29 November, 2022

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SJB Or JVP – Will They Walk The Talk

By Asoka Seneviratne

Asoka Seneviratne

Back in 2016, I was in my sister in law’s house in Colombo attending to a family funeral. She was a stalwart Rajapaksa supporter, a member of parliament and a famous celebrity. She was in a group of hardcore Rajapaksa supporters while I was in a small group of family friends and relatives. While her topic essentially was the greatness of MR, mine was totally opposite. I was trying to highlight the danger of one family running the country. My point was when the key national decisions were taken by one ruling family without being vetted through the parliament or by national debate; we are truly becoming a name -sake Democracy. Transparency, accountability, rule of law, checks and balances etc. all get flushed to toilet.

This boiled into such a point, my sister in law asked me to leave. That was how loyal she was to MR & Co.

But today, I am her biggest fan. She shamefully agrees how correct I was and how silly she was to blindly support a family who was squandering nation’s wealth. She was hugely politically immature and did not understand Democracy 101, or elements of good governance. But she was part and parcel replacing the 19th A with the 20 A, and raising the hand to any legislations R’s brought to the floor of the house. Isn’t this our prime curse? Legislators not knowing the essence of Democracy?

So today, Rajapaksa’s have driven our nation to the brink of economic collapse. People are angry, hungry and desperate. Decades of economic mismanagement by both parties have squandered the nation. However I need extend a small hand of appreciation to President Sirisena for letting go the massive executive power and handing it over to the parliament through the 19th A. 19th A was a rare but a good measure towards a better democracy. Sadly most don’t appreciate the value of the 19th A. But Sirisena deserves huge credit. When all other presidents wanted more and more power, Sirisena devolved power!

I am no fan of the UNP, Ranil, Sajith or Sirisena but I am happy to give credit where credit is due.

20th A was a serious blunder that R’s sold to 6.9 million Lankans who swallowed the bitter pill of a promised land! Perhaps Basil was the architect of this fraud scheme. Not only Gota has the massive power through 19th A, last year he asked for and got emergency power too. What more power does he need? The man has failed the nation. Period.

So now a whole bunch of politicians led by Sajith and Anura Kumara are rallying the public to gain power. Day in and day out, they all seem to say is how bad things are in the country and how R’s have ruined it. They don’t need to keep harping on the burning issues. Millions of Lankans already know the issues full well.

They all keep promising that they would fix the nation. They promise to bring jobs, eliminate corruption and looting, install rule of law and independence of the judiciary etc. In essence they are just talking the talk. Talk is cheap!

So the next time our mainstream media and you tubers confront these leaders, please ask the how they are going to Walk the Talk? Hold their feet to the fire!

What exact policy proposals they have to create jobs? To create wealth? To bring investments? To make the law enforcement and the judiciary truly independent? To hold office holders accountable? To narrow deficits? To create better education? To train technicians, nurses, etc? To promote exports? To eliminate poverty? To bring investments to villages etc. etc.?

Do they plan to bring a new constitution? Who will draft the constitution? Do we need an expensive Prime Minister’s office while we also have an executive President? What will be the job of the PM? Will the ministers get luxury SUV’s and escorts? Why? What is wrong with an air conditioned 4 wheel drive pickup truck with a driver only? Can the nation afford it? Do they plan to change back to the Westminster model? Do they plan to remove 20th A? Do they plan to introduce publicly aired hearings of our ministers and the heads of government institutions? How they intend to make the attorney general’s office insulated from politics? How exactly do they plan to insulate the judiciary and the police from politics?   What provisions will be added to a new constitution to enable this? In my opinion, nothing will work right until we make the three branches of government truly independent and have separation of powers, so we install solid checks and balances again.

Why not create a system of primaries to elect those who run for office? Will this not eliminate the desire of a party leader to put his favorites run rather than those capable? Will this not insulate party leader from influencing their legislative votes?

The job of the president is to manage the nation within the law. But not to even remotely interfere into the execution of justice. This one issue is paramount. Without true separation of powers through a smart constitution, nothing will fill fix our nation. Surely not the promises and screaming on rallies. Haven’t we seen enough of this hot air for over 70 long years?

Do they plan to have Ministers appointed from among MP’s? If so how can these MP’s do their job in the legislative branch while also being a part of the Executive branch? Does this not negate the separation of powers? Will they allow foreign companies to own land? If so how much of land? What incentives will thy offer to attract investments and specially blue chip companies? Who will spearhead this task? How do they plan to appoint heads of the government bodies? How do they plan to hold them accountable?

There are million such questions they need to be asked and answered before the public vote.

This message is to our brave media men and you tubers. Don’t just ask what the issues are. Ask them how? Ask for details, Ask for policies and proposals. Don’t let them BS you. Confront them? Ask the tough questions.

In a Democracy a free media is a de-facto 4th branch of government. By design they are meant to be adversarial. They have a huge role to play.

So next time you meet any of these would be leaders of any party, ask them how they actually plan to walk the talk? Failure to do this today runs the risk of today’s squeaky clean JVP becoming yet another corrupt UNP or an SLPP tomorrow!

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Latest comments

  • 6
    1

    AKD is a Lenin. But will be there be a Starlin after AKD?

    • 5
      4

      He will turn into a Stalin when they realise they can’t do most of what they say they will. They will then pander to the Buddhist majority and turn to the Chinese, whether we like it or not

      • 3
        3

        Sri Lankans are Like the hapless people of Ukraine who are caught in the American proxy war on Russia in Europe,
        Sri Lankans are being used by the Washington Consensus to wage its proxy war on China using India. These are dangerous times as the IMF fronted economic crisis in Sri Lanka is externally organized with the US citizen Goats and Basil Rajapaksa brothers in tow. Is Sajith and AKD Capable of understanding this? Will Sri Lanka become an Indian Ocean Ukraine?
        Leon Panetta, the former US secretary of defense and CIA director under Barack Obama said that the United States is involved in a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine. “We are engaged in a conflict here, it’s a proxy war with Russia, whether we say so or not,” Panetta said.
        http://www.defenddemocracy.press/the-west-is-escalating-the-war/

    • 8
      0

      Asoka Seneviratne

      When you meet your sister in law next time around ask her to follow late Tony Benn MP’s 5 tests for those hold positions of economic, social and political power should always be asked five questions:

      “What power have you got?”

      “Where did you get it from?”

      “In whose interests do you use it?”

      “To whom are you accountable?”

      “How do we get rid of you?”

      Even a naive person could work out whom to support unless of course they are driven by racism, relied on nepotism, motivated by greed, …. …

  • 11
    0

    Very valid questions from Asoka Seneviratne. I cannot be criticising him every time, can I.

  • 7
    1

    There’s a slow push I’ve noticed on social media and on places like this where certain people essentially take the position that no one deserves our vote at the next election. They’re usually very interested in claiming the NPP in particular has no plan and spout untruths like “Anura wants to abolish the free market”.

    With the lack of any kind of power-retaining stunt by the Rajapakses, I’m beginning to wonder more and more if this “SJB and JVP all the same, men. I won’t even vote” thing is a tactic. Dissuade the swing voters and the moderates, and with there being more fanatics in the Rajapakse camp, they’ll end up being the only ones to vote, giving Gota and co. a second term in spite of this chaos.

    • 3
      0

      Dear kp92,
      .
      There definitely is such a strategy.
      .
      Doesn’t it look doubtful to you that this Rajapaksa Governance cannot last more than a few months? It does to me.
      .
      However, our bitter experience has been that since 1948 our voters have shown a proclivity to voting in the wrong people. Rousing communalism, talking religion, promising the impossible; the traps seem obvious to us, but they have worked again and again; seems always to get worse.
      .
      I particularly fear the various YouTube programmes. I actually visited this guys home in Bellanwila, Dehiwela. He mesmerises young people with his show of erudition, then suggests this formula:
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Q3Stjxlx8E&t=23s
      .
      This is a known strategy, worldwide. I’ll try to say a little more about how Sepal used it before the August 2020 Parliamentary Elections.
      .
      Some programmes get disappeared. Politics is a difficult game for amateurs like us; but we must keep trying.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe, retired teacher; Bandarawela (NIC 48 3111 444V)

  • 14
    0

    In a land where deceit is the norm, what does the writer expect, when ordinary people confront the lying rascals who want political power (or those lying rascals already in power). Do they have to be honest in their plans of how to make things better? As lying is their bread and butter, and lying convincingly each time gets them the cake for four or five years, will they change to speaking the truth? So, it is only by trial and error, and largely by how they have been behaving over the years, that one can be at least partly confident of better times to come. Those who speak the truth in parliament, those who bother to analyse events and procedures incisively, those who dare to confront the rogues charging them with allegations, those who genuinely choose altruistic methods or minimal comforts, are far better than those mouthing empty rhetoric in front of microphones and cameras.

  • 5
    1

    The desperate need of the Srilankans is a brain transplant.

  • 6
    0

    ”SJB Or JVP – Will They Walk The Talk?”

    Good question. As an internationally educated politician, SP has, so far, not made any contribution to the country, apart from his pledge to increase the number of Buddhist temples & a Buddha statue in every street corner. AKD has shown promise as tireless campaigner against govt. corruption but with his socialist underpinnings & a member of an organisation which terrorised the country in the past, for which, he has not apologised, I remain sceptic. If I remember correctly, MR championed human rights in the 90s but became the biggest violator a few years later, therefore, appetences maybe skin deep & that applies to AKD. Furthermore, SL needs direct foreign investment & aid but I don’t see it happening under a socialist govt.

    We need an alternate from the current. I have heard rumblings about Karu J & people from the civil society, like Nagananda K. Karu may be old (so is Biden) but at least, honest & genuine, & under such a leader, concerned citizens like Naganada, can make a significant change.

    • 0
      0

      Raj – I agree with your assesmnet that SR hardly has done anything significant to fight the corruption issue. He nver fought teeth and nail like AKD. AKD acreamned hard on the house floor to expose rogues.

      Some believe that is because SP too has a lot of dirt in hs closet. Why fight R’s and get into troble.

      Let us scratch each others’ back and happily co-exist ! Darn the people !!

      Might I add, like many a politico son, SP too never worked for a living. It may be that his dad left him enough !

      Our nation should never ever elect idlers to the top seat. Work for living and show you are not just a pure beneficiary of parental politics! Besides you set the right standard and tone!

  • 2
    2

    It’s not SJB or JVP, for the country to come out of the mess we are in today and to move towards a developed country, both SJB and JVP should join hands and walk together. Both have strengths and will form a very successful government.

  • 6
    1

    The more you “Talk” the less you “Walk .” Billions spent by “Big Mouths” all their life
    just to , one day , make the whole country unbailable and that day is this day ! Right
    at this moment , N P P is the one that goes with Less promises with seemingly sizable
    head counts ! Much of their promises centre on doing away with corruption and
    bringing the swindlers to justice . They may be the most qualified ones to do the job
    but is it that easier ?

  • 3
    0

    Mr. Asoka Seneviratne: In concluding your article you asked us: “So next time you meet any of these would-be leaders of any party, ask them how they actually plan to walk the talk”. Good advice.

    Let me ask you. Have you asked any of the – would-be leaders at least Sajith and Anura? If not done so far, please ask both of them – “How they plan to walk the talk” and let us know the answers they gave you in your next article. I am waiting for your response. Thank you.

  • 5
    1

    Asoka Seneviratne,

    The questions you ask are rhetorical. It’s self-evident, what the JVP-NPP will do. How will they change all the aforementioned? They will change the people in charge! It’s in the simple actions of change that the answers come through.

    The separation of powers come in when power-hungry madmen are removed. It comes in when leaders who know the sufferings of the Masses are installed, over mad leaders who play-act Lankan historical roles to further the sustainability of the nation.

    For example, after all damning fiascos of the Hambantota deals, current leaders are still harping on developing the area into concrete jungles, touting tourism as the excuse/bluff. When the highways were built for easy transport to the south, they are STILL attempting to force international flights into the area, and now attempting to build airport hotels next to the airport.

    This is Tribalism (Southern Sinhala machismo over all the other Sinhalese, leave alone Tamils). It is about upholding the ancient southern kingdom over all other ancient kingdoms. Is that the way to handle the 1-billion-dollar loan from India?

    • 2
      0

      RTF – They are not trying to build any kingdom. What they are doing is making money in commisions off the infrastructure projects built using the loans. And it is rampant in hambantota because it’s easier to get permission and build anything without too much questions being asked.

      And since you mention sinhala tribalism, can you tell us how many Tamils, Muslims and Christians are in the JVP-NPP hierarchy. I ask because you seem to know a lot about them and promote them with gusto. Where is the difference from the sinhala Buddhist chauvinist behaviour we have now? Where is the representation for all Sri Lankans?.
      Just changing people to change a problem is a very simplistic way of looking at things. We need the Right People. Not all those in the SJB are weak or corrupt. They represent the majority and minorities. A lot of them have experiences in governing. So far most of the heavy lifting for the JVP is only done by AKD and the lady doctor. If the JVP messes up, the very same professionals that the NPP are and represent will be the 1st to migrate.

      • 1
        1

        Fernando20,

        Very true what you say. Yet, proportionality is needed for ethnic and religious representation in all parties i.e. 70.2% SB’s, 12.6 Tamils, 9.7 Muslims, 7.6 Christians…..maybe a 0.5% give as good grace towards minorities. Also it is natural for a Socislistic party like JVP-NPP to have far greater control over its party comrades and country governing.
        They’re the only party that has not been tried out yet. Countrymen are ready this time to walk the diligent and honorable path for the Motherland. Gone are the days when Western capitalism glittered in people’s eyes. They find it ridiculous nowadays. Even the West is doubling down on excesses and incorporating greater socialistic trends. Lankan young people are impassioned with the ideology.

        • 0
          1

          Why do minorities need a tiny percentage as good grace though. It’s like saying the minorities don’t need to be taken seriously. Just to be placated. You do realise that’s a problem right. The minorities aren’t living off the charity of the SB, they have been involved in the progress of this country.

          • 0
            2

            Ok, 2-5% for minorities.

            • 1
              1

              I mean…..majority can’t be struggling to keep up with minority progresses, can they? Needs of the majority should come first, so less human beings will suffer.

              • 0
                1

                What nonsense are you saying. This is the kind of mentality people are used to seeing from the JVP in the past. And if you are part of the new wave, it seems nothing much has changed. So what you are saying is that the minorities are a burden to the Sinhala Buddhist is it. Which country have you been living in. Good luck with your racist agenda.

  • 4
    0

    Asoka S.,
    Very good article and well presented.
    Very good and pertinent question too.
    Idea of Primaries for nomination of political party representatives is a very good move.
    Perhaps, with that change, we should do away with “preferential votes” system and embrace the ‘First past the post’ system, as the preference becomes redundant and also saves money!
    With primaries as selection process for candidates of political parties, the autocratic methodology of selecting the candidate by party leaders would diminish. Instead a better process with wider scope, of people with political exposure open for assessment by the voters would evolve, which is good.
    Believe that would hopefully evolve into parliament of educated and knowledgeable legislators!
    Venture to wager that opposition to this would be mainly from political party leaders than the masses themselves!!

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