he current opposition in Sri Lanka seems to be in an unprecedented quandary after the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) appointed President Maithripala Sirisena as its Chairman. They are neither in a position to oppose the government nor to wholeheartedly agree with it in any of the important matters. Many of their utterances highlight the pathetic situation they are currently in.
Initially many leaders of the SLFP argued that in spite of the fact that the party constitution stipulated that if a member of the party becomes the President of the country he should be the Chairman of the party as well, Sirisena cannot be the party’s Chairman since he contested the presidential election under another party. However, once the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa ceded to offer the Chairmanship of the party to the new President the other party leaders too meekly gave up their argument and accepted Sirisena as their Chairman.
The fact that not a single SLFP member attempted to prevent Rajapaksa from ceding to Sirisena speaks volumes. Not only that, some of them likened the former President, after his humiliating defeat at the presidential election, to a corpse. Now a strange situation has arisen where the President of the country appoints both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader and he presides over the Cabinet comprising mostly of United National Party (UNP) members and the high-powered committees of the opposition SLFP such as the Central Committee.
However, now the opposition, especially the SLFP seems to be unaware how to proceed as a political party. The traditional procedure in the country has been that opposition parties criticise the actions of the Government to win over the masses at the next elections. But unfortunately for the current opposition in Sri Lanka, especially for the SLFP, it has, in a way, been bridled from going against the Government since it is the Government of their own Chairman. In addition the President has the power to dissolve Parliament.
Interestingly, the leaders of the SLFP did not oppose or at least show their reservations when President Sirisena appointed RanilWickremesinghe as Prime Minister while the SLFP-led coalition, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) wielded the majority power in Parliament. They even voted in favour of the interim budget that recommended several measures of relief to the people, knowing well that it would highly affect their fortunes at the forthcoming General Election.
In spite of being well-known for its nationalist stance and the claims by its leaders during the recent election that Maithripala Sirisena had a secret pact with the TNA, the SLFP was compelled to keep mum when the Government removed the decade old Omanthai checkpoint, appointed civilian Governors to the Northern and the Eastern Provinces, lifted restrictions on foreign passport holders travelling to the North, included TNA leaders in the National Executive Council and when Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne said lands in the North taken over by the army to accommodate high-ranking army officers would be returned to their original owners. Only the small parties and trishaw parties, as they are commonly called due to their miniature size in the UPFA are bent to criticise the Government. But, after supporting and defending every suppressive high-handed act and the plundering of public funds by the previous regime, their attacks on the new Government seem highly ridiculous and amusing. It would take time for their arguments to be reckoned with.
However, the plight and the dilemma of the SLFP despite it having the largest number of members in Parliament clearly shows how the executive presidency negatively affects a country. The party fears that the President might dissolve Parliament straightaway if they go against his wishes, depriving many parliamentarians of their pension rights. In turn, it exposes the lack of seriousness in the hype by politicians about policies and patriotism.
We desperately need to collaborate and start rebuilding the country free of corruption, freedom of expression, independent justice system, communal harmony, constructive criticism and sense of belonging of every citizen. I think a national coalition government is better choice to gain ground on rapid development and discard phoney nationalism from power hungry politicians.It is an opportune time for the public to clean up corrupt, mafia style politicians from ever being elected and to encourage true patriots to join politics
maya Tuesday, 10 February 2015 05:31 PM
Excellent article and I am of the same views. One thing that the writer forgot to touch base was the plight of those crossed over from UPFA. There are many who are in the current government coalition who harp about the previous governments misdeeds, when in reality they too were part of UPFA. There can be no denial that people like Rajitha and Champika and even the President himself were in the government for 10 years and nothing was said at the time. It is also hilarious that now that they make these allegations that are yet to be proved.
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