YAH(M)APALANAYA OR Y(W)AHAPALANAYA?!
Posted on April 10th, 2017
with Ravi Ladduwahetty Courtesy Ceylon Today
“I will not agree with what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it. I do not agree with what you write, but I will leave every room for you to write”.
Hot on the heels of the government messing up with the United Nations by agreeing to co-sponsor the UN resolution with the United States which was extensively debated in this column just last Monday , then comes another a piece of dangerous legislation which is already tabled in the House of Parliament.
That is a Bill which is aimed at punishing the heroic members of the Armed Forces who successfully and at great sacrifice and zealous and passionate commitment, ended a thirty year war, effectively combating the LTTE, widely acknowledged as the most ruthless terrorist group the world has seen or known.
The Unity Government of the political combine and the marriage of convenience of the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), has been having serious dents, That is not all. Now, it is a dangerous Bill which is before the House of Parliament which has been presented by no lesser than Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on 7 March. That is to give effect within this country, provisions contained in the International Covenant on Enforced Disappearances. The effect of the Bill is to allow any foreign government or any agency acting on behalf of a foreign government to make complaints pertaining to military and political leaders, who are alleged to have given orders to commit war crimes.
The basic concept of this is that of Command Responsibility. This includes acts of both commission and omission. So, political and military leaders could be punished not only for what they have done, but also matters that they have allowed to have happened during their command. This is a far reaching piece of legislation and the government has put itself to be allowed to be under obligation to implement under the provisions of the Covenant, to extradite or hand over under the provisions of the Extradition Act No. 8 of 1977. Even the provisions of Act No. 8 of 1977 have also been taken away.
Now, if Sri Lanka has signed the International Covenant and Treaty of Rome, that will also mean that the alleged will be extradited and be a defendant in the International Criminal Court. So, there is an imminent danger to the political and military leaders who have eliminated terrorism from this country.
There is also provision of the establishment of a special High Court in Colombo to try this category of crimes. There is also no provision for bail in the Bill. The police have been empowered to act even without a complaint.
It is also important to alert the nation that the country’s political leaders will stand under the provisions of this Bill. So, this is indeed the time that the Yahapalanaya has become the Yamapalanaya! Are the members of the government possessed by devils and King Yama to have no sympathy for military and political leaders who finished the war?
Then, the other issues such as the government fighting shy to hold the Local Government elections as the result seems to be quite obvious.
President Maithripala Sirisena has been quoted in yesterday’s Edition of the Ceylon Today that he will lead the SLFP to victory in all future elections. We wish him well!
However, if the most recent elections to the Anamaduwa Cooperative Society was anything to go by, the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, which has Prof. G.L. Peiris as Chairman, has won 180 seats, while the UNP, which is in government, has won only a mere 18 seats. The SLFP, the party which the President comes from, has not won a single seat, while it is also ditto for the JVP as well. There are only two years and a little more before Parliament elects its next set of legislators, and it is likely that the same trend will continue akin to the Southern Provincial Council Polls in 1993 which saw the People’s Alliance romp home at the Parliamentary Polls on 16 August 1994 with Chandrka Bandaranaike Kumaratunga being sworn in as Prime Minister on 19 August 1994 and sworn in as President in November 1994. The UNP of the day did not know what hit them. However, it could be argued that the SLFP won the Presidential Polls over the dead body of the UNP Presidential candidate Gamini Dissanayake.
The voters also voted for a change in 2015. They were sick and tired of the excesses of the Rajapaksa Presidency and moreover in the light that nothing was done to reduce the fuel prices, which was plummeting at global level. Nothing was done to reduce the Cost of Living in terms of prices of essentials. But, what this government is doing takes not only the cake, but the icing and the cake structure itself!
Now, of the Central Bank Bond scam, the less said the better. It has now transpired that the transaction was paid for with the help of the EPF Funds. Catch a retired employee trying to raise a loan for effecting repairs to his house, the answer in a known instance to this columnist, was a resounding no. But, the son-in-law of the Central Bank Governor has access to funds, I mean public funds which the father-in-law is supposed to be the custodian of! As the age old axiom goes, “in this country, what matters is not what you know, but whom you know!”
People expected the economy to leapfrog. They also believed that the UNP were better managers of the economy. The proposed Volkswagen deal with a proposed manufacturing plant in Kuliyapitiya too became a damp squib. Now, the government says that it is going to be an assembly plant by the local agent, having had enough egg on its face!
LITTLE OR NO AVURUDU
Now with the cost of living going through the roof, it is also known that the celebrations of the forthcoming Sinhala and Tamil New Year will be curtailed to the core. The price of rice, salt and sugar are unbearably high, taking Wahapalanaya even to the kitchen!
A MORIBUND ECONOMY
The government will have to increase Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in order to avoid an upcoming Balance of Payment (BoP) crisis. Although the government boasted about attracting FDI, they have fallen way below the expectations. FDI in 2016 had reduced to little over US$ 300 from around US$ 700 received in 2015. This is majorly due to the policy inconsistency of the government, particularly the changes to the Budget proposals relating to taxation.
Further, the government had failed to increase its revenue up to the expected level. Some of the targets given by the IMF were met with regard to cutting down expenditure. However, the inflation rate has risen to 8.2% in February which was the highest year-on-year inflation reported after January 2016.