The year 2019 is being ushered in at a time when the country is attempting to emerge from a vicious political as well as a Constitutional crisis. Yet, the developments during the New Year would obviously be based on the year we left behind, 2018, as the future inevitably is built on the past. And also we have to look back in order to learn lessons from the past and identify our faults and mistakes.
It was politically a tumultuous year that we have just left behind. It was a year in which the politicians -- both from the government and the Opposition -- had totally dedicated themselves to a do-or-die power struggle, at times it being between the President and the Prime Minister and between political parties at another, after a three-year relative respite.
The politicians, both from the government and the Opposition had totally forgotten the more than 20 million people due to this power struggle, despite them talking about people’s sovereignty and democracy every time they open their mouth.
The power struggle which was triggered or rekindled by the February 10 local government election results led to three no-confidence motions against two Prime Ministers during the year -- one in April and two in November. It also paved the way for two regime changes -- one in October at the expense of the UNF and another in December in favour of the UNF -- bringing the country back to square one.
The country saw two communal riots as well during the early months of the year -- one in Ampara in February and another in March in several townships in the Kandy District. The attacks on several Buddha statues during the last few days of the year brought the country close to a third mishap.
The February 10 local government elections exposed the duplicity of the concept of so-called good governance and became a turning point in Sri Lanka’s politics. People, especially living outside the North and the East had sent a clear message to the government that they had realized that government’s bragging on good governance was just a wordplay and nothing concrete had been on the ground. They had told the government that they no longer trust it, despite there being a democratic environment compared to the previous government’s time.
Thus the UNF that had obtained five million votes at the 2015 August Parliamentary election had lost one third of its vote bank at these local council elections. We hope it would have compelled the UNF to understand the needs and aspirations of the people, in the year ushered in.
The same local government elections proved that the leaders of the present and the previous governments were no match to the leaders who ruled the country thirty years ago in respect of constitution making.
The new mixed electoral system that was prepared by the former regime and implemented by the present regime replacing the Proportional Representation (PR) system that was introduced thirty years ago was proved to be utterly chaotic. And the rectification of it is a responsibility for the government and the other political parties in the new year.
The year 2018, exposed the politicians who boast about rule of law. The 51-day political as well as Constitutional impasse was nothing but the result of the sheer disregard by the politicians for the rule of law, which had to be rectified finally by the Supreme Court. The crisis had brought the country to a total standstill situation, pushing the aspirations of the people further to the back-burner.
The cost paid by the country due to the crisis was immense with the stakeholders gaining nothing. We hope that politicians would have learnt a lesson with the unnecessary imbroglio and saner counsel would prevail on the part of the government as well as the Opposition not to push the country into another gridlock in the year that heralds today.
We wish a happy and prosperous New Year to our readers in particular, and all Sri Lankans in general.