Colombo Telegraph

Minority Power

By Nishthar Idroos

Nishthar Idroos

The people had made their verdict absolutely clear and all have to respect that. Sri Lanka has a new President. It’s a clear mandate for change; the onus is now on MS and RW to deliver. No more false promises, no more unfulfilled promises. The time has come to deliver and relieve the people of their many burdens. The minorities had made a strident and monumental contribution in this great election victory for the common candidate. It won’t be incorrect to state that their vote was directly instrumental in enthroning MS. The entire North and East virtually voted en-bloc for the common opposition candidate. They defied all odds to exercise their suffrage and make it known to the world. Their choice, preference for President crystal clear. Never in the history had the country witnessed such unprecedented unity for a presidential candidate from the minorities.

Much is expected from the new President Maithripala Sirisena. Maintaining law and order, appointing a new cabinet and  strengthening democracy is priority. The process of  abolishing the authoritarian executive presidential system and replacing it with an executive Cabinet of Ministers responsible to Parliament should be done as a matter of urgency. Repealing the 18th amendment to the Constitution with legislation to establish strengthened and independent institutions, including a Judicial Services Commission, a Police Commission, a Public Service Commission, an Elections Commission, a Commission against Bribery and Corruption and a Human Rights Commission is sine quo non. It’s also time to give back the lost dignity of the minorities. It’s up to the new administration to regain the waning confidence of minorities and make them excited participants in the system working hard for their beloved nation and people. The key requirement here is dignity and no one should be deprived of it.

In the past I had written a few pieces in which I ventured to challenge MR’s rather ill-advised strategy to postulate an uncompromising anti-minority policy tainted with majoritarian infused adrenalin and undiluted xenophobic rigour . A toxic combination never witnessed before in the political history of our beloved nation. I cannot recall any previous President subjecting minorities to such pain and pressure. This unabating trend over time got worse. The administration too got incomprehensibly insensitive. What made MR do this? Who were the protagonists and other coalescing forces to this kind of misguided, injudicious stratagem? Did MR ever give thought to its flip side?

Many were the victims in the past and contemporary history who either perished or drifted to oblivion for not acceding to common sense and sound reason? Marginalizing minorities was such a bad policy. In business just like in politics one got to be ever vigilant of competitors and their activity. You should not only be able to see the apparent but penetrate further to see the not-so-apparent. Always say what if? Surprisingly the campaign was lacking sound insight from the inception. A malaise that afflicts the under- prepared. A campaign devoid of versatility in terms politically savvy resources is vulnerable. Cardinal rule in life – read and understand the writing on the wall. You don’t become a looser because of Uva, the issues were too corrosive and   ingrained and denial did not do much. MR had the capacity and charisma to reach out to the minorities had he only shown sincere and genuine concern for minority issues. Had he taken affirmative action a different outcome could have been possible.

It may not come as a surprise that even Velupillai Prabakaran was one such intransigent specimen. Had he acquiesced to strong, intelligent counsel the nation wouldn’t have lost so many lives fighting a futile war? In MR’s case it was all the more baffling because he entertained such overt dynastic ambitions and finally gave everything in a platter. Sounds such an anti-climax. The discerning witnessed no wisdom or any semblance of pragmatism for his persistent anti-minority conspiracies. Ably choreographed and bedecked by the family the BBS carried out their act with immaculate precision. Obsequious to the palace yet spewing ear-shattering vitriol the BBS were an accompanying liability never, ever confronted. Their degrading theatrics hopefully will be captured on celluloid screen sometime in the future by an insightful film director much to the mirth, hilarity and amusement of the nation. As we slam a huge kick to a ravenous and acquisitive legacy lets sincerely hope we’ve learnt huge lessons from this calamity. Let this be a lesson to all future leaders who salivate to tread the racial path for petty political gain.

The war is over and MR was the indisputable hero, none dare to question this achievement. None will be able to take this unique position from MR. The people were saved from the shackles of misery and penury. Many Sri Lankans consider May 18 2009 as the new date of Independence. The nation was liberated and relieved. Common sense would dictate the best course of action from that point would have been to win the confidence of all people including all minorities in the arduous journey towards nation building and national reconciliation. The war had dismembered our collective psyche and the nation was restless for amelioration and deliverance. In this moment of somber expectation came further pummelling not just to the minorities but to all including the majority. Under the guise of a very strange genre of sanctimony laced patriotism emerged the grand project to rake-in all and sundry. People started to reel under unbearable taxes and duties. The cost of living was northward bound and was unstoppable.

About nation building MS had this to say to Padma Rao Sundarji of Hindustan Times on the eve of the election “We needed a nation-building project which can’t happen unless all factions come together and now –this is precisely that dream coming true. It is this diversity that will ensure success. We consider ourselves blessed to have this disparity. If Sri Lankan voters were uncomfortable about it, they would have expressed resentment weeks ago. But no such thing has happened. On the contrary, there is a big surge to vote for me” About militarizing the north he said “Sure. But I will ensure that the army will exit civil administration altogether and give local police and civil servants that task. I only said that existing army cantonments like at Palali in Jaffna will not be shut down. And of course I will act totally in consonance with the security apparatus and our generals. The point is, all democratic Tamil parties of the TNA are backing me right now”

Mr President wish you all the best and let’s get to work.

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