26 September, 2020

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UNP-SLFP Unity Beyond 2020 Is Key To New Sri Lanka 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The formation of the Government of National Unity in the aftermath of the victory of President Maithripala Sirisena at the presidential election of January 2015 generated hopes of a rejuvenation of the polity and the unleashing of its full post-war economic potential. However, much to the disappointment of those who believed in the new government, the rift between the UNP and SLFP, which are the two main constituent parties of the government, appears to be increasing with the passage of time. At its root is the perennial quest of politicians and political parties for power, to gain it, keep it and not to lose it.

Despite the existence of a UNP-SLFP alliance at the present time a question mark hangs over the future of the alliance in 2020 when the next presidential and general elections fall due. The indications are that the UNP and SLFP are both planning to revert once again to their traditional roles as political foes to each other, with each seeking to defeat the other at any cost and monopolize the fruits of power. Past practices that these parties have used against each other include denying their opponents their civic rights afte legal and political procedures of doubtful integrity, and the fanning of ethnic nationalism to steal a march over the other.

The six chief ministers of provincial councils governed by the SLFP who met with former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, himself a former SLFP president, expressed the strong desire of the rank and file in the party for a rapprochement between both factions of the SLFP, one led by President Sirisena and the other by the former president. The hope of the SLFP party membership is that a reunification of the SLFP will enable them to defeat the UNP and other political parties at future elections. The concern of both factions of the SLFP is that if they go into the local government election process without unifying themselves they will be handing over victory to the UNP.

Prolonged Delay 

The prolonged delay in holding the local government elections which are now two years overdue is most likely to be connected to the divisions within the SLFP which will disadvantage them and hand over the advantage to the UNP. The reason given by the government for the postponement of elections is that the Delimitation Review Committee, which delayed its own report had now handed over an incomplete report with many errors in it. After the report on their findings has been completed and handed over to the government, the government itself is complaining that the report is flawed and needs to be further revised. The perception that the government is seeking to avoid holding elections any time soon, is further undermining it.

Apart from undermining the government’s image as a democratic entity that is backed by the people, the rift between the UNP and SLFP is also leading to a lack of coherence in policy making. The government appears unable to progress on the three important economic initiatives it has undertaken. The Chinese investment in Hambantota Port and the industrial zone in the adjacent area are at a standstill. The Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India continues to be in a prolonged process of negotiation. The GSP Plus tariff concession by the European Union requires Sri Lanka to accede to international human rights standards and to international covenants it has signed. On each of these three economic issues President Sirisena has either been blocking or slowing down what the UNP has been proposing.

The issues on which President Sirisena has stepped in to intervene have their downsides. He has strongly opposed corruption in the government and refused to sign on to projects which appear to reek of it. The Chinese are seeking a 99 year lease which has implications for the country’s sovereignty as China is not just any other country, but an expanding world power that is a rival to India which is Sri Lanka’s closest neighbor. The controversy over ETCA with India reflects the larger concerns in Sri Lankan society about being swamped in an open economic relationship with India. On the other hand, there are also issues on which the President has intervened where his positive contribution is much less clear. An example would be the draft National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) on which he has made strong comments and registered his opposition.

The President has come out publicly in favour of the government’s decision not to proceed with legal reform with regard to decriminalizing homosexuality. The presence of archaic laws does not reflect positively on either the Sri Lankan legislature or on the cultural enlightenment and tolerance of the population at large. In addition the President has not yet gazetted the Office of Missing Persons Act which was passed by Parliament in August last year. This was one of the transitional justice mechanisms promised by the government to the UN Human Rights Council in October 2015. This has eroded the government’s credibility especially amongst the Tamil people who suffered the largest amount of enforced disappearances and also the international community who expect the government to adhere to international standards.

President’s Problem

The problem for the President is that he is unwilling to take policy decisions on controversial issues that would alienate the SLFP faction that is headed by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Former president Rajapaksa’s speech at the Joint Opposition rally last week gives an indication of the thinking that prevails amongst this faction of the SLFP. He said there were plans to replace the present Constitution with a separatist one prepared according to the needs of LTTE sympathizers abroad and the so-called international community. He also said the present government was boasting that they had regained the GSP+ tax concession, but the EU would only grant the facility after they fulfilled its conditions, including legalizing homosexuality.

The best way for President Sirisena to break out of this type of backward thinking is to dispense with his need to obtain their support. At the present members of the president’s team complain that they are left out of key government decisionmaking perhaps due to the fear that they will oppose them for narrow political reasons. This suggests that the UNP and President Sirisena’s faction of the SLFP should cease to be political rivals. The agreement at the presidential election of 2015 was that the presidential candidate would contest under a common electoral symbol where the UNP and those in the SLFP who supported the president joined together. The agreement that followed the victory at the presidential election and general election of August 2015 was that the UNP and SLFP would cohabit for a minimum of two years which was later extended to five years.

Putting an end to the debilitating rift between the UNP and SLFP faction headed by President Sirisena requires that the agreement to form a government of national unity should be extended to beyond 2020. This suggests that the same agreement that prevailed at the presidential election of 2015 should be entered into when the 2020 elections fall due. If this agreement is reached, President Sirisena will become empowered to stop attempting the impossible task of obtaining the support of the SLFP faction led by former president Rajapaksa. Instead he can, and must, work as a full and equal partner with the UNP headed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The UNP also needs to include the President and his team in joint decisionmaking. They need to work together, consult and decide together, in a manner where the two become one. This is the way out of divided and contradictory governance which is yielding too little fruit for the people who are impatient for fundamental and genuine change that will transform the country.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    0

    Do not be silly JP! Pl. use your brains if you still have them

    SLFP and UNP is full of corrupt moronic clowns who have looted the people of Sri lanka and got us in a massive DEBT TRAP to IMF and China!

    These same corrupt politicians use Racism and Hate Speech to Distarct, Divide and Rule the Masses.

    Leaders of the UNP and SLFP Ranil Wickramasinghe and Mahinda Jarapassa should share the same Prison Cell for stealing from the people of Sri Lanka and institutionalizing a culture of Impunity and Immunity for corrupt politicians.

    JVP and TNA are the only honest parties.

    • 3
      0

      There is already a gigantic cabinet! By 2020 it will be 200 UNP-SLFP cabinet members and all their perks that poor people will have to pay with VAT taxes.
      Have a heart and brain!

    • 1
      0

      UNP and SLFP were always united in imposing racist measures on Tamils. It is only when they want to loot the country, that they are divided.

  • 6
    0

    We, the people of Mother Lanka are FED UP of UNP and SLFP and do now want either of them NOW, never mind 2020!

    How come you never talk about corruption Jehan Perera?! The point is that once Mahinda Jarapaksa and Co are convicted for Financial Crimes they and their Racism would be irrelevant but corrupt Ranil is protecting MR.

  • 4
    1

    UNP-SLFP Unity Beyond 2020 is key NOT to New Sri Lanka but to the impure agenda of the INGO Business culprits like you Jehan Perea!

    • 0
      0

      Please join that wicked female secretary of Diwulapitiya Sabhawa–that suits you most Maximoron.
      So long the idiots of your kind are the majority I dont think we will ever achieve anything int his country towards the progress.

  • 0
    1

    A thought on the quarrel in the ‘national government’:
    Tweedledum and Tweedledee
    Agreed to have a battle!
    For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
    Had spoiled his nice new rattle.
    Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
    As black as a tar-barrel!
    Which frightened both the heroes so,
    They quite forgot their quarrel.’

    Not an exact analogue. But the fear of the return of Rajapakse is a uniting factor– but only to a point.

  • 0
    0

    My Concern is that Trump wants to stop funding for these agencies, writing this funny articles, instead, Millinium corporation – A consortium of finacneirs made up of the church and George Sorro will fund it.

    How do they do want it ?

  • 2
    0

    By what logic or Constitutional principle, can or should a President who is directly elected by the people of the country taken as a whole, wields executive power, and is head of state, head of Govt, Minister of Defence and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, be an “equal partner” (as this writer suggests) of a PM whom he appoints and has the power to dismiss?

    • 0
      0

      The same logic by which many an unelected person held sway in the affairs of the state, party and other ‘democratic’ institutions. Power derives from sources other than the formal position held.
      RW may be losing his grip– but nothing can be taken for granted.

  • 3
    0

    The NGO man currently turn into political marriage broker!

    His politics is fit ton to current work of Join UNP and SLFP alliances.

    New politics is suited to served for the that NGO long-term perspective by Dr Dr ….Jehan Perera

  • 1
    0

    Err, May be for dividing the country?

  • 1
    0

    Hello JP; another mouth piece of you know who….

    The purpose of SLFP and UNP’s MARRIAGE OF CONVENIENCE is to plunder our nation, deny the birth rights of SINHALA BUDDHISTS, Desecrate and demean our heritage and religion, hoodwink the masses. This marriage is a curse; the silent majority should not be just bystanders until you and your political master complete the objective.

    Your dreams will never come true, if so it would have happened even before your grandfather was born. You all had ample time to destroy us and our nation. To be exact; 512 years since “ your kind” appeared in 1505. So JP don’t dream, your master’s objective will never be realized at the age of 71 years.

  • 1
    0

    Both UNP are two very corrupt parties whio can not win an election on their own. So, they wanted this yahapalanaya.

  • 0
    0

    UNP-SLFP unity will be of little value if the 68 year old grievances of Lankan minorities are not addressed. The language/religious divide must be eliminated.

  • 0
    0

    SWRD himself was in the UNP as second in command next to DS. Best to work as one group. Have 2 platforms made into one platform (Manifesto) and work together. A middle of the road platform can be presented. Yes, if they are part of a joint government then SLFP should be included in all decision making and policy planning routines. Don’t show the weakness in the eye of the masses or otherwise the approval rating will decline.

    Do something for the country and improve the income of all families. All Sri Lankans should be economically sound to have a comfortable life.

    Mr. Jehan Perera, what you have written is right. When are the rulers going to learn to do the right thing. Unity comes first.

  • 1
    0

    Employee Provident Fund -EPF- loss from the Bond Heist is LKR 14,000 Million.-Island News Rag yesterday.

    SIL & FIL’s Perpetual rustees made LKR 11,200 Million pure Profit.

    Now I can can reconcile this mother of all profits, which any Bond Trader has ever made any where on the Planet Earth.

    Batalanada Ranil still boasts how much good he has done for the Nation.

    Assuming there are 10,Million members in the EPF , each has donated LKR 14,000 to Singapore Mahendran and his dear SIL for helping Yahapalanaya.

    14,000 Ruppiah out of their life savings is a heck of a lot of dough for the poor buggers who work their butts to save for their loved ones.

    How can Batalanada Ranil sleep in peace next his missus.

    Has his conscience nerve been castrated at birth, as one JO MP asked in Baddegama?.

    Dr Jehan is trying hard to get Bodhi Sira and his Forty golayas to join Batalanada Ranil & his Band of Thieves ( Bar the Vellala 14 and Sampanthar ), even after 2020.

    Good Luck. mate That is all I can say.

  • 0
    0

    Jehan,
    Do you want to ruin the country completely? How do you make this kind of myopic utterances that takes us all to Kanatta at Borella. Do you know (since you don’t live among the average Sri Lanakans) how people live in rural Sri Lanka? How life has become a day and night struggle with so many obstacles and restrictions, shortages, lack of basic facilities, resources, funds, and services:no sign of improvement; no jobs and the declining rupee has a direct hit on private employees who provided local jobs; everybody is struggling from the newborn to the elderly.
    As a result, people are getting closer and closer to the Rajapaksas; just take one simple example, Gota did several wonderful jobs without complicating the average Sri Lankan’s day to day life and nobody can deny that fact. Even if there were issues people have now realized such shortcomings are excusable. (A surgery cannot be performed without ‘cutting’ the affected body part and it should not be interpreted as a crime; the Rajapaksas managed to do it to the satisfaction of the majority and that’s why they are still popular! There is no mantra! but a simple understanding of the people’s heart and mind only.
    According to general opinion of many this government has failed from day one. People’s hopes and expectations have now turned to anger, revenge, and they think now how to punish the liars, thieves, and financial criminals.
    You, in your gullible articles are writing as if nothing wrong has happened in Sri Lanka under Yahapalanaya; you are putting salt and pepper to the wounded minds of millions of men, women, and children. You may satisfy a few friends and donors abroad but think of the ground reality without twisting facts; think of the people that you live with, first. Wake up from your $lumber!

  • 0
    0

    Suffice it to say that this is a very balanced analysis by Jehan. Bensen

  • 0
    0

    The ongoing UNP and SLFP alliance has gone too far that denied Democratic principles had been practices by last 69 years since 1948 of different constitutional accepts procedures.
    1 Solasboury Constitution of ex-Colonial governances, by partly
    Wester minister “democracy” norms of Parliamentary principles
    has been denied UNP-SLFP alliance last 24 months.
    2 Deviated or fully that abandoned from 1972 Republic constitution
    that mainly Independent Constitutional by UNP -SLFP current
    compromised “good governance and rule of law” set-out negative
    precedent.
    3 The advocated New Constitution changes by “power devolution” proposed
    1978 Republic constitution has been Denied by ongoing Parliament
    procedure that majority rule by Parliament of Members chamber .
    Presently “compromised Governances” of UNP-SLFP alliance was by
    products of ‘rainbow revolution’ totally diverted path of norms
    of democracy traditions in Sri lanka as well as other part of
    world.
    The most dangerous point is that current UNP-SLFP in fast track running on dictorpaship path which practices against will of Majority rule of democracy !
    The an issues is that context of democracy and challenge norms of democracy that against the will of voters which undermined Parliamentary norms and values.

    What ever the ongoing deep and extensive an Economic crisis beyond that has extended to New Political instability, uncertainties and chaos among masses of voters by current UNP-SLFP alliances.By and large that MS, CBK and Ranil W…@@@.

    The “Good Governance and Rule of Law” has been that Rule Out by all democratic metholodlgy which was accountability by past 69 years. Needless to say that where UNP-SLFP alliance fail to address solution for our existing democratic order of Island.

  • 0
    0

    The ongoing UNP and SLFP alliance has gone too far that denied Democratic principles had been practices by last 69 years since 1948 of different constitutional accepts procedures.

    1 Solasboury Constitution of ex-Colonial governances, by partly
    Wester minister “democracy” norms of Parliamentary principles
    has been denied UNP-SLFP alliance last 24 months.

    2 Deviated or fully that abandoned from 1972 Republic constitution
    that mainly Independent Constitutional by UNP -SLFP current
    compromised “good governance and rule of law” set-out negative
    precedent.

    3 The advocated New Constitution changes by “power devolution” proposed
    1978 Republic constitution has been Denied by ongoing Parliament
    procedure that majority rule by Parliament of Members- Chamber .
    Presently “compromised Governances” of UNP-SLFP alliance was by
    products of ‘rainbow revolution’ totally diverted path of norms
    of democracy traditions in Sri lanka as well as other part of
    world.

    The most dangerous point is that current UNP-SLFP in fast track running on dictorpaship path which practices against will of Majority rule of democracy !

    The an issues is that context of democracy and challenge norms of democracy that against the will of voters which undermined Parliamentary norms and values.

    What ever reasons the ongoing deep and extensive an Economic crisis beyond that has extended to New Political instability, uncertainties and chaos among masses of voters by current UNP-SLFP alliances by and large that MS, CBK and Ranil W…@@@ allies.

    The “Good Governance and Rule of Law” has been that Rule Out by all democratic metholodlgy which was an accountability Parliament and voters by past 69 years.

    Needless to say that where UNP-SLFP alliance fail to address solution for our existing democratic order of Island.

  • 0
    0

    May I suggest, Jehan, Havard Graduate and political pundit, that the key to a new Sri Lanka is a new parliament?

    Is that such a radical idea? A parliament consisting of the younger/straighter generations of MPs such as MP.Namal. I mean he could be in the opposition if the people want that. He is already in the joint opposition. If the people so want they can elect better people to be President and PM.

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