n January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump assumed office as US President. He rode into power on the back of the slogan ‘Make America Great Again’. Among his campaign promises were: To ban Muslims entering the US; to lock-up his principle challenger Hilary Clinton; to build a wall along the Mexican border and make Mexico pay for it; to get rid of Obamacare; to deport all undocumented immigrants; to remove limits on coal production and to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Since assuming office, in a flurry of presidential executive directives, President Trump has made good on many of his election pledges. On January 23, 2017, he signed a directive initiating a process of withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal; on January 25, he signed a directive ordering the start of a plan to build a wall along the US-Mexico border. Another directive on January 25 signalled tough action against some 11 million illegal immigrants already in the United States and on January 27 an executive order banned citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. While we may or may not like what the new US President is doing and even believe he is wrong, the man seems to be walking the talk.
Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, also in the month of January, but two years earlier in 2015 a new president was sworn in. As at Trump’s election the new president was elected to power amid high expectations of the electorate and several pledges to usher in an era of ‘good governance’.
In the run-up to the hustings the presidential aspirant promised to: abolish the executive presidency; to end the fear psychosis which gripped the country; to draw up a new constitution; to weed out corruption and bring persons accused of corrupt practices to justice and to lower the cost of living
Sadly though two years had passed since the new president made these promises but unlike his US counterpart, our President has been uable to fulfil the promises he made to the electorate.
To the President’s eternal credit, he has been able to rid the country of the fear psychosis which stalked the land. Unfortunately, while initial steps have been taken to draw up a new Constitution and through it to abolish the executive presidency, the matter is dragging on.
Rather than weeding out corruption this government stands accused of being involved in large-scale corrupt practices such as the ‘bond scam’ involving he Central Bank’s then governor – a government appointee.
While corruption charges have been initiated against a few persons allegedly involved in corrupt practices no one has been brought to book nor any one said to be behind the killings and kidnappings which occurred regularly during the previous regime has been brought to book with the cases filed still hanging fire. The cost of living too has risen astronomically.
Two years had flown by and the people’s thirst for justice remains unquenched, quite unlike in the US where Mr. Trump through his executive decrees is bulldozing through measures he promised during his campaign.
In fact Mr. Trump has gone further, he not only is fulfilling election pledges like initiating steps to build ‘his wall’ and make Mexico pay for it, he has threatened to invade that country.
He has threatened military action against Iran, warned he will not honour international treaties signed by the US -- the TPP and the agreement with Australia regarding taking in refugees and insulted the Australian premier by abruptly cutting him short during a telephone conversation…
The US president’s style in making ‘America Great Again’, conjures visions of another elected leader who rose to power in the first half of the 20th century -- a little man with a small moustache. A man with a similar blustering style and whose actions created the conditions for the outbreak of World War II and the holocaust which saw millions end up in gas chambers. A man named Adolf Hitler.
While Hitler identified the Jews as Germany’s enemy, Trump sees Muslims as the enemy of the US and is rushing through a series of executive directives to make good his election pledges.
Sri Lanka’s new president is taking the slow legislative path toward achieving his election pledges. It’s breeding impatience at a people’s level, but things are happening.
Which is better – the bulldozer or the constitutional path -- only time will tell