Colombo Telegraph

Muslim Politicos Cross Over To Opposition; Why Now?

By Latheef Farook

Latheef Farook

Muslim parliamentarians’ cross over to opposition – Sheer political opportunism and hypocrisy – They neither represent Muslim community nor Islamic teachings and values

​A week after former minister Rishard Bathiudeen leaving the government on Monday 22 December 2014 and pledging support to opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, SLMC, announced its decision to follow suit on Sunday 28 December 2014.

The SLMC announced its decision after dilly dallying and keeping everyone guessing for weeks. Three days later on Wednesday 31 December 2014, former deputy Minister Faiszar Mustapha quit the government and pledged support to Maithripala Sirisena.

However the question is why did the SLMC, so called Muslim parliamentarians and others who benefitted from the government leave the government now? Why didn’t they do so when Muslims were attacked and harassed by racist elements with state patronage during the past three years?

This is also applicable to others who held positions here and abroad, enjoyed all perks and remained silent amidst atrocities on Muslims now desperately trying to project themselves as the saviors of the community and the country.

Isn’t this sheer political opportunism and hypocrisy to hoodwink the community which has virtually lost confidence on most Muslim politicians?

What the government and the opposition leaders ought to know is that these parliamentarians and others have nothing to do with the Muslim community which has already made up its mind whom to vote.

The question is, even at this late stage, why didn’t the SLMC and other Muslims who crossed over to the opposition speak out on the atrocities on Muslims to justify their decision in the same way Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero, Chairman of Jathika Hela Urumaya and his JHU colleague former minister Patali Champika Ranawaka speaking out exposing misrule and corruption.

As we all know Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero, Chairman of Jathika Hela Urumaya and former minister Patali Champika Ranawaka left the government on principles. The two openly accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa of promoting family rule, corruption, protecting drug dealers, licensing casinos, gambling and many such evils destroying society and the country. In doing so they urged the people to use their votes to change this government.

I watched Mr. Champika Ranawaka’s speech at Maharagama in the YouTube and one ought to admire his courage though I always disliked his racist policies hostile to minorities. This is where we need to remember what Imam Ali reported to have said” don’t look at the person but listen to what he says”.

This is what was expected of Mr. Rauff Hakeem, his team and others. Muslims expected them to highlight the atrocities committed on them as their main reason for leaving the government. However, as expected, they miserably failed.

Instead Hakeem in his resignation letter to the President stated that “I will always carry the fond memories of your gracious personal attributes as an exceptional political leader of our time. The immense value of your support I received as a Minister of your Cabinet makes my departure a painful experience. I believe that our nation has made great strides under your leadership. I leave with a deep sense of gratitude and hope.”

They say to be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise. This is what Hakeem’s words about the President convey. Although irrelevant to the issues of resignation, Hakeem appears to have taken out adequate and far sighted insurance cover for a rainy day – to return to the fold as a prodigal whenever the situation warrants. Hakeem is naive to think that in future Muslims will live with this type of moral turpitude from their so called leaders.

This also applies to Faiszar Mustapha who refused to criticize President Mahinda Rajapaksa or Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa for their failure to prevent the atrocities on Muslims specially the organized attacks on Aluthgama, Dharga Town and Beruwala Muslims. On the contrary he went on to praise the president and the defense secretary for helping him to control the pogrom.

Meanwhile Hakeem also stated that his party thought that the 18th Amendment,, introduced by this government and took away the good governance, was only to give the incumbent President few more chances to run for the Presidency, but the section with regard to repealing the 17th Amendment was brought in at the last minute.

If that was the case they could have decided not to vote for such an amendment. Now the question is why did they remain with the government which, as they claim, tricked them?

SLMC and other Muslim parliamentarians, as constituent members of the government have been party to all atrocities against Muslims during the past few years. Now the question is why didn’t they raise these issues and quit the government then to show that they do not approve of these attacks on Muslims?

They failed to do so? Why, perhaps they loved their positions, perks than the sufferings of the community. Isn’t this sheer hypocrisy?

The allegation that the SLMC left the government due to lack of good governance and accountability was refuted by the UPFA General Secretary and Environment and Renewable Energy Minister Susil Premjayantha .According to him the SLMC quit the coalition because President Mahinda Rajapaksa had turned down its demand to carve out a separate Muslim administrative unit in the Digamadulla electoral district comprising three electoral districts namely Kalmunai, Sammanthurai and Pottuvil.

A separate Muslim administrative unit in the Digamadulla electoral district was a proposal mooted by late founder of SLMC Mr. M.H.M. Ashraff at a time when he was in the payroll of IPKF. It was entirely different political environment then.

However today, especially in the aftermath of the military defeat of LTTE and the rise of Sinhala racist organizations attacking Muslims, circumstance is entirely different.

Under such politically volatile atmosphere is it advisable to demand a separate Muslim administrative unit in the Digamadulla electoral district. This is not the priority of the Muslim community which is keen on ending violence against them.

As expected this proposal provided fodder to anti Muslim racist elements to provoke and pit Sinhalese against Muslims? For example, as expected, Bodu Bala Sena was quick to frighten the majority community by stating that Muslims are asking a separate.

Supporting this view state media, Ceylon Daily News, whose editor Rajpal Abeynayake called Rishard Bathiudeen a pig when he quit the government, stated under the title “SLMC NOW A LTTE” in its Tuesday 30 December 2014 issue lead article.

It appears Muslims grievances were not even raised when the SLMC pledged support to the opposition candidate.

These politicians neither represent the Muslim community nor the cherished Islamic principles and values. As it happened in the past, once elected the Muslim community has no control over these parliamentarians who get absorbed into the corrupt political system which brought the country to the current sad state of affairs.

This is the reason why civil organizations such as National Shoora Council.NSC, emerged to jointly deal with burning issues of the community while striving to establish close relations with the other communities.

Thus the time has come for the majority community and political parties to deal with institutions like NSC rather than turning to wheeler dealer politicians.

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