By Ayathuray Rajasingam –
The President Mahinda Rajapaksa and common Candidate Maithiripala Sirisena have not given a clear solution for on the implementation of the 13th Amendment, strengthening of the country’s economy, Press freedom, and Constitutional Reforms so far. What Mahinda Rajapaksa asserts is about development while Maithiripala Sirisena asserts about curtailing the powers of the Executive President without a clear explanation. Rajapaksa kept on dodging on the above issues while Maithiripala Sirisena has just ignored the 13th Amendment and had not spelt about the required Constitutional Reforms for the betterment of the country.
Mahinda Rajapaksa as usual avoid answering the implications of the 13th Amendment. Since the 13th Amendment has provided Land & Police powers for the Provincial Councils, one ponders how Maithiripala Sirisena will address his mind towards this issue, though he asserts Military Force will not be removed, which will be an obstacle for the civil administration in compliance with the 13th Amendment. But Maithiripala Sirisena & his supporters are only keen to oust Mahinda Rajapaksa without touching the implications of the 13th Amendment.
In case, the Common Candidate become victorious, whether Maithiripala Sirisena bring in a new Constitution or Amendments to clip the wings of the President is still not clear. Both candidates failed to pinpoint to the people that this hybrid constitution requires change for a vibrant democracy. If both candidates are to adapt a meaningful step, then it would be to establish an Upper House which should have the power to monitor the activities of the President and refer it to the Judiciary with its report thereof. But both Presidential candidates are silent in doing away with the uni-cameral system, which has been the curse of Sri Lanka. The manifesto specifies that the cabinet shall consist not more than 25 members. But it would have been meaningful had the manifesto proclaimed that a bi-cameral system is a must, with a Cabinet that includes Two members from the Upper House (preferably for Justice and Foreign Affairs). Both candidates have avoided this aspect. Even if they pass a new Constitution ignoring the provisions of the 13th Amendment, it will be regarded as a challenge to the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord.
Since candidates have hurled allegations at each other amidst cross-overs from each party, the possibility that Mahinda Rajapaksa may utilize his enormous powers to arrest Maithiripala Sirisena on fabricated charges, as was seen on the impeachment of Dr.(Mrs). Shirani Bandaranayake or in the alternative a tense scenario may be manipulated into a communal violence (it is difficult to predict whether the Islamic community or the Tamils will be targeted) and declare emergency, paving way for the military regime, cannot be ruled out. Likewise, if Mahinda Rajapaksa feels that his defeat is imminent on account of the luxurious living by his children and of his siblings together with corruption, there is a tendency to flee the country to some destinations known to them. However, a military coup is an impossible exercise given the fact that Sri Lanka is a signatory to the SAARC and India will not just watch and remain silent because of maintaining the supremacy in the Indian Ocean over China. In such a complex situation, the share market is certain to drop terribly paving way for deterioration of the country’s economy. Had the 13th Amendment been implemented in its true perspective such an unpleasant scenario would not have taken place.
Though majority of the Islamic community opposes Mahinda Rajapaksa because of the activities of the BBS, they are yet divided in supporting either Mahinda Rajapaksa or Maithiripala Sirisena. Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Party had signaled its support to Maithiripala Sirisena, but its leader Rauff Hakeem states that they had not negotiated with any party. The attack on the Mannar Magistrates’ Court by Rishard Bathiudeen and the speech criticizing the decision of the Impeachment by Rauff Hakim at a time Maithiripala Sirisena intends to appoint Dr.(Mrs) Shirani Bandaranayake as the Chief Justice, has already sent the signal that the Islamic political leaders feel uncomfortable and are in a dilemma with their double standard pertaining to the independence of judiciary. In addition, the mysterious death of Kumari Cooray in Hakim’s compound and of Maithiripala’s silence over his son’s assault of a DIG’s son may also be reconsidered by average Sri Lankan voters, because justice was denied in both instances.
Moreover, when India and the Western democratic countries had welcome the idea of the merger of North-East Provinces in pursuance of the 13th Amendment resulting from the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord with the view to monitor the activities of the Islamic terrorists in South Asia, there is no reason why Rauff Hakeem and other Islamic politicians insist on the Muslim Administrative Unit in the Eastern Province. Average Sinhalese and Tamils will also consider the dilemma of the Islamic politicians on the establishment of a Muslim Administrative Unit in the Eastern Province, at a time Hisbullah is suspected to have of monitored the activities of the US Embassy, in spite of some Islamic politicians in the SLFP and UNP, instead of focusing on the merits of the 13th Amendment (which is a step towards the expansion of democracy). The developments that took place since the introduction of Wahabbism (which speaks of the characterization of Islamists domination in the Islamic countries) in Sri Lanka to date, cannot be easily neglected by the average Buddhist Sinhalese. The visit of Pakistani Naval Chief to Jaffna and the presence of about hundreds of Pakistanis in the Eastern Province (Kathankudy area) coupled with the arrests of some Pakistanis in Tamil Nadu lend suspicion whether Sri Lankan Islamic politicians are influenced by external factors to continue with their mission of laying a foundation for their Islamic Administrative Unit in the Eastern Province and shatter the merits of the 13th Amendment, when, in fact, it promoted a good will among all communities, especially between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. The BBS is yet to give an explanation on this issue. Such a confusion among their stand prompts an average Sri Lankan (especially the Sinhalese) to ponder whether they are staging a drama to cling on to the winning party with the view to render the 13th Amendment inoperative. Moreover, the maintenance of silence by Islamic politicians when Islamic Terrorist Organizations targeted the West, is also another factor for the average Sinhalese to consider their support to Mahinda Rajapaksa. In such a scenario, the Sinhalese will be alert and may reconsider that a known devil is better than an unknown angel, upon learning that Islamic politicians insist for vital portfolios, especially in relation to Justice, Shipping & harbor.
The burden is on the Islamic community to explain whether they intend to identify themselves as a separate community or as Sri Lankan Nationality within the purview of the 13th Amendment. Islamists are a religious community and not a race. Either they are Tamil speaking Sri Lankan nationality or Sinhalese speaking Sri Lankan nationality. The time is ripe for them to give up the self-alienation and join the main stream of the concept of nationality. Both Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithiripala Sirisena should decide whether Sri Lanka Islamists belong to a specific race. It is a complex issue. Such a complex issue compels the Sri Lankan Islamists to allay the fear in the minds of other religious people. It is at this juncture a necessity has arisen for them to address themselves in terms of nationality and if they identify themselves with their religion instead of nationality, it leaves room for unnecessary issues.
As far as the Tamils are concerned in the North-East Provinces, they will oppose Mahinda Rajapaksa because of the barbaric behavior of the Military Force on the Tamil youths which have left a scar which cannot be erased forever. The results of the NPPC election had reflected it. Both candidates have not openly declared whether the Tamil detainees in the prisons be released, despite the fact that Maithiripala Sirsena too was arrested during the 1971 JVP insurrection. Nevertheless, if the Tamils in the Northern Province stupidly boycott the election then Mahinda Rajapaksa has a good chance of gaining more votes. However, there can be manipulation with the assistance of the Military Force. As far as the Hill country Tamils are concerned, it is a fifty-fifty chance. Thondaman has flopped himself with the tragedy resulting from the landslide. Yet it cannot be ruled out that he could make a U-turn because of his unsteady policy.
If the Hill country Tamil politicians can arrive at a consensus with the TNA, then it will be a decisive factor as to who will form the government. Perhaps this may be a beginning for the unification of the Tamils in the North-East Provinces and in the Hill country because of C.V. Wigneswaran’s firm and steady policy. The Tamils too should re-consider of joining the main stream of the concept of Sri Lankan nationality and agitate for the implementation of the 13th Amendment. If the Tamils will listen to C.V .Wigneswaran and Ranil Wickremesinghe who also commands the respect of the Tamils in Western Province, their votes will be a decisive factor, as this is a crucial period for the Tamils to determine their future prospects. This is the hour to accept the stretching friendly arm from the Sinhalese. As such, the task is on Ranil Wickremesinghe and C.V. Wigneswaran to restore back the fond memories of democracy with meaningful steps (granting of Land and Police powers to the Provinces within the respective Provinces) as specified in the 13th Amendment, when supporting the Common candidate.