by reinstating the rule of law took centre stage in the government’s election campaign. Today the disillusionment of the electorate is primarily due to these promises not being delivered on. Their disillusionment is increased by the failure of the government to deliver economic benefits to the masses who are struggling to keep afloat amidst the rising cost of living.

Despite the failures of the government its continuing strength comes in two ways. The first is that people continue to hope that it will deliver on its promises, as they have no alternative to go to if good governance and the protection of human rights are to be their goals. The second is that the government has delivered on the most important aspect of governance, which is to give them a sense of security that their human right will not be subjected to arbitrary violation. During the period of the last government this latter fear was widely prevalent. Even people in business, and those at the grassroots, who were far from the centres of power, feared for their lives on this count. They felt that there was impunity in the system and those at lower levels too could take the law into their own hands.

Fearful Memories 

The opposition continues to pay a high political price due to its inability to convince the masses of people that if they come back to power the abuses of the past will not come back with them. Due to the opposition’s failure to provide an alternative vision of good governance it is the vision of the present government that continues to prevail. So far the opposition is only able to show the government’s failure to do what it promised. The opposition leadership takes satisfaction in calling the government’s performance to be “yamapalanaya” (rule of dark forces) as against “yahapalanaya” (good governance). The problem with this critique is that the opposition has not yet made a serious attempt to admit its violations in the past, and promise not to repeat them. This is the opposition’s biggest liability.

The memory of Rathupaswela, where crack troops of the army were ordered by the previous government to attack villagers engaging in non-violent protest against their drinking water being poisoned by industrial waste still remains in the mind of people. This is one of several such incidents. Although the present government is criticized for being too weak to put an end to the continuous protests against it, there is recognition that it is not suppressing protests by means of terror tactics as in the past. As a result most people are willing to look to the government to implement its promises regarding good governance and when it does there is satisfaction about the progress.

The progress of the Presidential Commission to investigate the Central Bank bond scandal is a strong point in the government’s favour. It is generally acknowledged that such a commission could not have functioned under the previous government. The manner in which the commissioners have conducted themselves and the willingness of the Attorney General’s Department to cross examine senior government leaders as they would any other person is a testament to the improved independence of state institutions. The resignation of the former Foreign Minister due to the existence of a situation of conflict of interest is an outcome of the government being held accountable. The sacking of the Minister of Justice due to his non-cooperative attitude on the prosecution of corruption cases against members of the former government is another indication that the government is getting serious about delivering results to the people.

New Decisiveness 

The government is pledging to speed up the corruption cases against members of the former government who have been continuing to behave and speak as if they have nothing in the world to be worried about. The government’s new decisiveness is also shown in the manner in which it passed the local government election amendment law. Previously the complaint of independent monitors and the opposition was that the government was dragging out the amendment process to stall local government elections as long as it could. The local government elections are over two years overdue. The government seemed to be in no hurry to expedite the passage of the law. It was universally criticized for this failure.

The passage of the local government election amendment law now suggests that the government has decided to take the bull by the horns and hold the elections and prove its mettle. It may be with this in mind that it reduced taxes on a number of items, including internet usage and small motorcycles, which would benefit a larger number of people, although in a limited manner. In addition, the government has allocated Rs 20 million to each parliamentarian to do development work in their electorates by improving the rural infrastructure under the supervision of former Minister Karunanayake. These are all indication that the government is getting itself prepared to hold the long delayed local government elections.

The reluctance of the government to hold those elections earlier was generally attributed to the problem that the government would encounter when its two main coalition partners, the UNP and SLFP, had to contest each other. It was believed that in the heat of the electoral contest, the working relationship between members of these two parties would get further weakened as they would have to treat each other as rivals to the detriment of the Government of National Unity. The sudden willingness of the government to go in for the local government elections gives rise to the possibility that the government may be thinking of replicating its successful strategy adopted at the presidential election. On that occasion it contested as an united front under the common symbol of the swan.

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Latest comments

  • 7
    0

    you continue to live in hope despite the existing realities on the ground
    only an oliver cromwell can solve our problems by sending these guys home
    but there are no signs of him at the moment

  • 6
    0

    The only asset that this regime has now is bad memories of the previous regime. But that is not enough to keep it going for long.
    The differences are diminishing rapidly.
    *
    The people need to seek answers outside the house of thieves.

  • 5
    0

    A more purposeful Gvt, my foot! These people live in a dream world. One silly hope after another.

    No wonder this yahapalanaya idea became a shambles with idiotic Colombian cheerleaders like this!

  • 4
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    Bloody Humbug;

    “The sudden willingness of the government to go in for the local government elections gives rise to the possibility that the government may be thinking of replicating its successful strategy adopted at the presidential election. On that occasion it contested as an united front under the common symbol of the swan.”

    There is no strategy other than dividing the Sinhala Buddhist votes, that was the strategy used by all dirty political leaders of Sri Lanka since SWRDB. Jehan you are fed and thrive on this atrocious political scheme planted by your darling christian leaders including SWRDB, JRJ, CB and RW. None of these dirt bags would have come to power without dividing the Sinhala Buddhists under different carefully planned election strategies and warped political propaganda machine fuelled by thre anti Sinhala-Buddhist business community in Sri Lanka.

    One of your your political darlings CBK said yesterday ” the Hindu, Muslim and Christian vote makes up 30% of the voter base in the country adding as such the party would have lost miserably”

    Hey Jehan, what will happen to you and your political darlings, if other 70% unite behind a single a real Buddhist leader. It is unthinkable for you right now. Do not forget there can be a Sri Lankan “MODHI” among us.

    • 0
      0

      Son,

      “It is unthinkable for you right now. Do not forget there can be a Sri Lankan “MODHI” among us.”

      Are you kidding? Sri Lanka has had leaders of the “MODHI” mould anyway! This is why we are in this mess! Does a leader need to be a buddhist? Your bigotry has no bounds!

  • 5
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    See how good salesman is this writer. Yahapalanaya is not a horapalanaya. MY3 and Ranil are good leaders and not two co-leaders of a gang of thieves who are destroying the country.

  • 1
    0

    Disappointed that MS/RW created something called “Virtual Minister” closing the RW resignation saga.
    Lankans are told “A known devil is better than an unknown devil” and challenged “Change at your own peril”.

  • 0
    1

    ‘not suppressing protests by means of terror tactics’ …. indeed !! Only bashing students on the back of their heads, attacking striking Petroleum workers and throwing them around like sacks of potatoes, huh ? Which planet are you in Jehan, the NGO with millions of Dollars and Euros pouring in to your bank accounts to do the diaspora dirty tricks of blaming the previous govt. Human Rights my foot ! Just looking at your grim face (even with multi-millions in the bank) makes one sick. Your Catholicism sets you against the majority Buddhists, so you have no qualms about betraying the country you live in. Sick sicko !

  • 0
    0

    Recently, the Yahapalanaya spin doctor, Johan PhD, has not missed any incidents to bang on that and boost the confidence of Yahapalanaya. But all the banging noises are only coming from an empty vessel.
    In America John Gotti’s lawyer went to prison for working with John Gotti. Avant Garde is reported it used the LTTE arms for its Business. The company was nationalized without explanation if there was no crimes took place. Senathipathi is outside. Deal was accused only of breaking of collective responsibility, which not is a punishable crime under any criminal or civil laws. Nobody from government side explained where Gnanam was when the court has issued arrest warrant.

    CB employees are not held at courts for looting CB.

    Aloysius, from a private firm who traded as primary trader cannot be easily found guilty of anything wrong happened in CB. Accepting a gift from him, unless he is convicted in court, is not going to be a crime. How the Tax on that gift was handled is not sure as the ministers do not declare their income and tax.
    Ravi, Tilak and Mahendran are back already in high profile jobs.
    Another controversial figure, a Tamil, Sinniah offered a high profile job. This nothing new, as in the past governments have been employing Kathirgamar, Radhika, Karuna, Pillaiyan, Deva…. and boosting for IC and UNHRC that Tamils are shared of equal rights.

  • 0
    0

    We can repeat here what we heard or read. But the accusations appeared in the public media is not taken seriously by government, other than it is looking for ways to choke the throat of Free Media. .
    All what these are telling of what happened in the last two three weeks is, there was big blast off of launching sound, there was a flare of flames, but the rocket did not lift off. It is still the same and the Old Dud Rocket -” the Yahapalanaya”. Crooked Yahapalanaya has not shown any symptoms of have moved any inches anywhere. What happened is not anything different from past Yahapalanaya’s dramas like Suicide Jacket location, LTTE revival through Aava, putting CV, Sumanthiran & Sampanthar’ lives in dangerous situation and shooting in Thunalai the sand lorry traveler to prove that LTTE has come back so that they cannot remove army from North, release lands, reverse PTA and release falsely accused prisoners.
    By releasing Ravi and deal from cabinet, they escaped from investigating Old Royals’ or Yahapalanaya’s past or present crimes. Old Royals have escaped from all their crimes. Yahapalanaya guys are escaping from their games. Yahapalanaya is escaping from all its election promises, too other than the one it fulfilled i.e. “No Leader, No Commander, No Soldier Will be investigated”. Colombo Pong Chig is not recovered. Even the one the Old Royals’ promised to stop China’s submarines birthing is now abandoned by allowing changes to Hangbangtota sales. No change in EP’s constitutional status. But, in the process of China changing Lankawe as Singapore, Lankawe is entering into a situation it never can recover from its indebtedness to China. Instead of Ranil and Sirimavo promising Rice from Moon to Modayas, this time it’s the Chinese ambassador has promised “Rice from Moon”.

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