Political commentary What’s next? Who’s next?

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By 2017-08-15

By Abdul Samad

My last article on the correlation between political stability and foreign direct investment is starting to make more rational sense with the recent events unfolding at a rather breathtaking pace. Some key milestones have been achieved through public pressure on the current political establishment.

In this context it is increasingly evident of the instability that is prevailing. In such a scenario the country is set to lose further on the economic front as the world sees turmoil in the Sri Lankan political climate. The focus and the momentum have shifted and so have the long term economic objectives. In fact it is right to say that there are no tangible targets in sight for the economic progress of the country.

Events that unfolded this week have been shocking to say the least. The government is trying to gather the pieces of its fall from grace. A hailstorm of sorts has its functioning in recent times with key individuals being cornered from the limelight of governance.

Resignation

Ravi Karunanayake's resignation in the aftermath of mind boggling corruption charges was a vindication that the general public still holds the key to success of any political establishment. His resignation was not orchestrated by President Maithripala Sirisena or Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe but they succumbed to the intense public scrutiny that unravelled in the aftermath of the corruption charges.

Post 8 January 2015, the unity government assumed power with a promise to people in allocating portfolios on a rational / scientific basis. Considering such a scenario the voter had the right to expect clean governance.

However, it was rather bizarre the way the President and Premier chose to allocate portfolios. The allocation was based on more to synchronize the functioning of the government as opposed to giving portfolios based on merit and skill. This is much easier said than done as most of the Parliament consist of inefficient, corrupt and individuals without any credentials. However, the false promises of a new dawn with scientific rational has faded with time and space.

Key elements

One of the key elements of the two years of this political establishment is the lack of sync among key individuals in the eco-system. Time and again situations have surfaced where the lack of sync has both hampered key decisions and halted economic progress of the country. A Cabinet reshuffle, a key resignation, political infighting has led to stability that is remote and scarce.

In the aftermath of the Foreign Minister's resignation new reports have emerged of a No- Confidence Motion being raised against Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe. Surprisingly, the motion is coming to life within the UNP ranks and not from the Joint Opposition (JO). This is a clear case of lack of compatibility and no sync within the key ranks of the establishment.

Looking at the last two plus years of the administration one can see that it is flooded with scandals and debacles. However, the senior orchestrators of the government remain elusive and ignorant of them. The list of scandals is appalling. Some of the outrageous events on the list are as follows:

• CBSL Bond Scam is probably the most important and most corrupt incident in recent history. Sri Lanka lost Rs. 1.6 billion within a few minutes and according to the Attorney General's report loss to the EPF fund is to the tune of Rs. 15.5 billion. Sri Lankans witnessed daylight robbery of their hard earned money. While the focus remains on Ravi Karunanayake, Arjun Aloysius and Arjuna Mahendran, it would be insane to think that such a scam could have occurred without the blessings of senior figures in the government.

• The Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) and its failed mega hyped projects that could have shaped the future of the country are strangled. The Google project, Total Pay National Payment Platform project, and E-nic project have failed. While all the executives are handsomely paid and some even report to work only three times a week, they use the platform to collect electronic data of private individuals, core functions of the organization remain ignored and isolated.

• Lakshman Kiriella and Kabir Hashim allegedly made merry with the irregularities followed in awarding the respective contracts regarding the Colombo Outer Circular Expressway and Central Expressway. The contracts were awarded without a proper tender procedure and were signed on a Sunday which is all the more shocking.

• The Supreme Court (SC) verdict over the coal scam had been shocking to say the least. The SC also advised Lanka Coal Company to terminate the agreement with Swiss Singapore Company Limited. However, it was ignored.

The Chairman of Lanka Coal Maithri Gunaratne who stood against it was removed from his position.

A government that rose to power promising good governance completely ignored the Judiciary and its verdict.

• Lakshman Kiriella and Kabir Hashim pointed out the irregularities in awarding the contracts to the Volkswagen Factory, the Panama land grab by Daya Gamage, the appointment of Tilak Marapana to the Cabinet after allegations of Avant Garde Floating Armoury are some of the other mind boggling events.

New wave against corruption

Now that the new wave against corruption has come to the forefront in the country, we need to ask what's is going to happen next? Was Ravi only a scapegoat to hide the others? Does the government think that voters are illiterate people?

The question also arises, if this trend continues, what's the next major scandal that's brewing? As citizens, are we to accept that corruption is part of the system or the system itself is corrupt?

If the main participants of the current administration even have a little shame left, they should take the lead in dissolving Parliament and call for fresh elections. The past two plus years have categorically certified that the government is incapable and unable to take the country in the right direction.

The people of the country have rightly voiced their anger and discontent on recent revelations and consequently we have a high profile resignation. If the administration continues to ignore the voice of the people, social unrest may be the next big event we all have to face.

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