By Nishthar Idroos –
The most enlightened, most noble Ven. Galagoda Gnanasara Thero, the General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) organization had a mouthful to spew at former Justice Minister and Sri Lanka Muslin Congress (SLMC) Leader Rauff Hakeem recently. He called him a political prostitute. The most “eloquent” Gnanasara Thera said that Rauff Hakeem had defected to the opposition at the Presidential elections in 2005 and 2010, however, later joined the government once again. This according to him makes Rauf Hakeem a political prostitute. The term prostitute commonly conjures sexual connotations regardless of the context. None would use it unless filled with strong hatred. Also coming from a member of the clergy it’s a trifle irreconcilable. We’ve never heard such words from monks until this particular administration was installed. This is an unfortunate development emerging in the midst of a decisive presidential election where every facet of the government apparatus and other bodies, some sacred, is being abused with contempt and impunity to ensure the victory of the incumbent. Direct support of the Venerable Thero for the incumbent has further fractured the government’s coalition.
In fairness to Rauf Hakeem it must be stated if he’s a political prostitute he’s certainly not the only one. They come in all sizes and colours. It seems in our lovely paradise island of Sri Lanka our wise legislators would shower praise and gratitude on fellow legislators for supporting motions and bills even if it’s a draconian piece of legislature that undermines the supremacy, sovereignty of the people. The individual/s is then congratulated, hugged, camaraderie ensues and all is hunky-dory. Not for long though, he or she can soon turn out a dreadful traitor, terrorist, prostitute without any prior warning. When this happens compulsory ostracization is deemed important by the palace, state media automatically goes on top gear to vilify the once confidantes. All this just for changing loyalties. This is such an interesting socio-political phenomenon wholly worthy of a PhD research and dissertation. This strange ambivalence surely deserves a full state funded study. I am not joking. How Patriots turn traitors can shed a lot of light and insight to the much intrigued general public.
In most multi-cultural democracies socio-economic, cultural and political freedoms are constitutionally guaranteed and legally protected. If leaders are elected in competitive multi-party, multi candidate processes opposition parties regardless whether they’re from majority or minority parties must be afforded the legitimate right of participating, sharing or attaining power. Such a course of action is wholly compatible with the principles of a vibrant democracy. In an environment where wishes, aspirations of minorities are subject to change under pressure due to targeted racism and discrimination an outlet to stop and discontinue such persecutions becomes an existential problem. A six year mandate constitutionally guaranteed for the president often times leave minority parties in a quandary if the president is insensitive. Minority parties can either succumb to corruption and remain silent or discontinue support altogether at the dangerous expense of and getting their “files” open and be called political prostitutes and what not.
Sri Lanka’s democracy is a strong one despite its chequered history. Minorities in total represent approximately 35% and growing. This fairly large chunk has always been a very dependable vote-bank to the many majority political party leaders during presidential elections. The imaginative and sincere leader always had the choice to accommodate all by directly addressing all citizens regardless of race or religion. Had such a culture received a hot incubation from the very inception half or more of the minority parties today may have been non-existent. On the contrary isolationist agendas, racism and suppression of basic human rights to name a few precipitated a kind of disillusionment in the minds of minorities and coalesced the reality that’s plainly visible for all to see. The current regime whose modus operandi to marginalize and disenfranchise minorities has set a huge and sick precedence.
In the current context all parties who made their allegiance to the common opposition candidate had serious issues or grievances with the president. They had tried vigorously to resolve them through negotiation and dialogue. A process of consultation, compromise and consensus made famous by the late president Ranasinghe Premadasa. According to party leaders these negotiations had lasted for months but gridlock reined. When all efforts failed and intransigence manifested parties were left with no option but to become political prostitutes as defined by the most enlightened, most noble Ven. Galagoda Gnanasara Thero. It’s totally unfair to target Rauf Hakeem in particular. In all honesty our august assembly is filled with all kinds of political prostitutes today. Unfortunately no one speaks about the political pimps! Those that flaunt crisp notes laden with attractive illustrations of peacocks and other birds in violation of the law of the land. Where there is a political prostitute there is a political pimp.
I don’t think any one of the Muslim parties would have entertained any intention to leave the coalition. The only pressing reason was the grotesque and beastly phenomenon of the BBS. Each one of them had individually highlighted this fact in their official press communiqué. For sure the Muslim parties should have left the coalition long before. Better late than never. BBS it seems was created to destroy, demonize and disenfranchise the minorities, especially the Muslims. How could a responsible leader consent to such an enterprise? The Muslims have lived with the majority and the rest of the minorities in peace and harmony for centuries. The Muslim leadership of yesteryear had done yeoman service promoting peaceful co-existence. Their wish and legacy prevailed with minor aberrations until this government was enthroned. The great role played by the then Muslim leadership towards full independence and preserving the common national fabric cannot be dismissed. Leaders like T.B.Jayah, S.L.Naina Marikkar, M.Cassim Ismail, Cassim Umar, Dr MCM Kaleel, Razick Fareed were in the front battling a common cause. Where is the gratitude for the Muslims? Many innocent Muslims perished giving their lives trying to preserve and protect the unity of this country we all love. The Muslims never proved treacherous then and did not prove it now so where is the gratitude for the Muslims? How many Muslim members of the Sri Lanka army laid their lives preserving the unity of the country where is the gratitude for the Muslims? This war couldn’t have been won without the help of Pakistan an Islamic country that did all it can to cooperate, where is the gratitude for the Muslims? How can we trust an ungrateful leader? Ingratitude is indeed poison to the soul.