Friday, May 4, 2018

The Litmus Test Of The Unity Government

P. Soma Palan
logoOne may call it Litmus or the Acid test, whichever it is, in simplest language it means that the success or failure of the Unity Government, will be tested by  the implementation of the major/Principal commitments it pledged , and on which platform, the people supported it, to bring about a regime change in 2015. The Unity Government between the two Political Parties, UNP and the SLFP was brought about by the concerted efforts of the enlightened progressive forces of the country, the urban middle class, intellectuals, professionals, Civil Society Groups and the solitary, solid and vigorous leadership provided by the Ven. Sobitha Thero of the Sangha, which contributed to the downfall of the “Assuric” regime headed by Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Presidential election of January 8th in 2015, and followed by the General election.
This regime change was solely based on three, absolute, fundamental issues and on nothing else, namely:
1. The abolition of the Executive Presidency
2. Punitive action against Politicians/Officials guilty of Bribery and Corruption, and financial and homicidal crimes, and
3. Framing of a new Constitution, inter alia, to resolve mainly the National Question.
These three fundamental issues should rightly be the bedrock of the Unity Government. This should have received top most priority of the Government, running parallel and dominant to other multiple urgent issues, but not in a linear manner, one after the other. Accordingly, no other issues, however great or important, such as Economic and Infra-structure development, International Trade Agreements, Foreign Direct Investments, Employment generation, Cost of living of the people, and democratization and Independent Commissions etc, will determine the effectiveness and efficacy of the Government, over and above the overriding three fundamental issues referred above, which is the very raison d’etre of this Government.These three major issues, are the criteria on which, the performance of the Unity Government, will be tested.
The Abolition of the Executive Presidency
The President declared at the very outset his intention, unmistakably and unambiguously, that he will not seek a second term Presidency. The abolition of the Executive Presidency was an avowed commitment (not a promise) of the Government and a Demand (not a request) of the people, at the elections. The Unity Government has reneged on its commitment. Instead, it had compromised by pruning some of the Executive Powers. This is no substitute for the total abolition of the Executive Presidency. What is worse, the President has shamelessly shown his intention to vie for a second term in Presidential Office, despite his public avowal to the contrary, at the funeral oration of the departed Ven. Sobitha Thero. Having entrenched himself in the Presidency and enjoying the benefits of the Office such as, site seeing tours of foreign countries,  so many in so short a period, in the guise of official imperatives, President Sirisena  has shown an irresistible, amorous magnetic pull towards the Office of the Executive Presidency ,than a revulsion for it. Over three years have passed since this Government assumed office. One is puzzled as to what prevents the Government from abolishing the Executive Presidency. I don’t think it is the 2/3rd majority or even a Referendum. It is none, other than the greed for power and position. Once you enjoy it, you cling to it and never let it go. The only difference between the two, the predecessor and the current incumbent, is that former unashamedly flaunted power and position openly, whilst the latter, hides it deceitfully under the veneer of modesty and simplicity. Whichever it is, both are after the same thing. It is the simultaneity of two centres of Power, between the President and the Prime Minister, particularly in the context of coalition of two major political parties, which is pulling in two different directions, the cause for lack of positive action to fulfill the three fundamental  issues, the Unity Government was committed to. On the Abolition of the Executive Presidency, the Unity Government has failed the Litmus test.

Read More