21 April, 2019

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Will 2020 – 2030 Be The Golden Era For Sri Lanka?

By Niranjan Canagasooryam

Niranjan Canagasooryam

Should Ranil Wickremesinghe step down as Prime Minister?

Under the law and  Sri Lanka’s Constitution, there is no reason why Ranil Wickremesinghe should step down as Prime Minister unless a vote of no confidence is passed in parliament. However, the numbers are not possible in Parliament even if the SLFP and JO join together. They will need significant defections from the UNP, though this is highly unlikely at this moment.

So, the more important question is whether the Premier should step down for the sake of UNP’s future? It is true the loss of Mr. Wickremesinghe’s “Mr. Clean” image after the bond scam – not seen doing enough development work at the grassroot level, not addressing the rising cost of living and not perceived to have acted to bring the corrupt to justice all contributed to the election defeat.

Having said that, Ranil Wickremesinghe was instrumental in forming the unity government in 2015 with the main purpose of passing the much-needed change such as social reforms, constitutional reforms and very importantly to revive the country out of the debt trap that the Rajapaksa government burdened on Sri Lanka. All these measures are not popular amongst the public and will take time to deliver the holistic benefits. They will come to fruition much later in Sri Lankan lives. In this light, having the local election merely three years after taking over the government is similar to having opened up a wound and not being able to finish treating it. In the eyes of the average voter, this is not seen and it is unlikely to fully redeem Wickremesinghe’s image.

In my opinion, Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP should continue with the Unity government and persists with their reforms in a speedy manner, further develop the good governance, investigate the wrong doings and bring the corrupt to justice whoever it may be. They need to do urgent development at the grass root level that will have a speedy impact on the cost of living and take necessary steps to avoid the looming economic crisis – a tall order for any party. However, if these are carried out in the next two years, Ranil and the UNP will be able to significantly improve their voter base from the present vote base of 32.61%.

The impact of the local government elections

The recent Local Government Election dealt a severe blow individually to both President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and to their two respective political parties, UPFA and UNP. The defeat paved the way for the major political comeback of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. With SLPP securing 44.69% of the total poll, Mahinda Rajapaksa has re-emerged as a formidable player in Sri Lankan electoral politics just three years after he was ousted from power.

In hindsight, even with this development of Mahinda Rajapaksa as a persona independent of a recognized party as a significant force in Sri Lankan politics, the UNP will continue to benefit from this outcome as it will be able to realign its strategy and importantly have greater influence in the unity government. With SLFP just securing 13.38% of the vote base, the balance of power of the current unity government will significantly tilt in UNP’s favour. In time, the UNP will now be able to have a greater influence on both the president and the UPFA resulting in the ability to pass reforms speedier than the pace of the past three years.

Unsurprising to many, the SLPP did best in predominantly Sinhala-Buddhist districts and particularly in the rural areas. In contrast, the UNP performed better in the urban areas, and in the ethnically mixed areas. Contrary to popular belief that the UNP was unable to reach out to the Sinhala Buddhist nationalistic voters, the defeat was only partly due to the false propaganda smeared by SLPP that the UNP would give in to Eelam demands if they won the election. Primarily, it was a result of the inadequacy of the younger UNP parliamentarians to deliver at the grass root level such as providing housing, electricity, jobs and delivering better livelihoods to the common man. Instead, these young UNP politicians are perceived as the affluent Colombo elite enjoying luxury life with their Range Rover vehicles, entourages and the privileges of the high life with ignorance to the needs of the commoner. If nothing else, this election should serve as a wakeup call and a stark reminder of the work and commitment required of these young UNP parliamentarians.

With the strategic view of significant increasing their vote base in the next two years, the UNP strategy for their younger parliamentarians should manoeuvre to implementing short-term reforms that generate short-term gains, address the cost of living and address corruption. Young UNP parliamentarians must carry out genuine grass root development work addressing the ‘what’s-in-it-for-me’ of the common man and woman to shift perception and create that approachability that is currently lacking. Whilst many believe that UNP need to go hard on Sinhala Buddhist nationalistic lines to win elections, changing their party image to being humble to the common man and delivering on the basics at the grass root level will fill the UNP void. 

Proxy War

The 2020 presidential election will be a proxy war fought between Mahinda and Ranil both throwing in their best player. This will be a hard fought battle and the outcome of this election will play a significant role in the destiny of Sri Lanka’s future.

The SLFP may either join hands with the SLPP and field in a president candidate together, though this is highly unlikely and the two parties will go separately. If this happens, Maithripala Sirisena most likely will contest as the presidential candidate for SLFP in 2020. His stand on being clean is severely hampered by his close association with the owner of Capital Maharaja Organisation and giving in to demands such as the procurement deal of the Russian warship deal and spectrum allocation. Maithripala Sirisena’s positioning to create a better society by restricting alcohol and tobacco would not appeal to the masses as much as the need of the hour, which is economic prosperity.

If SLPP does not join the SLFP, most likely Gotabaya Rajapaksa would represent SLPP as their presidential candidate. He is a formidable force to reckon with especially having the war victory medal under his belt. He is also popularly known as someone who gets things done. However, he is rather unpopular amongst the minorities especially the Tamils and Muslims. History dictates that no presidential election has been won without the support of the minorities and this will not be in his favour.

From the UNP’s perspective, most think it will be Ranil Wickremasinghe who will contest as he has been eyeing the elusive presidency job. Though ideally, the best for UNP may be to field in Mangala Samaraweera. Mangala Samaraweera is the possibly the strongest member in the UNP who can take on Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Mangala has all the ingredients in his favour – he is seen as a moderate liberal that will appeal to the minorities; he is from Matara, the heartland of South and has the common man’s touch; he does not have kids, which in the current era is favourable as he would not seem to build an empire to the benefit of their future benefit; a clean image and also someone who has consistently delivered. The most important characteristic that may have been forgotten is the fact that he walked out of the Rajapaksa’s camp in 2007 on principle against the wrong doings to humanity by the Rajapaksas. This was at a time when Rajapaksas’ popularity was all time high. This move showcases that he was not overwhelmed by power and hadn’t given in to their intimidation even with uncertainty looming over his future political career. His ethical morality surpassed the hunger for power and he strongly voiced against the wrongdoings by the Rajapaksa’s. These characteristics are the mark of a man who is fit to lead a nation. This is possibly the man who can turn UNP’s and Sri Lanka’s fortunes for the best. His past predicts that he would not hold back to take on the Rajapaksa’s and possibly the best suited candidate to eventually see it through.

Conclusion

Whoever wins the presidential election, their party will most likely win the general elections. Assuming Mangala Samaraweera from the UNP wins the presidency, Ranil Wickremesinghe will continue to be the premier and together they will steer Sri Lanka to great economic and social prosperity from 2020 to – 2030 – this could possibly turnout to be the golden era in Sri Lanka’s post-independence history.

The battle between Mahinda and Ranil is a hard fought one commencing from 2005 with Mahinda winning the first half of the battle from 2005 to 2015 and Ranil taking the second half from 2015 to 2030. It is not a case of who has the last laugh, but both will go down in history as one who eradicated terrorism and the latter who reformed Sri Lanka into a modern successful nation.

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Latest comments

  • 7
    9

    I absolutely love it: Mangala vs. Gota!

    This young writer must have a sadistic streak…:))

    • 4
      1

      Mangala will have to come to this boxing fight clad in armour. He is already having nightmares failing to retain his own constituency and is refusing to come into the open. He will do so eventually, but there won’t be anyone to pick up the pieces after Gota deals with him.

    • 4
      2

      Dayan
      We will love to see you succeed U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Raad al-Hussein!
      .
      PS: I, K Pillai solemnly declare that though I am young, I do not have sadistic streaks but is averse to corruption!

    • 0
      1

      It is your typical nature to joy when it becomes worsened.

      You are absolute no go to add the kind of remarks.

      I hate Sirasa sender to allow you to add your bits since the birth of current govt.

      Sirasa is absolutly an irresponsible media institution.

    • 5
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      Dr. DJ, A young writer with his opinion is fine. What really worries, is when a senior writer is made to act like a masochist among CT readers by the masters

    • 1
      0

      Srilankan Vs American?

  • 4
    4

    wow, Tamils now wooing for their golden age. Muslims are islamizing different parts of the country and they please give us also something. Colombo already has a Akbar town. Akmeemana is going to be another muslims town. they want to buy buddhist temples too I heard, May be it beoms rohingya state, probalby Galkissa too. We should watch what is happening.

  • 3
    3

    Ecellent demiocracy. Ranil got 32%. SLfp got 13%. Whagt happened to the other 55%. they are neglected. whose democracy is this ? Maithriapal sirisena is just a puppet or pawn. how should we describe him ?

  • 16
    0

    What can Ranil achieve between 2015 -2030 when he couldn’t achieve anything since 1994 as leader.

  • 5
    2

    Nope we will have a Chinese invasion of the Maldives and Sri Lankan before 2020 the way things are going…

  • 5
    5

    If MR come to power he will kill all his opponents .

    • 4
      1

      That’s true. That’s his tried and tested way; what he did when he was in power…and look what that got him after 10 years….

  • 2
    2

    Managal Samrweera …….is durawa guy , who is not that majority Buddhist -Sinhalese will ever-never like to vote any incoming elections in future !
    He(Managala) has betray the SLFP and crossed over to UNP .Like His father of Mananama Samraweera who did same thing during in 1964, who outright that betray SLFP during Sirimvo Banadarake SLFP at that time, who has escaped to UNP by back door.
    The guy of Esmond Wickrmasinghe of Lake House the man who was behind that accountable of Manaha Samarweers crossed over to UNP. It is well fact known Esmond having very closed family relationship with Samaraweera sibilates?
    The Family connections are very important of that UNP politics are concern that the very beginning. that was foundation UNP of since 1947!Other factor is money will talk on that UNP politics of democracy?

    • 2
      0

      Rex J. – Rexy. why don’t you pen your thoughts in a language you are most comfortable with, if permitted by CT?

  • 4
    1

    I am surprised to see that some one suggesting Mangala to the presidency. Mangala is far below the accepted levels by the ordinary person. His perceived uncommon personal life is one of the biggest hurdles and his practice of lying to the people is another. How he handled Geneva issue is another. In my view he is not suitable to be a minister even.

  • 1
    0

    UNP and RW have a long way to go and quite a lot to do before they can hope to have any chance of facing the next General or Presidential elections in 2020.

    After the change of 2015 lot was expected from the UNP with RW, enjoying a long held Mr. Clean image, as PM. RW’s ONLY success is that, in next to no time, he managed to undo that image. He is all too well known now as Mr. Unclean. Does he have the intention or the will to do what it takes to restore his Mr. Clean image? Fact is, he has a very short time to do that and it is very hard to be optimistic.

    As long as RW remains the leader of the UNP and its candidate for PM or President, it is hard to see UNP or RW getting another chance. Ranil needs to go and the UNP badly needs a Clean up.

  • 0
    0

    I agree with the writer on the backing of the Sinhala Buddhist for former President. The Prime Minister although being in politics for over 40 years is looked upon by people as a product of rich Colombo society. The President was a substitute for Ven Sobitha who spear headed a change from corruption. UNP to survive should change the leadership and bank on Sajith for the rural support he can muster on the presentation of his fathers image. Former President Premadasa is still in the minds of rural and Colombo population for his efforts to promote Gam Udawa, rehabilitation of roads without mortgaging the country to West or China and being the architect of our highest export earner the garment industry. To counter-act Gotabaya the best candidate will be Sarath Fonseka who led the war from the front without benefits from the industry.2020 will be a time for our people to make a correct decision to take the country forward or drag it down to a bottomless pit.

  • 1
    0

    Niranjan Canagasooryam ~ “Will 2020 – 2030 Be The Golden Era For Sri Lanka?”
    We have gone through several eras and 2020 – 2030 will be just another one. The eras had a façade but hidden agenda.
    “Sinhala Only” of 1956 was to satisfy the ambition of SWRD to be PM. It brought about the language/religion-divide which has become insurmountable.
    The pogroms which followed helped to edge out Tamils from businesses and steady erosion of human rights.
    The ‘standardisation’ did not bring about the anticipated improvements to rural schools. Instead we ended up with exclusive ‘International teaching institutions’.
    The civil war resulted from the obdurate refusals by successive to address grievances of minorities.
    The dark side of the war victory is the onset of corruption, nepotism and culture of impunity which is impossible to break down.
    We have entered an era when corruption is being taken for granted. At the LG elections the SLPP played the card that Tamils must be held in bondage for ever.
    Sorry Niranjan, 2020-2030 will not be golden, not even bronze – maybe also ran.

    • 0
      0

      If Ranil becomes the President or Prime Minister in 2020 Srilanka will be in Turmoil. This is not going to be 20/20match

  • 4
    2

    If SL to prosper, let only Colombo and its immediate suburbs vote in elections. Majority godayas in the villages are the curse for nation’s development.

    • 2
      0

      No, better still, Give the baiyas one vote each and two each for non-baiyas.

  • 1
    0

    Golden Era and Sri Lanka are contradictory.

  • 1
    0

    Something interesting that I just read in another Newspaper article about the UNP.

    “the UNPrincipled, UNParliamentary, UNProgressive”.

    It seems, this is how a left-wing leaflet described the UNP in the Mid 1940’s.

  • 1
    0

    A country full of dreamers, big time.. Golden Era, my foot, read the Auditor General’s report and decide for yourself.

  • 1
    0

    According to Forbes Magazine Mahinda Rajapakse is estimated to be worth $18 billion us Dollars or should I say swindle the Sri Lankan tax payer to the tune of cool $18 billion

    Even ex LTTE Colonel Karuna made it to the rich list with estimated $1.7 million – that is 10% of what Mara is worth. Mr10% to keep Mara in power

    Arujuna Ranatunga $68 million – surely he didn’t earn that from Cricket?

    Full list available on Google.

    it has been a golden era for the Sr Lankan politicians.

    I am sure they will swindle more in the decade 2020-2030

    • 0
      0

      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 0
      0

      Rajash

      “According to Forbes Magazine Mahinda Rajapakse is estimated to be worth $18 billion us Dollars or should I say swindle the Sri Lankan tax payer to the tune of cool $18 billion”

      Is it including what his brother stole from VP’s Fort Knox and KP’s price (LTTE’s Foreign Asset including its merchant navy) for freedom from Interpol Red Alert ?

  • 0
    0

    What about of self-willed of UNP leader that Ranil Wickramasinghe has that looted public funds which belongs the Central Bank of Trillions of Rupees which is sufficient for next four generation of their family come into being .?
    While families of Wijewaradans and Wickrmasinhies of all Ranil W.. are entitles and eligible that enjoy such huge funds Life-time of with their closed Sibling relationship in 21st century!

    That side-ways RW families has uninterrupted income from Perpetual Treasuries Company that unaccountable income Singhopareen Banks, Finland Banks and Hong Kong Banks are few of them by US dollars in fixed depositions. Indeed poor Sri Lankan are SIGH.!@
    The Central Bank of looting of RW-UNP has been hide by current President of MS and ex-President of CBK. This has wish of time a year do with sidereal-day of RW and their Sibliles.

  • 1
    0

    Golden era? Not a cat’s chance in hell. Lanka will stumble on from crisis to crisis. Why? Because the leaders are insincere and put self, family and friends before country.

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