WHERE TO FROM NOW …
Posted on May 18th, 2015

JANAKI CHANDRARATNA, PERTH,WA

There was a regime change in Sri Lanka on 8 January 2015. Some people called it a ‘non-violent people’s revolution’, although it was nothing of the kind. It was indeed a well-organized coup by the West and Raw with the assistance of a few internal opportunists, to get rid of the Rajapaksa regime and Chinese influence from our shores.  The whole campaign was well orchestrated on a platform mostly with unsubstantiated allegations of corruption and fraud, which are continued to this day. Needless to say a similar strategy was used by the West to oust the legitimate governments like that of Ukraine, in the recent past.

Whilst I do not condone any kind of fraud, leave alone that from state coffers, I do believe that perpetrators need to be brought to justice, if there is any kind of evidence. I do not however, condone the harassment of alleged victims with spurious claims for political gain. The most revered feature of the law is that one is not found guilty unless proven and the onus of proof is on the accuser. I am of the view that the bigger crime is the continued harassment and character assassination of alleged victims, which indeed is a violation of basic human rights of any citizen.

Notwithstanding the above the new president was elected primarily with the minority support to end corruption, abolish Executive Presidency, reduce cost of living and adopt electoral reforms, within a 100-day timeframe. The new Govt. was described in exotic names such as a ‘National Govt.’, and Yahapalanaya (Good Governance). Quite sadly, the outcomes of the 100-day period were well below the rhetoric and expectations. On the score of corruption, as noted elsewhere, there was plenty of mud slinging and character assassination that is continued to this day, without any evidence or proof. Fortunately, there is a degree of solace in the past few days due to the threatened lawsuits of defamation by the victims. The govt. energies were mostly focused on spurious investigations, at an immense expense, engaging foreign agencies and banks in the search for lost treasures. More than most, within the 100-day period, we had the biggest swindle of the Treasury bonds in a classic case of insider trading.  The deal was a huge hemorrhage on Govt. funds estimated to be Rs.50 billion over the period of next 30 years. What is extra-ordinary however, was the surreptitious cover up by the unelected Prime Minister to re-instate the alleged perpetrator, the Governor of Central Bank, in his role despite the opposition protests for his resignation/dismissal.

Although the score is the same on all other commitments, for brevity reasons, my comments below are limited to the achievements on the abolition of Executive Presidency and Yahapalanaya. The Supreme Court made it clear that the proposed transference of power to the Prime Minister requires a referendum, much to the disappointment of the Prime Minister. Hence the declaration to re-write of the constitution, in his next term! A few measures to curb Presidential power were introduced in 19th Amendment thanks to the leadership of Prof. G. L. Peiris and SLFP MPs.

In terms of Yahapalanaya, the activities within the 100-day period by the newly elected President were unbelievable and preposterous. Firstly, the President formed a minority govt. replacing a democratically elected regime. Many additional Ministers were appointed on the run to gain support of the dislodged SLFP cabinet ministers and MPs. Not only the cabinet, the senior public servants were replaced, although the life of the new parliament was to be only 100 days. Next, the Chief Justice (CJ) was sacked and replaced by the ex-incumbent who was impeached by the previous parliament. The new appointment was for a period of 24 hours. Thereafter a new CJ was appointed. All these activities were undertaken by a mere ‘stroke of a pen’.  The President also chose to ignore the mega fraud deal of the Treasury Bonds and its subsequent cover up. The same treatment was meted out to the setting up of Fraud and Corruption Investigation Division (FCID), with an embedded review mechanism by the Prime Minister! The FCID appears to be a politburo, set up to jail political opponents on unsubstantiated charges, so that they would not be able to participate in the forthcoming elections. The jailing of Rajapaksas and their supporters was in the agenda from day one of yahapalanaya, according to the social media. This may be the reason that Mr. Sirisena, supposedly a champion of democracy and human rights, was willing to ignore FCID until the Supreme Court decision on the FR application of the previous defense secretary. It is no surprise that currently, the Prime Minister is acting raving mad to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision, which has somewhat, dented his agenda.  Further, the replacement of 234 local government institutions under special commissions at the request of the UNP is another authoritarian activity of our President in recent times.

All of the above indicate that the President, holding the chair of the SLFP, is deeply committed to the UNP and the West. It appears his expectations of the forthcoming elections are conflicting with that of the SLFP.  Instead of seeking an outright win for the SLFP, the President is keen on a National Govt. in keeping with the UNP agenda. In fairness to the President, this was informed to the SLFP on several occasions.  The President’s reluctance to unite the party to include Mahinda in SLFP fold as a well deserved Prime Minister, is a clear indication that his preference is for the SLFP to be divided so that SLFP will not get a clear majority at the elections and be forced to join the UNP in a National Govt.

On the flip side of the coin, however, is that the electorate had witnessed the performance of the National Govt. for over 130 days and is aware of the confusion it has created, the depletion of the resources and the escalation of racial tensions which had encouraged a possible future re-grouping of the LTTE. The crowd at Bring Back Mahinda campaigns illustrates that the electorate is ready to undo the mistake it did on 8th January 2015.

Unfortunately, as at present the electorate lacks the required leadership for a significant SLFP win at the polls and it is clear that this leadership can only be provided by the SLFP MPs. SLFP MPs need to be heartened by the fact that the achievements of the 100 days were primarily due to their involvement and leadership. It is pleasing to note that the opposition leader, of late, has highlighted some issues of this government. To win the election, the SLFP MPs need to ensure their leader is with the party and measures need to be taken as soon as possible to demonstrate that assurance. It is only then the SLFP can front up to the election with confidence for an absolute win. I sincerely hope, for the sake of the country, the SLFP MPs would fulfill this role to our community, to save the country from its predators.

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