The events that unfolded on October 26 have led the country towards unprecedented instability. Almost a month later, we are still awaiting the correct interpretation of the decisions and the credibility of actions while pondering if such changes have been made in the best interest of the country and her people and if the society accepts them with knowledge and understanding.
It is no secret that the shock waves that went through the country on October 26 were immense. Usually the appointment of a Prime Minister is a well-planned, laborious and glamorous event, but this one was like a couple eloping in the night. It was a slap on the face of everyone who clearly rejected the previous regime. What led to this sudden appointment of a Prime Minister nobody seems to know. But the fundamental question that is asked from all quarters is whether there was justification coupled with moral and ethical grounds on which decisions were made.
Our society is more vibrant and vociferous and the effects of this are seen through social media. The messages reach the other end of the earth. So things do not remain contained within the country. The chaos that followed the October 26 swearing in has once again brought discredit to the country.
The Yahapaalana Government was established with much hope by a large majority that was tired of the regime before. The promises were that those who have misused public funds will be brought to book, there will be an end to impunity and the freedom of the press will be restored. To some degree the people believed that the President was keen. But much too soon the bond issue gave ammunition to the MPs within the Opposition to fire at the Good Governance Government. Sadly the advise I gave the President to cancel the famous bond auction immediately was not heeded. As a result, till today no action or a proper inquiry has taken place. In addition the joint opposition did nothing but act as the spanner in the works. They created havoc in many corners to disrupt the Government and the daily life of the citizens.
Steps in the right direction
It is obvious that the country lacked systems to address the various financial scandals. When the FCID was set up, many, including some SLFP Ministers in the Government were against it. It was a legitimate process that had to go through a court of law. It was a step in the right direction. Then the fast track/hybrid courts were established and the same stalwarts were criticising it. Why? Did they think that they will be victims of it?
At the bottom of this, the rulers were divided. So it was a sorry state of affairs.
But the Government did many significant things during the past three years. The establishment of a free ambulance service, reduction of medicine prices, regained GSP Plus, bringing in the Right to Information Act and the right to free speech, re establishing the independent commissions and even bringing the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which of course at this juncture seems a mockery according to the ‘legal luminaries’ waxing eloquent on electronic media .
What prompted the President to appoint a new Prime Minister after 3 years and 2 months of a Coalition Government? Many are of the view that having so and so as a premier is a continuation of the ailment, but appointing another (the way he did) is not the cure. There is a saying in Sinhala that goes ‘changing the pillow to cure a headache’ which means that without addressing the root cause an ineffective remedial measure is taken. Once you accept public office you are responsible for your actions and are accountable to the public. One fine day you will have to face the consequences. While we do not know on whose advice the President is taking these actions; right now his actions are being questioned my many . When we look at this new Cabinet what many people say is ‘ Horu allanna aanduwak aawa; eeta passe horu aanduwa alluwa’. Now it appears that no one is steering the ship which is in troubled waters and the President is rearranging the furniture in the ship. What is worrying is that the bureaucracy has come to a halt because they are struggling to comprehend what is going on.
What were the reasons behind proroguing parliament? And why not appoint someone as PM from within the coalition government? He claims that he asked a few people individually if they would like to take on the Premiership. But is that the best course of action. While the whole country waits for the Supreme Court decision on the dissolution of Parliament; the question that has arisen is whether it was morally and ethically right for the President to do so? According to the 19th Amendment, the Parliament cannot be dissolved before 4 and a half years. With utmost respect to the Judiciary, the interpretation of the Law has to be based on ‘what the framers of the law had in mind’ when they passed the law . In that context it is abundantly clear on the 4 1/2 year rule .
Terrifying domino effect
From the time this article was first penned, so much has happened. The actions of the President has had a terrible and terrifying domino effect and the entire country is in absolute chaos now. Hardly any action is taking place in Government offices. The officials are in a dither as to whose instructions they are to follow. I cannot imagine the stress that the parliamentary staff and the ministry secretaries are experiencing during this chaos. There is no Cabinet and it also shows that we do not need one.
The dissolution of parliament in 2003 by President Chandrika Kumaratunga was a similar decision which she regretted later. Both Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena became Presidents of this Country thanks to former President Chandrika. But we see no gratitude being shown by either one. What the President has done has indeed given oxygen to the UNP which was in a bad wicket due to the bond scam.
While all this is happening locally, the image of the country in the international arena has reached a new low. We are now a good example of a badly managed economy in the Asian region. The president and the law makers do not seem to realize that the world does not accept this. A letter from the Secretary General of the UN has insisted that action be taken as per the Constitution. Who we elect as the President should be knowledgeable of the constitution and the power and the authority that post grant. The people expect that person to act with utmost integrity. If the actions of the President are being widely questioned by the average person on the street to the most learned, then it is time to realise that the President has made a fundamental mistake. If the President was ill advised, it is time to leave aside the egos and take remedial measures. I for a moment do not think that you can bring a ‘no confidence motion against the PM ‘now, simply because he has not served even for 2 weeks. what one can bring is a motion that “the present PM does not command or have the support of the majority in Parliament’.
This country is not theirs to ruin. We owe it to the future generations to safeguard this country right now.