28 May, 2024


Yahapālanaya: A Disaster Beyond Management

By Malinda Seneviratne –

Malinda Seneviratne

No offense to those who take disasters seriously (and we all should, let me add). No offense to the serious matter of disaster management. The headline was picked, I confess, from a serious interview with a serious academic about a serious subject.

Dilanthi Amaratunga, Professor of Disaster Risk Management, University of Huddersfield, UK, and a leading expert on the subject of disaster resilience, while discussing challenges, opportunities and other related concerns stated recently, ‘we cannot be complacent about disaster management.’

She is correct of course. In the interview published in the Daily Mirror, she has highlighted the following or rather the interviewer, Kalani Kumarasinghe, has condensed the professor’s observations into neat bullet points: 1) Economic losses caused by disasters are increasing, 2) Private sector’s involvement is vital in disaster risk reduction, 3) Need to be rid of the silo mentality, 4) Policy makers brush aside science and research, 5) Disaster Risk Reduction must be incorporated into development, and 6) Appreciate the commitment made by the Government

‘Disaster’ can be replaced by ‘Yahapalanaya’ (not the idea but the name associated with the government that promised to turn idea into reality) and it would still make perfect sense. Well, the last contention would be debatable but if rhetoric is the ‘Simple Pass’ of ‘Commitment,’ it still holds. No one, after all, would give this government an A for ‘commitment’.  Anyway, let’s go through the list, one by one.

The economic losses caused by Yahapalanists are increasing. The promise was prosperity. The promise was freedom from debt. The promise was about freeing processes from nepotism, political patronage, abuse of state institutions and resources. The promise was a foreign policy based on economic interests. A lot of hot air, little to show for it.

The Central Bank bond scam was massive and the lengths to which Yahapalanists, headed by the Prime Minister (no less!), went to protect the principal culprit tells us how flippant they’ve been about setting things right. They’ve played the game of blaming the previous government (e.g. ‘they did it too’ which of course is poor excuse for non performance and worse, a scandalous come-back to corruption charges!). They’ve talked of an inherited debt burden, but they’ve piled up the debts themselves. There’s nepotism, there’s helping the near and dear, there’s abuse of state resources.  As for a decent understanding of foreign relations in terms of economic prerogatives, the Yahapalanists betrayed their sophomoric grasp of such things when they couldn’t understand the China-factor until Brexit hit them between their eyes.

Private sector involvement has been a mantra for the UNP and Ranil Wickremesinghe for decades and it’s the doctrine that was mouthed by the Yahapalanists. Ask the private sector what it thinks of how the Yahapalana Government is handling the economy; they won’t hesitate to give an F. That’s for the lack of clarity, absence of direction and will, mixed-signals, a marked reluctance to rationalize the regulatory structures and a fascination with the gajamithuru dhanavaadaya (comprador capitalism), which is about close friends of the political elite acting in the interest of foreign capital in return for a cut of the profits and folks, that’s capitalism in recession! The share market is dull. Absolutely. As dull as the Yahapalanists.

The ‘Silo Mentality’  is a descriptive of a system marked by people or institutions working as distinct and independent entities. It is usually a product of over-decentralization or else a preponderance of

institutions making for redundancy and overlap. In Sri Lanka’s case over and above the institutional silos, we have the President and the Prime Minister locked in their own little silo-worlds. This is why we have one set of political actors proposing and another dismissing, or else decisions being sabotaged. Then there’s the silo called ‘Let’s reduce talk to blaming the Rajapaksas’ and another one limiting action to ‘Vendetta’.  The most damaging silo is one that has been produced by fear of imminent electoral defeat: ‘Forget everything, focus on elections’.

Science and research are non-negotiable when it comes to correcting systems and planning for the longterm. The longterm for the Yahapalanists has diminished to the time between now and the next election. Even if the provincial councils are delayed, they cannot postpone the General and Presidential Election (if the 20th Amendment doesn’t go through) beyond 2020 August and 2020 January respectively.

Even if electoral anxiety was not a factor, we’ve seen the utter contempt for science and research in the scandalous rush to implement environment sensitive projects such as transferring Colombo’s waste to Puttalam. This is right next to Wilpattu and a lagoon which is in and of itself a sensitive ecosystem. Whereas the mining companies operating in the area or planning to do so are serious about sustainability and effect on ecosystems to the point of exasperation, this particular waste management project is being rushed with hardly any study on environmental impact.

Science and research is not only about environment. They are important in all matters of planning whether it is a trade agreement, land reclamation, building the Port City, or allowing foreign powers to operate strategic assets. The Yahapalanists don’t look to the long future, but in a mad rush to get the bucks that allow them to put up a decent enough show that can be marked to the voter, they are rushing to sign agreements without any vetting whatsoever.

The same can be said about constitutional reform. Some Yahapalanists in the UNP and their cheer squads (e.g. Tisaranee Gunasekara) have argued for the scrapping of the executive presidency not because it makes any sense in terms of improving the overall political system, but as a measure to keep the Rajapaksas out of power. The JVP is essentially doing the work of the UNP in this matter, but even if we were to ignore all that, there’s no ‘science’ in advocating the abolishing of the executive presidency if at the same time there’s nothing said about amending or repealing the 13th Amendment. The two (Executive Presidential System and the 13th Amendment) are tied in a way that if you take the first out and leave the second intact it compromises the integrity of the state.

The utter disregard for method is also apparent in the proposals for a new constitution as per the ‘reconciliation need’ expressed often by Yahapalanists. History is out, so is geography and demography. Economic realities are considered non-factors. It is essentially a pernicious attempt to scuttle reconciliation in the very name of reconciliation, for it  seeks not co-existence but a factoring out of Sinhala Buddhist interests. That’s a recipe for disaster.

All these indicate that there’s no notion of risk in the overall calculations of the Yahapalanists. The only thing that seems to worry them as of now is the likelihood of being voted out. The results of the February 10 elections brought all anxieties to the fore. It is to manage the risk of losing that all manner of ad hoc ‘development’ projects are being implemented. Well, talked about rather than implemented would be the correct way to put it.

Commitment. Well, if one reads the manifestos put together for the 2015 elections, recall the relevant rhetoric and check the current reality against that which was promised, we can get a good sense of how committed the Yahapalana Government has been on key issues. Apart from the Right to Information Act, some elements of the 19th Amendment (flawed on several counts) and a greater degree of freedom (which is natural in the first few years of any government by the way), there’s not much to brag about. We won’t give them an F, but neither would we give them anything more than a Simple Pass.

That’s where we are, ladies and gentlemen.

Professor Amaratunga began her interview with an example: ‘I recently read in the news that some of the early warning towers had been vandalized in Mullaitivu. What would have happened to the people who are relying on that particular early warning tower if a disaster was to take place, on that day.’

Vandalism is a good descriptive. The promise has been vandalized. Hopes have been vandalized. Yahapalanaya as a term and a concept have been vandalized. The disaster has happened and is happening (past and present tense both). It’s not the Rajapaksas who indulged in all this vandalism. It’s the Yahapalanists themselves!

Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer. malindasenevi@gmail.com. 

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Latest comments

  • 6

    10/10 for Milinda’s Bullet Points on the Disasters caused by the Yahapalanists.

    Yaha[alana Ajiya, who always claims to be the clean UNPer got rolled on “BALAYA” for accusing Rajapaksas for engaging in Nepotism ,while Ajiya has appointed his brother to a Seat in the Municipal Council, after losing the Election under Yahapalanay..

    Ajiya also I remember, coming out swinging with his Legal l arguments that there is nothing wrong in Dr Mahendran and SIL ripping the guts of the poor Lankaweans EPF.

    Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has just published its latest Report on Lankawe.
    And it is serious stuff unlike Mrs T , Mr Shaymon, a whole host of other Yahapalana Experts who reckon Dr Ranil is the best thing since Sliced Bread for Lankaweans..
    Thank God our Dalits don’t eat Toast & Butter for Breakfast..

    One more thing.
    This fighting in the Silo is getting serious too.
    UNP Card carrying IGP has been summoned to the Prez House to find out how the DIP in charge of the TDI can be on Tape, planning to make a hit on Sira and Gota both….
    And it is not using the Police under cover Units, but with the help of Mdushka’s Pathalaya Intelligence.
    In fact all serious main stream Media have published this news , even naming the names.

    And this all happens when Sira is trying desperately to protect the Dignity of the Yahapalana Army Commander and his Office, from none other than Dr Ranil appointed only Field Marshall in Lankawe History, who is also a heavy hitting big ass Minister in Dr Ranil’s own Yahapalana Cabinet…

    • 4


      Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has just published its latest Report on Lankawe.
      then New York Times (NYT) has just published its latest report that China bribed Mahinda in Billions.

      Game on Sumane!!!

      • 4

        Herbert; both NYT and EIU are Fake News.
        Do you not think that US did not game Bondscam Ranil’s and Jarapalanay elections victory via social media?! Dream on!
        Also, IMF-ADB and Japan is trying to crash Lanka’s economy and currency to buy Lankan assets cheap and thus has put Lanka in IMF debt trap and putting out fake news from Japan against China that Lankan economy is crashing!

    • 4

      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      “10/10 for Milinda’s Bullet Points on the Disasters caused by the Yahapalanists.”

      Yahapalanistas may have or deemed to have caused disaster on the other hand Mahinda Chintana in action between 2005 2015 in itself is total disaster economically, judicially, politically, socially, ………………………

      What are you talking about?
      Where are those rogues, Vass Gunawardena, Prasanna Nanayakkara, Lalith Jayasinghe, Anura Senanayake, ….. Chandana Prasad Hettiarachchi, Ravindra C. Wijegunaratne, ……………………… ?

      • 2

        Dear Native,
        What happened to your mates in Hindia?..
        Are they still hoping to get the ECTA, before Santa visits Srikotha?.
        Does Dr Ranil send you a Card at least, for your untiring work to defend the rogues who ripped the guts off the poor, and gave it to the rich to live in Monarch , Singapore and else where ,
        Or Does Dr Ranil leave a Kris Kringle under the Tree?..
        Plus free lands in Kuliyapitiya , Horana and Gods knows where else.
        We have to wait to find out.
        Thank God it will be sooner than later..
        You think Dr Ranil’s UNP Police can bump off Sira and Gota to give Yhapalanaya an Extension?….

        • 3

          KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

          “What happened to your mates in Hindia?..”

          When did I claim to be friends with Mahinda, Modi, Namal, GL, …………….. ?

          Watch this clip, an interview with your robber baron, Mahinda. The interview is being conducted in English:
          (15/09/2018) Kelvikkenna Bathil | Exclusive Interview with Mahinda Rajapaksa

          Mahinda claims “all Indians are our relations” meaning you and your fellow Sri Lankans are Kallthonie Indians. He has lots of friends among Tamils in India. How come you don’t have any?

  • 10

    Yes, no offense to the serious matter of disaster management. But mark my word. You will scream in great agony for the return of Yahapalanaya, when Rajapaksa the tyrant comes back to power and roasts your puny ass with his theocratic blow torch.

    • 7

      Silly comment..loads of bs.

      As a business owner our lives and that of our employees were so much better than it is now! Every day is a struggle now..can’t get rid of these jokers fast enough!

      • 5


        Of course only the Mahinda’s b***s carriers did well during his reign.

      • 1

        Once an apologist for MR, always an apologist for MR regardless of the facts of bribery and corruption and the ripping off of state coffers and the establishment of white elephants for the commissions they earned – all on mega scales by the Clan.

        And you want them back????!!!!! ?

        I do, however, agree with your views on the Yahapalanaya jokers.

        So what else is new in the realm of sicko-fancy?

    • 5

      Brilliant Ajay.

      This fellow always takes a swipe at the Bond scam.
      Where ass there was no scam only media hype led by Sirasa the writer is very close with.

    • 5


      ” You will scream in great agony for the return of Yahapalanaya, when Rajapaksa the tyrant comes back to power and roasts your puny ass with his theocratic blow torch.”

      Rajapaksa is a tyrant but he is Malinda’s tyrant.
      You should look into his past , and ask yourself how did Malinda thrive between 2005 and 2015. He was carrying Mahinda’s b***s from afar.
      Only those who with their intellectual honesty intact should worry.

  • 4

    Well it is only a few more years to go. So lets all grin and bear. The lives of future generations will heavily depend on the next Presidential and General Elections. Use your Vote wisely. There is no room whatsoever for error.

    • 1

      There is plenty of time for elecWhen Mahinda lost he contested as a SLFP candidate. Other candidate was a common candidate. Their initial focus focus was anti- Tamil and anti-Muslim, then it moved towards speration threat & anti India, thirdly Bond scam. However, Mahinda’s focus was bringing his son into the power. There is a split between his brothers. Unfortunately, there is no unity government as we wanted because most of the SLFP members joined the government were Mahinda supporters (bribed) and they are there to block any positive move towards good governance. Unfortunately, the incidence of the Bond scam happened and I am not sure this is another part of Mahinda coup. In fact most of the money lost on the bond scam is recoverable whereas the money lost through corrption and the money lost through unproductive investments from money borrowed from China cannot be recoverable. THis country is in much better place for people living in this country compared the period between 2009 and 2015. It is up to the people to decide and analysing the consequence.

  • 1

    Why is that any sensible critique of this government is automatically taken as a expressing support to the Rajapaksa’s? They might be the only alternative that’s on offer whether one likes it or not. i am sure it is the hope of many that there was another alternative. if only some commentators can look objectively at this governments performance, without shooting messengers at will, they will see that we are not doing well with our economy (GDP is below 3.75, Rupee is beyond 164 to a USD, the stock market is at the bottom, foreign debt (according to the Central Bank) is nearly double what it was in 2015. It is no secret that the President an PM are at loggerheads. it is no secret that there is no cabinet solidarity, it is no secret that we are no where near a political solution to the conflict that engulfed us for 30 years, it is no secret that the the average person, urban or rural or semi rural is finding it difficult to make ends meet. This is why 45% voted for the Pohottuwa on 10th February. Do some of us like it? Not necessarily. But where is an alternative? .

    • 2


      “Why is that any sensible critique of this government is automatically taken as a expressing support to the Rajapaksa’s?”

      It is about intellectual honesty.
      Those who typed in praise of everything Rajapaksas did and chose a position of Rajapakas could do no wrong should not expect reasonable treatment.
      Many who write in this forum believe Rajapaksas are crooks and war criminals.
      Does Malinda too criticise the Rajapaksas?

      • 1

        //Many who write in this forum believe Rajapaksas are crooks and war criminals.//

        NV, yes. More who contributes to CT forum trusts Rajapakshes are “war criminals” but Prabha and the gang were not. Rajapakshes are racists but Wigneswaran, Sumanthiran, Sivajilinkam and many of TNA’s ltte-minded political animals are non racists. At the same time, Rajapakshes were crooks but Wickremesinghes are saints!

        All in all, justice for them is, jail their opponents, with or without valid reasons!

        • 0

          Praba et al should be war criminals, if he survived the war.
          But Rajapakshe remained with his brother et al. So they shoudl be accoutable for all the harm done to notherners and southerners.
          If the bugger would have been hung by their balls – keeping them all in Gall face side flanks – we the real lovers of sustainable peace being achieved for all us srilankens could go eating kiribath the way they did it after having killed srilaknens in 2009.
          So, never give Rajakashes any kind of reliefes. They are killers. Their genetics proves it. no doub tabout that,
          People have been made to believe their Mantra today- from what we got to see last week – having brought bus loads from rural areas- well displayed what kind of those bayyas would be capable of.
          Not even 100 among those 30 000 gathered should have been educated. So Max you are representative to them. So I dont think you have right here .. with what you ve been adding.
          Max – you may be diviing and playing in the KAKKA silos of Rajapkashes, but we are not interested in them, since the bugger is the main course of lanken problems (extremism)

  • 2

    You are indeed a moron.

    “More who contributes to CT forum trusts Rajapakshes are “war criminals” but Prabha and the gang were not. “

    Who denied both Prabha and Rajapaksas are/were war criminals.
    They were and are undeniably war criminals and psychopaths.
    Are you denying both are tyrants of the worst kind?
    Whats the matter with you?
    Are you deluding yourself with your imagined recent history?

    Tell us why Wigneswaran, Sumanthiran, Sivajilinkam and many of TNA’s ltte-minded political animals are racists?
    Sivajilingam is the Tamil equivalent of Dinesh Gunawardena, both are fond of Ceremonial Mace of the parliament. Both removed it from its usual place and ran around the inside of the house.

    Did it make both racists?

    “At the same time, Rajapakshes were crooks but Wickremesinghes are saints!”

    If Ranil wasn’t Mahinda’s clan would have already served 3 years in prison.

    Are you one of the hard core racist or closeted racist?
    What was your part in the burning of Jaffna Library 1981 (by any chance you are from Hettipola area?) , riots of 1958, 1960, 1977, 1983, 2014, 2018, ……..?

    The arsonists were believed to have gone to Jaffna from Kurunegala and some of the old books they looted from the library are believed to have been stored in Hettipola).
    I believe you are not stupid enough to burn down a magnificent Library nor are you racist enough.

    Have a good day.

  • 1

    Malinda Seneviratne: We agree that Yahapālanaya looks, sounds and smells disastrous. That is because Yahapālanaya is a Disaster.
    Is it a ‘disaster’ on its own or within a bigger ‘disaster’?
    Take for example the current hot topic SriLankan Airlines. As to who is to be blamed for the SriLankan Airlines plight can be debated till the cows come home. Treasury has agreed to foot Rs 461 Billions immediately just to get potential investors to show interest! Will the investor show interest when they see the culture of corruption/nepotism/impunity obtaining?
    This brings up the question: Is our ‘Disaster’ manageable?
    Yes, if we find people of integrity. This has become almost impossible. Back to where we started!
    We were told that mono-ethnic-everythingys will solve our problem. This has been nearly achieved – mono-ethnic Armed Services, SOE’s like SriLankan Airlines, state services, Police etc If this has not helped then the wisdom of this policy must be reexamined. While we are at it, is it time to bury the language/religion-divide?

    Do you agree Malinda?

  • 1

    As expected, looks like Mangala’s IMF Budget has failed miserably. Treasury Has not hit revenue targets by a large margin. This of course doesn’t surprise anyone with a modicum of economic intelligence.

    Also, it looks like the economy as a whole might be flat-lining. Rupee depreciation, Iran Problems, gross mismanagement, investment withdrawal, drought and astronomical taxation has taken its toll.

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