By Shyamon Jayasinghe –
The challenge before our country is to institute a transformed system, because most of our political ills are a functional result of a poor system. Our politicians and our political culture is a dependent outcome of bad system. This systemic change, above all, demands a change in constitution.
Root of Today’s Confusion
The revolution of January 8th, 2015 was never a completed task. The election results at the General Elections that followed did not yield a big enough result for the UNP, Maitripala Sirisena’s principal political partner, to form a strong government with the new President. The range of promised tasks that had to be performed to complete the transformation of political life in the island and satisfy the electorate was so vast and radical that it all needed a near absolute majority. For various reasons, this outcome was not achieved.
The root of today’s confusion lies there and nowhere else. Those interested in trying to assess the unfolding political situation have to bear this central issue in mind if they are to get anywhere as far as understanding is concerned. Just hitting here and there won’t help.
Clout of the Deposed Regime
The related subsidiary factor in the confusion-equation that ensued was that the deposed regime of the Rajapaksa family had enough Parliamentary clout in numbers to worry the government and cause destabilisation. There isn’t any point in saying that an Opposition in a democracy should allow the government some time- space to deliver and only thereafter go on the onslaught. This is theory and it doesn’t belong to the real world of Third World politics. The troubling and worrisome factor working within the Opposition, now headed by the former President, is that the latter are under siege with a the Sword of Damocles hanging over their necks. The charges of corruption and murder and fraud exposed and bandied about during election time are so serious that many in the Opposition headed by “the family,” could land in jail if proved in court; concomitantly, these individuals would also automatically lose their civic rights to participate in politics in the future.
Proverbial Pick Pocket
The fear was traumatic. The only way out for the Opposition is to utilise the numbers they had in Parliament and outside in the broad electorate to campaign and harass the new President and the government. This is how ‘Mahinda Sulanga,’ meetings started. Like the proverbial pickpocket, the Opposition cried foul against the yahapalanaya government with a return charge of corruption. It was sand thrown in the eyes to deceive the people. To an extent that was successful politics. The successful politicisation of the Bond Issue was a case in point.
The dragging of cases meant to bring the members of the former regime to court made matters worse. Persons loyal to the former regime continued within the ranks of various government agencies, obstructing many a move. The media, suddenly released from oppression and finding freedom, began a relentless criticism over the government. This is known as the paradox of liberty and tolerance. Opposition elements utilise the new freedom to destroy the very freedom from oppression that the people have won; doing so, by attempting to get on the back of that freedom.
Nor could any government perform significantly in the economy, especially for the first few years, given the perilous star of finances that the previous regime had created by irresponsible fiscal measures, childish and mindless extravaganza and corruption, unpayable national debt and visionless economic management. The media under the incompetent previous Minister of this government failed in its task to communicate with the people about these difficulties and about the solutions that need time to give effect to. The present Minister Mangala Samaraweera, being a media expert himself, has begun delivering what the media had to deliver in this context. The delay did cost the incumbent government.
The other factor, also related to the inadequate parliamentary majority, was President Sirisena’s strategy of luring onto his side some numbers of the SLFP that were with Mahinda Rajapakse. The Present strategy did work to some extent since the yahapalanaya government was able to pass some important legislation in Parliament and also present some stability within the well of Parliament.
The invaluable passage of the 19th Amendment was a victory for both the President and the Prime Minister – particularly the President who dared to stay inside Parliament until that was passed. Many other useful and nationally important laws were passed during the last three years including those related to the setting up of Independent Commissions, the freedom of the public to obtain information about the government and so on. Besides, government was able to pass all its budgets comfortably.
The crucial law that has yet to be passed relates to the fundamental law of the country and that is the constitution. One cannot expect any change in the rules of the game of politics and governance without a change in constitution; that, alone, can result in a better arrangement for Parliament to have better quality MPs and ensure a fundamental change to the way the way the government is run. The current system of the JR constitution leading to an absolute executive must go as soon as possible. This was one of the key things for which a mandate was obtained. The public demand for that grew so much that even the former President had promised the people, that if he won election the first thing he would do is to abolish the executive presidency! An ironical and even satirical statement from the man who abused that constitution and unleashed oppression in the island.
Progress of Dualism
What has thus far happened in this regard, is a hopeless halfway path of a restricted Executive Presidency; neither here nor there. Surprisingly the resultant dualism did work thus far, given the good sense and maturity on the part of the Present Sirisena and Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe. The duo has worked well together to deliver a visible change in the country: Sri Lankan people are free now. For the last three years we have not seen any state-sponsored murders of dissenting journalists and politicians-no white vans and night hit-squads. People are free to protest for anything. Trade Unions, including the unprofessionally- behaving GMOA, are let out. Villagers are not shot for demanding their right to clean water. Courts aren’t conducted in Temple Trees anymore. We do not have a Chief Justice who is ready to give verdict that government leaders desire. We have a meticulously honourable Chief Justice today. Dissentients are not found missing. Pedestrians are not forced by cops to turn their backs and hold onto the nearest wall when VIPs like Gota pass, in their pomp and glory.
The economy has started a turn for the better. The National Debt factor is intelligently handled. Only the cussed, the politically illiterate and the Rajapaksa-bent diehards can deny all this and much more.
Stress on Dualism
On the other hand, during these times of political stress with the local government elections on, dualism is under serious stress. Maitripala’s strategy of building up an SLFP under his political leadership has caused much of the stress and burn of dualism. His attempts seem to have divided the SLFP ranks in the country-thus weakening Mahinda Rajapaksa’s Pohottuwa. However, the heat generated from the political need to differentiate himself from the UNP during election time is becoming dysfunctional. Mairtipala’s SLFP can succeed in the country only on the basis of such a differentiation from the UNP.
This development, once again, shows the weakness of an Executive President system where the President takes on a political mantle.
Prayer For a Change in System
The election results will, no doubt, have big impact on national politics in the days to come. writers for good governance in Sri Lanka like me, can only pray that things will sort out and become stable after that result; that President Maitripala and the Prime Minister will resume to work harmoniously together; that the Revolution is completed and its promised package of a transformed political system is signed, sealed and delivered to the people of our country. This alone will constitute the path of hope for Sri Lanka.
The challenge before our country is to institute a transformed system, because most of our political ills are a functional result of a poor system. Our politicians and our political culture is a dependent outcome of bad system. The systemic change, above all, demands a change in constitution.
*The writer can be contacted at email@example.com
Adrian / January 21, 2018
The absolute sine qua non for the success of the project is the ejection of RW (your hero) from the government. It is said that one is judged by the company one keeps. The Bond Comission proceedings conclusively show that RK committed perjury by telling the Commission that he only had a nodding acquaintance with Aloysius, that he did not know the source of the money to buy the penthouse and it is plain for all to see that RK took a gigantic bribe in the form of the penthouse. He should be in remand awaiting trial. But where is he instead? Literally, at the right hand of your hero in public and private. So the rot starts at RW, a fool and a loser, who has ruined the project by tolerating theft by his cronies, appointed relations and cronies to perform jobs where expertise is required, and has kept excellent skilled persons like Eran and Harsha while putting his “close” friends Sagala and Akila in critical cabinet positions. Time for this immoral, incompetent manipulator to be kicked out by his own party
Justice & Fairplay / January 21, 2018
If Ranil had any common sense, he would have greatly distanced himself from RK no sooner the latter’s name came out in mud. Instead, Ranil was photographed all over the place in the close company of RK, giving everyone the impression that Ranil thought RK was either innocent, or that he just didn’t care what any commission thought of RK.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but as for me, I have voted for a RW led UNP for the very last time in 2015. I bet I am not alone in taking up such a stand!
lal / January 23, 2018
What is required is to empower the current civil/admin service to administer the daily affairs of the nation without fear or favour and, curtail the power of parliamentarians to interfere good governance. The A.G should be independent of political interference to prosecute errant parliamentarians. No need to change the constitution now but, improve on what is there in place. No doubt, apologists for the failures of the current ‘administration’ will prescribe grand and sinister schemes (eg sham by Shyamon) to cover up the diabolical state of the nation with rampant fraud, nepotism and ever deteriorating economy.
Native Vedda / January 23, 2018
Could you tell us the difference between power and absolute power and the consequence of having Concentration of Power in one person who is also intended to be the commander in chief of the armed forces. .
Thanks in advance.
Hela / January 21, 2018
Continued excuses, and lies, then more excuses and more lies from majarapalanistas. Folks……this is after 3 full years!! The sheer incompetency, dishonesty, cowardice and treachery cannot be covered with any amount of excuses and lies…….Not any more…………
Ajith / January 22, 2018
Yes, continued excuses and lies and then more excuses and more lies is the history of Srilanka since 1948. Both UNP and SLFP are the product of the same group of families and we are not prepared to make a real change to the political culture. We created politicians from wealthy and our politicians learned how to become wealthier from those wealthy. SWRD lead SLFP was not better than DS lead UNP or JRJ lead UNP is no better than Srimavo. Similary Chandrika or Rajapakse lead SLFP is not better than Ranil or Premadasa lead UNP. Corruption is well established in this country from top to bottom. For example, I couldn’t get my salary arrears without paying a sum to my clerk or I couldn’t get my job without paying to a minister. This is the system established so long and I am used to that system. As an individual you cannot break the system and if you break the system you are isolated you will be removed. That is the reality. Though we ousted the previous regime from the power we couldn’t do anything to them to face justice because where to start and where to finish? For example, we saw a minister, the secretary of the UNP was bought for millions within a night when the UNP bought a minister from SLFP to contest Presidency. We all know what happened and we know both parties used bribe and did it bother us? No !
Jagath Fernando / January 21, 2018
Agree that some good things have taken place over the last three years. However the bond scam is unforgivable but unfortunately no MP will go to jail.
Also some of the reforms and promises have not happened.
1 pension reforms in govt sector. We simply cannot afford current system which is non contributory.
2 no key politician have been found guilty for corruption.
3 Education reforms and Private sector involvement in higher education including medical studies
4 Fertiliser subsidy to be streamlined
5 Loss making state enterprises including Sri Lankan, CEB and CPC were to be restructured
6 BoC and Peoples Bank ownership were to be broad based and restructured
7 Abolition of Executive Presidency and Constituional reforms
8 Independence of judiciary and Police
9 Restrict recruitment to public sector.
10 Avoid appointment of cronies to state institutions boards. A good example is bank boards, Sri Lankan and SLT.
Jim softy / January 21, 2018
Shyamon Jayasinghe: Sri lankan political analysts even, if they aot dumb, if they have PhDs are very biased and look dishonest.
AL gore lost to bush only from one state because of some hanging flaps. He accepted that stayed away from politics and did not make big deal out of it. In Canada, Quebec Separation vote was won just by less than 1.0%. but, that politician stepped down and di dnot bug there after. Do we have the same situation. Presidents, Prime ministers, Ministers and even the lower ranks some how try to hang on to it. See Rosy Senanayake’s Son is implicated in the bond scam. She was a federal minister, Provincial chief minister. Now she wants to be the municipal Mayor. Why Sri lankan politics that pathetic.
You say the system is not working and wrong. but, you are not talking about how to correct it. Instead, talk some crap which is not worth while to discuss.
Sri lankan politicians are corrupt. Even Ranil has nepotism. MY3 did the same by appointing his brother to Telecom. recently, Telecom had some corruption problems and CEO had to quit. See SL airlines, that is Ranil’s henchmen. See tourism board (now removed). that is CBK’s friends.
Why no one is asking the system to bee replaces. System is there to protect thieves.
If those women working in the Middle east are not there to send money, if Sri lanka were self-sustaining Sri lanka would be in a worse situation than GREECE. the country is bankrupt, Bak interests rates are very high. All the banks are empty and and money is with a primary dealer who assets are frozen. PM is cleaning saying every thing is OK.
Analusts come and talk to preserve thee same politicians. It is just same group playing musical chairs.
Shenal / January 21, 2018
Also, don’t you remember what happened in 2010, UNP led Swan alliance lost the election soundly. Did they concede the defeat? No. They went on saying that it was a “Computer Gilmart” implying that Mahinda had illegally won. UNP has no civility to admit their defeats and their failures. This is the main reason why they cannot succeed in the politics. Imagine what if Mahinda had won in 2015 with small margin. The same UNP would have gone to streets with their cohorts like JVP demanding the resignation of Mahinda until one or two people get killed. Then they can market the corpses for some time to come.
There was only some politicians I have seen admit their defeats. One is of course Mahinda. I hope that he had learnt his lesson and won’t repeat it if he could come to power again.
edwin rodrigo / January 21, 2018
Revolution: When Alexander McQueen said, “Give me time and I’ll give you a revolution”. This guy, a world famous fashion designer, with loads and loads of money, is probably trying to buy time by saying that. Of course you need time for anything. But you need other things too, like money. Our immediate question however is –what does Shaymon want here, philosophizing and writing about ‘revolutions’? Anyway, the short answer to all that is money – lots and lots of it. Now that the Capitalist Revolutionists have got all the money required, not for just one revolution, but for a dozen or so revolutions, through the CB Heist, we need one thing more – a warehouse to put all that money.
The capitalists revolutionaries are on new ground when it comes to revolutions. Having tried to destroy revolutions in the past they have found that the best way of preventing revolutions is to have their own brand.
When we vote in LG elections, let us remember that we should not allow those who robbed the Central bank to try to rob the local banks too.
Shenal / January 21, 2018
How much time does the opposition should give the government to deliver? 1 month, 1 year or 5 years? Should the opposition stay quiet until the government ruins everything just because they have to wait until the period comes? AFAIK politics must be a dynamic unit working alongside people’s bidding.
The systemic change doesn’t need a change in constitution it just need an amendment in the constitution. There is no need to overhaul the entire constitution for small changes in certain parts of it. Besides, if the intentions are clean why afraid of putting amendments to the constitution so that the entire country could see what are the changes.
Native Vedda / January 21, 2018
“How much time does the opposition should give the government to deliver? 1 month, 1 year or 5 years? “
Please remind me how much time did the previous horas had had ruin the country? Was it ten long years?
“The systemic change doesn’t need a change in constitution it just need an amendment in the constitution.”
Explain to us the constitutional novice as to why you believe a systematic change to constitution is not required.
Have you ever attempted read Sri Lankan constitution or seen one in your entire life?
My Elders have acknowledged there is a correlation between all the ills of this country and its constitution. I should advise you to read on Political History, Political Economy, Economic History of this island covering the period from 1970 to date.
I know you are looking for clever dick, smart ass, smarty pant response to my comments. Don’t waste time.
sach / January 21, 2018
there was no revolution, old bugger. RW got elected with Sirisena after 29 election losses
soma / January 23, 2018
How do you say so, Sach? The previous regime did not hold elections on time. It was already two years over due. Masses were getting impatient. Under the leadership of Sobhitha Thero and Shymon Jayasinghe the country all in one flocked the streets. Rajapaksa reacted like devil.. Rivers of blood flowed down the streets. Rajapaksa wouldn’t budge. Seventh fleet of USA anchoed around the island. Rajapaksa gave in and agreed for elections. Ranil Wickramasinghe did the greatest sacrifice in his political life and gave nomination for a Gamarala There was massive election violations by Rajapaksa camp. Gamarala managed to get 95% of the votes and appointed RW as PM. Don’t you see milk and honey overflowing? You don’t want to call this a revolution? Give me a better example.
Native Vedda / January 23, 2018
“Rajapaksa reacted like devil”
If you are in doubt ask the Devil itself. The Devil is ashamed of its own evilness compared to the clan’s one. Though Dr Mahinda Rajapakse (LLD) displayed smugness his brother Dr Gota (DSc) did what he thought to be necessary, to bum off perceived enemies.
“Rivers of blood flowed down the streets.”
Well you forgot the North, it was tsunami of blood.
Well the Jan 2015 was not a revolution however it wiped smugness off from Dr Mahind’s face and on that day Dr Gota lost his Darth Vader lightsaber.
soma / January 24, 2018
Yea, some satisfaction for those terrorist donkeys who were walking with their tail tucked between between legs though they know that their master will not walk again.
Niro / January 21, 2018
People ignore the fact that it took thousands of years for Europeans to develop a legal system. The magna Carta was written in Latin in 1215. King John was a puppet king forced to sign the document by the landowners. When 99% of the population couldn’t understand Latin.
By this time Sri Lanka was thousands of years old, sigiriya was build, Alexander the great had visited, Anuradhapura had a population of over a million , Galle was the hub of the Indian ocean. The point being our Constitutional experts need to understand that Sri Lanka is not Europe or America.
1880 the British discovered a book called the laws of manu. The Ceylonese civil servant Hugh Neville claimed that Buddhists called it Maha sammata. These were the law codes that existed before Europeans and Moors. Our experts need to look into these books and incorporate it into our system.
Uthungan / January 25, 2018
“In 1880 the British discovered a book called the laws of Manu……Maha Sammata.” ( Maha Sammtham)
But then in 1880 Asgiriya &Malwatte were apolitical.
Singhalese pundit / January 21, 2018
All what you need is to send this government home
Vote JVP to.do.thst .
Take all your family and vote for JVP.
This could be another game change in Sri Lanka
Gothe Pura / January 21, 2018
There seems to be no end to this man’s idiocy. After licking Ranil’s hind quarters endlessly, now he is turning to ‘systems change’ beginning with a new constitution. How can anyone be so stupid to fail to understand that we have had new constitutions in 1971 and 1978 and a list of 19 amendments that were supposed to correct all ills, but failed to cahnge system due to our stupid , corrupt politicians and an inefficient, stupid SLAS. Why can’t fools like this one understand that our country is run by political parties and their leaders no matter what constitution we have. Why can’t fools understand that corrupt politicians like Ranil Wickremesinghe, Ravi Karunanayake, Senaka Semasinghe, and SB Diassanayake are the problem, and not the constitution. For heavens sake, take leave old man, you are testing the nerve of so many sensible CT contributors and readers.
Kalu Albert / January 21, 2018
I don’t think the writer has the slightest clue of what is going on under Dr Ranil’s Yahapalanaya.
Previous CB boss Dr Kabral openly challenged Dr Ranil and Mr Sira in one hit, to prove that 2008 -2015 CB Bonds are crooked as the Duo alleged ..
The Robbery of the Century which was carried out by the UNP Yahaplanaa Hierarchy with in 3 months of Yahapalana inauguration has plunged the country into utter chaos.
Not even an ounce of Bull Dust which the UNP and its acolytes had spread through the nation prior to 2015 has been proved real.
Dr Ranil has been forced to use the national assets put in place by the last regime ,to bail him and his govt out of the financial morass created by the Bond Robbery, Lack of Confidence among the International Investors and the unprecedented Commissions which the UNP Ministers are still trying to extract..
President as late as last week declared that Dr Ranil has ruined the Economy.
And the President wants to take over the Finances .
That says it all. Doesn’t It mate?…..
Douglas / January 21, 2018
Mr. Shymon: Your solution for all ills is a “System Change”. By whom, you did not say; but the answer could have been “Those in Government”. The “Capability” of a System Change, of “Those in Government” was amply demonstrated, when, your HERO – the PM changed the, then prevailing system of “Direct Bidding” to “Auction Bidding” of Bond Issue by the Central Bank. Another “System Change” he (PM) introduced was the “PAWNING” of Nation’s Strategic Assets to foreign interests for nearly a “Century” those of which can be “Re possessed” only at a “valuation” at the end of the lease period. Very many such “System Changes” can be quoted. You know it; but conveniently try to fool the people of Sri Lanka. I agree that a “System Change” is necessary and to do that all these proven crooks and criminals who consistently occupy that “Mansion” surrounded by the Diyawannawa must be rounded up and put behind bars not to be seen and heard by the people. That itself will be a “System Change” to begin with.
Kalu Albert / January 21, 2018
Dr Ranil and Mr Kirii’s Heist on Kandy Expressway is going to be in the same league as Dr Ranil and Dr mahendra’s Central Bank Bond Job..
Here is the breakdown of the Deal which Mr Kirri and Dr Ranil boasted as the best for us next to sliced bread…
Loan amount LKR 138 Billion. at commercial rate from Mitsui Bank arranged by the Diaspora Gentleman and the Agent In Colombo.
Insurance Premium 10.07 % og the Total
Arrangement Fee 1.1 % of the Total
Commission 0.25 % of the Total
Add the Interest on top of that on LKR 138 Billion for 15 years.
The numbers are mind boggling.
Mr Jayasighe can perhaps do the sums and show us how good this Dr Ranil is for our Yahapalana Land..
India on the other hand got a Loan at 0.1 % Interest from Japan to build their Bullet Train..
May be Modi is not as sharp as Dr Ranil…..
thrishu / January 21, 2018
What is needed to complete the revolution of the January 8th is to fire the lot, PM RW and his entire cabinet, handover the immediate security of the country to the Army until an interim caretaker government is appointed with British administrators appointed by courtesy of the Mother of Parliament in UK, reform the civil administration, judiciary and the police. The President with the blunt sword could stay where he is to confirm the legality of this move, and that all this is done under his direction. The country need a good laundering of the DNA of our politicians, and I think to reform the country’s administration, to get rid of corruption and to inculcate some discipline we desperately need at least 25-50 years of re-education by a country like UK where democracy, law and order and respect for individual citizen exist. That is the only way, even the meaning of Yahapalanaya could be taught to our politicians, let alone expecting them to deliver it. So forget your dreams Shaymon, you won’t get it with RW at the helm.
Jim softy / January 21, 2018
There was no revolution. It was a reject vote. Mahind Rajapakse used LTTE tactics to win the govt. that is why the Yahapalana govt is a Coalition govt.
Jim softy / January 21, 2018
Kiriella Is going to get an insurance from the Mitsubishi bank whose Sri lankan Agent is Arjun Aloesius. why there should be a Rs 14 billion insurance from a govt. Besides, Kiriella did not get quotations from minimum three banks even when Japanese govt has given gurantees. He got only the mitsubhisi bank whose agent is Arjun Aloesius.
Thassim / January 21, 2018
Can you write about issues here because you have great credibility to write about your homeland now, and not your motherland. Will have a lot more credibility.
What is going on in Melbourne with Apex gangs, petrol sheds robbed,,cars stolen, houses broken into, violence by refugees from shit hole nations like Somalia and Yemen and Sudan? Yahapaalanya become Gonpaalayana in that down under?
Prem Vaidyaratne / January 22, 2018
Everything in our powers must be done to prevent the return of even a section of the Pohottuwa. This pohottuwa stands for former dictator Mahinda Rajapakse. He and his regime imposed ten years of state terrorism and oppression. The yahapalanaya government has successfully been able to reverse that. Previously only Mahinda, Gota, the royal family and the clan of crooks were free. Now the people are free.
Percy / January 22, 2018
Yes Prem the people are now free and starving and the country flat broke. Isn’t it a nice feeling. This Yahalapana is terrific and Ranil Hamu is as clean as a whistle. He only robs Central Banks. He won’t even look at other banks which are robbed by common sarong johnniies. Ranil is more sophisticated, old Royal boy, uncle was the Bishop, and he won’t give a second look to the gamarala or his children.Soall we have to do is keep on repeating that the previous regime was oppressive. Aren’t we clever.?
kolla / January 22, 2018
Sinhalese pundit, Is Ranel Wijesinghe the thought leader , in the Colombo JVP list ?
K.Anaga / January 23, 2018
The silent revolution has brought about a loud evolution of bribery and corruption.
Percy / January 27, 2018
Ha Ha Ha Shaymons you bullshit artist. I recommend you read Sirisena’s Allegations about morerackets swindling the country all committed by the U NP. Read the lead story in today’s Mirror.