Know your enemies in the guise of friends! | Sunday Observer

Know your enemies in the guise of friends!

The 16 ministers, deputy ministers, state ministers and assorted others from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) who voted for the motion of no-confidence against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe finally left the government, but where have they gone?

Initially, it appeared that some of them didn’t even want to leave the Cabinet. They were making statements to the effect that their vote was against Prime Minister Wickremesinghe but the Government and the Cabinet was headed by President Maithripala Sirisena, so they saw no reason to leave their Ministries, unless the President asked them to.

That would have, of course, been ridiculous. Sri Lanka would have been the only country on the planet where Ministers vote against a Prime Minister and then remain in the Cabinet with him. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

After much agitation from the United National Party (UNP), the 16 renegades got the message: they were not welcome. So, they had to go. To be fair, some did want to leave of their own accord but there were many others who wanted to stay on and enjoy the perks and privileges of office.

What next? The so called ‘leaders’ of this group say that they will leave the government, sit on the opposition benches in Parliament when it reconvenes on May 8, but that they will remain in the SLFP and continue to ‘strengthen the hands’ of President Sirisena! They say, they will vote with the government on policies that are beneficial to the country on an ‘issue by issue’ basis.

Why, they even say they will not join the Joint Opposition (JO) faction of the party which is headed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. And, they want us, the gullible public, to believe them.

So, we will have an anomalous situation where a section of the ruling party, the SLFP, sits in the opposition benches and opposes the government, while the official Opposition, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) votes with the government on most issues, as it happened during the recent motion of no-confidence against the Prime Minister. Ah, what an advanced form of democracy we practise!

The events of the past few weeks in the lead up to the motion of no-confidence make one fact clear: there was a group in the National Unity Government which was actively and effectively sabotaging its program from within it. Whenever the government proposed a policy or a key decision, individuals of this group went public with their criticism, throwing the concept of Collective Responsibility to the winds.

That was the case with many an issue, be it the Value Added Tax (VAT), South Asian Institute of Technology and Medicine (SAITM) or the Port City project. As a result, the government got bogged down in internal disputes conveying an impression to the public that it was its own enemy, which in a sense it was.

That is why, after three years in government, the public has been grossly dissatisfied with the performance of this government. That is also why the two ruling parties, the mainstream SLFP and the UNP lost heavily at the recently held Local Government elections. That is certainly why the newly created, previously unheard of Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna or the pohottuwa party swept the polls.

That was mission accomplished, as far as the JO was concerned. One only needed to take a look at those individuals who vociferously raised these criticisms and objections from within the government. None of them defected with Maithripala Sirisena when he left the SLFP in November 2014. None of them campaigned for candidate Maithripala Sirisena at the January 2015 Presidential Election.

Yet, when candidate Maithripala Sirisena became President Maithripala Sirisena, they flocked to him and obtained their Ministerial portfolios, having no sense of shame or personal integrity. Dayasiri Jayasekera, who lampooned the President calling him spineless and a ‘korawakka’ bent his own spine in two when he worshipped the President after taking oaths as a Minister.

Even after their ‘switch’, they remained loyal and faithful servants of the Rajapaksas. That was why Susil Premajayantha, as the then General Secretary of the United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA), tried to pack his nomination lists with Rajapaksa loyalists at the August 2015 General Election.

That was also why President Sirisena had to take the unprecedented step of making an address to the nation to declare that even if the SLFP won the election- which they didn’t- Rajapaksa would not be appointed Prime Minister. And that was certainly why, soon after the election, Premajayantha was sacked as General Secretary of the UPFA, a position now taken by Mahinda Amaraweera who thankfully has remained loyal to the President.

So, when these same people say they would sit in the Opposition and not support the JO but ‘strengthen the hands of the President’ you would have to be an absolute idiot to believe them. Of course, it would have been better for all concerned had they been honest about it and said they will now join the JO and support the Rajapaksas in their bid to return to power in 2020, but then, we do know that most of our ‘honourable’ members are not really honourable.

We can only hope that those who have chosen to remain with President Sirisena- a mere 25 out of some 96 Members of Parliament elected under the UPFA ticket - will remain loyal to him for what remains of this Government’s term of office.

At the 2015 Presidential Election, President Sirisena found the SLFP, the party he had served for 40 years and the party of which he had been General Secretary for 14 years, arraigned against him. At that time, it was the support of the UNP and the broad opposition coalition comprising civil society, trade unions, artists and activists that carried him to where he is today.

Now, well into the latter half of his term of office, the President must realise that most of his erstwhile friends in the SLFP have decamped to support Mahinda Rajapaksa and it is once again the UNP and the August 2015 coalition styling itself as the UNFGG, including the rebels who stepped out of the Rajapaksa Government with President Sirisena in November 2014, that are holding his government and his Presidency together.

There is a moral in this story for President Maithripala Sirisena: know who your friends are, but know even more those enemies who are in the guise of friends! 

Comments

Only true if you work for the benefit of the nations and it's citizen. That is why you are where you are..mot for your convenience. Dociety expect you work for them irrespective who cast you at the elections. Some of you even may be not elected by citizens