Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 29 March 2015





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Government Gazette

Opposition joins the Government...:

'A bizarre coalition'

Contentious developments that saw the Government last week reneging on its promise to limit the Cabinet to 30 - bloating it to a near mammoth 77 - has blurred the line between the Government and the Opposition, giving rise to a slew of questions about the direction in which the body politics of this country is heading. While the secretive nature of the decision to expand the Cabinet has many asking what happened to pledges of good governance, the fact that the Cabinet was expanded to provide portfolios to SLFP members, many of them vociferous detractors of the Government, has many dubbing the development a ‘coalition most bizarre’ and wonder, “What happens next”.

Opposition Leader

Nimal Siripala de Silva

Political analysts are at cross-roads as to what direction the country is moving in following the Government's decision to give ministerial portfolios SLFPers which has also given rise to questions about, the legitimacy of a SLFP Leader functioning as Leader of the Opposition.


Critics had a field-day pointing out the absurdity of the current political order in the country, when the Government cannot be distinguished from the Opposition. The concept of National Government as flaunted by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe is stoutly contested by Dinesh, Vasu and Wimal troika. They call the National Government of Ranil Wickremesinghe a loose arrangement to thwart the rising discontent among SLFP seniors.

Some sections of the SLFP condemn the decision by their own colleagues to accept portfolios at the cost of the party's future. The TNA and SLMC continue to remain in the political cauldron with its reservations on Government moves. The JVP alleges that the people's aspirations have been shattered by this coalition government as it goes against the people's mandate. True to style, a full-fledged National Government should be representatives of at least important political parties.

A cross section of the politicians interviewed by the Sunday Observer expressed divergent views on the National Government concept.

Cabinet Spokesman and Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said this it was the first time in the history of the SLFP that a decision was taken at the last Central Committee Meeting and Group Meeting to form a national government and that has taken place now. Other parties need not worry. They too could join the Government. Otherwise, they can stay in the Opposition.

Political culture

TNA parliamentary Group Leader R.Sampanthan

During our election campaign, we categorically stated that after President Maithripala Sirisena's victory at the January 8 election, he will not only change the presidency but also change the political culture in the country. That new political culture is emerging now.

JVP Parliamentarian Vijitha Herath: This is a coalition government, not a national government. Both the Government and main Opposition UPFA MPs have jointly shared ministerial portfolios. People's aspiration have been shattered by this coalition government. Actually, this goes against the people's mandate. People voted to abolish the Executive Presidency and bring democratic reform. What happened under the coalition government is that the questionable characters of previous UPFA Government sneaked into the National Unity Government under 'Yaha Palanaya' to get portfolios. This is an attempt made to safeguard wrongdoers of the previous regime and the people will never approve this move.

This is the collapse of good governance and we will never call this a national government. This is an unusual coalition. This kind of coalitions was never formed during this country's entire political history.

We have heard about the seven -party coalition. But this is a bizarre coalition. Because one section of the SLFP is with the Government while the others are in the Opposition.

A group of SLFP MPs are with former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, another faction is with President Maithripala Sirisena while still others are in the Opposition. Now the SLFP is split in three. Under these circumstances, Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva has no right whatsoever to hold that portfolio. There can't be a 'set up Opposition' or a 'set up Government'. Nimal Siripala de Silva has no legal and moral right to hold that office. It is the responsibility of the Speaker to look into this situation and appoint a suitable person as Opposition Leader who has the confidence of all Opposition political parties.

JVP parliamentarian Wijitha Herath

SLMC Secretary General and State Health Minister M.T. Hasen Ali described the national government as a welcome move. In fact, we had already constituted a national government in the Eastern Provincial Council with the UNP, UPFA, SLMC and TNA. So a similar thing has taken place within the Central Government.

It is only a national government which can find a lasting solution for the complicated situation prevailing in the country.

Now the mindset of all communities and parties are changing. We can witness lot of changes in the political arena. We have a government without an opposition. I think, we are heading towards achieving a lasting solution for all the problems that had been prevailing over decades in this country. We have similar elements everywhere who criticise the formation of this national government concept. Most of them are minority parties. The next election will decide their fate. They are shouting because of the power they wielded from the previous election about five years before.

That political situation does not prevail in the country and the people have also changed. If they go before the people with this mindset, they will not be reelected.

Definitely there will be more crossovers from main Opposition UPFA to the Government.

Deputy Minister of Irrigation Lalith Dissanayake said President Maithripala Sirisena as the Chairman of the SLFP requested all SLFP MPs to extend support to the Hundred Day Program. All SLFP Parliamentarians decided to extend their support to the Government's interim budget and Hundred Day Program. The President also requested the main Opposition UPFA to join the Government and assist the people without resorting to the traditional role of an Opposition.

That is why we decided to join the national government and get portfolios. A certain amount of work has to be fulfilled by the Government within the stipulated time frame

of Hundred Days such as pruning certain powers of the Executive Presidency and introducing electoral reform. We have not given up our party and joined hands with the Government or another political party.

There are many trying to be SLFPers more than the SLFPers themselves. We are the true owners of the SLFP. When the JVP unleashed terror and killed our members, we contested the 1989 election. We were the real beasts of burden until Mahinda Rajapaksa lost the Presidential Election. I even sacrificed my portfolio to

Tissa Attanayake. That is how we have worked for the party. We are not anybody's cat's paw. We are true SLFPers. Our party chairman requested us to join hands with the Government.

At present there is a good response for the Hundred Day Program. People have endorsed the decision taken by us. At present the people are clamouring to restore good governance, change the electoral system and prune the executive powers of the President. We all should move towards achieving that goal.

TNA Parliamentarian Suresh Premachandran said that he doesn't understand the what a national government means as it is now. It is obvious the UNPand the SLFP along with a few minority parties have formed a government.

But various other political parties represented in parliament are also outside this National Government.

If the Government passes the 19th Amendment, that would be most welcome. If they also can solve the Tamil national problem, that would be great. We see major parties getting together to sort out issues as a positive development. We call upon them to provide a lasting solution to Sri Lanka's national problem. As far as the Opposition Leader is concerned, it should be given to the Opposition political party which has the true majority in Parliament.

Earlier this was held by Ranil Wickremesinghe. Now a new government has been formed with SLFP and UNP members.

The SLFP is no more in the Opposition. Opposition Leader Nimal Siripala de Silva can't say the SLFP represents the Government and the Opposition.

As a democratic country, the TNA deserves to get the post of Opposition Leader .If the TNA cannot be given this, what is the meaning of democracy?

What is wrong if TNA Parliamentary Group Leader R.Sampanthan becomes the Opposition Leader?

UNP Media Spokesman and Education Minister Akila Viraj Kariyawasam said that the UNP along with few other political parties accomplished the major task of brining President Maithripala Sirisena to power.

General Election

President during his election campaign categorically stated that he would form a national government after the election. The President gave his consent for the SLFP to join the government and also offered portfolios to SLFP parliamentarians. The Government would go for a General Election shortly and the UNP would contest separately.

Even if the UNP secures a majority of seats at the election, its intention is to form a national government in collaboration with the SLFP and other political parties in Parliament.

UPFA parliamentarian T.B. Ekanayake said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has stated that his intention was to convert parliament into a government.

However, the people have not given a mandate to do so. Steps to be taken in this regard should be discussed within the SLFP and the UPFA.

One section of the Government says that Parliament will be be dissolved in April 23 while others say it would be postponed.

If everyone is joining the government, there is no need for an Opposition. But the question is 'Who has given such approval to resort to such a move'?

It should be clarified whether this is a decision taken by the President or the National Executive Council. A majority of voters are needed to prune executive powers of the President, bring electoral reform and constitutional reform.

The UNP alone has no ability to effect these changes and they have to muster the support of the SLFP and other political parties. The UPFA Parliamentary Group Meeting should be summoned immediately to discuss this issue.

National requirement

National Freedom Front Leader MP Wimal Weerawansa categorically rejected the claim of a national government concept and said this is a complicated coalition government. If this is a national government, it should have a national requirement to fulfill.

When the war was waged and during the tsunami catastrophe, there was a national requirement.

What is the national requirement which prevails today? After President Maithripala Sirisena won the Presidential Election with the help of the UNP, TNA and SLMC votes, the SLFP was hijacked by giving some portfolios to some SLFP members. The people are waiting to give them the response they deserve at the next General Election.

Today the SLFP has also become a partner of this coalition Government. The SLFP has no right to further retain Nimal Siripala de Silva as the Opposition Leader.

Those who genuinely represent the Opposition should be provided the opportunity to select a suitable Opposition Leader.

JHU National Organiser and Western Provincial Councilor Nishantha Sri Warnasinghe said that the JHU saw the national government as a welcome step.

The President has categorically mentioned in his manifesto that he would form a national government and an all party Cabinet after the election. During the past few months, there was a UNP Government, not a national government.

However, the President could transform this into a national government by offering certain portfolios to the SLFP as well.

The President in his election manifesto has spelt out the objective of forming a national government. It would pave the way to prune the powers of the Executive President, set up independent commissions and change the electoral system. To fulfill these objectives, there should be a consensus among the two major parties.

Pix: Courtesy: Internet


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