By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
What we have experienced over the last three years is a sinking feeling in the country and economy that a floundering and unworkable coalition has caused- far from a Lichchavi style harmonious governance.
The so-called Unity Government myth is finally exposed. It was an impossible coalition to begin with. To be sure, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s model of a Lichchavi style consensual government where diverse parties with diverse interests can meet together is only good in concept. In the ancient Indian polity this was possible. Not in the contemporary Sri Lankan context.
The theoretical model of a consensual government is predicated on the prevalence of common set of core values of a fundamental nature. In the context we have in our country today the UPFA that came in as the minor partner is embedded with an ulterior power game preset by the beaten Rajapaksa regime. That design was to white-ant the government as much as possible so that it will collapse along with President Maitripala Sirisena well before effective action can be taken to round up the thieves and murderers the former regime. More than what most people saw, the objective had been deliberately planned by the corrupt elements of Rajapakse camp. Most of the UPFA inflow were acting not in the interests of any common policy objective but as deliberate agents for the old regime.
Destructive Acts from Inside
So, we witnessed Ministers Susil Premajayanth, Dayasiri Jayasekera, Dilan Perera, Mahinda Amaraweera and John Seneviratne performing destructive and comic tactics. They took turns to pine for a Mahinda return, ostensibly to re-unite Mahinda and Maitripala and so on. Their tactics were never subtle but open and crudely visible to any discriminating political observer. Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP, by contrast, knew all this but avoided the escalation that these UPFA fifth column had been trying to cause.
That was very savvy leadership by the Prime Minister who in all his public speeches never forgot to courtesy the President. Any escalation would have led to implosion much before the elections and that was the result that the former regime hoped for. As a contrast, the UPFA limb kept up a hostile rhetoric right throughout. That was too open and transparent a process to be called white-anting. White-anting is a slow rarely discernible and insidious strategy, which these UPFA blokes were hardly capable of. For one thing, there was the urgency to bring down the government because the cases were progressing.
Weakening Role of a Fifth Column
On the other hand, all their undermining talk and rhetoric achieved one sure overall outcome and that was to confuse the public, cause dismay among yahapalanaya supporters and disenchantment among the electorate. The local government election results reflected this outcome most certainly. More than a personal vote for Mahinda, the results represented a warning to the government.
The underhand efforts of the UPFA limb helped to weaken the yahapalanaya government morale. These Ministers never said anything positive about the achievements of the government- the restoration of democracy; of individual freedom; of transparency in government; of the rule of law; of the justice system; of the positive turn the economy was visibly taking; of international cordiality and goodwill. These and other achievements had been ignored by these UPFA blokes who sought to highlight and to openly criticise lapses. In particular, they seized the bond issue and whacked the UNP leadership for that. When the Commission reported no involvement of the UNP leadership in the bond saga these UPFA guys ignored that, too. They knew Ranil Wickremesinghe is the kingpin behind the UNP and the government and so they made it a point to criticise Ranil.
Did you ever hear this UPFA fifth column ever criticise and show regrets over the ten year old regime of the Rajapaksa family? No. Did you ever hear any of them press for the completion of the serious cases against some leaders and cohorts of that regime? No. On the other hand, what you and I saw was a continuous undermining and barraging of the Unity Government. The UPFA limb of the yahapalanaya government created so much disruption and dysfunction, which in turn encouraged outside agencies like the GMOA and some trade unions to come out, use the new-found freedom and engage in wild cat strikes. What we have experienced over the last three years is a sinking feeling in the country and economy that a floundering and unworkable coalition has caused, far from a Lichchavi style harmonious governance.
Besides, I would like to see the progress reports of these UPFA Ministers. They warmed their seats, sabotaged and did nothing worth mentioning. It is not that these Ministers even as former Ministers of the Rajapaksa government had ever done anything of use; they had been non-performers. Susil Premajayanth, as illustration, was helplessly watching the appalling petrol
hedging deal. Dayasiri Jayasekera, absorbed by a self-inflated ego, presided over the failure of Sri Lankan Cricket. Our glorious game went down the drain.
On the other hand, there were two things that this fifth column succeeded in doing. The first was to press President Sirisena to prevent the Bond Commission from covering the period of transactions from year 2008. As the Commissioners themselves reported malpractice had been going on during these golden years of the former regime.
Sirisena’s Fatal Adventure
The second, was to successfully nudge President Sirisena to take the fatal adventure of heading an election campaign meant to destroy the UNP partner. A classic Facebook image that went viral showed President Maitripala Sirisena seated on a branch of a tree while chopping it! This is the right metaphor to encapsulate what happened during the disastrous local government election campaign, which seriously discredited and damaged the public image of the President and partially destroyed the UNP.
Right now, the UPFA fifth columnists in the Unity government are busy trying to isolate President Mainripala Sirisena from the Prime Minister and the UNP and carry the President along with them as hostage to the Mahinda Rajapaksa camp. There are good signs that the UNP is aware of this sinister move. The plan is to capture the President and eventually destroy him. The vociferous attempts by these blokes to provoke President Sirisena to try and remove Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe over a faked claim of having lost mandate is the current pitch in their camp.
President Sirisena should be mindful of these machinations of evil doers. If he sees the videos of the 2015 elections speeches of Dilan Perera and Dayasiri Jayasekera now spreading through social media he will hit his forehead with both palms and then wonder himself where is really is. These two UPFA leaders mocked and insulted Sirisena in such a base manner. Their current pose as “ true friends,” of Maitripala Sirisena is laughable. If these are his friends, then surely President Sirisena needs no enemies.
The economy is taking a beating through this whole sordid saga. The Rupee has recorded a never-before low. The people are inundated with a sinking feeling of despair. The need to act fast by bidding goodbye to the UPFA fifth columnists and to lay his trust with the UNP has become a Sirisena imperative. Ranil Wickremesinghe, a gentleman of classic pedigree and heritage and seasoned in public administration would be our President’s safe bet.
*Shyamon Jayasinghe can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org