The first duty of the opposition is to oppose. And the opposition members of Lanka’s 14th Parliament took its traditional role literally and opposed at every turn even the selection of a leader to lead them until finally an exhausted, exasperated Speaker of the House gave up the ghost and passed the buck to UPFA’s [...]


SLFP lets the cat out of the bag: Call off crackdown or no dice

President hopes disarray will end after elections

The first duty of the opposition is to oppose. And the opposition members of Lanka’s 14th Parliament took its traditional role literally and opposed at every turn even the selection of a leader to lead them until finally an exhausted, exasperated Speaker of the House gave up the ghost and passed the buck to UPFA’s Secretary on Wednesday to perform the anointment rites and to forward the name of the person who had the confidence of the opposition members.

But now with President Maithripala Sirisena’s declaration on Thursday that the 19th Amendment will be presented in Parliament on April 20 of and that Parliament will be dissolved the moment it is passed, the question as to who will lead the opposition ranks ceases to be of great importance. One can almost hear the sardonic chuckle of the President silently emitted as he watched over the squabble by opposition MPs, his party members included, to win a post that would be devalued by the time it was won — unless, of course, a hiccup happens and the governments finds itself stuck in a rut unable to muster the two third majority to pass the 19th Amendment as required by the Supreme Court opinion delivered on Thursday.

But what must worry the nation is the exact position his own party, the SLFP of which he is the chairman, has taken vis-à-vis his government. Having since the Ides of March, 26 members of the party in the UNP led Maithripala Government, it has sought to cling to its untenable position as the main opposition party by resorting to oppose every governmental move not on the basis of national interest but rather on Rajapaksa interest.

The emphasis has been to echo the call of the Gang of Three, namely, Dinesh, Wimal and Vasu, the troika of one man parties who owe their future existence to the return of the corruption ridden Rajapaksa regime. Joining the chorus in gusty voice are the brigands of the SLFP who have risen from rags to riches during the Rajapaksa regime and now, fearing that Judgment Day is nigh, seek the return of the Saviour of Condemned Souls to grant dispensation and lead them back to the plundered land where they, after briefly losing Paradise, would Paradise Regain.

It does not take the keenest of minds to discern that there is a sinister campaign to create the impression of a nationwide demand to see Mahinda Rajapaksa restored to preeminence. Large crowds brought in bus loads paid for by mysterious sponsors throng to hear Vasudeva opine or Dinesh implore or Wimal beg to bring back Mahinda Rajapaksa; busloads of sightseers stop at Medamulana to pay courtesy calls on the people-deposed president in the manner busloads of pilgrims stop at the Kalutara Bodhiya to ‘drop’ their salutary coin of protection; SLFP Balamandalaya meetings are stormed by groups to boo Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaranatunge as it happened this week in Kurunegala and to applaud double pole vaulter Dayasiri Jayasekera when he employs double speak and says Mahinda Rajapaksa, the man who lost his own election barely three months ago, should be brought back to lead the party to victory.

Such organised crowd scenes, such choreographed incidents, such orchestrated clamour are presented as indisputable evidence of a people’s fervent demand to see the return of their hero. If it is truly so, if all it takes is just three months for a radical change of heart, then the people of this country are a schizophrenic lot, an amnesia-ridden mass of vacillating jelly unfit and undeserving to exercise the franchise in a responsible decisive manner as behoves a mature collective conscience.

As Rajitha Senaratne said when asked about the large crowd at the Gang of Three’s Nugegoda rally, “there were bigger crowds at Mahinda rallies before the presidential election.” Furthermore do crowds at Nugegoda, Kandy, Ratnapura reflect a nationwide trend? Isn’t the opposition acting as if this country solely belongs to the Sinhalese and the opinions and sentiments of the minority Tamils and Muslim people are tosh?

So what’s the real agenda of the SLFP? Without taking advantage of the fact that the chairman of the party is the president of the country, why are SLFP members hell bent on cutting the sod under President Maithripala’s feet? Why the mad scramble to resurrect the Rajapaksa Avatar?

On Monday the SLFP General Secretary Anura Priyadarshana Yapa told a press conference that the SLFP would reunite President Maithripala Sirisena, former Presidents Mahinda Rajapaksa and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. Plans were afoot, he said, to invite former Presidents Rajapaksa and Kumaratunga to the party’s May Day rally scheduled to be held at Hyde Park Grounds in Colombo and arrangements were being made to get all three leaders on the same platform.

What on earth for? Does he think nothing would make the nation happier than the picture of all three holding hands and smiling as if they were long lost friends? The whole thrust of Maithripala Sirisena’s election campaign, if Mr. Yapa remembers correctly when he was the main pall bearer of the SLFP during the last days of the Rajapaksa regime, was to overthrow Mahinda Rajapaksa and his corruption ridden government and instead usher a new age of good governance. Though Maithripala’s promise to crackdown on corruption is still to bear fruit, investigations have been set in motion and a new presidential commission to probe mega corruption has also been established, in addition to a financial investigative unit. The already existing Bribery Commission has been augmented with the appointment of a new ‘above board’ Commissioner.

Furthermore the Government has publicly charged the Rajapaksa Family of siphoning off from the nation’s coffers the mind blowing sum of 5.6 billion US dollars or 750 billion rupees. To track down the plunder of a people’s wealth, the Maithripala Government has officially sought and received the assistance of the World Bank, the IMF, the USA, Great Britain, and the European Union. Pursuant to the Government’s appeal, India has readily agreed to render assistance and has even established a joint unit to investigate this unprecedented fraud on the people of Lanka.
Countries such as Seychelles, Ukraine, Dubai and other financial hotspots and off shore islands have been identified as possible locations where the treasure troves of the Rajapaksa loot may well be stashed. Investigators have been sent to Dubai and the Government has announced that their inquiries have revealed a member of the Rajapaksa family having an account with a credit balance of over one billion US dollars – that is over 130 billion rupees- and another Rajapaksa trusted associate having more than US $500 million.

With the Government going public with claims like that leveled against the Rajapaksa Family, what is Mr. Yapa trying to achieve by bringing the accuser and the accused on the same stage ostensibly to shake hands in a sign of sham unity? Is it to whitewash Mahinda Rajapaksa in a new coating of presidential purification or indelibly tar President Maithripala with a bucket of people’s opprobrium? Is it to signal the end of crackdown and to send a short message to party members that it is business as usual for the thieves in Ali Baba’s cave to return to the old familiar SLFP vice den?

Then on Tuesday, after a SLFP show of force defeated a Government resolution to increase the Treasury bond threshold in order to pay public servants’ salaries – so much for acting in the national interest – and after 52 SLFP MPs out of the 64 SLFP members in Parliament had submitted affidavits on Wednesday to the Speaker of the House calling him to appoint Dinesh Gunawardane of the MEP, which has only 2 seats in Parliament, as the new leader of the Opposition, the SLFP Secretary Yapa let the cat out of the SLFP bag when he declared that the Maithripala Government could not expect any support from the SLFP as long as the Government continued to harass SLFP members as a result of the crackdown on corruption.

In no uncertain terms did he lay down the SLFP price of support on the line: Lay off or no dice.

If it had not been clear all along, then it is now abundantly so. Corrupt members in the SLFP ranks fear the inevitable visitation of Nemesis, dread to hear the insistent knock on their door summoning them to keep their inexorable tryst with the Goddess of Divine Retribution; and, desperate to ward off the inevitable hour, they steadfastly pray for the return of their Godfather and raise his spectre as their potent talisman of protection.
On Thursday at Polonnaruwa when President Maithripala announced that parliament will be dissolved once the 19th Amendment has been passed and elections will be held thereafter, he also assured the people that ‘The prevailing situation of disarray will subside after this has happened.”

But fresh elections alone will not make the disarray disappear. Maithripala’s promise to the nation to crackdown on corruption and dawn ‘real change’ will never be fulfilled until he first cleans the SLFP nomination slate and presents a new SLFP team to the electorate, chosen according to the guidelines presented by The People’s Action for Free and Fair Elections (PAFFEREL) recently. If careful filtering in the selection process is not done or if the same old corrupt faces who ruled the Rajapaksa roost are allowed to cock-a-doodle-doo again, it would tantamount to a travesty of democracy and a people’s hope inspired by Maithripala’s vision would lie trampled in the ground, nipped in the bud before its bloom,.
Having won the presidential election, it is time President Maithripala Sirisena delivered the dividends of victory. From the hundred day chaos, must rise order and stability.

What’s the buzz betwixt Sujeewa and Malini


Tut. Tut. What’s all this stink blowing in the wind from Diyawanna Oya about a young buck from the hills unleashing a torrent of filthy abuse upon a hapless, little old lady old enough to be his mother? And that, too, in a personal aside cast in the august House of Parliament, away from hearing shot of her loyal army of backers who would otherwise have leapt to her defence and made mince pie out of her character assassin.

Malanie: Claims verbal attack on personal life

Until the inquiry as requested by the alleged verbal attacker is held, the nation will have to hold its curiosity in garters and pocket its judgment as to what choice unparliamentary language was supposedly used by the UNP MP Sujeewa Senasinghe, 43, now exalted to high office as Deputy Minister of Justice no less, to make the award winning film actress Malini Fonseka blush crimson and break her five year silence in the House to launch a tirade of her own?

This private flare up between Sujeewa and Malanie occurred on Wednesday whilst the rest of the House was wrapped in tension over the opposition leader post. Thereafter Malini made a formal complaint to the Deputy Speaker stating: “A short while ago the Deputy Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe insulted my personal life using vulgar words.”

As a collaborating witness, she called on another UPFA National List MP Sriyani Wijewickrema who had been seated next to her. She confirmed it and said she had witnessed the whole scene and that Sujeewa Senasinghe had used foul words to abuse the veteran actress. “This must be deplored on behalf of all women,” she said.

Entering Parliament through the back door as a National List MP of the UPFA in 2010, this Queen of Sinhala cinema who turns 68 this April 30, Malini Fonseka has been content to play out her ordained role as Mahinda Rajapaksa’s rubber stamp in the House and has earned for herself the unique record as the member of parliament who uttered nary a word during her tenure.

Sujeewa: Sharp tongue let loose claim

But what Malini lacks in voters to base her parliamentary role on legitimacy, she makes up more than adequately having millions of fans throughout the country who have placed her to bloom evergreen in their hearts and hold her in esteem for her valuable contribution to the Sinhala cinema. Had she contested, no doubt, she would have mustered multiple times more votes than the paltry 52,000 votes Sujeewa Senasinghe was able to garner in 2010 from Colombo, finishing as he did with being just one before the last on the UNP preferential list to crawl through the front door to enter Parliament.

But without apologizing for any gaffe he may have made, for any unwarranted Mariyakade word he may have used in a moment of provoked rage – and even if he had not used any offensive words as he claims in his denial – he should have shown that chivalry was not dead in his old alma mater Trinity. Following the college motto Respice Finem, he should have looked to the end.

Instead the UNP firebrand who once described himself as the party’s fiercest critic — and thus must be prepared to take the odd attack on him even as he liberally dishes it out to others — sought to vindicate his party’s sudden rise to power by further embroiling himself in the mire he had unwisely stepped into. Like one man’s meat is another’s poison, what maybe terms of endearment to the speaker may sound like sleaze to the hearer. Discretion, after all, is the better part of valour.

He rose to raise a point of order in the House and declared: “Two female MPs have mentioned my name when I was not here in the chamber and complained against me. It was MP Fonseka who insulted me and my government. She said ours is a ‘pinata aapu aanduwak’ (a government came to power without winning elections). Then I replied her and said that she was the MP who came from Mahinda Rajapaksa’s influence to parliament. Thereafter she insulted me using foul and unparliamentary language and challenged me to come out of the Chamber. She said “tho varen eliyata, booruwa, tho danne nehe mage hati”. Then I turned round and walked to my seat and remained silent. I ask the Chair to hold an investigation on this matter.”

Malini Fonseka may have had a point when she remarked that the UNP had formed the government due to Maithripala’s charity which truth, no doubt, would have stung Sujeewa’s machismo to the quick. But instead of retorting that Maithripala may never have come to power to distribute his political gifts and do his charity work if not for the UNP’s proactive role in ensuring his victory, he descended into the gutter to bandy words with the nation’s much acclaimed and experienced actress who had achieved stardom with her first film Punchi Baba in 1968 at a time Sujeeva was not even a distant twinkle in his dear old papa’s fond eye.

Thankfully he did not accept the challenge thrown down by Malini a’ la Sinhala movie villain style to come out of the chamber in the way bar brawlers often do to give the offender the right royal body treatment.

Alas how times have changed. Those were the days when no self respecting lusty local yokel worth his brinjals would have missed out on the opportunity to be locked in a wrestling embrace with Lanka’s ex Love Goddess of the Sinhala silver screen.

Maithripala Sirisena rode to victory with the promise to usher in an era of maithrie, to restore honesty and decency in public life. As the Deputy Minister of Justice Sujeewa Senasinghe should bear this in mind next time he has a difference of opinion with an elderly lady. It may be that Sujeewa did not say what is claimed he has said. Maybe he was misunderstood by the ageing screen legend. Sometimes it is better to throw down the towel and just walk away.

But whatever may have been the case — and judgment has to be deferred until the Speaker’s inquiry is over — how far better it would have been for all concerned if he had displayed some of the gallantry his college may have imbibed in him during his formative years and instead persuaded this Grande Dame of Sinhala Talkies to see things his way and helped the old lady to cross the road to the other side of his UNP street.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Post Comment

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.