It was only a year ago that the present regime was installed through a constitutional coup d’état and current unelected leader was touted a saviour of bankrupt Sri Lanka. It is time to take a quick performance audit of the actions of this liberator chosen by the deposed leader in 2022. Among his notable actions are Royal procession known as “Raja Perahera” and meeting foreign dignitaries. Despite the starvation endured by many millions at home he held Raja Perahera in Kandy after 34 years at taxpayers’ expense in February 2023 and rushed twice to the kingdom of the former colonial masters, once in September 2022 and again in May 2023 to be in the presence of lords and ladies and to signal the other world leaders that everything is under control in “HIS” country and nothing to worry about. Then again, it was not enough to assure the coterie of subservient politicos languishing in the political wilderness since their landslide defeat in 2020, so he made another trip to Paris Club meeting and berated the other world leaders on how to fix economic problems while holding the beggar bowl in a subtle manner.
The political shenanigan didn’t stop there so he paid a visit to India and signed many business deals without informing the parliament or people. It appears the trend is unstoppable, so he made another publicity stunt by rushing to Colombo International Airport to greet French President Emmanuel Macron who made a transit stop when he was returning from an official state visit to Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and Papua New Guinea. No one knows what was discussed, the people should not be surprised, if it is related to some French project affecting Trincomalee Harbour as claimed by a local politico. Though it is not unusual, he has continued the tradition of his predecessors by appointing the cronies to very influential high paid jobs at the expense of taxpayers while requesting citizens to be patient and endure misery brought by him and his predecessors for another 25 years or more. It is not an unfamiliar request because, the same appeal was made to the great-grandfathers and grandfathers of present generation by every alleged saviour since 1950s. This government is prone to making political mistakes, it has ridiculed and laughed at those who demanded elections, denied release of water to farmers, imported eggs from India, mis-handled religious affairs and sensitivities and introduced 13A to diverge the attention of people away from real national issues.
The president may be a victim of a political ploy because he was marketed as the saviour by cronies and 134 MPs who endorsed the constitutional coup d’état of 2022. He may be having sleepless nights by now because things appear to be unravelling faster than expected in the economy of country. Exports and manufacturing activities are sliding in the country, people including infants are dying daily due to health crisis induced by corruption, hordes of professionals are leaving the country due to unfair tax policies, farmers are protesting the policy decisions made by the cabinet minsters of Agriculture, Trade, Energy, and Irrigation. In addition, the government’s highly touted fiscal policies are not working, local currency has started to depreciate and no FDI. The news has been very grim lately, meddling with interest rates to shore up the economy with the hope to reignite growth and investment has failed to achieve any traction. The media has not reported the real situation, rising youth unemployment rate, while a worsening debt crisis and deflationary spiral are threatening growth. Given this gloomy scenario, 134 supporters of the president (in the parliament) may have realized that the saviour or the “King” they brought to power is naked. Making derogatory remarks very often about the opponents including “Aragalaya” participants and attributing the economic crisis to them by senior ministers is counter productive. It will be regarded a deliberate attempt by educated populace to ignore the reality faced by the people like an ostrich with head in sand. The government is run by those men and women rejected by the people in 2022, one of the BBC reports on July 20, 2022, reported.
“Mr Wickremesinghe is viewed by many as a shrewd political operator who’s managed to cling on in parliament despite his party being wiped out in the 2020 election. It failed to win a single constituency, and its only seat – for which Mr Wickremesinghe nominated himself – was awarded under the party list system reflecting overall votes polled.”
The above assessment is not kind at all, the president’s immediate challenge at the time he received endorsement of 134 MPs in July 2022, should have been to manage public discontent, which means removing the bitterness anger and disappointment about the politicians and governing system within society. Instead of achieving these objectives, the government has further aggravated public discontent and thrown people out of the frying pan into the fire with political shenanigan.
President’s final hope of retaining power through a political alliance was finally dashed by his one-time deputy, and the current opposition leader this week. The opposition leader indirectly compared the current Sri Lankan government to the regimes led by ruthless tyrants such as Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein or perhaps Idi Amin, well known figures for acts of genocidal and oppressive State terrorism, otherwise he would not have made the following comments reported in the local media.
“He asserted that there exists no accord or alignment with the present President-led government, which he claimed is “implicated in acts of genocidal and oppressive State terrorism.” The opposition party, he emphasised, stands for the third path rather than extreme leftist or capitalist policies. It is dedicated to safeguarding human rights, as well as the economic, social, and political rights of the nation’s populace.
While stating the opposition leader’s reluctance to forge any alliance with a government built on…
“False and deceitful political manoeuvres, he vowed to stand on the side of well-informed and constructive decisions for the nation. The prevailing administration, in Premadasa’s view, is steered by an unelected President, bereft of trust and recognition, indulging in political manipulations alongside an insatiable gang that has financially crippled the country. Their actions are rooted in personal greed rather than the country’s welfare.”
Obviously, the stakes for the president are much higher than for the opposition party, because if he fails to establish any meaningful and formidable alliance before the next presidential election, his political party, UNP and his lackluster political career will be buried forever. He will be registered in nation’s history as the man who brought psychological and strategic defeat finally to the grand old UNP.
Bonhomie between Savior and SLPP
Unfortunately, president’s premature declaration of his intention to contest the next presidential election as the UNP candidate has added another twist to the political woes faced by his government. It seems none of the SLPP stalwarts, especially Rajapaksas are not pleased with the challenge made to their existence by an unelected politico who was brought to power with their (Rajapaksas) blessings and the constitutional coup d’état of 2022. The constitution coup d’état would not have succeeded if not for the support of SLPP of Rajapaksas. It seems, the president was entrusted with the task of protecting SLPP and Rajapasa family and that was the only mandate he received, because most likely SLPP assumed that unelected president was an incompetent and unsuccessful politician and bound to fail by November 2024. Thus, the bonhomie between president and SLPP may come to an end sooner than expected, already signs have started to appear in the country’s political arena including contradictory policy statements. The recent bravado shown by Rajapaksa baby and their minions has exacerbated the political vulnerability faced by the president and the UNP.
The situation in the economic front is not favourable either, it will face catastrophe unforeseen by the current government mainly due to escalation of energy and, world market prices of oil, food shortages, coupled with the drought faced by more than eighty percent of the country. Unlike the other Asian countries which received independence from the colonial rulers after WWII, the successive Sri Lankan (Ceylonese) regimes since 1948 failed to develop any cohesive national policy on Agriculture, Irrigation, Energy, Education, Security, Health, Transportation or Manufacturing sector to avert any possible economic collapse. Besides, what happened to all financial loans, grants and aids given to the country, did IMF, World Bank, ADB and other donor countries fail to recognize that the Sri Lankan politicians have been deceiving the people with the help of a flawed constitution and fake democratic institutions.
Furthermore, the secretive deals made with other countries vying to gain supremacy in the Indian ocean have already made people vulnerable and put national assets in peril, every political leader seems to possess undisclosed motives threatening the sovereignty of the country that belongs to the people. The current president is not an exception. Under this gloomier outlook, the people, specifically more than eighty percent of the citizenry is bound to encounter unforeseen economic hardships, diseases, hunger, and death in the coming months, perhaps it will be worst than what they encountered under the ninth SLPP fake saviour (or the STRONGMAN) thrusted into power in 2019. The Sri Lankans have been duped or opted to be duped repeatedly by 10 (Ten) saviors excepting Hon. DS Senanayake for seven decades, nine saviors were elected by the people while the tenth one was rejected by the people yet managed to be the president with the help of a constitutional coup d’état. Interestingly all political leaders have shown to possess undisclosed motives or personal agendas and none of them have shown any essential pragmatic characteristics and acumen needed to ensure prosperity, good governance, the rule of law and above all to protect the sovereignty of the nation.
Disclaimer: Naked King & The Crumbling State: Seven Decades Of Fake Saviours By W. Vishnu Gupta – - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view