22 October, 2017

Sirisena-Ranil & The Art Of The Possible

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

“Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall” – Sirisena-Ranil and the art of the possible

Whether this is a RanilSirisena (R&S) government or an S&R one, is significant. It certainly started off with all the trumps and partnership seniority in Ranil’s hands, but time and completion of the 100-Day tasks has moved the equation into an S&R domain; so I will use this acronym assigning political seniority to the President. Typical of the shift is that Ranil asked for dissolution of parliament but President Sirisena, sweating under SLFP heat seems to be holding out for later, hinting at August-September. Pulling in different directions on this issue is understandable; though the calculations on both sides I believe are erroneous. The UNP opines that it will do better under the existing PR scheme while the SLFP (I hope not under the influence of astrological opium again) seems deluded that electorates which voted for Rajapaksa on 8 January are theirs for the asking.

I have stuck up a rude finger at conventional wisdom and been proven right before, so I make bold to say that both are mistaken. The SLFP will be decimated in a first-past-the-post (FPtP) contest even worse than in Proportional Representation (PR) because most of its candidates are scoundrels and social dregs; if the UNP can put up a list of half decent fellows (don’t expect more) it will make gains. As an example, Vasudeva though not a rogue, only (sic!) political traitor, will not hold his seat in an FPtP contest. In one-to-one FPtP contests, sans Gotabaya’s uniformed killers and minus Basil’s robbed billions, SLFP candidate list will be routed except, perhaps, in the deep South. FPtP will benefit the UNP more than the SLFP. If PR however, the SLFP block vote in will guarantee it a reasonable number of seats.

Ranil MaithripalaI also believe that the SLFP casting lustful eyes on the 90 electorates that voted pro-Mahinda in January is folly. The effects of the fiasco of his defeat, exposure of a web of crime and intrigue, and the breakup of the network of infamy have been devastating. The Party has been sapped and to put it bluntly, the SLFP is weak and Mahinda a spent force. The Mafia State erected in the Mahinda period has not been dismantled; oh no, only the surface scratched and still a long way to go, but the rogue battalions have been frightened and their ability to intervene in elections shrunk. Should Paksa loonies part company with the Sirisena SLFP and go it alone I cannot see more than 10 seats go their way in FPtP – only in the South – and if PR, even less. Hence survival for the Rajapaksa loony faction is predicated on hanging on to the SLFP and bargaining for nominations. It is out of the question that President Sirisena will offer Rajapaksa the PM slot but the resignation of Yapa Abeyawradena, Dilan Perera, Pavitra and CB Ratnayake is at odds with this common sense view and signals a deeper plot. I grant this article is an opinion piece but these thoughts are worth frank debate.

President Sirisena’s dilemma is straightforward and I have sympathy. He is the head of the SLFP and in this capacity it is his obligation to nurture its performance and naturally he does not wish to be the chairman who presides over its decline. Hence not only the Rajapaksa loony faction but also the Sirisena mainstream sees the need to avoid a split. Formally Sirisena’s task is not to help Ranil become the next prime minister but to ensure the SLFP does well. I am not suggesting the President will manoeuvre the 20th Amendment to benefit his party; not at all. All I say is that without prejudice to his position as head of state, and irrespective of the electoral system, he will (he must) do his bit to improve the SLFP’s fortunes. Hence to avoid a split he will throw crumbs in the direction of the Paksa loonies and consolidate the SLFP vote. The UNP doesn’t like it, but hell what does it expect? That the SLFP Chairman undermines his own party!

The President’s dilemma

Herein lies the crux of an unenviable dilemma for the President, and to a degree the Prime Minister and the UNP. The S&R combination is working well. If one grants that nothing is perfect and the shortcomings – which I will presently touch on – are not fatal, the government is working as well as a bourgeois-democratic contraption can be expected to. Has a decade in the Rajapaksa sewer so lowered the bar that I am easily satisfied by modest gains? Maybe, but what I am trying to say is something different. As the Americans say “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” That is to say, if the S&R engine is chugging along, and if Messrs S and R are working well with each other (the importance of the subjective side can not be overemphasised) then why open Pandora’s Box?

It may sound sacrilegious to the SLFP but the truth is that President Sirisena is better off with Ranil as his prime minister for the next five years than if the SLFP wins the election and foists some incompetent nincompoop as prime ministerial partner. Of course Sirisena cannot say this openly, but in private he can hope. A national government, per se, will not work in the period ahead, but one that additionally marries a Sirisena presidency to a Wickremesinghe prime ministership might. The crisis in the SLFP is driving the two closer together and forcing the President into a quick dissolution.

The sting in the tail

No unabashed, unrepentant and unapologetic Marxist should finish an essay without bitching about the state of the world or the nation. I will leave the world at large to a future date: Is the global economic recovery a myth? Is ISIL beckoning Armageddon? Why is Pope Francis the most popular man on the planet? Why are the frontiers of theoretical physics in confounded confusion? Instead, I will make do with a smaller national canvas today.

Having sung hosannas to S&R Ltd. it is time for a little course correction; otherwise I will be lynched by unsentimental hard-core realists. The question is are all the shortcomings of the S&R administration a consequence of the most that could be achieved under intractable constraints imposed by circumstances, or was it possible to have achieved more? The verdict is mixed. 19A had to be passed with a 2/3 majority, that was sine qua non or the government would have perished. Punches had to be pulled and rotten apples swallowed through gritted teeth (what a metaphor!) to get it enacted. I grant limitation of presidential powers instead of abolition falls into this category. But why an inane Council of State whose inmates will be over 80% appointed by the leader of the UNP and leader of the SLFP, because that is the reality?

And why capitulate and replace seven good men on the Constitutional Council by seven parliamentarians? Parliamentarians are just the persons who SHOULD NOT be included on the Council if one respects the principle of division of power between the three branches of the state. Refusing this capitulation would have brought down the vote on 19A from a 215-to-1 majority to say, 190-to-30, still safely over 2/3-rds. Politically however would have been a much better result as it would have isolated and exposed the saboteurs of the Rajapaksa looney mob for what they are; wreckers with no concern for constitutional amendment, hell bent on disrupting the government and salvaging Rajapaksa and his retinue of crony criminals. A wonderful opportunity to carry 19A with about 190 votes and show up the wreckers was lost because at the 11-th hour both R&S got butterflies in their soft bellies; indeed “some by virtue fall” (Measure for Measure).

Everybody, yours faithfully included, has been complaining loudly that the R&S (note order reversal) administration has wasted useful months going easy on the blackguards of the previous regime who robbed and abducted with no hesitation. OK, my prayer that with the fall of the regime these scoundrels, siblings included should be strung up on lamp-posts, like Benito Mussolini, was too much for the good Lord to grant. But the snail’s pace of prosecution has been painful. Now with 19A done and dusted why do prosecutors still fear to storm the breach?

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility.
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
And lend the eye a terrible aspect” – (Henry V; Some lines omitted)

Professor Carlo Fonseka had rather an odd take on the alleged activism of the Sirisena administration in “President Sirisena and the Law” (Island, 21 May). He suggested the president was a revolutionary activist historically somewhat above the law when he kicked out bogus Chief Justice Mohan Pieries and when he appointed Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister. Only a few weeks previously (“Strike while the iron is hot”) I had grumbled how diffident this government was compared to the revolutionary resolve of the Jacobins without whose intervention the tasks of the French Revolution would never have been completed. Same concepts, two opposing conclusions! Prof Carlo enjoys revolutionary history and is fond of his collection of Shakespeare studies. Time to get back to the library Prof; lock the door and work on fundamentals!

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    Thanks, Prof. Kumar David, as readable as always.

    To me, operating close to the roots in the field, it seems that:

    It is in the long term that the SLFP sees FPtP as being to their advantage. However, to me it seems as though the UNP has lost a good deal of credibility over the Bond Issue. Maithripala’s credit has risen very high. I’m talking here about the views of those who cannot spend as much time as most of us, who post comments, do on the internet.

  • 0
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    The total inability to interpret the events through a true Marxist ideology and dwelling shallowly in the already shallow politics of Sri Lanka is a reflection of ideal bankruptcy arising out of politics not rooted in the sufferings of people. What suffering people have realized is the simple truth that as more things change more remains the same. There is no ” out of the box”thinking. Things will change to the extent external factors of global economics an politics change. We already know the greedy processes in the world economic order and the marginalization of labor. Any stopping of these requires owning of the sufferings and united action. Contextual discussions on the political processes will not help the suffering people.

  • 4
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    Dr.Kumar David’s native intelligence has given him a sound judgement on the relative strengths of SR versus (SLFP-M). The seat numbers are perfect.

    When SR victory stares the voters in their face,why is the leadership thinking twice?

    What is incomprehensible and intriguing is when a 225 seat chamber is the tailor made answer ready at hand, why are foolish, dilatory 235 or 255 contemplated? If there be the need for ‘First Past The Post”,20A can look after it.

  • 2
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    This seems a rather optimistic view point. Anyway let us hope it becomes true.

    Sengodan. M

  • 0
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    Prof David, i think ‘revolutionary’ was prof Fonseka’s code word for unconstitutional, extra judicial, illegal. After all, nothing more anti democratic and a slap on the peoples face than to appointing a person who does not command the confidence of parliament as prime minister. And to remove a chief justice from office without the comstitutional process. I guess rule of law should only apply to governments we dont like ;)

  • 5
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    At the end it would be a UNP majority led national government would be elected either through PR or under new system. The history of Rajapakse’s governing are over with the curse they have earned.

  • 0
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    The Professor is right on the money..

    His mate Bodhi Sira has already given Dr Mervyn the OK to contest Kelaniya.

    It is in Dearana today front page in Video..

    Hope Sira will take the advice and join with Ranil to contest on a joint ticket against Mahinda Party.

  • 0
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    The art of the Possible………….much food for thought !!11

    America can dispatch Anthrax unintentionally to anyone AND most probably that could be to anyone that do not serve their interest.

    A similar accident has just occurred. Will it be one off a series?
    Why did USA had to dabble in Anthrax at this time?

    Kumar David being a Professor might have an answer.
    If MS is unable to sought out his SLFP support, then ??????? what ????
    Will it be before Mahindananda Aluthgamage’s mysterious deadline 09th June 2015?

    I am going crazy after reading the Anthrax accident involving USA.
    Will MR go for the Khorasan to protect him from the Super Power???
    I survived the 30year+ war, what do I do now?

  • 0
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    “It may sound sacrilegious to the SLFP but the truth is that President Sirisena is better off with Ranil as his prime minister for the next five years than if the SLFP wins the election and foists some incompetent nincompoop as prime ministerial partner.”

    You are of course forgetting that it is for the people to decide on the next prime minister.

    Of course if you will admit to the voting population ‘foists nincompoops’ into power, and has done so in the past, then I will accept that.

    To paraphrase Democracy, like fire, is a useful servant but a terrible master.

  • 0
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    Prof:Carlo Fonseka,the so-called Rationalist,munching Pork Sausages whilst on a Fire-Walk to substantiate the claims of Abraham Kovoor is a spent force.But,certainly unlike Vasu he is a decent man.

    Asking him to get back to the Library,lock the door and work on Fundamentals is asking too much; There is no point in locking the stable doors now;

    The Horse has bolted!

  • 0
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    Thanks for a lucid expose of the current political situation, Kumar.

    Like many, I have been pleasantly surprised by President Sirisena’s dignified and intelligent demeanour.

    The problem at this point is not FPtP vs Prop.Rep or the various configurations of a hybrid. The problem appears to be that the decision-makers seem to be peculiarly averse to ethical and principled conduct, calling a spade a spade and acting swiftly against the “bad guys.” As I have suggested before, this is epitomised by many of the Cabinet countenancing totally unacceptable behaviour by their predecessors and their sycophants, “buying insurance” in the event that the Rajapaksa Horde returns. I need hardly mention names here because the conduct of the guilty speaks louder than any comment in CT.

  • 0
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    We have currently ,that basically ensure and enrich a sustainability capitalism and its market economy during MR ruling alliance since beginning 2005.
    Indeed Sri Lankan had been shifted from neo-Liberal system of political- economy that degree of westernization of marketization been practices since 1977,has radically change into an open NEW of path and model of National Capitalism.
    We Sri Lankan has seen and identity ,have gain better knowledge of National economy of its market rules last 9 odd years.(2005)!

    By the end of War 2009 May that WAR of national salvation against Tamil Terrorist led by LTTE ruthless separatists was defeated and
    re-established nation state led by MR Leadership of ruling alliance.
    In fact that is historical victory of ALL Sri Lankan nationalities, no doubt that is turning point of modern political history of democracy after 1948.

    We as nation take a new step Capitalism that forward to improved ours sustainability of market economy under the leadership of Mahinda Rajapakesa ruling alliances. During such period which Classes, Parties and its politics has change form past that UNP-1977 to 1994 and CBK- 1994 to 2004 policies of moribund neo-Liberal politics, whom had been serve for USA, UK and EU that represtaitaive of the vested interest of Western Imperialism Bourgeoisie.

    MR led national alliance of SLFP is played progressive role of Capitalist that wider and deepen path of role model of Sri Lankan path of development since 2005. Massive development has taken place under MR ruling alliance, 2009 May that was unprecedented hall mark of national economy.

    Not only, that counties and nations of any part of Globe Capitalism run that without ‘corruptions’ or ‘clean governances’ since renaissance of Capitalism came into being 1453 that down fall of Constitanhinople. Plundering and exploitation is principle basis of modern capitalism. Ours market economy is capitalist.

    Last Presendintal election led by puppets of MS regime 2015 January, which turn into counter-revolution led by Indian -RAW, USA and UK IMPOSED IMPERIAL SOVEREIGHNTY that beyond the borders of Sri lanka state. We have relatively lost sustainability of market development and growth its under MS led coalition 2015 January.

    Our nation have totally lost that national sovereignty of political democracy and economic development, under MS led regime; result of that SLFP policies upside down, leadership has been upsurge by reactionaries classes of UNP Led Ranil.W.. and CBK of Autocratic gang, assist by MS Presidency. Super powers rise and interfere of Indian-RAW and US imposed their own interest above all ours democracy had been prevailed since 1948.

    We have read thesis ‘Hobbers’s provide theory “concerning the officers of ONE sovereign to another, which are comprehended in that law ,which commonly called the law of Nation, I need not say anything in this place, because the law of nation and law of nature ,is the same thing. And every SOVEREIGN hath the same RIGHT in procuring the safety of his people, that any particular man can have in procuring the safety of his own body”

    OURs republic constitution become weak after passed 19 A and law of majority elected Primer-minister abandoned and An appointed CJ has been rule out of Parliamentary procedure by puppet MS Presidency .

    We Sri lankan as a Nation lost sovereignty of law of nation. Rule of Law to act as the arbiter of the balances of minority power ,indeed the guarantor unilateral state gradually disappear, the balance of power has shifted in favor of Tamil separatists and US and Indian RWA. Uneven development of capitalism is moving under MS puppet regime which that restoration of backward and simple commodity production of Neo-Liberalism depended order.

    The bunch of Trotskyist theoretician do not realized that simple term OF Marxism to development the sustainability capitalist market economy leverage should be given to both democracy and development the government with differentiated functions of strong state.

    Its stresses the main role accountability and responsibility the government stability, security, and unity is to maintain political democracy which promote sustainability has been which ignored by UNP-Ranil W… CBK and MS.

    These Trotskyist ally with UNP and CBK ruling bourgeois that undermine very that infant Capitalism start to grown last 5 or 6 years may be intervene in such situation where market failure will occurs sooner than later.

    Ours capitalism cannot development without tap resources that in locally and internationally an investment and capital market.
    The resources allocation are driving forces of Capitalist growth of Nation GDP. We as nation in stage of bourgeois revolution led bourgeois, nexus to capitalist path of development, that is reality the grown in our soil.

    This simple truth denied by so-called doctrine of Permanent revolution by renegaded Trotskyist thinking tank of ruling junta-circular of de jure elites operated behind in this regime led by MS UNP and CBK.

  • 0
    0

    I need to follow an intensive course in English to read and understand Comrade Nimals piece.

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