Winds of change that rattled Yahapalana structure

21 February 2018 12:31 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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 Field Marshal to Operate Outside Norms as Minister-Law & Order
 -Ven. Dambara Amila of Purawesi Balaya   

“To put on the garment of legitimacy is the first aim of every coup.”   
-Barbara Tuchman

These claims remind us of Minister Felix Dais Bandaranaike’s 1962 idea of ‘a bit of totalitarianism’ [a system of Government that is centralised and dictatorial and requires complete subservience to the state], which motivated a powerful section of Military and Police officers to stage the aborted Coup de’ t’at. 

The unexpected outcome of LG results can be attributed to a series of issues and features, starting with rice, coconuts and other essentials, and the Bond Scam, the non-prosecution of the perpetrators of the previous regime among them. Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe’s pathetic endeavour to deny the reality of any unlawful activity, his reluctance to remove Ravi Karunanayake from the assistant leadership after the Penthouse matter came to light and his uncompromising protection of friend Arjuna Mahendran had apalled and separated the middle and upper-middle classes and many other sections of the Party’s solid voter base.   

A large majority voted for ‘Hansaya’ on January 8, 2015 because they trusted the assurance of a better future. Disappointed by the coalition’s inclination to go back on its promises, a good portion of the above and floating voters turned to the previous ruler.   

Though he failed, Ranil Wickremesinghe attempted to sweep the Central Bank swindle under the carpet. That is another difference. Corruption is continuing. It cannot be concealed. Sirisena and Wickremesinghe have betrayed the trust of the 6.2 million voters.   

The SLFP-UNP administration has fallen into a crisis from which it will never recover. Both Sirisena and Wickremesinghe are losers. Pressure is on the President to restore political unity between his party and the SLPP and make Mahinda Rajapaksa the PM. However, Rajapaksa has rejected to accept positions without a mandate from the people. Wickremesinghe has found himself in extreme difficulty; they say an appropriate reprisal for saving the former ruler from justice; a position unacceptable to many who argue, if that is so then why should people vote for his party?   

For three years, they disregarded the economic dilemma of a large faction of the people. If they had acted fast and resolutely to avert the escalation of rice and coconut prices and the resultant high cost-of-living, the disillusioned and estranged January 8 voter and the suburban middle classes wouldn’t have turned to Rajapaksas.   

The SLFP-UNP administration has fallen into a crisis from which it will never recover. Both Maithri and Ranil are losers. Pressure is on the President to restore political unity between his party and the SLPP and make Mahinda PM

Sarath Fonseka
Amidst all these drama, a couple of days ago, the ‘powerful’ Purawesi Balaya held a press briefing at the Centre for Policy Alternatives’ Maradana office. As reported in the media, they came out with an inimitable proposal to persuade the Government to bring the law enforcement authorities like Police, CID, FCID and similar institutions under Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka.   

Ven. Dambara Amila thera had further alleged that the MR clan were seeking to cause pandemonium and disorder following the victory and that the monk had advocated operations outside common laws of the land. The senior University lecturer had emphasized the need to place the ‘military on alert’. Specifying an operational command term of six months for Sarath Fonseka to put things in order, he said the disappointment on the part of the yahapalana administration to take the Rajapaksas before the judiciary over the past three years has contributed too for the defeat at local polls on February 10. 
Ven. Amila Thera also had called for a Cabinet reshuffle in appointing Fonseka, the war winning Field Marshal as Minister to facilitate high profile investigations against the Rajapaksa regime which are long delayed. Ven. Amila had said that the best person to lead the anti-crime drive is FM Fonseka. Sagala Ratnayake, the Ranil loyalist Law and Order Minister, had already declared his intention to give up his portfolio. The news item says the thera was flanked by Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Executive Director of Centre for Policy Alternatives, Saman Ratnapriya, Nimalka Fernando, and Chameera Perera.   

The most notable part of the Thera’s urge to the Yahapalana Government was to allow the Police to operate ‘outside democratic or standard pattern of behaviour that is 
considered normal’.

New system
Has the new system painted a vague picture in respect of the number of local bodies each party has won?Not obtaining an absolute majority in many councils, the respective parties are compelled to seek the support of others—even the Chairman of the Elections Commission Mahinda Deshapriya had suggested changing of the new electoral system by enacting new legislation to review the electoral system that was practiced for the first time at the February 10 elections. Such a review is important when one compares especially the number of votes each party had secured with the number of councils they are going to rule.   

In spite of the Elections Chief claiming that the new arrangement represents the Proportional Representation to the letter, the system has highlighted a distorted image in respect of the number of councils each party has won.   

The silliest of the arguments put forward by some Government ministers and ‘analysts’ is that the ‘people who had been disturbed by the lack of legal action against the Rajapaksas had voted for the very party led by them’.   

The print and electronic media are flooded with the customary analyses, explanations and optimistic claims. This time there is intense expectations and guesswork on how things work out – daring changes, alliances, crossovers, resignations, disloyalty, bribes, ‘rebellions’ .. Although only a Local Government Election, much has been spoken about the results, more than a General Election.   

The polls undoubtedly was seen in southern Sri Lanka as a referendum on the performance of the National Government; in fact, the SLPP advocated the electorate to treat it as one.   

The billions hoarded in foreign banks, seven-star hotels, gold in swimming pools, Lamborginis, pilfered state wealth they spoke of the ‘defeated autocratic regime of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’ during the run-up to January 8 silent revolution remained unresolved.   

In the absence of a national debate on the ancestry of the national ethnic conflict and how it could be resolved, the Southern voter was forced to trust in SLPP propaganda that the whole military would be accused by foreign judges appointed by western powers on war crimes. It also attributed in the party’s landslide at the LG Elections.   

The Northern election results, though it did not suffer a rout like what the Government experienced in the South, were a setback to the TNA, denting its stature and popularity   

May be Voters did not expect the TNA to perform miracles, but tell them the truth; instead they point to the dawn of reconciliation around the corner, where the political reality in their daily lives anticipated another truth.   

For the pundits, who are ignorant of reality and the democratic frame-work under which elections are held, here are some of the percentages of votes cast for and against winning members at a previous elections.   
 
Lies, damn lies and Statistics?

Six Winners at 1960 March Parliamentary Election

1. Kelaniya -J.R. Jayawardane 10,827 – out of 28,963 - 37% for - 63% against   
2. Bulathsinghala - Bibile Fonseka 5,728 - out of 19,426 – 29% for - 71% against   
3. Nuwara Eliya -T. William Fernando 2,397-- out of 9254 - 25% for - 75% against   
4. Bentara-Elpitiya- R.G. Samaranayake 7,769 - out of 32,336-- 24% for - 76% against   
5. Akurana -D.H. Jayawickrema 15,856 -- out of 71,014— 21% for - 79% against   
6. Baddegama- Neil de Alwis 4,871 -- out of 24,925-- 19 % for - 81% against   

All six were elected to represent their respective constituencies irrespective of the percentage of votes they recieved.   

President Sirisena’s irritating coalition had faced a major in-house calamity following the embarrassing and surprise rout at elections. Sirisena is confused of the sudden alarming experience and is not sure what he should do. He did not think he would lose so badly.   

Results considerably weakened Sirisena and made him an elected official continuing to hold high office during the period between the election and the inauguration of a successor should he fail to realize the writing on the wall, but decides to carry on for the rest of his five-year term that ends by November 2019. The seven-week campaign was the most nonviolent in decades and an exceptional aspect was the neutrality and fairness of the police and the stringent imposition of election laws. 

(K K S PERERA -kksperera1@gmail.com)

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