Yes, Mr President !
Posted on August 25th, 2010

by  Gomin Dayasri

Yes, Prime Minister was once a popular British TV comedy. The ongoing reality show, “Yes, Mr President”, is a live Sri Lankan tragedy. After defeating terrorism, a Failed State, tag will not stick but a Sorry State label would, because of servile sycophancy.

The Ministers, Secretaries, Advisors, Consultants, Parliamentarians, Public Servants and Confidants all say singularly or collectively “ƒ”¹…”Yes, Mr President’ or more deferentially “ƒ”¹…”Yes, Your Excellency’ but preferentially to mean”ƒ”¹…” Yes, Your Majesty”. Their excuse for public consumption of a lame duck performance is simple- you cannot survive in bad books! Survival is a comfortable corner. True, flogging in public or otherwise is a distinct or distant possibility on receipt of unfavourable information in their minds- so it is happy hours in permanence, misleading to the hilt. Possibly the President may opt to hear the unexpurgated version.

 All the Presidents Men for survival are cutting the road to down under, as the correct situation reports never reach authority. Temple Trees live in a make believe paradise, while the country rambles on. No Government had ever before squandered its goodwill so rapidly. The blame has to be apportioned between They who refuse to speak their mind and Those that refuses to hear the ugly truth.

 It started with the “Maha Rajah Thumani” billboards appearing at every junction. Your Excellency landscape was enlarged to encompass a Your Highness broadband “”…” later with an extended Royal Family. It was the work of the courtiers possibly to compete with an exalted position conferred on the demised Sun God. No orders came from the Palace to countermand the decorations on the streets. The courtiers were happy since they had established a mock royal court for them to merry make and pledge their right royal loyalty to a monarch displayed larger than life on hardboard along the streets.

 The present government did not get the usual gift of a few months political honeymoon conferred after a general election because most ministers held office for 17 continuous years excluding the few months of a Ranil Wickremasinghe cabinet. Many ministers were new boys at strange desks! With an overwhelming majority in parliament, the peoples’ expectations were sky high. They had presented the government, with all they asked for, in numbers and in return expected favourable results to be delivered on a fast track. Nothing is forthcoming, is the message on the pipeline, while life is becoming harder to survive with the prices at the grocers. It is a basket of intervined contributory factors. Lets take an example on an aspect of education.

 The teaching in the schools is in the doldrums; so tuition classes is a must factor in a society where education and examination are possibly the only limited avenues for independent personal advancement. To escape the grind of the political network, the only possible mode for success is to be armed with qualifications. The tuition facilities are limited to sub city centres. So from distances schoolchildren travel in evenings and weekends bearing transport costs in addition to fees for the classes. The safety of girls on the streets is a factor; often an elder accompanies to add to tripling the costs and the wastage of time.

 The earning of a family cannot bear such expenses in a climate where even the promised pay hike did not materialise. Where does it lead to, when the exam department is unable to present an intelligible question paper at the examination after the sacrifices made for the sake of education? Worse, where are the employment prospects for those who fail to gain entry to the centres of higher education at an A level examination? A- Level dropouts constitute the growing numbers that might decide the next election.

 Those who travel lightly on state provided vehicles chauffer driven, fail to see the travails of the less privileged. Some public servants and most politicians still are surrounded by armed guards travelling in multiple pilot cars, more to display their place of importance rather than a security requirement in a stable secure society after the demolition of terrorism. Who pays for this drama enacted as a road show?

 Has bribery and corruption disappeared, inefficiency and wastage eliminated? These words are virtually unheard. There is hardly a deal without a kickback yet it matters not since it is the way of life that turns the wheels of government. Does this message not reach those in high positions that they remain unconcerned and turn a blind eye? Are the wrongdoers sought and punished or spoken of in an undertone, so that they might prosper still more in their dubious ventures. Has any effort, in the least, being undertaken to even marginalise these evil practices. Why does not a single elected representative in the government benches or a high public officer entrusted in maintaining public order take a meaningful step forward to halt such economic terrorism? They do not care, as it is carnival time! Where the political authority was made supreme under the Colvin R de Silva Constitution of 1972 and will continue to survive in every constitution making exercise, there is hardly any meaningful step an honest public officer can take on his own initiative. In the present hierarchical structure without a presidential directive – a movement will make no impact. At the very least, it must come from the House of Carlton.

 The identified ten minority grievances presented by the experts sub committee under the leadership of Professor Nirmala Naganathan with suggested remedies, remain untouched and unattended. None of these require constitutional variations but instead the government has now turned its attention to the Learn Lessons and Reconciliation Commission to solve outstanding problems. It may place the able Commissioners in peril having to tackle the twin aspects of “ƒ”¹…”fault and cure’ without a team of high quality presenters of LTTE and State atrocities along with a group of trouble shooters to usher a reconciliation process. The success of this Commission is of great importance and it must be provided with an unrestricted time frame, as its scope is so extensive. Sadly, in the last two decades no commission has achieved a worthwhile result.

  This country has a strong government but not a vigilant opposition to keep a government in check. Is there any belief or confidence that if the opposition, if it ever does come to power, will make a difference? If so, why vote for such a quarrelsome bunch living far away from reality. The record of the opposition is no better in a country, where drifting from the opposition to the government is part of a never-ending transaction. For convenience, the government is allowed to meander unchecked, as no appeal could be made to a higher authority, divine or otherwise. Are we living in a land that has squandered away the great expectations presented to it with the defeat of terrorism? The morale has nose-dived as the expected turnaround failed to materialise.

 As correctly identified by a Minister, the judiciary must be protected. Notwithstanding cross fire from sharp shooters, a learned critical evaluation of the judiciary in a vibrant democracy with the right of expression and public conscience has a value aspect. The judiciary must be safeguarded as a national asset especially those that administer justice according to the law, an existing breed that is fast becoming extinct. Even justice is not above the law and in the name of justice, injustice continues to survive and those who cause such injustice must also be brought within the realm of justice by justice. Injustice cannot be allowed to surface within the purity of judicial immunity and need be weeded out and not safeguarded purely on the entitlement of judicial title. It is indeed an embarrassment to those who bring glory to the office of judicial integrity. Curiously, the Minister appears to have omitted to speak on the need for the independence of the judiciary and integrity required by justice when he defended the judiciary. It may be worthwhile if he enlightens his parliamentary colleagues of these noble principles.          

 Judiciary is the last bulwark against arbitrary power, if exercised wrongfully, by the executive and legislature. Judiciary with its repository of many conferred legitimate immunities and privileges unlike public officers must not allow it to become the recipients of bounties from the other two branches of government destroying the foundation of its fierce independence. Many factors have contributed to the rapid decline in public confidence of the judiciary in the past and can be arrested only by the judiciary itself, firmly maintaining a judicial distance from the executive and legislature. If it fails in this endeavour, surely, it will be the judiciary that will be blamed. Much of the blame for judicial fallibility lies in the timidity of the legal profession. It was prime time servile sycophancy on the part of the senior black coats and the wigged eminent that led to the emergence of near judicial despotism in the recent past.  If the independence and the integrity of the judiciary are not safeguarded stoutly, it will add to the woes of not having an honest and efficient police service to maintain law and order.

 President richly deserves bulk of the credit for singularly overthrowing terrorism from the lexicon of everyday life. All the sacrifices made to strengthen the hand of the President were necessary with a shaky parliamentary majority. Laws were required to make the state apparatus strong, democratic freedoms enjoyed by the people required abridgement, human rights needed curtailment, media had restraints imposed, economic hardships had to be undergone to pool available resources to fight dreaded terrorism. Now with normalcy returned normality must take precedent. The people must safeguard their proprietary, personal political and human rights with the assistance of the judiciary and the unkempt media in the absence of an effective opposition in an orderly manner. Servile sycophancy will make the government fall more rapidly living in a world of fantasy. For the sake of longevity of a government it will be more prudent to say “No, Mr President” when it is the correct time to say so. Otherwise, forget the government, it is the country that will suffer!

17 Responses to “Yes, Mr President !”

  1. Raj Says:

    Sorry can’t understand what Gomin is talking about

  2. DrPadmaWijesekara Says:

    Dear Gomin,
    Did you visit American Embassy recently?

  3. Raju Says:

    What freedoms were curtailed during the war? We had a media openly supporting the LTTE (Sirasa) an opposition calling for economic sanctions (UNP/JVP) and Tamil politicians (TNA) who’s race based parties sole political platform is Tamil superiority over others and subjugation of the Sinhalese happily roaming around the country and the world enjoying perks and services and luxuries paid for by the Sinhala tax payer to fulfil their disgusting ideology. These openly racist politicians not only advocated and supported the death of Sinhalese broadcasting their racism and defamation against Sinhalese to the world using money given to them by the Sinhala tax payer, they transported and assisted suicide bombers, claymore mines and LTTE agents using their “security clearances” and were very much part of the war against the State they were bombing to dust while sucking dry perks and privileges without remorse –joined at the hip with “journalists” engaged in the same.

    We also have a media that openly spits on and calls for the annihilation of Sinhala Buddhists (Sirasa and Sunday Leader) which has existed for decades. Nowhere else would such trash (politicians or media) be allowed to exist let alone function unhindered be their a war or not, nowhere else would a media which calls for the subjugation of the majority community and spits unguarded filth at the majority community be allowed to broadcast and publish without restriction or hesitation. Such racist politicians and media would be imprisoned in the West and if they sponsored war in some form or tried to undermine the State and the security of her people they would be long dead. No mighty Western democracy would tolerate such trash as Sri Lanka has.

    Tamils have been playing their race games and race politics since the 1920s, drunk on a sense of superiority and chauvinism fed to them by the British which they retain to this day. If Tamils tried the race politics they practise in Sri Lanka in Malaysia or India they would not last a few hours, and most defiantly would not be allowed to thrive till the point they would even think of launching an “armed struggle” and violence against North Indians or Malaya’s as they know the consequences would be swift and brutal (as in being silenced in the early political agitations stages, getting know where near the point of believing an “armed struggle” is ever possible –such a crack downs indeed happened in Malaysia in the 50s and India in the 60s). However in Sri Lanka they saw (and still see) Sinhala Buddhists as a weak target with a soft culture that tolerates a lot and allows Tamil political parties who’s sole policy platform is the subjugation of Sinhalese under a Tamil boot (something they would say out loud and make no secret and had in fact enjoyed under the British apartheid system after their importation into the Island en mass by Europeans) to exist and function with ease in the name of “democracy” and tolerance of others.

    What happened to the human rights of the ordinary Sinhalese to about their lives without being bombed to bits, hacked to pieces or defamed and demonised for no reason what so ever?

  4. Raju Says:

    What happened to the human rights of the ordinary Sinhalese to about their lives without being bombed to bits, hacked to pieces or defamed and demonised for no reason what so ever? Along with their freedom of movement in their own and only country and right to live where ever they want without restrictions and threats of annihilation and ethnic cleansings?

  5. Raju Says:

    The judiciary is failing because it allows party politics to join it (mainly the UNP) and it scoffs down money from the West and its NGO shock troopers. Same goes for the media. So maybe you should go fix yourselves first.

  6. nilwala Says:

    The main problem in the inability for Sri Lanka to move forward as a nation is partisan politics….just like in the USA. The Opposition somehow believes that their purpose is to criticize and show up the incumbent govt. as useless and inefficient and whatever else negative they can come up with, and shame the govt. internationally by spreading negative stories. This is a system failure in what is perhaps the best governance system that we humans have come up with thus far, and is especially demonstrated in mature democracies like Sri Lanka and the US, where politics has descended to ugly levels.
    The tussle between the haves and have-nots of all types – i.e., the socioeconomic elite vs. the disadvantaged, and those who sacrificed for the country vs. those who stood in the sidelines or even openly worked against the country, are on the 2 sides of this political divide.
    How do we repair the divisions and find a way to get along and work together with constructive criticism rather than invective and destructive criticism that destroys the nation?
    No doubt it is very difficult, in a country like Sri Lanka that culturally promotes individualism, and with it encourages competition to an extent where everyone wants to be a Chief, and be better than everyone else, and no one likes to take orders from another! This ambition and self-confidence is at once what gives Sri Lankans an energetic vibrancy, and yet is often carried too far and is destructive.
    How do we learn to bring about change calmly and intelligently, and without letting our frustration destroy what has been achieved?? For all the wisdom that the Buddha’s legacy gave Sri Lanka, we do not seem to behave as Buddhists should in the resolution of our nation’s problems. There surely must be a better way!!

  7. Siri Says:

    Mr. Gomin Dayasri: You are going on ranting like a disgruntled politician who has just lost the election. Much of what you say does not make sense. Are you referring to the times when Ranil Wickremasinghe was Prime Minister? or are you seeking the job of “Court Jester”. We can all see the development going on in the country in spite of the negative politics of the UNP and JVP. This amount of development has never taken place on such a large scale before in the history of Sri Lanka. Curruption is a way of life in politics and it is possible that it is taking place to some extent even now though you have not provided any evidence or given any particular instances. It is very easy to throw out random accusations at anybody. If you know something that I do not know about, you should file action in the courts or a public body and make the general public aware of it. The point I am trying to make is that if everybody is stealing like you say, how is there so much public work going on? Are not happy that there are no bombs going off any more and that the war is over, or any more suicide attacks taking place around you? Are you not happy that there is an influx of tourism in the country and less unemployment. Why are you complaining about the Rajapaksa family who have done a lot for the country. Please remember that they saved the country from Terrorism. Learn to recognize something good when you see it.

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    Imagine life in Lanka right now if President Mahinda Rajapakse did not head the GoSL and had not removed the LTTE hardcore from Lanka … whatever do you think would have happened ? Mr Dayasiri ought to write another article on that topic – that would be tragic story of epic proportions !

  9. Lorenzo Says:

    What Gomin says is 100% true. MR did a great job in ridding the nation of terrorism. But there is a long way to go. What has happened now is an impenetrable circle of yesmen has formed around him. This prevents him from getting to know the ground realities. This was the downfall of Dudley, Sirima, Premadasa, Ranil and CBK. Thank god MR avoided this for 5 years which is a record. However, now he has committed the sin of trusting yesmen. Take for instance poverty, cost of living, landlessness, middle east housemaids, corruption problems. Govt is not fighting these huge problems as they used to fight LTTE. Yesmen paint a rosy picture for MR and he trusts them. On the other hand he trusts anyone bending at his feet but don’t trust professionals who don’t do this. We are seeing this same bad tendency which we have to avoid somehow.

  10. Naram Says:

    Gomin You are right.

    I too belong to the group that gave immense credit to MR for ending the 30 year old war. I supported him whole heartedly in standing up to the General who wanted to take all the credit for himself and bring down all the traditions of democracy in Sri Lanka.

    But sad will be the country that allows the rule by an incompetent olygarchy, only qualified in politics, ostensibly guarding MR but really only fattening themselves and their hordes of kith and kin. The younger generation still find there are no employment opportunities. Food and fuel prices shy high, added to all the complications of boot licking needed to get even a bottom grade employment.

    The precious money earned by the hard work of Sri Lankans working on 15 hour shifts as as maids in Middle eastern households, as Masons and fitters risking their lives with minimal safety in the hot Arabian sun, should not be frittered away to maintain luxury lifestyles for government parlimentarians.

    I saw the successful completion of Magampure Port. Do please record that the hard working Chinese workforce that were engaged in the building the Magampura Port were not followed by vast numbers of their cabinet for in motorcades for the opening ceremony.

    Do please give publicity to really what has been achived, and the actual tasks ahead. Chinese team have performed at a record rate of construction but do we have all the technical know how record drawings etc to maintain the facility in the coming centuries.

    Are the the Sri Lankans in control, are the design details now lodged with the Ports Authority and were they discussed in Professional meetings. We cannot be complacent in a time like this. Have we trained our workforce, Are we prepared for Ship repair, maintenance of the facility, with construction eqipment necessary for all the complex movements of gates, part replacement.

    I recall Mahaveli project had its share of debacles with tunnel linings failing in a very short time and should see that similar happenings are not repeated.

    Are we saving the rainwater in Hambantota warehouses to produce for drinking water. Have we built the infrastructure , hotels , water supplies, workshops for repairs for the incoming ships.

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    Some 500 yrs of Colonial Rule in Lanka has left behind a fragmented & confused Nation, where money & power, and aping the west seems to be the goals to reach for. 64 yrs of Independence are not enough time to recover.

    If the Opposition in Lanka works with the GoSL instead of hurling empty criticisms all the time and organises itself to uplift the country instead of infighting for leadership, then the private sector could have built necessary infrastructure to cater to the needs of the new harbor at Hambanthota quite easily.

    In China, the whole country works together like a beehive and pulls for that country. That is why Chinese workers achieve a great deal in a short time. If Lankans loved their country sincerely, then it would not be difficult task to work together & do whatever is necessary to forge ahead. It is not difficult to see that this is not so ….

  12. Fran Diaz Says:

    Correction : 62 yrs of Independence ….

  13. Ebert Says:

    Fran Diaz, I totally agree with your comments.

    In Singapore too, the govt is strong, media controlled, but the ministers are disciplined and focus to lead the people which is somewhat lacking in almost all the ministers in the present cabinet in SL.

    Until we have a group of dedicated men with clear vision to guide SL without western democracy in its path there is not much hope of economical progress!

  14. Raj Says:

    Is something going wrong for you Mr Dayasiri. Have a word with MR and sort it out.

  15. Ian Says:

    The Legal Luminary who has enough guts to do many things also shown he has guts to point out what is wrong. Knowing Gomin Dayasri personally I know what he has done to the cause of safeguarding the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and also to the current leadership. I know how he has said NO to many perks offered by the leaders including MR in 2005 when he was offered a plumb diplomatic post. I for one know the efforts and trouble he went through in the presidential election in 2005 and in 2010 to get MR elected. Gomin has been helping and assisting his chosen political views since 1960’s and he was a very senior person who handled Mrs. Bandaranaike’s campaigns. He like his father Hon. NQ Dias, has always had the guts to tell the ‘boss’ when he is doing a wrong thing. That I believe is the strength of the person although both of us don’t agree on many issues. Compared to him I am a podiyan and still he has the graciousness to listen and consider opposing viewpoints. He was the member of the peace delegation of MR in 2005 and managed to pin point the double games of LTTE & VP to the GOSL. He was smarter for benefits of SL than many who did that role in many previous negotiations. He appeared free to defend the soldiers of the SL Army when they were tried for the AFC massacre. He was the person who took the NE merger issue to the courts and got it de-merged. He and his junior Manoli Jinadasa organized many forums to fight off international pressure to end the war. The work done by Gomin and his dear friend SL Gunasekere WITHOUT and perks and payments but purely for on their conviction is admirable and unparalleled. He did all this risking his life to LTTE threats. I wonder the people who made comments on his article and the writers and commenters on that article can match his profile and his work towards a united country.

    The greatness of a person is not to follow blindly (yes minister type) and to have the conviction and the guts to tell anyone when things are not all that right. Knowing his closeness and friendship to the SL leaders I am sure his intentions are most genuine and he is trying his best to pin point something wrong expecting it be corrected for the betterment of the country and NO WAY is he finding fault with the leadership. He is only saying that the many that surround the leadership just pay poojas for their benefit and warning the leadership about the pitfall. This has happened in the times of Kingdoms up to now. True friends are not the ones who would say yes to anything. True friends are the ones who can tell you when you are wrong even if it means losing your friendship. Only the friends who are not parasites and not dependant on you for their existence can do this.

    Some of these comments for me are yet another “Yes Minister’ efforts. Shooting the messenger seems the way to get the message out because it’s unpalatable. I salute this man Gomin who has done many things for the country and I salute him for guts and courage to call spade a spade.

  16. nilwala Says:

    It was more than a little puzzling to me as to why Mr. Dayasri chose to write an open letter giving publicity to this issue on this website as well as in some newspapers, when he has always had direct access to the President and could have told him openly about all these problems without creating a public debate about it. Maybe his complaints to the President have failed to bring on any changes??? Whatever it is, Mr. Dayasri’s motives remain a little murky, and maybe his supporters on this website’s columns can offer some answers.

  17. Raju Says:

    Naram, the Hambantota port concept and engineering were done entirely by the SLPA and their experts (Sinhalese), funding and additional technical help came from Chinese, but the project, the concept, the planning, and the brains behind it were all local not Chinese, so there is little to fear.

    However your post raises an import issue. Why is it we always talk down our own and promote others? Why cannot people feel pride in the abilities of other Sinhalese with out getting riddled with jealousy and the need to tear them down (I am not talking about this project or Narams post but in general). Why do we always promote foreigners and treat ourselves as incompetents while crushing those who try and break this mould (even the same goes for Rajapakses during the war, people tried to crush them out of jealousy at being successful with the war where they had failed out of their own stupidity)

    Why do we love and love to seek approval from foreigners and promote them while always under valuing ourselves?
    This culture of servility must stop.

    Also returning to the Rajapakses and the war what was done was an immense achievement unparalleled in the world to which our people will never understand fully the ramifications and difficulties faced by the Rajakapses but will reap the rewards for decades to come. The pressures and difficulties they had to face to cross the finishing line is something no other leader in the world would have faced and succeeded at. Literally they had to negotiate through and fight ever corner around them with NGOs, the West, the LTTE, the UNP/JVP, the economy, the local media, the world media, all against them and actively trying to thwart their efforts from within working along side those outside who were all trying to crush the nation.

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