By Latheef Farook –
In the 8 January 2015 presidential elections, people voted for the common candidate Maithripala Sirisena who promised good governance, restoration of law and order and end crime and corruption to create a good society. Though ambitious, it is an uphill task in view of the mess created by the Rajapaksa regime which virtually ruined every government institution, the society and the country.
However riding against the popular wave some pseudo socialists who were ministers in the defeated government wanted to bring back former President Mahinda, perhaps to ensure crime, corruption and lawlessness continue to pave the way for a dictatorship?
During a joint press briefing on Monday 9 February 2015, four United Peoples Freedom Alliance, UPFA, allies announced their desire to bring back defeated president Mahinda Rajapaksa to power by fielding him as the prime ministerial candidate in the forthcoming general elections.
They include National Freedom Front leader and MP Wimal Weerawansa, Democratic Left Front leader and MP Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna leader and MP Dinesh Gunawardena and newly formed Pivithuru Hela Urumaya leader Udaya Gammanpila.
Their announcement shocked the already shocked nation which voted President Mithripala Sirisena to power in an unprecedented peaceful revolution which saved the country from sliding into dictatorship.
Previous regime was known for lawlessness and crime when people lived in an atmosphere of fear. They were afraid to express their anger fearing revenge attacks. Ever rising cost of living and economic hardship were unbearable. Mainstream media ended up virtually as government bulletins.
The overall mood of the people was to free themselves from the oppressive government to ensure justice and rule of law prevails so that they could live without the fear of being waylaid, kidnapped and even killed.
It was under such dark political environment came the unexpected presidential elections and there was jubilation all over when Maithripala Sirisena was elected. The oppressive atmosphere changed overnight with the restoration of freedom.
Since the unprecedented January 2015 political change, exercising their newly won freedom, mainstream print and electronic media opened the floodgates of allegations accusing the former president Rajapaksa, his family and his associates of widespread corruption, crime and lawlessness the scale of which was never known in the island’s history.
These shocking disclosures include large scale plundering of nation’s wealth, lawlessness and injustice, pilfering billions of rupees, unprecedented waste of tax payers’ money, mismanagement of almost every institution and organization incurring billions of loss, racist attacks on minorities especially on Muslims and much more shocking and shameful revelations.
Since then never a day passes without some disclosure of corruption, crime, plunder and looting and that too not in thousands, hundred thousands and millions but in billions of rupees. The more the disclosures the worse the public anger.
The never ending exposures diminish the chance of bringing defeated president Mahinda Rajapaksa to power though they would deploy every means towards that end. It was under such circumstance that these four UPFA allies expressed their support to Mahinda Rajapksa as prime ministerial candidate.
This shows they are living in their own world.
Now the question is how come these so called socialists go against the newly elected government which is struggling to establish good governance, establish communal harmony and put the nation in the proper footing and move the country ahead.
Even ordinary people ask whether these four UPFA allies don’t read newspapers or watch television. Some even ask whether they are living in this planet or not.
One should not forget that two of them, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Dinesh Gunawardena, belong to parties which produced legendary politicians, known for their great intellectual caliber, honesty, integrity and their sacrifices in serving the country. They spent their own wealth to be in politics and fight for the rights of ordinary people.
The country will never be able to forget or erase their great contributions though under the fast changing political, economic and social environment in the new order not much attention was paid to them.
Some of them include Communist Party chief Peter Keuneman, Dr S.A Wickremasinghe, Lanka Sama Samaja Party’s Dr N.M.Perera, Colvin R De Silva, Bernard Zoysa and Mahajana Eksath Permuna leader Philip Gunawardena to name a few.
I remember the speech made in the parliament by the founder of MEP and then Industries Minister Philip Gunawardena following the former Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia around August 1868. It was such an enlightening one that most of us, parliamentary correspondents, bought the Hansard copies of that speech which I preserve to date.
It was his son Dinesh Gunawardena who is keen on bringing former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to power.
Once a journalist colleague of mine asked a Muslim housewife at Dematagoda to whom she was planning to vote in the 1970 general elections. Her abrupt response was “ my first vote is for Peter Keuneman and then for Faleel Caffor.When asked why she gave top priority to Peter Keuneman her response was” he is a very good man ,known for honesty and integrity and helps the poor without any discrimination, be they Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims ”.
It was around early 1970s and Dr N.M.Perera was the finance minister in the United Front government led by Prime Minister Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike. Listening to his speech winding up the budget debate, the Arab League Ambassador in New Delhi Abdullah Murad who was at the speaker’s gallery told me that” Sri Lanka is too small a country for Dr Perera who deserves to be the Finance minister for the whole third world.
Mr. Vasudeva Nanayakkara who declared his support to bring former President Mahinda Rajapaksa to power began his political career under this very same Dr N.M.Perera. I still can’t understand what really happened to Mr. Vasudeva Nanayakkara whom I knew since mid 1970s.
Of course MP Wimal Wirawansa’s political ideology and career is known to everyone and thus needs no comments.
However in the case of Udaya Gammanpila his frustration is understood as the defeat of former President Mahinda Rajapaksa shattered his dream plan to commemorate the unfortunate 1915 Sinhala Muslim riots this year, 2015, with an Aluthgama, Dharga Town and Beruwala style attack on Muslims island wide .Time and again he claimed that the attack on Muslims was inevitable this year to mark the century of 1915 riots.
This is the sad plight of today’s socialist comrades who incidentally belonged to two of the oldest political parties in the island.