A sure sign of desperation
Posted on June 17th, 2019

Editorial Courtesy The Island

The yahapalana government is like an aircraft whose engines and landing gear have both failed in mid-air. Worse, there is a big fight in the cockpit with the pilots tightening their grip on each other’s jugular. It is on a wing and a prayer. Nothing short of a miracle can save it.

President Maithripala Sirisena is in a dilemma. His luck ran out years ago and nothing seems to go right for him. He wanted to destroy the Rajapaksa family politically. He spared no pains to achieve his goal, but his efforts came a cropper. It is said that if you can’t beat them, you have to join them. So, he joined forces with the Rajapaksas again in a bid to oust Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, but in vain. His relations with the SLPP have since turned sour, and he has fallen between two stools.

At present, with his term coming to an end, President Sirisena apparently does not seem to know what to do. It was only the other day that he indicated to a group of UNP Ministers that he was willing to consider backing the UNP provided that it fielded a young presidential candidate. His party, the SLFP, says he will seek a second term, and the general consensus is that he will. Odds, however, are stacked against him with the UNP and the SLPP planning to field their own presidential candidates. He has been blowing hot and cold about his second term bid. Maybe he thinks it is disadvantageous for him to show his hand early. Prevarication has become second nature to him.

In a dramatic turn of events, we are now told that President Sirisena is planning to hold a referendum in a bid to conduct a general election before the next presidential polls. Details of his modus operandi are not known and some political analysts have pooh-poohed the idea. The President’s Office has chosen to remain tight-lipped about the issue.

Speculation was rife, following President Sirisena’s abortive bid to hold a general election, late last year, that he would consult the people directly at a referendum whether they needed parliamentary polls. He baulked at doing so. Now that he is in a quandary over the upcoming presidential election, which is a worrisome proposition for him, he may have sought to buy time through a referendum, as claimed in some quarters. It is also possible that his camp has floated the referendum story by way of a trial balloon. It is a sure sign of sheer desperation.

Even if the people overwhelmingly endorse at a referendum a move to hold snap parliamentary polls before the next presidential election, such an outcome will be legally binding on no one. The government can carry on regardless in such an eventuality, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. Such an endorsement, however, can be used to cast the government in a bad light as an administration that stays in power against the will of the people. Most of all, a referendum might derail the arrangements the National Election Commission is making for the conduct of the presidential election in December. One cannot think of any other benefits that may accrue from a referendum to the President.

The referendum issue has stood the UNP-led government in good stead in that it has eclipsed the postponement of the Provincial Council elections. The Provincial Council system has failed. It has neither solved the problem it was intended to nor helped develop the rural areas which have been long neglected. It only serves as a refuge for some politicians who fail to enter Parliament and, therefore, it does not make any sense to maintain them at a huge cost to the public. One may not make an issue of the Provincial Councils having no elected representatives, but the problem is that the people have been denied their right to vote. The postponement of elections have on democracy the same devastating effect as terrorist attacks.

6 Responses to “A sure sign of desperation”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Complete chaos.

    However, Sirisena never wanted to wipe out Rajapaksas. He wanted to keep Rajapaksas to balance Ranil. It backfired.

    UNP did the same. UNP let Rajapaksas off the hook to balance Sirisena. That too backfired.

    Now the UNP is using the PSC to destroy Sirisena and I think it will extend to Rajapaksas as well.

  2. Christie Says:

    We are an Indian Colony.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    ONE THING has BECOME CLEAR: The Provincial Council System has FAILED and DOES NOT HELP the COMMON PEOPLE.

    It has ONLY CREATED MORE BUREAUCRACIES the leaders of which are NOT ONLY BURDENING the People and Wasting Public Tax money, but has ALSO CREATED a THREAT to the National Government and the INTEGRITY of the Nation!

    That is what MANY PATRIOTS have SAID ALL ALONG, and DEMANDE#D the REPEALING of the 13th AMENDMENT to the Constitution that CREATED this avenue of National Disintegration!

    ONE National Government is SUFFICIENT for Sri Lanka! GET RID OF THE Provincials Councils and the HORDE OF BUREAUCRATIC PIGS FEEDING at the NATIONAL SLOP TROUGH!


    REPEAL the 13th Amendment; DISSOLVE the Provincial Councils!

  4. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:


  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    Toward Post Terror Stability In Sri Lanka: OpEd


    June 18 (ER) A few weeks ago, a security expert who has studied the so-called Islamic State (IS) rightly said to this author, that “Your country was ‘staged’.” While the IS attempted to take credit for the attacks, they do not appear to have been directed by the group.

    Those who perpetrated the attacks seem to have been influenced by the IS, but the precise manner and extent of it is unclear. Nonetheless, the claims of responsibility by the IS have had a significant impact on national morale in Sri Lanka due to their concurrence with geopolitical concerns the country faces. The Easter Sunday attacks worsen the prevailing crisis of national morale connected in significant ways to Sri Lanka’s position in relation to great power rivalry between the US and China.

    Geopolitical Context

    With the expansion of the geopolitical reach of global liberal hegemony, the Indian Ocean has been a vital highway of the global energy market. The US naval presence in the island of Diego Garcia, located equidistant from several littoral states of the Indian Ocean, has aided US liberal hegemonic foreign policy as a base for small and large missions carried out over the past few decades in the region. Many more future military expeditions may be carried out from this flexible strategic hub, projecting US military power in and beyond the Indian Ocean. However, in February 2019, the International Court of Justice ruled that Diego Garcia, which has insofar been administered by the UK, be transferred to Mauritius, signaling the need for the US to consider exploring alternative locations in the Indian Ocean.

    Meanwhile, located less than 2000 kilometres from Diego Garcia and at the center of Indian Ocean sea lines of communications is Sri Lanka. While Sri Lanka took a non-aligned position in its foreign policy during the Cold War period, today, its foreign policy is multi-aligned, struggling to strike a balance in the context of great power rivalries and internal political disunity. Akin to a tight-rope walker without a pole, any significant measure of stability remains elusive.

    Small nations have always owed their independence either to the international balance of power or rejection of imperial aspirations. For Sri Lanka, crucial is its position in the global balance of power between the US and a rising China, increasingly viewed by the US as a national security threat (as evidenced by recent US trade sanctions). Former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Robert Blake, highlighted this in his recent interview in Colombo, where he said, “First, my advice to America is that it should not ask the countries to choose between China and the U.S. They do not want to choose. They want to have good relations with the US, China, India and others.” Yet this cannot be achieved with US liberal hegemonic aspirations in the Indian Ocean. In this context, any Sri Lankan foreign security agreement with global powers should be vetted by Sri Lanka’s parliamentary body with inputs from national security researchers, for otherwise Sri Lanka might be unprepared for unanticipated national security implications in the future.

    A rigorous process must avoid conjecture and unsubstantiated allegations, instead feeding careful observations and research inputs into the security establishment. The independence of Sri Lanka will be in jeopardy if the US or China take a decisive turn to pull Sri Lanka closer towards their respective orbits, such as in the past when China has sought to gain a decisive and permanent advantage. The recalibration towards achieving a balance by Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe was viewed as a threat by China, as certain policies made the island country vulnerable to US-led liberal hegemony. It is essential, then, for Sri Lanka to stabilise itself on the metaphorical tight-rope, especially given that the US has stated in its most recent National Security Strategy that its number one threat is China and Russia, and number two is the IS.

    The Need to Uplift National Morale

    National morale is the degree of determination with which a country supports the foreign policies of its government in times of peace or war. According to International Relations theorist Hans Morgenthau, it permeates all activities of a country including its military establishment and diplomatic service.

    In 2015, the Sri Lankan government divided its portfolios, leaving the president with national security, and the opposition with external affairs. After the 30/1 UNHRC resolution (on promoting reconciliation, accountability, and human rights in post-war Sri Lanka) and subsequent constitutional crisis, there was deep polarisation within the political establishment which triggered a national security threat which perhaps went unnoticed for some time, but whose instability was felt by the entire country from time to time. More recently, after the Easter Sunday attacks, the president flew to China to meet his Chinese counterpart, President Xi Jinping, while his Foreign Minister travelled to the US to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Both left perhaps to bring in assistance from the two polarised camps.

    This polarisation in the establishment harms the national morale of Sri Lanka. It threatens and limits the country’s power to carry its agenda forward or stabilise internal politics. In this vulnerable environment, the risk of external threats creeping in to take advantage is extremely real.

    Read More:: ER (Source)

  6. Ratanapala Says:


    One way out of this dilemma is for Sri Lanka to strengthen her military way out of proportion to her immediate needs. Sri Lanka must be in a position not only to manage her internal affairs but also threats emanating from foreign-led terrorist threats, internal divisive and separatist threats and also for the provision of security for the South of Sri Lanka sea lanes.

    In recent years Sri Lanka has excelled in the arena of her Security Forces and Intelligence Services in addition to Tea, Rubber and Coconuts!

    This way not only can Sri Lanka meet the justifiable security concerns of India. Other countries interfere only when they find unstable regimes and they are not sure of their stances or to which camp they will fall into due to their weaknesses. Standing firmly in the midst of opposing factions such as the US, India, and China can bring untold benefits to Sri Lanka while providing a trouble-free area of peace to the whole world.

    If necessary Sri Lanka can make a living and an economy based only on providing security in the South of Sri Lanka – Indian Ocean region and perhaps tourism.

    Food for thoughts for those who can dream for the moon, for even if we miss we can still be among the stars!

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