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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2522

No Confidence Motion: shadow cycle in our democracy

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

When socialism was at its peak, the former Sri Lankan President J R Jayawardena once explained to a journalist at that time why he preferred the democracy to the former: “it’s the better of the two, “had said President Jayawardena to the gentleman in question.

With this admission, he knew that democracy was not without its own flaws. During his time, he inadvertently laid bare a few of them, perhaps, when impulse overruled his legendary composure in the heat of phases when his political survival was at stake.

Whether President Jaywardena saw the catalogue of incidents that blighted his term in office as flaws of the very system that he chose to adhere to – or not - is something to be judged by history. What he did not see, however, was that the democracy has a funny side too, something that his nephew experienced last week.

To be more accurate, it is not just a side; it’s a cycle – the political equivalent of Karma.

The media-induced enthusiasm over the recent NCM – No Confidence Motion – against Mr Ranil Wickramasinghe, the prime minister of Sri Lanka, is a case in point.

He was elected as the prime minister over three years ago with plenty of fanfare, following a ‘popular coup’; hopes were raised and promises were made on a waves of sentiments in proportion to the excitement; later on, infighting among coalition members started when the spheres of respective influence intersected; when masses began to realize that Utopian dream is as distant as ever, the last phase of the funny cycle kicks in; a significant section of the very people who elected our leaders appears to be interested in sending them home on a sour note.

By doing so, they are longing for the arrival of next messiah, a mythical human being, who can address burning issues while wagging a magic wand – back at the initial phase of the comic cycle.


Although, Mr Wickramasinghe’s stars were in the right constellation last week, the victory came about at the expense of coalition unity. His distractors, meanwhile, made a disastrous mistake by supporting the NCM, underestimating the risk of being exposed on many politically-harmful fronts.

As usual, this is the phase of the comic cycle in which masses try to get on with their lives, facing the challenges of realities of life, as if nothing happened previous week – until the next drama is played out. In short, they collectively lie low.

This is the phase that the masses overlook plenty of things too, either as irrelevant or beyond their comprehension: falling values of the currency against the US dollar; dwindling earnings of expatriates; rising labour costs while dreaming of attracting foreign investors; funding for graduate job schemes while not knowing where it is going to come from; the never-ending burden of debt repayment and the tax collection measures to dealing with it.

In this context, the No Confidence Motion, NCM that was brought in against the prime minister is not going to be the end of the comic cycle in a great democracy. On the contrary, it’s the lightning phase that spells out the boomerang effect of political back-stabbing, which guarantees the continuation of the great cycle – for years, if not decades, to come.

- Asian Tribune-

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