Who is telling the truth?
Posted on February 21st, 2018

Editorial Courtesy The Island

It is being argued in legal and political circles that the incumbent administration and its Cabinet are illegal because the MoU between the UNP and the UPFA to form a national government was valid only for two years from 2015. The validity or otherwise of this vital document is of crucial import. The number of Cabinet ministers cannot exceed 30 unless there is a national government, according to the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Yesterday, in answer to a query from the Opposition, the Prime Minister declared, in Parliament, that the MoU at issue was still valid and consistent with the Constitution. It had not been rescinded, he insisted. General Secretary of the UPFA and minister Mahinda Amaraweera endorsed the PM’s statement. He said the two parties were still bound by the MoU at issue. Deputy Minister Ajith P. Perera said the MoU had not mentioned that the national government would end after two years.

Are we to conclude that the national government is legitimate simply because the PM and the General Secretary of the UPFA say so. Is this particular MoU open-ended as claimed by Deputy Minister Perera? Didn’t the government say in 2015 that the national government agreement was valid only for two years? Did its leaders lie to the public?

Can we take the PM’s word for it? When the Treasury bond scams first came to light with the government being pressured to answer questions from the Opposition, the PM insisted, in Parliament, that there had been no wrongdoing, didn’t he? Deputy Minister Perera is one of the UNP MPs who got now infamous footnotes incorporated into the COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) report on the bond scams, diluting its conclusion.

Amaraweera once defended the Rajapaksa government to the hilt while being a part of it, but now he tells us it was corrupt and President Sirisena is the best leader. The less said about the UPFA ministers the better. It was only the other day that many of them declared they would not be in a government which had Wickremesinghe as the PM. But, today, they are humming a different tune.

All politicians have a severe trust deficit. So, the question is whether anyone’s ex cathedra statements anent the national government can be taken as the gospel truth.

Will the JVP and the Joint Opposition (JO) buy into the PM’s claim backed by Amaraweera and abandon their protests? On Tuesday, no less a person than JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayaka together with JO big guns declared in Parliament that the government and the Cabinet were illegal. What a song and dance they made! They said the national government MoU had expired as it had not been extended with parliamentary approval. They have to either challenge the PM’s claim or admit that they got it all wrong and misled the public.

We can’t expect politicians, especially the ones in power, to tell us the truth when their interests are threatened. Nothing is scarier to them than the prospect of losing power and opportunities to amass ill-gotten wealth and live off the fat of the land at the expense of the taxpaying public. No one in his or her proper senses will expect them to tell the truth and run the risk of losing power in the process. No minister will ever admit that the UPFA-UNP MoU has expired, for fear of losing his or her portfolio, in the event of the Cabinet having to be downsized in keeping with the 19th Amendment. So, asking the current ministers whether the national government agreement is still valid or not is as stupid as inquiring from a Panchikawatta trader if the spare parts he deals in are genuine.

Let the JO and JVP worthies be urged to dare the government to produce the UPFA-UNP MoU and peruse it to see if it is open-ended or not. President Maithripala Sirisena should seriously consider seeking a Supreme Court opinion on the MoU at issue because its constitutionality stands questioned.

4 Responses to “Who is telling the truth?”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    This is yet another trap 19A created this time on the Cabinet.

    19A restricted the Cabinet of ministers to 30. But if a “national government” was created, it can have any number of ministers!

    In other words, a normal future government (as we had from 1947 to 2015) will face a severe dilemma as it has to manage with only 30 ministers. It will be an unstable government. Also a UPFA-JO government will have only 30 ministers as it is not a national government. It cannot last! Most MPs want a ministry to remain part of the government.

    UNP lawyers have done some clever work behind the scenes to destroy the prospects of Sirisena and Rajapaksas. This type of mechanisms are like the dead man’s brake. Essentially, no government can survive until 2020 without the support of the UNP. Funny thing is all present MPs (mostly JO MPs) except only 1 voted for this!

  2. Charles Says:

    We have a government disavowed by the people. It has lost the confidence of the people which was evident from the Nugegoda meeting of the people for Mahinda Rajapakse and thereafter the May day rally of 2017. It has been repeated and asserted at the February,12 Local Government elections.

    The JO and JVP should move a no Confidence motion forthwith. Yahapalanaya has no right to continue with a government refused by the people.

  3. Sarath W Says:

    It seems yet again Mahinda and the JO are letting down the masses who voted them. When Ranil was appointed PM illegally they kept quite. Mahinda did not make a big fuss in the parliament about Ranil’s involvement in the Bond Scam. He has gone silent again about this illegal cabinet. It is time for him to move on gracefully if he can not take a stand on key issues.

  4. Dilrook Says:

    I’m still waiting for the JO no confidence motion against Ranil over the bond scam. As I predicted, it will never come (unless after Sirisena decides to remove Ranil for real). Similarly Mahinda was not present in parliament when Ravi’s no confidence motion was taken up in 2016. He didn’t even sign it!

    The first no confidence motion was handed over to Speaker Chamal in 2015 at his residence by MPs who are in the JO today! This is the first time a no confidence motion was handed over at the residence of the Speaker. That was on May 18, 2015 but until the parliament was dissolved on June 25, 2015 it was not taken up by the Speaker.

    All political parties are playing politics with national issues with only their clan survival in mind. What do they care. They have citizenship abroad or can get it as their family members are US or UK citizens. Governance by foreing citizen proxies. Sri Lanka’s own Sirisena is unthinkably incompetent and foolish at times. People are faced with Hobson’s choice. But the bigger tragedy is a large group of politician-worshippers unable to think for themselves.

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