- This “Yahapalana Government” is anything, but what it claims it to be
- That also makes the MoU singed between the SLFP and the UNP politically and morally wrong
- It’s this betrayal of the voters by the leaders in Government that has led to the ever-growing contradictions
- Local Government Elections should have been held for all 335 local Government bodies before October 2015
- These moral and political debasing of people’s democratic rights so that the two leaders can manipulate power has pushed the Government from one crisis to another
Here is a Government that is desperately trying to govern a small country, comprising 21 million people. For the record, the number of people in this island is even smaller than the Haryana State in India which has a population of 23 million. Politicians wishing to be in the Government despite not having a comprehensive plan for development is a matter of concern. People have voiced the need for reforms and reconciliation.
This Unity Government also termed “yahapalana Government” (good governance) is anything, but what they claim it to be.
Cohabitation began with the Presidential Polls in 2015 between the Maithri clan in the SLFP and the UNP. This clan had no mandate to be in a UNP Government where the Premier was appointed in a cabinet where there are only 47 MPs. The 2015 Parliamentary Elections were contested by the SLFP in alliance with other smaller parties that formed the UPFA. This group took on the UNP led by Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe. President Sirisena had no role to play in the UPFA campaign other than buckle it up. The UPFA campaign was led by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Every single vote he received at this election was a vote against the UNP. And every vote that the UPFA received defied the presence of President Sirisena. However it was clear that even if the UPFA gained a majority, the UPFA campaign leader Rajapaksa won’t be appointed as Prime Minister.
Rajapaksa accumulated 4.7 million votes contesting against the UNP during which election the UPFA won 95 seats in parliament. Thus every MP elected to parliament under the UPFA ticket was elected by voters who in fact were saying no to the UNP. That vote therefore doesn’t mandate any SLFP MP to be part of this Government which is headed by the UNP. To be part of a UNP administered Government and enjoy ministerial portfolios under Premier Wickremesinghe is a total betrayal of the people who voted. That also makes the MoU singed between the SLFP and the UNP to work together in the Government, politically and morally wrong. By doing so they have gone against the will of the voters.
It’s this betrayal of the voters by the leaders in government that has led to the ever-growing contradictions. The manner in which the country is governed is opening the doors to conflicts. This is happening under an unholy and unprincipled Government; whatever name one may call it. Held together by two political bigwigs- purely to enjoy power- this Government has no direction, no solid programme and no accepted leader who can take a decision ensure collective participation. The Government thus hasn’t only been plagued by personality clashes due to personal agendas, but is experiencing a crisis where its leaders and followers are unable to face the public. This is why the Government is reluctant to conduct elections.
Thus the group led by UNP, enjoying the support of the JVP, which brought in a common candidate at the last Presidential Elections, promising the ousting of Rajapaksa and instilling democracy, remains undemocratic.
All those urban middle class pundits, who contributed to this political pickle of a Government, have forgotten that they have denied the people of the basic democratic right to have their own elected Local Government Bodies, Provincial Councils, Urban and Municipal Councils for local administration and rule.
Local Government Elections should have been held for all 335 local government bodies before October 2015. When the Rajapaksa regime was ousted in January 2015, the Delimitation Commission had come up with their report in August 2014. This was for re-demarcation of local government authorities and their electoral wards. There were objections against some re-demarcations and this new Government reappointed its own Commission, headed by retired public administrator Asoka Peiris. Now for two and a half years and more, the Government has been postponing elections giving flimsy unacceptable excuses. No civil society group in Colombo that championed the cause to establish the “Yahapalana Government’ and usher in democracy is challenging the country’s decision makers. The same must be said about the JVP which makes so much noise about the corruptions of the previous regime.
While the people are denied of their fundamental right to elect Local Government Bodies, the Government is now planning to deny the people of establishing Provincial Councils. These elections are due in a month or two. The terms of three Provincial Councils namely Sabaragamuwa, North Central and Eastern PCs are expected to end in September (2017) because the elections for these three provincial councils were held in September 2012. It’s reported that Government leaders have decided to conduct all elections together. These elections will be held in keeping with a new electoral system. This will be possible only once the Government makes changes to the present electoral system using reforms. The Daily Mirror online reported on August 23 that President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had chaired a late night meeting of the Government party leaders on Monday night and discussed this matter. The discussion was on changing the electoral system regarding the Provincial Councils. The Daily Mirror online reported that it will be a mix of the Proportional Representation System and the First Past the Post System (FPP).
We must for a moment back to the much pampered “100 day Programme” of this ‘yahapalana Government’, where its ‘cheerleaders’ claim they have a mandate from 62 lakhs of voters. The present regime has conveniently forgotten the 100 day programme where it was stated “An all party committee will be set up to put forward proposals to replace the current Preference Vote system and replace it with a Mixed Electoral System that ensures representation of individual Members for Parliamentary Constituencies, with mechanisms for proportionality.”
The 100 day programme thereafter promised that new election laws will be prepared in accordance with the proposals put forward by the all party committee on or before March 2. It was also mentioned that amendments to change the system of elections will be placed before Parliament and passed as quickly as possible.
Having completely defaulted on that promise, the same is now, promised after a lapse of two and half years, for PC elections.
No decent and civilized political party leaders would shut down democratic bodies elected by people citing electoral reforms as the excuse. Electoral reforms have to be discussed while the LG bodies and the PCs function as elected bodies. They too have to be part of the process. That is how some form of voter participation could be included in the reform process. This argument of the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Government dissolving LG bodies and deferring the PC elections would mean that parliament could be ‘adjourned’ or the postponement of elections.
These moral and political debasing of people’s democratic rights so that the two leaders can manipulate power has pushed the Government from one crisis to another. President Sirisena has to give into pressure coming from his own ministers, who are competing against Wickremesinghe’s UNP. They therefore take populist positions publicly to show they are not responsible for what the Government does. They pressured President Sirisena to remove Ravi Karunanayake from his ministerial portfolio to distance themselves from the mega Bond scam and leave it on the shoulders of the UNP. Yet when it came to the question of removing Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, for the alleged breach of a collective responsibility of ministers, they weren’t much interested. That was left as a problem within UNP despite the fact Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe is also implicated in the massive Avante Garde fraud. They didn’t make a fuss over Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe purely because the monks of the Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters have come out in defence of Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. The monks consider Rajapakshe to be a leader of the Sinhala Buddhist people and the Sangha.
Thus every MP elected to parliament under the UPFA ticket was elected by voters who in fact were saying no to the UNP. That vote therefore doesn’t mandate any SLFP MP to be part of this Government
But crises have different effects on the two leaders. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe was removed because Premier Wickremesinghe had to keep his party stalwarts satisfied. They shifted the allegation of breach of collective responsibility to that of delaying investigations on mega corruption by the Rajapaksa family. Despite mega corruptions within their own Government during the past two and a half years, highlighting the corruptions that took place during the Rajapaksa regime seems to be what’s keeping the government’s dingy afloat.
What is nevertheless apparent is that this government is caught in a whirlpool of crises. From managing conflicts within parties and between the two major allies to that of facing the people at elections with no development programme of its own to take shelter under topped by huge corruption, the Government is now experiencing its knees wobble. Each day there is some protest on the streets of Colombo to add to its woes.
The only reason the Government survives is because people don’t seem to value their democratic rights. In any other democratic country, where people wouldn’t compromise on their democratic rights, a Government that keeps denying people of having local government elections for almost 03 years and wants to defer PC elections too, would have been ousted on “Street Power”. No society that values its rights, which sees its elected local government bodies kept dissolved, would have allowed a government to survive this long. The absence of such social consciousness is keeping this coalition, that came to power on crutches, still going on a wheelchair.