22 May, 2024

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Political Solution Before Next Independence Day

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The passage of the budget by a comfortable majority confirms that the government’s parliamentary majority is holding in the face of adverse circumstances. The ruling party has lost over twenty of its members who no longer follow the party line. But the rest of them appear to be staying together despite the lack of a clear and public leadership. Prof. G L Peiris who gives leadership to one of the breakaway groups has assailed the ruling party members for having betrayed the mandate on which they got elected. At the previous elections, the SLPP had committed itself to protecting state assets including state-owned economic enterprises (SOEs).

In a strongly worded speech in parliament he accused the party of switching allegiance to UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe at the expense of its own manifestos at the last elections. He pointed out that having repeatedly assured the electorate that state owned enterprises (SOEs) would be further developed and modernized at the 2019 presidential and 2020 parliamentary polls, the SLPP has thrown its weight behind President Wickremesinghe, who, in his capacity as the Finance Minister, reiterated his determination to sell even the profit-making SOEs. President Ranil Wickremesinghe has proposed privatising several state enterprises including Sri Lanka Insurance and Sri Lanka Telecom.

The government’s budget proposals make it clear that the decks are being cleared for a major overhaul of state owned enterprises. Members of the ruling party who once spoke in favour of protecting them are now explaining the need to change their stance. Minister Bandula Gunawardane said Sri Lanka would not be in a position to be part of the international trading system unless it boosted its foreign reserves by selling some of its assets. The Minister said that if Sri Lanka did not shore up its reserves to the tune of over three billion dollars, international companies would not accept the letters of credit given by Sri Lankan banks.

Dramatic Shift

The realpolitik behind the dramatic shift in the stance of members of the ruling party is politics based on practical objectives, which is survival in this case rather than ideals. The protest movement that erupted in the aftermath of the economic crisis that hit the country a year ago reached its peak with the overrunning of official residences and secretariats of the president and prime minister. It caused their resignations and also denuded the ruling party of any credible leadership that can face the people. It was in this context that the five-time former prime minister took on that challenge with his single party seat in parliament to give the ruling party his leadership.

Some of the actions of President Wickremesinghe have been subjected to severe criticism, such as the crackdown on the protest movement and more recently the government’s policy on taxes and lack of policy on corruption. However, after the president took over the reins of government, support for the protest movement has diminished to all appearances and so have the numbers coming out in protest. The increasing levels of economic hardship being experienced by the masses of people who are now forced to cut down on their consumption and their savings are being borne in silence, at least for the moment. Sporadic and short protests are taking place in a number of industrial areas, but they are yet showing no signs of coalescing into one powerful force.

It seems that the hope of an imminent economic recovery and apprehension of the security forces continues to subdue the will of the people who balk at another round of large scale public protests. Nonetheless, members of the ruling party who could not face the people at the height of the protest movement are wary of the people even now. They seem to prefer to stick together even if it means going against the fundamentals of what they have been espousing in the past. In the north women were shown throwing rotten tomatoes to a hoarding on which the pictures of parliamentarians were pasted which would a shared sentiment in the south as well. Justifying their reversals, their spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardane said that “Fitch again reduced our rating. No matter who governs Sri Lanka, they will all face the same problem. We need to build our reserves.”

Readymade Solution

It is in these straitened circumstances that President Wickremesinghe has been declaring his intention t resolve the country’s ethnic conflict and bring about national reconciliation without delay. He has set a target of February 4 next year, when Sri Lanka will celebrate its 75th year of Independence. This can be dismissed as an impossible dream. The ethnic conflict is one that predates independence from British rule. It was a problem that was identified by the colonial rulers much before independence. In response to a demand by some of the leaders of Ceylon, as it was then known, for self-rule, they noted that “Had the inhabitants of Ceylon presented greater appearance of unity and corporate spirit, one obstacle to the grant of full responsible government would have been removed.”

The divided nature of Sri Lankan society observed by the British colonials has been witnessed on every occasion on which a political solution to the ethnic conflict has been proposed. In 1957, there was the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact, which was torn up, which was followed by the Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Agreement of 1965 which was not implemented, the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord of 1987 which was only partially implemented, the draft constitution of 2000 of Chandrika Kumaratunga which was burnt in parliament, the All Party Representatives Committee proposals of 2010 during Mahinda Rajapaksa’s period which were not even considered by the government, and the constitutional assembly of 2015 by the Sirisena- Wickremesinghe government that came up with multiple proposals.

In other words, the political solution to the ethnic conflict has been worked and reworked on multiple occasions. They have tended to be accepted by the government in power or by sections within the government but rejected by the opposition that is out of power. This time, however, the most militarist and ethnic nationalist political party in Sri Lanka’s history is dependent for its short term survival on the leadership of a non-racist political leader. This is an opportunity that may never come again and needs to be taken. Shakespeare wrote, “There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune.”

President Wickremesinghe’s assertions that he will solve the ethnic problem by the next Independence Day may reflect a realistic confidence that what was done in the passage of the budget can be replicated in the political solution whose contours have been readymade by being worked and reworked on multiple occasions. There would be no future or survival unless the country gets its act together and the political solution seems to be the basic one to unite the country to handle the present crisis. To continue with Shakespeare, “Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat.”

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Latest comments

  • 27
    4

    My view is that the rogues in saffron robes (aka bhikkus) in their airconditioned Bo trees (AKA Viharas) and chauffer driven Mercedese benzs would rather see the sinhalas wiping the arses of the chinese and the majority sinhalas will also gladly do this and additionally export sinhalas females for cleaning toilets and looking after toilet appendages, rather than give an iota of rights to ceylon tamils resulting from this buddhist enlightened approach in the continued descent of sinhala land into a further HELL HOLE!!! You reap what you sow!!!!!

    • 4
      20

      A simple question to your racist diatribe then Gus. Are the Tamils also reaping what they have sown?

      • 12
        3

        Svenson

        “Are the Tamils also reaping what they have sown?”

        Are you questioning the theory, philosophy and the practice of Karma, or the lies and unproved ideas (simple way of subjugating people to religious bigots) of it?

        Well you don’t seem to empathize with people then why ask silly questions?
        Are you deriving ample satisfaction from the your perverted thinking/imagining that Tamils too are reaping what they have sown.

        That is Sri Lanka.

        • 2
          7

          Native, I am pointing out how ridiculous it is to generalise about any race. It’s lost on some.

          • 2
            6

            S
            There are public racists and closet racists.
            Any defence of racism is a clear sign of racist sympathies.

          • 1
            1

            Svenson,
            Admire you! Said a mouthful!!
            I have always been convinced, majority of any community, however, small or big is immaterial and thye are good!! I go on the 95:5 ratio and found in most cases true!! Irrespective, of being Sinhalese, Buddhists, Catholics, Tamils, Hindus, Vaishnavism, Muslims, Arabs, Czechs, Poles or whatever classification!! You’ll find it true in the main!!
            True what you have said and RAISE MY HAT IN APPRECIATION!!??Take the instance of “Toilet Nadu”, used disparagingly against Tamil Nādu, for lack of toilet facilities!!?? Well remember up to 1978/79 watching early morning ablutions taking place on the Gintota/Galle beach unashamedly public space used by tourists and locals to swim, lapping the water on their backsides to wash away the remnants!!! This with a population of 3 Million in the whole of SP!!!?? Think and extrapolate to 70 million population in Tamil Nādu!!!?
            You, perfectly on the money and thankyou broaching the subject!!

      • 2
        0

        Svenson,
        “Are the Tamils also reaping what they have sown?”
        Trying to understand what you are saying, Are you suggesting that Tamils, thrust Tamil Language down the throat of the Sinhalese??
        I didn’t know that, such a thing happened and unable to comprehend, HOW?? When did this happen and if so the Tamils were in power!!???
        I have been made to understand Sinhalese government had the majority to govern and not otherwise!!??
        Aggressor Party had become the victim!!??
        Very interesting indeed!??????

    • 3
      5

      ” …airconditioned Bo trees”
      G, that seems very original. But the tree cannot take AC I fear.

    • 4
      1

      It is often seen that they like to display and deepen thoughts in favor of their “Jati Vada Philosophy”. There are some unconfirmed reports that Mahinda (the duplicitous man of the nation) recently approved the 13th constitutional amendment and RW’s comments in Parliament, but now he is not happy.
      The degree of MR-HYPOCRISY is in their genes for their selfish gains. MR enjoyed the mandate more than once, if he really wanted to use it for a permanent solution to the most dire problem of the people, it was to find a sustainable solution for the minority, he could achieve it.
      .
      Despite all this, I dream that this will eventually lead to a permanent and sustainable solution to this problem. Only if the real dreams come true where we are all considered equal under one roof in one nation with equal rights for all. If our luck works, it will work to fulfill our wishes of the peaceful minded minority who can turn a blind eye to peace and harmony.

  • 12
    1

    Jehan Perera has been in business for long. Longer than I remember.
    Has any manifesto been ever honoured, Jehan? Why you raise hell now!
    .
    I don’t know where the fault lies. The Ministry of Finance is the saddle. Every President wants to be in the saddle, cosy enough to control the beast(s).
    .
    Survival rather than ideals is the mantra of every politician.
    .
    “a realistic confidence that what was done in the passage of the budget can be replicated in the political solution”, is not something a seasoned columnist like Jehan would want us to believe in, if he is honest.
    He is in a survival mode of his own!

  • 19
    2

    Political solution before next next INdependence ??? You must be kidding. What took you’ll 75 years ??? “heard it all seen it all”.

  • 9
    1

    dream on.wet dreams,sweet dreams ,day dreams9(you are awake during this as the author jehan is),lucid dreams(dreams that you are aware that you are dreaming),symbolic dreams,fantasy dreams,comfort dreams,supernatural dreams(such as prabaharan appearing),creative dreams.nightmarish dreams,recurring dreams(ones that the tamil diaspora have),healing dreams(dreams that the ethnic problem will fade away with time),prophetic dreams(i told you so)vivid dreams(you get up and goto the bathroom) etc etc.

    • 0
      1

      S
      Some of the dreamy thinkers will not like this.
      But what do you have to say about “Martin Luther King’s I have a dream” speech?

  • 13
    0

    Coming from Jehan, may be we will have a solution by Feb. 4.
    I hope he is right. He has to be right if Sri Lanka is to survive intact.

    • 5
      2

      JM, go easy on your sarcasm.
      Even the CT seems to take him very seriously.

  • 3
    0

    Political Solution Before Next Independence Day

    Country is depending on other countries Independence Day crown the governments the sacrifice we earned through years for today’s situation

  • 7
    0

    Jehan,
    Banda’s, vistas of prosperity and confluence of North- South emergence as unified, was first end 1956; then became time-tag of 3 years by end 1959?? Alas the Saffron robed kingmakers had a different vision so life popped -out!! History changed course!!??? Last 70 years stagnation with interludes of election promises and political agreement in abundance!!! BUT, But of no avail!!???
    SAME RESULT!!??? iF NOT MAY HAVE TO POSTPONE INDEPENDANCE CELELEBRATIONS TOKEEPONCE PROMISES INTACT!!!??? PERHAPS DECLARE EMERGENCY RULE!!??
    Who knows in these uncertain times in this world???

  • 7
    0

    Trying to create an Illusion, that SL is attempting to create conveniently, conducive conditions for process of ethnic reconciliation!!?? It’s a myth or mirage, as the government has done this in the past 16 times, they sought IMF/IBRD/IDA support economically!!
    Example in 1977/78, they had the riots at the Tamil conference and to open the economy, they had the Sansoni commission to whitewash and the report but had no outcome. FILED OF RECORD!!?? NOT EVEN USED TO READ AND UNDERSTAND THE GOINGS ON!??
    That’s why today’s law makers, but whose past profession was “snatching gold chains in fast moving southern coast Trains”, even as recent as last month, ask, WHAT IS THE SPECIAL ISSUES AND PROBLEMS THAT TAMILS HAVE IN THEIR LIVELIHOOD, which the Sinhalese do not experience!!??
    Political strategy or bull shitting to confuse the international community!!??
    Not the first time, they have done this 16 times in the past to fool the international community, minorities et all!!!???

    • 2
      0

      Dear Mahila,
      .
      You liked AKD’s performance in Milan on the 11th of November. The following day he’s addressed another, smaller, meeting in nearby Como. I make no bones about searching for positives in what he says!
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-R-k6z9KYQ
      .
      One hour, 50 minutes, with a longer question-time, to which I’m still listening. During his address he discussed tourism, stated that industries had to take account of appropriateness for the resources available, attacked private tuition (one hears kids in the background – but he doesn’t believe in playing to the gallery by hugging kids in public.
      .
      I will listen to the end, but I’m submitting this comment early. I need sleep!

      • 1
        1

        Dear Mahila,
        .
        dont forget, those entered to italy are labourers. Meaning they would do anything for money. Most of them were equally manipulated by RAJAPAKSHE-CLAN in 2019. They would not think deeply. mOST of them are real culprit minded ones that supported GOTA s nomination withhout any second thoughts. My reliable sources in ROME confirmed, there are hidden men set by Rajapakshes in that country to their underground net works. Wimal weerawanse travelled to please those communities again and again. That KOTUWE hamudurowo, a radical rascal low level fake monk, was invited by italian sinhala diaspora again and again. I hate Sepal but I respect his fearless acts on this racket below.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0OEyce2NVi4.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKcFlEL31SA

        Not all of them are non-sinhala buddhists. Thanks to social funds of italian govt, they might have been having a good life. Of course their second generations are said to be doing well, but only a smaller portion.
        .
        The same as in 10 lacks of labourers working for middle east countries. If a good welcome was given from Melbourne, London, I would have thought, that JVPrs are changed and people buy their thoughts today.
        :

  • 8
    3

    “Political Solution Before Next Independence Day”
    It is the question of what and when is the next independence day? Independence day come every year and for Ranil the independence day is the day he leaves this world. He may be have inhis minds what is his solution but what about others solution.What he wants to achieve before Feb 2023 is the IMF loan agreement to show the Sinhalese that he is the master of solving the economic crisis. I understand that he had a meeting with some TNA members and he told them his solution is nothing more than a district level devolution of power that was similar to the one brought by his uncle JRJ means that he is going dissolve all Provincial Councils and to remove all the powers devolved to the provinces. He might arrest all the Tamil politicians and charge them under PTA forever once IMF loan agreed.

  • 5
    2

    1956 ethnic problem was shot in 1959 but the golden gowns continued their demands on and on to a new SB plan. How can these generations of conflict be wiped out off human minds in 2 months on February 4th.

  • 7
    2

    President has no intention of solving this longstanding problem and realizes full well that he is utterly incapable of doing so. He only has a sick sense of humour and is just being cynical. The only person who reposes faith in the utterings of Sinhala politicos is Jehan Perera!

  • 5
    0

    Ranil is making the right utterances for the international community,especially the donors.It isnotmeant for the tamils ears.So don’t take it seriously jehan.Ranil is only doing his job.

  • 5
    1

    I am at a loss to understand why politicians such as Sumanthiran, Vigneswaran, Mano Ganeshan, Patali and most others who are expected to be more than the average cannot fathom what RW is trying to do, within a matter of fewer than two months that which he FAILED to do during his entire political career running to nearly or more than four decades?

    After the first meeting, everyone who faced a microphone,(outside the meeting room) said: ” We were asked to give a plan before the middle of next month” (January) Why couldn’t these “Eminent” Political Leaders understand that this “Solution” cannot be announced on “February 4th”, unless of course they too “ACCEPT” that this President is in fact a “HITLER”.

    Who were this President and those “Political Leaders” who attended the meeting trying to hoodwink? They better understand that “OLD BULL”, whom you were auctioning all this while has been sold and there is a brand NEW BREAD, capable and quick enough to understand these types of issues in a more practical and pragmatic way. Also, that “NEW BREAD” know you very well.

    • 2
      0

      Simon,
      “Sumanthiran, Wigneswaran, Mano Ganeshan, Patali and most others”
      Understandable concern by you and rightly so.
      Hopefully your ‘Kadamandiya’ discussions are going well and bless you!!
      On the contrary, who else in political parties have talked about reconciliation or even getting together as a nation!! Until RW did!!??
      Having said that, i have found a speech by AKD, in Milan (specific question and answers and not in main speech itself)!!!
      The PC’s would continue for the present, but to be changed later-on to what???
      They don’t spell it out, for electoral victory and change when it suits the party!!! This is the prevarication, may work for next elections but not beyond!!!/ This is Sri Lanka the resplendent Isle of Sri Lanka!!!
      Dilly dallying on uncertainty!! Manape, election victory of importance than contentment!!! How and Why???

    • 1
      1

      Simon Dear Simon,
      .
      I suppose you haven’t caught that disease from the “kadamandiya” community? It will be obvious to anyone with common sense that we are at the end of the year, with the holidays.why cant we wait until mid of january ?
      .
      Of course, he didn’t say “Hitler,” instead he said, “Some call me Hitler.” Now please refrain from attacking me as a supporter of “RW” or anyone else. I am as neutral as ever.
      A dear friend of mine studying media education came to me last week expressing these facts. He said it was nothing but blaming the “Sri Lankan media”.

      tbc

      • 1
        0

        cont.
        2/This is how the mouths of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna are being used to create “false perceptions” about this Rajapaksa-punished-land. If you can prove otherwise, please add a link. I am always ready to see “but facts”. I will pass it on to our experts in London and Berlin.
        .
        Now coming back to your thoughts above about “the slowest but most dangerous issue of the nation” seeking a sustainable and permanent solution to the ethnic problem. – and first meeting with all party representatives without “JVP”.
        .
        I dont think the president wanted to delay it any longer, and apparently didn’t ask for it to be delayed any longer. Realistically they probably thought it would be better by mid-January.
        Or there could be various other reasons. Of course in Europe, the rest of December will be busy with their holidays and no new plans will happen, but only offices will complete tasks.

        • 1
          0

          Dear LM: Leave aside NPP and the rest of my “Kadamandiya”.

          Do you really believe that a “SOLUTION” to this “North/East” problem that has been hanging fire for a few decades could be found within a matter of “MONTHS” and promises to be announced by “4th February 2023”?

          This is a well-crafted “PLOY” by the “Basil/Ranil” mafia. As usual, the “Political Mafia” that “DECEIVES” the voters and enjoys life in Colombo, gives “LIFE” to such hatched plots that were in place for decades. This is nothing to be interested or talked of – only a “GAME” played with a new “TEAM”.

  • 2
    2

    Talking about ceylonese tamils uplifting their international status, I even was told by south indians that even the ceylon tamils in south indian refugee camps are considered industrious efficient and sought after for their skills, I spoke to an indonesian and he said that ceylon tamils immigration since 1983 highly regarded by all including local tamils for enterprise and work, I not a christian was offered the treasurership of a christian synod when working in the West in a christian not for profit and I was told that it was because ceylon tamils highly regarded. The effect of sinhala lands actions since 1983 has backfired and resulted in a powerful ceylon tamil diaspora vis a v sinhalas and sinhala land and not giving ceylon tamils their proper rights, rights that them sinhalas expect when cleaning toilets in foreign lands will only exacerbate this scenario!!!!

    • 0
      2

      Gus aka tftn
      Ceylon Tamils!
      Have you ever heard the Sinhalese were called Ceylone Sinhalese? Do you know why Tamils were called Ceylon Tamils and Sinhalese not? Because, Ceylon means the “Land of the Sinhalese”. Tamils who came to Ceylon from South India were called “Tamils in the Land of the Sinhalese” or “Ceylonese Tamils”.
      The term “Ceylon Tamils” was introduced only in 1911 by the Malabri-origin Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, who was the Superintendent of Census of Ceylon under the British administration at the time. He divided Indian Malabaris in Ceylon into two categories; 1. Tamil speaking Mohammadians and, 2. Tamil speaking non-Mohammadians who were renamed as “Ceylon Tamils”.
      During the Portuguese Ceilão (Ceylon), Malabaris were shipped from South India and settled down in the coastal areas. Then, the Dutch brought a large number of Malabaris to work in tobacco plantations in the North after banishing Sinhalese paddy farmers from their native lands in that area. Then, the British. This is the history of Ceylon Tamils. Malabaris were systematically settled down in the North, East and North-west by the colonists to erase the history of the Sinhalese in those provinces.

      • 1
        1

        Champa,
        .
        You are completely wrong about Tamil definitions. Better quit betraying the Sinhalese who never want to be called “Sri Lankans” if you repeatedly claim to be educated but don’t respect the basics of some thorny issues: if you were destroyed by covid we moderate thinkers could certainly have benefited from it. It’s pointless to talk about srilanken self-made issues anymore.

        If COVID or any disater removed you the kind of extremists, this nation could have benefited more. I’ve always hated you the kind of extremists. That eagle eye is dead now, and similarly your last breath will not be easy, believe me!

        TBC

        • 0
          0

          cont.
          .
          2/
          We are all from the Indian borders. Most of us have more in common with South Asian Caucasians than with other Caucasians scattered around the world. We are connected with each other in kartharva and other ways.
          Those are the facts. That is what scholars are proving today. In order to lead a better life, the people of South Asia must finally give up religious and culturally based hatred. It is the need of the hour.
          :
          If they do, their future generations can achieve much more good.
          No one brought you the hatred that filled your head. You may claim to be an educated person, but your education has clearly brought you nothing.
          Instead, you are your own mental refugee.
          .
          tbc.

          • 0
            0

            3/
            3/Firstly, there are Tamil people all over the world and they should have the right to call themselves whatever they want based on their place of birth. I have met South African Dravidians, I have met Malaysian Tamils. I have also met Indian Tamil Nadu Tamils. I have also met Tamils from other geographies. Most of them are more or less culturally intertwined. They are not like our Sinhala idiots. The Sinhalese diaspora in Milan, Italy are said to be abusing their own people at this critical juncture in Sri Lanka.
            :
            Why can not you understand the critical level of Tamil #problems in our hell with all the anti-minority people in our hell?
            Should we go to another war? You sons and daughters of wolves are paving the way for war rather than peace and harmony

  • 3
    0

    Very good opportunity to divide and rule!??!!
    Why does a person who “Who hoodwinked the peace process, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1986/87, and especially 2001 be interested in Peace and reconciliation!!??
    Could not this man ignored CBK’s intent to extend her term by 6 months, if large hearted and contented see the larger picture for the next 60 years thereon instead of glorification of CBK for 6 months!!!
    Simply put immature politics at its best and i am sure it’s this time too!!!??
    if not how could he claim to be large hearted and greatly enlightened!!!/
    no scruples!!?? HARD TO BELIEVE!!??

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