Colombo Telegraph

Foreground

By Helasingha Bandara

I decided to write this piece whilst firmly rooted in my theory that the next power shift in Sri Lanka will be in favour of the Rajapaksas. It may be Gotabaya or another Rajapaksa or even some shock and awe candidate. Whoever it may be, he /she will enter the fray from the Rajapaksa camp. Despite all the brilliant objections and revelations that appear in the media at present, warning people of the emergence of a Rajapaksa who has a tarnished image, the boost that has been injected wittingly or unwittingly by Ranil, Maithri and Wigneswaran for that emergence is no mean contribution. During the past three and half years whilst the Maithri-Ranil duo lived in cloud cuckoo land, Rajapaksa forces were relentless in their pursuit of causes that could turn the tide against those in power. It did not need an elephantine effort to convince the public that the current regime has been lifeless in comparison to the previous one. Wigneswaran’s plea for his ‘beloved people’ to follow his resolutions, will inculcate a justifiable fear in the vulnerable Singhala psyche.  Such fear invariably pushes people to look up to a saviour. By now that saviour is not inconspicuous.

Mahinda Rajapaksa had the greatest opportunity to become the best loved political leader since independence. His doltish fantasy to be crowned as the modern king of Lanka, combined with his complicity in nepotism, cronyism and other evils caused his unexpected fall from grace and he missed the boat to be in the midst of great Sri Lanka rulers in the by gone era. Thus the history of the country has yet again created a large vacuum in the governing field of Sri Lanka for someone to go into history books as the leader that this country had never seen before, a leader who is selfless and bent on developing the country, raising the living standard of the poor and restoring the dignity of Sri Lanka in the global stage.

The enemy observation principle of a battle field: foreground, middle-ground and the distance, in that order, cannot be new to Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Yet he has so far failed to apply that practice to other real life situations. Here he has started a campaign, reading other peoples’ papers, to preach a subject of which he has no knowledge. He could do better if he were to start with subjects of which he has knowledge and is able to talk without prompting. If he looks around with an open mind, the topics around us are in abundance. My purpose is to shed some light in this regard.

An economy of a country is of paramount importance, there is no doubt. The absence in addressing such an issue is fatal. Yet, considering it as the starting point is just like missing the enemy hiding in the foreground and the middle-ground. Therefore, it would have been better for the resurrecting Rajapaksas to observe the foreground first. It is an essential prerequisite to analyse what made Mahinda unpopular, what made the Ranil- Maithri duo unpopular, what are the day to day burning issues. before dealing with the economy which is hardly understood by the common voter.

Escalating corruption particularly among the politicians and in the state sector, deteriorating discipline in the country in general, rising crime rate including violence against foreign visitors and the propagation of a macho ‘Chandi’ culture, unbearable cost of living, infrastructure development, ethnic divisions are the issues found in the foreground. Devise a strategy to address them first while launching an action plan with the long-term objective of gradual improvement of the economy. 

Someone wrote that Gotabaya is hated by some and loved by others. People took a huge risk by voting Maithri in. They will have to take a similar risk to vote in a Rajapaksa, if that is the desired eventuality. Lanka awaits a history maker. Who knows, Gotabaya may change himself from Chandashoka to Dharmashoka. Life has to be lived in hope!

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