MS wrapped up in contradictions
Posted on December 24th, 2018

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe Courtesy Ceylon Today

Maithripala Sirisena’s speech, made after re-appointing Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister, on 16 December and thereby ending the 51-day impasse, was hailed as great by many of the Rajapaksa supporters. The reason being, the severe dressing down of the newly re-appointed premier received. However, those with a keener hearing were not as impressed. Throughout the speech, MS assumes a portrait of innocence, as he pushed all the ills of the Yahapalana Government onto RW’s lap. In doing so, he even contradicted himself.

MS claimed that during the Yahapalana Government’s tenure, numbers of worthy objectives were achieved. One of these he listed was the re-establishment of democracy through Independent Commissions through the 19th Amendment. Afterwards, however, he spent a considerable time in the over 40 minute tirade to list the issues wrought on by these Commissions.

Constitutional Councils

He noted that from the appointment of the Judges to that of the IGP must now be done through the Constitutional Councils, but whose independence, apolitical and fairness is questionable. MS observed that he had come under attack from the Judiciary for bypassing the senior-most and deserving to Judiciary posts to appoint juniors. However, he explained that all those names he is being accused of having overlooked had been sent to the Councils; for their recommendation. It is therefore the Councils that had rejected the names, to recommend only those who they prefer.

The methods these Councils have adopted to make their recommendations are thus, questionable as to whether those are moderate.

This is a very serious allegation with grave implications, which were subsequently revealed when MS explained his reasons for the 26 October and the decisions he took in the subsequent 51 days. It was very clear, he noted, that a deep political dispute was brewing in the country. Therefore, on the advice of renowned President’s Counsellors in our country, he took the actions he did. He stressed that none of the actions leading to 26 October or afterwards, was taken haphazardly or impulsively by him.

His intention was far from violating the Constitution, but to reaffirm the people’s mandate to govern, he insisted. Even from within the UNP emanated the call for a General Election to send home those who are corrupt in the Yahapalana Government. Given this growing dissent, MS explained that he wanted to give the decision over to the 11 million voters, but the Courts restricted it to the opinion of a mere 122 lawmakers.

Therefore, it is clear that the Constitutional Councils that were created by the 19th Amendment has given rise to a parallel governing body that is not answerable to the people. This has effectively isolated the legislature from the country’s governing machinery. The legislature comes to Parliament with a mandate from the people. However, the members of these Councils are neither responsible nor answerable to the people. Majority of these members are appointed to the Councils by the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition.

Theoretically this seems ideal as institutions, especially the Judiciary and the Police, becomes free from political interference. However, during these last 51 days, as well as in many other instances during the Yahapalana Government, the official Opposition was very much in cahoots with the government. Both worked towards a neo-liberal, separatist agenda.

Opposition’s role

TNA as the official Opposition of the Yahapalana Government must be the only Opposition in the world that has worked so hard to reinstate an ousted government. Earlier, TNA is on record beseeching Narendra Modi to protect the Yahapalana Government. If one thought this as a very strange request from the Opposition, the past 51 days would have made clear that the Yahapalana Government was without a recognised Opposition, which is in contravention of democracy that demands both a government and an equally strong Opposition.

Without a recognized true Opposition, the checks and balances that would be ensured by the Opposition had been perverted. It is this perversion that is reflected in the Constitutional Councils today. Instead of a healthy balance representing the Government and its Opposition, what we have today is obviously one viewpoint only, which the people are rejecting.

Even though the lawmakers are being rejected by the people, their ideologists are holding the control panel that determines who gets appointed, promoted or transferred within the government machinery. In short, only those holding to a certain ideology or those seen to be sympathetic to that ideology would be allowed to administer the country.

This situation is worse than an invasion, for there is no perceptible enemy to discern and fight against – only a set of key government officials who seem to be driven by an agenda of their own.

MS cannot, absolve himself from this dangerous situation that has befallen our country. When the 19th Amendment was brought into Parliament, many Constitutional experts warned against it. They foretold the very calamities that we are experiencing today. Yet on the day this Amendment was to be taken for a vote in Parliament, MS himself came to the Parliamentary complex and personally impressed upon the members of the SLFP, that is being headed by him, to vote for it. It was on his insistence that the Amendment was passed with only Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera representing Ampara voting against it.

After the 2015 General Elections, it was MS who appointed the TNA as the Opposition despite that alliance only representing 16 seats from just two sparsely populated provinces. He categorically refused to acknowledge the then Joint Opposition that had about 55 seats, representing eight out of the nine provinces, despite their written request. Furthermore, the 55 members who wished to be recognised as a separate group were not even honoured with adequate time to speak in Parliament, which seriously violated the rights of their voters. Very strangely, not a single advocator who took cudgels for democracy in the past 70 days perceived anything amiss in this arrangement.

MS contradicts himself when he claimed that the reason for the Rajapaksa administration to fall unprecedentedly was because of the serious lapses and corruption of that government. He said that according to financial experts the Central Bank Bond scams were taking place since around 2007-8 and the cost to the country is over 1,000 billion (presumably in Rupees).
These were allegations initiated by RW in the aftermath of the 2015 Bond scam. Ajith Cabraal as the Central Bank Governor during the Rajapaksa administration has openly challenged these allegations. Quite unlike Arjuna Mahendran, who MS claimed was appointed on RW’s insistence Cabraal has shown his willingness to corporate with any investigation. Mahendran on the other hand is nowhere to be found. By reiterating the charges nevertheless, MS contradicts himself when he reappoints MR on 26 October. It makes no sense to yo-yo the administration between two sets of thieves.

MS’s speech cannot be applauded, just because RW got a well deserved ticking off, for he carefully avoids assuming any responsibility for the Yahapalana mishaps. He blamed RW for agreeing to the international binding to hurl our war heroes before war crime tribunals when the terrorists who committed grave atrocities are living freely in those very countries. While RW is guilty as charged, but when questioning what actions did MS take to undo it and the answer them, it is, nothing. Likewise, in all other instances RW was only able to act as he did was because MS allowed him. MS’s unacceptable excuse is he allowed it as a mark of gratitude.

In this last lapse of his tenure, MS must understand that the executive powers he holds cannot be equated to a pair of boxer shorts to be lent as a mark of gratitude. He is only the executor of the people’s executive powers and must thus, guard it due sanctity. He must express any personal gratitude in his own personal capacity.

3 Responses to “MS wrapped up in contradictions”

  1. Vaisrawana Says:

    Another very good article from Shivanthi Ranasinghe. It contains a sensible interpretation of prez Maithripala Sirisena’s angry, but ultimately ineffectual tirade against Ranil. It’s a pity that even the veteran politicians of the JO seem to have failed to understand the points that Shivanthi makes here about certain explicit statements MS makes in the course of that outburst, or have chosen to ignore them for some inexplicable reason of their own. Actually, by November 2014 (when MS infamously decamped after the famous hoppers meal at Mahinda Rajapaksa’s residence), the ordinary people of the country had started feeling the pinch due to the rising cost of living along with the massive development programmes which were being launched incurring equally massive foreign loans (something not unnatural). Contact with money tends most people towards corruption as Lakshman Kadirgamar used to say. No need to talk about its effect on the already corrupt. Swarms of crooks and sycophants surrounding MR had a field day while he himself had his nose to the grindstone. But MR’s popularity was still high among the masses. Unfortunately, he soft pedaled corruption. That was humaneness misdirected, on his part.

    As elsewhere in the world, US agents make corruption charges, abuse of power allegations, human rights violation claims, etc., usually unfounded, their main weapon against popular patriotic leaders of countries that they want to control, when those leaders refuse to toe their line. From 2010 at least, they were determined to destroy what MR had achieved for the country through his excellent leadership and MR himself. Americans always wanted to bring Ranil to power. Now they have done it. It is difficult to imagine that they will easily give up ultimate goal. The people were disillusioned with the Ranil-led Yahapalanaya within three months after the January 2015 (counter) revolution that they engineered. (The real revolution was achieved in May 2009 with the defeat of Tamil separatist terrorism.) MS thwarted the anti-Yahapalana surge of public opinion among the populace at the August 2015 general election by his anti-MR statements a day before polling was due. I personally feel that MS has not changed his anti-MR bias, though he is making use of him now as he did in the past for his own survival and for the promotion of the antinational Yahapalana agenda. In 2014-15, he was not driven by patriotism to challenge MR, but by vengeful feelings against him for not making him PM. With MS’s help the enemies of the country are winning. He is deliberately withering the Pohottuwa.

    Meanwhile MR is still talking about such trivial matters as the high cost of living which the stupidest voter can understand, while keeping silent about the more vital issues like undermining national security, outsourcing the economy, disenfranchising 75% of the population by denying them the opportunity to show their dissent by voting at elections, breaking the country up into nine semi-independent states, etc. But there is no other national leader to defend the country at this juncture than MR. True, someone else will emerge in the future. But the only one who can at least try to ensure that the country remain intact until that happens is MR. He must understand that, instead of fulfilling that responsibility, he has involuntarily become the defender of his betrayer MS. It is high time that he threw MS off his back, relieve him of the leadership of the SLFP rump that he controls at present, and bring it under a powerful alliance led by the Pohottuwa (SLPP). Probably, MR will have to battle it out democratically from outside of parliament as emerging signs indicate.

  2. aloy Says:

    I would like to put the following question to the prez:

    1) Is he not the commander of the try forces.

    2) When is he going to put out and publish the full list of MPs who have benefited from the bond scam and if there is delay what are the reasons.

    3) Is there a separation of powers as per constitution between legislature, Judiciary and executive. If so what he is going to do when one arm overrules the other.

    4) If law enforcement agents have tried to assassinate him why not he declare emergency and use the try forces to get those involved dealt with, without going through constitutional council etc. which have become stumbling blocks as national security depend on how secure prez is.

    Item 2 is very important as SC is telling him that he should work according to what parliament says If parliament is corrupt how can the citizens depend on them to do the correct thing?. The SC judges should be made aware about the full content and at least one of the judges who ruled against him knows this. If so how ridiculous is this unanimous judgement?. Why is prez hiding it for so long?.

  3. Charles Says:

    Shivanthi, I agree with what you write. I am one of those who applauded MS for his pep talk after swearing in Ranil and his Ministers. I had in fact written not one but several articles against Sirisena’s betrayel of the country, the people and the SLFP.

    He was an angry man then having let down by MR keeping an apparently ill old SLFP senior as the PM when he with all the necessary qualifications was denied his place. In anger he joined the man-Ranil Wickramasinghe whose “dirty political past “ he new does not qualify him to be the PM . He nevertheless trusted him and then he knew that Ranil was profiting from the situation to go back to his “dirty political past”.

    After three years he thought he had had enough and thought things should change he brought about that change on the 26th October,2018. He was to be blamed for the Yahapalanaya’s wrong doings and he was a contradiction from the beginning. But yet the change even after three and a half years is worthy of being appreciated. It is I think in the Brhamajaala Sutta that the Buddha speaks of a man born blind who was walking dragging his foot. He thought that every one must be walking like him . One day if he were to get back his sight he will know that it was only he who is walking dragging his foot. From that day he will try to walk correctly like others. So what is wrong in a man who had been doing wrong things realising that he was wrong and begins to correct himself and do the correct thing knowing that he had been doing wrong in the past ?

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