Many imagined that the coalition’s political honeymoon appeared heading for the rocks along with the extravagant circustrappings that went with the massive ensemble.Its detractors were of opinion that it looked as if the curtain might come down on the circus with its adept jugglers, tight-rope and stilt walkers, trapeze artistes, jugglers, fire-eaters and buffoons.
President Maithripala’s Sirisena’s recent uncharacteristic speech has certainly set the feathers flying in the political dovecotes. But many right thinking people seemed worried that the present political convulsions would not augur well for the country or its future. We have already had our share of turbulence and cannot afford another political standoff at this juncture which would be certain to plunge our nation into a helpless tailspin to disaster.
Perhaps President Sirisena was right in lambasting the law enforcement agencies and making it clear that he was wearing the pants in the government although he has abrogated certain crucial powers he held under the constitution. President Sirisena must have realized the resentment caused by certain elements in the administration he was jointly heading with Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Many viewed the power base up to now as an ad hoc government of contradictions and controversies. Up until now, it had clearly manifested that politics always prevails over justice. Certainly it would not have been a beneficial legacy to follow. The President must have been aware that such actions and inactions could boomerang with unexpectedly stunning force.Analysts believe that was the reason he came out of his corner swinging at what he knew was a continued witch-hunt and the buck had to stop with him.
It was abundantly clear that soon after the presidential election there was a very ugly witch-hunt sweeping across the political, bureaucratic and judicial enclaves which many thought was shamefully unfair. Indeed, somedid express the opinion that itwas obscenelyfraudulent and unjust. During this period, though, the nation had been witnessing nail after nail being hammered into the coffin of due process.
We have witnessed a continuing spate of relentless campaigns against several suspected charlatans and disreputable felons who everyone knows have been milking the nation dry. Yes, singling out those tainted with unsavoury character would be expected of any administration. But the truth is that without proper investigations to unearth irrefutable proof of wrongdoing would be tantamount to witch-hunts. There was also evidence of investigations being carried out ostensibly to uncover subversive activities but are actually used to hound and undermine those with differing views.
As in most marriages of expedience, the partners are seldom soul-mates, despite all the outward back-slapping bonhomie among them when they are all constituent parties of a coalition. But it appears evident that the cracks are already beginning to widen. Yet in Sri Lankan politics it is also a closer relative of ‘yo-yo’ unions.
All along, previous governments when swept into power have been compelled to enter into several marriages of convenience. Some have been conventionally contracted earlier and others hastily arranged at the eleventh hour in an endeavor to form a government. But none has been so ambiguous as the present incongruously cobbled administration we witness today.
It is an outrageous conception that no government in recent memory has been held properly to account for both their transgressions of commission and omission. Certainly, wrongdoers have to be brought justice whoever they are. But such a crackdown poses several risks. One is that certain politicized overzealous investigators might trample on civil liberties. Another is that the public, which will be squarely behind any such campaign, will turn cynical if it appears that the targeting of officials is selective or politically motivated.
It is a self-evident truth that the country is in serious difficulty. But the make-shift government should not be hoping to paying attention too little, too late by being galvanized to embrace popular social initiatives as it continues writhing like a wounded snake trying to wrest back control of the economy.
We have an Executive President who commands a party holding a larger number of legislative seats who has appointed a United National Party Prime Minister, who in turn has favoured some of his own party loyalists with key Cabinet portfolios. That has, without a doubt, created a massive sense of disgruntlement among many legislators who have sworn allegiance to the President.
That is all the more reason why everything must point to a search for the truth rather than exploiting a situation and must not degenerate into vendettas or protecting lawbreakers. The questions that need to be answered should be of public and not of partisan interest. That way they will not risk looking like opportunistic factionalists and cold-blooded bushwhackers out for revenge.
But mercifully there are powerful integrationist lobbyists who are confident that even the most bittersplits could be plastered over. And for the sake of the nation’s peace and stability we hope they succeed. Yes, I reiterate that criminal elements must be dealt with summarily under the law but without trampling on their civil liberties. Admittedly it does not take an analyst or a think-tank to surmise that there are no gross ideological differences between our two major political party partners. As such here is no necessity for a power struggle if saner heads prevail.
But the priority of the moment is to get down to business and re-establish good governance. If not this union could decidedly become an issue of contentiously combustible dimensions. No one can rightly allay those fears that it would only take a tiny spark to set off that same constitutional powder-keg to explode into unprecedented political and economic chaos that could well lead to anarchy.