30 September, 2020

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The Folly Of Ranil

By Rajeewa Jayaweera

Rajeewa Jayaweera

The long-awaited local government elections are finally over. There were those who expected the JO to be the winner with UNP a close second and SLFP Maithri wing a distant third. Then there were those who thought the UNP to be the winner with JO a close second and SLFP Maithri wing a distant third. Few if any expected last Saturday’s outcome.

For comparison purposes, this writer has used 2015 Parliamentary results and latest 2018 LG results. A visit to the Election Commission office to obtain final figures came to naught which is not yet finalized. Only Registered Electors was available. Votes polled by SLMC, EPDP, ACMC, ACTC, and CWC was obtained by calculating results extracted from leading newspapers and hence may not be entirely accurate but will suffice for this opinion piece.

A currently prevailing school of thought is, 44.7% (4,941,952) polled by Mahinda Rajapaksa’s (MR) SLPP amounts to less than 47.6% (5,768,090) he polled in the Presidential election in January 2015. That theory has no merit as the Presidential contest was a two-horse race. Minorities voted en mass for his opponent Maithripala Sirisena (MR). In the same token, 13.4% (1,481,846) polled by President Sirisena (MS) amounts to less than 51.2% (6,217,162) he polled in January 2015. A more meaningful comparison is the results of the Parliamentary election in August 2015 which was not a two-horse race. Minorities voted for their minority parties, as was the case in the just concluded LG elections.

That said, LG elections are not comparable with Presidential or Parliamentary elections. It can only serve as a yardstick to measure the current level of acceptance of the government in place.

Minister Mangala Samaraweera termed the UNP electoral defeat as a “Timely wakeup call.” That, however, is far from the truth. MS, SLFP (M wing), RW, UNP, Minister Samaraweera and the entire lot kept postponing LG elections for over two years as they considered their chances of a victory as poor. The result on February 10 was only a confirmation of that suspicion.

It is not this writer’s intention to waste valuable space on (MS). Since his entry into parliament in 1989, he has been a nondescript party faithful, contented being a shadow to successive party leaders. He is no visionary leader. However, he possessed characteristics the likes of RW and former President CBK (excluding Sobitha Thero) besides our foreign masters considered necessary for the common candidate. He was sufficiently malleable to be made to give up his Presidential powers substantially (19th amendment) and then take a back seat and leave the serious business of governance to the RW. MS was supposed to fade away at the end of his term.

Over 6.2 million voters voted for MS and five million for Mahinda Rajapakse (MR) in January 2015 giving MS a majority of just under 450,000 votes. Five million voters voted for UNGFF and 4.7 million for UPFA in August 2015 giving UNGFF a majority of 366,250 votes, thanks chiefly to some bizarre acts by UPFA leader MS who in fact worked against his party. That said, those who voted for MS in January 2015 and MS+RW Yahapalana group in August 2015 did so due to their desire to be rid of Mahinda Rajapaksa, his clan, and cronies for a plethora of reasons. Corruption and absence of the rule of law were high on the list of reasons. They placed their trust in MS, hitherto relatively untainted of bribery and dishonesty and RW, previously known as ‘Mr. Clean’.

Not since 1960 has a political party, leader or a coalition government managed to squander its mandate and political capital within 30 months or mid-point of its term of office. Prime Ministers Dudley Senanayake and Mrs. Bandaranaike, Presidents JR Jayawardena, CBK, and MR all took longer than half their terms of office to make voters feel the way they thought of the Yahapalana government on February 10.

Most if not all-important decisions in the Yahapalana administration are made by RW with MS asserting his authority but occasionally. Over the last thirty months, the government has repeatedly proved its inability to govern as well as manage the economy. Its dismal failure to deliver on some critical electoral promises is another factor.

The all-important promise of weeding out corruption was derailed due to the Bond scam and compounded by attempts of covering up, i.e., RW’s Pitipana Committee, Foot Note group. RW recommended an extension of service for the Governor of Central Bank, who with his son in law was at the bottom of the Bond scam. Ministers found guilty of inappropriate conduct either resigned and returned to cabinet after a few months or else given positions within the administration. The National Audit Bill, expected to rectify financial corruption in the state sector, is yet to see the light of day even after three years.

Another electoral promise was to prosecute wrongdoers of the Rajapaksa administration. Once again, the government’s failure to deliver is hard to ignore. Other than the ‘Sil Redi’ case, little or no progress has been made in a string of corruption and murder cases. Supposedly uncomplicated cases against some Parliamentarians, stalwarts of the previous administration continue to be to remain in abeyance as with the murder case of Lasantha Wickramatunge and disappearance case of Pradeep Eknaligoda. The accusations against Rajapaksas of stashing away billions of dollars in foreign bank accounts has begun to lose merit, mainly due to the government’s No Action Talk Only policy.

The politically motivated Rs 10,000 pay increase to all government servants besides reduction in the price of fuel and a range of essential commodities during the Hundred Days Program lost its shine a long time ago. What bothers people now is the high cost of living, i.e., a coconut at Rs 100. The shortage of rice some time ago and the more recent shortages of fuel, fertilizer, etc., considered vital items is an indication of the government’s lackluster performance. It has also failed to hold accountable, those responsible for shortages.

Sri Lankan politicians prefer nepotism to best practices. MS favored his brother shortly after winning the presidential election. RW rammed through the appointment of his nominee for the post of Governor of Central Bank, disregarding objections even of some ministers. Yahapalana champions do not believe in advertising such vacancies and selecting the most suited candidate. They prefer friends and family. Despite RW’s panache for Singapore styled governance, he thinks nothing of micromanaging the national carrier by interfering in senior appointments and overturning Board decisions. Notwithstanding promises of good governance, the Police Commission functions as an appendage of the government. The IGP was issued instructions by a Minister, an RW protégé, to refrain from arresting a wrongdoer. The IGP responded with a servile “Yes Sir, yes Sir,” did not make the arrest and the matter closed while the Police Commission did nothing.

Education continues its slide and is significantly lacking in the delivery of quality, especially in the periphery. 90% of the time is spent in administering national schools instead of focusing on policy and monitoring which should be the primary functions of the center. Parents and children suffer due to the lack of high-quality schools, teachers and an overloaded curriculum unsuitable for the country’s needs.

The GMOA continues its charade against a weak and ineffective government at the expense of the sick, especially the poor. It would not be incorrect to wonder; how many such inconvenienced patients and family members would have voted with the SLPP last Saturday.

During the last three years, RW has surrounded himself with a group of octogenarian former administrators besides a few corrupt party members and clueless old schoolmates, as his principal advisors, disregarding competent and capable persons found in the country.

The Hambantota Economic Zone project, a progressive initiative for which RW deserves credit is moving at snail’s pace.

The narrative briefly encapsulates the state of the nation under RW’s watch.

From a political standpoint, RW’s performance has been abysmal. Having taken over the party leadership in 1994, he has been Prime Minister for approximately six years. The remaining eighteen years has been as Leader of Opposition, possibly a world record. The UNP has suffered many electoral defeats under his leadership. In any self-respecting democracy, no party leaders would/would be permitted to remain party leader after one or at the most, two electoral defeats. Despite airs of a liberal democrat, RW presides over the UNP with an iron fist, supported by a working committee packed with loyalists and ex-Royalists, with little or no tolerance for dissent.

The need of the hour is not the future of the Yahapalana government.

What is critical is not if Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva or Speaker Karu Jayasuriya should be Prime Minister.

A new leader to take the UNP forward is the need of the hour. And let him not be a septuagenarian either.

Failure to act now is bound to culminate in bringing back the horrors of pre-January 09, 2015 era in the not too distant future.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    1

    Rajeewa Jayaweera: In this article, at the beginning says, MANGALA SAMARAWEERA is the Author. But, inside says, it is you. In your statistics, UPFA had 42.4% At the local elelction SLPP and UPFA together has earned 58%. UNPF which earned 45.7% has decreased to 32.7%. but your figures quote differently. So, how can Ranil Stays as the Prime minister in a party that lost grounds. Even the speaker is UNP. How come ? Yahapalanaya was considered to be for how many years, not all five years. I think Maithriapala Sirisena has a role in the bond scam. JVP says, they want no roll here, they are watchig what is going on.

  • 1
    0

    As per your statistics, there is one MP for each elecorate.251 olocal councils versus 225 MPs and there is a president to represent the whole country. check TNA statistics, there is a Tamil MP for every 21,000 of the population. I heard Tamils want to hide these things because they do not want to leave. IT is said that is India that wanted it this way. some local bodies donot have evrn 15,000 people for the govt. Note there are other Tamil parties too. Compare these values , there are how many Tax payers in the country. when the money coming from middle east is dwindling how will the govt is going to shoulder this burdon.

  • 2
    0

    Because of PM position and Ranil not leaveing the position, That beong the focus, there are many things being covered. How about the so many other MPS includuing those of Foot Note gang being silent. Not only Ravi the Liar, his money laundering case of Galleon Trsut has being left alone. I heard RAvi the LIar had attended even the Dahama Pasala with Rajitha Senarathne and he had liking intially to communist philosophy. LAter he became a Catholic ( A born again ?) and waiting to be the PM of the Yahapalanaya opr more. I heard it is He who brought Ven. sobhitha to the stage by influencing him. Note from PTL which began with Rs 300 million, removed 13 billion. IT is about 43 times except the Real estate and manufacturing plants (liquor) and the newspaper printing places they owned. No one investigated why there are 24 companies and what their roles are. So, all these are covered because of this struggle to grab the PM post. Ranil has done a criminally wrong something. LAw enforcement should be able to drag him out. Why it si not happening instead fight for something unncessasary.

  • 1
    0

    If some one checks documents, get a good auditor, can prove that Nimal siripala silva earned commis from buying Train Engines and he has hidden that money in a small bank in the middle east. that is what I heard. So, what can you expect from him.

  • 1
    2

    In an election rally one of the UNP politician said Rajapakse pushed the country to the level of Zimbabwe. It is not Rajapakse but Wickramasinghe who is pushing the country to the level of Zimbabwe. There is a similarity between Robert Mugabe and Ranil Wickramasinghe. Mugabe did not want to leave until he was thrown away. Will Ranil face the same fate as Mugabe?

  • 0
    0

    totally misleading article bases on miscalculation and bias.
    How stupid to make numbers compared without taking in to account the percentages of total votes cast at each election

    As a matter of fact SLPP is not a different or a new entity but a loose group of Crookes , anti Tamil, anti muslim racists, murderess aligned with the former regime

    Finally you may argue that people who voted for SLPP are all for these ..that they have no problem with robbing, murdering, kidnapping and shooting down your own people who were under the state custody(welikada)..of course as long as they wear the dreaded “satake”

    • 0
      0

      Sadat
      To do what you say will have to wait a while as Election Commission is still computing Total Others (Independents and smaller parties), Total Polled and Rejected Votes.(as I have stated in Para 2). Since Arithmatic obviously does not seem to be your strong point, based on currently available figures, Total Votes in percentages in August 2015 was 74.2% and February 2018 was 72.3%. The gap will be narrower once all figures have been computed – not a difference that will change the result.

  • 0
    0

    It is an insult to Rajeewa Jayaweera to bill this article, doubtless mistakenly, as one by Mangala Samaraweera.

    It is also unfair by Mangala Samaraweera, who at this moment is probably wondering about whether or not he will retain his job, and has no time to spare to write articles.

    Personally I hope that Mangala Samaraweera keeps his job because as Foreign Minister initially and later as Finance Minister, he has done so much to help the patriotic-populist Pohottuwa become the largest party in the country in the shortest possible time.

    • 0
      0

      Dear Dr. DJ,
      “It is also unfair by Mangala Samaraweera, who at this moment is probably wondering about whether or not he will retain his job, and has no time to spare to write articles.”
      I believe it would be correct to presume you are currently unemployed, since you seem to be writing an awful lot of so-called articles?
      Oh dear, how the mighty have fallen!

      • 0
        0

        oldcodger

        He is unemployable.
        For example would you offer him a job?

  • 2
    0

    In this article, Rajeewa has briefly stated the failed policy and administrative functions of this coalition Government of MY3 & MR. The most important factor is to find out the “WHYS” and “HOWS” of those failures came about. One simple answer to account for that failure is the LACK of LEADERSHIP in both the President and the Prime Minister. Both of them failed to LEARN the main and simple rule of LEADERSHIP, viz. You Either Lead by Example or You Don’t Lead At All. Both failed to DISCOVER what matters in the eye of the PEOPLE; instead each of them ventured out blindly experimenting on their own values, in the process their “Arrogance” to feel the PULSES; “Imbecility” crept into them without a feel in the nerves – all that leading to the loss of CREDIBILITY – the most needed characteristic in a Leader. The PM has spoken in the presence of the media and if one were to observe his “words” and “body language”, it is obvious he has at least NOW felt a sense of GUILT and FAILURE. The President has yet to speak; but nothing much could be expected other than to “REHEAT” his “ANGUISH”. In summary, I do find both these Leaders (the President & PM) have LOST their CREDIBILITY and with all what have happened during the past three years, it would be an UPHILL task to re-establish, if not impossible. Let this be a LEARNING for both the Leaders and the Followers. If they don’t LEARN and READJUST, then be prepared to be “RESPONSIBLE” and ACCOUNTABLE for all that would follow.

  • 0
    0

    Rajeewa Jayaweera
    You called your article ‘an opinion piece’. Opinion pieces are unbiased. Yours is nothing but!
    You savour the performance of SLPP. They got there playing the language/religion-divide card. You continue to drum the bond issue as if it is the only one. Is it?
    What is the point in these tables? You conclude that minorities are not enamoured by SLPP. Minorities see white vans
    Well well Rajeewa, the tragedy is the deep rooted hold of bad GoSL and a bad GoSL. Do we have a choice?

  • 0
    0

    Mr. JAyaweera, I thought I write this comment in your column. I heard this Ranil refusing to leave is completely toa discourage Mahinda Rajapakse. Mahinda Rajapakse is saying you can any games and I know when to come -something similar to that. I heard Outsiders are asking Ranil to Stay. But, Maithripala sirisena says “Go and come after some time” It is certain for everybody that every govt was plundering the country by stealing. Even the previous govt did it. but no one could expose it or reveal it to the outside. But Ranil got caught as soon as he did it. He was playing games with MY3 and it went sour. I heard YAHAPALANAYA IS SO PATHETIC THEY STOLE MONEY EVEN FROM THE MUSICAL SHOW THAT WAS HELD FOR SUNIL SHNATHA. I DON’T KNOW HOW THIS THE TALK OF THE COLOMBO PUBLIC.Anyway, the country is bankrupt. Need to wait and see, how these people continue the game.

  • 0
    0

    Check silently whether some people in the SLBC are talking vitamin Tablets for Mental Stress. Just one.

  • 1
    0

    There are procedural errors and substantive errors. We are I think exaggerating our fallibility. Human beings are not perfect and will never be perfect. We have to therefore go by the losses caused to the nation and the society and quantify such losses when we seek to ferret out crookedness and fraud.. We should set up investigations only after estimating the alleged losses in quantitative terms as alleged by those who make allegations. It is a waste of time, money and manpower to inquire into trivialities and procedural errors.
    RMB Senanayake

    • 1
      0

      Mr Senanayake
      Beg to differ. Having two NICs / Passports, accusations against the former first lady and spouse of a minister cannot be dismissed as trivialities, a procedural error or lack of a loss in quantitative terms. They have broken the law. Considering their station in society, they need to be prosecuted with the full force of the law. They can not be allowed to go scot-free and set a bad example for other lawbreakers.

  • 0
    0

    Mr. Jayaweera: What I heard, that Account tallys. but, there are missing receipts and/or unsigned receipts. Maithripala sirisena had said MAge KArumeta mama OW kiwwa. One Kumarasiri Bopage may know the truth.

  • 2
    0

    The Sinhala are nothing but a pernicious race of odious vermin.

    Their origins are in bestiality (Suppa Devi and the lion), Parricide (Sinhabahu killing the Lion) and Incest ( Sinhabaabu and Sinhaseevali)

    That explains it all

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