Don’t imagine about the Arab Spring when you think about Sunday’s protests, rather, Google about what happened in the 2015 Greek bailout referendum.

Nothing more, 61% of the Greek people voted against the fiscal and other reforms proposed by the European Commission, IMF, and the European Central Bank. Following day, the Greek government capitulated and did exactly the opposite of what the voters asked for: accept the bailout terms.

Sri Lanka is now in bailout territory. That’s when your big uncle gives a call to…

Although many don’t say, these are ultimately crises of sovereignty. That people are unable to collectively determine their future. But in Sri Lanka, we deserve this collective collapse because of what we did to our own Northern counterparts on 18th May 2009, who wanted their own sovereignty. Not to mention, China found its back door to the center of our politics through that sovereignty sacrifice camouflaged as war victory.

Nonetheless, is the apparent mass discontent genuine? Some claim that the anti-Rajapaksa sentiment is not enough for the deep crisis we are in – when the plane is crashing murderers and saints are both brothers in jeopardy. We all go down irrespective of who caused it.

The third-way alternative, what I’d like to call the Arvind Kejrivalist new JVP offers more or less the 70’s self-sufficient vision with heightened national production and less corruption. This vision gets you a Nicaragua, or at most a Peru, but not an Israel or Hong Kong. People don’t realize that the Chinese communists are of a totally different register – if Nicaraguan and Peruvian leftists are from Mars, Chinese are surely from at least Neptune. So, it’s futile to compare the JVP with Chinese ambitions.

Maybe it’s time for big talk, or maybe it’s not. What’s on the table? SJP is clearly unclear – they don’t have a plan when we really need a plan. JPV’s basic motivation is that the crisis is ripe for them to taste power. Their proposals are not newly made. Others? Wimal and the clan are just contemptuous with what the government, with no clear alternative.

In this vacuum, only Ranil comes out as the clear victor. It’s only him who voices out an alternative which is not rocket science: take IMF’s bailout terms, make budget cuts in government expenses, and have a really smiley face when meeting US, Chinese, European, Indian, and Japanese counterparts (their pockets are bigger than Bangladesh and the rest). It’s time to learn from street beggars – one does not shake ones till at every car, Prados have better odds in lowering the shutter than Suzukis.

So, is the acceptance of IMF’s bailout terms enough? Do we just need a negotiator that has read the Mahavamsa to cite dynasties, in the guise of Ranil Wickremasinghe?

The theory when Wickremasinghe failed to deliver the most basic promises during the good governance regime was that President Sirisena obstructed his efforts. Now we say the same for Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. To give the devil what’s his, Basil Rajapaksa was the finance minister only for the past 8 months. So, the crisis has been cooking for long.

Battered by governance stupidity, we actually need a good negotiator. We can take Wickremasinghe for that, not the JVP. But should Gota go? Perhaps not. Let’s think modestly – transformations cannot happen in this hour.

Modest reformism vs reformist modesty.

Dilshan Fernando

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