(Text of Editorial Appearing in “The Island” of 12th November 2022 under the Heading “Govt. can choose between trouble and double trouble”)
Government politicians may pretend that they are not scared of anyone or anything, but all it takes to make them head for the hills is to say, “Election”. Such is these worthies’ fear of facing the people despite their braggadocio.
SLPP leaders recently told a group of their party supporters that local government LG elections would be postponed for two years, dissident SLPP MP Dayasiri Jayasekera has told the media. If his claim is true, then the government is contemplating a blatant violation of the election laws, according to which the Election Commission now has to hold the LG polls before the end of March 2023.
Legal experts inform us that any attempt to put off the LG elections further can be challenged in courts, and it will be an open-and-shut case.
The Opposition has warned that it will be left with no alternative but to take to the streets in case of another poll postponement. So, the government will have more problems to contend with, on both legal and political fronts if it seeks to put off the LG polls once again.
SLPP Chairman and former Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs Prof. G. L. Peiris, MP, has warned that Sri Lanka will run the risk of losing international assistance if the government continues to suppress people’s franchise. One can only hope that the powers that be will heed such warnings, overcome its fear of elections and allow the people to exercise their right to vote.
The government has lost its mandate. It is doing exactly the opposite of what it promised the people before the last general election. The SLPP obtained a popular mandate for undoing what the Yahapalana government had done and keeping the UNP at bay.
It vowed that under no circumstances would it allow the divestiture of state institutions. But today a fire-sale of public assets is on, and the process of restructuring the Ceylon Electricity Board and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation has already got underway.
What is needed therefore is a general election for the people to decide whether the present dispensation should be allowed to rule the country.
If the international community and lending agencies are genuinely desirous of helping Sri Lanka come out of the current economic crisis, they ought to call for the formation of an all-party interim government followed by a general election within six months.
Nothing is stupider than to expect those who have bankrupted the country to rebuild the economy. Some ministers are total misfits who cannot even read and understand primary school textbooks, but have amassed colossal amounts of wealth by cutting corrupt deals and stealing public funds.
The task before the country is the economic version of a steeplechase, and the need is for thoroughbred gallopers and not lame donkeys!
One however should not dupe oneself into believing that all cantankerous Opposition MPs are capable, honest and equal to the task of rebuilding the economy. We see hardly any difference between the failed government members and most of their Opposition counterparts.
The people are so fed up with the current regime that there is the risk of their anger preventing them from voting rationally, and some political dregs in the Opposition being voted into power. But the fact remains that the country’s economic recovery will not be attainable as long as the current administration holds on to power.
Speculation is rife in political circles that some more corrupt, inefficient characters are to be appointed to the Cabinet soon.
The blame for the current economic crisis should be apportioned to the voting public, as former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa said in June, while announcing his resignation from Parliament.
Now that the people are paying the price for having re-elected a bunch of failed crooks, it behoves them to vote wisely without being swayed by factors such as caste, political allegiances and patronage.
People are said to deserve the governments they elect, and only they could save themselves from the representatives they vote into office. They should be given an opportunity to do so.The government had better realise that if it tries to postpone the LG polls again on one pretext or another, it will face an even bigger political risk, for the people will pour into the streets demanding a general election. It has a choice between trouble and double trouble!