A leader like no other

Sunday Times (Sri Lanka) - - OPINION -

Aiyo Sirisena,

I thought of writ­ing to you be­cause you were “cel­e­brat­ing” four years in of­fice, just the other day. I sup­pose congratulations are in or­der, al­though I am sure they are few and far be­tween these days be­cause of what you have been up to in the last three months, plung­ing the en­tire na­tion into cri­sis.

By a co- in­ci­dence, your an­niver­sary fell on SWRD’s birth­day. When you were at his statue at Galle Face to lay a wreath, you got the cold shoul­der from Satel­lite who didn’t speak to you. You can count your­self lucky - I’m sur­prised she didn’t ut­ter a few choice words to tell you how she feels about you.

We saw ad­ver­tise­ments de­scrib­ing what you have achieved in the last four years and I think no one will dis­pute that you have achieved what no other leader - even men like SWRD or JR - have achieved be­fore you. So, you don’t need to worry when peo­ple crit­i­cise you for no rea­son at all.

You did form a gover nment that brought the Blues and the Greens to­gether for the first time in al­most seventy years of in­de­pen­dence.

Many peo­ple were un­easy about where this was head­ing and how it would end - and they were proved right, when it fi­nally col­lapsed - but no one had done that be­fore.

Aiyo Sirisena, we are used to our politi­cians mak­ing prom­ises and then fail­ing to hon­our them, so we shouldn’t be com­plain­ing about you not hon­our­ing your prom­ises. Still, we are not used to politi­cians mak­ing prom­ise af­ter prom­ise and then do­ing the ex­act op­po­site. You are unique in that way too.

You promised to abol­ish the Ex­ec­u­tive Pres­i­dency. You said so dur­ing your elec­tion cam­paign, just af­ter be­ing sworn in, at the Dal­ada Mali­gawa a day later and months later at Sob­hitha hamudu­ruvo’s fu­neral. Yet, in the last three months, you used your ex­ec­u­tive pow­ers like no other had done be­fore.

You promised to be a one- term Pres­i­dent and re­tire af­ter your first term. To be fair, you haven’t for­mally an­nounced any­thing, but your re­cent ac­tions sug­gest any­thing but that. Even so, you might still end up keep­ing that prom­ise - be­cause the peo­ple might send you home if you run for of­fice again.

You promised to catch the crooks of the pre­vi­ous regime and put them be­hind bars. That didn’t hap­pen. Only Lalith went to jail. In­stead, you are beg­ging these crooks to come and join you to form a coali­tion to con­test the next elec­tion be­cause you know that if you run by your­self, you will lose.

You promised in an ad­dress to the na­tion just be­fore the last gen­eral elec­tion that, even if the Blues won that poll, you would never ap­point Mahinda maama as PM ever again. The other day, you did just that, even though no one knew why, and he didn’t have suf­fi­cient sup­port in Par­lia­ment.

You promised a clean gov­ern­ment. Your slo­gan was ‘ ya­ha­paalanaya’ (good gov­er­nance). Yet, af­ter the last gen­eral elec­tion, you ap­pointed de­feated can­di­dates like SB and Thi­langa to Par­lia­ment. Now we know why. With­out the likes of SB, who would have said, ‘Rangey, oya enawada’ on your be­half ?

You promised to up­hold our Con­sti­tu­tion and act ac­cord­ing to the man­date you re­ceived. Yet, the high­est court in the land found that you vi­o­lated the Con­sti­tu­tion. Only the courage shown by those on that bench and Speaker Karu pre­vented you from be­com­ing an ab­so­lute dic­ta­tor, Aiyo Sirisena.

You promised, dur­ing the con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis you trig­gered, that you will never re-ap­point the Green Man as PM even if all 225 MPs en­dorse him. If that is their wish, you will go home in an hour, you said. Yet, Aiyo Sirisena, the Green Man is now PM and that hour is long past!

You promised to make the Blue party great again when you took over its lead­er­ship, but you had no man­date to do so be­cause you were elected with Green votes. Yet, you, its long­est serv­ing gen­eral sec­re­tary, have ap­pointed four sec­re­taries in four years, and you are now pre­sid­ing over its demise.

Aiyo Sirisena, be­cause of all this, you have in­deed been a leader like no other be­fore you. You have also con­vinced the na­tion, be­yond any doubt, that we should get rid of the Ex­ec­u­tive Pres­i­dency be­cause it can be dis­as­trous when it falls into the wrong hands. For that at least, we must be grate­ful to you.

Aiyo Sirisena, you have also demon­strated that you can fool most of the peo­ple most of the time, which is why they elected you four years ago. Still, you can’t fool all the peo­ple all the time, so, with one year to go, your days are num­bered. I don’t know whether you are count­ing, but we cer­tainly are. Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS: You had some good news this week - the courts said they couldn’t com­pel you to be ex­am­ined by a psy­chi­a­trist. Only that Nis­han­tha chap has been ex­am­ined and found to be sane. It was good the courts didn’t have the au­thor­ity to do so. If it was pos­si­ble, who knows what they might have found?

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