By Helasingha Bandara –
It is that time of the year that gossip is circulated, predictions are made, hypotheses are formulated, mud is slung and curiosity is aroused regarding the next political extravaganza, the presidential poll.
The talk concentrates on the subject of whether the Rajapaksas can be defeated, whether there can be a common candidate from the opposition, who can be that candidate, is it Chandrika, Ranil, Fonseka, Sobhitha or Dissanayake and what should be the winning manifesto.
Can the Rajapaksas be defeated?
The short answer is yes. Should they be defeated is more of a difficult question. My personal opinion is that they should not be, if (a massive if) they can change. The possibility of that change depends on many factors such as the time scale of the next presidential election, their intelligence and their humility. If it is going to be held after another two years, there will be enough time for the Rajapaksas to address their shortcomings and win back the popularity that they have lost. If it is less than two years till the next election, it is unlikely that there will be sufficient time for the Rajapaksas to redress their faults. Both intelligence and humility of the Rajapaksas seem to be at the lowest ebb at present. Evidently blinded by the enormous power bestowed upon them they have almost forgotten the meaning of humility. Many people still wish them well and want them to remain in power. That trend is diminishing by the day. If the Rajapaksas do not regain the lost intelligence and restore the sense of humility for themselves they would push those people who still want to support them over the edge. With no option left they will turn against the Rajapaksas.
A common candidate
If Rajapaksas are unwilling to listen and change, a strong common candidate is the only option. My personal preference is Maduluwawe Sobhitha. The Venerable Thera has the right intention, right knowledge and right thoughts that are appropriate to lift the country from the current dilemma. The ethnic minorities or the religious minorities should not entertain any fear of a Buddhist monk becoming the leader of this country because Sobhitha is not Ganasara. He is leagues above Ganasara and the likes in every respect and a true Buddhist who believes in harmonious living of all ethnic and religious groups. Ethnic, religious and all sorts of other minorities should not reject the Thera merely for being a Buddhist, because whoever becomes the President, in this case, will be a Buddhist. It is wise to elect a monk rather than a demon.
In the absence of Sobhitha Hamuduruwo, the best bet is Chandrika. Chandrika had not been the all clear President for Sri Lanka. They say there is a bit of lime in everyone’s lime jar (Kage Kage killotawalath hunu tika tika thiyenawa). There were merits in her work. The most striking was dispelling the fears ordinary people had of the police and the armed forces. At the time she came to power the whole country was gripped with fear of the armed forces and the police for the massacres they had carried out and extra judicial killings they had committed during the terror era of the UNP rule. Within months she changed all that and people were empowered to legally challenge law enforcement officers if they were perceived as being in the wrong. The forces personnel or the police did not dare harass ordinary people without reason. With all that good work behind her and the backing of a respectable political family pedigree, she can be the most formidable opponent to Rajapakshas if they do not change their ways.
1. A job description to MPs.
Propose to deplete the powers of the members of the parliament including, ministers, deputy ministers and ordinary MPs. The curse of this country is that they do not remain only legislators. They can, by default, interfere in all matters of governance and the day to day lives of people. This cannot be seen any where else other than in South Asia. Of course the worst influencer of us is our big neighbour which is full of all those evils and we happily embrace them as if India is the fantasy world depicted in Bollywood movies. The reality is that it still is a big outdoor toilet. Under such a power handling mechanism that is prevalent among the Sri Lanka politicians, a politician has easy access to means of corruption and the country’s resources are misappropriated. Consequently the quality of life of the ordinary citizen has become abysmal. Once it is announced that the power of the politician is going to be reduced and changed and a proper job description of a politician is proposed, those who are prepared to spend millions to win elections would disappear. Only those who are willing to deliver an honourable service would come forward.
2. Eradicate corruption.
Indeed once the powers of the politicians who are the most corrupt in our country is taken away corruption would begin to dissipate. A good leader can set an example and advise all his governing agents to support to create a corruption free society. This can be achieved by civilized means because other countries of the world have achieved this without much trouble.
3. A Lawful Society
Similar to eradicating corruption, eradicating lawlessness is a paramount need for our country so that the ordinary people would be able to lead a peaceful life. With the elimination of unwarranted power of the politician the restoration of law is half achieved. Following that, simple measures such as an unmarked police car surveillance system would resolve the issue.
Discipline is lacking in every sphere of our society. A good example is undisciplined driving. If the intention is there, the whole country can be educated on disciplined driving within three months. There are so many other areas where indiscipline has become a grave antisocial issue. Promise to discipline the society.
Deny separate governance for any community and positive discrimination for any religion. Assure the minorities, a dignified living with true equal opportunity provision.
6. Quality of life of the ordinary citizens.
Make sure you propose genuine measures to approximate the fair distribution of wealth, to lower the cost of living and to lift the quality of life of poor people.
7. Executive presidency
Stop talking about abolishing the executive presidency because people do not believe you. It is a hackneyed subject and the ordinary citizen, the majority vote, does not care whether it is the executive presidency or monkey presidency as long as they have the above. Make sure you do away with one man rule although you do not make a big hoo haa about it.
To win the next election someone has to come forward with the above manifesto, be it Rajapaksas or otherwise.