From a realpolitik perspective although the defeat of the no confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is not electorally significant, it has the potential to turn things around for the beleaguered UNP, its leader and the country if there is genuine course correction to implement what was promised in the run-up to the 8 January 2015 presidential election.
- RW who has the capacity to stand tall in a largely sea of mediocrity and corruption in the present day politics
- It was mainly the RW led UNP together with Maithripala Sirisena who were the beacon of hope that led to the 8 January 2015
- The main purpose of the ‘Politburo’ is to consolidate RW’s position by setting up a mega conflict between Sajith Premadasa and Navin Dissanayake
Whether due to strategy unleashed by the Mahinda Rajapaksa led Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) or fortuitously, the upshot is that RW remaining as PM and UNP leader prima facie further weakens the UNP vote base and strengthens the electoral prospects of MR. This is particularly so if as is likely it is business as usual with mere cosmetic changes in the UNP.
It is nothing short of tragic that RW who has the capacity to stand tall in a largely sea of mediocrity and corruption in the present day politics of Sri Lanka has been a major disappointment by his several acts of omission and commission which has now projected him as presiding over an inept and corrupt Yahapalana government these past three years. It was mainly the RW led UNP together with Maithripala Sirisena who were the beacon of hope that led to the 8 January 2015 watershed event for course correction after the traumatic Rajapaksa led years.
‘Politburo’ a farce?
The UNP led by RW without real reforms to re-capture its once formidable vote base will not have a snowball’s chance in hell to succeed in an electoral contest with a MR led formation if it is business as usual.
In another act of apparent deceit RW has engineered another committee – a ‘Politburo’ more commonly found in communist parties to bring about reforms. For any ‘reforms’ to be successful it is crucial to inter alia give its grassroots members a real say in decision making on key issues concerning the party. This does not appear to be even on the radar! A template with suitable modifications could be based on the UK Conservative Party. By the looks of it the ‘Politburo’ is another farce with no legal underpinning in the context of a ‘working committee’ largely under RW’s influence.
It appears that the main purpose of the ‘Politburo’ is to consolidate RW’s position by setting up a mega conflict between Sajith Premadasa and Navin Dissanayake which will most likely and tragically deliver the coup de grace to the UNP.
Guts and Wisdom
Compared to the material now available in the UNP, Ranil is still its best bet if only he has the guts and wisdom to undertake within a specific time frame inter alia the following:
1)F orthwith come clean on those really responsible for and who facilitated the egregious bond scam and make those concerned truly accountable in the public domain.
2)Credibly quantify the real losses due to the bond scam and ensure the monies are paid to the consolidated fund.
3) Forthwith initiate credible time bound due process for alleged corruption and abuse of power widely perceived to have been perpetrated under the Rajapaksa and Yahapalanaya administrations. Merely cherry-picking on the Rajapaksa years will be counterproductive. It is crucial for the democratic governance of Sri Lanka to have a strong, principled and accountable UNP and SLFP/SLPP.
4) Forthwith initiate time bound constitutional measures to ensure equality to all citizens devoid of any implicit or explicit discrimination.
5)Zero tolerance of hate speech by all entities including individuals and media particularly on ethnic, religious, language grounds and hold those concerned guilty after due process liable for jail terms and fines.
6) Initiate time bound Constitutional Reforms for good governance in a transparent manner subject to public consultation. A long overdue reform is for a ‘Constitutional Council’ driven solely by non-political members appointed through a transparent process.
7) Not to ever again carry out grossly inappropriate measures such as removing the subjects of Central Bank and Securities and Exchange Commission from the purview of the Finance ministry and lumping Higher Education and Highways in one ministry.
8) Meritocracy to be the only benchmark for public office and doing away with multiple responsibilities for any individual. An example is the farce of one individual currently holding the positions of (i) Senior Adviser to the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media (ii) Chairman, Insurance Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (iii) Board Director, SriLankan Airlines (iv) Secretary General of the Secretariat for Coordinating Reconciliation Mechanisms (SCRM). Until recently he was Chairman of the beleaguered EAP Group of Companies.
Alleged Rajapaksa corruption
The Yahapalana government has only itself to blame for keeping the door wide open to give the Rajapaksas another shot at leading this country prior to any credible investigation of allegations of egregious corruption, violence and abuse of power hurled in the run-up to the January and August 2015 Presidential and General Elections respectively.
A sampling of this is the strident press conference of 17 December 2014 where influential ministers close to PM Wickremesinghe - Dr. Harsha de Silva and Eran Wickramaratne with a slew of files in tow made reference inter alia to casino, drug, ethanol mafias and money laundering in locations such as St. Kitts & Nevis Isles, Seychelles and Dubai. After assuming office all concerned are maintaining radio silence.
Here is the link to the December 17, 2014 press conference (watch from 10:41 onwards)
UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has over the years reneged with impunity on many promises for the democratic governance of the United National Party. It will be detrimental for the governance of the country if there is a repetition. As stated earlier a strong, principled and accountable UNP and SLFP/SLPP are crucial for the country.
To demonstrate his bona fide will the PM forthwith:
1) Publicly apologize to the 6.2 million voters who were duped by reneging on the promises given in the run-up to the 8 January 2015 presidential elections?
2) Initiate transparent measures to bring Arjuna Mahendran to Sri Lanka to face due process for his role in the Bond Scam which will include communicating with Singapore PM Lee Hsien Loong? RW has a moral obligation to do so since he has consistently defended him no matter what at every turn.
3) Rid from the party and government persons widely considered to be allegedly inept and tainted with corruption – particularly those in the Royal brigade and other cronies? This must include those widely believed to be tainted with the egregious bond scam such as the ‘footnote gang’.