By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
Typically, dualist models in governance are hard to work. However, “the Sirisena-Ranil dualism is managing the chaotic situation reasonably well. It is a textbook case of managing in chaotic times.”
Understandably, many criticisms are being made of the Unity Government set up by the UNP and President Maitripala Sirisena. Some of them are fair and some total fabrications and distortions. Ironically, the most vociferous are the print media and TV, which seeing no need to feel grateful for the new freedom they have got, are witnessed lashing at the President and the Prime Minister who are the key architects of the revolution of January 8th. One reason for that, is that the Press finds, at last, some opportunity for enlarged circulation as it creates news and even creates conflict. “Breaking the news,” is always possible and loved by Press people and TV media. The social media has been unaffected as it is free by definition.
Why PM-The Target
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is the main target and he is accused off all sorts of bad things. Why? Because, from the Opposition point of view he is the key to the implosion of this government. If he is out, the government falls and President Sirisena will have to beg for mercy at the feet of Mahinda Rajapaksa. Mahinda will have to decide if the man is to be sent six feet under ground or be made to be “found missing” in a white van. Ranil out, means Mahinda’s return! Ranil is the main brain behind the YP government and, I tell you, he is hard to beat in the chess game of politics. He happily stonewalls all criticism by a magnificent silence, which I like to call “Ranil’s Silence.” It is somewhat like the Buddha’s silence expressed in the Pottapada Sutra when sixty questions were asked from him by his listeners and he gave only silence. Why,My Lord,” asked a disciple, “ do you not answer my questions?” The Buddha’s responds, “I have answered you.” As a tactician, Ranil is incomparable in contemporary Sri Lankan politics. You never know what he is up to. This is why, the enemies of the yahapalanaya government keep going at him.
Victories Won Cannot be Spirited Away by Distractions
For me, I know where I stand and I know my goal post. I will be honest: I wrote extensively to expose the previous government-as part of the broad civil movement that gathered to liberate the island from the burden of his rule. I will not abandon that ship. Although, I know there are blemishes, I am aware of where I am going. Hence, these imperfections will not distract me. I support president Maitripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the YP government. The government has achieved something substantial in the last three years and it is moving in the right direction. Besides, there isn’t any alternative that can replace it and further the goal of yahapalanaya. Hence, supporters of the yahapalanaya cause have no option. We must criticise but we must retain the government-both. The victories won cannot be spirited away by distractions.
Return of Democracy
Democracy has returned and it is beautiful to see people protesting for their needs, without getting shot like at Rathupaswela. It is beautiful to see journalists writing good criticism and bullshit-both. It is also beautiful to see the Opposition organising itself into an effective force with no-one of them being despatched in white vans. Tolerance is in the air and that is the central triumph of the yahapalanaya government. The British philosopher AC Grayling said: “Tolerance is not only the centrepiece but the paradox of liberalism. For liberalism enjoins tolerance of opposition viewpoints, and allows them to have their say, leaving it to the democracy of ideas to decide which shall prevail. The result is often the death of tolerance itself because those who live by hard principles and uncompromising views… if given half a chance, silence liberals because liberalism, by its nature, threatens the hegemony they wish to impose.”
Government must be mindful of the Grayling wisdom expressed here.
Independent Commissions & Rule of Law
The Independent Commissions are in place in order to ensure a free police, free elections, and free judiciary. No longer are cases heard at Temple Trees and dissidents assaulted to death there. The judges are free and are seen giving decisions against the government. The freedom of Information Act is law. Thus the second triumph of the yahapalanaya government is the restoration of the rule of law and order
These are mighty things as I love to see my country free of oppression. Ordinary people walking in the streets are not forced to clutch walls and turn their backs until VIP politicos like Gota pass by. with their impressive security entourage.
Much ado is being made over the bond case and the incident has been totally politicised out of proportion but those criticising the government in that regard don’t realise that the very fact that this government has appointed a Presidential Commission in order to investigate the alleged misconduct of its own leaders and officials is an achievement that would never have been dreamt of under the previous dispensation. Self-criticism is permitted as we see Ministers criticising other Ministers.
Besides, the YP government’s top priority for constitutional reform is praiseworthy. It is conducting this major event in a very consultative way. Constitutional reform is crucial if we are to lift the whole game of our politics by enshrining safeguards for democracy, accountability of political and non-political players in government, bringing in checks and balances to excessive use power, and converting the executive presidency to one of an executive Prime minister accountable to Parliament; ensuring greater women representation, and ensuring better quality of MPs entering Parliament. It is worth protecting the YP government at least until this reform is achieved.
Economic progress is essentially something that takes time. Yet, we can already see some positive results when the Central bank Governor announces a projected 5. 5 % growth rate. Fiscal discipline is being restored. Exports are increasing. The huge national debt is being whittled down.Foreign direct Investment is coming. GSP Plus has been won. Loss- making ventures of the previous administration are being restructured toward profitability and debts incurred thereon are being drastically reduced by new joint ventures.
No doubt the Unity government has been facing crisis after crisis but the good sense that prevails between President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe has resulted in the unusual success of a dualism model in governance. It is not only a common threat to both parties that can keep a dualism running in stable fashion. It has a lot to do with the maturity and wisdom of the two leaders involved. These qualities are possessed by the two leaders.
The root of the crises we witness today is the slender majority in Parliament that the two parties in government received. They had to import many undesirable MPs from the other side and the latter have become a pain in the neck. Typically, the dualism model in governance is hard to work. However, the Sirisena-Ranil dualism is managing the chaotic situation reasonably well. It is a textbook case of managing in chaotic times.
*The writer can be contacted at email@example.com