By Latheef Farook –
Rajapaksa brothers should build a monument to Maithri and Ranil for creating the conducive conditions to return to power.
When the two – Maithri and Ranil – promised that they would restore law and order, bring corrupt and criminals to book, ensure communal harmony and many other pledges, beleaguered people trusted and voted them to power.
However, instead of implementing their pledges, they have reported to have struck secret deals with the very same people whom the two – Maithri and Ranil- vowed to bring to justice, and turned their back on the country. Their deceptions, betrayals, callous mismanagement, violence against Muslims which they failed to prevent, new allegations of crime and corruption and many such allegations disillusioned the country.
Never enduing stories of crime and corruption involving government ministers, officials and their sidekicks sent shock waves among people who were sick and tired of President Sirisena and the Prime Minister Mr Wickremasinghe.
The shameless and destructive power struggle between former President Sirisena and his Prime Minister brought the country to a virtual halt. For all practical purposes country stopped functioning leave alone moving. Many people, especially the poverty stricken from all communities said” voting for Mr. Sajith Premadass means voting for the very same people accused of theft, fraud and striking secret deals with the opposition.
In a letter to the editor column under the title “What a U-turn” in The Island on November 17, 2019 Nihal Amarasekera had this to state;
In 2015 voters seemingly en masse voted to defeat a supposedly corrupt Rajapaksa regime blamed for many negatives including nepotism of the highest degree. This was disregarding the fact that it was the very same leader who, along with the defense guidance of his own brother, had been responsible for the defeat of the most feared terrorist organization.
About five years on, the people are apparently seeking the very persons to salvage the country from the abyss it is said to find itself in. The “100 Day Programme” of 2015 comes to mind; it gave enough and more hope for a beautiful society under good governance, which was expected to turn the country into a utopia. That was not to be. The bond scam was carried out and the voters’ dreams were shattered and we are where we are.
There are new hopes on the horizon for innocent voters; they can ONLY HOPE that their savior is around the corner. Thus concluded Nihal Amarasekera.
While in office both former president Sirisena and the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe travelled all over the world signing various agreements. President Sirisena even visited Holocaust museum months after assuming office during his visit to Germany. This is an honor which not many political leaders in the world extend in view of Israel’s crime records on Palestinians.
However both Mr. Sirisena and Mr Wickremesinghe did not find time to visit the Gulf where around 800,000 Sri Lankans are employed and their remittance of seven to eight billion dollars keeping the country’s economy afloat.
The result was former defense Secretary Mr. Gotabya Rajapaksa being elected as the seventh president of this country.
Addressing the nation after being sworn in as the seventh Executive President at ceremony held at Salapathala Maluwa of Ruwanweliseya in Anuradhapura on Monday 18 November 2019 President Gotabaya had this to state;
I knew from the very inception that the key factor of this election was the majority Sinhala community. I knew we could win the election solely from the votes of the Sinhalese community. However, I renew my request made to the Tamil and Muslim communities to join hands for the betterment of the country.
The fact that Rajapaksa brothers were using Buddhist temples and Buddhist monks ever since the ethnic war ended in May 2009 to reach out to Buddhist at all levels to build their support base has been common knowledge. Many believe it was here the seeds poisoning Sinhalese minds against Muslims were sown.
Though it was not declared even the UNP presidential candidate Mr Sajith Premadasa tried to woo the Sinhalese votes when he repeatedly said that he would promote Buddhism.
However it was not easy for Tamils and Muslims to support Mr. Gotabaya in view of their sufferings and experiences. The sufferings of Tamils in the aftermath of the defeat of LTTE remains fresh in their minds with still no answers to their many questions and grievances.
Equally it was not possible for Muslims to vote for Mr Gotabaya as they do remember the persecution they were subjected to during Rajapaksa regime. In fact lawyer M.M. Zuhair .P.C. proved in the court how the Aluthgama, Beruwala and Dharga town attack on Muslims were well planned and executed by racist elements and the government failed to prevent it despite prior information.
However, past is past. President Gotabaya’s call to Tamil and Muslim communities to join hands with him for the betterment of the country is a very positive development for the entire country. Because this is what the minority communities were looking forward to. They want to live in peace and harmony with equal rights and dignity in this country.
For the first time since independence country is clearly polarized into majority community on one side and all minorities on the other side. This is not only unfortunate but dangerous as evil foreign forces penetrated into the country could exploit to their benefit and harm the country.
In this regard, I can’t speak for Tamil community, but when it comes to helpless and voiceless Muslim community, I could say that they would take ten steps if President Gotabaya takes one step.
They wanted to live in peace and harmony with Sinhalese and Tamils as they had done for more than one thousand years. It was the senseless and unnecessary violence against them by racist elements for no valid reason placed them in today’s miserable plight. They had made tremendous sacrifice to safeguard the territorial integrity of the country. In fact top navy officers even said that “Sri lanka remains undivided today due to the great sacrifice made by Muslim soldiers”.
However racist mercenaries who wage wars against Muslims, perhaps implementing evil agendas of international forces, fail to understand or realize this. In fact Maithri-Ranil government also have their own share of guilt in view of the persecution and demonization Muslims were subjected to in the wake of Easter Sunday attacks
The mood among the Muslim community is that they do not want ministerial portfolios as most Muslim ministers tuned out to be corrupt and have been liability on the community. Equally, by and large, they have lost confidence in the controversial molavithumas who refuse to come out of their medieval mindset to guide the community in keeping with the need of the hour. They are not intellectually equipped to do so.
All what they need, according to leading figures in the civil society, is a coordinating officer, backed by the community’s intellectuals, who could be a link between the community and the president?
There is a growing feeling and fear among Muslims that unless racist violence against Muslims stop there will be no peace and the country will never move ahead. President Gotabaya has a rare opportunity to bring communities together, put the house in order, and move the country which is in deep economic and political crisis ahead.
Communal harmony and peace remain essential requirements for any country to move ahead.