Getting the act together | Daily News

Getting the act together

President Maithripala Sirisena has certainly taken stock of the adverse message conveyed to the government by the voters at the LG election and has declared his intention to put the house in order. Speaking, after swearing in six new ministers, and, three state ministers, at yesterday's mini Cabinet reshuffle, at the Presidential Secretariat, the President said; “we all accept the need to act according to the message received from the recent Local Government elections and implement a new programme of work, with new ideas, and proposals, by effecting reforms, and, changes, relating to government activities.” The President said, the verdict of the people shows the need to correct our wrongs, remedy the shortcomings, and, introduce required political reforms, by changing state policies and activities. He said, the reforms that are being contemplated, in keeping with the results, are not something peculiar to Sri Lanka, but a common feature in all countries, in the world.

The President, perhaps, has assessed the situation dispassionately unlike some of his Cabinet ministers, in the SLFP, who have called for the dismissal of the Unity Government, and, also, the Prime Minister. This, after its own poor showing at the election, where it came a distant third after the UNP, in most councils, and, in a couple of LG bodies in the deep south, was beaten by the JVP, to fourth place. The SLFP ministers and MPs cannot go on blaming the UNP's economic policies for their own debacle. The party held powerful ministries in the Unity Government, and were able to act independently of the UNP, in serving the public. For example, the Agriculture portfolio was held by a SLFP minister, who was also the party General Secretary. An analysis of the results would show that the SLFP received a severe thrashing in the agricultural heartland in the raja rata, represented by this minister. Even the President's own home base, where cultivation is the main livelihood, suffered a setback. It all cannot be debited to Ranil Wickremesinghe.

As the President said, what matters now is to place the defeat in its proper perspective, and, get back to the drawing boards, once again, to map out a comprehensive strategy after identifying the shortcomings and device measures to win back the hearts of the voters, who have drifted away from the government. It is certainly not too late to effect the reforms, and, garner the results. There is a full two and half years still left for the Unity Government to complete its term. However, to achieve success, unity is vital. The bickering, and, the name calling, within the alliance, no doubt, took its toll, as we have been repeatedly saying, in these columns.

True, by their very nature, the UNP and SLFP are, ideologically, and, outlook wise, different to each other, and there are bound to be policy clashes. But these differences should be overcome, when working as a single unit. A show of unity would go a long way in restoring public confidence, in the government.

This is why the swearing-in of Ministers on two separate occasions, the first for the UNP, and, the other, the SLFP/UPFA, two weeks hence, is deemed unfortunate, in many quarters. This, no doubt, would serve to exacerbate the feeling that all is still not well within the Unity Government, and, the reshuffle was, but a cosmetics exercise, to dupe the masses.

Hence, it is the President, alone, who could be the binding glue that would bring the two disparate forces together, to sue for peace. The demand made by some SLFP ministers for the ouster of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is also untenable. They will have to live with this reality, however unpalatable it may be, to them. Hence, whining for his removal could only lead to further instability, and, do considerable damage to the government, and, the own electoral prospects of the gripers.

It’s just not on

The uncalled for remarks made by certain UNP MPs and a state minister, who should know better, outside the Presidential Secretariat, on Sunday, following the swearing of new ministers by President Maithripala Sirisena, was unfortunate, to say the least. True, they genuinely voiced the people's resentment towards the government, for the raw deal received from Yahapalanaya, as reflected in the LG poll results. But, disparaging the leadership for the setback, particularly, by the scion of a leading political family in the country, was certainly not on. He and his ilk were only providing ammunition to the Opposition, by their conduct. What those attacking the Premier should realize is that what was being implemented were collective Cabinet decisions and not the decisions by a single individual. Midterm election reversals were also the norm, during the Premiership of a forebear of this state minister, in the mid sixties, but there were no demands from within the party that he steps down, as a result.

With personages such as this, who do much damage, to the Grand Old Party, fostered and nurtured by the ancestors of this selfsame State Minister, the Blues need not to break into any sweat. 


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