What are Gotabaya’s tactics on escalating calamity?
While the university academia has their guns trained on the President, principals and teachers have been on strike for months demonstrating on the streets for long overdue salary increments.
Gotabhaya as President has reigned for over two years. Instead of resolving some prominent issues this period have developed severe crises with mounting magnitude which have left political observers wondering on the proposed strategy of the government in confronting them which has prompted the Sri Lankan jargon people question whether the government is coming or going? Even the most staunch congregations of the ‘Pohottuwa”( lotus bud) are dumbfounded unable to respond. However, the intimate of the die-hard allies give a lame excuse, declaring ‘pandemic’ focussing the President has got almost all immunized for dreaded Covid-19. But the staunch believers say the country would gallop towards panoramas of prosperity and grandeur as envisaged in his pre-election philosophy.
When galloping the streets in cities or the countryside the scenes are not at all conducive, crowds comprise of people all furious from all walks of life demanding the withdrawal of some of the judgments made by the President while others remain wordlessly standing in queues breathing poison regretting on whom they voted for power with so many aspirations cum ambitions.
It was the plan, trust and strategy of Gotabhaya Rajapakse during his campaign was the dire need to re-create national security which the previous ‘Yahapalanaya’ government had faltered during which time brutal assaults on churches and tourists’ hotels by a local extremist Muslim organization alleged to be allied to a powerful international horror terrorist cluster the famous ISIS.
The President has progressively brought into top administrative posts military officers mostly retired officers of the tri forces when there were so many other experienced personnel available. Many observers allege on the anchor of national security, his strategy for progress would be built upon.In this scenario he has appointed retired and in service offices as secretaries to key ministries and several other retired officers as heads of crucial institutions such as Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, the Ports and Customs for those of civilian officials of the administrative service. This strategy though not happy with these decisions which may have been to suppress trade union activities. Most government officials have traditionally supported the SLFP and SLPP which was evident by the number of postal votes polled in the recent elections. It is yet to be known to whom these voters would turn to and react in the next election.
The enthusiastic protests made against the manner in which millions of dollars ‘Yugadanavi” LNG plant deal with an American company with other things uttered about the Rajapaksa government on this issue and other deals certainly did not seem to augur well for the Rajapaksas.For some baffling reason most of the vital decisions made by the former retired Lt Colonel seems to go dead against the interests of the people in the electorates that cast 6.92 million votes 52.25 percent of the total number of votes cast.
During the run up to the Presidential election a vote catching catchphrase was opposing selling of national possessions to foreign investors which involved foreign interests. Of course many were making massive financial losses over the years.The lease/sale of the Hambantota harbour has been ignored by international shipping lines. The Mattala airport has been snubbed described as the loneliest airport in the world. Now the deception in politics when in opposition backfired those leaders who opposed foreign investment under the previous government. Foreign investments made on state owned property are now openly opposed by trade unions which backed the Rajapaksas when in the opposition.
In the field of education there were no objections to granting the Kotalawela Defence academy the status as a university. But in June 2021 a bill was brought before parliament proposing changes to the structure of the Kotelawala Defence University. It placed the KDU under the Défense ministry management appointing a senior managerof the armed forces as the Vice Chancellor rather than under the manager of the Higher Education Ministry as had been the accepted norm. Several academic groups and students alleged this was a sinister attempt at privatisation and militarisation of the KDU that would enable to function independent of the University Grants Commission (UGC) .This move was opposed by students, university professors, union leaders too vehemently opposed this move. While the university academics had guns focussed on the President, principals and teachers have been on strike for months demonstrating on the streets for 24 year long overdue salary increase topic.
Then the issue of banning of import of inorganic fertilizer while farmers asked to use organic fertilizer. The President a former military officer will not go back on the order on the ban. In military terms “an order is an order that has to be obeyed.” True he had said it is in his manifesto quite clearly that he would stop the use of chemical fertilizer and insecticide because of the harmful effects to health of the people. Recently some coalition party compatriots of the government seem to picked up ‘Dutch’ courage to tell President that they could not go on with all his continuous autonomous decisions. This may deprive the government of its two-third majority. In his strategy to let chaos accumulate and then bring order using military resources. Already he is constitutionally vested with executive powers which no other President had exercised before.On the other hand he may be thinking all this hot air will blow over once the pandemic ends with the financial crisis eases. It is believed that as a norm, Sri Lankans memories do not last for more than two weeks.