By Ameer Ali –
During the presidential campaign, Colombo Telegraph (1 November 2019) carried a column, “Muslims Must Turn Left”, to which one commentator responded, “Not left or right but straight”. I am not sure what that commentator meant by “straight”. However, if he had meant that Muslims, with their own political party or parties, should go straight along the path of opportunistic alliances with prospective winners to bargain for positions and privileges either with SLPP-SLFP or UNP-led coalitions, and expect to survive as a community politically neutral and economically entrepreneurial, they would be deluding themselves. That bargaining strategy, sometimes euphemistically termed as politics of pragmatism, has passed its use-by-date with the election of an authoritarian president, whose “vision” for the country’s future, in spite of reservations about some of its specifics, has no place for identity politics and king making. He has reiterated that in his inaugural address to the parliament. If leaders of SLMC, ACMC and other Muslim groups are looking for new alliances to play the same old game at the next General Election, they would leading their community to a dangerous corner. The community needs a dynamic leadership to face the new realities.
On the one hand, the saffron clad supremacists and their political larrikins, are on a war path with minorities. Their univocal agenda to homogenise Sri Lanka under Sinhala Buddhist hegemony is causing trepidation among all minorities. On the other, the president is calling for a new culture of politics to pull the nation along a new trajectory of technological and knowledge-centric development, which demands the cooperation of every community and class. Muslim community without a dynamic leadership is clueless at the moment as to how best to handle these contradictory developments.
There are only two options for them to choose from: either dismiss GR’s vision as utopian and divisive, join the opposition and deny that vision any chance of becoming reality; or, embrace the positive side of that vision, choose a new leadership, initiate changes from within, capitalise on opportunities arising out of it and maximise the benefits. GR aspires to create (a) a technologically driven economy, and (b) a technocratic public sector, both would demand the rule of meritocracy. Meritocracy in turn would imply scientific approach to public administration, where there would be no room for nepotism, corruption or lobbying – characteristics that debilitated the bureaucracy for over seventy years and made it incorrigibly inefficient, colossally expensive and criminally wasteful.
If the Muslim community wants to take advantage of this part of Gota’s program, it needs a new and visionary leadership that understands the nuances and implications of Gota’s aspirations and changes they necessitate. That leadership should have the capacity to initiate internal reforms to reflect those changes, and determination to get those reforms executed, even when faced with opposition from the usual suspects.
A technologically driven economy needs an army of technocrats, technologists, scientists, investors, entrepreneurs and a host of other skilled personnel to move the economy forward. More importantly, this civilian army must have a commitment towards developing the nation. That commitment implies patriotism. Whether Gota’s decision to prioritise economic development at the expense of political power sharing would create a patriotic nation is a different issue. However, the burden of producing that patriotic vanguard falls entirely on the nation’s education system. This is where the basic problem lies for Muslims.
The late entry to and religiously constrained approach towards modern education has undermined the quality of Muslim education when compared to other communities. Since Muslim schools are operating as a separate denominational category within the state run national school structure, these schools have their own peculiarities in terms of, for example, school calendar, time tabling, staffing, subjects taught and so on. Whether this categorization has enhanced or retarded the quality of education received by Muslim children needs to be studied objectively. Quality in this context is not measured purely in terms of success rate in competitive examinations, but in terms of an all-round education that produces not simply experts in selected fields, but more importantly patriotic citizens. This aspect of Muslim education has been ignored for a long time. It cannot be overlooked any more. If religious fundamentalism and communal discord are to be arrested reforms in education are an imperative.
Gota’s vision for a technologically driven and knowledge-centric economy and society has thrown the gauntlet to all communities. Students in future cannot expect Government to guarantee employment just because it gives them free education. Already the public sector is carrying an excess burden of employees, many of whom would have found it difficult to find alternative employment in the open market. Needless to say they are a drain on the treasury. How to make the public sector leaner and efficient is another challenge facing the new regime.
As far as Muslims are concerned, it is worth reminding an incident that happened in 1972, when a farsighted Muslim minister, Badiuddin Mahmud, invited all his community leaders at his residence in Colombo, to explain to them some of the radical economic changes that the leftist coalition under Sirimavo was planning to implement, and warned those leaders not to attempt sabotaging the government or try swimming against the stream. Despite many criticisms and stiff opposition from the community he focused on education as the alternative route for his community’s survival. Thanks to his enlightened leadership, the community today can feel proud to have produced at least a nucleus of intellectuals and professionals from both sexes, who have the capacity and understanding to meet the challenges facing life today. However, today’s educational need is radically different from that of 1970s, and Gota’s vision calls for qualitative changes in education and training to create a new society. Muslims therefore need a new team of visionary leaders who could think creatively and design programs on a long term perspective. It is better to have a few such visionary men and women as parliamentary representatives than too many charlatans and opportunists. What matters is quality and not quantity. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s private bill to reintroduce the 12.5% cut-off point for party representation in parliament deserves some merit in this respect.
Needless therefore to repeat that it was misguidance through identity politics, by a leadership that arrogantly remained oblivious to some of the undesirable influences impacting upon the community from inside, and challenges facing it from outside. As a nation, Sri Lanka was moving in one direction while Muslims were moving in another. It was this misdirection that ultimately led to discord and confrontation between Muslims and other communities, and the violence that ensued. To continue with the same leadership and in the same direction will therefore, be suicidal.
The presidential election has no doubt divided the nation right in the middle on the basis of ethnicity and religion. It is hard not to imagine that the forthcoming General Election would deepen that division even further if identity politics continues unabated. There are different layers of supporters and opponents on each side of this divide. However, among the supporters of the winning side are supremacists, whose push for Buddhist hegemony at any cost would make inclusive governance difficult to the new president and government under him. Even with a two-third majority in the parliament that difficulty is not going to ease. Without bringing the supremacists under some control and without inclusive governance Gota’s vision will be a mirage. His silence so far on a number of incidents provoked by these supremacists makes one wonder whether he could be a president for all communities, as he declared immediately after being elected. Time will tell.
Be as it may, so long as the President keeps to his side of the bargain to give primacy to technocracy, meritocracy, clean government and free competition, any community that has an adequate stock of technocrats, technologists, scientists, innovators, investors and entrepreneurs should do well under his plan. Muslim community at the moment, suffers from a punishing deficit in these categories. Therefore, reforming Muslim education is vital. To counter the machinations of supremacists and to guide the Muslim community to become a partner in Gota’s techno-knowledge-centric paradise require a dynamic leadership in every community. Are Muslims prepared to produce one?
justice / January 6, 2020
Tamils had no such choice, especially those incarcerated by Gota, as enforcer of PTA.
One such Political Prisoner has died recently, after 26 years in jail.
Nobee Perera / January 6, 2020
Tamils and Sri Lanka Muslims, wealth robbers of Sinhalese Aryan Country. Robbed the wealth of Sri Lanka now living in Canada, Australia, the UK, Germany, some European countries, India, etc and they are telling diaspora.
Raj / January 6, 2020
Then, Ali Sabri is right?
Sam Fernando / January 7, 2020
Ali Sabri is a traitor to their community. How he has fallen, to go on lick the balls of Gota is beyond bearing. We never want MUSLIM community to be that submissive as srilankens. They should fight for equal right, alone to say, that anti-gota voters would have to face calculated riots was what asskisser ALISABRY hinted prior to election.
Muslims, please wake up and fight for your own rights. Burghers please wakeup.
And plantation tamils, please wake up
Tamils please wake up.
We the sinhalayas who supported SAJITH P never thought, that the situation would be dawned marginalizing minorities, but it happened.
Today, the rascals led by Rajaakshes even walk extra mile to bring new laws strenghtherning the majority and leaving no rights for the minorities.
That will be more harm ful.
The bugger got elected has nothing but numerous allegations on high crimes inclu. calculated murders. I remind his with that of the man who was brought to saw the live body of JAMAL KHASHOGI in that process of dismembering. I think Rajapkashe brothers should be jailed for ever, if we are to see a peaceful country
Forces, please come forward and see it right. Today, the family rule is returned thanks to SUBMISSIVENESS of the rural voters.
BLant lies incl. Relics from Kelaniya ganga were spread cheating masses.
People were caught by the tricks being applied by tha BP FAKE monk Pundit in Kelaniya temple.
Amarasiri / January 6, 2020
Dr. Ameer Ali,
Thanks for the article. The Muslims need to think. Now they are letting the Ulama do the thinking for them now, along with the opportunists.
“However, the burden of producing that patriotic vanguard falls entirely on the nation’s education system. This is where the basic problem lies for Muslims. “
Why, the Madrassas, with chanting in Arabic, Arabic Collages, memorizing Arabic prayers and praying 5 times a day won’t meet the challenge? The Ulama and Mullahs claim that that is all you need.
“Be as it may, so long as the President keeps to his side of the bargain to give primacy to technocracy, meritocracy, clean government and free competition, any community that has an adequate stock of technocrats, technologists, scientists, innovators, investors and entrepreneurs should do well under his plan. Muslim community at the moment, suffers from a punishing deficit in these categories. Therefore, reforming Muslim education is vital. To counter the machinations of supremacists and to guide the Muslim community to become a partner in Gota’s techno-knowledge-centric paradise require a dynamic leadership in every community. “
“Are Muslims prepared to produce one? “
They are producing, Ulama, Moulavis, Mullahs and other imbeciles, who are fighting evolution, the Heliocentric model of the solar system, while objecting to the MMDA reform to prevent that Muslim girls and women to be treated as humans, while using the automobiles, planes, mobile phones and the internet.
Fortunately, they are are NOT prostrating to the imbecile monks, like their Buddhist counterpart imbeciles.
Goraka / January 6, 2020
Sri Lanka will not be another Singapore, if Buddhist monks are not confined to temples.
Materialism and philosophies don’t mix.
whywhy / January 8, 2020
The possibility is that only a 0.5 percent of educated people
in the country could be truly intelligent and patriotic .The
rest, JUST educated labels , learned by memory for exams .
Holding certificates for employments that does not require
these certificates for the jobs available. It is such people that
goes round the country claiming to have professionalism to
build and manage the country and the ordinary folks who
are the vast majority of all hues believe this and risk their
future . The game goes on and on and on until one day
there is nothing left by these people of pseudo wisdom,
for the people to survive. That day is not too far at the rate
this country is running .
Eagle Eye / January 7, 2020
“Despite many criticisms and stiff opposition from the community he focused on education as the alternative route for his community’s survival. Thanks to his enlightened leadership, the community today can feel proud to have produced at least a nucleus of intellectuals and professionals from both sexes, who have the capacity and understanding to meet the challenges facing life today.”
Come on man. More than 10 years of talking and MMDA has not moved forward. You call that being educated???
Goraka / January 7, 2020
Buddhism and materialism cannot not co-exist side by side. If you want a good economy, confine the Buddhist monks to their temples and never let them out. They are spewing too much hatred for cheap political gains and they will be used and abused by politicians.
Politicians will destroy Buddhism, brick by brick.
JD / January 7, 2020
If muslim voters are to win, they should not listen to muslim politicians. Because all those muslim politicians, particularly, Rishad Bathiuddin, Rauf Hakeem, Azath Sally, Hisbullah and some others have cheated the muslim big times. President and Sinhala political parties via Tamil media newspapers should reach the voter. Sri Lanka can not have many different Laws such as Tamils=specific and Muslim – specific and Roman-Landesi Laws in a Sinhala Buddhist country.
Upto now, we had incompetent Sinhala Politicians who are mentally incapacitated. They all were working for the western needs. We need a parliament that does not work for the foreign needs. Muslim voters should go for Sinhala politicians but not the present parliamentarians who are used to cheat the voters.
Eagle Eye / January 7, 2020
Sinhala Buddhists showed compassion towards ‘Para’ Dravidians and ‘Para’ Muslims who came from Hindusthan and allowed them to settle down in Sinhale by giving them citizenship. Instead of being grateful to the kind gesture of Native Sinhalayo, these ‘Para’ BPs produced terrorists who slaughtered Sinhala men, women, children and even unborn babies and put the blame on Sinhalayo.
Given the way these ‘Para’ people treated Sinhalayo, why should they show any sympathy to these BPs whom Sinhalayo consider as ‘Kanna Deepu Atha Hapa Kana Ewun’ (Those who bite the hand of the person who fed them) in the name of reconciliation.
Veryangrysinhalaya / January 7, 2020
I am sihalaya livinng IN eruope. I dont think that MUSLIMS andTAMILS should feel like passive in terms of fighting for their right. Tamils fought a war. But Muslims just let it go, even today, they dont care much about right. That is sad. Not all sinhalayas as extremists as Rajaakshes. That is why Muslims and tamils should work together with JVPrs and UNPrs. Unp would never tolerate any minorities being looked down upon as is the case under Mahinda Rajaapkshe who is seen as the most racist and sinhala extremists. Ranil or Sajith would never treat the people that way the Rajaakhe have beenupto. Not long ago, few months before last PE following easter sunday bombing, innocient muslims were targeted by Rajakshe led groups. There are artists by Madhu Madawa and Iraj were taking lead those riots which demolished the lively hood of the innocient MUSLIMshop keepers.
I have a kind advice to MUSLIMs and TAMIL brothers, never be like passive not fighting for your rights. I am sinhalaya living in Europe, I fought for my rights me being a minority person in this part of the world. Anyways, average people in Europe are highly knowlegeble than those in Srilanka. Even local graduates would go after astro and other predictions in the country – regardless of their educational backgrounds. I have met myself professor that went after Walampuri and Sansui or the like superstious beliefs for some fortunes.
People are easily manipulative. They get easy prey for the vicious politicians of Rajapakshe nature. Not long ago, they the people were again deceived by Rajakashes for their comeback. Today, they have been in a problem not being able to fulfill their election pledges.
People dont care, even if they would have been raped by Rajapakshe goons.The society is reached to appalling levels as no respect and dignity would be preferable. That is war torn srilnaken society. They dont even care about the human lives.
Sach / January 7, 2020
Muslims and Tamils have MORE rights in SL than minorities in europe . The situation was so better they get misguided by their religous and political leaders that time was up for fulfilling aspirations as a community. Separate banks, right to rape girls , laws, separate schools , separate universities ….renaming muslim majority area roads in arabic ……then things become difficult
Goraka / January 8, 2020
Sach, you forgot to mention the right to rape boys in temples and parents are willing participants!
Ilyas Rumy / January 7, 2020
A good article & let me quote the writer as follows:
” Needless therefore to repeat that it was misguidance through identity politics, by a leadership that arrogantly remained oblivious to some of the undesirable influences impacting upon the community from inside, and challenges facing it from outside” Unquote.
and; if I may put that into context as below:
– WHAT the undesirable influences impacting upon the community from INSIDE are ==> the
deviant/corrupt Mullahs who became mouth pieces to the leadership that arrogantly remained
oblivious; which in turn drove the community at large to plunge into further oblivious – this status
quo, therefore should change — for that to happen Gota’s vision for a technologically driven and
knowledge-centrist economy is the answer –.
Eagle Eye / January 7, 2020
“On the one hand, the saffron clad supremacists and their political larrikins, are on a war path with minorities. Their univocal agenda to homogenise Sri Lanka under Sinhala Buddhist hegemony is causing trepidation among all minorities.”
What this guy who is in this planet thanks to the compassion of Native Sinhala Buddhists and Buddhist monks write is really disgusting. If Sinhalayo and Monks did not save his Great Great Great Great-Grandfather from Portuguese butchers, there is ‘NO AMEER ALI’.
Once bitten twice shy. Sinhala Buddhists and monks should never ever show any sympathy to these BPs.
K.Anaga / January 7, 2020
“The presidential election has no doubt divided the nation right in the middle on the basis of ethnicity and religion”? I doubt it. The Tamils and Muslims voted for Sajith to prevent Gotha from coming into power. Not because Tamils and Muslims are united. A temporary truce between the two. Sajith is no way better than Gotha with regard to communal politics. A slight variation only in his attitude. That too will change with the passage of time for the next general elections. Though the Muslims are Tamils they are not keen to identify themselves as Tamils like the Catholics and other Christian sects among the Tamils. Habitually the Muslims try to get the best from both the Sinhalese and the Tamils by changing their ‘Thoppy’. Ofcourse, after the Easter episode, Muslims seem to think that they should have been united with the Tamils as before, say 1952. It would have saved both. But selfishness and greed among the Muslim leaders have changed course.
ghk / January 7, 2020
“Ofcourse, after the Easter episode, Muslims seem to think that they should have been united with the Tamils as before”
Who said so? Generally Muslims still feel better with Sinhalese for one reason. If Tamils start to attack the Muslims there won’t be a single Tamil around to talk for Muslims as seen when Prabakaran evicted Muslims from Jaffna, but that is not the case with Sinhalese. After all, Muslims too deserve this type of treatment from Sinhalese for sudden isolation from other communities & covering their faces.
K.A. Sumanasekera / January 7, 2020
I thought the Muslim community already have two magnificent leaders in Ali Sabry and Muzamill.
I do not know what this Dude is on about.
Unless he his referring to his leaders Rauf Hakeem, Bathudeen , Asath Sally and Hazbolla and the JVP member Ibrahim.
I know they were in one solid group after Easter, with Marickkars , Rahuman and even Qabir Hasshim under the protection of Dr Rani’s UNP Government.
Qabir and Rahuman and Haleem have been and are in the UNP And they will die in the UNP..
Although I I am not sure whether they are now in KK’s Camp or Dr Rani’s Camp.or UNP Uncle Karu’s Camp.
Or whether they are wearing the Fez Hat to guide them.
Will the the new additions to the UNP Camp after Easter heed this Dude’s wise counsel and follow the Technology Based Development Strategy of the new Government to prepare a Level Playing Field for everyone .?.
As Mr Ameer said the days Rauf Hakeems and Bathudeens doing separate deals are are well and truly over.
whywhy / January 7, 2020
There is a huge misconception about Muslims being a financially able
community in the country which is a distortion of ground reality .
This misleading fallacy is exploited by all hues of politics including
Muslim political leaderships , religious bodies and other social groups .
This situation requires massive exposure by Muslim leaders as a
matter of importance . It is this bad publicity that helped racist elements
sow the seeds of jealousy in the minds of other communities ! Quite
recent attempts of actively seeking to align with Arab culture claiming
Arab ancestry by some possibly foreign funded or fully local but
short sighted organisations , have to be identified and ignored as a
means of defending the community from inside . Muslim leaders have
to clean their houses first if they are truly committed to the well being of
the community . If Muslim community is wholly a business community
and financially o k then there is no need of politics here ! If that is not the
case as I pointed out here then Muslim leaders have a role to look after
them , protect them and lead them .
Native Vedda / January 7, 2020
KASmaalam K.A. Sumanasekera
“Qabir and Rahuman and Haleem have been and are in the UNP And they will die in the UNP..”
How about English writing Navin Nayaka, his father in law, whiter than white Hela Champika, Wasantha S Nayake, ….?
Navin Nyake wanted to fulfil his dad’s dream, being elected to top Job in this island.
Muhandiram / January 8, 2020
Once again you have come out with your fancy ideas. What a shame for a Professor in an Aussie University who is lecturing to the Muslims living in Sri Lanka.
First and foremost, Gota has come out with his “vision” with some glimpses on specifics. The problem is delivering on his “vision” which needs careful and precise planning, resources in capable men free of Corruption, materials and unstinted co-operation from his political backers, especially the Rajapakse clan. How realistic is this?
One of Gota’s important objective is amending the Constitution to make him All Powerful. Obviously, his Big brother MR is watching him and no one should forget that he has the Last Say. Would he give his younger brother Everything he wants to make the Presidency All Powerful and for him (MR) to continue as a lame-duck PM for 5 years? Extremely UNLIKELY.
So, Ameer Ali, Gota’s “vision”is most likely to remain what it is – Only a “vision”. So you need NOT worry about how it will affect Sri Lankans, whether Muslims or others. So DON’T let your imagination run riot.
rbh / January 8, 2020
UNP or Pohotuwa both leareds are Buddist what is the fault if you choose one of them.
why hatred and accumilating them for future backup Lasting rule is Hatred does not cease by hatred