11 August, 2022

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System Change Plus Politician Change Through Elections

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe joining of the government was expected to turnaround the degrading tragic economic situation wherein child malnutrition figures are making Sri Lanka the 7th worst in the world. The country is living almost on a “ship to mouth” basis where the delay of a ship, or the cancellation of a ship bringing fuel, can lead to enormous hardships. More than six weeks after the new prime minister took over, the deadweight he has to pull is turning out to be too much. It is not possible to say that the economic situation has changed for the better. If at all, it has turned worse. The queues outside the fuel stations that are still open, and only a few remain open, are longer than ever. Most fuel stations are closed.

The progressive shut down of the government continues with the “work from home” policy for government employees being further extended along with school closures. The reason being given is to save on fuel stocks. There are fewer and fewer vehicles on the road due to the inability to find fuel to pump into vehicles. Schools have been closed for a further two weeks. It appears that the government is paving the way for the younger generation to be both mentally and physically stunted by lack of adequate nutrition and learning opportunities. Nearly all universities are conducting their classes “online” though the university teachers feel this is an ineffective mode of education.

When Prime Minister Wickremesinghe took over office there was much criticism that he had no moral right to become prime minister of a government that was no longer wanted by the people. However, there was also a positive expectation that he would make a positive difference with his vast experience of politics, encyclopedic knowledge and international reputation. There was no other justification, certainly not one that could come from democracy, as his party had been routed at the last general elections in 2020, being reduced overnight from 105 seats to one. The main justification for him, with his single seat in parliament, to become prime minister was to rescue the failing economy.

Saying Sorry

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe joined a government that was tottering due to the mass anger that had erupted on May 9. On that fateful day there were scenes of uncontrolled violence that gave a grim foreboding of what the future can become. It was widely believed that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa would be the next to step down after his elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa was forced to step down as prime minister following the violence which his party members had instigated. The president pledged to cobble together an all-party government of not more than 15 members and indicated his readiness to call for fresh general elections and a referendum on abolishing the presidency.

There is today much disappointment and anger that Prime Minister Wickremesinghe joining up with the government gave the president the excuse not to take this path. There is today a visible consolidation of the government and its past bad practices including large size and allegations of gross mismanagement. The size of the cabinet is presently 20 and there are more to be appointed including controversial persons associated with scams. There is a further complement of around 20 state and deputy ministers. Latest reports are that there will be district ministers also appointed which would make the grand total exceed 60 at a minimum.

Members of this government are quick to say they are “sorry’ for the mistakes they make. President Rajapaksa said he is sorry for his mistakes but has said he will stay on for his full term. The minister of power and energy has emulated the president in saying he is sorry for having given false expectations about a fuel tanker docking last week in the port and easing the fuel shortage. But now that ship is no longer coming and there is no assurance of when the next shipment will come. In the meantime, government offices, schools and universities have been ordered to close or restrict their operations.

Apart from an acknowledgment of the wrong committed, an apology also implies two other things—a sincere request for forgiveness and evidence of a change in behavior. Alas, these last two elements of being truly sorry are not manifested by Sri Lanka’s political leaders. They say sorry but continue as before. The latest manifestation of this characteristic is the landmark 21st Amendment which is ending up to be very different from what it was originally meant to be. It was hoped to be part of the “system change” that the youth– led Aragalaya protest movement, and larger civil society, have been seeking. It was to have removed the excessive powers of the presidency and transfer them to parliament.

Elections Sooner

Unfortunately, the indications are that the 21st Amendment will be doing much less. It will leave the president as powerful as ever and able to appoint the prime minister, ministers and secretaries to ministries and remove them at will. Armed with this power, the president will be able to determine the course of the government and make decisions as he once did, such as to ban chemical fertilisers and pesticides overnight. How long Prime Minister Wickremesinghe will be able to continue and retain the president’s confidence in this environment in which he, with his party’s single seat in parliament, is a big question. He will have to contend with 60-odd ministers in the government and 224 other MPs in parliament who are not from his party who belong to the old order and will want to keep it that way.

Last week a dialogue between civil society and parliamentarians on the 21st Amendment took place. The civil society members of the “Collective for Reform ” had labored long and hard to analyse all the civil society proposals with regard to the 21st Amendment and come up with a common minimum set of proposals to present to the parliamentarians. The proposals they studied included those presented by a plethora of organisations—the Bar Association of Sri Lanka,  March 12 Movement, National Movement for Social Justice, University Teachers’ Association, PAFFREL, Direction Sri Lanka, Second Generation, ebuildSriLanka2022, People’s Constitution through a Participation Mechanism, People’s Struggle Cooperation Movement, Government Physicians Association, Way forward for Young Leaders, Transparency International Sri Lanka, Socialist Student Union, Inter-University Student Federation, Movement for Consumer’s Rights Protection, National Collective Manifesto, Sri Lanka Administrative Services Association, Public Council, Association of Health Professionals, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, and Association of Internal Audit Professionals in Sri Lanka.

The parliamentarians who attended the “dialogue” made speeches in which they either claimed the civil society submissions were included in their own submissions, or they spoke on an entirely different track or justified their own conduct in the past and present. Only a few of them stayed on till the end to listen to the conclusions of civil society. Among those who attended were those who had voted successively for the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th Amendments, one contradictory to the other, and now presumably will vote for the watered-down 21st Amendment. The younger generations represented by the Aragalaya protestors have seen through this lack of integrity and policy. Sri Lanka needs not only a “system change” but also a “politician change” which will best come through elections held sooner rather than later.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    0

    The progressive shut down of the government continues with the “work from home

    Stomach does not understand delaying priories till July 10, after July 10 different stories, Hairn is on front line with surprise stories suddenly, Discussion for the las 3 months Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

    • 0
      3

      Jehan: RW and Goat could have easily imported fuel from Russia at discount rates in exchange for tea to keep the economy going but they did not. Why not???
      Because Sri Lanka is controlled by uncle Sam via its puppets US citizen Goat and Bondscam RW! It is called Over the Horizon (OTH) Full Spectrum Dominance – a hybrid economic, trade and cyber war on Lanka by Uncle Sam to colonize the island and turn it into the QUAD’s unsinkable aircraft carrier in the IOR – like Diego Garcia CIA blacksite.

      • 0
        5

        Sri Lanka is remote controlled by external actors.. the Default is Staged and so too the Aragalaya that enabled regime change and installation of US puppet Ranil to back US citizen Goat, DEEPEN THE CRISIS and massive social, economic and political DISRUPTION in order to enable the Eagle to land.
        This the CIA’s Chaos Strategy also known as Arab Spring or Colour Revolution!
        So, now while the Washington Con Circus- IMF, WB and “US special advisors” are is in Colombo these 2 weeks to Bail out ISB holders and asset Strip and make BlackRock and Adani richer, Sri Lanka has been shut down to Deliberately Deepen the Staged Crisis with people in fuel queues and the media show and schools closed and general social , political and economic disruption..
        Long live India’s Moda Modi and Adani in doddering Biden’s and Black Rock’s embrace!

  • 10
    2

    Not too long after he took over as President it became known that Gotabaya Rajapaksa was a Failure. After a little more time it was evident that he was a Dismal Failure. Two years on it was clear that he was an Abject Failure indeed as the president. In another six months it will become obvious even to his most ardent apologists that he is nothing less a Monumental Failure!

  • 7
    1

    “Politicians Change” should happen ONLY after the RULES on Elections have been CHANGED so that Crooked uneducated criminals are barred from contesting. Election Commission needs to be an independent body.
    Earlier elections commissioner made an HUGE mistake in letting NGR contest the Presidential Election while still being a citizen of USA.

  • 8
    2

    6.9 million people produced a President who is not capable to do other than issueing gazette notifications, appoint ministers and pardonning criminal friends. If any one knows please let us know what other things he is doing with all the powers granted to him. He cannot even talk to the leaders of other countries, cannot speak to all the political parties of this country even he cannot talk to what the appointed ministers are doing, and he cannot speak to people. The same happened to the former Prime Minister Mahinda or former Finance Minister Basil. Why do they need to be in power if they can’t lead the country. Yes two or four of them have resigned so why cannot remaining one resign? Some say it is like that we are asking to remove the pilot when the plane is flying in sky. The fact is the flight is already fallen and the passangers have to find a way to come out from the plane but the pilot is not moving from his seat or opening the door others to come and help the people.

  • 8
    0

    What is this “BULL” talk of “System Change”? Haven’t these “PANDITS” realized yet that the whole country has been brought to a “STANDSTILL” not by any Natural Disaster but by “MAN MADE” and well “ORCHESTRATED” hidden plans of the “Rajapakse & Co?

    In those circumstances, what comes FIRST, and what is NEEDED urgently? Nothing but to CHASE AWAY the “Rajapakses” and “TAKE OVER” the Governing Function by a “TEAM” who would be willing to hold themselves “Responsible” and “Accountable” to put the HOUSE in order and GIVE a LIFE LINE for the people. All other matters of “System Changes”, “Change of Politicians” etc. could be put aside in preference to giving that urgently needed “LIFE-SAVING” mechanisms to people.

  • 8
    2

    It is very clear what the people wants now.
    They wants peace; They wants unity; They wants rule of law; They wants share of wealth and share of power; They wants leaders and officers who are not biased’ who are not corrupted and who are trusted and who are accountable and who can sacrifice for the people and country.
    People wants now those in power should leave peacefully and face the rule of law if they are committed crimes during their power or office.

    • 1
      0

      Ajith: People have told loud and clear and in no certain terms that this “Regime” headed by Gotabaya Rajapakse must GO. For how long they have been telling it? Have they LISTENED or at least shown respect for the call and attempted to make the life of people free from the present-day sufferings. This Rajapakse Regime carries on regardless and that two in a very dictatorial and an arrogant manner. In my opinion, any more moral persuasion to leave will not be answered in that “Peacefull” manner you want them to do.

      Now the time has come to CHASE them away and how that should be done would be decided by the PEOPLE sooner than later.

      • 2
        0

        Simon,
        You are right. Since 2019, Sri lanka is completely under Gotabaya even Prime minister Mahinda was under his control. He got every power including what people have to eat was under his control. So, he is 100% responsible for this crisis if he say he does not know how much dollars in the Treasury or in the banks and how much we can borrow and how we are going to pay back debts or buying fuel. He did not bother he bothered only about releasing all the cases against him and their criminal friends. So, removing him from power or from Sri Lanka is an essential to make any changes.

      • 0
        0

        Simon

        Today I learned a new word, “Cockwomble”.
        I didn’t go looking for this word, it arrived by whatsapp just a few minutes ago (how convenient) and I am now tempted to use it.
        This word and definition was attached to Gota’s photo in the whatsapp message.

        By the way:
        Cockwomble:
        (noun) A person, usually male, prone to making outrageously stupid statements and/or inappropriate behaviour while generally having a very high opinion of their own wisdom and importance.

        We can use this word.

  • 0
    0

    System Change Plus Politician Change Through Elections

    Even if the country is not in present bankrupt situation is a required change the politician are all overage and they will not live another 20 years even if they live When they are faulted they will get admitted d in the hospital or fly. The future generation will not forget us because we did not think about them The future is for everyone, not far, it’s just tomorrow, Gain Strength with us. Now what is left to future the pay the dept. that is borrowed today? VOTERS are controlled by PUBLIC OPINION.

  • 0
    0

    election will be a bad option at this point. No one is going to get majority, we will end up with a very unstable political situation. We need to stop borrowing and work with what we have and get the corrupt politicians out of the way by appointing some one who can do that job without any interference.
    If we donot stabilise the economy and control corruption we will end up in a lawless anarchy. If you have an election same corrupt politicians will come to power again. There is no way that the system change can be brought about by a political (pillow) change. Anyway what we have now is a sort of new government selected government than an elected government. If you have an election same people will come into power, thats what happened in 2019, people didnot have a choice. People elected whom they thought as a “rata hadana wiruwa”. But the same lot came back, because they are very well seasoned in this game. donot play into their hands again.

  • 0
    0

    Ajith,
    As described by you on what ARAGALAYA wants are exactly the SAME as SL TAMILS are asking for DECADES. The Sinhala Buddhists Fundamentalists by suppressing Tamils have brought the country the current state. Mahanayakes in SL also have failed in their duties to protect all citizens in SL.

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