By Senthil Nadarajah –
The Aragalaya or the Sri Lankan spring has reached its climax in the last week by booting out the remaining Rajapaksas who were holding the all-powerful presidency. The initial reason for the spontaneous uprising by the people of Sri Lanka happened due to the lack of essential items and rampant corruption in the ruling party.
The corruption of backdoor deals, kickbacks of every government contract and the white elephant projects that siphoned the wealth of the country where only a handful of people profited.
The people’s revolution was spontaneous and the primary goal was to have the country liberated from the Rajapaksas as at one point by nepotism and the family appointments, they controlled 70% of the country’s budget in various ministries.
The rampant corruption is not isolated to this regime as this is an ongoing phenomenon for the last 70 years from successive governments in power and the participants. I personally came to know a businessman who once told me that Mangala Samaraweera was the only MP that he has not seen looking for any kickbacks and he was happy to work under his ministry.
The uprising also has a message for every corrupt government MPs that they were not done with Rajapaksas and each and every MPs who supported and prop up the family are responsible for the current bankrupted state.
Each MPs were paid about Rs. 250,000.00 Per month along with the duty-free cars and multiple permits which is a lucrative business for many. When almost the entire Sri Lankans regardless of their income or status or even the jobs (be it an ordinary clerk or a doctor in the hospital as one of my colleagues wake up at 4AM to go stand in the petrol queue) were forced to stand in the lines for the essential needs from fuel to go to work and food to eat to survive. The Medicines are also being rationed and milk for the babies are nowhere to be found.
Has anyone seen any of the MPs or ministers have to stay with the public in the same lines where multiple people have died staying in the lines with starvation and dehydration?
The collective responsibility is squarely falling on the entire current parliament and there is no escape from that. No excuses is sufficient enough to escape from this carnage they have created. However, after the Aragalaya have succeeded in removing the President and the Prime Minister from the Rajapaksa family none of those MPs who prop up the Rajapaksa family is ready to take the responsibility.
Instead, they are trying to elect an unelected but nominated through the loopholes in our constitution to be the interim president. Ranil Wickremesinghe was equally responsible for the country’s current state of affairs as under his watch, he let the investigation of Rajapaksa’s slip away knowingly or unknowingly. During his tenure as Prime Minister Srilanka lost hectic amount on the bond scam showed how inept leader Ranil Wickremesinghe is. In the period, he never accepted the responsibility for any misdeeds.
Ranil is not transparent as talks with the IMF has bombshell requirements that they expected the government to fulfill which including;
1. Privatization of State enterprises that are losing money
2. Outright sell the Srilanka airlines
3. Minimize the cabinet size and the staffs
4. Reduce the defense budget
5. Move away from Tourism dependent economy
6. Bring back the Bribery commission that was abolished by Gota
7. Drastically cut the state’s employment force
8. Independent Central bank
9. Structural changes to the many State corporations mean many layoffs are in the making
10. Tax withholding system for the people and businesses.
The current parliamentarians have no clue as to what is on the table with the IMF negotiations as when the meetings are over, all will have a rude awakening.
While the talks of horse trading are going on with supposed to be millions of rupees are going to be paid to MPs, at the end, it will be a LOST REVOLUTION if we can’t take home the harvest. Everything will be back to SQUARE ONE. Of note that One of the conditions by IMF is to stop printing the money which was started by Rajapaksas, however our current president continue to print money to this date as the treasury is empty.
Unless we collectively make decision to appoint an outsider with no vested interest in politics and have proven track record as leadership who is acceptable to all sort of people and capable of forming a unitary government for a period of 2 years to straighten up the economy, minimize the state expenditure and be transparent as well as follow the rule of law, we are not going to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Rajapaksas will have the last laugh.
I have suggested that an outsider like Kumar Sangakkara can be nominated to become MP based on the loopholes we have in the constitution and elect him as the interim President who in turn can use the professionals in the field of economics and finances to formulate an exit strategy knowing well that SRILANKA IS WAITING FOR A HAIRCUT that will wipe many people’s life time earrings.