Has President Maithripala Sirisena got a moral right to be the chairman of the SLFP?
Posted on April 3rd, 2016

By Raj Gonsalkorale

Maithripala Sirisena is the President of Sri Lanka today because he was elected to this high office largely by UNP voters and not voters from his own party, the SLFP. The constitutionality of his position as the Chairman of the SLFP is also in question as he was not elected by a majority of SLFP voters who opted to vote for the official presidential candidate of the SLFP, Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Although the SLFP constitution reportedly states that an SLFP member who is elected the President of the country becomes the Chairman of the SLFP, Mr Sirisena’s appointment as the chairman is not in the spirit of the constitution considering he was not the official candidate of the party for the Presidency.

While Mahinda Rajapaksa has stated publicly many times that he handed over the chairmanship of the SLFP to Mr Sirisena upon his victory at the Presidential election, and Mr Sirisena and his supporters within the SLFP have claimed there was no handing over” as it was the constitutional position for the President of the country to become the SLFP Chairman if he or she was an SLFPer, there is now an opinion developing that Mr Rajapaksa need not have relinquished the chairmanship when he was defeated.

Whatever the legal and constitutional position is regarding Mr Sirisena’s appointment as chairman of the SLFP, there is certainly a point of view gathering momentum that he has no moral right to be the chairman of a party when he openly defied the party in opposing the official SLFP candidate of the party.

Mr Sirisena’s morality is further questioned as he publicly endorsed the official candidate of his party just the day before he decided to oppose the party candidate. This volte face is certainly not a quality of a man of principles and morality.

Mr Sirisena’s election as the President of the country has no attendant constitutional issues. There is certainly an issue with him being the chairman of the SLFP and it is a matter for the general membership of the SLFP to resolve as after all, they constitute the SLFP.

Mahinda Rajapaksa has a greater right, constitutionally, and morally, to be the chairman of the SLFP as he was the official candidate of the party although he lost, albeit narrowly, to Mr Sirisena, who in effect could be considered more the candidate of the UNP than the SLFP.

Had the SLFP decided to expel Mr Sirisena from the SLFP for opposing party discipline when he decided to defy party rules, and he no longer was a member of the SLFP when he contested the Presidency, and subsequently won the election, Mr Sirisena would not have had any legal, constitutional or a moral right to be the chairman of the SLFP.

It appears that the meaning of morality may have to be redefined as a SLFP member who should have been sacked from the party for opposing the single most important decision of the party, and who gets elected with votes from the party that opposed the official candidate of the SLFP, and who is now in a cohabiting arrangement with the party that opposed the SLFP, and who is also trying to wrest control of the party that is cohabiting with its political enemy, possibly in order to undermine the party that helped to elect him to the highest office in the country, for selfish reasons.

One is entitled to question where morality has gone in Sri Lanka.

As to how such a person who is now the chairman of the party he openly defied, and who is cohabiting with its political enemy who helped to get him elected as the President of the country, could lead the party to victory at a future election against its political enemy to whom he owes his twin positions as President of the country and effectively the chairmanship of the SLFP, is indeed material for a magic show, as such a scenario is or should be unfathomable and untenable for the membership of the party.

If it is Mr Sirisena’s ambition to wrest control of the SLFP and oppose UNP after his term of office in order to vie for the Prime Ministership, his tactics are understandable and they are consistent with his questionable morals.

It maybe his intention is to prevent Mahinda Rajapaksa regaining the chairmanship of the SLFP and from becoming the next Prime Minister as that would deprive him the opportunity of remaining in power after his one term Presidency.

Another possible scenario is that Mr Sirisena’s real desire is to prevent  any Rajapaksa from taking control of the SLFP, and possibly leading the party to victory at a future general election, in order to  ensure the UNP remains in government, as Mr Sirisena is for all intents and purposes, appears to be more a UNPer that an SLFPer.

Whatever his intentions are and his ambitions are, his tactics will ensure the SLFP does not regain power for a very, very, long time. On the other hand, if he is a true SLFPer at heart, he should resign as the chairman of SLFP and let the SLFP membership elect its next chairman who could let the party decide its future direction.

Either this, or he should withdraw SLFP support for the government and give Mr Ranil Wickremasinghe the opportunity to garner enough support within the Parliament to continue in government without SLFP support.

A democracy needs a strong opposition, and Mr Sirisena is going against a very basic tenant of democracy by not allowing the SLFP to function as the opposition or the alternate government in the current parliament. An opposition does not, and does not have to oppose everything a government does or proposes. They can be a constructive opposition that should support the government on mutually acceptable national policies.

The current Parliament, and the governing arrangements are not advancing the national interest as the priority appears to be self-interest rather than the national interest.

Courtesy Asian Tribune

6 Responses to “Has President Maithripala Sirisena got a moral right to be the chairman of the SLFP?”

  1. Dham Says:

    Moral rights ? Not even any legal right. At the time of becoming president, even his SLFP membership was not here. He was chased out from SLFP after hopper eating.
    MR did not have any moral right to handover SLFP leadership to him. He did a great betrayal by doing so. Now all the fight is to take it back. What nonsense is this ?
    Some say he was threatened. Why should you listen to threats if you have not done any wrong ?

  2. Dilrook Says:

    It is very late to talk of morality in Sri Lankan politics. Morality left the political scene in 1940s. Sirisena has cheated his party at least three times. First when he left the party to join the UNP in late 2014. Then to bring Mahinda back only to use his popularity to win as many seats as he could for the SLFP and then dump him again. The national government with the UNP is another betrayal.

    SLFP constitution change in June 2006 to make the president of the country the leader of the SLFP (if he/she has SLFP membership at any time being the president) is also an immoral act. All SLFP members who held the post of president promised to abolish executive presidency before getting elected to the post (Chandrika, Mahinda and Sirisena). Tying the SLFP leadership to the executive presidency (they promised to abolish) is an immoral act by the party and voters who voted to abolish it. Parachuting Basil into top SLFP posts was another grave blunder that caused disgust among party faithful. He was never a party leader and is very much junior to all others.

    If not for that short-sighted move, Mahinda would be the SLFP leader today and he could have easily got his party behind him and regained power.

    Morality is also a personal thing. One’s morals may not be the morals of another. For instance Chandrika firmly believes the SLFP must remain within her family. Although it is a wrong belief, she believes so and a few others in the party. In their understanding, they are not morally wrong.

    I received this short video of Sirisena’s morality. He succeeded in keeping his true intentions away from his voters not once but many times.

    “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0cg2X5_cEFg”

  3. Dilrook Says:

    Chandrika’s morality of teaming up with the LTTE at a time when the LTTE killed opposition candidates and supporters is also in discussion today. During her first presidential election campaign, UNP candidate Gamini Dissanayake was killed by the LTTE. However, she continued her peace process and the cessation of hostilities with the LTTE.

    In a more recent revelation, the LTTE bomb attack on General Lucky Algama who was canvassing against Chandrika and for the UNP in 1999 was directed by a senior military officer under her. It happened on the same day she also suffered an LTTE attack. She had prevented his arrest by the police that investigated the incident.

    Suicide bomber jacket, C4 explosives and other terrorist material found recently should be looked at in this light.

  4. Charles Says:

    I am of the same view Sirisena has no right what ever to be the President of the SLFP. He was the Presidential candidate of UNP and appointed the UNP leader as his Prime Minister when there was already a SLFP Prime Minister.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    The whole exercise of Ranil’s UNP coming into power by stealth was to go westward ho! wasn’t it ? MS was used in this. Who is MS’s boss ? Is it CBK ?

    So the GoSL today is run by RW/CBK with foreign plans ?

  6. Dham Says:

    USA and the west has no moral right to test atomic bombs on Japan. But Japan did not agree it can be dropped.

    Here two people have a discussion and one who has the proper right to hold it agrees to handover leadership to the other to assume it morally ( and legally) wrongfully.
    Are not both did the immoral thing ?

    In a way the one who holds is more responsible for handing over it willingly or on threats.

    Of course it is easy to blame blame the sun for it, if sun did not rise nothing would have happened !

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