By Gamini Jayaweera –
The Hon. President Mr. Maithripala Sirisena has publicly announced that he is currently writing a book about his failed “Political Marriage” to the Hon. Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. He has stated that he is going to reveal all the details which have led to his decision of sacking Mr. Wickremesinghe and appointing former President, Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister. Millions of people who supported the “Political Marriage” between Maithri and Ranil had high hopes that the two partners would deliver the promises given in the presidential and general elections. The aim of this brief analysis is to remind the Hon. President of some factual information about the “Failed Political Marriage” which have been witnessed by the public during the last four years. I believe that any help that could be given to the Hon. President to write his forthcoming book accurately and honestly, is considered as providing a great service to the nation. I would be pleased if this brief account could make a small contribution towards that goal.
The “Political Marriage” between Maithri and Ranil was established in 2014 with the blessings of the well-known Buddhist monk late Ven. Sobitha thero, former President Madam Chandrika Kumaratunga, and selfless members of several Civil Societies. The primary goal was to ensure that the country would be free from potential dictatorship amongst other important issues which were crippling the democratic values in our society. Having defeated the authoritarian previous regime, the nation expected the newly “married” partners Maithri and Ranil together with their “Blue and Green relatives” to work in partnership to restore the good governance in our society.
The main objective of the “marriage” is to remove the powers granted under the constitution for an executive president to act as a dictator if he wishes to exercise his authority. It is now crystal clear that after nearly four years in power, the Hon. President in particular has failed to implement his pledge which he has made at the funeral of the late Ven. Sobitha thero to abolish the executive presidency. Instead of fulfilling the main objectives of the previous “marriage”, the nation had witnessed in horror how the Hon. President justified his illegal “marriage” to the former President Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse without going through the proper “divorce proceedings” to end his legitimate “marriage” to the Hon. Prime Minster Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe in an ethical, moral, and legal manner.
Partnership – A Marriage
It is widely established that a successful partnership in any field would depend on by observing certain essential criteria such as honesty, openness, integrity, humility, and sharing praise & blame equally by the partners to the agreement. It is like a marriage. Two people from entirely different backgrounds get married to live as partners in a new relationship on common objectives while recognising and adapting their different cultures, values and obligations under the new partnership.
A successful marriage is not measured by the marriage certificate or trying to fulfil the requirements of the relatives and friends of both partners at the expense of their core objectives of the marriage. Extra marital activities and marrying another person without obtaining a divorce from the first marriage are unethical, immoral, or illegal under the prevailing law in Sri Lanka.
It has been said that to have a successful marriage the couple need to put the marriage certificate beneath the bed and they must concentrate on the activities on the bed. So, where did it go wrong for Maithri and Ranil?
Modern marriages recognise the importance of treating the husband and wife as equal partners with specific roles to play in their married life. In gay marriages too have these two equal roles to conduct the family affairs in a peaceful, harmonious, and progressive manner to achieve their common objectives. A “Political Marriage” is no different.
But unfortunately, the “marriage” between Maithri and Ranil was different. They did not recognise themselves as equal partners. Both wanted a lion share of the “marriage” to impose their independent authority irrespective of the damage they were causing to the partnership. Both wanted to safe guard their “Blue and Green relatives” and friends despite most of these relatives’ actions were against the principles of the “Yahapalanaya” government. Some of the “Blue and Green relatives” and friends have become “self-made” millionaires by being Ministers, MPs, and supporters of the two parties.
It appears that some of the “Blue relatives” who had been appointed to his cabinet by Maithri have had an ulterior motive at the outset. They did not like the marriage at all and they wanted to wreck it at any cost. They were very close to Mahinda (“Appachchi”) than their obstinate and stubborn relative who got “married” to Ranil against the will of the “Appachchi”. It appears that some of them had accepted the ministerial posts in Maithri’s cabinet with two objectives in mind. Firstly, they wanted to enjoy the ministerial posts with all the perks and luxuries as long as they could. Secondly, they wanted to get together with Mahinda and the other “Blue relatives” at a future date to break the “marriage” and oust Ranil as soon as they get an opportunity.
Some “Green Relatives” did not want Ranil to break the “marriage” with Maithri because they were genuinely committed to the “political marriage” to fulfil the promises that had been given to the nation. It appears that other “Green relatives” and friends were no better than the “Blue relatives”. Some were inefficient and relied on Ranil to protect them. The rest wanted to enjoy the ministerial perks and earn as much as they could during the 5 years behaving exactly the same way as some of their “Blue” counter parts.
Corrupt “Relatives” and Friends
In the recently held swearing-in ceremony of Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister, the President Mr. Maithripala Sirisena has given one of the reasons for dissolving the parliament as there was a large number of corrupt MPs in the current parliament. It would have been better if the President had acknowledged that he and other party leaders were responsible for approving nominations and campaigning to elect these fraudsters to the parliament.
It is worth reminding ourselves about Maithri’s first action of appointing some rejected “Blue relatives” as Ministers of the newly form government against the stiff opposition of the “creators” of the “Political Marriage”. It was considered as laying the foundation and reintroduction of “bribery and corruption” in to the ‘Yahapalanaya’ government. It was also recognised that some of the “Blue relatives” appointed as Ministers, State Ministers, and deputy Ministers by Maithri, were allegedly involved in corrupt and fraudulent activities during the previous administration. But it appears that they have been well protected from prosecution because of their “loyalty” to the party leadership.
Some of the “Green relatives” and old friends appointed by Ranil to prominent government positions were no better than the “Blue relatives”. They have allegedly involved in fraudulent activities. It appears that some of these guys have behaved against the values, ethics, and principles of the grand old party. He allowed his top political appointees to act as they wished without checks and balances. The genuine supporters who wanted the “Political Marriage” to succeed were highlighting the unacceptable activities of these appointees but no actions were taken to rectify the situation.
Most of these “relatives” and friends have brought a lasting damage to the “Political Marriage” and Ranil’s reputation as a clean politician. The Sunday Times columnist “Punchi Putha” on 8 April 2018 stated “You must also discipline your own miscreants. Every time Ravi says he is still the ‘assistant leader’ you will lose a few thousand votes – and eventually, the elections. If you really want to appease him, you can give him a diplomatic post after you win. That way, he will still get an apartment to live in!”
Lack of Wisdom
It is fair to say that during the last three years, instead of acting to implement common objectives, both Maithri and Ranil have acted to protect their own interests, favouring and taking decisions on behalf of their “Blue and Green” relatives and friends. They did not act together to address the issues which were threatening the stability of the “Yahapalanaya”. The Ministers, MPs, and their political appointees to top government institutions were rewarded with various benefits from the public funds. But Maithri and Ranil were not working together to resolve the economic hardships and other social injustices faced by the majority of the people. Both leaders, who were exhibiting their egos instead of showing humility to implement “give and take” policy to resolve the issues, had made a substantial contribution towards damaging their relationship as partners. They were preaching one thing, perhaps the right thing, during the election campaign but in government, they were practising something else.
Maithri and Ranil believed that they were very clever politicians and therefore they could resolve any problem by forgetting the basic principles of the partnership and acting independently of each other. Of course both of them are very clever politicians. But what they did not understand was by being clever one could not resolve all the problems. One needs to have developed Wisdom rather than Cleverness to overcome the difficulties and find right solutions to certain complex problems.
Having failed to break the “odd” couple’s “marriage” at the very first attempt in March 2018, most of the “Blue relatives” abandoned their sibling and wanted to re-join “Appachchi” to get his blessings to win their parliamentary seats in the 2020 general election. To their credit, Mr.Namal Rajapakse and Mr. Prasanna Ranatunge who are appeared to be members of the newly formed SLPP, strongly refused to unite with the “naughty relatives” who served in Maithri’s cabinet for more than 3 years enjoying ministerial perks and other benefits. It is my view that long years of exile in the political wilderness would have been the best option for these kinds of politicians. But it appears that “Appachchi” had overruled their opposition because he was working on a different strategy. Behind the scenes, Mahinda was working with his “naughty” relatives to break up the “Political Marriage” between Maithri and Ranil to become the Prime Minister with the blessings of Maithri. A very big mistake and a narrow minded strategy to grab the power without following the constitutional procedures.
Maithri has recently revealed that he tried to get “married” to two of the “Green relatives” behind the back of his legitimate partner Ranil. But they had refused his proposals because those two “Green relatives” thought it was not in the best interest of the country as well as Maithri’s proposal was immoral and unethical.
Having failed to win the hearts of the two “Green relatives”, it is reported that during the last 4 to 5 months Maithri with the help of the “naughty” relatives had involved in “extra marital activities” with Mahinda. On 26 October 2018, Maithri had announced that he was now legally “married” to Mahinda without going through any “legal proceedings” to end the previous “marriage”. It is widely accepted in the civilised world that a person who marries a woman while already married to another woman is called a “Bigamist”. Is it fair and reasonable to assume that Maithri has earned the title of “Political Bigamist” by “marrying” Mahinda without going through the legal proceedings to end his existing legitimate “Political Marriage” to Ranil?
Most of the “Blue and Green relatives” have a common disease. They suffer from this unbelievable and disgusting greed for money, perks, and fame. These ”relatives” have no shame, decency, honesty, integrity, and self-respect as they can jump from one side to the other several times in a matter of days if their desires are fulfilled.
It appeared that the brokers of Maithri and Mahinda were openly offering bribes to satisfy the “Blue and Green relatives” so that they could win the support of the most “relatives” in the house to approve their illegal “marriage”. Maithris recent admission confirmed that they could not raise the “going bribery rate” of Rs.500 million for each political “acrobat”.
The political leaders who organize to buy other party members to change their party colour in crucial elections are no different to people who pay prostitutes for sex. This is the kind of “Political Prostitution” which is being taken place during these uncertain times. This episode reminds me the words of Ronald Regan, former President of the USA. “Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.”
Sincerity or “Double Standards”?
Mr. Kumara Welgama is the only SLFP politician who has got the courage to criticise the Mahinda’s illegal “marriage” to Maithri. He is the only SLFP member to highlight the illegal action by Maithri and asked him to resign for violating the constitution. Most of the other “Blue relatives” were blindly following personalities, distorting the truth. This episode reminds me the story of the naked Emperor who appeared in public announcing that he was wearing invisible cloths which were admired by his ministers and supporters who failed to tell the “naked” truth.
It is common sense that one does not require “legal opinions” to find out who has got the majority in the parliament to become the Prime Minister. Until the mid-night on 9 November, Maithri and his “Blue relatives” were publicly boasting that they had got the majority in the parliament. Maithri dissolved the parliament against the provisions in the constitution because he realised that his illegal “marriage” to Mahinda did not have the majority support in the parliament. The way these politicians lying through their teeth to grab the power is despicable and every decent honest citizen in the country must teach these liars and power-hungry fraudsters a lasting lesson in the next general election.
It is reported that Maithri has refused to give ministerial posts to the SLFP MPs who are supporting the UNP led government. The SLFP leadership is proposing to take disciplinary actions against these MPs. But Maithri and the SLFP CC had failed to take disciplinary actions in the past against a number of SLFP MPs who had violated the official instructions, warnings, and deadlines given by the SLFP leadership on many occasions. Many SLFP MPs have joined the SLPP during the last few months and they have announced it publicly. Maithri had failed to take disciplinary actions against those SLFP MPs but rewarded them with ministerial posts in his “illegal” government. Is Maithri exhibiting “double standards”? Please refer to my article titled “Are The SLFP CC Members Naïve & Day Dreaming” dated 31 March 2016 published in the Colombo Telegraph
Therefore, is it fair and reasonable for us to question the claim made by Maithri in his recent speech that his actions were sincere and well-intended?
Attempted Murder Plot
Maithri has also highlighted in his recent speech that an attempted plot to assassinate him was another factor which contributed to the breakup of his “Political Marriage” to Ranil. It appears that the latest CID reports indicate that there was no evidence to suggest that such an attempted coup had been organised by the former minister Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka. Furthermore, to date there is no evidence to suggest that Ranil had known such a plot to assassinate the President. Reports indicate that Maithri has refused to grant a ministerial post to Mr. Sarath Fonseka until the investigations are complete.
But after winning the presidential election, Maithri accused the previous rulers of a planned assassination plot of him and his family if he had lost the presidential election. In order to make such an accusation by Maithri, a close associate of the members of the previous regime for more than 4 decades, would have had the first hand evidence about the people who were responsible for it. If so, why Maithri did not take any action against the previous rulers for the last 4 years? How could he explain his recent illegal “marriage” to the previous rulers who had been accused of planning to kill him and his family? One cannot have both ways when it suits one.
Having briefly analysed the reasons for the “Failed Marriage” of Maithri and Ranil,
I am sad and disappointed to see the man who has been elected by the majority of the people in Sri Lanka to protect the democracy from possible dictatorship is now behaving worse than the previous leadership. On 8 January 2015 we have saved our country from possible dictatorship but since 9 November 2018 we are experiencing that the country is going backwards to destroy our democratic values. As Professor Jayadeva Uyangoda recently stated “Even Mahinda Rajapakse did not violate the constitution in this way.” Fortunately our independent judiciary overruled Maithri’s illegal act of dissolution of parliament and restored the parliamentary democracy once again.
It appears that the “Political Marriage” has failed due to number of factors which I have briefly summarised above. A golden opportunity to change our “corrupt” political culture was lost. The dream of millions of people who had placed their trust and pinned their hopes that the new “Political Marriage” would re-build a Democratic, Law abiding and Sovereign nation had been destroyed. The Vision of working together towards the advancement of social, religious, cultural, economic, and technological developments had become a Fantasy instead of a Reality. Please refer to my article titled “New President’s Vision – A Fantasy or A Reality” dated 5 February 2015 published in the Colombo Telegraph.
More emphasis was placed to demonstrate ‘who was right’ but not ‘what was right’. It appears that both leaders did not have the courage to conduct honest, open, and hard conversations to resolve the issues which were threatening the “Political Marriage”. The two leaders failed to put their country above party politics. The “married” couple did not focus on the “job” in hand to deliver the common objectives, hence the “Political Marriage” between Maithri and Ranil was a failure.