5 December, 2021

Blog

The Political Logjam

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“…something begun so well had now gone off the rails…”

George Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo)

In a recent New Yorker article on Donald Trump, commentator Adam Gopnik reminds his readers that while crazy lovers are pitiful or pathetic, crazy politicians are not.

The shenanigans of Donald J Trump are a potent reminder of what Sri Lanka’s fate would have been had the 2015 presidential election ended differently. A third Rajapaksa presidential-term would have been infinitely worse than the Trump presidency; by 2015 Sri Lanka had been denuded of those standard democratic checks and balances which keep autocracy at bay, especially an independent judiciary, a free media and a vibrant civil society.

Neither time nor electoral defeat has caused even the slightest dent in the Rajapaksa mania for power. The SirisenaWickremesinghe administration is just few months short of the halfway mark of its five year lifespan. If a new constitution which does away with the presidential system is not put in place, presidential elections will have to be held in the first quarter of 2020. Since the 19th Amendment prevents Mahinda Rajapaksa from contesting again, the candidate of the Rajapaksa camp is likely to be younger brother Gotabhaya.

The Rajapaksas are crazy with power-lust. “For mine own good, all causes shall give way”: Macbeth’s not quite sane pronouncement could well be the motto of the former first family. But the Siblings managed to overcome the political death a sensible electorate dealt them, not once but twice, thanks in the main to the idiocies, inadequacies and illegalities of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration.

The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration came into office on a popular wave. Mr. Sirisena and the UNP were able to defeat the Rajapaksa juggernaut because they succeeded in inspiring the voters by giving them a new sense of hope.

Two years and two months on, the government has squandered almost all the goodwill it once enjoyed.

Three incidents which happened last week symbolise the failure of the government to live up to even a minimal level of expectations. The government moved two supplementary estimates in parliament; the first one of Rs, 494 million was to buy luxury vehicles for several cabinet and state ministers; the second one of 134.4 million was to fund a monthly allowance of Rs. 100,000 for parliamentarians, ostensibly to maintain an office. The week ended with yet another shameless deed – the conferring of an ambassadorship on ASP Liyanage by President Sirisena. 

Bribing ministers, parliamentarians and sycophants with perks and privileges at the expense of the country is the way President Maithripala Sirisena and the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe maintain their hold over their respective parties and win friends. Many a broken promise and a significant departure from the basics of good – and sensible – governance were born from this tactic, starting with a bloated cabinet.

This tactic has won for the government a majority in parliament. The victory, however, is an ephemeral one, something which can be upended in a matter of days; most ministers and parliamentarians would change sides, again, and become born-again Rajapaksa loyalists, the moment the government is sufficiently unpopular. It doesn’t take a feat of imagination to visualise Susil Premjayantha or Anura Priyadarshana Yapa singing the praises of the Rajapaksas and damning Mr. Sirisena as a traitor to the party and the country. 

The Deadly Absence of Political Will

In 2015, President Sirisena had the historic opportunity of overhauling the SLFP and turning it into a post-Rajapaksa party invulnerable to the siren song of the Rajapaksas. This was what JR Jayewardene did with the UNP, and he did it while in opposition and despite the enormous popularity of the late Dudley Senanayake, both within the party and the country.

JR Jayewardene knew of the importance of breaking the UNP from its feudal past. He also knew that by making the attempt he was risking a split in the party. It was a dangerous gamble, one which could have gone badly wrong and condemned the UNP to a long stint in opposition. But Mr. Jayewardene took the risk even though many thought he was being foolhardy. After all, the UNP had been synonymous with the Senanayake name and family since its inception; throughout its existence, it had been led by a Senanayake, except for the short Kotelawala interregnum. But Mr. Jayewardene knew that if the UNP was to have a future it had to make a clean break with the Senanayake past. And he possessed the necessary political will to do the needful.

Mr. Sirisena could have performed a similar historic feat and prised the SLFP away from the Rajapaksas, politico-psychologically. His best chance was immediately after the parliamentary election of 2015. The Rajapaksas had suffered their second consecutive defeat and were in retreat. Mr. Sirisena was popular, he was trusted and he had power. He could have turned the SLFP from a backward looking semi-feudalist entity into a modern democratic political party. He could have groomed a new crop of leaders, untainted by the Rajapaksa muck and capable of resisting any Rajapaksa comeback.

Mr. Sirisena could have used the National List appointments to make a clean break with the Rajapaksa past. Instead he appointed well-known timeservers like Dilan Perera and SB Dissanayake. From that moment onwards, his dealings with the SLFP became marked by a cringe-worthy level of opportunism and a distressing absence of courage. The result has been a politically-debilitating inability to dominate (let alone hegamonise) the party of which he is the nominal leader.

Mr. Sirisena’s failure to develop a new vision and a new path for the SLFP and his inability to develop a set of new anti-Rajapaksa leaders who can take over the party once he retires are likely to cost the country dear. As a result of these multiple failures, the SLFP remains vulnerable to a Rajapaksa takeover and Sri Lanka in danger of a Gotabaya presidency.

Ranil Wickremesinghe was expected to usher in a government of financial probity and administrative efficiency. He has failed to live up to both expectations. Bond scam was his seminal failure. It depleted his credibility and legitimacy to near zero-levels. Instead of fighting for a new constitution, Mr. Wickremesinghe spent most of the last two years fighting for Arjun Mahendran, squandering most of his political capital to defend the indefensible.

The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration lacks a long-term perspective, not just economically but also politically. This is why the government has focused almost exclusively on keeping the political class – and other influential interest groups such as the military and the Buddhist monks – happy while neglecting the problems and needs of ordinary voters (including the rank-and-file of the three forces and the police). Since a change in the parliamentary balance is the easiest way to bring down the government, both Mr. Sirisena and Mr. Wickremesinghe would do almost anything to retain the parliamentary support they currently enjoy. This is the logic of bestowing more largesse on parliamentarians in a time of severe financial crisis, when five percent of the country’s populace is suffering under the hammer blows of a crippling drought.

This strategy might have worked if the drought been a short-term phenomenon, a dry spell lasting for no more than a few months, in between the regular monsoons. But the current drought, said to be the worst in decades, is the outcome of global warming. A continued increase in Indian Ocean temperatures is beginning to affect monsoon patterns in South Asia. Failed monsoons resulting in long periods of drought; short spells of extremely-intense rain causing unprecedented floods and landslides – that was what Sri Lanka experienced in 2016; and that might be the shape of our foreseeable future, weather-wise. If so, the drought is likely to be not a distant memory but a living reality for a significant percentage of Lankans when the time comes for the next round of presidential and parliamentary elections.

Disaster Politics

Close to one million – that is the number of drought-affected Lankans in immediate need of food assistance, according to an assessment carried out jointly by the government and the UN. Of these, 80,000 men, women and children are in need ‘urgent life-saving support’. The numbers of drought-affected Lankans are likely to increase in the coming months, especially if the monsoons fail to become active (as was the case last year), and drought is transformed from a seasonal phenomenon to a fact of daily life.

The drought has already affected all nine provinces and 23 of the 25 districts of the country and his is pushing people into adopting ‘coping strategies’ with devastating medium-to- long-term consequences, such as taking children out of school and selling livelihood assets. If monsoons continue to fail and the affected are not provided with adequate assistance, assetlessness will spread in farming communities and rural poverty will increase. In a few years, the country might witness a surge of internally displaced, driven away from their lands and their homes by drought and its myriad consequences ranging from poverty to land degradation and the depletion of ground water.   

In 2016, Sri Lanka’s rainfall was 23% less than the average rainfall for the three previous decades. Consequently cultivation levels fell to a record low. For example, of the 800,000 acres of paddy land, only 300,000 acres were planted last year.

Harvest failures and resultant income losses are causing a worrying hike in rural indebtedness. Over 60% of drought-affected Lankans are said to be in debt, each to the tune of US$1,200; at the current exchange rate this is about Rs.250,000, a massive sum most of the debtors won’t be able to repay if monsoons and harvests continue to fail. A medium-to-long-term debt relief programme is another urgent necessity which is neither being acknowledged nor addressed by the government. 

Even the generally tone-deaf IMF seems more aware of the systemic consequences of the drought than Lankan politicians. “A more prolonged drought could raise food and oil imports with adverse impact on growth, inflation and the balance of payment,” IMF mission chief Jaewoo Lee reportedly warned (Daily Mirror – 8.3.2017)

The IMF might be concerned about the economic effects of the drought, but the Finance Ministry remains in a state of infantile sanguinity. The Ministry has reportedly predicted that the drought will not affect the budget deficit. There’s no better proof that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration has begun to see the world through Rajapaksa glasses.

The IMF, having compelled the government to implement a VAT increase, has warned of its inflationary effects. The warning, though hypocritical, is accurate; inflationary pressure is building up and is likely to reach a new high if monsoons fail in 2017. This is likely to exacerbate another worrying consequence of the drought – a tendency on the part of the affected people to eat less, quantitatively and less well, qualitatively.

The overall prospect is a worrying one: increases in rural poverty, landlessness and unemployment, in school-dropout rates, malnutrition and diseases; generation of village and area level civil conflicts over water and other depleted resources; eventually the creation of internal climate-refugees. 

Juxtapose this with another tendency: of Colombo experiencing 160% increase in super rich over the next decade, a hike second only to that of Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City.

A society in which a tiny minority wallows in riches while a large majority is plagued by absolute or relative poverty and economic uncertainty is not a healthy society. Such a society is vulnerable to civil and systemic instability and to anti-democratic and extremist impulses. These are all horrors Sri Lanka had known in the past. The challenge is to ensure that they don’t become a part of the country’s future.

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Latest comments

  • 17
    1

    Yes, Tisaranee Gunasekara,

    Two years ago, we were so hopeful of improvement, but it’s disappointment all the way now. Yesterday I happened to meet a local politician – they are throwing themselves behind Gotabhaya R. and the parallels between him and Trump are scary..

    Trump denies climate change, and you rightly say much about how last year’s drought is going to affect us. But February was usually the driest month on our island; this year it has been wet, and we could well have floods again soon. Everything getting unpredictable – underling the need not for superstition but for clear thinking.

    We’ve got to have constitutional and other changes to ensure that the Tamil population remains with us, as our people. What happens? We are misled, and, as you say, “time-servers” like Dilan Perera and S.B. Dissanayake are brought in. That thing about “Colombo experiencing 160% increase in super rich” – this is all about our not correcting injustices.

    There’s this news today about how we may find Wall Street corruption possibly getting a free hand again:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/the-brash-new-york-prosecutor-whos-indicting-left-and-right/2015/03/29/64472702-c412-11e4-9271-610273846239_story.html?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.747d77a85658

    That’s about Preet Bharara the man of Indian origin who brought Raj Rajaratnam to book and who should be kept on. No, this is not about superficial talk about Diaspora and Ethnicity: we are faced with lack of clear thinking, unpredictability and crooks getting away with crimes and manipulations.

    So much that is still going wrong – unnecessarily.

    • 6
      1

      Good one madam Thisaranee, Please keep them coming.

      Ranil does not give a hoot about Sri Lankan people and hardship of farmers.

      . Bond Scam Ranil ONLY dances to the tunes of Washington,: takes advice on money laundering from the IMF and the fake policy advice industry, in this era of Fake News and Fake Development that goes with Phantom Aid – like the Volkswagon car factory , Horana tire factory, Hambantota white elephants..

      Ranil is Washington’s man and Mahinda Jarapassa China’s Dude!

      Bond Scam Ranil takes his instructions on governance from Washington DC and a network of economic hit men at Harvard’s International Dev. Center’s Ricardo Hausman and his deep divers, the right wing Millennium Challenge Corporation, that funds Mackinsey to give neoliberal policy adivise to Ranil, and the IMF) that want to own and control Economic Policy and Governance in Sri Lanka..

      These US govt. funded outdated neoliberal development policy “experts” screw up countries in the global south, (including Greece that has joined the global south and remains trapped in Europe as its people are being savagely impoverished as it lost its Brexit chance). They provide “economic advise” to consolidate the IMF’s and the Washington Deep State’s hold in Sri Lanka and the economy to advance US security interests in Lanka,– to balance China.

      Bond scam Ranil got Sri Lanka into a massive debt trap with IMF at Washington’s behest, rather than ask IMF to track down off shore secret bank accounts and ensure return of stolen funds of Mahinda Jarapassa, using its useless experts so Lanka can pay its massive DEBT

      . IMF is supposed to be a Global Financial Governance institution! It works for the global 1 percent and to impoverish the rest of the world and gives Central banks advice on Money Laundering. Arjuna Mahendran and the Blackguard Christine Legarde hit it off very well indeed! The interests of Sri Lanka people is the last thing on Ranil’s mind!

    • 3
      0

      Good on you Sinhala Man.. I like the phrase you put….
      —” We’ve got to have constitutional and other changes to ensure that the Tamil population remains with us, as our people. “
      I sincerely believe you mean “Tamil, Muslim, and all other communities remain with us”…

      • 0
        1

        Gotabaya Rajapakshe is a Sinhala-Buddhist Ultra-Nationalist Racist and a Pseudo-Patriot, if he becomes the next president, the Minorities will be kaput, he will be the hero of the Majority Sinhala-Buddhists. Not only the minorities, anybody who talks against his government will get a free white van ride and will vanish from earth. It will be like a military rule and BBS will be his personal advisers. Another Pol Pot in the making.

        This is the right time for the present UNP government to get rid of the executive presidency which is s disaster for the country.

  • 13
    0

    Gamaralath ekke Divyalokete Giya Api.

    Fastidiously argued, lucidly defined reading of our present misfortunes of our over ambitious dreams of reaching heaven following a Sinhala Buddhist Gamarala hanging on to the tail of the Bonds devouring Elephant . Pregnant with common sense of superlative excellence.

  • 10
    4

    “A third Rajapaksa presidential-term would have been infinitely worse than the Trump presidency”

    Perhaps, a pedantic point but what happens in Sri Lanka has little, if any, impact on the wider world while Trump & Co. do – not only on many another nation but, what with the denial of man-made climate change, on animals, insects, plant life; in short on Planet Earth, our only home.

    The Rajapakses may appear bloated and big but that’s only because they swim in a very small (stagnant?)bit of water surrounded by other admiring (gullible or self-serving) little frogs.

    Pentheus

  • 7
    28

    I dont know why the hell most of kallathonies, mudukku mindset toyyas and uncivilized ISISers afraid of Gota. He is the great leader with vision n masterbrain.

    • 14
      4

      Oh yes, Master mind in kidnapping, Murder and White Vans. Scared !!!!! hell no, now that the guns n hired help r not in his hands too and we know how to make this two bit Seven Eleven employee run and run where to !!!!

    • 14
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      zaheeeeer

      Since when did you start washing Goata’s loin cloth? Like his older brother MARA, his brains are embedded elsewhere. No wonder he consumes pigshit, by his own admission of course!

    • 13
      3

      Mr Zaheer

      The average German in the 1930s thought the same of Hitler & his gang. Similarly but more recently, the uneducated, particularly, in the rural areas & the white supremists with the same mindset, voted Trump into power & the jury is still out on this. So another term for the Rajapakse regime? I don’t think so.

      • 2
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        Dear Raj,

        You sound like a Tamil; if that is the case, you are the sort of Tamil who has a major contribution to make by speaking in such a measured strain.

  • 13
    1

    There is enough evidence to hang the helping hambantota filth and they better start using it?

  • 3
    11

    When we elect a proven mediocre or more exactly a good-for-nothing idiot as the country’s president, we cannot expect other than what we see now. There is not a single iota of doubt that the next president of this country will be Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. All government servants and bureaucrats, including the judiciary is acting on this expectation. In another two and half years time we can expect real life high drama in unprecedented scale. All minorities will have to run for their lives. The idiot who failed to act on the given mandate will be minced meat for sure.

    • 9
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      You don’t seem too confident of Ranil? I don’t blame you,the man has never managed to win an presidential election?

      • 4
        0

        the man who lost close to 30 elections, but still the rajapakse who lost two is the greedy one for power..lol

    • 3
      0

      Don`t fear, Gota will go in when MS-RW will be forced to act. So Gota being a future problem to them
      will be liquidated in time, with no alternatives.

    • 0
      0

      Yeah from LA pump jockey and 7/11 sweeper up perfect for third world country?
      Only after trial and life sentence?

  • 1
    6

    Pentheus wrote: “The Rajapakses may appear bloated and big but that’s only because they swim in a very small (stagnant?)bit of water surrounded by other admiring (gullible or self-serving) little frogs.”

    I protest: we are not insignificant. We are special; in fact, unique. Weren’t we chosen by the Buddha to be the guardians of his
    lofty and compassionate teaching? And don’t we daily express these noble qualities both in our private and public lives?

    We may have litle to boast of in the present but we have
    ruins to show that we were once a flourishing people.

    And we are working to bring back those glorious days – even if that means violence, cruelty and injustice. Well, someone has to pay the price.

    Patriot

    • 6
      1

      Patriot

      ‘….. Weren’t we chosen by the Buddha to be the guardians of his
      lofty and compassionate teaching? And don’t we daily express these noble qualities both in our private and public lives? ..’

      Where did you get the idea that we were chosen by the Buddha to be the guardians of his teaching? As for your opinion about the daily expression of these noble qualities in our private and public lives, I must be living in a different planet because I don’t seem to see much of that. There are obviously a few who live by Buddhist principals but a lot more are hypocrites living in a dog eat dog world.

    • 4
      0

      Dear Patriot,

      Please re-consider some of the things that you have said. The Buddha was a man of Peace. He would be shocked by any show of ” violence, cruelty and injustice”.

      At first I thought you were using irony – I hope that such is indeed the case.

  • 6
    1

    GR is an American citizen as well as a SL citizen. As such he is ineligible to be elected to Parliament much less the Presidency. See 19 the Amendment. Geetha K has said that she gave up Swiss Citizenship by writing a letter to he Swiss Embassy. Giving up American citizenship is far far more difficult. An FR petition to the SC will result in an order to the EC to remove his name.

    His supporters are living in a fool’s paradise.

  • 5
    2

    Good analysis, Tissaranee. Some exceptions:
    Satisfying the political class has advantages as a short -term political strategy. If the constitution can be passed I am happy.
    2. Would it be easy for the cross-over SLFP blackguards to reorganize under MR or Gota? Wonder!

    I dare say, you may be right.

  • 14
    1

    A friend of mine who held senior administrative positions in the previous government was very happy when the Rajapakse regime got defeated. Recently when I met him I asked his views about this government. He said it would have been better if Rajapakses came to power. I asked why. He said “They have already made enough money and if they came to power they would have focused on developing the country. Whereas politicians in the present government are preoccupied with making money taking advantage of the opportunity they got after a long time and do not bother about anything else.”

  • 3
    0

    Article says, “A society in which a tiny minority wallows in riches while a large majority is plagued by absolute or relative poverty and economic uncertainty is not a healthy society”.

    According to the Niyama Dharmas (causal factor) of Buddhism, one can expect about 20% of the number in poverty to be due to their bad Karma, another 20% due to Utu Niyama (Seasonal factor) and so on. The government cannot do anything about the first category of 20% consisting of the karumakkarayas, except advise them to give more Dana etc. so that they will be elevated to the dirty rich at least in their next birth. Perhaps a considerable number of people that TG is lamenting for belong to this category. One should not try to interfere or attempt to find out how Karma works (Acintya Sutta).

    Strangely, according to Dhamma none of the causal factors can be adduced to inadequacies of bad Kings or governments. I blame the government for not preparing adequately for droughts etc., which are due to Utu Niyama. But that is about it.

    • 2
      1

      EDWIN RODRIGO

      according to Dhamma none of the causal factors can be adduced to inadequacies of bad Kings or governments

      It is correct to say that Power corrupts.

      King is also human.

      That is why every Prith chanting ends saying “Raja bhavathu dhammiko”.

      Now many kings were saints. Almost every king is stealing from the public.

  • 4
    1

    I am not qualified to comment on the Lankan side of it but I can tell you flat out despite all the negative publicity Trump gets HE WINS the narrative on every occasion. In fact some say he is very cunning. His outlandish accusations against Obama for spying, or his ludicrous statements and Saturday morning Tweets control the agenda. Media gets into a frenzy and lo and behold he signs executive orders reversing a lot of things Obama did and NO ONE notices the policy implications. For example allowing Coal mines again to dump waste into streams; his argument is it is pro job to do that. Gutting Environmental regulations and easing regulations on corrupt Wall Street. He really hoodwinked people more than Yahapaalanaya in a very brilliant manner. He sets the agenda that the media consumes. His base loves it. They do not care if he lied or did not release his taxes or insults Arabs and everyone else. I am going out on a really weak limb here Ms TG, I have a feeling he will win re-election in 2020 and we will see another war too. Again he is the brilliant manipulator of social media and fake news. They have FoxNews as their own Propaganda machine. The investigation into Russian connections may or may not result in facts but it does not matter. He says he is doing things for the “better of the American people”.

    Nationalism and White Arising is now the new normal. If you fail to realize that economic and ethnic nationalism is on the rise and surging in France. Netherlands, Sweden and even Germany you fail to see the reality. Hungary is already in the far-right camp. Far right is winning because of the sheer incompetence of liberals. BREXIT happened for a reason. Do not dismiss Trump’s hysterical outbursts. He does it for a reason and it does not matter that he lies on a regular basis. Democrats are where the UNP was for so long: In the wilderness. At State Level like Modi-Ji’s Hinduvta BJP Republican christian rightwing conservatives are taking control of so many State Governments and the legislative assemblies.

    Economy is doing well, and Obama did a lot of good things but he was black. That was the problem even for some of my learned WHITE conservative colleagues. I have had so many arguments with them. White Supremacy is on the rise and so is Christian Conservatism tied to that. So do not blame Sinhala Buddhists . Trump will trump the liberals and sadly we brownies will be at the receiving end.

  • 3
    0

    Ms. TG, belief is that the firing of all 46 Obama appointee Federal Prosecutors was a cover to actually get rid of Preet Bharara the brave tough NY prosecutor who has led an anti Corruption, Anti Wall Street corruption crusade and investigated Republicans as well as Democrats. He was on Putin’s shitlist because he successfully prosecuted and jailed a Putin Crony” Viktor Bout. Bharara was banned from Russia. Putin helped Trump win and their close ties through the various mafias will remain hidden. Except a lot more purges of the FBI and CIA under Trump. The links will never be exposed. So the belief is he got all 46 to resign to be able to get rid of his potential nemesis who might investigate his business ties to Russian mobsters and other unpatriotic things that happened. But Bharara refused to resign and was fired. He is a brave man once on the cover of TIME magazine. I wonder if he might have an “accident” or “Fall ill” in Putinesque style soon? Trump and his supremacists are here to stay. 3 Indians shot and 2 are dead; more attacks are unreported.

  • 7
    1

    What the author does not point out, is that if not for the Rajapakses, the country would probably be divided in half right now. Economic problems can be fixed, secession is much more difficult. One need just consider Syria, Kashmir, former Yugoslavia and Singapore/Malaysia. And when foreign forces intervene, it is almost impossible to get them out. Rapakases had a mandate to defeat militant terrorism, which they accomplished with a high degree of efficiency. Since it was a war, there was some adverse impact on civil society, which was to be expected. The present problems of the country should be resolved by the present leadership, especially those with Executive Power. Keeping in mind that one should not expect overnight miracles after a 30 year war.

    • 3
      0

      Yes, it is good that the war is over, and it was a great success achieved by the Rajapaksas. It was only in the last month of the War that I was convinced that Prabhakaran was going to be defeated militarily. Pacifists like me were proved wrong.

      However, this is a democratic country, and some of us of us have misgivings about certain aspects of what was a great achievement.

      Lester, yours is a rational point of view. However, had things been handled differently about fifty years ago (it is difficult to hit on the exact date when this conflict became inevitable), all the later carnage may have been unnecessary.

      Let us now move forward. Unfortunately, while we express gratitude to the Rajapaksas, we cannot overlook the fact that they are still trying to stir trouble. What they are doing goes beyond what is acceptable political posturing. It has to be the same with the Tamils. However, I feel that most of the posturing by the TNA is necessary – for two reasons.

      Some of us still do not realise that that we have to understand some of THEIR suffering (of course, we suffered too, but we have the consolation of knowing that our side prevailed.) Secondly, just as there is a lunatic fringe within the Rajapaksa camp (you are NOT part of that loony fringe), there will always be a lunatic fringe among the Tamils as well. They are not committing violent crimes right now. We must keep them at bay – by acting rationally ourselves. As for the TNA, we must ensure that it continues to be them who win elections that are conducted fairly.

      Winning the Peace is not easy!

      • 1
        1

        TNA are opportunists. If Project Eelam began again, they would happily jump on that boat. That is why federalism is a dangerous proposition at the moment. Legitimate Tamil grievances should be addressed, but they should be not be hijacked by separatist undertones. This is why Rajapakse is still popular; the kind of nationalism he represents is an antidote to separatism. Sirisena/Ranil crew would hide in the corner if a JVP or LTTE type movement began.

        Sri Lanka may be a democracy, at least on paper, but democracy may not be the immediate solution. Democracy seems to work best for industrialized Western nations where the income gap between upper and middle class is not stratospheric. On the other hand, if you look at these nations before they became industrialized (England, America, etc prior to Industrial Revolution), the income gap is again stratospheric (even though these countries were all “democracies” by way of Constitution). So my suggestion is for Sri Lanka to first build the industrial base, and then, after technology has narrowed the socio-economic divide, it makes more sense to go after the Western-type “democracy” that many like to use as a standard. Once the socio-economic divide has been sufficiently narrowed, then people like the Rajapakses & groups like the TNA will be irrelevant. At that point you can talk about constitutional reform, even federalism.

  • 5
    0

    I hope President Sirisena would pay serious attention to the following salient points of Tisaranee’s article, which have nothing to do with politics:

    1. Quote: “Close to one million – that is the number of drought-affected Lankans in immediate need of food assistance, according to an assessment carried out jointly by the government and the UN.” Unquote:

    This fact has been reiterated by many already. I understand that people who are affected were paid Rs. 10,000. Does that programme cover entire 1 million people (families?) who are affected?

    If the Government is not in a position to provide food to each and every household for the entire duration of drought, the President should take action to set up temporary Food Banks which have ample storage, in drought affected areas (I gave a detailed description of how to set up a Food Bank in LCN sometime ago) so that people in other parts of the country can donate food, drinking water and other necessary items. It is common to see this type of informal donations for flood affected urban families, however, I have never seen such programmes for drought affected rural families.

    2. Quote: “If monsoons continue to fail and the affected are not provided with adequate assistance, assetlessness will spread in farming communities and rural poverty will increase.” Unquote:

    Short term as well as long term solutions are absolutely necessary to address this issue.

    3. Quote: “Harvest failures and resultant income losses are causing a worrying hike in rural indebtedness. A medium-to-long-term debt relief programme is another urgent necessity.” Unquote:

    I wish to add my thoughts here. Is it possible the President take action to write off these loans? However, a simple loan write off per se will not give any hopes to farmers unless the Government intervene to help them to obtain new loans.

    I am not sure, but are these farmers insured? If not, the government should take action to insure them. In a country where drought followed by famine is a fact, not a surmise, the Government should have a concrete drought relief scheme in place.

    In order to revive the rural economy and agriculture, active governmental intervention is obligatory. The Government could play a vital role in introducing a strategic framework to revive and strengthen the rural economy. One such action is the Government investing in large scale farming in order for a broad-based agricultural development in Sri Lanka.

    We should think out of the box and concentrate on growing Cash Crops in the dry zone while encouraging farmers to grow “modern short-seasoned-high yielding-rice-varieties” in both dry and wet zones (1-3 months modern rice varieties like in Cambodia and Vietnam).

    • 0
      0

      (1-3 months modern rice varieties like in Cambodia and Vietnam).

      Crap. there can not be 1 – 2 months rice varities unless rice is peas and nuts.

      IF a country tries to hang to 1-3 months rice varities expect high cancers as short term rice varities can not grow without high fertiliser and pesticide rates.

      • 1
        1

        One solution to our rice problem is to convert all the temples into Paddy field

  • 1
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    Champa – For Sirisena the drought ot the 1m people does not matter. Parakrama Samudraya is over flowing…
    Champa… you are talking nonsense. Yahapalanaya & Sirisena are doing fine.
    Sirisena will be able to think outside the box burrow some Bond money and distribute among farmers.
    Also waters from the Parakrama Samudraya.
    For Sirisena the drought is over.

    All these what you tell we knew. Please get back to Lcnews. You don’t belong here.

    • 0
      0

      thondamannay

      Your comment made me laugh for two reasons:

      1. Why should Sirisena borrow from Central Bank rogues? He should take legal action against the Perpetual Treasuries and recover all stolen money from the public coffer. The loss is in trillions now. That money is more than enough to recover the plunging economy. Ranil and the gang of his Ministers are robbing the country in style.

      2. The CT Editor will vouch that I have a history with CT date back to early 2015. Throughout 2015 I posted comments here and thereafter my interest was drawn to Sinhala speaking audience. Very recently I noticed that CT has a Sinhala forum too. I wish they add some new items there too so that it will be opened up to a wider Sinhala speaking readers. I wish I could write more. Regrettably as I am getting ready to travel, I have no time.

  • 7
    4

    like it or not if gota decide to take to politic he will be next president of our country.country will be a better place.

    • 1
      1

      ranjith(sprrw) the scatter brain astrologer

      “like it or not if gota decide to take to politic he will be next president of our country.”

      You are rest assured that would be the last election, end of democracy as we know it.

      Are you looking for a job from Gota?

  • 3
    1

    BS. YOu write to fit your thinking.

    Ranil wickramsinghe’s first acheivement in 100 day program is stealing from the Central Bank. but, before that for the election, he Was talking about How Licchavi Kings were governing their state. NOw, he is talking another ancient thing with kings. should be another scandle.

    When Mahinda Rajapakse was the president, gove foreing exchange researves about $ 7 – 9 billion. Now, it is $ 4 billion. Last months, the increase of foreign reserved by $ 165 million was advertised.

    See how they are borrwing. Every day they issues bonds for one year, 6 months etc.

    Country is in bad shape. but, think about the Politicians whether they are in the bad shape because they screw up the country. they get new cars and increased salaries.

    In the capitalist economy, If the Excutives are doing bad, their bonuses taken away. UNP is capitalist, but Ranil wickramsinghe socialist with respect to Parliamentartarians’ needs.

    It is sure, Ranil is over. check who they are proposing to replace him. Every one them of have beggage in their resume. Some are well known thieves.

    You can whine. that is all BS.

    Maithri is another talker. He can not do anything too. Maithri is good as a parliamentatiran which looks after his electorate weel only if the govt is fair. Maithri is the president, he di dnot bring legslation to close many holes. Tamils and muslims are having field days. Sambanthan is planning to get pEelam before 2019.

    • 0
      1

      Tell your ape looking father Gnasara to get a ship ready to go back to his mother land

  • 0
    0

    The present situation the PEOPLE of Sri Lanka are placed in has been very clearly spelled out by Sarath de Alwis in bringing that age old tale of Gamarala hanging on to the elephant tail and how he took off with the desire of getting to heaven. My only hope is that the PEOPLE of Sri Lanka will not follow the path of that Gamarala any more and hang on to any more of these vagabonds to get at least the minimum of comforts in life. Both MS and RW and their gang have deceived and continue to hoodwink the people. In the face of that situation a set of NEW, (not really new but old wine in a new brand bottle labelled as VIYATH MAGA) gang headed by another deadly Rajapakse, “GOTA” has sprung up to capture power. This must not be wrongly identified and get mislead in the belief of it being another “Elephant Fly” to heaven. In actual fact this is the OTHER SIDE of the same coin. The “COIN” will remain in use with both the sides in tact without harming each other but in fact protecting each other under any circumstances. Isn’t that what is happening today? The situation today is more critical than that prevailed prior to January 8, 2015. By DESIGN or DEFAULT the present Government of MS & RW has proved over the last two and half years of their utter failure and incompetence to handle Governmental affairs, that which has led to loss of PUBLIC CONFIDENCE. Under such circumstance the PEOPLE must be careful not to act like our Gamarala any more, but to choose a BETTER WAY and a BETTER VEHICLE to move forward.

    • 2
      1

      All over the world, People are tired of old boys club of politics. the new comers are completely new to the politicas and un pexted. Those people would allow by the system as the system is prepared for something else. Well known example is TRUMP and no one is prepared to accept how corrupt Hilary Clinton and the system was.

      In Sri lanka too, Maithriapala is not exceptional. Ranil, UNP and JO must go.

      • 0
        1

        Ranil, saviour of mother Lanka is not going anywhere. You can return to bangaledesh.

  • 2
    1

    Tisaranee,

    Fine article as usual.
    If you look at the recent history of SL, many of the turning points– Karuna split, LTTE’s demise, Fonseka-Rajapaksa split, Fonseka’s incarceration, Sirisena-Rajapaksa split– are all ‘Black Swan’ events.

    But while all of these seem to us ‘rare’ and ‘unexpected,’ some people behind the scenes must have worked hard for these events to occur. In that sense, these are not true ‘Black Swans.’

    Even Trump’s election was kind of a ‘Black Swan’ event; though it was for the worse, the American system of checks and balances is holding up fairly well and Trump is resisted on many fronts. The Republicans are tying themselves in knots trying to replace Obama’s Health Care Act. It is likely that by the 2018 midterm elections, the Senate majority will revert to Democrats and in Congress Democrats will gain seats, thus resisting Trump even more; possibly even making impeachment possible.

    It is time for concerned people in Sri Lanka to work on another such ‘Black Swan’ event to prevent the country from backsliding and being ruled by the Rajapaksas again. It will be even better if such people can also focus on hitting two mangoes with one stone, forcing the current regime to clean up its act quickly or lose power in the process.

  • 2
    0

    Feeding the Poor</b?

    The tragedy of the human race is that this over enthusiasm to give priority for helping the so called 'needy'. This practice goes against the survival of the fittest, the process by which weak members of a given population are weeded out to produce a population more equipped to survive the given environmental conditions.

    Under these topsy turvy conditions, the numbers of good actors, pretenders and beggars increases.

    People produce off spring expecting the rest of the society to support them while all they do is to produce more and more children.

    Is that what we want?

  • 0
    0

    You made my day….

    Thanks Ms T…..

  • 3
    3

    The intellectual capacity of TG and the fellow travellers are in full display here………

    The day dreamers may have thought sunny days from MS-RW-CBK-Mangala combo which many ordinary folk knew would never occur…But again though these pseudo intellectuals may think big of themselves in bringing a yamapalana into power, the actual decision makers sat elsewhere over a glass of wine decided how to manipulate the Colombians and use TNA’s block vote to make the change.

    Rajapakse phobia will not provide solutions to country’s challenges. The resultant yamapalanaya is incapable of providing solutions nor continued Rajapakse phobia will. Country would have been in much better shape economically and socially under a MR third term than the current mob of eternal failures. Ordinary folk have a better understanding and that is why MR still enjoys a widespread popular affinity even under a ferocious vilification psy-ops campaign against him.

    Gota may be stripped of civic rights to prevent a challenge from him. That is how TG’s democracy works in SL. But that would not prevent the looming backlash.

    Blaming weather will not suffice. It is the duty and capacity of the rulers to manage and overcome challenges….natural or man made….that would demonstrate or define their leadership credentials. MR certainly did it.

    • 2
      1

      The actual controllers want Trincomalee and also Hambantota port for Military access. They have RW in their lap willing to suck dick to survive and become President. Have you noticed the alarming frequency of “friendship”visits from Warships of one particular nation? Almost one a month. They have identified every potential landing zone and anchoring locations and they are mapping the coasts with direct inspection rather than just spy Satellite information. Do you really think musical shows in Galle Fort, health camps and other things are done out of mere Christian spirit. **ck no. IT IS part of the prepping of the social media generation of younger Westward looking Lankans who are on social media 24-7. These arses do no know the history of that nation and how they destabilize nations and overthrow governments and kill leaders. The Sinhala Mootals do not know how they destroyed so many nations in the recent past. So they love the crumbs being thrown in the way of medical camps and other noble yet insincere help. They want bases and they want Sri lanka in their camp to isolate China. This is part of the Indian-US-Japanese plan to encircle China. And while Sunday Observer publishes CIA hitmen’s articles savaging China and while we have a US educated man who called China an “economic Hitman” we STILL need China more than US for aid and loans. But in 2018 after the Referendum is rejected, they will immediately recognize Tamil Eelam and land troops in Trincomalee. Eelam is coming this time with Indo_US sponsorship

    • 1
      2

      Excellent response from Hela. Rajapakse/s did what nobody thought was possible. He/they proved wrong what we were told by NGOs and foreign embassies that the LTTE terrorists cannot be defeated by SL forces and give in to Terrorists’ demands. Today, tourism alone contributes $3 bn to the economy thanks to the Rajapakses but pre 2009 income from tourism was a mere pittance. FDI is a trickle and economic activity is near zero. The block vote of TNA against Ragapakse was expected and that needed no manipulation as was/is the westernised Columbians. They would have voted against the Rajapakse no matter what. The “actual decision makers” only had to manipulate the Muslim voters, and to that end they engineered the unrest against the Muslims, who were just scarificial lambs. Had the Muslims voted evenly, and had only 3% of them voted for Rajapakse, he’d be the president today. But then, we would not have the Bond Scam, Vehicle License scandal, High Unemployment. Aren’t we lucky now, TG?

    • 2
      2

      Hela,

      Where do you pick your economic facts from?
      Didn’t MR run a corrupt regime and also leave us a mountain
      of debt with his wild projects?

      What’s clouding your mind? I find every MR supporter a perplexing
      issue..to criticise current govt is one thing, but to elevate MR?
      What am I missing here?

      • 2
        0

        Lankan,

        I can only sympathise with you for believing yamapalana election propaganda…….

        There are multiple sources from where you can obtain stats on SL economy (Central Bank, census & statistics dept, world bank, ADB etc). I invite you to review those stats and compare two years of yamapalana performance and economic performance of MR term (both 1st and 2nd terms or just the 2nd term because there was an ongoing war during the 1st term).

        Debt is a necessity for development as long as they are within a manageable level, preferably utilised for investments and not for consumption, and matched with investment project life cycle so that benefits from the investment can pay for the debt. MR took debt for major infrastructure development aimed at leap frogging the economy suffered under a debilitating 30 year war. None of them are “wild” projects though timing could be questioned on some (Lankan should substantiate on what basis the projects are deemed “wild”). The infrastructure MR developed are economic enablers that will benefit SL for a long period of time. Some benefits can be seen already. Forbes magazine said the utilisation of debt during MR term can be seen all over the country. However, none is visible from the massive debts taken by the yamapalana junta during the last two years! If yamapalanaya taken debt to pay off previous debt the country’s overall debt should have remained at same level or at a reduced level. Debt has in fact gone up! Can Lankan explain this?

        So Lankan, please check the following comparative economic data then you may not feel perplexed any more and you might find what you have been missing or how you were deceived by your yamapalana fellow travellers.

        Please compare;

        1. GDP growth over the period
        2. Inflation over the period
        3. Absolute debt taken and relative debt to GDP ratio over the period
        4. The external reserves
        5. Colombo stock market performance
        6. SL rupee movement
        7. Unemployment
        8. Agricultural production
        9. Life expectancy

        You would note MR performed much better than the current junta and therefore MR can claim for an elevated status than the current leadership.

        I don’t think you can talk about corruption any more. After two years the yamapalanaya has failed to substantiate any of the so called mega corruption of MR while yamapalana leaders have been already tainted with massive corruption and frauds which they are desperately trying to sweep under the carpet violating all norms of yahapalana principles. What yamapalanaya has been able to achieve was arresting some politicians for “retail” corruption if applied across the board with no favouritism, all 225 members of the parliament might have to be arrested!! What we now see is political witch hunt and nothing else. It is bound to boomerang in not too distant future.

    • 1
      2

      Hela

      “The intellectual capacity of TG and the fellow travellers are in full display here………”

      Isn’t it too much for you and your fellow noisy minority to grasp?

      “the actual decision makers sat elsewhere over a glass of wine decided how to manipulate the Colombians and use TNA’s block vote to make the change.”

      I thought it was over a tumbler of filter coffee (degree coffee, Boondh Bisneeru)decided tell the stupid Hela, somass, Lal loo, etc who the real master was.

  • 3
    0

    It says, the Central Bank robbery by major politicians were pre planned and Maithripala sirisena appointed a lady to the govt Debt Department by force. she did not want to do that position because, she was not trained into that.

    Now, that is the same lady that MY3 appriciated.

    It looks they wanted some one not trained, so that they could steal from the Central Babk.

  • 1
    1

    Why drag in Donald Trump. He is only two months in office. Americans and the world needed a change. Stock market is booming and more jobs created. Give him the four years and comment.

  • 1
    1

    In four years there will be no one to comment. Only mounds of radioactivity.

  • 1
    0

    Tisaranee you always mean well and say well but, at times, you take too much for granted.
    “…something begun so well had now gone off the rails…”

    What was the good beginning?
    Yes, there was a good thing in ending the MR regime: no more no less.

    A group of people who stole and changed sides and another waiting their turn— what should we expect?
    I am not at all disappointed to see history not repeating but continuing its course.

    If we seriously want something good, let us think outside the box.

  • 0
    1

    Another excellent exposition by Tissaranee. Please keep it up. Bensen

  • 0
    1

    True, the ground situation is less desirable. It can be better. It will be better.

    How ? do we turn back a decadent system that was started by the Sirimavo/Felix Dias B Govt in the ’70’s, in such a short time ( 2 years plus and counting ).

    Then, just over 2 years ago, we had mayhem in our judiciary, administrative system, parliamentary system etc. The Muslims were hunted. Christians hammered. Tamils vanquished. Saffron terror rising. Land stolen. White vans. People disappearing in peace time etc etc.

    Do we have any of it now ? People can breathe, in peace. The Nation recovers slowly, just as it did Post Premadasa under Genial President DB Wijetunga.

    Let us stand on guard for the Nation.

    It can all go so, so bad otherwise.

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