By Mass L. Usuf –
In the speech made by President Maithripala Sirisena in 2015 addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Conference, among other things, he said:
“The Government of Sri Lanka fully supports the Post-2015 Sustainable Development Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals and targets that have been adopted by this Assembly. In that respect, we will work towards the provision of basic needs of the people, progressive alleviation of poverty, elimination of all forms of discrimination and inequalities, and establish a society based on social justice and human security.”
Promises here, promises there and promises even at the United Nations Conference especially, “elimination of all forms of discrimination and inequalities, and establish a society based on social justice and human security.” In keeping with the promise given to the UN, the government has succeeded in securing three consecutive awards within a short time span. The ‘Gintota Award’, the ‘Ampara Award’ and the ‘Digana Award’. Even the Rajapakshes would be put to shame by this sterling performance. Violence was perpetrated in all these three places against the Muslims causing losses amounting to several millions of rupees.
The government has become fragile after the recent local government elections. The unexpected shock win by a relatively newly formed party upset all horses in the race. To an already deteriorating situation the three ‘awards’ add lustre to an otherwise lacklustre existence. A super recipe for the ultimate downfall is meticulously being concocted. Whether one likes it or not or, however much one is desirous of juggling with numbers, the election results indicated either a failure or a marginal pass for the government. For the people, it was a breach of the simple Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that they had agreed upon namely, you give me your vote and I shall deliver the goods. The specific performance on the part of the government to bring to book the murderers and corruptors was breached. The matter was taken up in the people’s court and the verdict is a reflection of people’s assessment of the breach of the MoU by the government.
Trial at Bar
Had the so called Yahapalana government done what it is now doing after a lapse of three years in rule, the election results may have been different. It may be possible that the three ‘award ceremonies’ (riots) too would not have taken place. The message that the rule of law is being strictly enforced would act as a strong deterrence. Public pressure moved the government to come up with the proposed amendment to the Judicature Act No. 2 of 1978, sub judice, for the establishment of a Special High Court. The Trial at Bar without a jury, where a three-judge bench could hear cases filed against persons relating to various acts of corruption, fraud and white-collar crimes. A fast track procedure without compromising on the legal principles of being just, fair and reasonable. Of course, those who are conscious of what they had done in the past must be feeling the heat closing up. Seven petitions have been filed challenging the constitutionality of the bill.
Prophets Of Doom
All is not that bleak though some analysts do predict that the government will lose 2020. The ensuing less than two years is not all that gloomy provided the government takes serious, effective and meaningful steps towards what is expected by the masses.
Maithri and his coterie did a big mistake by their belligerence against the partner in government during the election. They reaped the harvest in no uncertain terms for their unwise and myopic venture. A second chance still remains for this lot to make amends and continue with goodwill with their partners and vice versa. Out of the box thinking, fast implementation, marked efficiency and establishing the rule of law will undoubtedly yield good results. Stability needs to be ensured by all sides within the unity government undertaking this challenge with a sense of camaraderie. Most of all this partnership government should have the interest of the nation and its people as their primary consideration. As much as the people can be wrathful they also can be grateful. The latter however, must be earned not by mere empty and insincere speeches made in front of an unwilling crowd, who generally, are present at such events not by choice.
The Joint Opposition (JO), through its cult worshippers, has established some credibility and it can lose this trust if it indulges in anti-nationalistic adventures like union strikes through its proxies, violence between communities etc. It will be in the interest of the JO to keep Sri Lanka in a state of continuing instability until election time. If not, at least work towards weakening the position of the unity government. Thereby not permitting the government to carry out its governmental duties and functions. Causing tension and arousing sentiments of the public with ulterior selfish motives could lead the country towards anarchy. Death and destruction will be inevitable given the hostilities and revengeful mind set of the Sri Lankan people. A country, where a traffic accident can result in a full blown racist carnage if, and, only if, a Muslim is involved!
The upcoming no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is an onslaught never to allow the dust to settle. It has also been well timed with the current determination in the Supreme Court of the proposed amendment to the Judicature Act No. 2 of 1978. The JO should exercise extreme caution having the interest of the country foremost and not resort to destructive pathways. Conflicting though, I am reminded of a Sinhala proverb, “Like the one asking for feathers from a tortoise”. (ඉබ්බාගෙන් පිහාටු ඉල්ලන්නා වාගේ). The strategy is clear that is to redirect the government efforts and, the precious less than two years’ time, in solving problems rather than in development and welfare of the people. Come the end of the second lap, nothing delivered!
Petty, selfish, power hungry and opportunistic politics of the politicians have been well established in the minds of the people. Apart from the cult worshippers of JO and the irrationally blind followers of the SLFP and UNP, a refrain heard from the common neutral man is (mung dennama horu. Kawuru awoth ekai). Both are rogues. Whoever comes, it’s the same. These sentiments cannot be summarily dismissed as such. Behind it lies a serious statement made by the general public. On the one hand the disgust over the continuing state of affairs in this country from the day of Independence and, on the other, the depravity of the politicians.
Third Grade Power Politics
Ranil, the aristocrat in his outlook, is endowed with intellect but pathetically out of touch with the grassroots. Maithri the typical humble goviya can relate himself to the person in the village and has experience. Both must get together shedding their differences and steer this partnership in a manner beneficial to the country. Maithri must display more Statesmanlike characteristics. He should be decisive and stop whining. He should keep the leeches and parasites in their proper places.
The warning is clear, be it the unity government (the UNP and SLFP) or, the Joint Opposition unless the cards are played wisely and constructively they are bound to lose in the fray. The people are aware and are capable of distinguishing between cheap third grade power politics and its opposites.