Sep 24, 2018

Aimless search for puppet Presidents

Heavy campaigning for self-nominated candidates is an indication of a huge crisis

In these messy situations, the Hitler type candidate can gain better validity

We need candidates who would back reforms the society endorses through serious dialogue

Media is agog with conspiracy theories over alleged assassination attempts on President Sirisena and Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Importance of Gotabaya in such a plot cannot be thought of. But the President on any scale is extremely high profile and in a two-party Government that is into heavy conflicts, the alleged ‘plot’ sounds eerie.

With an unstable coalition Government, it turns more serious with concerns raised about how investigations are conducted and in lack of trust declared on incumbent IGP.

Doubts, uncertainties, suspicions, all adding to the instability the alleged assassination plot creates in social mindset adds on to the search for presidential candidates for 2020 that’s already on a high pitch.

Social media has taken the lead in the search for presidential candidates. Heavy campaigning on social media for self-nominated Presidential candidates is also an indication we are in a huge crisis, with no answers.

That would remain so, even if another president is elected in 2020 into this ever-growing crisis.

This uncertainty that seeps into the urban social psyche would help cement the search for a ‘strong and clean’ presidential candidate.

In these messy situations, the ‘Hitler type’ candidate can gain better validity. An exclusively Colombo middle class ‘search’, it is for one who could be a firm fit on the Sinhala Buddhist electoral corpus.

 Criteria being what most Ven. Maduluwave Sobitha Thera drew up:

“Democracy, good governance, transparency and accountability” with the “all-powerful executive presidency abolished”.

Most glaringly, nothing was then said about a country that bled for 30 years fighting to consolidate a Sinhala Unitary State and was left divided as Sinhala and Tamil societies with the Muslim community vigilant over their fate.

The mediocrity of the urban middle class, professionals and academics included, was paraded publicly in their selection of presidential candidates within a completely failed economic model that over decades turned the State, political parties and professionals into schemers, liars and robbers.

Ridiculously ignorant about open market dynamics that lead to these growing uncertainties and crises all around, they reduced everything to “An almighty Executive Presidency” for the 2015 January Presidential Elections.

Ousting Rajapaksa, the 19 Amendment was the mantra for a clean and transparent Government.

Investigating into the alleged mega corruption of the Rajapaksa regime and booking any and all with substantial evidence was to be the crowning glory.

The UNP said it. Candidate Sirisena promised it.

The JVP vowed they would see it happened and the TNA believed such a Government would be decent enough to provide a durable and workable political solution to the North and East.

Present search for another suitable Sinhala Buddhist male candidate is an extension of that failed urban middle-class experiment.

Failed; though Colombo NGOs, Good Governance activists, Public Interest campaigners, Citizen activists, and very many others with even unknown labels vowed it would be Maithri Palanaya (Compassionate rule).

In the present rush, there was a Sri Lankan and an expatriate who think it is time to have a woman candidate with good credentials.

A proven, principled personality, who does not give in to political pressure.

This, on its own logic, is far timider than even the promise for a Yahapalana rule. This for me is an insult to the respected academic named in the proposal. The proposal is for a president-elect who could stand guard over an inevitable Rajapaksa Government, as the learned proposer argues.

That for sure is a stillbirth, far cruder than the miserably failed urban-based project which ousted Rajapaksa to leave a political vacuum in a Government that survives solely on the 19 Amendment.

A fractured Government that’s slipping from one crisis to another, while 19th Amendment impinges on the sovereign right of the people to vote, in changing Governments.

Though theoretically and socially valid, the Good Governance always remains as an abstract demand of the urban middle class.

It is the urban middle class that is hastily searching for a Sinhala Buddhist presidential candidate with a promise to establish a Good Governance regime on nothing but personal credentials.

Learning no lessons, they believe a strong and clean President could this time avert uncertainties, instability and establish good governance.

The unconcerned ordinary villager, struggling against a crumbling economy to save their lives have meanwhile pinned his/her hopes on Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The LG elections proved it, The Galle Face May Day rally said it, and even the most disorganised, undisciplined of all protests I have ever witnessed, the Sept 5 Janabalaya Kolambata said it too, with massive numbers.

What makes a Rajapaksa come back and this time cannot be blown up big as the demon at the gate?

In the shortest time in post-independent history, this Yahapalanaya Government was proved the most tragic failure in governance.

It is seen as equally or more corrupt than the Rajapaksa regime. The first CBSL Bond Scam, a massive scam that even overshadows the Rajapaksas, was in just two months after forming the promised Yahapalanaya Government.

On public outcry, Law and Order Minister Marapana was forced out for his legal counselling in the Avant-Garde scandal.

The same happened to Finance Minister Karunanayake who is now indicted for providing false evidence to the PCoI. Two weeks after Karunanayake was forced to resign, public outcry again had Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe resign, accused of interfering with the AG’s Department to favour some members of the former Rajapaksa regime accused of mega corruption.

In this same Government, there are Rajapaksa allies accused of mega corruption holding Ministerial portfolios, while UNP Ministers themselves are accused of mega corruption.

Corruption remains the norm in society and in politics despite the change of Government.

The whole system remains corrupt, inefficient, parasitic and in total chaos.

It cannot be otherwise in this free market economy.

It is all about and only about living with FDIs. Massive concessions given during the past four decades for FDI would add up to trillions of rupees, denied to the people as revenue for social use.

This incalculable sum cannot in anyway be justified in terms of what the people have gained in return.

Education, health and public transport, three fundamental necessities for a society to live for the future, have all been left in a mess.

The rural economy is gasping for life with a hundred thousand young women migrating to the Middle East every year in search of a living income and a future life.

The monthly average wage of workers in the private sector with FDIs remains around Rs. 20,000 to 25,000 while the Census Department in its Household Income and Expenditure Survey says a family of four in urban society needs Rs. 54,000 to meet the basics.

FDIs don’t mean anything to this growing national tragedy. Investors don’t come here to invest for Sri Lanka’s prosperity. They are here only to export products that can fetch big profits in the global market.

Proving that investors come for big profits, employer associations and their own economic experts argue that labour laws should be relaxed and more concessions are given to investors with a veiled threat, they would otherwise leave for Vietnam, Bangladesh or elsewhere.

What have we gained with more and more concessions provided directly and indirectly?

The Labour Department, established 95 years ago to secure better employment in the private sector, is now changing into a department that gives priority to employers as investors.

Constitution of the country is openly violated with Fundamental Rights of all employees in export manufacture denied of their right to form trade unions and with that their right to collective bargaining.

That is, in a country, which is a signatory to ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

The sovereignty of the people has no functional validity. All opportunities to elect a genuine people’s representative have been usurped through law by the filthy rich the only profiteering lot in this open economy.

All mainstream political parties have become wholly dependent on funds organised by the filthy rich.

They basically run political parties now that know no democracy and want no democracy.

People merely vote for candidates decided by the filthy rich no matter what political shade.

Conspiracies and allegations about assassination plots are all part of the chaos this open market leaves with filthy richinterests.

The open market economy, in a nutshell, is one that created the filthy rich who virtually run the Government for investor profits, violating democratic and Fundamental Rights of workers and the people.

The Governments in open economies, though elected by the people, are for the benefit of the filthy rich.

‘Development’ for these Governments means creating megacities to suit the highflying lifestyle of the affluent and the filthy rich.

They leave space for urban middle-class professionals to earn an extra buck to be proud consumers in a market, the vast majority has no choice.

This certainly is no development in any sense. Development cannot deny democratic and Fundamental Rights and rob people for the benefit of a few filthy rich.

This crazy and aimless search for honourable Sinhala Buddhist candidates would have no answers to an incredibly corrupt, undemocratic elite system.

We need answers to the most pressing issues, far-reaching reforms to education, health, public transport and also the media, to be openly discoursed in society, before candidates are decided.

We need candidates who would back reforms the society endorses through serious dialogue.

These urban middle-class groupings looking for candidates have vested interests in who is elected, as the Colombo civil society leaders proved in 2015 with an awfully engineered, aimless Rainbow Revolution.