By Ayathuray Rajasingam –
No sooner Mahinda Rajapaksa declared his candidacy to stand in the Presidential election, there were several important figures from the SLFP opted to resign and an incident of shooting an opposition member took place. It is interesting to watch those who were with Mahinda Rajapaksa as bystanders for the deterioration of democracy, has now joined the opposition. When SLFP main stalwart, Maithiripala Sirisena announced his candidacy for Presidential election representing the Joint Opposition Front and declaring the formation of a National Government, number of issues would crop up. The trend of the peoples’ mind has to be analyzed from various angles.
Rival group of Mahinda Rajapaksa
It is clear that a section of the SLFP is been frustrated on account of the dictatorial approach of President Mahinda Rajapakse, which eventually led to the extent of family bandysm. The failure of these groups to raise objections on the behavior of the Speaker and the Parliamentary Select Committee in dealing with the impeachment of Dr.(Mrs)Shirani Bandaranayake and related matters thereto and also on the Tamil issue relating to the implementation of the 13th Amendment in its true perspective, nullifies the vital issue of restoring democracy, other than their vested interests. If they are really interested in the betterment of the country, they should have come out with the suitable form of government. It is time they accept that Federalism means an expansion of democracy which will satisfy the aspirations of all the people. Even the civil societies and religious dignitaries should openly declare Federalism which will guarantee civil liberties and be a checkmate for dictatorship and terrorism. The people are eager whether Ranil Wickremesinghe and Maithiripala Sirisena will restore back the fond memories of enjoying the democratic rights of all races.
In the light of the above context, both Ranil Wickremesinghe and Maithiripala Sirisena or Chandrika Kumaratunge is yet to decide whether such a coalition would lead to the path of conciliation and compromise. Sharing of power reconciles the right of self-determination of a minority ethnic community by which the Centre should transfer powers to the Units which shall be for the administration of its internal affairs and for socio-economic development of the Unit. Though Ranil Wickremesinghe, as a lawyer could realize it, yet both are under an obligation to explain the people that the Units (Provinces, States and Cantons) as found in Canada, India and Switzerland do not insist on a separate State, because the Centre is determined to protect their independence and their way of life. If the people realize that devolution of power is the remedy to keep a multi-racial country united as expected by Ranil Wickremasinghe, then a glorious revolution in the history of Sri Lanka could be witnessed and could elevate him as a Statesman. However, there is the likelihood of misunderstandings or a probable unpleasantness between Chandrika Kumaratunge and Maithiripala Sirisena to crop up when Ranil Wickremesinghe emerges as Prime Minister, cannot be ruled out, given the fact that Chandrika Kumaratunge dissolved the Parliament no sooner the Ceasefire Agreement was signed, when, in fact, the Ceasefire Agreement was not signed by Ranil Wickremesinghe or in the presence of one another.
Muslim faction & its strategy
The Muslims were a peaceful race before the introduction of Wahabbism and were members of the Federal Party. But they failed to realize that Federalism has the force of nullifying the concept of self-alienation which was the outcome of the introduction of Wahabbism. They were silent on the merger of North-East Province, but when Rauff Hakim was insisting on a Muslim Administrative Unit for the Muslims according to the designs of the Muslims and dream of the long awaited restoration of Muslim power and glory, it is history that the government scoffed at him. When about 5% of the Muslim population has become a problem of terrorist activities in Europe, any Sri Lankan (including the BBS) will ponder whether there is any guarantee for Sri Lanka to be a peaceful island with almost 10% of the Muslims with such a demand.
The sequence of events that led to (a) the insistence on getting the Ministry of Harbour which eventually paved way for smuggling of illegal drugs as well as for transportion of arms & ammunitions to Eastern Province during Chandrika Kumaratunga’s period, (b) the Influence of Libya’s Gadaffi’s assertion that Europe to be a Muslim State coupled with the encouragement of President Mahinda Rajapaksa towards Libya’s Gadaffi, (c) lack of action taken in an incident where a Muslim girl was beaten to death by her father at Sammanturai in Eastern Province in December 24, 2011 (also sends the message of an attempt to introduce the Sharia Law (may be a coincidence) as well as denial of the democratic right to choose her life partner, (d) admission of a large number of Muslims (22 from Hakim’s area alone) to the Law College in an unprecedented manner (outnumbering the Sinhalese in proportion) during the period of Rauff Hakim as Minister of Justice, (e) criticizing the judgment relating to Dr.(Mrs) Shirani Bandaranayake thus sending a signal of interfering with the independence of judiciary, (f) the discovery of a Muslim Deputy Registrar of Persons who had issued National Identity Cards and later jailed, which are now suspected for the gradual creation of Muslim areas such as Kathankudy and Kalmunai in the Eastern Province to be transit hubs of Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India for promoting Sharia ideology and detrimental to Sri Lanka, have created suspicion in the minds of the people. But Sri Lankans are aware of the Naval Alliance between India, USA and Israel which sends the signal that there is suspicion whether Sri Lanka could be utilized as a base in South Asia to target the Indians and Westerners and their interests. Further, no charges were laid against Rauff Hakim over the death of Kumari Cooray who had some disputes with Rauff Hakim. However, the possibilities of Mahinda Rajapaksa blackmailing Rauff Hakim and other Muslim politicians for the crimes they have committed cannot be ruled out. Now it is the same Rauff Hakim who is alleged to have joined the Joint Opposition Front against Mahinda Rajapaksa, at a time when the Islamic Terrorist Organizations are stretching their tentacles in a calculated and systematic manner. All these incidents are likely to be reconsidered by the common people.
Further, there were also incidents where Rishard Bathiurdeen was engaged in snatching lands belonging to the helpless Tamils and handing over to the Sinhalese with the view to appease Mahinda Rajapaksa & his associates, in addition to the incident of throwing stones at the Mannar Magistrate’s Court, both of which have left a scar in the minds of the people, which the Tamil community will take into consideration.
Though the Muslims are in split, the possibility of feeding back among themselves cannot be ruled out. When considering all these facts there is a possibility that Mahinda Rajapaksaaa has a slight edge over Maithiripala Sirisena. The issue before the people is whether some of these Muslim politicians in the Joint Opposition Front are trustworthy. If they are really in good faith to restore democracy, then the Muslims should openly declare that they are against theocracy and act as Sri Lankans for the preservation of democracy.
Tamil faction and their position
This is a crucial period for the Tamils to determine their future. Tamil leaders will not forget about how Bismark built Germany and through diplomatic ways. Likewise Cavun Cavoor of Italy also adapted diplomatic tactics for the unification of Italy. The issue before the Tamils is not only what Rajapaksa’s government as well as the previous regimes did harm to the Tamils, but also various other factors that led to the weakening of the Tamil community. The government, the arrogance of the LTTE, some Tamils from both the Colombo and Hill country who had vested interests, and the Muslim community contributed their share for the weakening of the Tamil community. Mention should be made that had the Tamils corporate with the Indian diplomat, G.Pathasarathy or later with Dr.Neelan Thiruchelvam with the Draft Constitution, instead of assassinating the Tamil politicians, academics, professionals, etc the present deplorable condition of the Tamils could have been avoided. Even the Sinhalese should have listened to G.Parthasarathy. Diplomacy requires patience and art of negotiating. Emotions should be controlled. After all the Sinhalese and the Tamils were moving among themselves as brothers & sisters. Ranil Wickremesinghe, being matured, understands the problems of the Tamils and can come out as a Statesman. Ranil Wickremesinghe is fully aware that the Tamils are an en block vote together with the Hill country Tamils which he cannot afford to miss. The position of the Tamils rests solely on TUNF stalwarts like C.V.Wigneswaran, R. Sampanthan and M.A. Sumanthiran who have a tedious task of swinging the votes to parties which will address their concern in a meaningful manner.
Mahinda Rajapaksa’s arrogance
It is during his period, terrorism was rooted out with the assistance of India, Pakistan and China. When combating terrorism he has exceeded the limit to the extent of committing genocide and failed to win the hearts of the Tamils. He failed to demonstrate himself with the victory like Emperor Asoka who procured good governance. Unleashing terror was his tactics on various pretexts to the extent of challenging the democracy, especially the independence of Judiciary. Meanwhile, when Mahinda Rajapaksa was instrumental for the collapse of several institutions for which even the SLFP members too were participants.
The results of the Provincial Councils of Northern Province & Uva Province demonstrate that he became unpopular. Moreover, he is under an obligation to account for the number of deaths of surrendered innocent Tamils, journalists, politicians, and even tourists by his political associates. Undue pressure applied to the Judges of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court in connection with the impeachment of Dr.(Mrs)Shirani Bandaranayake and the behavior of the Parliamentary Select Committee as well as of some undesirable politicians towards Dr.(Mrs) Shirani Bandaranayake are matters which will be a deciding factor in the coming election. He was surviving on lies and deceptions and failed to keep his promises. He failed to control the activities of the BBS, though it had pin pointed the dangers of Islamic terrorism and was instrumental for the Buddhists to be vigilant. As the principle of non-violence is central to Buddhism, Mahinda Rajapaksa could have taken measures in a diplomatic way that would have made the activities of suspected Muslim politicians ineffective. He should have realized that the separation between the Sinhalese and Tamils would be the cause of the downfall of Sri Lanka, which will allow countries like China and the Islamic world to take undue advantage and conquer Sri Lanka and make Sri Lanka a beggar. Here is a case where Buddhists paying homage to Buddha Gaya could snub at Rajapaksa’s short-sighted policy over his leaning towards China and allowing the use of Hambantota Harbour which is likely to drag Sri Lanka into an unpleasant affair with India, which is vying for supremacy in the Indian Ocean.
In addition, the high cost of living is another problem that confronts Mahinda Rajapaksa. The people will consider about the import of formalin and luxury cars without payment of Customs duties when the quality of life of the common people was still in question. Increasing the salary of employees is not the answer which is only an indication of ruining the country’s economy.
The scenario can change before the election with crossovers where millions of Rupees will be playing a vital role. Yet, the students of all the universities, as future leaders of the country, are not happy with the stupidity of S.B.Dissanayake. The voice of the university students will increase the pulse of the people in assessing the pros and cons of this Alliance and Rajapaksa’s military approach. As National Government indicates coalition, the vital issue to be determined is whether such a Joint Front is a holy alliance or an unholy alliance for purpose of protecting their vested interests on the pretext of restoring democracy, when several factions bid for important portfolios, in spite of the unforeseen tragedies that are likely to occur before the election.