Using Parliament to destabilize nation | Sunday Observer

Using Parliament to destabilize nation

Instability is opportunity, for some. Political instability is sought by those who want to grab power by any means; especially, when they are desperate to avoid the looming repercussions of their own past depredations. And no major Opposition group in our entire parliamentary history has more reason to avoid such prosecutory action for plunder and political repression than the so-called ‘Joint Opposition’, which has now tabled a motion of ‘No Confidence’ against the Prime Minister.

The current motion, submitted by some 50 plus Members of Parliament, led by our former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, may or, may not succeed when it comes up for debate on April 4. But the very exercise of tabling such a motion against the head of government of a country is enough to cast doubts about political stability and provokes much speculation about the dispensation of political power.

Will the UNP-led government fall? Will the PM change? Who will be PM? Who might be UNP party leader? Will the President remain committed to the incumbent National Unity coalition on whose success depends much of the success of the nation? Will the President fall prey to the Joint Opposition machinations? Imagine, dear reader, the wholly unnecessary cloud of uncertainty and doubt that darkens government and the political management of the country, thanks to this JO ploy.

Inevitably, the speculation over the future of the current holders of governmental power will keep in suspense all planning by those depending on decisions by the holders of power. Political loyalties weaken, political understandings become uncertain, thereby disturbing the current political management of a fragile national community. In the economic sphere, projects get delayed, financial speculation turns negative, currency values tremble, intended investments are put on hold.

This instability, this societal uncertainty, is precisely the hidden agenda of the so-called Joint Opposition in moving this No Faith motion. Even if the motion, by some fluke (as the ‘JO’ may hope) succeeds, the unseating of the Prime Minister does not necessarily change the government. At this juncture, there is inadequate parliamentary support for the formation of any other government: no other political combination or alliance can muster the crucial House majority to be sustained in power.

Hence, the JO move is simply a desperate effort to create instability and political uncertainty that will, they hope, weaken the current government in the long term. As government projects get delayed, then the fulfilment of its electoral mandate is stymied and, crucially, voter dissatisfaction rises.

The JO’s performance in the Local Government elections may have won it several local councils, but its overall vote count has shown a decline below that needed for national level political success. Hence, post LG polls, the initiation of various ploys to re-build support in the JO’s core constituencies.

Within weeks, some of the JO’s stooges were in the thick of the racist mobs attacking a targeted minority community in a series of mini-riots. The wild rumours deliberately circulated were clearly aimed at causing fear and anti-minority suspicions among the majority community. And now, we have this parliamentary ploy of a No Confidence Motion.

Are we not reminded of that old adage of “patriotism” being “the last refuge of the scoundrel”?

Geneva: Festina lente

There was a time, during the previous regime, when the regular meetings of United Nations bodies had the country’s government panicking and fumbling around as to whom to send to Geneva or New York to cover up blatant misdeeds of government and, fob off further international repercussions. All kinds of strange characters were sent to represent the country in the hope that rhetorical tricks and vague statistics would evade international shaming and blaming.

The current Government, with its early steps in the direction of post-war national reconciliation, succeeded in winning over the confidence of the UN bodies in its good intentions and commitment to justice and genuine democracy. The successful functioning of the Northern Provincial Council and the multi-ethnic Eastern Provincial Council achieved that perhaps more than any other exercise. The establishing of the Office of National Unity and Reconciliation and various specialised Government Ministries also dedicated to national reconciliation and peace-building came a close second in taking forward the whole project for a unified nation.

Inevitably, the slowing down of programmes, some due to difficult objective conditions, others due to administrative laxity or lack of political bravery, has caused disappointment among the communities most affected by the war and the ethnic conflict. Transitional justice is one such sticking point, made no less difficult by the efforts of opposition politicians to deliberately muddy the waters of delicate inter-ethnic relations.

Nevertheless, the recent annual review by the UN Human Rights Council sessions in Geneva, ended with the UN reaffirming its confidence in Sri Lanka’s commitment to its programme to redress injustices and build peace. The UNHRC’s final resolution on Sri Lanka, however, did note the continuing delays in the implementation of various programs.

It is up to the Government to now build on this international vote of confidence and brave the political unknown of building wholesome inter-ethnic harmony and social peace, something no previous regime has dared pursue to full completion.