27 November, 2020

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A Fragmented Nation Has Decided

By Hilmy Ahamed

Hilmy Ahamed

Hilmy Ahamed

Sri Lanka has decided on its future with its bets placed heavily on President Maithripala Sirisena to embark on compassionate governance to unite the fragmented communities and build a truly reconciled nation.

The voting pattern in the just concluded presidential election is probably the saddest indictment of a divided society. The majority of the Buddhist community voted in favor of a hardline president who believed that he did not need the vote of the minority communities to be re-elected to the august position of the President of our nation. His reliance on just the majority Sinhala Buddhist vote not only deprived him of his third term, but also created a very divided nation. His last minute attempt to woo minority votes fell on deaf ears.

The voting patterns of the people of a once peaceful nation who co-existed as different communities are a cause for concern. The Sinhala Buddhist majority voted for a Presidency where the racial divide will be entrenched in its future governance, while the minorities trusted in a change, for a better and peaceful nation under a compassionate leader that they could trust.

Maitthri oaths 2015 Photo Via FCAOSL

*Maithri takes oaths- Photo courtesy Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Sri Lanka Facebook page

It would have been difficult for Maithripala Sirisena to win if the minority communities had divided their loyalties between the two main contending Presidential candidates or abstained from exercising their franchise.

The effort by the Jathika Hela Urumaya, Ven. Sobitha Thero, Ven. Athuraliye Ratana Thero and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna to garner a larger segment of the Sinhala Buddhist vote did not translate in to any substantial number of votes cast for Maithripala Sirisena’s Maithri Yugaya (A compassionate era).

The rallying call for Democracy, Rule of Law and good governance by the common opposition led by the United National Party and other key stake holders in forming a coalition for change resonated well amongst the minority communities.

The minority communities who were subjected to a brutal campaign of hate by Buddhist extremists believed in a new coalition that would re-establish the glory of a united Sri Lanka. The Northern Tamil, Muslim and the Plantation Tamil community, voted overwhelmingly with over 90% of them casting their vote in favor of Maithripala Sirisena. I do not believe that they expect anything herculean from the new President, but to provide a conducive climate for all citizens of this country to have equal opportunities and justice, that did not exist during the second term of the Rajapaksa administration, especially after the war victory of 2009.

The peaceful transition from the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency offers ample space for an immediate and innovative approach to unite the fragmented communities. The task today for the new president and a capable visionary Prime Minister is to address these issues as a priority and move towards a compassionate era where all Sri Lankans would claim to be part of the bright future on offer.

Maithripala Sirisena could be the “Mandela” of Sri Lanka. His acceptance speech after the swearing in ceremony reminds of Nelson Mandela’s approach to unite the black and white population in South Africa after decades of apartheid rule. While President Maithripala Sirisena has many promises to keep, his priority should be towards ethnic reconciliation, especially to capitalize on the trust the minorities have placed in him. It is now time for him to walk the talk. With the mandate provided to him by the nation, he should immediately set about addressing the lost opportunities during the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency to reconcile with the Northern Tamil population. The Tamil National Alliance is on record saying that they would work with His Excellency, Maithripala Sirisena to find lasting solutions to the grievances of the Tamil population. He now has the opportunity to take bold decisions in addressing their legitimate grievances and finding a lasting solution that would not alienate any of the communities living in Sri Lanka. A truth and reconciliation commission along the lines of the South African experience would be most appropriate.

Almost the entire political, civil and to a certain extent the religious leadership of the Muslims placed their trust on the new president to embark on a proper and necessary mechanism for the Muslims to live in peace, practice their religion and be equal citizens, devoid of the hate mongering that existed during the second term of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. This can be achieved by ensuring that those who were responsible for the hate crimes and violence are brought to justice, and engage the Muslims in a constructive dialogue to address any issues of concern they may pose to the majority community.

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna is probably the unsung hero of this Presidential campaign. Their contribution to Maithripala Sirisena’s camp would go unrecognized to a large extent, mainly because they were not on stage with Maithripala. Their commitment to principles and values and objections to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 3rd term should be appreciated and adequate support and encouragement should be ensured for them in future elections. Engagement and support from minority communities for the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna should also be encouraged so that a wider political representation would be ensured.

Sri Lanka needs to embark on its new journey of a truly united Sri Lankan nation by discarding the communal/ethnic-based politics that came in to existence with the introduction of the proportional representation electoral system under the J R Jayewardene’s amendment to the constitution. Towards this end, it would be important to establish a mechanism where minority communities and other vulnerable groups would have the necessary space for political representation without creating communal political institutions. Mainstream political parties will need to strategize to accommodate a new political culture for the nation.

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Latest comments

  • 8
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    First thing first…. what Ranil must do now is to expedite the law enforcement agencies to crack down on Mahinda’s all crimes including theft, murder, disappearance of many people including political opponents and journalists.

    Mahinda is a seasoned criminal pf more than 40-50 years of experience. He employed all illegal methods to win this election. To Mahinda’s credit he abused state resources to its maximum. Media propaganda is the most effective one.

    The margins he got is debatable. Only Mahinda and his cronies knows the exact figure of the real voting for themselves. There are many stories exposed in the alternative media of Mahinda using Army and Naval personalities and troops stealing voting cards and polling for him. So, he has had vote rigging in some cases. But, if we take it as it is officially known now to the entire world of having a 48% votes for him, this could pose a threat to any future govt., that is trying to re-correct the flawed system of governance that is functioning until the moment of Rajapakse conceded defeat.

    Ranil and Maithree must expose Mahinda’s criminal dealings and all corruptions from day one. Now that the media and everything is under the control of the present elected representatives of the common candidate they must the blown up false image of RAJAPAKSE and his gangs.

    If Mahinda’s reputation is left intact it might cause trouble for the future of common cadidate and the UNP when they face for the general election. Mahinda’s pseudo Hero image must be destroyed.

    Also, Ranil must always keep an eye on the Sinhala Only gangs. These criminals might again draw the present elected govt., on the same path the country was taken for the last 60+ years from the independence in descending spiral.

    Mahinda’s camp and the people who sympathised with him by voting for him in large numbers might embold the gang to fight another day and capture power again. If any day that happens, then all the remaining opponents will be wiped out to pave the way for a new chapter in their pursuit power again.

    Since, Mahinda had a large numbers of dependents and his own family and siblings, a come back is not far away.

    DESTROY MAHINDA’S FALSE IMAGE and show the world of his true nature and conducts and crimes he committed.

    • 2
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      The fifth columnist using the pseudonym “desert storm” is revealing.

      The American colonialistss approached this regime change through an undeclared illegal war, similar to the one against the other friend of the Palestinians, Saddam Hussein. So desert storm is cryptic.

      They were more cunning here, because they got the local Muslim (Wahabis) -whom Rajapakse supported all his political life- on side too.

      Judaism and Islam are the poison of the unierse.

      They deserve each other.

      • 0
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        Javi or Vindicated….you have come back in a new avatar….I tell even now ZIONIST WILL LOSE THE GAME in few years time…..Keep guessing.

        Your faith which has an allegiance to the Zionist system is a failure.

    • 2
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      Desert Storm,
      You are entirely correct.
      All the unlawful methods and doings of Mahinda including massive abuse of state resources, monetary and other, should be recorded for posterity.
      His disbursement of monies from the President’s Fund to favoured cronies – many of them very rich – for “medical expenses” should be probed and exposed – this fund has never been audited.

  • 4
    1

    Hilmy Ahamed –

    RE: A Fragmented Nation Has Decided

    “The voting pattern in the just concluded presidential election is probably the saddest indictment of a divided society. The majority of the Buddhist community voted in favor of a hardline president who believed that he did not need the vote of the minority communities to be re-elected to the august position of the President of our nation. His reliance on just the majority Sinhala Buddhist vote not only deprived him of his third term, but also created a very divided nation. His last minute attempt to woo minority votes fell on deaf ears.”

    It is Not a A Fragmented Nation Has Decided, it os a split nation and split Sinhala Buddhists as well.

    Sinhala Buddhists families are split as well, including Minority families.

    About 55% of the Sinhala Buddhists Voted for Mr. Mahinda Rajsapaksa.

    About 45% of the Sinhala Buddhists Voted for Mr. Maitripala Sirisena.

    Out of the Non-Sinhala Buddhists About 30.6% Voted for Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. They did not reject MR wholesale.

    Out of the Non-Sinhala Buddhists About 69.4% Voted for Mr. Matripala Sirisena They did not accept MS wholesale, but accepted preferentially.

    It is actually Democracy, Law and Order, Good Governance power which the minorities and the Sinhala Majority support.

    MR , despite all his flaws, was the President when LTTE was defeated. o, the Sinhala as well as Tamils and Muslims give him Credit and he got their support, despite the mR discriminatory policies against them.

    Maithripala Sirisena 6,217,162 51.28%
    Mahinda Rajapaksa 5,768,090 47.58%

    Valid Votes 12,123,452 98.85%
    Rejected Votes 140,925 1.15%
    Total Polled 12,264,377 81.52%
    Regis.Electors 15,044,490

    Sinhala Buddhists 0.7019 =70.09%

    Non-Sinhala Buddhists =0.2981 =29.81%

    About 55% of the Sinhala Buddhists Supported Mahinda Rajapaksa.=0.55*12,123,452
    =4,734,601= 39.05% of Polled Votes

    About 45% of the Sinhala Buddhists supported Maitripala Sirisena,=0.45^12,123,452
    =3,873,764 = 31.95% of Votes Polled.

    So, the Ethic Voting Breakdown for the Two Candidates comes down as

    Sin Budd Non-Sinh Budd
    Sirisena 6,217,162 51.28% 31.95% 19.33%
    Rajapaksa 5,768,090 47.58% 39.05% 8.53%

    So, the 30.6% non-Sinhala Buddhists, still voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa, whereas 69.4% of them Voted for Mr. Mautipala Sirisena.

    • 3
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      Hilmy Ahamed –

      RE: A Fragmented Nation Has Decided

      A Different View than Yours.

      Is the Sun Going Around a Stationary Earth or is it the Earth moving around the Sun ans rotates on its own axis? After all the sun rises from the East and sets in the west, for all of us to see…

      Sri Lanka presidential polls: democracy prevails
      Unstoppable Sri Lanka – Frequently Asked Questions About Sri Lanka, Answered! Find Out More. http://www.srilanka-faq.com

      AHILAN KADIRGAMAR

      http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/south-asia/article6771676.ece

      Refuting the analysis of pundits that Mahinda Rajapaksa is invincible, the Lankan Muslim, Tamil and Sinhalese citizenry went to the polls in large numbers and defeated the authoritarian Rajapaksa regime. The space that opened up with the 2015 Presidential Elections eventually blew the lid of repression and cleared the oppressive cloud of fear that suppressed the people, corrupted social and state institutions, and silenced dissent.

      As the Opposition finally got its act together, forming a coalition of actors from the two major political parties and Sinhala Buddhist right to the ethnic minority parties and coalesced around a formidable “common candidate,” Maithripala Sirisena, the people voted out the Rajapaksa regime for going beyond its mandate. This may well be a lesson for future regimes that question the democratic ethos of the Lankan citizenry.

      Sri Lanka is falsely framed as a country solely polarised by ethnic divisions between Sinhala Buddhists and Tamils, and that framing has been shattered by the alliances created with nominations for Presidential Elections one month ago. The election victory, which became possible with the overwhelming support of the minorities, including the Up-Country Tamils, Muslims and Tamils in the North and East, is testament to the potential for the ethnic minorities to work with sections of the majority Sinhala community, when the fate of the country is at stake.

      Indeed, it was the humiliation of the Tamil community through continued militarisation, the attacks on the Muslim community by the regime’s proxy the Bodu Bala Sena and the continuing social and economic exclusion of the Up-Country Tamils, that ensured the decisive minority vote. The regime also believed that it could neglect economic concerns of the broader population through its development policies benefiting a financialised urban economy, while paving the path to victory by peddling ethnic chauvinism.

      This post-war moment for democratisation and reconciliation has been long awaited since the end of the war five years ago, but there remains much work ahead on issues that were untouched during the intense election campaign. The opposition coalition focused on overthrowing the regime, avoided the contentious issues of demilitarization, the national question, and did not offer a viable plan for economic upliftment of the people. These three issues will test the credibility of the future government.

      Will it begin a process of demilitarisation given that a post-war country should reduce its military and provide other avenues of employment and a decent life for the young men and women recruited during the war? Will it be able to reach a broad national consensus towards a political settlement with devolution of power and power-sharing to address the grievances of minorities since independence? And will it be able to reform the crisis prone neoliberal economy, which continues to increase inequalities and exclude large sections of the population? When the celebrations are over, the loose coalition that formed the Opposition is likely to unravel. There is likely to be reconfiguration of political forces with the new cabinet and parliamentary elections in the near future. The political culture in the country has deteriorated over the decades with the rot of patronage politics. Given the democratic space that has emerged the citizenry should be vigilant; only the people’s lead and participation can set the country on the path of equality and justice.

      (Ahilan Kadirgamar is a Jaffna-based political economist)

    • 1
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      30.6% Non-Sinhala Buddhists vote for Mahinda Rajapaksha I would say it the amount of ballots that had been stuffed by him! 1,105,884 stuffed votes by Mahinda Rajapasha supporters.

  • 1
    1

    Mano Ganesan an made a valid point.
    While Mahinda admitted that it was the Tamil vote that defeated him, the new President and the new PM decided to leave the Tamils out from their speech soon after taking the oaths, and thanked every one else including the JHU for their vote and support.

    What a shame!

  • 1
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    Not true. He thanked all including all citizens who supported him

  • 2
    0

    Please read Champika Ranawaka’s column ” Educated Sinhala Buddhists contributed to our victory” in the Mirror of the 10th of Jan. page A 9, he discounts the importance of the minority votes in the election. He also mentions in a speech that minority votes for Maythree accounted for 10 %, which is not true. How did he know that “educated” Sinhalese voted for Maythree. Votes from all sections of the Sinhala community. During the election campaign I thought he has changed and would treat the minorities as citizens of this country. Within two day he is trying to sing his usual song.
    As Muslims, we do not need any concessions but let us be treated as equal citizens. It is the politicians who wants ministerial posts, but not the ordinary citizens. We need Maithree palanayak. MR promised to send all of us for Haj it is not necessary for all of us to go for Haj and it is only those who can afford should go for Haj. We need to tell the new government not to break our mosques and to please safeguard our lives, homes and livelihood. Please stop the hate campaign that was supported by MR and GR. If there are terrorists or Jihadies among Muslims, without talking about them loosely, please send the CID and expose them. We peace loving Muslims would welcome that move. War hero SF had a sophisticated machinery to deal with the terrorists. He is capable of finding those Muslim terrorists. As the first task, let SF do that and then the country will be free of Jihadies.

  • 0
    0

    well said and we truely wish the new leadership be examplary administration for the next generations to come while chalking out what maximum it can do for the present mass. as one srilanka and said as srilanka is for all srilankan.
    let us build up a nation where the rest of the world can applaud us seeing us develop a nation equally for every srilankan

  • 0
    0

    The sinhalese are moaning the loss of our president Rajapaksa. We do not want any celebrations. Pope should cancel the trip now.

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