1 December, 2020

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Renewed Commitment Required To Overcome Present Gloom 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

A year ago a contractor whom I spoke to rejoiced that corruption was much reduced under the new government. He said that the minister in charge of his area of work had merely asked for a donation to be made to support a public institution. Though this donation had nothing to do with the contract, he was happy to oblige, as it was for a public cause and not for the minister’s personal pocket. When I met this same contractor last week he was a disillusioned man. He said that business was good, but that corruption had gone sky high, and there was no limit to what was now demanded. Although perhaps still less than it was under the previous government, corruption is on the rise and is likely to get worse unless government policy changes and there is the political will to implement it right from the top.

The victory of President Maithripala Sirisena at the presidential elections of January 2015 was due to two main reasons. Most of those who switched their allegiance away from the former government did so on account of their rampant corruption and their getting away with whatever wrong they did. The ability of the former government leaders to champion the cause of Sinhalese nationalism was also high and remains so. It brought them electoral victory after victory. But at the presidential election, the issue of corruption trumped that of nationalism for a sufficient number of voters to give President Sirisena a narrow victory. Accompanying corruption was impunity, the fearlessness to break the law knowing no consequence would follow. The abduction, torture and near death of senior journalist Keith Noyahr in 20o8, which has led to recent arrests, was symptomatic of the impunity that once prevailed.

In the Tamil and Muslim-majority parts of the country, however, it was not corruption that was the main factor determining the popular vote. Rather it was impunity and sense of fear of state and non-state actors who might act lawlessly but against whom there could be no redress. This type of impunity no longer exists so that people of all walks of life, and all communities, feel safer and freer to express their views than they have in a long while. This gives both civil society and media groups the space to report on any abuse, which is the best safeguard against the past impunity and fear from returning to recapture the present. However, the people in general and the Tamil people in particular want something more. They want accountability for criminal acts during times of war and outside the theatre of war and for economic crimes.

New Elements 

Unfortunately, today there is a sense of disillusionment with the government. Its progress in delivering on the promises to be found in its election manifesto is much too slow. The exception is giving the people freedom from fear and the space to protest. However, the battle against corruption appears to be lost. Little or nothing is heard anymore about the work of the Bribery and Corruption Commission which under its former head, Dilrukshi Wickremasinghe, actively engaged with civil society and took on high publicity cases to investigate and to prosecute. She was willing to take risks and court danger. But she did not receive the bipartisan support from both parties in government that she needed to tackle those guilty of corruption on both sides. It was unfortunate that the appearance of partisanship was used to make her resign.

The battle for transitional justice with regard to the ethnic conflict is also going very slow. In October 2015, the government promised to the international community and to the Tamil people that it would set up four mechanisms to deal with issues of truth, missing persons, accountability and reparations. But so far it is only legislation with regard to missing persons that has been passed into law, but even here the Office of Missing Persons has yet to be established. After being in abeyance for nearly six months since the law was passed, it is now in the process of being amended. There are efforts to reduce the scope of the legislation due to pressures from the defence authorities who fear that this mechanism will be used to gather information that will one day be used against them in a court of law.

The problem with regard to the country taking a new direction is akin to putting old wine into new bottles. Little or nothing is changing. Those who held positions of responsibility in the past, when corruption and impunity prevailed, continue to hold high office in the present. This is true of the two main constituent parties of the government and also of the security forces. The vested interests that prefer the status quo are extremely powerful. The only thing new in the government is the bipartisan agreement that the UNP and SLFP have entered into which includes the formation of the National Unity Government. It is this new element that needs to be utilized in the national interest. It was this hitherto unprecedented coming together of the UNP and SLFP under the leaderships of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Maithripala Sirisena that promised the dawn of a new era.

Sharp Deterioration 

However, at the present time there are indications of a sharp deterioration in relations within the National Unity Government. The SLFP spokespersons in the government are openly expressing their unhappiness about the current arrangements and talking about reunifying with the dissident group headed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The SLFP Media Spokesperson has reportedly said that the two factions of the SLFP in the government and the Joint Opposition headed by the former president would definitely get together at the forthcoming local government elections. He has also said that the two factions contested the last general election together even though the issues that divided them were much more than at present. He assured that an SLFP government would be established in 2020 and the first step for it was to win the forthcoming local government election.

Members of the SLFP have also made a new argument. They are claiming that the term of office of President Maithripala Sirisena is six years and not five years as mentioned in the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Minister Faiszer Musthapha and State Minister Dilan Perera addressing a press conference at the SLFP headquarters said the term of office of President Sirisena was not curtailed by the 19th Amendment. “President Sirisena was elected before the 19th Amendment was passed. Therefore he is entitled to a term of six years” Minister Musthapha said. On these grounds, he said the next General Election would be held before the Presidential Election. The term of Parliament ends in 2020 and a General Election will have to be held first. If the usual political trajectory is followed it is very likely that the UNP and SLFP will go their own ways before too long. The members of both parties would wish to enjoy 100 percent of power and not share power. Each side would believe that it will be better off on its own without the support of the other.

President Sirisena becoming the joint opposition candidate and receiving the support of the UNP has led to the present and unique situation of a government of national unity. The bipartisan government depends for its continuation on the commitment of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and their continuation in the positions of power they now hold. When the country continues to be mired in corruption and potential ethnic conflict, it is better to have two parties at the helm than one, for one can check the other for the good of both. This is what is currently happening, but without the two of them working as closely together as they ought to. With former President Rajapaksa and his nationalist allies of the Joint Opposition waiting in the wings, it is only a renewed partnership between the two of them that can lead to solutions to the problems of corruption and impunity and to the resolution of the ethnic conflict.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    0

    The buck stops with Ranil Wickramasinghe who constantly runs after the IMF and other debt-trap, so-called aid donors, who are partly responsible for the economic crisis, failure to trace and return funds looted by politicians kept in secret banks accounts overseas, to Sri Lanka to pay off national debt caused by political corruption. Meanwhile corrupt politicians are living high life with SUVs and creating more DEBT.

    The buck stops with Ranil as he:

    1. Appointed a corrupt crook UNP’s Avant Guard, Wijedasa Rajapaksa as Minister of Justice. Wijedasa is blocking corruption investigations and is playing racist politics with Buddhist monks.
    2. Ranil has been promoting a culture of IMPUNITY FOR FINANCIAL CRIMES and FAKE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT with a cabal of unqualified economic hit men who know nothing about Sustainable development that benefits people and environment – Malik and co.
    3. Ranil Looted the Central Bank with the Bond Scam via his Royal College buddy Arjuna Mahendran
    4. Ranil is protecting the Mahinda Rajapaksa family as he did Wimal Weerawansa from corruption arrests and treats the people who voted for him with contempt and stole from the Cental Bank for his political career and UNP cronies in broad daylight.

    • 3
      2

      Dead on Don!
      Dr. Jehan please write about fake economic development with black money foreign funds in Sri Lanka – to hood wink masses, while the global 1 percent benefits.
      Today in an era of FAKE NEWS we have FAKE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – Tire Factories, Volkswagon plants, DEBT TRAP high ways from ADB and World Bank, too many cars and SUVs causing pollution, but no investment in PUBLIC TRANSPORT which is environment friendly, white elephant ports and air ports from China etc. Fake development and corrupt development creates massive ECONOMIC INEQUALITY and CONFLICT and DEVELOPMENT DISASTERS.

      Failure to PRIORITIZE local and national development needs and have a national strategic development MASTER PLAN, as well as, over-dependence on foreign experts and economic hit men, and debt-trap donors like IMF who have their own agendas to benefit global 1 percent, is the cause of massive national debt today.

      There is also CULTURE OF IMPUNITY for FINANCIAL CRIMES at the TOP with Ranil-Malik cabal who have no human development expertise.
      Failure to plan and prioritize and sequence development, provides a cover for environmental destruction and social conflict, in the name of development!

    • 0
      0

      Ranil and the other bunch is a good visionary as the madis working in the middle east snd Seven billion dollars a year.

      Maithripala Sirisena is supposed to be selected by the people. but, he talks a lot looks doing nothing. His Commissions investigating Frauds are no different from Ranil’s FCID. One is collecting files. The other one is getting ready for the election by targeting political mud slingings and saving thieves.

  • 2
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    Next election President Sirisena who is sincere and honest than Ranil will win in straight sets. There can be no reconciliation without Economic justice and rights for all communities and the end of political corruption.

    In a nut shell, renewed commitment is needed for equitable development for all communities and the arrest of corrupt politicians and their family members and cronies.

    Today Sri Lanka is a Development Debt Trap and Development disaster because people and national expertise are left out of planning and policy making. National development is being run by international agencies in aid business and their consultants in partnership with corrupt politicians and their local business cronies..

    • 0
      0

      DinuK:

      Will the JAckal Opposition be a part of the govt. Namal will be a member too ? Same old theives.

  • 2
    1

    ‘President Sirisena who is sincere and honest’

    What planet are you living on? Don’t you remember he made his brother SLT chairman within two weeks of becoming president?

  • 1
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    Jegan, it was more “a marriage of convenience” where the partners pursue their old interests while targeting the common enemies. Real cleaning up needs self-purification and that is nearly impossible with politicians!I wish that this unique coming together moves towards the courageous path towards a real marriage bringing fruits for all – reconciliation and peace!

    • 2
      1

      How is Eelam going uncle? Coming back to start a war are you? Please come down and protect tamil people against evil Muslims and Cingala people now. Spend the hundreds of millions of Tiger money to build schools, hospitals and water wells. Do not waste money on assassination attempts. May God be with you.

      • 0
        1

        Only people are involved in assassination attempt now in the world are Muslim terrorists, such as ISIS.

  • 1
    1

    Present gloom is terminal.

    The Deakin PhD to Dr Ranil stands for PROUDLY HALF DEAD.

    Other half won’t be long. NGO kakkas will have to go back to square one then.

  • 3
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    The reality is that though the govt assured that the number ministers will be limited to 30, the number remains at the same level when Mahinda was in power. There is a linear relationship between number of ministers and the corruption levels. These minister were not appointed to serve the people but to keep the govt continue to be in power. If you take these ministers from their post next hour they will be with Mahinda. It is now up to the people to decide whether they need these corrupted ministers or a something new in the future.

  • 0
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    Both SLFP and UNP always get the blessings of the Maha Sangha.

    Can any one elighten the poor masses what kind of blessings members of the Maha Sangha give SLFP, UNP and other political parties ? What is the co-relation between the morality of the majority of the politicians and the morality of the majority of the Maha Sangha ?

    What these two groups have in common ? I presume ” desire is the best form of happiness ” which is their motto.

  • 0
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    The Sinhala Buddhists’ duality game of ruling Sinhala party pretending to be fair to Tamils and Opposition spreading more Sinhala Chauvinism has taken a new name set. To fool the ex-State Secretary Kerry, bogusly the SLFP and UNP pretended to be going in national government. But secretly they changed the duality name from SLFP-UNP to Yahapalanaya – Joint Comedians.

    As per the Yahapalanaya’s encouragement, the Joint Comedians have withdrawn their appointees from subcommittees. They openly declared that they wanted to spy what was going in the subcommittees, but was not interested in political solution.

    The Muslim-Sinhala Government representative, Hakeem, has said that the Aanduwa has no two third majorities to implement any constitutional solution. He said he is against even to the past old 13A’s North-East merger which was forcefully split by Lankawe Lefts, the Communists at court while Hakeem was the Justice Minister on that government. He attempting coerce Northern CM CV to give up his call for constitutional change but take only what the Muslim-Sinhala Government is willing to give. Anybody remember these words? It was first said by ex-Indian FM Krishna after eating Old Royals Maattu Pongal Pukkai. But Hakeem eats that Amirtham on a daily basis from his government’s partners to have him protected from the accusation of the woman named Kamari Cooray.

    The same way Jehan PhD comes here often to white wash Yahapalanaya, starting from last September at Kilinochchi, the fortune teller Sumanthiran has been trying to set up auspicious date to release the secret solution he and Sampanthar has cooked up with Yahapalanaya, but with no avail.

    There should be limit to take cheating. “Kutta Kutta Kuniyiravanum Madaiyan, Kutturavanum Madaiyan”. TNA seems to can’t get it. It is not ready to send a full representation to UNHRC to oppose the roll back.

  • 1
    0

    [ In October 2015, the government promised to the international community and to the Tamil people that it would set up four mechanisms to deal with issues of truth, missing persons, accountability and reparations. ]

    By who, where, and through which bill?

    Why should we give ‘promises’ to international community and “Tamil” people?

    Did all other Sri Lankans agree to that ‘promise’ through a referendum?

    Next time around, should we give ‘promises’ to Tamil Terrorist Diaspora too?

    What if we refuse to give any ‘promises’ or break those ‘promises’?

    Why shouldn’t Sri Lankans use giving false promises to wolves coming in sheep’s coats as a tactic… to deter Tamil separatist agenda?

  • 1
    0

    P.U.K. asks “Why should we give ‘promises’ to international community and “Tamil” people?”

    As a person who lost his wallet in a Geneva brothel (during a trip paid for by the Rajapakse corrupt gang), P.U.K. should know how much we depend on the international community and “Tamil” people for our survival.

    That is the simple reasoning this ‘3 and a 1/2 foot’ wonder doesn’t seem to understand.

    • 0
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      @ G.P.

      Oh… 30 days have passed since the appointment of the great new leader of the international community, but you still didn’t get a chance to come out of the little dark hole under that rock… and see how the man sounds like?

      “Tamil” and “international community”. They go hand in hand… and always been partners in crimes against Sri Lanka.

      What “Tamil” cause, without “international community” and the Tamil Terrorist Diaspora pushing for it?

  • 1
    0

    Din’t know why our poor Sinhala people in Kabelethigollawa, Mahabodiya, Mahanuwara and even Dehiwala do not demand accountability of the Crimes committed on them while some were sleeping.

    That is another story.

    So Dr Jehan reckons the UNP and the Bodhisra Party will part sooner than later.

    How sad..Dr Jehan must have heard something at a Cocktail do in one of those Western Consulates in Cinnamon gardens.

    Last time Dr Jehan wanted the UNP to go around the country and convert the great majority to vote UNP and the Tamil Party to reconcile of course..

    Just like the way some of Dr Jehan’s mates do in the Bush, trying to convert them to Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists or even Born Again Christians.

    That is another story too.

    But I reckon Dr Jehan should have been a bit more patient about his recommendation for Education for our Dalits..

    I was watching the UNP Educator / Actor who wears a Wig, entertaining the rurals.the other day.

    He told the audience , some of whom looked like Karunnka ( dried aericaunuts ) because of Kassippu abuse , malnutrition and high UV, clapping and shouting hear hear..

    The Wig told them that Mahinda can’t mount, neither Vasu nor Dinesh .

    The Wig recommended them to go to uncle John in the Bible Belt, to see how he gets it up.

    And the Wig implied that his boss still mounts, most times from the back with the Wig, when he wants it tight ( security of course), with so many Militant Sinhala Buddhists around.

    Funny enough Batalanda was moving freely in Melbourne where the former Prez couldn’t even touch down, according to my Elders.

    • 0
      1

      “3 and 1/2 foot wonder” reborn?

      This weird psycho should be sent to Geneva in March with another purse full of rupees so that he can get mugged in Geneva streets.

      Loser.

  • 0
    0

    Feeling desperate…………..

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