By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
“Yet, the President refuses to act and the PM has to pretend to be acting.”
Keeping a Facade
Ranil Wickremesinghe, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, is hard put to it in meeting the very strenuously intricate challenge foisted upon him by his partner in the yahapalanaya government-President Maitripala Sirisena. Inasmuch as Mahinda Rajapaksa never calculated Maitripala’s secretive cross- over after the hopper feed, Ranil even with his more mature political experience, has been taken aback by the Maitri tilt into the lap of the Rajapaksa family.
In public, we notice that Ranil pretends nothing serious has happened between the two of them and that everything is business as before; however, the discerning eye can spot his deep concern. He has to pretend in order to keep a facade going as far as it goes since the alternative is that the government becomes dysfunctional and consequently incurs the wrath of the people who do not possess the political literacy to read into the lines and to make way for margins of tolerance. The Prime Minister or his party men must keep their mouths closed. The latter’s explanation for the bad showing of at the local government elections never mentions as cause the President’s outrageously public assault on them during the hustings. What if the President walks out without taking cabinet decisions? The last time he did that, Rajitha told us that the President had disappeared to go for a call of nature. Nobody believed the story.
The result of this irresponsible retreat by the country’s Chief Executive is to transform the government, which has achieved some substantial gains, into a ghost of what it was before. Hard decisions cannot be taken and every offender has to be placated.
This deadlock was seen and is seen in the current ethnic crisis. Videos are out in social media showing BBS boss Galagoda Atte Gnanasara and other yellow- robers ( or are they robbers?) in planning sessions with extremist youth thugs, during the riots. Gnanasara is seen coming and going to the scenes of action. Gnanasara is treating court summons as nuisance calls or mosquito bites. Yet, nothing is ever done to these fellows. They have to be arrested immediately as they are plotters behind the ravage and the burning. The first step typically done in the event of riots of this nature is to arrest plotters because then the riots will then end there. This never happened and evil men like Gnanasara are permitted to roam at will brandishing their swords.
Link to Defeated Politicians
Many eye witnesses have given evidence that defeated politicians are behind this. The link between Gnanassara and the previous government has gone on record. This ugly monk emerged during the last stages of the previous regime and the former Defence Secretary is reported to have been present at the first AGM. Does one need a Stephen Hawkings to put the equation together? Besides, the previous regime took absolutely no action when Aluthgama was set on fire. Not a single enquiry. Not a single arrest. It is well—known that minorities, which includes the Muslims, are opposed to the Rajapaksa Sinhala-Buddhist dressing. At the last local government elections, too, the Muslims and Tamils did not vote for the previous regime. The Colombo Muslim mayoral candidate who came up from the Pohottuwa made a poor impression despite there being a sizeable Muslim population in the metropolitan, letting Rosy Senanayake of the UNP shoot into the Mayoral seat with a thumping majority of councillors on her side.
From this perspective, the timing of the recent riots soon after the local government elections is also terribly indicative of causation.
Yet, the President refuses to act and the PM has to pretend to pretend to be acting. The decisive and firm action that is urgently needed isn’t taken and the fires are let to burn themselves out in the course of time. Communities are set apart and divisive forces become active and dangerous ingredients in the national polity. Rioters are given a life. Sampanthan prophetically stated the other day that the Pohottuwa will give bloom to Eelam; I say, it will give birth to many Eelams.
One can reason out that the same course will be taken as regards the numerous serious court cases against prominent members of the previous regime. Nothing will be done about Lasantha; nothing about Thajudeen; nothing about the numerous cases of financial fraud and money laundering. Duminda, now in death row, will eventually find release.Let us not be deceived by the rhetoric of Sirisena or the pretence behaviour of Ranil Wickremaesinghe. Maitripala Sirisena has to defeat all the court moves; Ranil Wikremesinghe has to pretend that all is okay in the yahapalanaya front. Maitripala has to make room for Gotabhaya in 2020 in a deal that will presumably fashion him to wellness and safety.
What goes on is a Drama of Good vs Evil
In this way, the alignment of the President with his erstwhile enemies the Rajapakses, have no doubt tilted the balance of power toward the latter. Concomitantly, it has weakened the government very badly.
A drama of historical proportion is on in Sri Lanka. It is like the central drama in the Mahabharata between Good represented by the Pandavas and Evil represented by the Kauravas. In our context, the Yahapalanaya forces that demand systems guaranteeing the liberty of the individual, human rights, law and order, transparency and social justice represent the Good.The latter include both the civil organisations and allied political players. On the other hand, the evil forces are camouflaged as banner-careers of Sinhala Buddhism. This is exactly how the Nazis dressed themselves up.These forces of evil will want the cases squashed and the government dissolved before the mandated year, 2020. Moving to the edge of their seats the audience wonders with nervousness: will they really make it? Regain power? Never give back again?
On the other hand, as is typical of drama, sometimes the ‘evil’ shows up as being about to triumph but that becomes a delusive climax. What we are, hopefully, witnessing with fear and trembling right now is such a delusive climax. As in the Mahabharata, let’s hope the real climax of the triumph of the Good will eventuate.
*Shyamon Jayasinghe can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org