12 June, 2024


The System Isn’t Working – And It’s The Government’s Fault

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

What are the roots of the crisis?

Polarizing policies: the policies of the government are not those which lend themselves to a stable consensus or even equilibrium between the two wings of the government. Instead the policies are so far out in right field that the constitutional policies sharpen the contradictions between the UNP and official SLFP; the economic policies have led to a backlash from the SLFP unions, caused a visible fissure within the official SLFP and will a probably trigger a breakaway in a few weeks; the external policies (e.g. Geneva) have led to open dissent even within the UNP.

Polarizing personalities & discourse: Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and a handful of Ministers (Mangala, Kiriella, Rajitha, and Fonseka) have a confrontational style and discourse which causes polarization in and out of parliament and triggers a backlash from the most diverse social sectors, from secular radical students to fundamentalist Buddhist clergy. The government is creating its own siege.

Bipolar disorder and the crisis of the model: the so-called unity government is bipolar and there is a Cold War between the UNP and the ‘official’ SLFP centering on the very model of the state itself, with the UNP pushing for the abolition of the executive presidency and introduction of de facto federalism or at least the dilution of the unitary state, while the SLFP by contrast argues for the retention of the unitary state and the executive presidency and advocates moderate constitutional amendments, not complete replacement.

Crisis of representation and legitimacy: The results of the August 2015 general election have not been respected and have been tampered with, post facto. The UNP obtained 106 members, the SLFP running on a platform against a coalition with the UNP, won 95. Instead of mirroring this verdict, a coalition was formed with the UNP through top-down manipulation. Adding insult to injury, the 52 members of the Opposition who remained faithful to their August 2015 mandate were not recognized as the Parliamentary Opposition and the 16 member TNA holds the post of Opposition Leader.

A sagacious government usually calls an election of some sort to let off the steam, divide the opposition and retard its momentum. This government has postponed local government elections for over two years and continues to do so, while preparing to postpone the provincial council elections as well. This further delegitimizes the government while continuing to channel dissent onto the streets rather than into the polling booth.

As the government moves to implement its polarizing policies, protests will proliferate. A single violent death or crippling at the hands of the government, and protests from below will render the place chronically ungovernable.

The Rajapaksa administration functioned as that well-known post-Cold War phenomenon, an illiberal democracy. However, if the regular holding of elections and the respect for a functioning, competitive two party system is the hallmark of a liberal democracy, then the Yahapalana administration of Jan 8th 2015 marked the shift from illiberal democracy to undemocratic liberalism.

While neoliberalism can be implemented in the developed West within a liberal democratic system and the fallout contained within it even as it causes social crises, in the global South by contrast, the neoliberal economic agenda can be taken to the extremes that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe wants to, only within an undemocratic political system. In countries of the global South, economic free-market fundamentalism cannot accommodate an untrammeled political free market; it needs the shutdown of a competitive political marketplace.

This is why the PM and his cohort of ideological co-thinkers are attempting to wrest power through a new Constitution. This is why the TNA and not the Joint Opposition is the recognized Opposition is the Leader of the Opposition. This is why the UNP hopes to facilitate land sales to foreigners and multinational corporations through federal powers for the provincial councils. This is why the Tamil Diaspora is more of an ally for the UNP than is the SLFP. This is why Ministers are bought up with Diaspora ‘black money’. This is why there is a creeping institutional coup and choke points within the State apparatuses are being occupied by pro-UNP, pro-US-India personnel. This is why the war winning military is seen as an enemy and the Geneva resolutions have been co-sponsored. This is why local government and Provincial Council elections will be repeatedly postponed. This is why goons, the police and the STF are unleashed to suppress student and trade union dissent.

A Sinhala language journalist, a young university graduate with an honors degree, interviewed me extensively the other day for a periodical. As I criticized the government for the shutdown of the local authorities, she quietly interrupted me to say that her kid brother had died of dengue because fumigation by the local authorities had stopped– adding that another youngster, a student of Moratuwa University, had been turned away by the hospital as his platelet count had not yet descended to the level that is now deemed necessary for admission to overcrowded hospitals. The lad returned to his boarding and died the next day. 

How many more people will die of diseases and manmade disasters when the government succeeds in postponing Provincial council elections, with the attendant crippling of the essential health and welfare functions carried out by those elected authorities? Taken together with the non-holding of local authorities’ elections, the postponement of provincial council elections will paralyze the state system from the waist down. The System isn’t working—and it’s the government’s fault.

The real battleground is Trincomalee and the surrounding North and East, which is 18 miles from Tamil Nadu. That’s the decisive looming battle. If, as the Sri Lankan PM has promised the Indian PM in writing (Minister Malik Samarawickrama signed the MoU for GoSL), the Trinco oil tank farm, the ‘development’ of the Port, and the Mannar–Trinco/Mannar-Kilinochchi highways are given to the Indians, ETCA signed, and the North and East granted quasi-federal powers through a Constitutional change, this island would permanently lose control over its Northeastern periphery-cum-buffer. As a state, we would become geopolitically smaller and more vulnerable to our giant neighbor.

In Mexico, the Zapatistas led by the enigmatic, iconic Subcommandante Marcos in his ski-mask, began their almost bloodless armed uprising on the day in 1994 that NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, was signed—and the existential threat posed by NAFTA to Mexico was far less than that posed either by ETCA or the acquisition of Trincomalee by India. Where are the 21st century Puran Appus?

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  • 11

    Dayan Jayatilleka types:

    “The System Isn’t Working – And It’s The Government’s Fault!”

    Who was in charge of developing the system from 1956 or from 1948? Well nation building process, lack of it or destruction of the nation was the responsibility of newly invented/manufactured group of racist thieves, the Sinhala/Buddhists.

    The fascists refused to understand the inclusive process.

    It is 61 years too late to discuss the failed system.
    —-However the war monger fails to understand and recognize the deep rooted failure in decision making process. The complete exclusion of people from decision making process, democratic competition among two racist parties, allocation of resources to small exclusive section of the people, ……………………….. preventing people from free thinking and unleashing their individual and collective potential, are the root course and curse of the system failure. A nanny state run by a racist weeping widow didn’t stand a chance of developing an efficient system. The system took care of and catered for rent seeking racist society rather than an efficient productive all encompassing liberal, secular, equitable, humane society.

    Probably this war monger didn’t understand obvious reasons, hence the name dropping of unrelated issues, and unconnected 1994 Zapatista uprising to NAFTA, ………………….

    • 0

      Dear Native, Did you have a few extra Beers last night to be up so early?…………Dr Ranil . Penthouse Ravi, Poodle Club Baby, and Ajith should have been there in 1957, with FIL and SIL running the Central Bank…….. Don’t forget Rajithaya, Kirielle, FM Fonny ( Isn’t he the War Monger ) and Boy Gerge Samare of course……But then they wouldn’t have Funds available to invest……my Elders tell me there was no EPF… neither did the Dalits have jobs……….Is that true mate?……..

      • 9

        KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

        You haven’t got clue about the need to grow the economy to cater for growing population and in order to increase standard of living.

        Your socialist mates, double doctorates, presided over a badly shrinking economy, and induced stagflation, shortage, long queues, black market, state functionaries need to rely on extra income to catch up with depreciating purchasing power hence bribe taking, lies free rice imported from moon, ……………………… If you want to distribute large pieces of cake to large number of people then of course you need to bake a larger cake and not grab from others and distribute to a far fewer number of people.

        The socialist failed, failed miserably. So they converted to Sinhala/Buddhism and grown into fascists.

        • 0

          Dear Native, Where did you find that ” Stagflation”…….. Sounds cool…….. You must thank your hero Pirahaparan for giving us continuous Stagflation for thirty years……..If you want a list of the people who f*****d up our nation, I like to add a few more ………..Oliver, Sir John, Chelvnayagam, Sunderalingam, Ammandi, cousin Dr Ranil and Sambandan….,You can add even Lootto Ravi, LGBTQ Faction, lead by Dr Ranil, Mahendran and now Aloysious tooo………Last but not least Sinhala Buddhist President Maithripala Sirisenam. who act dumb and trying to score points hoping to bring the SLFP back from the dead……..And make Son and Daughter the future leaders of the poor Dalits , with the help of Ammandi’s Son………..But it ain’t going to work……..Only Politics they can do is in n Dr Ranil’s Federal State of the Elite and the Anglicans…….Although there is no Ranil junior , Sira and Ammandi clan will have their work cut out , with the presence of Rajithaya and his Alsatian pup.

          • 2

            K A Sumanasekera

            “Where did you find that ” Stagflation”…….. Sounds cool”

            Here is a simple definition of stagflation:

            Persistent high inflation combined with high unemployment and stagnant demand in a country’s economy.

            Brief history of stagflation:

            In the 1970s, Keynesian economists had to reconsider their beliefs as the U.S. and other industrialized countries entered a period of stagflation. Stagflation is defined as slow economic growth occurring simultaneously with high rates of inflation

            I am talking about your racist weeping widow’s achievement, who was advised by double doctorate socialists turned racists.

            “You must thank your hero Pirahaparan for giving us continuous Stagflation for thirty years”

            karava.org used to celebrate Prabaharan and Rohana as karava heroes and important revolutionary commanders. Now you are distancing yourself from karava.org. You are another opportunist.

            “If you want a list of the people who f*****d up our nation,”

            First of all I would like to remind you this island is not your nation, you are a descendant of Kallathonies from South India and a leaseholder of this island.

            I am happy to give you a long list of racists who as you say “f*****d up” my ancestral land, starting with the early saffronista Migettuwatte Gunananda Thero in 1873 (Your spelling is wrong, it has one additional star) including the Public racist Aryan Anagarika (the homeless one) ADharmapala, Hitler loving fascist, SWRD Banda, …………………. to today’s Dayan, Wimal, Nalin, ……………………… Gota, MR and his b***s carrier KASmalam, …………..
            “And make Son and Daughter the future leaders of the poor Dalits , with the help of Ammandi’s Son………..But it ain’t going to work……..”

            Good the business is as usual then. So through the same route you will support bringing Namal baby surrouded by Nil Balakaya, (blue brigade) thugs to power.

          • 0

            There is rumour that Alstain is also one like Rohitha Rajapakse. Father knows that or supported it.

    • 5

      System is not working, it is the govt ‘s fault.

      But one thing should be clear to the folks and the world. This is the first time ever that the kind of crimes have been mapped to this far.

      That means today environments, things surface as no times in the past, to whom to thanks if not Prez and PM to have allowed and created an environment where almost every high man too can be caught by horns.

      Media had not the chance to report them as it is in the high days of Srilanken Mugabe. All various crimes including calculated killings and dissapearences were their day today agenda.
      Today, even a tiny thing would have been air, some times not knowing FACTS or the related exactly.

      Ridiculous truth is – Mr Medamula Musalaya had signed agreements with China, that has brought a cnt to lanken state, but just for the development of the harbour, but not the very same media prostitutes have paid the least interest on bringing that to the light. Now adays, we read some of them on Sirasa but all other rajapakshe biased media men not uttering a single word on them.

      JO men would have been making it high, but they have been caught as crabs in hot water today.
      Only JVPrs are clean to some extent but there are also charges against them too.

      • 0

        Very good reply. Democracy -which we don’t seem to want is evident at its fullest charge!!JVP were the originals who took the country back about ten years backed by the left groups The story was that they had connections in the East that funded them for their ‘work’.

    • 3

      Mr Native V,

      I would worry if anything would come from the cesspit of this idiosyncratic rabblerouser.
      He has gone to nuts so as Wimal Buruwasne not knowing what to do next if the govt would remain.
      Today we get lot more about the state anomalies than ever had been.
      We need to thank for the current duo to have created such environment for the first time in this country.

    • 1

      If you the readership please go back to the brutal period prior to 8th Jan 2015, it made a world of difference in the line of press freedom we enjoy today.
      But our people are no like the ones with attitude of gratitude.
      This particular writer is on top of world if he has the chance to please his former leader who even had the audacity call DJ as a powerful NGO man.
      I think the experiement model to go for a GOOD GOVERNANCE is not yet appropriate in lanken context.
      With majority of media stay still being biased, but not adding some crucial issues as they are in demand but to work so vindictive with the current rulers is no means acceptable.
      I wonder why the current Hambantota deal is being caught by criticisms, while Rajapakshes all agreements with SKY-EARTH differences seem to be even not knowni to the very same housan singers today ?

  • 1

    Dr Dayan is confusing the readers with all these technical terms. here……. Do they mean anything to Dr Ranil and his cohorts whom Dr Dayan has mentioned…………I noticed the best head line and the sum of all attributes which Dr Ranil and his mob use to give the suckers Yahapalana ……..It is is there on the Right Hand Top Corner of the Comments page here….. That is “Lies , Lies. And More Lies”…..Thanks to Miss Ediriweera from Perth ………….

    • 6

      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      ” That is “Lies , Lies. And More Lies”…..Thanks to Miss Ediriweera from Perth ………….”

      What about it?

      “Dr Dayan is confusing the readers with all these technical terms. here”

      It is known as name dropping.

      Referring to someone who is popular or famous in order to let the other person know that you yourself are popular and actually have friends. The event being described is usually a lie, or the story was exaggerated. Most of the time name dropping is used by people who think they are cool, but are not. Can become very hazardous to one’s mental and sometimes physical health.

      Urban Dictionary

  • 3


    For once I agree with your title “The System Isn’t Working – And It’s The Government’s Fault”.

    Beyond that, I haven’t read.

  • 3

    Dayan Jayatilleka “The System Isn’t Working – And It’s The Government’s Fault!”

    How true?

    Rajapakses are still at large

    • 3


      DJ would not focus on Rajapakshe high crimes, but any issues from RW and CBK.

      DJ has been suffering from MAMA THAMAYI SYNDROME – his revengeful agendas are connected with childhood vendetta with RW. Malice, Jealousy and viciousness have made him so vindictive.
      Poor guy behaves as if no second to Wimal WEERAWANSE and that racists HLD Manidapala from AUS.
      DJ would never be able to get posted to anywhere.
      That is his worry above anything else.

  • 3

    Well DJ, I am too long in the tooth to fall for this one. The roots of the present crisis, and all those from 1948 to date, go back to the last days of the Raj when our ‘smart’ young turks (SWRD, JR et al) realised that the new democracy was a licence to court the Bauddha-Sinhala majority. Dammit, SWRD changed from Polwatte Protestant to ardent Buddhist without so much as a Damascene moment. On Sunday it was ‘Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven,’ and the next day it was ‘Buddham saranam gacchami’ , accompanied by switching from Oxford bags to Ariya Sinhala (but he kept his amude on!). Year after year, we lurched from one crisis to another. It was always someone else’s fault; the old colonisers, evil foreigners, Tamils, Christians, Muslims. The ‘war’ (the result of our earlier leaders going down the road of divide and rule) was a most useful excuse when things couldn’t be done. WE the People are getting fed up. WE know we have to clear the stables, but where to start. Bad politicians, like Dengue mosquitos, are everywhere, and infecting everything they sting. (Our politicians do like a sting!). Over the years, Mathinee and The Wily-Old-Fox bastardised the constitution and our democracy – nobody cried ‘CRISIS!’ then. But CHANGE is going to come, and the sooner the better.

    • 1

      I have the feeling lankens would not be a match for such experiments.

      They the one those who apply GOOD GOVERNANCE strategies should first be clean to go for it.
      In today s context, a minister saying that he was not aware of what his family would have been doing in terms of deals with parties that he himself has been pal for decades, sounds as a redherring.
      If a minister of defence would bring the kind of silly explanations, then the entire nation would have been thrown into danger, the minister himself has failed to see it.
      Can the kind of explanations be made acceptable ?
      No in developed world but in srilanka oh yes.

    • 2

      Spring Koha

      “Year after year, we lurched from one crisis to another. “

      I am sorry I need to amend your comment slightly.

      Year after year, we created new crisis before solving the previous ones. With every new crisis the country’s bigots thrived while the country was on a steep slippery slope which it never recovered from.

  • 0

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  • 3

    The political system that emerged 1948 is based on Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalis, It never worked and it will never work until Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalist like Dayan in politics. Dayan want this land should be governed by blood thirst Sinhala Buddhist Fundamentalists. He advocates blood thirsty politics.

  • 0

    In the USA, Trump is taking his disruptive movement to his base. In essence he is behaving like Chavez/Maduro or actually more like Juan Peron. It is always ME ME ME I I I I. This is a danger to democracy.
    The strong institutions of government, the 3 distinct branches of government, the Presidency and separate but equal Senate etc are under threat. He is going around saying “they are doing this to me; not Russians; they want me gone; they they they” . Who this they are he leaves to his fired up angry base to decipher. I will not be shocked if this “they” are incited further if he actually is in trouble.

    Now it is not just the losing Democrats but the Republicans who are finally getting some testicular hormones to stand up when they have to. But like all democracies, they need Trump’s base to win. So they will not go against him unless there is real evidence and actually PROSECUTABLE evidence of collusion. I still feel he will come out unscathed. But the danger is real. Hillary who was a terribly corrupt weak candidate did not say “They are stealing the election from you” when she had 2.8million more votes but she LOST the election based on the electoral system. He is claiming “They want to take the election away”….So these things can happen anywhere; if the US which actively promotes democracy and liberty(its own version of it) is now in the throes of a moral issue not seen even when Clinton was impeached on two charges: one of perjury and one of obstruction of justice. He did not go around saying “they are trying to steal the election from you”… And all he did was get fellatio performed on him. Scary unstable times.

  • 1

    In essence President Trump has personalized everything. It is not about the Presidency but about HIM. If the special counsel investigation will lead to anything, he will say “they” meaning losing Democrats(they do not have any alternative; Ds are acting like children hoping for the counsel to catch Trump because they have diddly squat in the way of alternative policies and with an insider extremely rich San Francisco Liberal like Pelosi still sticking to power they will have a tough time winning), “they” and now even Republicans are apparently plotting against the people’s choice Me Me Me Me I I I . He is even trying to take claim for the solid job growth and drop in unemployment rates that happened under President Obama.

    Great recovery that started under President Obama continues under President Trump but Trump said these numbers were fake all the way. Now he’ll claim all the credit and those who said these numbers were fake when the unemployment rate came down from 10% to 4.7% under Obama will not say they’re fake any longer.!. ME ME ME; they want to get me. I I I am the greatest like Idi Amin, and Mugabe and Marcos and others. Never thought I will see the day like this in the USA.

  • 2

    Dayan Jayatilleka may try to be constructive and evenhanded. Why not try “The System Isn’t Working – And It’s The present and previous Government’s Fault”? This will require intellectual honesty – Dayan does not possess intellect or honesty!
    Dayan starts pompously with “What are the roots of the crisis?” and then blah blah blah. It is the corrupt structure which has destroyed law and order Dayan.
    Get lost.

  • 0

    What Dayan Jayathilaka saying is correct. Since January 2015, major issues of the govt were politicians themselves. Among ma ny things Ranil did CFA was good, because Ranil is a lawyer. As an executive, economist, leader, Ranil is a fialure. HE allows just things to happen on its way. HE waits his moment. there is no leadrrship. If some people loving the country topples the govt and start from the begining that would be the best. Jail all 225. then confiscate their wealth. Only those who prove that they did not steal will get back theirs. Now seehere after, well known thief, crook, con man, goes around the world as the foreign minister.

  • 0

    Why Ravi KArunanayake became foreign minister. He was the best that LTTE Tamils living overseas trust, that is after LGBTQ – samaraweera.

    • 1

      Jimassofty dimwit

      “He was the best that LTTE Tamils living overseas trust, “

      Therefore LTTE Tamils living overseas appoint him as foreign minister. The president, prime minister, cabinet, 225 thieves, the Malwattu, Assgiria, ……………………Sinhala/Buddhists fascist establishment agreed to Ravi being appointed the foreign minister by the LTTE Tamils.
      What a powerful Tamil minority. Indeed I envy your analysis. Lets have more of the same.

  • 1

    “The System Isn’t Working – And It’s The Government’s Fault”>>>well that is an interesting headline.>>>>>. Dayan what you mean by “system”. you mean the system for a sleeted few?>>>>>>Dayan you are obviously licking Mara’s arse. Toilet rolls are a luxury and taken away from Mara.>>>>its funny you say the system isn’t working. The fact is the county is not working. and its the fault of the successive racist Sinhala govt. and you played your part and the country as a whole is paying the price. Now that LTTE is no more ….the Sinhala racist like you cant blame LTTE terrorism for the demise of the country. so you Sinhala people fight among your self >>>the system is working for the ruling Sinhala class>>>>

  • 0


    “A fish rots from the head down”. Enough of your dily-daly talking. What Sri Lanka sorely lacks is the kind of leader Singapore had in late Premier Lee Kuan Yew. A leader with such impeccable leadership and credibility is sorely lacking in Sri Lanka.

    The Rajapakses are a bunch of thieves and hoodlums and your attempt to potray them as “leaders” tells much about you. too. They are not of leadership material and never will be. Mahinda had the rarest of rarest opportunity to heal a mourning nation and set Sri Lanka on an economic resurgence. There were plenty of hands to help around but unfortunately when you place a thief on the throne, his mind will be wandering where and on what can he lay his hands on. That scoundrel screwed it big time. And the pathetic you continue to dig deeper into your dark world to disgrace yourself with your heap of praises on such thieves and corrupted politicians . Dayan, you don’t have to be a Nobel prize material but don’t grace your pages of your history with shame. Is that the real Dayan?

    The present leaders are not any better? Isn’t it shameful that Sri Lanka never ad a leader from day one of independence who did not have a twisted tongue, and had the quality of bringing the people of a multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-lingual and multi-religious nation together. It has been politics of destruction and hoodlums like you just continue to pour oil in fire instead of dousing it. Let there be no mistake – Sri Lanka is a broken nation, a diseased country with no healers.

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