How the critics may have performed in the face of the pandemic | Daily News


How the critics may have performed in the face of the pandemic

The Government's COVID control programme won plaudits
The Government's COVID control programme won plaudits

While the news is focused on the spicier news-cycle concerns such as infighting in Opposition parties, it is oftentimes possible to forget that there are important matters hanging on the outcome of the August election. But unlike the regular newsmen, the people probably have their ears to the ground. They know for a fact that the underworld is being cleaned up. Imagine what would happen if there is a return by some weird chance of all the Samagi Janabalawegaya and UNP types to positions of power?

What did they do for the five years they were in office, with regard to containing the underworld menace, for instance? Cricketer Dhananjaya de Silva’s father’s killer was apprehend when the recent flushing out of certain underworld elements took place. The Municipal Councillor was murdered when the UNP government was in office. Was a finger lifted to apprehend the culprits during that administration’s tenure?

The ludicrous way in which prisons have been run is now coming to light after this Government decided that the prison system in which some elements were able to transform prisons into luxury retreats, should be reformed forthwith. Everything that’s related to COVID-19 and intervening events may have at least some voters focused on how they should get their lives back to functional-normal after a long period of disruption. But it is imperative that people focus also on crucial issues of law and order because the outcome of the impending election would likely be a result they would have to live with at least for the next four and a half years.

So let them make informed decisions. Let them not chance their arm with experiments. They will in the run up to the polls, hear the usual culprits complain about so called ‘militarization’— which is their way of cooking up all the types of scare stories. But the fact remains that for the first time in years, underworld kingpins and assorted crooks are getting a run for their money.


Essentially this is why the people voted for the President last November. They wanted order out from the chaos. Now when what they wished for is happening, the political opposition brings up various bogeys, claiming these gains are worthless because they are at the cost of ‘militarization’.Former minister Mangala the Samaraweera harped on this trumped up militarization issue in comments he made last week when he pulled out of the race. Apparently explaining his pullout, he has offered that those who fight and run away, live to fight another day. In quoting that line, he seems to have got something wrong at least as far as his own circumstances are concerned. He should have said ‘thosewho fight and run away live to run another day.’ At this juncture, running away is the political future that seems most likely for him.

Mangala Samaraweera has spoken as if the COVID-19 threat did not happen, and as if the President did not have such a thing on his hands in the last few months.He has spoken about how he thinks the economy is in bad shape, but has had nothing to say about how he, if he was finance minister, would handle the crisis that sprang from the necessary disruption due to the COVID-19 threat. What would he have done? Repeat his mantra about balancing the budget ?

Last week Samaraweera’s utterances and his political antics offered a look at how the Opposition may have handled things if they were in office during the COVID-19 interruption. The focus if Samaraweera and his ilk were in saddle, would probably have been on how the various factions could co-exist within the administration. So much for Covid containment. He does seem to admit that politics in the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) is in such a fluid condition that he is unable to come to terms with the pace of change and fluidity from day to day in that party.

He says for instance that he does not want his politics to be to nationalistic, or words to that effect. How are the people supposed to decide whether the SJB is coming or going, when those who were supposed to be its stalwarts can’t get the hang of what is going on in that party rights in the teeth a feverish election campaign ?


Sajith Premadasa meanwhile is trying to be all things to all people. His main vote banks were from among the minority communities, but now that he is politically out to please all comers, the minority communities may as well decide they’d vote for others more focussed on their concerns, at the forthcoming Parliamentary Polls.

Premadasa also says that he is willing to work with President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. It seems this is the best admission by any politician that the President is doing a great job. If he is not, Premadasa should have said that when and if he becomes prime minister, he would hold the President to account. But now he seems to be saying at least by default that the President has done an excellent job containing COVID-19 and had succeeded in bringing the country together without major incident in law and order and other areas of governance, despite the enormous challenges that he was faced with.

So if the President has done a good job and Premadasa says he will work with the President, the question arises why the President should have a Prime Minister from a different party— when the President could have a Prime Minister from his own ranks?

Obviously Premadasa will not have an answer to that. All he seeks is power and in the process doesn’t seem to realize how many times he shoots himself in the foot with his regular public pronouncements.


If Premadasa for whatever reason cannot hold his candidates on the list even before a single vote is cast, it goes without saying that the optics of that is rather hilarious. It is probably the first time in Sri Lanka’s electoral history that a public figure who has been in politics for a very long time declares that even though he is on the list, he has withdrawn from the race and people should not cast their votes for him. That’s Mangala Samaraweera’s stand. On the one hand, with friends like these Premadasa doesn’t need enemies.

It appears that many who initially coalesced around Premadasa are gradually coming to the realization that his ship may be somewhat like the Titanic. They are now flailing about trying to save their political lives.

The last thing people of this country want are all these hijinks. This is especially not the time for any of this. They have to get their lives back on track after the necessary disruption from the pandemic. The appetite for political drama is almost zero.

In the meantime gratuitous advice from the Premadasa camp which was in Government for the last five years, on how to manage the economy, and on every crisis such as the leasing company issue etc, seems funny by any reckoning. How are they delivering this advice with a straight face when most of those who are backing Premadasa held all the important positions in the Government that was defeated which made a right royal mess of not just the economy but the fundamentals of national security as well ?

Mangala Samaraweera for his part, has given himself a certificate on how well he managed economy. So well perhaps, that the people delivered a resounding defeat at the crucial presidential polls to his brand of politics, when they had a real chance of opting for continuity. He is so confident about his brilliant economic performance that he has chosen to pack his bags before the people send him home for all his brilliant efforts.


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