Sri Lankans are now waking up to the political reality, says JVP National List MP Bimal Ratnayake.
In a brief interview with The Island, the 46-year-old MP Ratnayake said that two months after the formation of the current government, the people have realised once again that they have been swayed by some promises and their aspirations will never be fulfilled.
Ratnayake, explaining his assessment of the current political situation, said that the government had let down the people who voted for it.
They had elected Gotabaya Rajapaksa President in the hope that he would do something radically different to give them a better deal. “They expected a radical shake-up. They are frustrated now.
According to Ratnayake, the government machinery is almost at a standstill because many public institutions are headless. “On Jan 06, the President issued a directive asking all chairmen, directors and boards of directors of corporations, boards, authorities and statutory bodies to resign. This is natural after a change of government. But when such an order was given, the government should have had a plan to fill those vacancies. Now what has happened? There are over 500 state institutions including statutory bodies, corporations and authorities. About 238 institutions are not properly functional. In some places appointments have been given to relatives of ministers or political stooges. In some other places persons with a history of corruption or frauds have been appointed to high posts. Cases against many of them are still pending before courts.
“On the other hand, the cost of living is skyrocketing. People expected the new government to grant them relief. They are utterly disappointed.”
Commenting on the government’s recent decision to increase the daily wage of estate workers the MP said it was another lie. It is actually a ‘shanda gundu’ [vote-catching gimmick]. The government did not have that plan at the time of announcing it, not even now. There are around 140,000 to 150,000 estate workers. Each of them is currently paid Rs 750 a day. The increased Rs 250, if given, will cost around Rs 37.5 million a month. From where does the money come? Minister Romesh Pathirana said that they would give tax relief to the estate owners so that the latter would pay the increased Rs 250 to the workers. Soon thereafter, Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said that a loan would be given by the Sri Lanka Tea Board to estate owners to pay the wage increase. These contradictory statements show that the government has no plan to pay the increased amount to the estate workers. It keeps contradicting itself and is at a loss.”
Asked to comment on the role of the Opposition in the context of the present political situation, the JVP MP said that both the UNP and the TNA cannot play the role of the Opposition properly. For example, from 1994 to 2001, the Opposition led by Ranil Wickremesinghe, pathetically failed. The 2001 regime change occurred not because the Opposition, led by Wickremesinghe; it did anything. That government fell because of other reasons such as LTTE attacks and the high cost of living issues. I personally believe that incumbent Opposition leader Sajith Premadasa is fare worse failure than Wickremesinghe. He has neither the capacity nor political maturity. In the TNA, the number of politically active MPs can be counted on one hand. They do not even serve their electorates properly. They failed as an Opposition. In Parliament we played the role of the opposition well and better than others.
Ratnayake said his party would oppose the government’s plans to do away with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. “We are against it. We will defeat any such moves. The 19th Amendment strengthened Parliament. We will also campaign against the government’s plan to get a two-thirds majority. The governments which had two-thirds majorities in Parliament not only ruined the country and political parties, but also themselves. During 1970 to 77, the then government had a two-thirds majority in Parliament and it ruined the country and destroyed their own parties too. In 1977 the UNP got a five-sixths majority and ruined the country and itself. The UNP has never recovered fully. Mahinda Rajapaksa did not have a two-thirds majority in 2005-2010. But that was the time he really served the country and the national interests. He won the war and enjoyed political power without the two-thirds power in Parliament. But he secured a two-thirds majority in Parliament after the 2010 general election and how he ruined the country, his party and himself is only too well known. This is why we are against any party obtaining a steamroller majority in Parliament.”
(Source: The Island – By Saman Indrajith)