Reason and Unreason in Sri Lankan Politics
Posted on September 1st, 2015

Prof Siri Hettige Courtesy The Daily Mirror

Addressing a major national public policy forum in Colombo prior to the parliamentary elections, President Maithripala Sirisena emphasized the need for formulating and implementing rational, evidence-based national policies in all sectors in order to address critical issues in the country. He went even further and requested the experts, intellectuals and other knowledgeable persons in the country gathered at the forum to make concrete proposals to facilitate the formation of the Cabinet of Ministers on a scientific basis. He made these pronouncements in front of a number of political leaders representing diverse political parties in the country who were present at the event. On the other hand, what is happening in the country today with respect to the formation of the new government does not seem to have little to do with the above pronouncements.

The recently-concluded parliamentary elections were  keenly contested by two political alliances and several smaller parties and groups. The UNP-led alliance secured 106 seats while the SLFP-led alliance won 96 seats. Though the former does not have an absolute majority, it has the right to form the new government, unless the UPFA can demonstrate that it could put together at least a simple  majority with the help of smaller parties. The two alliances had their own election manifestos or policy documents so the voters had the opportunity to vote for the party that they felt had put forward better policies. So, the party that has secured more parliamentary seats has a right to form a government and obligation to implement the policies that they presented before the voting public. The policies that the main Opposition  alliance presented to the public have been rejected by a majority of voters. Yet, the present efforts on the part of the President and others are aimed at forming a national government that brings together the two largest parties, though it is clear that a large section of the UPFA is bound to remain outside the government. and the latter is likely to become the main Opposition in Parliament. Being the main Opposition, what is left of the UPFA  is likely to campaign for its own policies in opposition to those of the government. in other words, there is not going to be a national unity government that can pursue a set of national policies and goals without facing a major challenge from the Opposition.

The argument in favour of a national government is based on the fact that the President’s election manifesto had a proposal to form  a national government after the parliamentary elections. Yet, the recently-concluded polls were not contested on a common manifesto that promised to form a national government.

Having contested the elections on two very different election manifestos, the UNP-led alliance and the SLFP cannot now claim that they are going to pursue a common agenda. Since the constituent parties of the new government are going to remain distinct and are more than likely to perceive each other as political rivals, it would be natural for them to consolidate their power bases using the resources and institutions that come under their purview. This would make the pursuit of broader objectives of a national government  a virtual impossibility. Ministers are more than likely to politicize the institutions coming under their control and divert resources to their own supporters and  areas. This would naturally undermine good governance and prevent the formulation and implementation of rational public policies. Though Ministries should not function in isolation but collaborate with those that have overlapping functions and responsibilities, competing ministers are highly unlikely to do so. This would make the achievement of national goals a near impossibility.

So, even short-term objectives of a so-called national government are highly unlikely to be achieved, let alone  longer-term national goals. Working within a coalition government comprising political parties that do not share a common vision or a set of uniform policies, rival political factions are likely to work at cross- purposes in dealing with critical national issues. Yet given the seriousness of such issues, the country can ill-afford to leave them aside, to be addressed by a future government. What is required today is a government that can come up with a set of clear national policies and mobilize human and financial resources to implement them. While the coalition government that is being considered is bound to lack any unity of purpose or direction, we will have to brace for a long period of political instability and its consequences. This is not what the people who voted for a radical departure from the governance style we had in this country until recently demand from the elected leaders, in particular, the President and the PM. As it is well known, all is not well with the country’s economy, the education system, the health sector, inter-community relations, income distribution, public transport, etc. There are pressing issues in all these areas and the need of the hour is to come up with plans and strategies to deal with them. A government of convenience formed entirely on the basis of political considerations,  with scant attention being paid to national priorities of sustainable development, national unity and quality of life of the masses can make the situation worse. Given the balance of power in the country today, a coalition government is inevitable. But, the coalition should be formed by people who subscribe to  a set of national objectives  and wish to pursue a shared vision for the country, not by a motley collection of individuals who pursue their own personal political agendas. The latter is not what the hapless masses deserve at a time of great uncertainty and socioeconomic trouble. The change of regime at the beginning of the year instilled in the minds of many a sense of hope. It is the responsibility of enlightened political leaders to ensure that such hopes are not dashed  pushing them into the hands of anarchic forces in different parts of the country.

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7 Responses to “Reason and Unreason in Sri Lankan Politics”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Run-nil was hurt when Udaya Gammapilla was taking about defeating the LTTE!!

    Run-nil is still a tiger.

  2. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    LORENZO !!! Ranil is between the devil and the deep blue sea.




  3. Christie Says:

    මේ චන්දෙත් ජනවාරි චන්දෙත් එකම විදියට තමයි චන්දෙ දීල තියෙන්නෙ. හැබැයි එකකින් එකෙක් තෝරන්නයි අනිකෙන් දෙසිය විසි පහක්. ඒක ඔබ හොඳින්ම දන්නවා. ඉන්දියානු අදිරදයින්ට ඕන උනේ සින්හලයින්ට තුනෙන් දෙක නැතිකරන්න විතරයි. ඔබ දන්නවාද ජනවාරි ඉන්දියානු සෙල්ලම ගැන ඔබ පිටරටක කතාකල රැස්වීම ඉන්දියානු අදිරද පරපෝසිතියකු විසින් පිලිවෙල කලබව?

    Voting in this election and January election are similar. January one selected one and this one two hundred and twenty five. You know this very well. Aim of the Indian Empire was to deny the Sinhalese two third majority. You talked about the January Indian game when overseas. Are you aware the meeting was organized by a rich Indian colonial parasite.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    Facebook LORENZO the TREACHEROUS HYPOCRITE screams that 13A should be REPEALED while he UNDERMINED and HELPED to OUST the one man ….. President Mahinda Rajapaksa …. who led the Patriotic Forces that could DO IT!


    LORENZO KNOWS VERY WELL that REPEALING the 13A is now BEYOND REACH, now that the Yamapalanaya GoSL led by the man Somarama Sirisena that he helped to ride into the Presidency!

    So, LORENZO WRAPS himself in the Lion Flag YELLING “REPEAL the 13th Amendment” and “I am the ONLY ONE who DEMANDS it”, knowing VERY WELL WHAT the rest of us PATRIOTS have long ago realized: that although we Patriots too want the 13A to be REPEALED, that is achievable only with a PATRIOTIC PRESIDENT and a PATRIOTIC POLITICAL PARTY in POWER, which this TREACHEROUS EELAMIST Facebook Lorenzo HELPED TO OUST in his QUEST for his EELAM!

    WHO AMONG the Patriots STILL FAILS TO REALIZE this MACHIAVELLIAN STRATEGY of this REPROBATE Facebook LORENZO desperately seeking to stitch together his tattered “Patriotic” sheepskin under which he hopes to engage in more MISCHIEF? Hello …. Any Gullible Lorenzo Fans STILL out there among the Patriots?? Helloooo …….??

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    Ado Facebook LORENZO ….. Forget about pointing fingers at Ruinous Ranil ….. your dear pal …. and FOCUS on YOURSELF …. you ARE and ALWAYS HAVE BEEN the real TIGER!!!


  6. Ananda-USA Says:

    And HERE is the NEXT STEP by the INCURABLY TREASONOUS Tiger Nominated Agents of the TNA towards EELAM!

    The Yamapalanaya Government’s days are NUMBERED when this REALIZATION HITS the MAJORITY COMMUNITY of Sri Lanka flat in the FACE!

    TRAITORS Galore in the UNPatriotic Party can now RUN like HELL, but there is NOWHERE to HIDE in Sri Lanka!

    THIS is the BEGINNING of the END for them!!

    ALL the Sinhala Buddhist MODAYAS who VOTED for the Yamapalanaya can NOW BEAT their CHESTS, CRY themselves HOARSE and HEAD BACK to President Mahinda Rajapaksa … RIGHT NOW!

    Sri Lanka’s Northern Provincial Council unanimously calls for an international tribunal

    Sept 01, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Tamil-controlled Northern Provincial Council (NPC) today unanimously called for an international probe into the alleged war crimes committed towards the end of the war with the LTTE.

    The Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council C.V. Wigneswaran on Tuesday passed a resolution rejecting the domestic process being proposed by the United States and other members of the international community.

    While acknowledging the “long standing efforts” of the United States and India along with the international community in securing justice, the NPC dismissed a domestic mechanism backed by the U.S. as Sri Lanka has had a “long and blighted history of human rights violations’ which according to the NPC amounts to genocide.

    In this context, the NPC, which is controlled by the main Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA), said in its resolution that the trial of the alleged perpetrators should not take place through any mechanism instituted by the Sri Lankan Government as a State also incurs responsibility for the acts of its agents.

    “Under these circumstances, the trial of the perpetrators of international crimes by a domestic mechanism would be a travesty of justice as it would amount to the potentially guilty Government trying its own agents, thereby violating the prohibition in the maxim nemo iudex in sua causa,” the resolution said.

    The NPC resolution alleged that there is well-recorded prejudice among members of the Judiciary against the minorities and emphasized that Sri Lanka’s descent into grave human, political and social rights’ violations was precipitated and reinforced by the failure of key pillars of State.

    “The prolonged decline in the political culture and political will of the State and the failure of key institutions of Justice, law and order, i.e. Judiciary, police and the armed forces, ensured that impunity became the new norm in Sri Lanka. The Tamil community bore the full brunt of this new norm at all levels of its existence,” it said.

    “For these reasons, the Council calls upon the International community to set up an international tribunal to try those alleged to have committed international crimes against the Tamil People in Sri Lanka,” the NPC said.

    “We urge the new leaders of the Sri Lankan government to be courageous enough to work with the International community to set up a credible international mechanism which will deliver justice and put this nation on a path of meaningful reconciliation.”

    The United States last week confirmed that it will sponsor a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva later this month supporting the Sri Lankan government to conduct its own domestic probe into the alleged war crimes committed during the war with the LTTE.

    The Tamil party has earlier rejected a domestic probe into the alleged war crimes saying that they have no faith in government mechanisms despite assurances given by the government that the domestic probe will meet international standards.

    The Northern Provincial Council said it awaits the report of the OISL of the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights to be released this month which is due to identify the nature of the crimes committed and possibly, the alleged perpetrators.


    Professor SIRI, there is no reason and unreason in this government. It is set up to destroy the country. OBAMA openly stated that if Sri Lanka is allowed to progress and advance the infrastructure, then in USA there will be massive Blue collar (Skilled middle income managers) job losses. TAMILS FOR OBAMA funded Srisena government. Used HORA as a slogan. MR’s secretariat was bugged and Viridu Kavi and Cartoons were used where villages could not understand the election, so they did not go to vote. Now the Muslim ambassador ATUL KETCHUP, (yes, that is his family name), He will help to increase the Muslim population so that it will be 40% in year 2020. OBAMA openly said that SL must never be allowed to elect a president by the people.

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