Where is Sri Lanka heading?
Posted on October 16th, 2017

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe Courtesy  Ceylon Today

The new Constitution, currently being considered, is accused by many of being a project of Tamil separatists. It is not true. It is the project of ‘regime destabilizers’. They have done it elsewhere in the world and Sri Lanka’s past or present experiences are certainly not unique. Initially Project Destabilizing Sri Lanka was India’s, but with time neo-colonialists of the West, Tamil diaspora and various vested interest NGOs came to be driving partners as well. None of these, however, explains the reasons for the incumbent Sri Lankan Government to kowtow to these adverse elements as they do presently.

This Government knows they have neither the mandate nor the support of even their own supporters to do so. Hence, during their entire tenure, which is nearing three years in office now, their entire performance has been of a magician. A rather a bad magician, at that, as they unwittingly reveal the trick they played sooner than later.

From the beginning they continue to divert our attention to one thing only, to conjure an unexpected spectacle. Unfortunately, the experience is horrifying than thrilling.

They came to power pledging to do away the Executive Presidency and to empower Parliament. Apart from term limit, term duration and other minor matters as when the Execution President may dissolve Parliament, the powers of the Executive Presidency is still largely untouched. On the other hand, what is being proposed and under consideration is not empowering Parliament, but reducing it to a ceremonial assembly and the periphery, that is the provinces, to be empowered. If that comes to being, it is immaterial whether the Executive Presidency survives or not, as that position would be with almost no powers.

Promising a change, the two main political rivals the United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party joined to form a Government called the Unity Government. If this seemed a panacea for the political divide our country suffered for decades, it soon proved to be otherwise. In fact, we are now in a worse situation after this political marriage than before.

Official Opposition

The reason being, it took us a while to realize that both our Government and our official Opposition are on the same side. When our Opposition Leader Sambanthan asked India to protect this Government to continue to be in power, it certainly seems both have the same boss.

When he has not shown any interest in any other national matter or crisis and has been only obsessed with a new Constitution, it is not difficult to understand why he is so protective of this Government.

Throughout his political career his agenda has been separatism. Now he plays the role of a respectable politician. In the days of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, he played the despicable part of acting as their political proxy. He continued unabated while the LTTE dragged children as young as eight to become cannon fodder. Even now he hints of the possibility of a resurgence of terrorism if demands are not met. Clearly, he has no qualms over the horror the Tamils faced because of the LTTE. It is this callousness that unmasks the separatists.

It is in this background that PM Ranil Wickremesinghe released the Constitutional Assembly Steering Committee’s interim report on the proposals to Parliament on 29 September 2017. The debate on that report will continue for three days. It is hoped that, thereafter, the final report can be compiled by year end. If the Constitutional Assembly accepts the Steering Committee’s final report of the draft Constitution proposals, it will be submitted to the Cabinet, who will with or without Amendments present it in Parliament to be passed with a two thirds majority. If it does get such a majority, then a Referendum would be held.

The Government firmly assures that the unitary status of our country, which is the framework on which our Constitution is built on, will remain untouched. They are so convincing that the Chief Prelate of the Malwathu Chapter of the Siam Nikaya Most Venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Sumangala Thera has expressed confidence that the Government will not change this crucial clause.

Arguably, one may say they have not touched it. The change done is quite bizarre. The report appears in all three languages, following the steps taken with the 1978 Constitution. However, in the English version, the word ‘unitary’ has been removed.

Instead, on all three versions, the words ekeeya, which in Sinhala means ‘unitary’ is placed. Furthermore, in all three versions, the Tamil word, which is in the 1978 Constitution has been replaced with the word that denotes the meaning ‘alliance’. The English word ‘unitary’ does not appear in any of these versions. Thus, for those following the Sinhala version, our country’s status would be unitary, for those following the Tamil version, we have an alliance and those following the English version, may, pick as they please. Someone is obviously taking us for a ride.

There are more strange twists in this act. Sambanthan insists on two demands. One is that the North and the East must be remerged and considered as one province. From his objective, this demand is understandable, though not acceptable.

It is the other demand that raises eyebrows. He insists that Sri Lanka must become a secular country. In other words the foremost place given to Buddhism must be taken away. Buddhism is a philosophy that anyone, irrespective of any religion they may be practicing may follow. It is a philosophy that invokes not only kindness and compassion, but also wishing others success and being happy for others success. If at all, Buddhism promotes reconciliation and social harmony. The only obstruction is for extremists who wish to promote suspicion, jealousy and hatred in a society.

While he is emphatic that the country must be secular, he has not uttered a word about the Police powers that is conspicuously absent from the report. This is indeed very strange as getting land and Police powers are matters of extreme importance to those promoting federalism. How come this does not bother him?

Challenging the majority

Is this another magician’s trick? It appears that the plan is to provoke and excite the Sinhala Buddhist community, by unnecessarily challenging their core identity. When discussing the new Constitution, this would be the focal point. The most venerable prelates and Buddhist monks will definitely agitate and pressurize the Government on this basis.

If the Government makes a great show to assent to the Buddhists’ demands, this pressure group will leave the stage satisfied that their voice had been heard. Is it at that moment the Constitution makers plan to insert the more dangerous clauses into the document?

This may amount to nothing more than mere speculation by this writer. The writer is trying to figure out why Sambanthan is more interested in getting rid of the Buddhist identity that anyway has no direct bearing on him or his project, but totally nonchalant on the issue closer to his heart.

If constitutional matters and makings have been a magic show, then our economy has descended into an absolute soap opera.

This Government began its journey showing us a ‘Robin Hood Budget’, and ended short circuiting our economy. Perhaps one could write off recklessly increasing expenses by acts such as granting a Rs 10,000 monthly allowance per Government servant whilst reducing income by slashing tax on commodities as fuel, as foolish political pledges. Yet, when studying the economic management of this Government the legitimate question surfaces whether these are indeed foolish political decisions, or carefully designed plans to derail Sri Lanka.

The investor confidence this Government broke, as in the case of Avant Garde Maritime Services (AGMS) is a case in point. The actual reason for persecuting them is still not clear. Theirs was a UN sanctioned project carefully designed to protect merchant ships from pirates. It was in accordance with the provisions and standards stipulated by the International Maritime Organization of the UN in the Circular MSC1/Circ/1443. Leader of the House Lakshman Kiriella responding to the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna Leader Anura Kumara Dissanayaka in Parliament noted that Rakna Arakshaka Lanka who had a joint venture with AGMS had regularly paid Government taxes. Thus, since 2011, the Government had earned more than Rs 535 million. As dividends, the Treasury earned more than Rs 94 million. This revelation, however, was not sufficient to stop the persecution.

The most damaging to our economy so far has been the infamous Central Bank 2015 and 2016 bond scams. These scams are alleged to be the biggest banking robberies in Sri Lankan history. Interestingly, these bond scams are yet to make it past to the FCID from the various Presidential Commissions appointed to probe into the matter.

Like a soap opera, the present Commission is unearthing many scandals. One such scandal forced one minister to leave his powerful portfolio and be a backbencher.

There are other scandals. It is still not clear what economic crisis we actually solved or averted by leasing our Magampura Port to the Chinese for 99 years. It certainly did not settle our dues to the Chinese.

Obscured by all these sagas and their details is our reeling economy. This is the past weeks’ news read: IMF is happy enough to release another Rs 39 billion loan after the Government reformed tax laws. Central Bank will likely increase interest rates.

National assets such as Mattala Airport are on the market for either long term lease or outright sale. The Government is claiming there is no money to pay the debt, invested in an aging Russian warship. Sri Lankan Airlines is nose diving, yet its four top managers were paid a monthly salary of Rs 4,000,000 each. World Bank grants us a USD 75 million loan. In the Appropriation Bill presented total expenditure is Rs 3,982 billion, but total income is Rs 2,175 billion. In the 2018 Budget, 50 per cent more allocated for President’s expenses and 41per cent more for the PM’s expenses. PM’s Economic Advisor states that debt is Sri Lanka’s biggest nightmare.

Coincidence or evil design?

ranasingheshivanthi@gmail.com

One Response to “Where is Sri Lanka heading?”

  1. Senerath Says:

    North LTTE council and election of Vasudeva’s මස්සිනා because of extreme greed of becoming ‘common wealth leader’ betrayed our motherland.

    උතුරේ හර්තාල් කා වෙනුවෙන්ද?

    උතුරේ යළිත් හර්තාලයක්‌ පැවැත්විණි. හර්තාලයේ උණුසුම දකුණට නොදැනුණු නමුත් මේ නිසා උතුරු පළාතේ දිස්‌ත්‍රික්‌ක පහේම සිවිල් ජන ජීවිතය ඇනහිටිණි. බස්‌ රථ ධාවනය වූයේ නැත. රජයේ මෙන්ම පෞද්ගලික ආයතනද වසා දමා තිබිණි. කොටි සිරකරුවන් 132 ක්‌ වෙනුවෙන් රටේ උතුරු පළාත අරාජික වීමට ඉඩ දිය යුතු නැත. මේ සිරකරුවන් පූස්‌ පැටව් නම් නොවේ. මොවුන් බරපතළ අපරාධකරුවන්ය. යුද අපරාධ සිදුකළ තැනැත්තන්ය. ජන සංහාර සිදුකළ ඝාතකයින් වෙනුවෙන් උතුරේ ජනතාව පෙනී සිටීම බලවත් ප්‍රශ්නයකි. මේ අරාජිකත්වය නවතින්නේ කොතැනින්ද? දෙමලුනි නැගිටිව් දෙවැනි නාටකය දැන් උතුරේ ක්‍රියාත්මක වෙයිs. එදා පොංගු තමිල් නිසා යාපන වැසියෝ පීඩාවට පත්වූහ. එදා හර්තාල් සිදුකෙරුණේ ප්‍රභාකරන්ගේ තුවක්‌කුවේ බලයෙනි. අද හර්තාල් කරන්නේ උතුරු පළාත් සභාවේ පූර්ණ ආශිර්වාදයෙනි. උතුරු පළාත් සභාව ජනජීවිතය නඟා සිටිනුවස්‌ වඩා සාර්ථකව සිදුකරන්නේ හර්තාල්ය.

    මේ හර්තාල්වලින් ලබාගත හැකි ජයග්‍රහණයක්‌ නැත. යාපනය දරු දැරියන්ගේ පාසල් වසා දැමීමෙන් කොටි සැකකරුවන්ට නිදහසක්‌ ලැබෙන්නේ නැත. උතුරේ වැසියන්ට දැනෙන සේවයක්‌ කිරීමට විග්නේෂ්වරන් මහ ඇමැතිවරයා ප්‍රමුඛ දෙමළ සන්ධාන පළාත් සභා මන්ත්‍රී නඩයට හැකි වූයේ නැත. එම නිසා සිය දේශපාලන ජනප්‍රියතාවය රැකගැනීම වෙනුවෙන් උතුර අඩපණ කිරීම සිදුවෙයි.

    ජනපතිවරයා පසුගිය සෙනසුරාදා යාපනයේ සංචාරය කරන විට දෙමළ සිරකරුවන් නිදහස්‌ කරන්නැයි මොර දෙන එන්. කේ. සිවාජිලිංගම් ඇතුළු නඩය උද්ඝෝෂණය කරන ස්‌ථානයට ද ගියේය. එහෙත් මේ උද්ඝෝෂකයෝ ජනපති සමඟ හෝ සාකච්ඡාවට සූදානම් නැත. වහාම ත්‍රස්‌තයින් නිදහස්‌ කරන ලෙස මේ ජාතිවාදී නඩය බලකර සිටී. රටේ විධායක ජනාධිපතිවරයා සමඟවත් සාකච්ඡාවට සූදානම් නැති මොවුනගේ යටි අරමුණු පැහැදිළිය. කොටි සිරකරුවන්ගේ ප්‍රශ්නය මුල්කරගෙන උතුර අස්‌ථාවර කර යළිත් වරක්‌ කොටි අවතාර අවදි කිරීම සිවාජිලිංගම් ඇතුළු නඩයේ උත්සාහයයි. ජනපතිවරයාටද කළු කොඩි වැනුවේ ඒ නිසාද? කළු කොඩි වනා ත්‍රස්‌තයින් නිදහස්‌ කරගත නොහැක. දිනපතා හර්තාල් කළද ජාතික ආරක්‍ෂාවට බරපතළ තර්ජනය එල්ල කරන මේ කොටි බෝම්බකරුවන් නිදහස්‌ කළයුතු නැත.

    ඇව්රෝ යානාවලට මිසයිල ප්‍රහාර එල්ල කර සාමාන්‍ය වැසියන් ඝාතනය කළ ත්‍රස්‌තයන්ට පොදු සමාව දිය යුතු නැත. අත්අඩංගුවට පත් හමුදා භටයින් මරා පිළිස්‌සූ ත්‍රස්‌තයින් දේශපාලන සිරකරුවන් ලෙස සැලකිය හැකිද? එහෙත් මේ සියලු දෙනා නිදහස්‌ කළ යුතු යෑයි විපක්‍ෂ නායක ආර්. සම්බන්ධන් මහතා ඉල්ලා සිටී. සම්බන්ධන්ගේ ඉල්ලීම ජනපතිවරයා නොතකා හැරීම නිසා සම්බන්ධන් ඇතුළු නඩය යාපනයේ පැවැති දෙමළ දින සැමරුමට සහභාගි වූවේද නැත.

    විපක්‍ෂ නායකවරයා උතුරේ හර්තාල් පවත්වන්නට මැදිහත් වූයේ නැත. ඒවා පවත්වන්නට මැදිහත් වූයේ විග්නේෂ්වරන් ඇතුළු කණ්‌ඩායම බව නොරහසකි. කවරක්‌ නමුත් දෙමළ ජනතාව අතර වීරයින් වීමට දෙමළ සන්ධානය තුළම උග්‍ර බල අරගලයක්‌ නිර්මාණය වී තිබේ. මේ අරගලයෙන් උතුරේ ජනතාවට යහපතක්‌ අත්වන්නේ නැත. පුරා වසර 30 ක්‌ අස්‌ථාවරවූ ජීවිත යළි ස්‌ථාවර වූයේ 2009 මැයි මාසයෙන් පසුවය. මේ ඊනියා හර්තාල්වලින් සිදුවන්නේ යළි උතුර අස්‌ථාවරවීමට පාර කැපීමය. ආණ්‌ඩුව ඊට ඉඩ දිය යුතු නැත.

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