Yes, lots of funny things are happening on the Government side, giving opponents of freedom and good governance (Yahapalanaya) so much fodder for their relentless campaigning and unfettered mobilising. Many backers of Yahapalanaya seem to be getting distracted and confused. In a fit of frenzy, the latter are going astray chasing this political personality and that; this political alternative or that.
The straying supporters have forgotten just one thing, namely that the weird events happening are itself a product of the bad system that Yahapalanaya has to uproot. The faults are systematic – individual politicos all being caught up in a horribly dysfunctional system.
The holes are widened and exaggerated by a liberated media not conscious of the gift of freedom they have won. They are exploited by the MPs and backers of the euphemistically-called “Joint Opposition,” as though the latter have been just incapable of the horrendous charges of dishonour, corruption, abuse, and murder relating to the appalling period of their rule.
In a way, it serves this Government right. In a way, it shows up the mighty talent and resourcefulness of the men in opposition. The overall effect on the 62 lakhs of voters who voted for a revolution is disbelief. Maybe Mahinda Rajapaksa’s countless mantras in sovereign gold tied on his fingers, are, at last, working. Maybe the breaking of coconuts by the Opposition is working.
First, we have the President himself appearing to speedily head toward Alzheimer’s disease. At least, that is the impression many of us, once admirers of Maithripala Sirisena, do reluctantly entertain. What the truth here is I cannot be sure, I admit. On the other hand, President Sirisena needs, badly, to squash the rumours and announce that he is firmly with the Unity Government. More important, he has to demonstrate that in every public statement he makes. He has to avoid suggestive comments that keep the waiting rumour-base floating.
“I will use my sword,” says the President, “to cut anyone regardless what side he is!” This kind of expression points the finger not at the controversial characters he imported – some of them scumbags from the Mahinda group – but at the MPs of the United National Party and other constituents who, in the first place, had worked hard to catapult Sirisena to this unexpected this high office. President Sirisena must count his fortune.
Words can be knives
Sirisena has to be careful of his words as words can be provocative knives. They have already provoked UNP firebrand lawyer Sujeewa Serasinghe, who wouldn’t keep his mouth shut. One can understand the President must be having reservations about some of the activities of the UNP. The wise approach to sort out differences would be to chat over them with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. If he believes the PM himself in error, then he can, in private, advice the latter. Or, he could make an inoffensive unilateral move like how he appointed a Commission of Enquiry into the alleged bond scams when the PM was dillydallying and the Opposition roaring.
It all seems that President Sirisena has got new ambitions like wanting to raise his head in his own right and of building an image of his own as a terrific leader. That is also not blameworthy since the two-year period of contract with the UNP is over. On the other hand, that should be done with some finesse, inoffensively and at the right time. It is his right of passage. Not that Sirisena hasn’t problems and contradictions of his own and relating to his own hurriedly-constructed camp. He has holes in his own armour. I would, rather, not spell them out here, since my purpose is to encourage the Yahapalanaya Government to keep going until it achieves the final goal of a new constitution, which alone can help eradicate the old and rotten system and bring in the promised dawn.
The constitution-making process that is now going on is proceeding along sound principles of broad consultation and creativity. It is the President’s fundamental obligation to have that completed and have it win the public referendum. On the other hand, if he permits this state of affairs to continue and switches over to his own go-it-alone ambitions, he will be doing something that will never work for him and for which the people will never forgive him.
To be sure, as I have spelt out in detail in a previous article, this Unity Government headed by Sirisena and Wickremesinghe has achieved a substantial amount of progress. A few days ago, the IMF itself paid tribute to certain positive trends in the economy after its collapse under Mahinda Rajapaksa. Things are happening and the country is raising its head. The economy needs time.
On the other hand, the main fault-line of the Government has been its inability to bring the offenders of the past to book. People are waiting for that. Thus, any attempts by Sirisena to distract himself by a personal adventure at this stage would be suicidal for him and disastrous for all those who joined this Government to install Yahapalanaya. That would be the biggest let-down in Sri Lanka’s political history.
Professor Sarath Wijesooriya’s distraction
Ranil Wickremesinghe has his own lapses. Yet, the hard fact is that he means a lot for the Yahapalanaya movement. He is seen focusing fully on the economic policy, which is his strong area. Wickremesinghe is the hard rock of this Government. Little wonder why the Opposition and their overseas agents are in the habit of targeting Wickremesinghe.
I was surprised to hear professor Sarath Wijesooriya joining a Sirasa program (Sirasa is dedicated to eliminating Wickremesinghe) to criticise the Prime Minister over his behaviour in Parliament the other day as though that was an isolated and unconditioned reaction. This is a good example of distraction from the main goal. Sarath Wijesooriya plays the ball into the hands of the opposing forces of Yahapalanaya.
Every citizen must listen to a wonderful speech by Revd. Dr. Dambara Amila recently where he both warned and advised President Sirisena on similar lines that I have. The link is: https://youtu.be/z9hSfTFQs1U.
President Sirisena must leave aside any private adventures and re-dedicate himself to represent the promised revolution that alone will awaken our nation. If he doesn’t, the struggle will continue into the future probably violent phases – engulfing him, his men, and the country. The simple logical reason is that that Yahapalanaya is a must and the current contradictions must lead to that Hegelian dialectic.
(The writer can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.)