People have spoken: Over to legislature for action | Sunday Observer

People have spoken: Over to legislature for action

30 August, 2020
The 16th-century Florentine philosopher, Niccolo Machiavelli, in his famous book ‘The Prince’ stated, “It is much safer to be feared than loved”. This is the conduct expected by the masses from the incumbent President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Indeed, the saying was later modified as “it is better to be feared than loved if you cannot have both.” Public opinion in general is that the modified meaning is more suited to the President because, in the present state of affairs, while wrongdoers fear him, the public loves him. This is the reason for the more than adequate mandate given to him at the recent election.


It is a refreshing sign that people have voted to bring in 81 new parliamentarians while sending home 76, including seniors. This indicates that there are no permanent voters for green, red, or blue in society anymore. Instead, they have placed absolute trust on a brand new party, colour, and symbol and the trend is likely to be continued at future elections as well.

The knowledgeable and better-informed public has sent an apparent message to the politicians that their opinion is no longer prone to petty politics and empty promises that existed in the past. It is also an inspiring sign how the appointments of Cabinet and State Ministers were made.

All the ministries were decided as per the President’s manifesto in the Presidential and general election campaigns in line with his vision of a ‘People-centric economy’. Perceptibly, as in any elected government, the appointment of Ministers were done taking certain political reasons into consideration.

However, the scope of the ministries was decided on the widely anticipated prosperity of the nation.

Irrespective of petty criticism by the weak Opposition that has no credible opinion to offer, the subjects allocated to most of the state ministries in particular, can bring immense results by way of the growth of the rural economy.

The appointees, whether pro-active or not, are in a ‘must-win’ situation as the President signalled that it is a do or die battle and he will not hesitate to remove the losers.

Hence, they must win not only on behalf of the country’s economic prosperity but also for their own survival. Failure of the assigned subjects will be conspicuous due to the keen public eye. Non-fulfilment will probably show them the exit from politics as the voters will not favour such politicians.

Taking a cue from the leadership, several young Ministers and State Ministers have straightway plunged into action.

To name a few, Prof. Channa Jayasumana, Prasanna Ranaweera, Dayasiri Jayasekara, Namal Rajapaksa and some others have already commenced action on their respective assignments without further ado. Specifically, the country welcomed the newly appointed National Sports Council comprising eminent personalities from sports and management fields, under the chairmanship of the versatile Mahela Jayawardana.

While all appointees are prominent, the inclusion of two top business executives, Supun Weerasinghe of Dialog Axiata and Ms. Kasthuri Wilson of Hemas Holdings will undoubtedly add management skill for the future developments of the sports arena of the country that currently is in dire straits. The young Minister has taken constructive action which the public has hailed and would wish other Ministers to follow suit.


When public consent is higher than normal, the expectations are also similarly elevated. The public will not accept any more excuses as they have given more than was anticipated. The majority of the Cabinet and State Ministers seem to be already keenly engaged in public issues. We have not seen a single unwanted appointment yet from any of the Ministers for their respective institutions.

It is no secret that the practice up to now by previous governments was to fill available or created positions and recruit family members, friends, or henchmen. Even if this practice cannot be eradicated in a hurry, President Rajapaksa’s actions will curtail it to a great extent.

The Government, no doubt, is directed by a new set of ideas and policies through the ‘Vistas of Prosperity’. However, if the Government machinery, the key factor in implementing these policies and ideas does not function properly, the outcome would be hampered. Unless the age-old negative attitude of public servants is changed to be aligned with the new Government’s thinking, the execution of many such programs will be delayed or discontinued.

Historically, we have seen this phenomenon taking place many times previously. Therefore, some of the ‘Machiavellian theories’ will be useful at times to crack the whip on lackluster attitudes. To achieve greatness, a great leadership is imperative, whether in politics, sports, business, or any other sphere.

At present the citizenry witnesses a sensible and strong leadership in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. He has already proven himself as an exceptionally good leader during his tenure as the Defence Secretary. He has not only demonstrated leadership success by defeating LTTE terror but also by making Colombo an exemplary city in beauty, cleanliness, and discipline.

However, it is important to be aware of the adulators who surround the leadership with flattery for their gains. Throughout history, we have seen such apple-polishing leeches who hang on powerful politicians. Fortunately, President Rajapaksa does not seem to be a person who succumbs to flattery.

The natural aura of authority with quality military training and discipline makes him different from the traditional politician the country has witnessed thus far.

Economic revival

In my last article, I said that the presidential task force appointed on economic revival under the chairmanship of Basil Rajapaksa has been silent for a few months. It is a pleasure to note that they have come back to the scene and are ready to begin the tasks assigned on the subject. Now, they too have a clear mandate with more people’s power to act accurately and independently.

The existing weak Opposition headed by an equally weak leader who does not demonstrate any personal quality to lead, will not be a hindrance to the new Government. According to political analysts, they are nowhere near in strength compared to the previous Opposition that had the exact number of members in Parliament.

Robust leadership

The absence of a proper and robust leadership will likely break the hurriedly arranged temporary coalition sooner or later as they have already shown considerable differences of opinion on the parliamentary appointments. Besides, elected members of the smaller political parties in this coalition would probably grab the first opportunity to cross over. Alternatively, if the Government rejects, they act as independent members.

Finally, Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore and a role model for many world leaders, in his last national day rally in 1990, said, a government should provide equal opportunities, and not equal results. He cites an example of an iron rice bowl in which there is a very little rice because nobody works, everybody does their minimum.

He, in that speech, sends out a strong message that those who are faint-hearted will be shown the exit. President Rajapaksa, more than once, delivered such strong messages to his Cabinet, State Ministers and officials that he will not tolerate failures and will not hesitate to remove those who are unsuccessful.