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By-party coalitions and national governments

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OPEN LETTER TO President Hon. Maithripala Sirisena

I am addressing this letter to your good office, as a citizen and a voter to convey my opinion regarding the new national government you have just established, by appointing nine SLFP members, who were ministers in the earlier government under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. As a result, the size of the present Cabinet has now increased to 40 members, well beyond the size, 25 you promised voters during recent presidential elections. Then to call it a National Government by adding this number only from your own party (SLFP) is a misnomer to say the least, Mr. President. With all due respect to your office, let me point out some serious problems this moveentails. Firstly I don’t see a need for a National Government at present times and present context. Usually National Governments are formed by countries when they face war or war like situations. However, the civil war in the country against the terrorist group (LTTE) was over in May 2009 and the country is hopefully now engaged in reconstruction and development, in a valiant effort to recover what was lost over the years during the conflict. Therefore the country does not require a National Government, but a stable government with good development policies and with capabilities to match up the development tasks ahead, while ensuring law and order, peace and harmony.

 You already have a workable majority in Parliament who can work under your presidency. The people elected you precisely for this and people expect from you the continuation of development work to continue without interruption. The people supported the SLFP under President Rajapaksa to bring peace and develop this country fast. Voters have replaced him and voted you in expecting you to lead the SLFP to perform better. This is also to ensure equitable development which the SLFP has always aimed in country, since 1956. Nobody can deny this. The various public sector programs, the party had introduced, were aimed at development with equity and Sri Lanka’s present status today as a nation is largely the outcome of these policies spearheaded by SLFP leaders. They were of course supported by leftist leaders in the past. People are solidly behind SLFP even to this day because of the good work they have done. The SLFP is a people’s party. But the UNP is not, in this sense. It represents group interests at best and bases politics on dicey interest groups both local and foreign. The average voter does not trust them and that is precisely why they have failed to form an even a coalition government in recent years. People will not support them as they did in 1977 simply because of what the UNP leaders said and did during the critical years of the war against terror. They know this very well and that is why they are hanging on to you, Mr. President. In fact Ranil Wickremesinghe had decided to piggy-back onto you on the very day you took oath in office and cunningly got himself appointed as Prime Minister. Wickremesinghe severely compromised your good nature in exercising executive powers. People elected you as President of Sri Lanka on January 8 and not him as Prime Minister. Ranil Wickremesinghe, enjoys no confidence or approval of the parliament or for that matter in the country. At best he is a UNP leader and that again because of its constitution and its executive committee members he controls and not because he enjoys full support of his party members. Sajith Premadasa probably has a better support base in the UNP. On the other hand this can also very well be the same conspiracy stuff that his elders had used against your party, since the days of SWRD Bandaranaike and Sirimavo Bandaranaike. People are well aware of UNP’S political stunts since the 1962 coup and what they would resort to now and in the future. These are matters that you as the new president should reflect in the present context and be on guard and not let them misuse your good qualities.

Do pardon me Mr. President, for pointing out that what has been formed is a by-party coalition and not a national government by any means. To call it National Government it should, in my opinion, include all other major political parties represented in Parliament, like JVP, the Tamil political parties, in particular, if your office wants to label it that way. But in my frank opinion what is most relevant to Sri Lankan politics today is a stable and strong government, capable of pushing the massive   socio-economic development that has already been commenced by the SLFP. I am confident that you can strengthen the support base further for the SLFP in the coming elections and achieve the development goals that our country is yearning for so long. There is no need to have any conspirators of any sort, to piggy-back on you as the elected president of Sri Lanka. People are with you and the SLFP has always been a common man’s party. The economy needs to move on and the development process to re-start. Then the people would be rendered full of hopes and will join in to restart the ‘the engine of growth.’ So Mr. President, we are waiting to see the SLFP, as in the past, play the decisive role at this critical hour that the history of our nation dictates now.
Sugath Silva 
244,Hulftsdorp St
Colombo12.

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