Sri Lanka is fucked

Sanjiva Weerawarana
Nov 4, 2018 · 6 min read

I wrote a blog last Sunday about the political situation in Sri Lanka and what we as normal people should do to prevent it from going down the tubes:

Well, I was wrong — no one took it to the courts to get an opinion and instead this is being fought in the courts of public opinion and the court of the international community. Neither side appears to want to find a way to really address this.

This BBC article that is datelined today (Nov 4th) is a fairly well balanced read on the current situation in Sri Lanka as of now:

I saw an announcement that parliament has been summoned for the 14th of November. No idea whether that’s fake news too (there were stories that it was called for the 5th then 7th etc.).

The UNP side has been screaming to bring parliament back to vote on who has control of parliament and the president (and MR) of course wanted time to negotiate what that vote looks like. It looks like the deal making is over and the swing voter (TNA) is going with UNP — which will mean a close shave at best for MR’s camp.

Last week UNP organized a street protest against their view that the constitution was violated which saw 10,000+ people show up (please correct me if that’s wrong). Tomorrow the other side’s organizing a protest to show that the people are with them and I’ll bet they’ll bring at least that much too.

Politicians on all sides in Sri Lanka know how to bring people to Colombo for protests.

In the meantime, Ranil and 5000 (?) supporters are illegally occupying public property — Temple Trees, the official residence of the prime minister. I want to see pictures of that place after 5000 people have been going to the shitters for a week there.

Its too late for a parliament vote to fix this

At this point however no vote in parliament can establish a credible government: If MR’s camp wins the other side will (rightfully, given the recordings of bribing attempts that have come out) say that the votes were bought. Then Ranil and his foreign supporters will absolutely drive the country to isolation.

If he loses then the president will have to appoint someone as PM — and Ranil will not go away so he will want it again and these two simply can’t work together now and the screwed up system we have now requires the president and the PM to work together. Ranil really is immortal and is hell bent on destroying the UNP to smithereens before he goes home. If he says that he will step down and let someone else take over as PM this can be resolved, but NOOOOOO that’s not likely.

Then there’s the whole accusation that Ranil and SF have plotted to kill the president. How the hell can you make an accusation like that on national TV and then ?! Someone needs to find out the truth and either charge them with treason (or whatever) or the President has to go on national TV and apologize like hell.

So, basically, we’re fucked.

Can we call a general (parliamentary) election?

The only way out I see is to call a full parliamentary election. Only problem is that under the 19th amendment president can’t do that until 4 years have gone since the last election — which is August something next year. Parliament can dissolve itself but half of these morons must be fully aware that they won’t get their cushy job back. That means it requires them to do something against self interest to dissolve themselves .. and yeah, we haven’t seen our bloody parliamentarians acting against self interest literally ever. So no luck there IMO.

And yeah this is the same parliament that has deliberately and illegally delayed provincial council elections for 2+ years because the UNP was scared shitless of the outcome. Nope, no international outcry for that violation of the constitution.

The president’s (and MR’s) crew sound-byte speakers are starting to say that if the vote-on-account (the temp budget) they plan to bring forward ASAP fails in parliament then that will effectively mean parliament gets dissolved. I really doubt that’s anywhere close to what our constitution says, and while it appears there’s potentially some greyness in the legitimacy of the crazy PM shift the president pulled off a week+ ago, this one would be blatantly off the books.

In other words, we’re fucked.

Democracy sucks

What we have in Sri Lanka is a result of a screwed up attempt at marrying the US and UK systems into a single one that JR did in 1978 which was very badly modified in 19A from what I can tell (as a non-lawyer). At least earlier the president had crazy powers meaning at least he run the country. Now it looks like no one can.

We’re so fucked. I hope I’m just wrong.

From now to August 2019

If I’m right, we just kicked the Lonely Planet #1 rating for 2019 in the nuts:

There are already travel advisories being put up by our “friendly” foreign governments who are unhappy about the situation here. If this uncertainty lingers that could have a tragic impact on tourism, our #1 ticket to economic prosperity.

Then there’s the economy overall — its been in the doldrums over the last few years especially for the bottom of the pyramid. The #yahapalanaya government did do some really good stuff (RTI bill being the most important as far as I’m concerned) but they also oversaw one economic screwup after another and delivered more corruption than results. This is Ranil’s legacy. The old guys were equally corrupt but at least showed some results.

How do we fix this?

To me there are few simple thing that have to happen to fix our trajectory:

  • Change the constitution to ban crossovers in parliament. If you get elected with party X, you STAY in party X or lose your seat. No selling yourself to the highest bidder.
  • We need to kill the “national govt” nonsense and say that under no condition can there be more than 30 ministries (even that’s too many IMO). Give a loophole and all sides will use it — just watch and see how MRs side will declare that they’re a national unity govt too if they make it thru this vote on the 14th.
  • A new political movement that consists of some sane people who look at national interest over self interest has to win about 25 seats in parliament so it can become the king maker and refuse to go along unless the party they support has some semblance of national interest.

Or, one can always hope for a benevolent dictator to take over via a real coup and shove all the current idiots in jail for starters. I don’t mind if they use the Shangri La to keep them (you know, ask the Saudis — they kept their guys in the Ritz Carlton (our Ritz Carlton is still under construction)) but we need to get ALL of these jokers out.

Barring that, we’re going to have to stick it out for the next 10 months in a fucked state.

In the meantime, we need to find 25 good people to who want to go to parliament and look after the country’s interests while the other 200 look after their personal interest. The other two fixes need the rest of the parliament to come along — so the key is to give control of parliament to some sane people first.