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The tragi-comedy of Sri Lankan politics
Published Date: 07/06/2018 (Thursday)

It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first - Ronald Reagan

 In times of a national crisis the ideal is for all parties to sit down and talk. Though it was finally the war that brought an end to the protracted war here in Sri Lanka even the LTTE from time to time agreed to sit down with the Sri Lankan government. Call it premeditated still it did.  

It is a fact that Sri Lanka is currently going through a period of gross instability. There’s indeed a crisis both economic and political. The panic-stricken average voter is left wondering how the leaders both government and the opposition can leave the country in the present state and continue to play petty political games. Daily a new episode or two is added to the unfolding political drama – the number game in parliament while the distraught voter hopes and prays for a miracle that would awaken the leaders to the pathetic state of affairs.  

If our leaders love the country or are willing to put the country before self they should sit together and look for solutions. While the internal politics in the government has triggered the crisis there’s no doubt the joint opposition is only making matters worse by instigating trade unions, university students and even medical doctors to take to streets or launch sudden strikes however much harm and harassment that may be caused to the citizens, especially the poor. Essential services are disrupted and traffic snarls created by protests and walks have only gone to make the already stressed up citizen more miserable. While the country’s growth is stunted and cost of living is skyrocketing people are being taxed left and right though they are not getting benefits in return.   

Meanwhile, neither the President nor the prime minister nor the joint opposition leader appears to be initiating a tripartite dialogue in the name of the hapless citizen to come out of this political quagmire. Instead the leaders continue with the blame game – some wailing day and night while others are busy going for the pound of flesh at every crisis.   

Tuesday’s events in Parliament indicated that most people, including party leaders did not know who is on what side and for whom. The event was the election of the Deputy Speaker to replace Thilanga Sumathipala who has not only lost his post in Parliament but also was run out of Sri Lanka Cricket. The United National Party proposed Monaragala District Parliamentarian Ananda Kumarasiri while former minister S.B. Dissanayake proposed former state minister Sudarshani Fernandopulle. Both Mr. Dissanayake and Ms. Fernandopulle are supporters of President Maithripala Sirisena and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) but now they are sitting in the opposition. The secret ballots gave Mr. Kumarasiri a victory by 98 votes to 53 but no one is really sure who voted for whom while more than 70 MPs were not present at the time of voting with members of the joint opposition, the Tamil National Alliance and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna reported to have left Parliament when the vote was called. This is an indication of the chaos and crisscrossing loyalties.   

We hope that at least for the next 18 months the UNP and the pro-Sirisena SLFP group will work together to bring in more foreign investments and provide more jobs for the youth though Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s ‘Gamperaliya’ may be limited to something like Lester James Peries’ dream film.  

Source: Daily Mirror

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