16 August, 2022

Blog

Sequenced To A Premadasa Presidency

By Tony Perera

Having written multiple pieces, a few in which I have labelled Sajith Premadasa ‘the son of a mass murderer’, I think it is important to raise what I feel to be real concerns with the recent events. I contend that the recent events have all been sequenced quite carefully to lead to a Premadasa acquisition of power and one that vests with him all the power that accrues to the Executive Presidency.

Given that Dayan Jayatilleka was not too long ago an ardent supporter of the Rajapaksas who has suddenly converted to a Premadasa stooge it is not beyond the imagination of even the most simple-minded to see it as an extension of the policies of the past. The 1980s UNP government’s spending and flaming of ethnic tensions were far worse than that of the recent Rajapaksa government both of which should be condemned by any civilized society.

We are not a civilized society and given the intelligence of our people and the long-standing fractures within the populous we are going to descend into one of the poorest and most isolated countries in the world.

Context

Recent images of one Hirunika Premachandra with her foot against the wall of the Presidential Palace were obviously a precursor to the quite violent and despicable damage to public property that took place yesterday (as I write this). This Premachandra was the daughter of a Provincial Council thug who despite considerable backing was rejected by the electorate at the recent Parliamentary elections.

Premachandra was also gifted this prominent role in this play of ‘sequenced events to a Premadasa Presidency’ by actions of the media, the judiciary, and the police. Those working in the adjacent area would be aware that Aragalaya had fizzled out to a large degree when there had been mass resignations by those in power and even further when the 21st amendment had been presented.

Premachandra’s cohort was so small and actively selected to include people who were unlikely to be attacked by the police that it begs the question as to why her lack of numbers was not put to any real test. Again, I contend that Premadasa’s actual polling is not that strong. From view counts on his posts to organic interest generated by issues that he speaks about are not very strong and still well below that of Ranil Wickremesinghe’s poor figures (in comparison to Mahinda’s peak).

The trifecta of media, judiciary, and police are not among the most trustworthy of people and have acted in a quite coordinated fashion in the past. You can go back and read the coverage and see how important issues like the Social Security Contribution which would have gone a long way as a stop-gap measure to fix the revenue shortfall were sidelined by some trivial stories. Even if you are against it, the tax impacts a large number of prices by as much as 2% and it must be discussed.

The Executive Presidency

Those currently screeching ‘Go Home Gota’ have in no way get out of Sajith Premadasa any commitment by him towards the abolishment of the Executive Presidency. In terms of concrete policy discourse out of him so far, we have gotten the fact that he has distributed medicines and not much else. A move so Rajapaksa-esque that if we were to Photoshop him into the mix people would be unable to date the image.

Gone are the days of even Mangala Samaraweera’s insincere drab that politicians should not be worshipped. Again, gulped down by a media that fails to showcase that Samaraweera acted in quite an organized fashion to undermine the improvement in the operations of Sri Lanka Customs and carved out of the Sri Lankan Tax Code quite large loopholes for the extremely wealthy.

The commentary on actual tax policy and dollar availability remains scant by institutions that seek by way of misdirection to make you the general public unable to rally around actions in the public interest. There is widespread leakage of fuel and many gas-guzzling vehicles cut across the city in the most unnecessary of endeavours as doctors wait in fuel queues thereby encapsulating the priorities of the system.

Polling

The USAID-backed idiots at Verite Research spewing their fact-checking garbage across our idiotic press have just conducted polling that showcases government approval as low as 3%. These figures seek to undermine the government which admittedly had little public support but was not as bad as suggested by these figures. No one questions that this polling only began recently and has only one other data point to compare against. In other words, WhatsApp forwarders seem to quite conveniently ignore this poll has only been done twice and thereby go on to forward the quite convincing chart in the post.

This false polling forms the backdrop by which they can create a justification for yesterday’s actions which again seek by way of timing and intensity to prevent the abolishment of the Executive Presidency and the rolling in of Sajith Premadasa as President in an early election.

Parliamentarians have actively been threatened on their way to and from parliament by select political actors on which way they should vote at parliament. This is highly condemnable behaviour and against the entire premise of democracy.

Otherwise, they wouldn’t leave

This is the most ridiculous argument. It is untrue on so many levels and seeks to defend the indefensible. Sri Lanka may be a lot of things, but it remains a democracy. There will be elections in the foreseeable future. If it is the priority of the protestors to seek elections, then why is there little movement by them on the Provincial Council front which has long been delayed. Again, questioning the commitment by Sajith Premadasa to devolution.

The less violent protests in which I did partake were also capable of ensuring the resignations of a significant portion of the establishment. Further, those protests were also able to shift the direction of policy. The recent incidents seemed to prevent policies like the 21st amendment and the Social Security Contribution which I would contend though not perfect are actually in the public interest. This is so obvious that I don’t feel the real need to elaborate.

Actions by the Central Bank

Though people may attribute the current failures to things like the fertilizer ban and the tax cuts it is far more attributable to the actions of the Central Bank. We are facing supply disruptions of essential items mostly because the banking sector is dollar insolvent. This is primarily the duty of the Central Bank which has for decades allowed the functioning of a black market for remittances and done absolutely nothing for instance about Sri Lankans mentioned in the Panama Papers.

On the fertilizer front it must be noted that even in high growth years in 2010 we were still importing a considerable portion of our essential food items and not just dairy but inclusive of things like potatoes, onions, and rice. In a normally regulated monetary system, these things would be highly targeted in terms of monetary policy as they have such a high bearing on inflation given the way indices are compiled. What the Central Bank did instead allowed for construction material to continue to be imported which was not a priority and further allowed for Sri Lankan entities involved in construction like John Keells to issue dollar-denominated debt.

Moves to prevent open account importation of items though not a panacea (harder enforcement by Sri Lanka customs should be called for) have already shown some impact in terms of remittance figures. The Central Bank can and has signalled that it would do more under the current leadership in terms of errant actors.

Fixing taxes

Ranil Wickremesinghe’s even most minor of moves for instance to fix taxation on casinos has been stifled by Dhammika Perera. The move was again vastly ignored by the general public as it was hidden by the media. Ranil Wickremesinghe again refuses to bow down to the media conglomerates’ every interest.

On the tax front, the leakages are mostly due to ridiculous tax policy which the current opposition says nothing about. Cinnamon Life and Shang Ri La though nice are not strategic investments that make our economy resilient. The entire export sector and IT sector would not seek to function if it was taxed on par with the rest of the country.

In the Yahapalanaya government of 2015, Ranil Wickremesinghe was instrumental in stopping the ridiculous excesses of the BOI and bringing in incentives through a capital allowance mechanism which ensured that tax incentives were beneficial to the economy. Risk-bearing capital faces the highest rate of taxation in the economy which is weird given that we want to incentivize that activity. Taxes are anyways only placed on profit and as such the entire rationale of varying tax brackets only really keeps alive an overly large tax consultancy industry into which the current IRD, Excise, and Customs officials will retire into.

Attacking Rajitha

Former Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne though not palatable to many was actually behind the scenes acting very much in the public interests. It was a movement largely on his part that lead to the increased taxation on cigarettes and alcohol. Sucker punching an old man is not an action that should be celebrated or glorified.

Senaratne may have told his fair share of lies but as a politician, he is in no way less suitable to govern than Hirunika Premachandra who we must remind ourselves even as a junior minister had to resign for being involved in a case of abduction. What on earth do you think she will do with more power given this already excessive macho image she has displayed herself to be.

Creating a petition mechanism

I believe that a course of action should be put down on paper. If the recent people who have taken over the ‘Go Home Gota’ movement with the violent actors in the IUSF are serious about impacting change they should work by way of a petition mechanism. Put Verite’s shoddy research to the test and see if they can put forth a clear set of demands from the government and get a figure that may be lower than 97%, I suggest a million people, sign onto it.

This will achieve two things. First, it will prevent ‘Go Home Gota’ from directly translating into an SJB movement without the consent of people participating in it. It will create some sort of discourse which would shape the policy which is what we as people want.

Secondly, it will show the lack of depth in the thinking of the actors that the media picks to play out this game. Sajith Premadasa as we have seen with the Central Cultural Fund is not shy about paying the media the dues which they expect. Written discourse makes it more difficult to hide your intentions.

Conclusion

I though an ardent supporter of Wickremesinghe think his days are numbered. He is a good man and will probably pull something off but that strategy will probably entail it being a political suicide mission wherein he takes the Executive Presidency, the Sinhala Maha Sabha, and the more corrupt elements of the UNP with him.

This is what I want to see happen and I think the more intelligent amongst us can outmanoeuvre the idiocy current trying to impact policy. Though I am doubtful of our chances of success let us not go down without a fight. Go Home Gota but more importantly Go Home Violence. Here I am assuming that people willing to read this far into what I have written our well aware of the Premadasa legacy and Sajith Premadasa’s intentions to solidify power through means of the death penalty on initially the likes of drugs addicts and subsequently on the likes of journalists speaking out.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    Do you think that Ranil should carry on forever?
    If it is any consolation to anybody, one is as bad as any another— for it is the system. It is rotten to the core.

    • 2
      0

      I don’t think he will. In terms of the electoral reforms he brought about at the local council level, he has shown himself to be entirely democratic. The establishment didn’t like it when the likes of Veddhas and utter nobodies could win an election over smaller wards with little or no money.

      • 3
        1

        “I don’t think he will.”
        I think that he cannot even if he wants. Not even the big power that planted him there can keep him there.

  • 10
    3

    “we are going to descend into one of the poorest and most isolated countries in the world.”
    I disagree with Tony P.
    Sri Lanka will always remain a very attractive place for not only foreign tourists but also for lot of Diaspora living all over the world. Most Sri Lankans are hard working honest citizens. As long as Racists and the Monks don’t create divisions in the society,
    SL will bounce back. We do need a NEW CONSTITUTION that will allow people to live in peace and to be ruled by politicians who are uncorrupted ,Able & HONEST.

    • 5
      1

      Naman, The new constitution you suggest must abolish the executive presidency. Any fundamentalism, be it Hindu or Sinhala Buddhist rejects a section of the governed citizens who are equal before the law and have equal protection of the law. Fundamentalism vs. President of all citizens, creates a contradicting controversy. Imagine Nama Baba as president who will beat Ali Baba. God save this nation from dividers, so as to live in harmonious unity.

    • 4
      1

      Naman,
      I find your optimism amusing. Permit me to poke fun at some of it.
      … Sri Lanka will always remain attractive for tourists.
      _ Yes. They would find our political maturity stunning (among other).
      … Sri Lanka will always remain attractive place for our diaspora.
      _ Yes. They’d flock to see what they have been missing (in their new found lands).
      … As long as Racists and the Monks don’t create divisions.
      _ You are right. No more divisions; only multiplications.
      … We do need a NEW CONSTITUTION.
      _ You got that one perfect. We need one every year!

  • 9
    6

    Tony your views are so Sri Lankan ! Premadasa had to fight the JVP/ DJP to save guys like you from a Pol Pot like threat. That problem was created by JR ( like the LTTE was created by the policies of former leaders)

    Any way you cannot blame a child for what his parents did. You don’t know the various skulduggery of Easmon, do you ? Do you think Bandaranayakes, Senanayakes, Upali Wijewardenas ,Harry Jayawardenas made their money honestly and by their hard work?

    As to Ranil’s so called tax on Casinos, have you seen it ? He is such a conman, he starts a story and there are so many Tonys in Colombo who will repeat it without verifying !

    If there is such a thing, why did not Ranil bring it when he was PM for five years (2015-2020) ?

    Why did not Ranil bring it when he made PM by Gota ?

    Why did Ranil wait until Dammika Perera was made a cabinet colleague and was spoken of as a prospective replacement for Ranil ?

    • 4
      5

      If you actually go back and read the budgets there was considerable increases in taxation on vehicle imports which was largely cleaned up through unit rate, then there was a clean up of customs, and excise. Ranil only had his man Ravi in the Treasury for 2 years but then had to give way for Mangala that lead to this SJB nonsense.

      Those names you mention (at least the first three) made their money from their land holdings. Harry J rose during CBK’s time through ridiculous privatisations which were mismanaged by the state.

      • 1
        1

        “ridiculous privatisations which were mismanaged by the state.”
        *
        How can the state mismanage a “ridiculous privatisation”?

        • 0
          0

          Ridiculous because they were highly beneficial to the counterparty. Mismanaged because the bidding process was rigged. Sorry for being unclear.

      • 3
        0

        Tony do you think those old names got their lands from god ?

        They got them from colonial powers. What did they do to deserve those lands ? Spy on their own people, help the colonial masters, convert , make arrack ? Please read up and tell us.

        As to these various taxes, leaders are assessed by the voter. How have our voter assessed this man ranil ?

        I think the people are better judges of these things than old men in Colombo. See what is happening now .Ranil is going places with the full backing of Rajapksas and the PA !

        The people always knew what a rascal he is

        • 0
          0

          deepthi silva,
          I cannot make it any more bold than you.
          It takes two to tango is less than adequate to paint their relationship.

  • 2
    1

    Tony Dued: Rajitha Seneratne is a corrupt crook who sold Sri Lanka’s valuable fisheries industry to Japanese, French EU, and Taiwan trawlers and beggared the Fisheries Sector of Sri Lanka and destroyed Sri Lanka’s food security.
    He must get out and let the younger generation take over! At least Sajtih Premadasa does not have corrupt Rajitha and his son’s reputation.
    Yes regarding USAID funded fake polls conduced by CPA and Verite fully agree, they are all there to game the narrative and doctor the Research to serve their funder’s interests!

    • 1
      1

      His actions at the State Pharmaceutical corporation were quite admirable. With regards to the fisheries thing I think it is part of a broader agenda to make Sri Lanka’s ports as part of the Western shipping lanes which would put us on a growth path parallel to Singapores.

    • 2
      1

      Yeah, the Indians got it right when they started banning NGOs. We need to do the same and insulate our entire political system from any foreign money.

      With regards to Sajith’s corruption, this guy without a large posting for decades was able to outspend the Rajapaksas in the 2019 Presidential Election. That is a good indicator of the amount he stole.

      • 0
        0

        Tony Perera,
        Are you hinting that the more one steals the less he fritters.

  • 1
    0

    Tony you make sweeping statements without facts or figures !

    You say that Premadasa had “no large posting” for decades, so he could not have made dirty money.

    If you follow your own logic, Ranil, MR, etc who held large postings for decades should have alot of such money.

    By the way have you audited the amounts that Premadasa spent at the elections and also MR. if not ,don’t just reproduce gossip and fake stuff.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.