- Sirisena is more vulnerable than Rajapaksa was in 2015
The political impasse in the country has been described in many ways than one. The latest comes from president Maithripala Sirisena himself. Sirisena has said that though people want to relate the political stalemate to a clash between him and ousted premier Ranil Wickremesinghe, it is more to do with a battle between Western influenced thinking and national thinking.
In other words the president implies that the West is influencing the unrest here, like in Syria. What the president says leaves us room to also think that the west doesn’t like him. This is apart from the West’s influence on the island given the geographical position it enjoys in the world map. True, the West has its ways of disrupting nations which do not fit in with their agendas. But what Sirisena fails to fathom is that the educated present generation doesn’t wish to be stifled and demands a proactive, liberal and a just leader. This may be too much of a package to ask for. But that’s exactly what Sirisena promised to offer when he was sworn in as president in 2015. But then, this man has changed!
The present educated generation wants its country to adopt strategies of the West and for politicians to be honest and put country before self. This scenario goes without saying that the present generation would prefer to live in a Western country if the lawmakers of this island don’t move to the next level of thinking; a thinking that would make Sri Lanka an economically sound nation.
If there is one good thing that came off the 2015 Presidential Elections it was the immerging of an era of peaceful protests. Despite sporadic violent incidents in the north, the country was rather peaceful. This thinking is of course applicable only to the period till the Yahapalana Regime was in power. But now the situation is changing and the peace has been disturbed. Very recently we saw some university students being tear gassed and chased away. Are these signs which suggest that anything which has a Rajapaksa flavour is ruthless and dictatorial?
unable to ‘walk the talk’
After being sworn in as prime minister, Rajapaksa took some decisions; which the public appreciated. He slashed petrol prices and gave tax concessions. Rajapaksa’s critics point out that all this is propaganda and was not done with patriotic thoughts in mind. The Sri Lankans labelled as those influenced by the West see these moves by Rajapaksa as suicidal. The country’s economy is in bad shape and needs both reduced spending and means of generating state income through taxes. The rich can be taxed in proportion to how they earn and the less affluent can be taxed without making their purses feel it.
Former ousted prime minister Wickremesinghe talked much about restoring the country’s economy, but his rhetoric was confined to impressive speeches. The liberal-minded leader proved himself to be unable to ‘walk the talk’.
Wickremesinghe loves the West, travels there often and tries to implement their policies here. However, we must not forget that he also has the support of the Western nations. Wickremesinghe has reiterated the need to make Sri Lanka a knowledge-based highly competitive hub with a dynamic socio-market economy. But all these plans have been left with much to be desired.
It’s in this context that this writer wishes to remind that no outside country which is party to the FTA wishes to see constant regime changes and political turmoil in Sri Lanka; for that matter in any country. Thinking further on these lines, the West would prefer to have Wickremesinghe in the hot seat of Sri Lanka politics. This is because Wickremesinghe is termed ‘well-educated’ and welcomes foreign investors where as Sirisena is skeptical of them.
If Wickremesinghe’s idea is to give Sri Lanka prominence and importance in the world scene, Sirisena’s wish is to protect it from ‘Western forces’ which the president warns can be disruptive.
Caught in this quagmire are its country’s citizens who are also divided on the role that Western nations can play in Sri Lanka. The outcry of the Western nations was negative towards Sri Lanka when the president prorogued parliament on November 9; largely because the government could not muster enough support within the parliament. President Sirisena recently said on television that things would not have worsened if the grieved parties had refrained from seeking the assistance of the law and opted instead for a negotiated settlement.
But Sirisena’s newly acquired attitude is somewhat negative and doesn’t allow for the accommodating of the ideas of others. He sees all this mess created as the work of the West and rules out his thinking having had anything to do with it. He doesn’t see that his thinking was unconstitutional when he appointed Rajapaksa as Premier when the constitution states that the person who commands the highest confidence in Parliament must be appointed to this post. The majority of people have called for elections as the remedy to the problem, but Sirisena has ruled out snap elections.
If Wickremesinghe’s idea is to give Sri Lanka prominence and importance in the world scene, Sirisena’s wish is to protect it from ‘Western forces’ which the president warns can be disruptive
We need not be surprised if Sirisena says that the Western world now wants to see the lawmakers impeach him. The majority who oppose Sirisena have minds of their own devoid of the western world and are mulling over the thoughts of impeaching him anyway. Sirisena must be remembered of an old saying- the enemy that destroys comes from within. A good example is Sirisena emerging from within the UPFA ranks and taking on his leader Mahinda Rajapaksa. The latter never expected this to happen at the 2015 presidential elections.
Sirisena is more vulnerable than Rajapaksa was in 2015, as we are about to usher in 2019; an year lined up with at least two major elections. Compared to Rajapaksa, Sirisena is isolated and stands alone at this juncture.The West was annoyed with Rajapaksa because he is a dictator and also unhappy with him due to the manner in which he finished off the war. But still they would accept the fact that Rajapaksa is the more capable leader if a comparison has to be made between the two. As for Sirisena he has shown through his actions that the post of president was a little too hot for him to handle.
Members of the Sri Lanka Police Special Task Force stand guard near the Sri Lankan Supreme Court in Colombo ahead of an expected ruling on whether President Sirisena broke the law by dissolving parliament last month. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI / AFP)