Friday, December 26, 2014

End is nigh for Maithri and his achcharu coalition | The Sunday Times Sri Lanka


I feel it is my duty to respond to the comments of my unseen friend Viruddha Pakshikaya last week, as he has attempted to paint a bleak-and false-picture of Sri Lanka under President Mahinda Rajapaksa — and is already behaving as if the election has been won by Maithripala Sirisena. I’m told that the joint Opposition is already fighting for portfolios among themselves!
My answer to Viruddha Pakshikaya comes in the form of just two words: Tissa Attanayake. Now, I don’t know Tissa personally but this is the man who looked after the nuts and bolts of the UNP’s election machinery for the last ten years after Gamini Atukorale’s untimely demise. Yes, the UNP did not win many (or indeed any) elections during his tenure but with a leader like Ranil Wickremesinghe, that is hardly Tissa’s fault.
Tissa quit the UNP, joined the UPFA, was appointed Health Minister and is now a star attraction at UPFA rallies, spilling the beans on what it is like to be in a dysfunctional Opposition. Now, if Tissa believed the Opposition could win, he wouldn’t be doing all this, would he? And he should know.
I can almost hear Viruddha Pakshikaya scoffing in response to this, saying that Tissa was only a National List MP who was beholden to the UNP for his seat in Parliament. And my answer to that comes in the form of another two words: Udaya Gammanpila.Now, here is a bright young man with a political future ahead of him. Even though he was from the JHU, he obviously attracted enough SLFP votes to emerge second in the preference votes at the recent Western Provincial Council election. And he too “rejoined” the UPFA campaign last week.
He had left the UPFA a few weeks ago to join the Maithripala Sirisena campaign. What he saw there frightened him so much that he came running back to the UPFA. His explanation was that he couldn’t be part of a Government that included Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Kumaratunga.
Viruddha Pakshikaya accuses me of not getting ‘good grades for history at school’. Let me enlighten him on a little bit of recent history if he is the pundit in history: let us remember, shall we, the last time when Wickremesinghe and Kumaratunga were in the same Government? She was President, he was Prime Minister. It was 2001.
Kumaratunga complained bitterly about how she was treated by the UNP Cabinet. She was accused of bringing a video camera in her handbag by Ravi Karunanayake. Kumaratunga took over three portfolios while Wickremesinghe was gallivanting in Washington. There was chaos all around. That was the cohabitation Government we had.
Tell me, Viruddha Pakshikaya, is that the state of cohabitation to which you want us to return to? And this time around, there are even more people than just Wickremesinghe and Kumaratunga pulling Maithripala’s puppet strings: Sarath Fonseka, Champika Ranawaka and maybe even the JVP and the TNA.
Viruddha Pakshikaya has two main complaints about President Rajapaksa continuing in office: the role played by his family and his alleged persecution of so-called ‘opponents’ such as Sarath Fonseka, Mangala Samaraweera, the JVP and Shirani Bandaranayake. It appears as if Viruddha Pakshikaya needs to refresh his memory.
Family politics is part of South Asian politics. That is why, for most of its history, the UNP was led by the Senanayake-Jayewardene-Wickremesinghe clan and why it was known as the Uncle Nephew Party. The Bandaranaikes led the SLFP for fifty years so maybe it is now the Rajapaksas turn.
As for the ‘persecution’ of opponents, Sarath Fonseka is free to say what he wants and campaign for Sirisena only because he was pardoned by the President! About Bandaranayake, the CJ 43 as her supporters like to call her, I do recall the UNP maintaining that Parliament was above the judiciary, when her impeachment came before the House!
And just so that our readers don’t miss the point, let me add that Maithripala Sirisena was a part of all those decisions: he raised his hand to impeach CJ Bandaranayake, to pass the 18th Amendment, to encourage crossovers to maintain a majority in Parliament, so why has he suddenly woken up from slumber now?
The answer is that Sirisena and those pulling his strings believe there is a shortcut to power. They think — incorrectly, of course — that the people would reject President Rajapaksa simply because he has been in office for two terms. The people of this country, Viruddha Pakshikaya, are smarter than that. And they are a grateful people, as well.
The choice before them is, in fact, quite straightforward. One, a leader with a proven track record who won a war that all of his predecessors lost, and jump started the economy which under Chandrika Bandaranaike once got a record zero per cent growth. The other, simply a representative of an array of political forces whose only common ground is their dislike for President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The outlandish things they say are hilarious. For example, Chandrika claims she won 75 per cent of the war. The lady who wanted to bring LTTE representatives into the P-TOMS after the tsunami, and give them ‘Federalism’ through a ‘package’ and an ISGA (Internal Self-Governing Agency) says she won 75 per cent of the war. You don’t win 75 per cent of the war. You need 100 per cent of the war, and that is what our President did.
Take Maithripala Sirisena’s manifesto released this week. Viruddha Pakshikaya, if you can understand the English in which it is written, you will see what a hoax it is. They are nothing about nothing. It’s all wishy-washy stuff. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
So, as Viruddha Pakshikaya himself says, the end is nigh not for the President but for Sirisena and his accomplices. For them, the writing is on the wall, not only metaphorically but literally as well, if one were to assess popular support using the posters for the respective candidates as a barometer!
I do agree with Viruddha Pakshikaya that come the eighth of January, there will be a ‘maithree paalanaya’ but sadly for him, it will not be headed by Maithripala. It will be headed by Mahinda Rajapaksa who will govern with maithree or loving kindness, even to Maithripala and his achcharu coalition.

Presidential Elections: CBK-Maithri-Ranil-TNA Eelam deal & Sri Lanka’s National Security

The voting public of Sri Lanka whatever their political colour or preference of candidate must firmly say no to any move or agreement attempting to destabalize the country, divide its territory or create an atmosphere of chaos. No election campaign or coalition understanding should be allowed to bargain with the national security of the country in particular promise to reduce or remove strategically placed military bases and military personnel as election promises. National security is not a bargaining tool. Political debate in the West never use national security as bargaining tools for their election campaigns. As a priority voters need to first identify and eliminate political parties attempting to weaken national security as part of their agenda for providing political support. However, bad a local leader is, he cannot be as bad as those attempting to rule Sri Lanka through proxies and puppets. It is the patriotic duty of the masses to overrule any attempt to gamble with the national security of Sri Lanka.

The choice of Common Candidate
Whatever the coalition claims, the choice of the common candidate remains secret. No one has so far come out to say why they proposed the name of Maithripala Sirisena as candidate. These details remain very much secret from the public. Moreover, if we are to believe Colombo’s anti-MR chants and the English social media and conclude that Mahinda Rajapakse is unsuited to lead, UNP could have easily contested as a single party and fielded a UNP candidate to win the elections. Why was there any need to hire someone for a 100 day role?

If Ranil was not the choice it is so because of his own failures, and it is on that ground that he is rejected by the voters. Thus, the selection of Maithripala as Presidential candidate is based on the reality that Ranil Wickremasinghe can only command urban votes where non-Buddhists dominate. It is to fill the void and to either break or take the Buddhist votes that Maithripala has been brought into the picture. If this argument is to be believed coupled with the slogan of pluralism that Wickremasinghe preaches and promotes, Maithripala should be considered no hero of the Buddhists for he would by complicity help push the Buddhists further into oblivion and gradually remove their power.

While Mahinda Rajapakse is judged on accusations of corruptions by a select few surrounding him, the Coalition is being judged from multiple fronts all of which lead to the fear that the country would fall into neo-colonial hands or be earmarked for division. If Maithripala is a proxy of Ranil and Ranil is a proxy of Western Christian nations this reality is more than possible and the manner that Ranil led the UNF in 2002 is prime example of what to expect. Link this to the manner CBK led throughout her 12 year rule and what is in store for Sri Lanka rings alarm bells. The allegation of Ranil being a Western proxy is proven by Ranil Wickremasinghe’s membership in the IDU – International Democratic Union – made up of Christian political parties. It is alleged that the UNF Government formed in 2001 comprised 60% Christians and visas were granted to Evangelists to spread their faith while Buddhists were given step-motherly treatment.

The current revelation of a pact signed secretly with the TNA giving assurance to remove military bases, reduce military personnel in the North as well as remove non-Tamil settlements deserves the attention of the voters. There is also the assurance to carry out a war crimes inquiry which as an election manifesto does not convey much faith in our forces. Ideally what should be said is that our forces did not commit any war crimes and those that accuse so must produce the evidence first, and the reality is that for 5 years apart from accusations and editing film clippings nothing to substantiate war crimes as being produced as evidence.

The exposure of the secret pact comes in the wake of numerous other pacts signed without the contents being disclosed to the public. We have had the Indo-Lanka Accord signed in 1987 under emergency with Ministers having to hand over signed resignation letters. Then came the 2001 Cease Fire Agreement that placed LTTE and a sovereign government as equals and legally demarcated territory as ‘LTTE-controlled’. The period saw LTTE putting up its own courts, own police, own civil administration and openly amass weapons through Sri Lanka’s customs! The next set of secret pacts came in the form of the ISGA and PTOMs – these agreements were signed by Ranil and Chandrika Kumaratunga now the shadow-leaders behind the common candidate. Should the voters not have a right to question what their actual plans are? Are these concerns not more important than simply wanting change? What assurance can they give when the corruptions under UNF and CBK rule are nothing they can debate in public? The public is well aware that ALL POLITICIANS ARE CORRUPT. However, what is more important is the stability of the country. As citizens and stakeholders of the nation do we not have a duty and right to wonder if the country is likely to fall to peril because of the same people that betrayed the nation not too long ago? To reverse the damage they did thousands of soldiers had to lay down their lives.

The first to betray the nation was Don Juan Dharmapala ready to function as a puppet of the Portuguese – incidentally Ranil wanted to celebrated the arrival of the Portuguese forgetting the thousands of natives the Portuguese brutally murdered and converted. In fact the common candidate as General Secretary of the SLFP refered to Ranil as a traitor coming from the lineage of the Dharmapala clan though now the common candidate promises to hand over to Ranil the leadership mantle after 100 days. The betrayal of the nation began on 2nd March 1815 with the signing of the Udarata Givisuma and ever since numerous other pacts necessitate the nation to remain on the alert against traitors.

The Colombo coterie eternally complaining may like to respond to what their contribution was to ending terrorism when they join the UN bandwagon not wanting the people to remember the war victory. They do not want the people to recall the war victory simply because they played no role in it.

Terrorism has to remain on our minds primarily because the deals being struck is with the same political party that was created by the LTTE, the same party that is linked with the Diaspora organizations that the GOSL has banned, the same party that even the EU Elections Monitor Cushanan claimed was the mouthpiece of the LTTE and the nation seriously questions why the GOSL does not take legal action against this party without allowing it to do the damage it is doing using its political privileges?

The memoirs of Nevil Jayaweera (handpicked to be the GA Jaffna in 1963) are referred to recollect and show honor to Mr. N Q Dias (father of Mr. Gomin Dayasri) for his visionary plan to set up military bases in the North taking stock of the possibilities of Tamil Nadu illegal immigrants pouring into Sri Lanka. Again, for petty political motives the reduction of these military bases by JR Jayawardena drastically undermined the national security of the country when Tamil militants began their terror. What Mr. N Q Dias envisaged for which he drew counter measures was proven when in November 2003 the LTTE declared that 35% of its cadres were from Tamil Nadu!

Mr. N.Q. Dias, CCS (civil servant) then Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defense & External Affairs under Sirimavo Government knew exactly the importance of placing the country’s armed forces at strategic points well ahead of any calamity which the present Defense Secretary Mr. Gotabaya Rajapakse realizes too – what right do politicians have to bargain with the national security of the country? Thus, the GOSL is questioned on why it should give in to demands to reduce and curtail security presence instead of remaining firm on the threat to national security. The GOSL is next questioned on when it will take legal action against all those that have directly and indirectly contributed to LTTE terrorism over the years. For victims to be given any justice people who were linked with LTTE terror needs to be identified and placed before the courts.

The announcement of a secret pact with the TNA to remove or reduce military bases is connected to India’s claim that LTTE continues to fight for an Eelam that includes Greater Tamil Nadu, though it does question why India insists on the implementation of the 13thamendment and full devolution unless India too plans to compete for a separate North that the West would like to use as a base for itself in Asia. It also raises the question why India celebrated the 1000thanniversary of the ancient Tamil King Rajendra Chola (1014ce -Rajendra Chola I was the first Indian king to take his armies overseas and make conquests of these territories). India must realize the message it sends out in being proud of ancient Kings that invaded neighboring nations and questions the relevance to the current context of things.

These angles may be headaches for a lot of voters in Sri Lanka in particular those in Colombo, but their future depends on a secure Sri Lanka. There is nothing more important than the national security of the country. Everything falls into place only when the country is secure and stable. People can enjoy comforts only when the country is safe. The other issues all are secondary and this is why the voters must view how far and who can keep the country stable and the stability comes in ensuring that there are no deals struck with parties that are out to divide the country, dilute the sovereign powers of the country and create chaos thereafter. The examples of Libya, Kosovo, Iraq, Sudan may differ because they are Muslim, located in Middle East/Africa /Eastern Europe but the same players that broke up and have created chaos in these nations are now looking East towards Asia and this is why national security should become the key election pledge by the candidate. Assuring national security by forging secret pacts with players that are working towards dividing the nation has to be firmly rejected in the same manner that people should reject leaders who have secretly signed pacts without divulging its contents to the people and not even to their party members on previous occasions.

No one should be allowed to ridicule attempts to secure the nation’s borders and secure the country. No political party should be allowed to bargain and compromise the national security for petty political gain. Agreeing to dilute the National Security of Sri Lanka cannot be allowed to become as a political propaganda tool. The price of peace remains eternal vigilance and vigilance does not happen without preparation and processes.

In the end every voter has selfish reasons that determines who he/she casts the vote for. That decision must be based on who can provide peace and stability in Sri Lanka while not undermining the national security of the country. No person or organization can hope to live in peace or prosper if there is no peace in the country. Let us be reminded that all those that profited during the 30 years of war were those that were party to the terror and the rest of the country is only now picking up the pieces and it is just 5 years since the end of 30 years of LTTE terrorism.

by Shenali Waduge

Monday, December 22, 2014

Election 2015: Our choice

Given what we know of the Opposition’s declared strategy and policy at this stage, I am unconvinced that we should vote Mahinda Rajapaksa out. Change is necessary; even imperative. But what kind of change, where, when and to whom? There is a case for peaceful democratic regime change, but what has the current Rajapaksa regime to do with the decades older Executive Presidential system, which is a form of state?

The current choice in Sri Lanka – and the answer to those crucial questions – is excruciatingly simple. On 10 December, International Human Rights Day, Sirisena addressed a civil society coalition and assured it (and the nationwide television audience) that he “was seeking to occupy the chair of the presidency not for the purpose of remaining in it but precisely for the purpose of abolishing its power and going home.” 
Now this was during the same television newscasts that showed the true nature of the place and the persons he was pledging to transfer the power of the Presidential chair to, namely the parliamentarians who before our very eyes, and at that very time, were engaging in a game of musical chairs! So, if we are to trust Sirisena’s pledge, we can expect the disempowerment of the Presidential chair (and its occupant, to wit, Sirisena), which is anchored in the democratic consent of the majority of our citizenry (50.1% of the vote), and the empowerment of an institution susceptible to musical chairs.
Who is to say that in a post-Mahinda period, a hung parliament barely topped by a self-enfeebled presidency with residual executive powers will not be susceptible to decisive manipulation by a concerted infusion of cash from the secessionist network of the Tamil Diaspora? Who is to say that such a maneuver by the Diaspora Tamil Eelamists will be unable to engineer a government of its choice which will pledge the withdrawal of troops from the North?
In the new configuration as designed by the Opposition’s strategists, domestic and external, the residual presidency of Sirisena will not and structurally cannot be the decisively preeminent power center. It will be the PM and the Cabinet. The dominant political poles of attraction are more than likely to be Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. 
One doesn’t have to be Hobbesian (though it helps) to concur that the primary duty of the state towards its citizenry is not good governance so much as the more basic existential one of the protection of life and limb from a violent, determined, ruthlessly marauding enemy. Chandrika and (more so) Ranil miserably failed that most crucial test while Mahinda Rajapaksa passed it with flying colors.
He protected this country and its people, liberating us from Prabhakaran’s reign of terror. Therefore as a student of politics, I cannot recommend an outcome that sends Mahinda Rajapaksa packing while restoring Ranil and Chandrika to prominent positions of power and influence – equal to, if not surpassing that of Sirisena. After all, Mangala Samaraweera did solemnly declare that it is Wickremesinghe who will be “the first among equals.”

Wartime indecision
It is true that Gen. Sarath Fonseka was perhaps the main driver of the victory insofar as the ground war was innovatively designed and determinedly driven by him. It is no less true that this administration treated him disgracefully.
However, an outstanding troika, Generals Fonseka, Janaka Perera and Gamini Hettiaarachchi were in Chandrika’s army for her two Presidential terms and she failed to win the war – because she didn’t believe it could be won; that Prabhakaran could be militarily defeated. Or, due to utter ideological and philosophical confusion, she didn’t consider it as desirable.
Mahinda Rajapaksa won the war for us because he had political will and clarity – and he had a brother, Gotabaya, who could manage the war effort with zealous dedication and knowledge. Together, Mahinda and Gotabaya were able to mitigate the bitter inter-service (Fonseka-Karannagoda) and intra-service rivalries.
In the loop in the early 1990s, I watched helplessly as the Waidyaratne-Kobbekaduwa split paralysed the war effort during President Premadasa’s term, while he refused my entreaties to step in and consistently spearhead the National Security Council, asserting that that “we should leave it to the professionals – the Tamils must be able to see that the Presidency was not directly involved in the war.”
What was the crucial moment of the war? It was a replay of that moment in 1987, when the Sri Lankan armed forces were about to prevail over Prabhakaran in Operation Liberation but President Jayewardene received a deterring warning from High Commissioner J.N. Dixit. In 2009, President Rajapaksa had two fairly similar moments about which I heard, not only from him, but far more credibly and at first hand, from the Norwegian Ambassador Torre Hattrem and the French Foreign Minister of that time, Bernard Kouchner.
It is Mahinda Rajapaksa who sought India’s backing and overruled the US evacuation attempt which had been facilitated by the Norwegians. More crucially, it is he who curtly told an arrogant, blustering David Miliband that “Sri Lanka is no longer a British colony” when pressure was put on him for a ‘humanitarian pause’ in the fighting and a resumption of negotiations, a few weeks before our soldiers achieved final victory. (Kouchner’s story, related to me and my wife at a lunch in Paris, came as no surprise since I was part of the discussion in early 2007 when President Rajapaksa told US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Boucher “I am sorry Mr. Boucher, but what can I do if my terrorists are not Islamic?”).
Champika Ranawaka, who claims credit for the drive to finish the war, was not even a peripheral figure in those decisive discussions with the global powers. Gen. Sarath Fonseka was not present in the room. Gotabaya Rajapaksa was in the loop but not on center stage. The decision not to blink and to take the war to a finish whatever the consequences was a political and existential one, and it was made by President Rajapaksa.
In the final analysis, it wasn’t Gota’s war; it was Mahinda’s, and he must not be made to pay a price at our very hands for his resolve in our defense and his defiance of the West. The Tamil Diaspora wants revenge for the defeat of their Tigers and the death of Prabhakaran. The West wants to make an example of Mahinda for far higher stakes: he opted for China and Russia over the West. The two compulsions converge (most overtly in Geneva).
Consider this carefully: are we ready to risk the possibility that Rajapaksa could be a 21st century Rajasinha (the last king of Kandy), carted off by the West to be made an example of i.e. legally lynched, for his defiance in our defense? Do we want that on our collective conscience? Is that how we want future generations to view us? I rather doubt that history will absolve us.
The Joint Opposition’s current program combines the prospects of radical politico-constitutional change and no less radical economic change, given that Ranil Wickremesinghe is an ideologically conservative, neoliberal privatiser and freezer of public expenditure (as proven during his mercifully brief tenure as PM).

Punishing a proven leader
If the contrasting fates of Gorbachev/Yeltsin’s Russia and Deng Hsiao Peng’s China demonstrate anything, it is that political and economic reform must not proceed simultaneously, if one is not to risk meltdown. The scenario of a self-diminished Sirisena Presidency, a shift of power to a volatile Parliament, an economically neoliberal Wickremesinghe Prime Ministership, a ‘CBK as Sonia Gandhi’ factor, an assertive Northern Provincial Council, cosmopolitan civil society-human rights NGO-Western pressures on “cooperation and compliance” with the UN probe on international law and accountability issues, and radical privatisation, fill me with foreboding because the centrifugal factors outnumber and outweigh the centripetal ones.
Are we ready for a Western dominated, semi-colonial Sri Lanka of the sort we lived in during the Ranil–Chandrika-Solheim years; that disgraceful decade of diminished and retrenched national sovereignty? Are we ready for the inevitable blowback, polarisation and radicalisation?
In its narrow judgment in favor of the 13th Amendment in 1987, Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court ruled that this structural reform, which made for provincial autonomy, remained within the framework of the unitary state because of the executive presidency and its powers over the council as vested in the Governor. Without the magnet or ‘maypole’ as it were, of the elected executive presidency, the centripetal potential of the provincial councils would be greater than their centrifugal potential. This is yet another, doubtlessly unwitting, danger posed by the joint Opposition’s stated project.
A presidential election is not about constitutional change. It is about picking a leader for the country, the state – or more fundamentally, the collective, the community, the tribe (if you prefer an anthropological existentialism).
I am reluctant to dispense with the services of the leader who passed the crucial test of ‘domestic R2P’ – the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ his people and country from the armed enemy. I hesitate to ditch a strong leader and proven success in the most important matter, and replace him with an unproven if courageous, decent man who will cede much of his power to two proven failures.
(Dayan Jayatilleka was Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva from 2007-09, and until recently, Ambassador to France. He is the author of ‘Long War, Cold Peace: Conflict and Crisis in Sri Lanka,’ Vijitha Yapa Publishers, 2013.)


Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sri Lanka’s Presidential Elections: Thoughts for the Floating Voters/New Voters on the Common Candidate

The floating voters and the new voters are 2 important segments in the arithmatic that would decide who would emerge as President in January 2015. The floating voters are people who may have at one time voted for different parties and now disgusted with voting and contemplating whether to vote or not. The new voters obviously excited about exercising their first time voting right may also be puzzled to determine who to vote for – the incumbent President or a contender in an alliance that will be President for 100 days and thereafter hand power over to another. The floating voter and new voters are important because they can realistically view the campaign slogans from a point of view that would question which candidate is most suited to lead the nation and provide peace and stability to Sri Lanka both at local and international level, which is what all voters need to think about before they place their vote.

What is important about the challenge to the incumbent in the form of a new alliance is that it is promising CHANGE – but this change being promised is by a same set of politicians who have been in politics, enjoyed perks and privileges of office, crossed over several times and have had to tag on to larger political parties for survival at different periods under different leaders. On the face of it there is no CHANGE as the people coming forward with the change mantra are the same politicians wanting to hold on to power under a new set of rules and conditions.  

You want change – But what is the Change you are getting?
  • The same people are appearing with a different theme
  • The same people are singing a different song
  • The same people are promising a difference – but their terms in office was nothing the country could be proud of
  • Can the same people be trusted when they had broken our trust some more than once?
  • Do you trust Chandrika? Do you trust Ranil? Do you trust Mangala? Do you trust Wickramabahu? Do you trust Sambanthan? Do you trust Champaka R? Do you trust Rajitha? Can you trust Maithri? – Can they be trusted to entrust the country with 20m people to safeguard?
  • If the same faces that held power and wish to continue power are lining up to promise change, do you seriously think they can bring about change. More importantly is the change they are promising, the change that YOU want to see?
  • Is the risk worth taking in wanting to vote for CHANGE but knowingly voting for people who have been proven failures in office?
  • More importantly these failures are currently taking a back-office role because they cannot come out before the people to contest on their own however, floating voters and new voters need to realize that a future Maithri Government will place all of them in Ministerial roles and these are the very people who were failures in office.

    The ambiguity – Maithripalanayak for 100 days and what thereafter?
  • The 1st important thing that floating voters/new voters must note is that the Opposition lobby was one created not amongst them or by them but by another secret group because the main Opposition party’s Leader the present Opposition Leader cannot win elections. He will neither step down as Leader of the Party nor change the party’s Constitution though he wishes to change the country’s Constitution for which he went to get trained in the US.
  • The 2nd important point is that no person or party or parties can form an alliance and contest without drawing the UNP given its traditional vote base.
  • The 3rd important point is the assurance that in exchange for the UNP votes contributing alongside the votes of others forming the new alliance, the deal is for the UNP leader to be handed power thus the 100 day story. Why is it then that the election manifesto, campaign slogan all speak of a ‘Maithri’ – Compassionate ‘palanayak’ only under Maithri …. Shouldn’t the campaign be a joint Maithri-Ranil palanayake? Is it not for this reason together with certain slip ups by non-UNP supporters in the Maithri wing tilted more towards CBK that they are beginning to wonder whether Ranil or the UNP will have a future or role if Maithri were to emerge President and Maithri would prefer tutelage under CBK instead.
  • If Maithripala Sirisena cannot win without the UNP votes, why should the UNP voters vote a non-UNP when they easily have people to prop up as a contestant instead of Ranil. If everyone was surprised at the meek-looking former General Secretary of the SLFP emerging as a Presidential Candidate what is the harm in fielding a UNP candidate as there are enough of charismatic and strong personalities within the party to select from? Why have none of the other UNP leaders being considered to be groomed as Presidential candidate? Is it because Ranil would lose his place in the Party as a result so he prefers hiring an outsider?

    Do you trust the Opposition Camp?

  • Can you entrust the country’s stability to the same faces that have been proven failures in leadership roles?
  • Can we be assured that the peace and stability that currently prevails will continue under their leadership?
  • Can we envisage decision making when all of them can’t agree on anything except wanting to somehow come into power.
    What will bickering amongst these element result in when it comes to crucial international matters where forthright, stern and nation-centric decisions require to be taken?
  • When some in the camp are for division of the country, some want devolution, some want separatism, some want foreign powers to control the country, some will siphon of everything for profit and some are willing to go along with anything because all they want to do is enjoy perks and privileges – what is this scenario likely to lead to for the country?

    An important factor for floating voters/new voters to take note of – no Conspiracy theories
  • The Presidential Election is about voting for a leader that can bring stability and peace to Sri Lanka and handle the international lobby against the country. The crucial point is that the nations that are punishing Sri Lanka for ending the war using their influence in the UN/UNHRC are the very nations that are behind the Common Candidate.
  • What is the likely danger if such people are ready to give everything and anything on the deal that they would be kept in power – these are no laughing or exaggerated scenarios for the very nations backing the common candidate have been successful at dividing Yugoslavia to pieces, creating an independent Kosovo and then leaving the people in chaos, arming insurgents in nations that they want stakes in so that the people are kept embroiled in eternal conflict while they escape with the loot (Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and now Libya prime examples) These are certainly no conspiracy stories. These nations have been destroyed by the very nations that are today responsible for selecting a candidate calculating the arithmatic on how votes are likely to sway on paper unless people are informed enough to realize the dangers.
  • Much as most voters may hate informing themselves of what is happening around the world and to countries around the world in particular smaller developing nations that are strategically placed beneficial for global geopolitics, it is time they should especially the Colombo and other urban voters. It is the realization of the gameplans and plots taking place around the world at a political level that a country needs a strong leader and a strong government minus small parties with small vote bases but with the ability to hold a coalition to ransome by their demands.

    Is the country safe in the hands of people who have lead the country before and failed?
    If we have not forgotten we need to now recall that
  • More than half of total soldiers deaths occurred during the reign of Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunga, most battle failures took place under her reign.
  • She was together with Ranil Wickremasinghe ever ready to sign the PTOMs and ISGA whereby legalizing eelam in all but name allowing LTTE to negotiate directly with foreign nations, trade directly with foreign nations, transfer funds directly etc.
  • Ranil Wickremasinghe the supposed visionary of the UNP signed a ceasefire agreement with the LTTE without even showing the UNP leadership the contents of that agreement – only later the country came to know that the agreement legally allocated sovereign territory as LTTE areas and the Colombo backers of the CFA were not bothered about what allocation of territory to the LTTE would mean to the country because they were over the moon that the military checkpoints had been removed which was more of a hassle for them. We cannot afford to function with such short-sightedness for the damage is irreversible.

    Do you believe the slogan ‘we will end corruption’?
    Please remember that the people now claiming to have come together to end corruption have themselves proven records of mass scale corruption during their tenure in power even those that have crossed over. They too have families – siblings and children very much waiting in the fray to take over. The CHANGE will only be changing the Cover of Corruption only. We must all be realistic to the fact that corruption is embedded in today’s society – even ‘donations’ for school admissions are corruption, even giving Rs.100 to the office peon to place one’s file above the rest is an act of corruption, even bribing the policemen for traffic violations is corruption. Both giver and taker are thus guilty.

    The golden rule on integrity
    Anyone claiming to be virtuous and uncorrupt can do so ONLY IF they go against coruption when it is taking place and come out against it by claiming to want to have no part in it. No one can claim to be uncorrupt if they have been enjoying privileges themselves and then having been selected as Opposition Candidate point fingers forgetting that four fingers point back at them in return. Let us all note that all those now pointing fingers were very much part of the corruption that they are accusing of – if they themselves were people of integrity they should have come out before elections were announced and before they had been selected to be fielded to form the Opposition.

    If we know that
  • Corruption wont end
  • We don’t know who the actual leader is – Maithripala is coming as the Presidential Candidate of the New Democratic Front, he next says he’s going to abolish the Presidency (totally ignoring that he has no mandate to do so), he says he’s going to appoint Ranil (unclear how that can happen too), then CBK who is politically now a nobody is assured of a role, the other supporters have all ruined the ministeries that they had been holding whatever party they had been in – is this a rosy picture post-2015 for the people? There are more questions than answers!
  • How can CHANGE happen with the same people in a new camp especially when they have a history of crossing back and forth for OPPORTUNITISM and nothing else. Should we not ask whether this is also not an OPPORTUNISTIC decision and thus the camp have no common agenda to serve the people except serve themselves

    These are just a handful of questions for the Floating Voters and New Voters to think about before they cast their vote. It is also good for them to do a good background check on all those in the Common Alliance and they question how far they can be trusted to lead a nation and ensure Sri Lanka remains peaceful and stable as it has been since 2009 devoid the threat of terrorism and separatism. Two factors that Sri Lanka does not want is Terrorism or Separatism/Division under any name.

    Shenali D Waduge

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Agreements that betrayed Sri Lanka : 2002 Ceasefire Agreement

- by Shenali D Waduge -

Winning hearts and minds of terrorists, mentality of surrender, advocating theory of “unwinnable war” and policy of appeasing, reducing the country to a pariah state, knowingly giving a terrorist organization status on par with a sovereign state and a democratic government were the characteristics of those led by Ranil Wickremasinghe that went on to sign the 2002 infamous ceasefire agreement today described as one of the greatest betrayals of the nation. Ranil Wickremasinghe was the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka who entered into the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement that signed sovereign territory to a terrorist organization so that he could stay in power. The chance given to Ranil Wickremasinghe to lead Sri Lanka was destroyed by his own folly the country cannot and should not trust him again. Those that boast of Ranil Wickremasinghe's vision must take note that this single agreement was detrimental to the country, the people and the forces and this remains an unpardonable crime never to be forgotten.

The supporters of the ceasefire were those that equated the removal of checkpoints giving them freedom of movement as a victory for freedom and peace to the entire nation. Little did these people think what these “removals” and carte blanches would eventually mean to the entire nation.

Lust for power is what we have seen in the manner cross overs are taking place. People have waited for elections to be announced and deals to be struck to cry foul about corruption. Those that hunger for personal glory and international acceptance rarely view what is good for the nation above their personal gains. These weaknesses as one should view them led to blindness to the reality of what the 2002 ceasefire agreement actually entailed. The lack of consultation and the total disregard for the views of the People of Sri Lanka depicted arrogance of those that hungered for personal glory. The lessons are that these very protagonists signatory to the agreement and those that praised it and spoke in favor of it are not suited to be entrusted with handling any matters related to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and territorial integrity – ever.Unfortunately, some of these players continue to hold key portfolios and continue to maintain the same mentality and questions those that watch these officials once again attempt to dig Sri Lanka’s grave.

It was Kathy Stone writing to the Weekend Liberal in 2002 that exposed how LTTE would have used Charles Gnanakone to strike a deal with the UNF Government that led to the 2002 CFA. Incidentally, it was Gnanakone’s brother who smuggled shipments of weapons to the LTTE via our own customs.

It was Ranil’s Chief Negotiator and our present Foreign Minister who went to the extent of requesting the lifting of the ban on the LTTE that his predecessor Mr. Lakshman Kadiragamar worked hard to achieve. Did we also forget to say that this same Chief Negotiator and present Foreign Minister called Anton Balasingham as “Your Excellency”!

It was Subramaniam Swamy who declared that the UNF Government of Ranil Wickremasinghe functioned according to a “Surrender Mentality” and when the entire show was being led by a Chief Negotiator and present FM we realize that same mentality prevails. The question is did the present Government win a war to succumb to surrender? The bargaining was what was missing on the side of SL at all times throughout the peace talks. Why are the Sri Lankan leaders not reading between the lines of the dangers likely to result. GLP called his victory of negotiating the CFA deal with the LTTE a “road map for peace” – and yes, he remains our FM, did he meant it or was he told to say so. In our eyes, anyone honourable would depart like Mr. Gamini Jayasuriya when he disagreed with the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord. We have no regard for people who cross over during elections and call leaders worse than Prabakaran just to please a gallery.
It was Madam Maria Carrilho, Member of the EU Parliament and Head of Parliament Delegation for Relations with South Asia who went on to say that a new autonomous State will emerge as a result of the CFA and a flag and new anthem should also be given and the then PM’s secretary appears not to have even protested against it.

Let us first look at some key facts:

Date Signed : CFA MOU signed on 22 February 2002

Signatories : GOSL and LTTE (Ranil Wickremasinghe and Prabakaran) Ranil signed agreement and handed it to Norways Ambassador John Westburg in Vavuniya, while Prabakaran signed in Kilinochchi.

Mediator : Norwegian Government

  • Ranil Wickremasinghe (then Prime Minister of UNF Government) did not inform his own cabinet nor the President of Sri Lanka (Chandrika Bandaranaike) of the agreement being signed.
  • The nationalists viewed the signing as one of the greatest betrayals of the nation no different to the signing of the Kotte Kingdom to the Portuguese  by Don Juan Dharmapala and the signing of the Kandyan Convention on 2 March 1815 to the British. In fact many a time, Ranil Wickremasinghe has been likened to Don Juan Dharmapala!
  • 6 rounds of talks abroad were subsequently held between GOSL and LTTE – all failed.
  • Significant was the Karuna-split from LTTE in March 2004
  • Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission were empowered to only tabulate the violations and NOT to prevent or punish
Key personnel involved in 2002 ceasefire
  • Government Chief Negotiator – GL Peiris
  • Defence Minister – Tilak Marapana “I have no intention at all in waging war with the LTTE at the moment. We have embarked on a peace mission and our target today, and my role as Defence Minister, is not to plan strategy to attack but merely to ready ourselves to defend”
  • Secretary Defense (Dec 2001) – Austin Fernando
  • Chief Spokesman/Secretary for the UNF – Bradmon Weerakoon later to be the Secretary to the PM and thereon to ICES NGO
  • Head of S L Peace Secretariat – Bernard Goonetilake and Jayantha Dhanapala
  • Deputy Director General, Peace Secretariat in Colombo, Dr. John Gunaratne
  • Head, LTTE Peace Secretariat, S. Puleedevan
  • Head, SLMM, Tryggve Tellefssen
  • Army Commander – Gen. Balagalle (25 Aug 2000 – 30 Jun 2004)
  • SL Legal – Lakshman Marasinghe
What the LTTE gained from the CFASri Lanka’s sovereignty betrayed
· LTTE violated the CFA on more than 10,000 occasions · Impunity for Crimes – From 22 February 2002 to 4 February 2006 – LTTE ceasefire violations number 5464. LTTE killed 174 security forces personnel and 388 civilians while 117 were attempted murders, 620 abductions, 46 attempted abductions, 106 cases of extortion, 2199 conscriptions, 875 injury to persons, 22 instances of torture, 128 cases of intimidation (GOSL)· February 2002 to April 2005 LTTE had recruited 1200 children to turn into killers
· LTTE granted an official recognition through CFA (as first clause mentions SL State and LTTE as equal stakeholders
· CFA helped legitimize LTTE’s defacto state.
· LTTE cadres were allowed to freely move throughout Sri Lanka
· LTTE got Ranil to dismantle the Army’s Long Range Reconnaissance Unit (Athurugiriya Safe House) LTTE’s suicide cadres and pistol gangs ended up killing virtually all of Sri Lanka’s intelligence units whose names were divulged by the UNF Govt
· LTTE smuggled shipments of arms, sophisticated communication equipment through SL’s own customs and there are officials and advisors even with the present Govt who were responsible for those approvals.
· These smuggled equipment helped LTTE build an air strip with the asphalt meant for the A9 Highway, assemble small planes
· LTTE even built illegal bunkers in Govt controlled areas
· Ranil’s Govt gave LTTE 95% of their Eelaam and the rest the LTTE planned to secure through the ISGA/PTOMS with the former President playing Santa with Sri Lanka.

· Constitutional violation – for Ranil Wickremasinge to sign an agreement with a proscribed terrorist· The MOU was signed without the consent of the People of Sri Lanka (much like how the same UNP Govt signed the Indo-Lanka Agreement again without the consent of the People)· 2002 CFA was really an unauthorized secret MOU which Ranil Wickremasinghe did not share with his own cabinet or the President of Sri Lanka
· Equating a terrorist organization with a legally established armed forces of a nation
· Forcing the armed forces to shake hands with terrorists who were killers
· Armed forces were continuously humiliated by LTTE
· Security Forces restricted to barracks
· The free access given to LTTE resulted in LTTE assassinating Sri Lanka’s intelligence unit members(violating Article 1 of CFA)
· Maj. Muthalif – Army intelligence May 31, 2005
· Lt. Col. T. Rizvi Meedin – Senior Military intelligence
· UNF Government disclosing Sri Lanka’s long range deployment members causing their deaths by LTTE who hunted them down one after the other (Millenium City Athurugiriya)
· Lakshman Kadiragamar – SL Foreign Minister assassinated
· Lt. Gen. Parami Kulatunga – Deputy Chief of Staff of Army killed
· Journalist Sivaram (Taraki) in Colombo on April 28, 2005 killed
Article 1: The Modalities of the Ceasefire Agreement
· Neither party to engage in any offensive military operation (total cessation of all military action – inclusive of ambushes, assassinations, abductions, destruction of civilian or military property, suicide missions, activities by deep penetration units, aerial bombardments, offensive naval operations,
· SL army can continue to perform legitimate task of safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka without engaging in offensive operations against the LTTE

· Separation of Forces:
o   Forward defense locations – GOSL and LTTE can hold their ground positions maintaining separation of 600metres, movement possible but an absolute minimum distance of 400metres to be kept between them.
· GOSL and LTTE to provide information to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) regarding defense localities in all areas and SLMM will draw up demarcation lines.
· GOSL and LTTE cannot move munitions, explosives or military equipment into area controlled by the other Party.
· Tamil paramilitary groups to be disarmed by GOSL.

· Freedom of movement:
  • GOSL and LTTE shall stay in areas under their respective control
  • Unarmed GOSL troops shall be permitted unlimited passage between Jaffna and Vavuniya using Jaffna-Kandy road (A9)
  • “individual combatants” unarmed and in plain clothes can visit families and friends under control of GOSL and visits to be limited to 6 days every second month.
  • GOSL and LTTE reserve right to deny entry to specified military areas.
  • 50 unarmed LTTE members shall for political work be permitted freedom of movement in areas of North and East dominated by GOSL.
  • 100 unarmed LTTE members shall be permitted freedom of movement as of D-day +60, and all unarmed LTTE members shall be permitted freedom of movement as of D-day+90.
  • LTTE members to carry ID papers.
  • GOSL has right to deny entry to specified military areas
Article 2 : Measures to restore normalcy
  • GOSL and LTTE to undertake confidence-building measures to restore normalcy.
  • GOSL and LTTE shall abstain from hostile acts against civilian population including acts as torture, intimidation, abduction, extortion and harassment.
  • GOSL and LTTE shall refrain from engaging in activities or propagating ideas that could offend cultural or religious sensitivities. SL Army to vacate all places of worship that it is occupying.
  • GOSL and LTTE to vacate school buildings
  • A schedule to indicate return of all other public buildings
  • GOSL and LTTE to review security measures and checkpoints particularly in densely populated cities and towns to prevent harassment of civilian population (indirectly aiming at reducing Colombo’s high security checkpoints)
  • GOSL and LTTE to ensure unimpeded flow of non-military goods to and from the LTTE-dominated areas with exception of certain items.
  • GOSL and LTTE to establish checkpoints at locations on their line of control to facilitate flow of goods and movement of civilians.
  • GOSL and LTTE to ensure Trincomalee-Habarana road remains open 24×7 for passenger traffic
  • GOSL and LTTE to facilitate extension of rail service on Batticoloa-line to Welikanda – repairs to be done by GOSL.
  • GOSL and LTTE to open Kandy-Jaffna road (A9) to non-military traffic of goods and passengers modalities to be worked out with Norway
  • Easing of fishing restrictions – but fishing will not be permitted in harbours or approaches to harbours, bays and estuaries along the coast.
  • Norway to appoint Head of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (HoM) who will be final authority regarding interpretation of CFA.
  • SLMM to liaise with GOSL and LTTE and report to Norway
  • Head of SLMM to decide date of SLMM’s operations.
  • SLMM will have offices in Colombo, Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Batticoloa, Amparai
  • GOSL and LTTE agree that search operations and arrests under Prevention of Terrorism Act shall not take place. Arrests will be under Criminal Procedure Code.
Article 3: The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
  • To inquire into instances of violation of the Agreement
  • Local monitoring committee in each of the 6 offices set up shall have 5 members (2 appointed by GOSL, 2 by LTTE and 1 appointed by HoM) the international monitor shall chair committee.
  • The local committee shall advise SLMM
  • GOSL and LTTE responsible for protection and security arrangements of all SLMM members.
  • SLMM shall have access to areas where violations take place
  • SLMM to take immediate action on complaints made by GOSL or LTTE
Article 4 : Entry into force, amendments and termination of the Agreement
  • GOSL and LTTE to notify consent to be bound by the Agreement through letter to the Norwegian Foreign Affairs Ministry.
  • Agreement may be amended and modified by mutual agreement
  • Termination of agreement can be given by either Party to Norway within 14 days of advance notice.
The number of violations committed by the LTTE was well over 10,000 as many of these were not even tabulated. The LTTE violations included constructing new positions, firing weapons, moving military equipment, deploying weapons, carrying out offensive naval operations, illegally transporting arms and committing hostile acts against civilians which included intimidation and abductions of adults and children –  every clause of the agreement violated by the LTTE and not a hum from even Norway or SL Government that signed the agreement.

The very fact that those signatory agreed to place LTTE a terrorist organization in par with a democratic government itself is shameful and allowing LTTE free movement and the capacity to virtually redraw their boundaries only sums the fact that there is no better word to describe these protagonists of the ceasefire than “traitors”.

These are reasons not to trust Ranil Wickremasinghe. His vision, his competencies and abilities aside the 2002 agreement was signed with LTTE in secret and his own Ministers were clueless and that does not give the people any confidence as a result of his conduct however likable a person he is. The country and the people cannot be entrusted to him especially in the manner he has put Maithripala to contest on his behalf until he takes over after 100 days. It is these factors that are being viewed by the majority of the people.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Who will rule? A question from an undecided voter

article_imageBy Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

Like the majority of my fellow citizens I am an undecided voter.My father Mervyn de Silva used to characterize me slightly critically, as "a Romantic", and the romantic in me would like to vote for change. But right now, I cannot make that decision because the Realist in me raises a fundamental question: "who rules?" Or rather, who would rule, if Mr. Sirisena wins?Sadly, the answer to that question is not "Mr. Sirisena, would, of course". That is because Mr. Sirisena has told us categorically that he would abolish the executive presidency within one hundred days. He has also told us that he would appoint Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister, when he could have said instead that the Prime Ministership would be given to the UNP (the party, not the person). In addition, as Maithripala’s media conference and more tellingly his homage at the Bandaranaike Samadhi tells us, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga would be a key player in the bloc that succeeds Mahinda Rajapaksa.

So the question—and it is the most basic question of politics— remains: Who will rule? We know who will not rule, namely Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. Is that good enough? Is that enough to make a decision to vote for Maithripala? Not for me, and I daresay, not for the majority of our citizens. That may have been enough if the President were quite as unpopular as President Jayewardene in his last few years in office. But that is not the case with Mahinda. Furthermore, even in the case of JRJ, the voter was fastidious about whom we would replace him with—Sirima Bandaranaike or Ranasinghe Premadasa? In short, would we go back to the bad old days of ’70-’77, or forward to a socially fairer future?

If Maithripala Sirisena steps down after abolishing the presidency in a hundred days or whenever, who would lead this country and how would that person be chosen? Under the executive presidency power resides in the hands of the institution occupied by the individual who has won a majority of the votes of the citizens of this island taken as a single whole. After the abolition of the presidency that would not be the case. If executive power has been transferred to the Prime Minister, then the country would be led by someone who has not been elected by the majority of our citizens but by those of a single electoral unit, a district—which is a far more narrowly restricted base. Is that what we want? Certainly I do not.

If the choice is between the Presidency as it is,and a reformed Presidency which is less centralized and top-heavy, I would certainly opt for the reformed version. If however the choice is between the existing presidency and no executive presidency at all and an executive Prime Ministership instead, I would reluctantly take my chances with the status quo.

That is a rather abstract choice, but there is a far more concrete one to be made. If we vote in Mr. Sirisena and he is no longer the occupant of the office we voted him into because he has abolished it, and instead Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe is the Prime Minister with executive powers (as they proclaim on the UNP platform), then the closest approximation of an answer to the question ‘who will rule?’ becomes clear: the PM, to wit, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. Mr.Sirisena has already sought permission to address him as "Sir". Obviously, no leader of a country will address Mr. Wickremesinghe as "Sir" if he hopes to remain the leader de jure of the country. It is also obvious that Mr. Wickremsinghe is and will be in an alliance with Ms. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, whom Mr. Sirisena calls "Madam".

So it will no longer be Mahinda Rajapaksa, who as a President elected by our votes does not and will not call Ranil "Sir" and Chandrika "Madam", who will rule us. Rather, after Mr. Sirisena has done his job as "an interim President" as Mano Ganeshan has accurately termed it, it is "Sir" and "Madam" who will jointly rule this country, as they so splendidly did from 1994 to 2005. Is that really the change we want? Is that the change we seek and deserve? Pardon me if I have second thoughts.

Change is needed. Iran needed a moderate nationalist in the form of Dr. Hassan Rouhani, to re-set relations with the West. He beat the nominee of the hawkish populist, Mr. Ahmadinejad. But what if Dr. Rouhani had pledged to step down in a hundred days and bring back the Shah or a member of the deposed pro-Western monarchy? Mr. Sirisena’s pledge to abolish the Presidency while making Ranil the PM, and worse still the written pledge reported in the Sunday Times to the effect that he will hand over executive powers to Ranil within 24 hours, smacks of a restorationist project to bring back the ancient regime of Chandrika-Ranil. Churchill was defeated by Attlee. What if Attlee has promised to bring back Neville Chamberlain and step down from office upon election?

Much as I would like to believe otherwise and unless I am convinced to the contrary by what Mr. Sirisena might do by or on Nomination Day, my lucid Realism overcomes my Romanticism and tells me that the real choice here is not Maithripala versus Mahinda, but precisely the following: "do we prefer Ranil and Chandrika to Mahinda (with his clan)?" I must confess that I for one am not convinced that the former combination is the more desirable. Nor do I think that the majority of voters will opt for that duo, any more than the majority of Russian voters (who are provincial and patriotic) would have opted for the return of a combination of Yeltsin plus Gorbachev, over Putin.

I am inclined under the current circumstances, to prefer the ‘containment’ of the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency, to his electoral overthrow. Therefore, unless the Opposition discourse, agenda and trajectory are dramatically re-set, I shall content myself with wishing Mr. Sirisena good luck, hoping he gives Mahinda a real run for his money, and simply staying home. As would appear to be the case with the JVP, my hopes for change are probably best transferred to the parliamentary election.