Is the ‘Alternative Govt’ any different?

Janarala Rally at Hyde Park.....

Alright, say this SLFP (PA) Govt is corrupt, guilty of financial mismanagement, not keeping its promises, not quite able to control the escalation of the COL, allowing defence mishaps to occur, etc etc.

So Some say we need to replace it with another. Agreed. Those who are shouting hoarse that they be allowed to form a Govt., should themselves be free of the defects they allege against the SLFP Govt. and not have been guilty of such defects when they were in power. The said "AG" being the UNP (or the "National Congress" (NC) under its current dispensation) is it then not logical to examine the UNP/NCs record in this regard? The need for it arises because one notices today, hour after hour, day after day, on TV, Radio, the Press and in the many "jana mehemuwas" the UNP/NC lambasting the Govt on this and that as if they themselves never indulged in the self same skullduggeries! It seems that anything the Govt does is wrong, even actions obviously beneficial to the public (eg. The Post 10 p.m. loudspeaker Ban. So as ‘The Island’s Editor suggested in his clinical Editorial on 25.10.07, is there any one without sin who can cast the first stone? And the Editor, "Daily Mirror" clearly answers this Biblical question in his also balanced editorial of 19.11.07.

"Both the Govt and the Opposition resort to similiar methods to win over supporters. So it is a vain attempt by each party to appear before the people as paragons of virtue. The pure white garb most of our politicians are attired in has no affinity with their conduct".

So led us briefly examine the UNP/NC’s conduct, and see whether they (say Attanayake in his "white national garb" for instance) can cast the first stone and then by pose before us as "paragons" of virtue"!

Take Bribery and Corruption. I quote from ‘The Island’ and the ‘D/Mirror’ which among the English papers, I consider are more or less balanced in their views. I leave out both the ‘D/News’ and ‘Observer’ which being Govt papers are one-sided. ‘The Sunday Leader’ and ‘Morning Leader’ though supposedly part of the so-called "Independent press" is patently a UNP/LTTE paper, in my view.

‘The Island’ Editorial (04-10-07): "Bribery as a means of winning elections is nothing new in this country. All Govt leaders save President Wijetunge have either given or offered bribes to the LTTE" (Editorial titled "A tragicomedy of Bribes").

‘Daily Mirror’ Editorial (Sorry, I’ve missed the date): Regarding the indifference by all parties to the OPA’s "Anti-corruption Auction Plan" of 28-7-07: Both Govt & Opposition Parties "concern about wiping out corruption is confined to taking political advantage over their rival parties…. The present exchange of allegations and counter allegations reverberating in the political arena today clearly shows that it is political capital they seek to make thro’ this issue. These parties while in the Opposition show great concern about burgeoning bribery and corruption. They come out with sensational exposures of govt party corruption, posing as paragons of virtue who will not touch corruption even with a barge pole" (Eg. The ‘Benz’ and ‘funding the LTTE’ allegations my interpolation) "But once installed in power they soon tread the same path of corruption that the previous regime followed."

Defence Mishaps/Military Debacles etc.

The UNP went to town over the LTTE attack on the Anuradhapura Airbase. Everyone agrees that there was gross negligence, ineptness on the part of Airport Security. But is the UNP free from similar charges? I go again to ’The Island.’

‘The Island’ Editorial of 25.10.07: "Casting the first stone": "Attempts are being made in some quarters to lionize the Tigers" (refers to the LTTE’s success in A’pura and the UNP/NC gloating). ‘The Island’, having pointed out that this attack was not that too brilliant a feat goes onto state: "What about the debacles the LTTE suffered at Marvil Aru, Muttur, and Vakarai? The present day UNP has suffered a string of defeats just like the SLFP…." One notes that while the UNP gloated over the LTTE’s feats in A’pura, it degraded the Army’s feat at Thoppigala as mere rock capture! Pooneryn was overrun in 1990, battle tanks removed, with Ranil as Premier!

UNP’s Call for Resignations: The UNP demanded the resignation/dismissal of the Defence Sec and the Air Force Chief after the A’Pura debacle.

‘The Island’ same Editorial: "Should they resign" (including the President as C-in-C). "If so President Bush should have resigned over the attack on the Pentagon. Churchill over the initial failures of the British Army, President Ranaginghe Premadasa when 600 policemen who surrendered on his orders to the LTTE were massacred in 1990. "But none of the above, Bush, Churchill, Wijetunge and Ranil (after Pooneryn) or Premadasa resigned. Nor did Ranil while in Cabinet ask them to resign.

‘The Island’ again: "Worse, the military officers who were found responsible for that military disaster by a court of inquiry, were late promoted and then sent abroad as Ambassador after retirement. The UNP Govt saved its face by forcing the then Army Commander Cecil Waidyaratne to resign." Regarding the JVP attack on Katunayake, and removal of weapons "neither President Premadasa nor his Defence Secretary resigned." Nor did Ranil or the UNP ask them to do so! "The present day UNP has suffered a string of defeats. But has any head rolled in the UNP? No! Ranil himself should have resigned long ago. Yes, his forte is to cast stones while in a glass house and to look at the mote in Rajapakse’s eye, ignoring the speck in his own!

There are more aspects of the UNP’s finger pointing dishonesties to be commented on. Due to space constrains I will refer only to two more, namely the Cost of Living, and keeping election promises.

COL: I quote the "D/Mirror" Editorial (Sorry, date not noted) as regards ‘COL’ promises given by all parties. "Bringing down the COL and promoting good governance… and among common pledges held out to people… The Govt’t failure is not peculiar to the present govt to fulfill the promise for reducing the COL is due to a combination of reasons."

Keeping to election promises: "D/Mirror’s Editorial: SLFP, SLFP (M) UNP agreements and proposals are like political party manifestos containing pious intentions. COL promoting good governance being common pledges. The disappointments, problems arise when those elected to power fail to fulfill these pledges." So clearly the UNP is no better in this regard.

Above is a survey of neutral press views on the "Alternative Govt" (UNP) whose members, or the most vociferous of them, now come out ‘in pure white garb’ "posing as paragons of virtue" making sensational exposures, claims and other anti-corruption declamations. Are they as the Alternative Govt" any better than the Govt they are quick to criticize? Say, on the corruption issue and the COPE Report. The irony is that the UNP which thunders about it must hide its head in shame because the corrupt deals the COPE reports on were mostly done under Ranil’s UNP regime. Likewise, the SLFP Govt too must be ashamed for trying to shield the alleged culprits who are now with them.

The tragedy of much of political discussions today is that many see only one side of the picture. They regularly point to the Govt’s misdeeds, corruption, political chicanery etc., forgetting or in most cases choosing to ignore that their own political party (whichever it is) perpetrated the same skullduggeries during their time. Seems each Govt outdoes the other in political humbug and other frauds. That’s how I see it and always have. Yet loyalties to a particular party blinds many of its followers to the fact that their party, having a mote in its own eyes, has the gall to point at the speck in the others.

To close, I might therefore pose the question is the Alternative Govt (UNP/NC) any different than the Govt it seeks to replace? One knows what the answer of those blindly partial to their party will be. What do the politically honest, neutral and those with a sense of analytic appraisal think? That is the question.

And to show just how politically dishonest and deliberately non-analytic the UNP/NC people can be, here’s a recent sample from one of its top leaders: "The Trade Minister… who had contributed much to governance when he was a member of the UNP had now changed his policies by joining the Mahinda Rajapakse Govt…" Mr. Ravi Karunanayake (UNP District MP at Committee Stage Debate). What about Mr. Mangala Samaraweera and Mr. Siripathi Sooriarachchi, Mr. K? Have they not changed their policies since joining you people? Is it only your crossovers who have changed policies? What about the big policy change your own party has made on the Ethnic Issue for purely opportunistic, vote getting purposes; your U-turn to a Unitary structure from Federalism, whatever euphemism (Repositioning) your party may call it.



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