What’s ‘National’ in Yahapalana’s National “UNITY” Government?
Posted on August 15th, 2018

Since the January 2015 Presidential Elections, we have been experiencing a wave of irregularities bordering illegalities. That the holier than thou West has taken patronage of the ruling party together with their international coterie of players denies any prospects of highlighting or negating the irregularities taking place. However, these wrongs need to be etched into the country’s historical records. Some of the agreements & Bills currently being signed will certainly be questioned in the future & can be negated on account of these constitutionally questionable fault lines. The creation of a ‘National’ Government has been nothing of NATIONAL INTEREST but based on preventing MPs from fleeing to the opposition by dishing out Ministerial portfolios and perks.

Article 3 of the constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka declares the sovereignty is in the people and is inalienable. Sovereignty cannot be limited or curtailed but the powers of the government & its institutes can. The President, Prime Minister, Ministers & all others that make up a government have only limited sovereign powers for they serve only for a term as elected & selected by the People.

MPs are only ‘agents’ of the people according to Justice Wanasundara’s judgement on the 13th amendment in 1987.

The people whose constitutional rights have been violated have scope to address their grievance. Article 17 of Chapter III gives entitlements to Sri Lanka’s citizens. Article 125 & 126 afford the opportunity to apply to the Supreme Court for citizen’s violation of fundamental rights.

A political party’s manifesto may not be a legally binding document but it is morally binding. A party’s manifesto is the basis on which people decide to vote for it. There was no mention of any national government in either of the 2 main political party manifestos in 2015 before the general elections.

Ironical & noteworthy is the manner in which the present President who left the SLFP & contested under another political party using a swan symbol who after becoming elected as the President returned to the SLFP to become its chairman. Not only is the President the head of the SLFP but he is also the head of the UPFA too.

It was this President who through the Central Committee of the SLFP promoted the notion of ‘National Government’. The voters of SLFP or UPFA have at no time given their consent to forming any national government. How democratic is it of a President who left the SLFP & the UPFA to manipulate both in such a manner contrary to the wishes of their vote base?

There was no NATIONAL GOVERNMENT before the August 2015 general elections. There was only an INTERIM GOVERNMENT comprising the minority UNP & dissident SLFP/UPFA MPs who pledged support to the Ranil-Sirisena 100 day program.

Generally, a National Government is formed at times of a national crisis as England did from 1931 to 1939. However, even during the last phase of the conflict the UNP was not interested to help the former government by forming a national government to face the international pressures that came to stop the military end to the LTTE. If a national government was needed at all it was during this phase.

After January 2015 what was formed was not a National Government but a National Unity Government but signed by only 2 parties though comprising other parties.

But as far as we know a MOU was signed only between 2 political parties – the SLFP & the UNP. The general secretaries of the SLFP & UNP signed the MOU on 21 August 2015 to last 2 years & covering 10 points.

Neither of these two parties contested as a single party to enter parliament before 2015 or even after 2015. They both came to Parliament through various alliances and this questions what right both have to sign MOUs with only each other completely ignoring the parties that formed the alliance to contest election & enter Parliament. If SLFP contested under the UPFA banner & entered parliament it must get the approval of all the UPFA constituent members in taking decisions because they entered parliament on an alliance & voters voted because of this alliance.

Not stopping there of the 29 national seats, 11 seats are given to candidates that the voters have rejected. Democracy has been flouted by this action since the names of 29 national list seats are gazetted before elections so the voting public are well aware of the national list nominees of every political party before elections. This is another example of politicians flouting the will of the people. Worse is when defeated candidates taken through the National List are given key ministerial portfolios. They are not suited for any role leave alone enjoy any perks of office using the tax payers money as they do not enjoy the will of the people.

In reality the so-called national government comprises the UNP, the JVP & TNA both supporters of the regime change & a handful of opportunistic SLFP & UPFA members. So how national” is this government?

In January 2015, a Presidential Election was held. It was not a General Election, therefore the unanswered question is – how could the President-elect appoint a new Prime Minister from a party that didn’t have a majority in Parliament without removing the sitting Prime Minister?

The last general election was held in 2010 with UPFA winning 144 seats (4,846,388 / 60.33%) UNP winning 60 seats (2,357,057 / 29.34%) TNA winning (233,190/ 2.90%) & JVP winning (441,251 / 5.49%)

The UPFA increased its 144 seats to 163 seats (72.4%) majority in Parliament on account of 19 MPs crossing to the UPFA. 7 of these have been from the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. 11 have been from the UNP.

When President Sirisena contested elections under the SWAN symbol as a common candidate leaving the SLFP/UPFA combine, the UNP constituted only 47 MPs in Parliament. It was from this 47 UNP MPs that Ranil was appointed Prime Minister without a general election & following a presidential election – thus creating a new precedent. This seriously questions the validity of Ranil Wickremasinghe as PM & the decisions made by the ‘government’ that had no majority in Parliament, no mandate from the people & existed on the basis of cobbling opportunist MPs together. This was a serious breach of democratic principles & good governance that brought the President to power.

Timeline:

8 January 2015

Presidential Election

9 January 2015

Maithripala Sirisena appointed President commencing a 100 day program which was to end on 23 April 2015 with a general election. In May 2018 the President he did not know who drafted the 100 day program & he knew nothing of its contents!

Ranil Wickremasinghe appointed Prime Minister (UNP had only 47 seats in Parliament & questions on what basis he was appointed PM without even a general election being held or removing the sitting Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne or his resigning.

11 January 2015

As part of the 100 day program 11 January pledged to appoint a 25 member cabinet. However, a day later he appoints a 27-member cabinet which increased to 30 with the 19a.

10 defect to join President Siriena-Ranil alliance & declares Sirisena as leader of the SLFP.

  1. Sarath Amunugama,
  2. Reginald Cooray,
  3. Vijith Vijithamuni Soysa,
  4. Jagath Pushpakumara,
  5. B. Navinna,
  6. Nilwala Wijesinghe,
  7. Piyasena Gamage,
  8. Athavuda Seneviratne
  9. Janaka Bandara Tennakoon
  • Chief Minister of the North Western province Dayasiri Jayasekera

12 January 2015

More UPFA MPs join Sirisena-Ranil alliance

  1. Felix Perera,
  2. Lalith Dissanyake,
  3. Neomal Perera,
  4. Dayasritha Tissera,
  5. Thilanga Sumathipala,
  6. R. M. Abdul Cader

President Maithripala Sirisena appointed 27 Cabinet Ministers, 10 State Ministers and 08 Deputy Ministers

Cabinet Ministers

  1. Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe – Minister of Economic Development & Policy Implementation
  2. Ravi Karunanayake – Minister of Finance
  3. Joseph Michael Perera – Minister of Home Affairs
  4. John Amaratunga – Minister of Public Order, Disaster Management
  5. Duminda Dissanayake – Minister of Irrigation
  6. Rajitha Senaratna – Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine
  7. Kabir Hashim – Minister of Highways and Investment Promotion
  8. Sajith Premadasa – Minister of Housing and Samurdhi
  9. Naveen Dissanayake – Minister of Tourism
  10. Wijedasa Rajapaksa – Minister of Justice
  11. Arjuna Ranatunga – Minister of Ports and Shipping
  12. Patali Champika Ranawaka – Minister of Power and Energy
  13. Rishad Bathiudeen – Minister of Industry and Commerce
  14. Gayantha Karunathilake – Minister of Mass Media
  15. Palani Diganbaram – Minister of Plantation Infrastructure Development
  16. Akila Viraj Kariyawasam – Minister of Education
  17. M. Swaminadan – Minister of Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Affairs
  18. Rauff Hakeem – Minister of Urban Development, Water Supply and Drainage
  19. Thalatha Athukorala – Minister of Foreign Employment
  20. Ranjith Madduma Bandara – Minister of Internal Transport
  21. Harrison – Minister of Social Services and Social Welfare
  22. K.D.S. Gunawardena – Minister of Land
  23. Chandrani Bandara – Minister of Women’s Affairs
  24. Karu Jayasuriya – Minister of Buddha Sasana
  25. Lakshman Kiriella – Minister of Plantation
  26. Mangala Samaraweera – Minister of Foreign Affairs
  27. Gamini Jayawickrama Perera – Minister of Food Security

Ministers of State

  1. Nandimithra Ekanayake- Culture and the Arts
  2. Radhakrishnan- Education
  3. Faizer Mustapha- Aviation
  4. Palitha Range Bandara- Power and Energy
  5. Dilip Wedaarachchi- Fisheries
  6. Bernadeen Rose Senanayake- Children’s Affairs
  7. Rajiva Wijesinghe- Higher Education
  8. Ruwan Wijewardene- Defence
  9. Velayudhan- Plantation Industries
  10. Niroshan Perera – Youth Affairs

Deputy Ministers

  1. Champika Premadasa- Industry and Commerce
  2. Harsha de Silva- Policy Development & Economic Affairs
  3. Eran Wickramaratne- Highways and Investment Promotion
  4. Sujeewa Senasinghe – Justice
  5. Wasantha Senanayake- Tourism
  6. Vijayakala Maheswaran- Women’s Affairs
  7. Ajith P. Perera- Foreign Affairs
  8. Anoma Gamage- Irrigation

16 January 2015

UPFA MP Nimal Siripala de Silva appointed Opposition Leader

31 January 2015

PM Ranil says Elections after Parliament is dissolved on 23 April 2015. Interim budget passed.

18 February 2015

1st rally held by Rajapakse faction in Nugegoda stuns the yahapalana government.

26 February 2015

Following the 18th February successfully rally, the Sirisena-Ranil combine response was to declare the creation of a ‘National’ Government & to increase the 27 Cabinet MPs to 45, non-Cabinet MPs from 18 to 55!

45 appointed in January 2015 increased to 100 by February 2015! In just a month those that came to power to reduce the government numbers actually increased it.

27 February 2015

Govt issues Treasury Bonds

22 March 2015

President Sirisena declares a National Government as there was no majority to push through reforms. As such 26 SLFP MPs were enticed to form a 77-member government.

23 March 2015

Nimal Siripala confirms he will remain Opposition Leader despite formation of National Unity Government

23 March 2015

UPFA MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara proposes Dinesh Gunawardena as Opposition Leader

24 March 2015

SLFP becoming part of Government

30 March 2015

Motion signed by 58 Opposition MPs supporting nomination of Dinesh Gunawardena as Opposition Leader

23 April 2015

100 days officially over. Parliament is NOT dissolved.

28 April 2015

The 19a Bill was passed in Parliament with a 2/3 majority after 174 amendments. 212 voted in favor, 1 abstained, 10 were absent and Admiral Sarath Weerasekera being the only MP to vote against it. Key features included

  • President cannot dissolve Parliament until 4 ½ years
  • Presidential term shortened to 5 years
  • President could not remove or change the Prime Minister (Article 46(2)
  • Prime Minister was head of the cabinet which the President enjoyed
  • While promising a 30-member government the 19a included clause for a national unity government allowing 45 cabinet ministers & 55 non-cabinet & deputy ministers.
  • Appointment of a National Executive Council
  • Creation of Constitutional Council that was to appoint 10 independent commissions (election, public service, national police, audit service, human rights, investigate allegations of bribery or corruption, finance, delimitation, national procurement, university grants)

19a passed most of the executive powers of the President to the Prime Minister.

26 June 2015

Parliament dissolved & elections scheduled for 17 August 2015. Parliament was to have been dissolved on 23 April 2015 in keeping with the pledge made on the 100 day program launched from 9 January 2015.

17 August 2015

Elections held. UNF (UNP plus an alliance of parties) received 5,098,916 or 45% of the vote (106 seats – last general election UNF had only 60 seats). The UPFA (SLFP plus an alliance of parties received 4,732,664 or 42% of the vote (95 seats). The difference was just 366,352 votes.

Noteworthy is that inspite of obtaining 6,217,162 in January 2015 combining UNP, JVP, TNA, SLMC other minority parties & anti-Rajapakse votes, 7 months later at the August General elections the votes had reduced to 5,098,916. In other words 1,118,246 had got fed up with the Ranil-Sirisena combo in such a short period.

Clearly UNP did not have a majority which was the key reason why Sirisena’s response was to suggest the formation of a national government to avert a crisis.

21st August 2015

Ranil Wickremasinghe appointed Prime Minister. MOU signed between general secretaries of UNP & SLFP for 2 years based on 10 points. Another noteworthy feature was that the MOU prohibited crossovers between the two parties during this period.

31 December 2017

MOU between SLFP & UNP expires

Why is it that a MOU is signed between only the SLFP & UNP? Both parties never contested elections as a single party except as an alliance. The so-called National Government comprises UNP, SLFP dissidents, SLMC, TNA, DNF, TPA and even JVP indirect support. Therefore, why have they not been signatories to such an agreement. What has been ‘national’ about any of the decisions taken most often under secrecy, hidden from the public and much confusion with decisions being taken ad hoc & never in consultation or with the approval of their own cabinet.

Who are signatories of this National Unity Government & how is it different to the MOU signed between SLFP dissidents & UNP? On what basis to all these groups of individuals exist except to enjoy perks of office, waste tax payers money, sell national assets, dole out strategic areas to foreign companies without considering or weighing the consequences?

The 100 day program promised not more than 25 cabinet, that increased to 30 through the 19a & then by floating ‘national’ the yahapalana government as of June 2018 has 42 cabinet ministers, 24 state ministers, 22 deputy ministers totally 86 ministers plus a new segment called supervisory ministers with a plethora of additional perks. So what is the people getting from all this? Where is the good governance that was promised in 2015?

How many detrimental agreements have been signed in secret?

How many illegalities & irregularities have taken place since 2015?

How many times has the State being compromised for personal agendas of those in government?

How have the government actually protected the National Army, the sovereignty of the State & secured the interests of the citizens?

Shenali D Waduge

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Exclusive-19th-Amendment-draft-.pdf

One Response to “What’s ‘National’ in Yahapalana’s National “UNITY” Government?”

  1. Christie Says:

    It is all for India and Indian Colonial Parasites except for Hambamtota Port.

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