Connect with us

Opinion

Aragalaya to Alimankada with PM’s first mistake

Published

on

The Galle Face protests, dubbed an ‘Aragalaya’ by the left intellectuals, who gleefully interpreted it as the inexorable unfolding of the ‘process’ dictated by ‘historical materialism’, ended up in its very Hegelian antithesis. Surely, Ranil Wickremesinghe is the last ‘Aliya’ (the Elephant, the symbol of his party) of the free-market politics of JR JayEwardenE. He is the antithesis of the Aragalaya ideology. And yet, the Aragalaya made him the single-handed power behind the throne of the equally isolated Gotabhaya. He is today a patron of the ‘Aragalaya’ which is sheltered, fed and feted by Colombo businesses and Western NGO groups!

In converting the ‘Aragalaya’ into an Elephant Pass (‘Ali-mankada’), Gotabhaya achieved the one political master-stroke. As the government was already at the IMF and the World Bank, to redress the bankruptcy that Basil Rajapaksa and his economists had refused to acknowledge, Ranil was probably the perfect person for regaining the confidence of the Western Shylocks. The lost election had shorn him off his visible links to shady financial associates. To that extent, he is a cleaner man and destiny has given him a final chance to vindicate his remarkable political career.The new PM should have formed a Cabinet without the use of the same old pack of discredited MPs loathed by the public. He should have asked the President to demand that each party (other than the UNP!) get rid of a proportionate number of ‘National List MPs’ to clear up twenty seats. He could use the empty seats to appoint recognised professionals with administrative experience into the Cabinet. That would have enabled Sri Lanka to have, for the first time in history, a group of technically competent people with good track records of administration to run the country.

Instead, we see essentially the same old faces back in power.

The old elephant has made an elephantine mistake in formulating the new Cabinet. The PM should have insisted that just as the SJB, the JVP, TNA etc., remain out of the Cabinet, so should the SLPP. The respective parties should have been ASKED to nominate various suitable experts, men and women. The PM and the President could have selected those individuals that they felt were optimal for their team.As the GR government has established a reputation for gazette notifications that are annulled with equal ease, the new PM can easily cleanse his current list of appointed ministers and go for new names. It is still not too late.Let us ask how the political crisis unfolded to get some insight into what is relevant.When three Ministers, Gammanpila, Vasu and Wimalawansa (GVW) revolted against a midnight fuel contract given to a dubious US company, they hardly expected to trigger the fall of the SLPP itself.  They, like the bureaucrats of SriLankan who were happily leasing new aircraft, probably thought that Lanka’s red balance sheet will soon get corrected ‘when tourism revived after the end of the pandemic. Their protest was against Basil Rajapaksa, the Finance Minister who ran every ministry.They, like the majority of the Cabinet ministers and party leaders, believed that ‘going organic’ was ‘good in principle’, and that the ‘initial teething problems can be solved’, so that they would soon have food ‘free of agrochemical toxins’.  Given their adeptness at rackets, the MPs claimed to ‘save money’ by banning imported fertilisers, and looked forward to new racketd from the organic fertiliser bids.

Some of the well-fed upper-classes busy themselves in ‘environmental’ NGOs, while others, depending on their political colour, engage in various forms of ‘Chinthanayas’ or in political ‘dialectics’. However, there was remarkable consensus among these groups to ‘go organic’, just as there was clear scientific advice against it. The agricultural scientists were easily dismissed as ‘paid agents of multinationals’.  Even those who claimed to talk with the Gods, be it the late Ms. Senanayake or ‘Gnanakka’, strongly supported the banning of agrochemicals. Powerful news media as well as Chamal Rajapaksa, the head monks of influential temples, Christian and Hindu prelates, all supported it. A ‘Hiru Govi Sangramaya’ heralded the expected dawn of the shift to ‘hela govithena’ done without the use of agro-chemicals  (see Island, 13-March-2020; http://archive.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=220219).Furthermore, President Gotabhaya had got rid of the main-stream technical advisors and got himself a ‘ViyathMaga’ made up of intellectuals espousing various types of untested ‘Vikalpa’, a Sinhala word which could also mean ‘crazy ideas’.  But the President’s error of judgment was in falling into such traps, debilitating the nation’s food security, while oblivious that his country was already in an economic free fall.  So, the call for GOTA to go home was a natural and logical one, since even the misdeeds of his Finance Minister are the responsibility of the President.

However, the farmers who rose in protest were angry at all the MPs and wanted all 225 out. The public sentiment of disillusion was such that ‘THEY’ were all declared to be ‘crooks’.  The banning of agrochemicals, selling of organic manure, biofilm-biofertilisers, nano-urea,etc., were all rightly judged as rackets by the common man.The Galle Face protest was launched by Marxist leaders to take advantage of the farmers’ discontent, and the division in the ranks of the government caused by the GVW trio. The urbanised middle class, inconvenienced by the lack of medicine, cooking fuel and petrol, willingly joined the protest that was launched, copying the model used by anti-vaccine groups in the West.It was this hijacked protest of the farmers that became known as the ‘Aragalaya’, ‘GotaGOgama’. The Aragalaya ignored the limited, realistic objective of the GVW trio, which was to get rid of Basil Rajapaksa’s domination. The Aragalaya ignored the general belief among the public that ‘all 225’ must go as they are ‘all corrupt’. The Aragalaya‘s demand that ‘Gota must Go’, was very similar to the unworkable demand of the anti-Vax anti-mask Truckers’ Convoy that set up a ‘Protest Village’ in Ottawa and demanded that ‘Justin Trudeau must Go’. The Truckers’ Convoy was tolerated for about a month. Then the Canadian authorities took steps to freeze bank accounts of the protest leaders, passed emergency legislation and called in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, with the armed forces waiting in the wings.

Gota’s government could have used the law against misuse of public spaces to control the protest but failed to do so, once again establishing its inability to govern. That SLPP thugs would eventually move in, only to be attacked with disproportionate violence by the hidden hand of the Aragalaya, was an expected outcome.The unexpected result, i. e the ‘black swan’ of the escalation was the rise of Ranil within the political isolation of a President, humbled by bankruptcy and political violence. The President had to resort to the standard constitutional steps of offering the premiership to every appropriate candidate in forming an interim government. This was when the leadership qualities of contenders would be tested. Ranil was the clear winner, while Sajith proved as pusillanimous as ever. His conditions for acceptance, if they had been taken seriously, would have taken weeks of haggling and are inappropriate when the ship is on fire.PM Wickremasinghe can still reconstitute his Cabinet by cleaning out national list MPs, and bringing in unsullied professionals. He still has the upper hand, but perhaps not for long. Instead of launching 21A and such ad hoc constitutional amendments, he should call for the recently drafted constitution, formulated by a panel of eminent lawyers and scholars, and legislate it. After that, the country should go for elections in accordance with the new constitution.

CHANDRE DHARMAWARDANA

Canada



Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion

Our long-forgotten friend can help mitigate impact of fuel shortage

Published

on

The importance of the bicycle as a mode of transportation is seemingly re-emerging in Sri Lanka. This sudden drive is mainly attributable to the ongoing economic crisis the country is faced with. The forex crisis, together with ever increasing fuel prices, has made the Sri Lankans remember their long-forgotten friend––the bicycle.

We see more and more people taking to cycling today for their daily activities out of desperation more than anything else. However, this trend needs to be encouraged not only for its economic benefits but also for its health, environmental, social (and many other) advantages.

The benefits of promoting cycling

Economic

– The economics of transportation has become a major woe. The main energy source used today in transportation in Sri Lanka is fossil fuel. This amounts to 2,081 Mn USD (or 64 % of the total fuel cost of the country) a year. In terms of percentage spending of the total foreign imports, this amounts to a whopping 10.3 %. (Source: Kumarage AS, Repositioning Sri Lanka’s Transport and Logistics Sector to lead the Economic Recovery in Sri Lanka, Organization of Professionals’ Association Journal, April 2022). By promoting the use of bicycles, we can expect to reduce a sizable amount of this colossal expenditure.

Cycling is also known to be conducive to the small-scale trader, as he comes in contact with the cyclists more often than the motorists. Thus, cycling will positively influence the small-scale economy of the country as well.

Health

– A number of studies have shown that cycling reduces the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as Acute Myocardial Infarction, Coronary Heart Disease, Cerebro Vascular Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, stress and many psychological diseases. Cycling, while improving the overall health of the people, will also reduce the healthcare costs, appreciably in the long term.

Environmental

– Increased use of fossil fuels for transportation has in turn become one of the leading causes of environmental pollution, global warming and climate change, the world over, three of the major calamities the world has come to be plagued with today. By cycling we can reduce air pollution by reducing the noxious gases, such as carbon oxides, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, benzene and particulate matter. It also reduces noise pollution, and helps in mitigating global warming and climate change.

Social

– Cycling is also known to promote social interactions among people by encouraging networking and collaborations between them. This will influence the social health of the community positively.

The activities proposed

– The programme to promote cycling should be implemented, as a pilot project, with the participation of the state sector employees in some selected districts. Depending on the success thereof, it could be extended to the other sectors and districts.

1. As the first step towards promoting cycling nationwide, we propose that it be promoted among the state employees as their main mode of travel (to work). In this regard, we propose that they be paid an incentive in keeping with the distance they cover.

2. Bicycles could also be used by those who live far away from their workplace; they can cycle to the main bus or railway station. In both these situations, the cyclists should be paid accordingly.

3. Cyclists should be provided with facilities for bathing and changing at workplaces.

4. The government should take all measures aimed at making travel, safe and hassle free for cyclists. New laws should be made for this purpose, if necessary.

5. To lessen traffic congestion and increase safety of the cyclists, one-way traffic for the motorists in parallel roads should be encouraged wherever possible.

6. Cyclists should be provided with facilities to purchase bicycles, spare parts and accessories at discount rates.

7. Encourage production of bicycles, spare parts and accessories in Sri Lanka. Promote bicycle repair services countrywide.

8. Plant and maintain trees on the roadside for the benefit of cyclists. This will also help reduce air pollution and ambient temperature.

9. Liaise with major cycling associations in the world like the World Cycling Association, the Dutch Cycling Embassy, etc, in order to update knowledge and skills relating to promoting cycling in the country.

10. In keeping with the principle of “polluter pays” a dedicated tax could be imposed on motor vehicles, and the revenue therefrom used to promote cycling.

Dr. PRASANNA COORAY

President

Consumers & Customers Union

Continue Reading

Opinion

Catastrophe that has hit Ukraine

Published

on

The coup, or revolution, in Ukraine in 2014, as a result of the Maidan Square uprising, enabled extremist forces to take control of Ukraine. Many of them have Fascist ideology even to this day. In 1945, Russia had chased the German Nazis back to Berlin at a terrible cost in Russian lives. Now, people with this same mentality have taken power in Kiev with the devilish help of the American CIA – and they are hostile to Russians in Russia and even Russian-speaking Ukrainians, who number about a third of the total population of 60 million Ukrainians.

This minority of Russian-speaking people are mostly located towards the East of the country, with many centred in the towns and cities known as the Donbas. These people did not want to be subjected to Nazi, Fascist unpleasant treatment, so they agitated to be independent. They formed their own militias, men from the army defected and brought weapons from the army! The army and the militias fought each other to a standstill. In response, the Ukrainian army-built lines of trenches and other defences along the Donbas, especially near towns with important or vital industries.

Over time, relations deteriorated and the army started indiscriminately shelling the Donbas – they were killing their own people! This tragedy occurred for a period of eight years. About 14,000 civilians were killed by illegal random fire. No reporting on this in the “morally correct” west, and this story was ignored. Fascist thugs made Mariupol steelworks their headquarters in the Donbas. Early this year, 2022, the Ukrainian army was seen massing nearby for a full-scale attack on the rebels of the Donbas. Around 200, 000 of the best fighting men of all the Ukrainian army were to be used to finally crush the Russian-speaking rebels of the Donbas.

At the same time, the US was gearing up to take some land in the Donbas area – possibly in Crimea. The US considered Ukraine as their backyard, and they wanted to control the Black Sea and pin down Russian access to the sea – more devilish ideas to undermine and weaken Russia!

Russian ‘Special Military Operation

’:

But Russia was watching, and on 24 February, it launched its ‘Special Military Operation’ to counter the hostile actions in the Donbas. The first thing they did was to destroy all the ground radars, rendering the Ukrainian air force incapable of targeting accurately. Then came a great parade of propaganda and lies about Russian failures and losses, all fictions and distortions which were untrue, but were misleading to those without access to the facts. President Putin had so many ailments he alone could fill a hospital! All fiction. The west’s propaganda war is a remarkable feature of this military excursion.

At the outset of the Special Military Operation there were many similarities between the Russian and Ukrainian forces, and their equipment. But there were some glaring differences, too.

Russian forces were full time, professional soldiers, well trained in the specific tasks they were responsible for: they were a fully professional, competent army operating advanced equipment. They had high-tech equipment and knew how to handle it and use it to its fullest, to its best.

Each aircraft, battle tank, drone or radar station carries electronic equipment. This creates a node forming part of a computer network which exchanges information. The information fed into this network is processed by powerful computers. The result is that the targeting of enemy positions is exact, resulting in highly efficient warfare. It is efficient, not least because the Russian army wants to avoid targeting civilians. In the Donbas, all the people were related kinsfolk, being Russian speakers.

This required much caution in targeting, as the Ukrainian army was hiding among the civilians. The Russian army was obliged to advance slowly, so as to do as little damage as possible. This targeting efficiency also had the benefit of using ammunition economically. It was a progressive, brutal de-militarization of the Ukrainian army in Donbas using the combined military forces of Russia.

No-body knows when peace will arrive in Ukraine. It seems likely that, after going to all this effort, Russia will continue on and conquer the port of Odessa, and may even continue onwards to link up with Transnistria.

Note that this death and destruction could all have been avoided if Ukraine had implemented the Minsk Accords. They acted in bad faith and now suffer the consequences of that dishonesty.

Wild speculations are made in the West about the dangers of nuclear war. But these generals, colonels and western elites should know, as a matter of personal professional pride, that the official “Russian Military Doctrine” spells out in sections 26 and 27 the criteria for the use of nuclear weapons. This will happen only when outside actions pose an existential (real) threat to Russia. Russia will react with Nukes either: if Russia is hit by a nuclear explosion or if an army invades and approaches the centre, say, Moscow.

A Professional Army using High–tech Equipment:

For this success, Russian soldiers had to be well educated in maths and physics, and because of the extreme complexity of modern war, they must have a serious attitude. They had to know all about military science: operational art and planning, informational nodes, and net centric warfare. The Russian army engages in reconnaissance, intelligence gathering, surveillance, and targeting. Radar can give targeting information in 23 seconds, requiring defence alertness and readiness.

It is unlikely the Ukrainian army is so well educated and trained. Firing indiscriminately on the Donbas and killing people and the use of prohibited cassette munitions as seen on world news sites, does indicate a lack of discipline. This unprofessionalism has cost them dearly.

The Ukrainian army gives losses at approximately: 20,000 killed, 64,000 missing in action, and perhaps 30,000 men wounded. Russians give about: 5,000 men in special Russian holding camps and 2,500 men in Donbas holding camps.

Legal experts in Russia, and Donbas experts, are, even now sifting through all the cases of the detained men. Normal soldiers will be given trials and sentencing for any wrongdoing, but those with a background of supporting Fascism will be shipped to Siberia for further investigation. One of the stated aims of the Russian establishment is to de-Nazify the Ukrainian army.

The Role of Education in Development of a Country

: Throughout their lives Russian children get much more science, physics and mathematics (STEM) than schools in the west. The standard set by the best Russian college entrance examinations is high, putting the American schools and colleges in the shade. There are no multiple-choice questions, answers are either right or wrong. These best Russian schools are attended by many bright, thirsty minds, each waiting to drink up the education offered.

This careful selection and development of bright scientific minds has enabled Russia to develop really advanced weapons and rockets, way ahead of the USA. For example, it launched the orbiting Sputnik into space well before the Americans. This act alone sent the US administration into a panic. They, in response, developed the high altitude U2 spy plane to go and see what the Russians were up to! Recently, because the US Shuttle was out of service, Russia was providing the Americans with a shuttle service to the international space station. A group of young engineers, all under 30 years, designed the SU 57, a highly successful fighter. Russia has designed and successfully tested hypersonic weapons – which the USA is struggling to catch up with.

In truth, the main war between East and West is being played out at the school desk, and Russia is winning!

See Larry Johnson’s film on YouTube – in English

PRIYANTHA HETTIGE

Continue Reading

Opinion

Save us from our govt.!

Published

on

When watching daily news bulletins, on several local TV channels, one could observe two significant matters.

One is how Gotabaya Rajapaksa shamelessly meets foreign diplomats and officers of international organizations, who are well aware of the grave situation of the country, and also the prime reason for it.

Remember, as kids, how we hide from our parents, or teachers, when some small mistake happens – that is because we were ashamed, and afraid of punishment. And ther, too, it would have been only our own mistake, not by the whole family of ours!

Next is how the Police and armed forces are let loose on the men, women and children who have been waiting in queues for hours or days. The authorities are not finding ways to stop queuing or at least maintain some order at those places, but chastise the people, for electing as Basil Rajapaksa had said, a stupid, clueless president and an incompetent government.

The greatest disasters we have faced since Independence are the JVP insurrection, the LTTE war and the tsunami in 2004, and during those times the people were protected by then governments; now Sri Lankans have to struggle against the government, which is steadily throttling them to death.

BUDDHI PERERA

Continue Reading

Trending