26 May, 2022


The Challenges Before Us

By Rajiva Wijesinha

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

I write this before the results of the Presidential Election are known and I assume President Sirisena will address these challenges. But since it is conceivable that President Rajapaksa might be declared the winner, and might be able to convince our people as well as the world that he was fairly elected, I hope that he too will think of these matters and not continue with the mixture as before. In particular he must make it clear that he will no longer rule through an oligarchy of family and friends with questionable capacity, but will work with senior members of his own party and technocrats subject to supervision by democratically established institutions.

The most important issue facing the new President is to restore confidence in the governmental process. For this purpose it is necessary to establish systems that work according to the Rule of Law, and with full accountability to the people. In this respect it is vital that Parliamentary control of legislation and finances be restored.

This does not mean strengthening an Executive based in Parliament, but rather strengthening Parliament to be an effective check on the Executive. This means strengthening the power of ordinary members of Parliament, both government and opposition.

Measures to ensure this were the principle component of the Standing Order changes I had proposed last year, changes which the Speaker ignored in contravention of the existing Standing Orders. My main purpose was to strengthen Committees of Parliament by streamlining them and ensuring that they were not chaired by members of the Executive. In the case of the Finance Oversight Committees, the PAC and COPE, the chair was to be a member of the opposition.

But ensuring open discussion in committees is not enough. It is also necessary to give them teeth, and for this purpose we should ensure that the Executive either follows their recommendations, or else gives reasons in writing as to why this is not desirable or possible. The same would apply to the petitions committee, the directions of which are now simply flouted by the Executive.

Maithri oaths 2015I would take this principle further, to promote consultation as well as accountability at local levels. The Local Government Act should be amended to ensure involvement of People’s Representatives in Committees of Pradeshiya Sabhas and Local Councils. I have already suggested amendments in this regard to the Secretary of the Local Government Ministry who had consulted me about the Act. It will also be necessary to define clearly the areas of responsibility of local government bodies, and to give them powers to work effectively in these areas.

In addition, given the number of administrative decisions made at Divisional Secretariat level, there should be consultation mechanisms at Grama Niladhari level, with mandatory feedback at the decision making level. This is the Divisional Secretariat, and I am glad that Mr Sirisena’s manifesto declares the centrality of this level, and the need to ensure coordination of services. With regard to this I have been working together with several Ministry Secretaries on a UNDP Project to improve delivery of services, and I hope the next government studies the excellent report produced by Asoka Gunawardena and implements its recommendations. Certainly we must get rid of the ridiculous system introduced by Basil Rajapaksa, of handing over development funds to Members of Parliament to spend virtually at will, with no coordination and little reference to the plans of the Line Ministries.

Line Ministries should be strengthened, and this requires reducing the size of the Cabinet in accordance with clear rationales, as pledged in the opposition manifesto. We cannot have many ministries dealing with similar subjects, and we cannot have ministers doing what they want – and in particular accepting unsolicited bids for projects, which has become a feature of the way the present government runs things – without adherence to well developed plans. It is imperative that a Ministry of Policy and Plan Implementation be set up, and given teeth on the lines of the suggestions the Secretary to that Ministry and I forwarded to Mr Lalith Weeratunge at the end of 2009.

I have stressed governance issues, because these seem to me the most important in terms of safeguarding democracy and promoting equitable development. For this purpose it is also essential to pass the proposed Freedom of Information Act, and to give it teeth through ensuring public accountability at all levels of government. In addition I hope we will also introduce the Bill of Rights which wass promised in the 2005 Mahinda Chintanaya, and which the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights had got drafted by the end of 2009, but which has since been ignored.

Such a Bill, and many of the measures necessary for good governance, require an effective judiciary, and this is an area in which immediate reforms are needed. Obviously we must strengthen the independence of the judiciary, but we also need to make it responsive and accountable. Parliament must pass laws to speed up the judicial process, and also set in place an independent mechanism to monitor the judges. Best practice in other countries should be explored for this purpose, and guidelines developed to prevent exploitation of those who come before the law. We must also strengthen mediation procedures to deal with exorbitant costs for those who seek recourse to justice.

I will not dwell on the need for independent commissions since this is obvious. But we also need to empower these commissions, and ensure that their recommendations are followed with regard to the enforcement of rights and the prevention of financial abuse. These are areas where Parliament must be supreme, and the Executive should not have power to interfere with decisions, though provision may be made for appeals in writing by the executive and for a consultation process.

With regard to Constitutional Reform, measures to which no one can object should be introduced immediately. These include the repeal of the 18th Amendment, introduction of a mixed electoral system, and reduction of the size of the Cabinet. There should also be rapid implementation of the 13th Amendment, which is already in the Constitution. This should happen after discussion with all stakeholders to ensure that National Security is not adversely affected, but also that there is maximum empowerment of citizens to contribute to governance with regard to subjects that affect them. In particular we should formulate National Policy swiftly in important areas, set in place mechanisms to ensure that this is followed, and then allow implementation to smaller units which can be more responsive to the actual needs of people. This is especially important with regard to Land, as to which we cannot delay any longer on setting up the National Land Commission which was mandated when the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was passed.

I should stress that clear policy, and provisions for systematic implementation and careful monitoring, are especially important with regard to Education, which is the key to both empowerment of people and development. Ensuring equality of opportunity to rural children of all communities, by amongst other measures providing enough teachers in key subjects (and ensuring constant attendance), and by developing employment oriented education and training, is vital. Monitoring of this must be done at Divisional Secretariat level, not by the providers but by stakeholders who should have checklists to ensure that children everywhere get quality education. We also need to establish vocational training centres in all Divisions, with a curriculum that also develops soft skills.

This will increase employment opportunities, nationally as well as internationally. But the skills curriculum should also include entrepreneurship development. This needs to go hand in hand with mechanisms to develop Small and Medium Enterprises, with development of credit facilities as well as training in marketing. We must move our young people from a mindset which relies on government to bestow jobs, and instead develop a culture of job creation. This should be the responsibility of government, of the private sector including individuals and cooperatives, and of partnerships between any of these.

With regard to the media, independence is vital and this must be entrenched, with measures to ensure both the Right to Information and the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. However there must also be measures to ensure accountability and basic standards with regard to both accuracy and decency. The Press Complaints Commission responsible to the industry will be strengthened, with mechanisms for swift action and effective remedies. The State Media (both electronic and print) must have clear guidelines which make clear its social and educational role, with an independent governing body that is accountable to Parliament.

National Security is of paramount importance, as is Law and Order. The latter function involves protection of the lives and rights of individuals, and should be the responsibility of a separate Ministry from that which is concerned with defending and protecting the country and its unity. The Ministry in charge of the police should understand the social implications of law and order, and should pay particular attention to Community Policing, and ensure close liaison with the citizenry. The functions of local police stations should include attention to social problems and the prevention of situations that might give rise to exploitation of the vulnerable as well as criminal activity. Close liaison with agencies responsible for social issues is vital, and the development of local action plans to forestall crime and abuse. Not just the protection but also the empowerment of women and children should be a priority, and Community Police should work closely for this purpose with the Women and Children’s Units which have been established in every Division.

Security also needs to be interpreted broadly, with strengthening of protection mechanisms against natural disasters. More attention needs to be paid to environmental issues as well as to Disaster Prevention and Management. The plans developed by the Disaster Management Centre, in particular those regarding Water Management and Landslide Prevention, should be given priority. On the basis of these, Divisional Secretariats should have timelines not only for implementation but also for ensuring community understanding of potential hazards, and involvement in avoiding them. Stress should be placed on renewable energy, and the plans in the opposition manifesto for dendro-energy, seen also as a source of income for rural populations, should be fast forwarded.

With regard to National Security in the traditional sense, its importance should be registered by all citizens, which also means ensuring that all citizens participate in promoting this. Measures should be taken to increase enlistment of all communities, so that the security forces represent the nation as a whole. Participation of the forces in social activities should be encouraged, on the basis of partnerships.

The contentious issue of land acquisition by the security forces needs to be addressed immediately. The following principles should be understood by all and followed with transparency –

  1. The State has a Right to acquire land for security purposes
  2. The State has an obligation not to acquire more land than is essential, and to explain the reasons for such acquisition to stateholders
  3. Appropriate compensation must be paid for such acquisition

These positive principles also entail that the good name of the forces should not be sullied by involvement in the acquisition of land for other purposes. That must follow due process. It is heartening therefore that, while the opposition pledged to resettle the displaced in their places of origin, Douglas Devananda too has followed suit. There should be no question then of acquisition, on Security grounds, of private land for golf courses and hotels, or even for a Presidential Palace. Such abuse must stop, and the people should have confidence that they can have recourse to the Law if there are incursions into their property. In this regard I strongly recommend that the Right to Private Property also be included in the Bill of Rights, since that should be the norm, with State acquisition for whatever purpose, Security or Development, subject to clear conditions.

Finally we must develop and institutionalize a Foreign Policy that will prevent threats of the sort we have faced during the last few years, whilst also ensuring that we overcome these. For the latter purpose, we must fulfil the commitments we made about addressing the concerns the Secretary General of the United Nations and our President discussed back in May 2009. The way to this was spelled out by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and we must expeditiously implement its recommendations. This should apply to all but, if we have reservations about any, we should discuss these with all stakeholders in the country and develop alternative strategies to overcome the problems that have been identified. In particular we must proceed with the domestic inquiries that both main Presidential candidates are now pledged to hold. These need to be conducted with credibility and transparency, with recourse to judicial measures within the country if warranted.

Formulation of an effective Foreign Policy requires attention to principles as well as implementation strategies. The principles should include ensuring regular engagement with all countries and in particular with the United Nations. Whilst safeguarding our sovereignty, we must respond to the concerns of others with understanding of the issues involved, and fulfil commitments we enter into.

Our responses should be based on clear policy guidelines. Most important of these, given geo-political realities, is ensuring good relations with India. This cannot govern domestic policies, but there should be good and reliable communication with India as regards such policies, with the understanding that commitments cannot be violated.

Within a broader framework that also lays down the need for promoting multilateralism, there should be flexibility. A capable Minister should ensure regular consultative meetings of senior level Foreign Ministry officials, with provision for consultation of officials of related Ministries, with circulation of minutes and attention to follow up.

With regard to implementing the policies we formulate, we need a cadre of officials who can think and speak and act effectively. We must build up collegiality within the Ministry. Though there may sometimes be good reasons for appointment of non-career individuals with publicly acceptable qualifications to Head of Mission posts, all other posts should be reserved for members of the Diplomatic Service. These officials must submit brief regular reports on their activities, and our relations with countries to which they are accredited.

There is also need of a wider professionalism, for which Government should establish high level think tanks, which function independently and have research staff to produce position papers and respond to international developments. These institutions should have a training wing, which develops communication skills in addition to the capacity to analyse. They should also publish journals to which diplomats are expected to contribute.

The way ahead will not be easy. But, as indicated throughout, if we put in place an education and training system (in schools as well as for administrators) that develops thinking sklls and initiative, and ensure consultation and accountability, it will not be difficult to move towards a just, prosperous and a happy country.

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Latest comments

  • 11


    MR’s plan B failed because the Army Chiefs informed Gota that the lower ranks in the Army were not in support of MR and if they refused to take orders, the planned coup will fail and they all will end up in jail.

    However, MR is now plotting his next plan. There is a lot of speculation of MR becoming prime minister in the April election (in which case Ranil will continue to be a loser again). We should not ignore the fact that MR’s Sinhala-Buddhist votes was 52% whereas My3’s was 48%.

    The coalition government will not stand long enough to agree on many issues and there will be a large difference of opinions between UNP, JHU and JVP. This will split the parties in the very near future. SLFP under MR, who is currently the leader of SLFP most likely with majority seats around the country or with a different coalition can have the ability to form a government to which he may become the PM and also possible to impeach the President.

    SLFP has the policy of giving the leadership to the person with highest government position.
    The VERY URGENT and MOST IMPORTANT thing now is for MY3 (currently official secretary of SLFP) and CBK (her father Bandranayake’s party) to get the SLFP leadership into their hands.

    Then there is no other option other than MR to establish a new party for himself along with his henchmen. Let his bootlickers and relatives Doctor of thuggery Mervin, Bikkhu Killer Karuna, Para-force Dogy, SB rowdy, Spineless GL, Kudu Duminda, Melbourne Maha Keliya Rambuttan, Hon Mr. 10-20% Basil, Killing machine Gothaya, Atha Nathi Athanayake, casino playing Thonda, Beraya Weera Monkey, Wattiamma Pavithra, jumping frog Gaman, Synthetic lawyer/playboy Namal baba, and a few others (what a great bunch of law makers we had, we ended up without any Law and Order).

    UPFA is extending their support to the 100 day program because they think it is not going to happen and the My3 government may put the blame on them. In case if MR’s henchmen in parliament decide to interfere or hijack the parliament, MY3 should keep his presidency for 6 years. People can understand why and who made him do so.

    Anything can happen and all things are possible in politics. MR and his henchmen must be plotting a new plan to take over the government. The ethnic issue and human rights inquiry will SPLIT THE VOTES AGAIN. Sri Lanka has been an emotional voter rather than a logical until January 8th. However, when it comes to certain aspects of conciliation the RACE card helps to polarise the people of a same culture. MY3 and his new government should not fall prey to MR’s plots.

    And DO NOT Abandon the Executive Presidency in a hurry, it may end up in a disaster for the new government.

    • 6

      Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa who play-acted leaving Temple Trees and stated he would allow Mr. Maithripala Sirisena to function smoothly as president of the country is engaged in a move to destabilize the country by amassing people, making statements that arouse racism/communalism and sympathy to him. He left Temple trees before all result were released with a cunning plan to deceive the masses.
      He is trying to get public sympathy especially from the majority community. He is all out to jeopardise the stability and unity of the country by arousing the Sinhala-Buddhists against the minority community and create havoc. It is foolish to think that he is gone for good.

      Maithree and Chandrika should take control of the SLFP leadership before everything else.

      • 0

        MR has to be put through due legal process for all his mis-deeds,
        which alone will firmly prevent him taking to politics again. The
        new leaders must think ahead, as MR has been backed by a formidable
        52% Sinhala buddhist votes and MR will try to bargain/depend on this for his political future, with his modus-operandi thus far.
        He cannot be holding ANY post, as he is wanted for “attempted
        Coup” * and the CID must take up immediate investigtions.

        He would not have left Temple Trees as his Plan B+ along with Gota
        was upset by Mr. John Kerrys direct Tp. call in good time. The IGP & Army Commander etc took this clue and defied MRs demand.
        See as alleged here *

        This attempt is a serious matter as could have be the begining
        of a 3rd world-war, with MR using China card to retain his post.

        It should also go to the credit of the EC for his brave “shoot on
        their head” statement, which too was a moral support to the Police.

    • 5

      MR got higher votes through fraud and rigging and I doubt that the Sinhala people would have voted at this number despite corruption, murdering Journalists and the criminal activities of the government against the Sinhala people. Tamils including the Muslims certainly voted for Sirisena and the TNA made absolutely rights decision to dump MR.

      The new regime has to change chief Justice and aggressively persecute MR, Gota and other clan for corruption, war crimes, white van abductions and and remove civic rights so that they cannot contest in any elections as well as execute the war criminals to prove that the new regime respects rule of law very seriously and earn the respect of all citizens and the western world. MR and his criminal gang will become history!

    • 0

      The Messenger and Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

      “MR’s plan B failed because the Army Chiefs informed Gota that the lower ranks in the Army were not in support of MR and if they refused to take orders, the planned coup will fail and they all will end up in jail.”

      Plan B was conspiracy against the people.

      11 million patriotic citizens spent hours to elect the President as per the Constitution,, and Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Actor and Bad Sport wanted to nullify and steal it?

      This is criminal and should be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the Law.

      Listen to Mangala Samaraweera.


  • 4

    Dear Rajiva Wijesinha,

    Although I do appreciate some of the content you write / reveal, but may I give you the advice of starting to write less and listen more?

    To me it seems you only write, and taken from your twitter account there is no two-way interaction possible.

    Why is that? Do you not understand Twitter? Facebook? The strength lies in the direct contact with voters, the interation.

    And one personal tip (don’t get angry) please remove that horrible arrogant photo from your twitter account. Fantastic that you have represented Sri Lanka at the UN Counsil of whatnot, but the fact that you put thát picture as a profile picture is a bit similar of Mahinda putting his.

    Let see if you listened this time!

  • 9

    Are you truly without SHAME?
    You were a significant part of the problem that became the lot of Sri Lankans during Rajapaksa’s reign when you were one of his most prominent LYING mouthpieces, particularly on the international stage. The fact that you timed your jump as you did does not in any shape, form or fashion give you a “get out of jail free” card. In fact one can but hope there will be a jail large enough to house you and your ilk after which, preferably, the key will be thrown away. Sri Lanka cannot but thrive without vermin of your brand.

  • 3

    Securing a healthy parliamentary majority is one of the first priorities! In the process of setting up a Unity Government, Mr Sirisena should not make too many concessions and should not compromise on core principles.

  • 7

    Okay Professor… Let’s get his straight. When you were defending Mahinda, you were ‘interrogated’ by a British media outlet. The host pushed you to name a person who was punished for the crimes during the conflict. You said one ‘Bharathy’ was punished. We all knew that you were making it up. The same Bharathy is suspected to have had a hand in Taraki’s demise. Bharathy, or Iniya Bharathy, was honoured with Deshamanya award, which is meant for the top achievers in Sri Lanka. Iniya Bharathi was the Ampara District Coordinator for President Rajapaksa at the time of you interview. It is very likely that he must have participated in the Dalada Maligawa bombing and the death of bhikkus. I know you would ignore this comment, but are you man enough (I know, this is a sexist term) to respond to this?
    (a) What happened to Iniya Bharathy and where is he now?
    (b) Was he ever punished?
    (c) Did he deserve Deshamanya award

    Actually, you stand accused in whitewashing Iniya Bharathy.

    Look at his picture and the details in the third link! Iniya Bharathy would have been used for vote rigging as well, if the election were to be close.


  • 6

    The challenge before US-

    Justice and accountability are of utmost importance following mass atrocities such as those committed in Sri Lanka during its 25-year civil war. An estimated 80,000–100,000 people were killed during the war, and millions more are still displaced and living in diaspora around the world. Establishing an accurate account of the conflict, investigating allegations of human rights violations, and holding wrongdoers criminally accountable are all crucial to providing victims with justice and the nation and international community with vital answers. Effective accountability procedures help heal deep nation-wide wounds and restore people’s trust and security in their communities, their government, and the rule of law. Proper judicial accountability measures facilitate just resolution, peace, deterrence, and security, helping to transform a war-ravaged state into a reconciled society.

  • 4

    This article is nothing but a job application. It seeks to make President Maithripala believe “yea, I can use this guy”.

    I support my claim with this quotation from the article:

    “1.The State has a Right to acquire land for security purposes”. The Government does not need to return the lands confiscated in the North.

    Forget about the bullshit about “2.The State has an obligation not to acquire more land than is essential, and to explain the reasons for such acquisition to stateholders”. The country had explanations of this type for the last six years. See where the country is today.

    Just go away man.

  • 1

    1. No point empowering the parliament, if the election system promotes crooks and thugs becoming its members. So changing the stupid election law introduced by JR and R Premadasa must be the top priority before any other steps. This applies to all levels of elections.

    2. 13 Amendment is a death trap for the Sinhala people in Sri Lanka, especially for the Sinhala Buddhists and poor Christians. It must be removed and people must be empowered at GSN level by Jana Sabhas. One cannot play around this 13-A animal using the phrase that it is the law. Rajiva as a liberal knows how that law was passed and its history.

    3. Rajiv is out of touch with the villagers of Sri Lanka. Obviously, he cannot pass the Kamatha Test of RPremadasa.

  • 5

    MR and Gota played all their tricks including votes rigging, legal manipulation, armed forces coup to remain in power and kicked out by the overwhelmingly vote by the Tamils (Muslims are Tamils). These alleged criminals along with others must stand trial in Sri Lanka rather than at the ICC for genocide, war crimes, rape and murders of Journalists, dissidents, surrendered POWs, students, and politicians as Sri Lanka has capital punishment and ICC (European nations) not. Gota cannot go back to the US as there will be investigation as well and end up in the jail.
    The Tamil Diaspora is progressing well in many nations and the failed Sinhala leaders due to their chauvinistic policies messed up a beautiful nation into bleeding one and destroyed its vibrant nature. It is time for a real reconciliation or break up as Eelam and Sri Lanka like it was prior to the Western colonialism.

  • 2

    Not sure, of My3 has any use for a good lap dog that has the habit of changing laps at its convenience.

  • 4


    The Challenges Before Us.

    Since you say that you wrote this before the election results are known I havent bothered to read it. But let me give you my vison for the future.

    The Sinhalese politicians and the Sinhalese people have to rise above their Thousands of Years long Patred and Prejudices towards the Tamil minority to avoid the horrors which has blighted the Nation for so long with terrible carnage on both sides.

    That is not a simple task but for me the order of priority is as follows and if we fail to grasp the opportunity we are doomed.

    1) The majority have to accept that historically there are two distinct groups with separate LANGUAGE RELIGION and HOMELAND.
    Before the advent of Colonialism we had two Separate Kingdoms and it is no use denying it although your colleague DAYAN would like to hide it under his Duvet.
    2) It is up to people like you to convince your lot about the advantages of Co Existence instead of Domination. We cannot have peace until we reach parity.
    3) Devolve enough Power to NORTH & EAST so that we can run our own affairs within a United Sri Lanka along the Indian Model. The Sinhalese can come and live and work in the North & East but under our Jurisdiction just like in Tamil Nadu. Tamil must reign supreme and nothing else will do. You might argue what about the Tamils in the South and my answer is they have no say in running the Country as all four arms of Governance is in your hands.
    4) We must bury the Ghost of Nanthikadal and those who are resonsible must be punished. But it seems from the news reaching us that two Culprits have already FLED. GOTHA the butcher flew under cover of darkness to Maldives and BASIL to USA. They will be caught after the UNHCER vedict at the end of this month make no mistake. GOTHA would have never imagined that the WHITE HOUSE he built with the LOOT will become a National monument. He is not around to enjoy his rich pickings and our prayers have been answered.

    5) Once we have locked MR and his cronies behind Bars we can move on and FORGIVE but we can never FORGET what you have done to us.

    The ball is in your Court and if you dont change your ways we now have the power to Punish Sinhala Lanka like we punished MR.

  • 5

    The Challenges Before Us ( Sinahala Lanka ):

    Is to face tghe future without the Liberators.

    Except for MR who was unable to flee the other two have fled.

    The Racist Majority have always claimed that it was the Rajapaksas who made it possible for them to walk the Streets without any fear. My question is did they ever contemplate that their Liberators will not be around to walk the streets with them but rather hide in a Foreign Land. Gotha if as is reported has feld to Maldives he will be under orders not to show up in public for fear of being branded as a Rogue state harbouring a War Criminal.
    Basil will be under house arrest on charges of Money Laundering under American Law.

    Rough justice

  • 3

    The new Govt must proceed immediately to investigate the attempt by the rascal MR to stage a coup. The law must take its course and the guilty punished. It is dangerous to let loose MR. He is a great schemer and will make every attempt to defeat the new Govt. MS you don’t have to be nice to these Crimminals. Let the judges decide as to who was responsible to stage the coup. If MR is behind it his civic rights should be removed preventing him for ever to hold the country to ransom.
    MS please act immediately in your own interest as well as for the country. Those crooks who decamped will come back again.

  • 1

    Ranil W shows his class by including Rajiva W in his team. No personal animosity or prejudice there. Education is down Rajiva’s lane. Now that he is a Minister of sorts, let’s see how he performs in the first 100 days. He was sermonizing all this time and now the man gets his position he has to prove his mettle.

    Many felt Tissa Attanayake was unlucky to the UNP. They may be right.
    The poor chap now carries the dubious record of being the Health Minister only for a few weeks. Is this a world record?


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