22 September, 2020

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Rajapaksa Robs Sovereignty Of The People Like An 18th Century Sea Pirate – Sarath Fonseka

By Colombo Telegraph

Sarath Fonseka, the war winning former army commander and the former presidential contender says President Mahinda Rajapaksa is robbing the sovereignty of his people, ‘just like an 18th century sea pirate who looted ships’. “ Such actions are not condoned in any civilized country. If this happens in a country like England — which introduced electoral democracy to us — the prime minister would have been jeered, attacked with bad eggs and kicked out of power,” Fonseka says in an interview with Ranga Jayasuriya of Lakbimanews.

We below reproduce the interview in full;

Fonseka spoke to Ranga Jayasuriya about a wide range of issues including his plea for a unified opposition, his take on the internal party rivalries of the UNP and the present status of the Sri Lankan army.

Excerpts: 

 

Ranga Jayasuriya

What are you up to? What are your political plans?
Our objective is to topple this despotic government and chase away this corrupt ruler. I have always maintained that to accomplish that objective we need a unified opposition. I have not wavered from that position. We should forget party differences and internal party rivalries and join hands to defeat   this corrupt government, which actually had won only one-third of the total votes, out of the total number of 14 million registered voters. Though they (government) claim they have a two- third majority in parliament, thanks to MPs who have been bought over, two-thirds of voters have rejected this   government. Even those who voted no longer endorse the conduct of this government: family rule, dictatorial governance, the 18th Amendment, interference of judiciary, etc.
You are talking about a unified opposition but Tissa Attanayake, the UNP general secretary himself told the media that the UNP had banned their MPs from attending your rallies?
Yes. There is a problem within the UNP. They are worried that more and more MPs would defect. The UNP is divided. They should be worried as to whether their MPs would join us. What I  tell the UNP is, ‘don’t worry about those minor issues. Let’s join hands and face this government.’
Why don’t you join the UNP?
There is a dispute within the UNP between two factions. If I go, then it would become a dispute involving three factions. I don’t want to get into that situation.
You have a close rapport with Karu Jayasuriya, et al…
They talk to me. Even when I was in jail, Karu Jayasuriya visited me every two weeks. Sajith Premadasa also visited me in jail. Ranil Wickremesinghe also visited me in prison. If Ranil Wickremesinghe talks to me, I would reciprocate. I am prepared to talk to anyone from the opposition on how we should organize ourselves against this government.
Someone has to set a precedence! Why don’t you lead by example? Would you join the UNP if they sort out their internal problems?   
I have outlined a set of proposals on how this country should move forward. Democracy should be restored. Corruption should be curbed. The judiciary’s independence should be respected. Nepotism and political favoritism should end. So if I am to join the UNP, I should be able to see that the UNP is genuinely committed to those principles. Only then I would have a reason to think about joining the UNP.
Did Ranil Wickremesinghe talk to you after you were released from jail?
No, not yet.
It seems he is not going to talk to you…
Yes, that is part of their political strategy, I think. Most people who shouted political slogans on my behalf when I was in prison — and won the people’s applause, did very little after I was released. That is their political psychology.
What is your take on the public reaction you received since your release? You have been travelling around the country attending rallies.
Wherever I went, I had a huge public attendance. People have confidence that I can help change the dictatorial rule of this government. It is that confidence that I want to harness. What we want at the moment is good personalities to lead our campaign at electoral and district levels. Then we would be able to mobilize the public at the grassroots level.
When the opposition is divided, it is good for the government? Is there any quick fix to bring the opposition parties together? 
Quick fix! If there is another presidential election, the opposition would unite overnight. It happened when the previous presidential election was announced. Since there is no election in sight, various people have divided the opposition, carved out their fiefdoms and are dragging the opposition to various directions, based on their political agendas. That is the problem.
There are UNP MPs loyal to you. But, the UNP does not want them to work with you any longer. How do you deal with the UNP now?
What I propose is that we form a unified opposition. There are UNP MPs who attend our rallies. We consider them as symbols of a unified opposition. The UNP is now working with several minor political parties but they have not invited us or the JVP or any other political group which has a mass following to join them. Let’s build a unified opposition rather than worrying about the leadership. Let people decide who the leader should be.
You have not yet been invited by the UNP to join its campaign?
No.
What is your relationship with the JVP?
My impression about the JVP remains the same. I have always believed that the JVP members love this country and they are honest people. However, I don’t follow their political philosophy. I have a different political philosophy. Though they work together with other political parties during elections, after the elections they go their own way. That is the same thing they are doing right now. However, when the right circumstances arise, there is no question that the JVP and we can work together.
So have you invited them?
There is no point of extending an invitation to the JVP at this moment because they are following a different political philosophy.
Provincial council elections will be held in the East. Plans are afoot to hold elections in the North as well. Do you think the situation in those areas has improved since the end of the war? Is there democracy there?
If a free and fair election is held in the East, democracy would be restored. But this government would not hold free elections. There are election gimmicks and systematic rigging. That was how he (President Rajapaksa) won the presidential election as well. I don’t accept that he won the presidential election. They don’t respect the will of the people. They are flouting basic election regulations to win elections. Now they are saying that the next presidential election, which is due in 2016, will be held in 2013. They are making a mockery of the will of the people. It is a daylight robbery of the sovereignty of the people. That is an act of cowardice. We cannot accept a person who is flouting the very tenets of democracy as the leader of the country. He is robbing the people, just like an 18th Century pirate would loot ships. Such actions are not condoned in any civilized country. If this happens in a country like England — which introduced electoral democracy to us — the prime minister would have been jeered, attacked with bad eggs and kicked out of power. We don’t need to go that far. Does even a president or a prime minister in India conduct himself in such a low manner?
What has happened to this country? Why are our people so apathetic to the erosion of basic democratic values in the country?
Our country did not stoop this low before 2005. It was after that, that a thuggish and repressive political system was set in place. That is the pulse of the man who runs this country, otherwise nowhere in the world did a political leader imprison his presidential contender after the election. In fact, it was Idi Amin and Hitler who did such things. We have stooped that low.
You have one more Court case pending against you and you are criticizing the government. Don’t you see a danger?
That does not matter. I have already said that I am prepared to spend another 10 years in jail. If there is a thuggish, dictatorial ruler, the innocents would have to languish in jail. Are we to keep mum out of fear? I spent three years in jail and I would jolly well do three more years, if I have to. I am not scared.
Have you been advised (by the powers to be) to remain low key when you are released?
They may have expected that. But those who put me in jail know who I am. They have worked closely with me. Even soon after my arrest by the military police, they sent me various messages offering to release me, provided that I keep away from the country for two and half years. But even my release was implemented in a very cowardly manner. I am banned from running for elections for the next six years. Those are coward acts of people who are scared to challenge me in a proper election.
Northern elections are supposed to be held in 2013. Would you field a team to run for the Northern Provincial cCuncil?
We are not contesting the Eastern polls, but by 2013, I assume that we would have a presence in the North and we would consider running for the elections in the North. I strongly believe that the situation in the North should improve at some point in time. There is a reason. I am the military officer who rescued Tamil people from terrorism. I won more votes in the North during the presidential election than the number of votes polled by the TNA in subsequent elections. I want to serve those people.
What kind of service are you referring to?
They (people in the North) should have equal rights and opportunities. There is no point giving false promises. Earlier, they were duped into an Eelam dream. They didn’t get anything out of Eelam; they lost everything.
What is your position on the devolution of powers?

What I always say is that we need to build mutual trust between the people in the North and the South. Otherwise devolution would not be meaningful. If we fail to achieve that and proceed with a reckless devolution process, we could aggravate the current situation. Let’s start treating Tamil people equally as our first step. 

As a former commander of the army and one who commanded it during the war, how do you view the present day Sri Lankan army?
The army that won the war is no more. A coward has been appointed to command it; otherwise he would not arrest his predecessor in order score brownie points from his political bosses. By that action itself he set a wrong precedence. He destroyed the discipline within the military. He appointed two star generals to hear charges against a four star general.  Then, those officers I had sidelined due to their complicity in various illegal activities were appointed to important military duties. An officer who was charged with illegally transporting cattle was promoted to lead the military police. Another who had been implicated with receiving money from the LTTE was appointed to a key command position in the North. Many officers who didn’t play a significant role have now been appointed to important military positions and officers who played a key role in the war victory were sent home. Though the government’s leaders pretend that they defended a couple of those officers say for instance Shavendra Silva, Jagath Dias or Prasanna Silva, those officers are also posted out of the country. I introduced a new set of procedures pertaining to military promotions which helped officers like Shavendra Silva. That list was abolished and now cattle thieves and bribe takers have come on the top of the list again. Those officers don’t give a damn about the welfare of the soldiers. That is why more and more soldiers are deserting the army. After the end of the war, 65,000 soldiers have deserted the army. When I was the commander of the army, about 40,000 soldiers joined the army every year. Before I became the commander, only 3,000 joined the army. There were 16,000 vacancies when I became the commander of the army. Not only did I fill those vacancies, I recruited further 68,000 personnel. The army no longer has the morale it used to have during the war. Soldiers have been reduced to the level of janitors and they are being asked to clean drains. But, still I urge the soldiers not to desert the army. True, that this government does not treat the army well. But put up with it for the moment. One day, when we have a chance, we will recognize the service rendered by the military to this country.
Once you came under attack in the state media after you suggested that the military should scale down its presence in the North.  What is your position on those allegations about the militarization in the North?
The state media have stooped to such a low that mudslinging and character assassinations have become its sole purpose. The language used by the chairman of SLBC is so disgraceful, not even ganja addicts in villages would use such language. Such is the calibre of people who have been endorsed by this government. The state media have been used to dupe people. A first year player was made the captain of the rugby team and when the senior players resigned in protest, they were labelled as traitors. That is what the government media does.
What I said was the right thing and I stand by it. There is no question that the number of army camps we had during the war are no longer necessary during peace time. I promised during the presidential election that high security zones should be halved within the first two months after the presidential election. This government could not accomplish that target even three years after the war. That is because persons who have been appointed to key command positions have no idea about reorganizing military bases, without compromising security. They have no idea about the military strategy. A man who returned to the country after 15 years overseas has no idea about modern military strategy.
What is your take on the growing Chinese presence here?
We had a close relationship with China dating back into centuries. And we should not forget that China supplied us 90 per cent of weapons during the war. We should be grateful. But due to this relationship, we should not compromise our relationships with other countries in the region. We all know the rivalry between India and China. Therefore, we should address Indian concerns. But this government is acting without due sensitivity to those concerns. That is the problem. India is our elder brother and our neighbour.
There is going to be another international conference on war victory organized by the Ministry of Defence. 
Those conferences are used to cultivate an image of the defence secretary and to give the false impression that he commanded the army against the LTTE. In which country does a defence secretary command an army? In most other countries, such as India, it is civil servants who have been appointed as defence secretaries. They don’t appoint president’s family members as the secretary of defence and then mobilize state resources to build a cult around him.

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Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    Would TNA take note of this unemployed former general/prisoner who is looking for a job.

    If and when a vacancy arises for the leadership, TNA should consider Sarath Fonseka’s application favourably.

    I am sure TNA likes strong men with a record of war crimes and crimes against humanity to lead the Tamil people into oblivion as VP did in the past.

    Please pass Sarath Fonseka’s job application to TNA Office.

    • 0
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      your comment shows you a vedda.

      • 0
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        SF should give moral support to the striking FUTA and highlight the legitimacy of their demands to the people and work selflessly for a good cause – an educated Sri Lanka! Today all the universities are closed and the A level students in disarray due to the stupidity and gross imcompetence of the clowns who pass for ministers of education and the failure of the Rajapssa regime to address the legitimate demands of teachers, Dons, students and the general public. The Sl spring must go forward and include the demand for the Right to EDUCATION AND INFORMATION BILL.
        MR and his uneducated brothers fear educated and informed people and are bent on destroying education in the country. The struggle to protect education and the right to info is a good cause for SF to support towards social transformation..
        People change and SF may be able to help the slow process of educating the people on the need for regime change, and for changing the political culture.

        • 0
          0

          Good idea – the General should take up a worthy cause and support the FUTA and the right to education and information and address the public on these matters rather than wasting time on useless political squabbling and personality clashes!

      • 0
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        sharm

        Thanks for your recognition and confirmation.

    • 0
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      I am not sure if VP did that, many people in Vanni simply do not trust SL Army, so they went behind LTTE, also the decision makers who banned LTTE, spied on their ships and network, brokered deals to break the LTTE, did little or nothing in Mullivaikal.

      Sarath Foneska who participated in all 45 Military Operations against LTTE and lead the most inhumane phase of the war, has a lot to explain to the people of N/E.

      • 0
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        Jegath

        has a revisionist history to tell us:

        “I am not sure if VP did that, many people in Vanni simply do not trust SL Army, so they went behind LTTE”

        You must be a stupid Tamil just like your stupid Sinhalese brotheren.

        The Tamils of the North were dragged all the way from Jaffna district to Vanni under appaling condition by the brutal LTTE. They were kept as human shield until the brutal armed forces captured Vanni causing heavy loss of life.

        VP was kind person who didn’t want the Tamil underaged children to die in the hands of invading SL armed forces. So he decided to sent them to war front and made them martyres. Very kind person indeed.

        VP was very sympathetic to Muslims. He didn’t want Muslims to suffer during the war. So he sent them on an extended holiday to the South. What a kind person he was for not allowing them to carry their surplus cash with them on their way to the South which would have endangered them. So he kept their jewellery and cash for safe keeping until his death.

        He was a wonderfull person like his counterpart MR.

        • 0
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          Vedda,

          I highly doubt your “nativeness”, only science could answer as to where you are truly “native” to, who knows like the tamils and sinhalese, you could be another illegal immigrant.

          Given the amount of veddas that have integrated into tamil and sinhalese, I wonder if the stupid actions of tamils and sinhalese could be due to the vedda genes in them, who knows JR, Premadasa, Selva, SWRD, VP,MR, Gota and SF might all have a vedda genes running in them.

          Being a refugee of that very incident you mention, my parents nor did I, or did my neighbors and thousands of other tamils were “dragged” by LTTE, we simply did not trust the Army, also many tamil families had members in the LTTE, so it made all sense for them to go with the LTTE, in all the documentaries released after the war, non of the tamils had said ltte “dragging them” to vanni.

          Fourth largest army-Indian Army and the military operations by SL Army, which had the planning and guidance of international military persons were defeated by LTTE, so the child soldiers were responsible for these victories, all these highly planned operations were foiled by underage kids-wow.

          I agree with the Muslim part, LTTE should not have done that.

  • 0
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    REMEMBER NELSON MANDELA BECAME THE PRESIDENT AFTER A LONG PERIOD IN PRISON. WHY NOT SARATH?. HE COULD TAKE OVER, WHEN, THE REGIME FALLS DOWN FROM STALLED HELICOPTERS WITH ENGINE FAILURE.

    • 0
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      Desilva asks:

      “REMEMBER NELSON MANDELA BECAME THE PRESIDENT AFTER A LONG PERIOD IN PRISON. WHY NOT SARATH?.”

      Mandela was/is not a racist and was not implicated in war crimes and crime against humanity.

      This is what he had to say about the minorities:

      “I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people…We being the majority of the country, 75%, we will never give in and we have the right to protect this country…We are also a strong nation … They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things.”

      National Post 23 September 2008.

      The minorities demand what is rightfully theirs which they lost under majoritarian rule. In other words tyranny of the majority is not democracy.

      Is there anyone who is brave enough to convey him the above message?

      • 0
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        Mate

        Is tyranny under racist ethno-nationalism of the Ealam maniacs democracy? We have just had it for over 30 years.

        You know how it ended. We also know you are a little irritated about that.

        Further, please de-mystify what you mean by Tamil rights? Then we can have a discussion on whether those can be adressed.

        You cannot hide hide the ugly, racist, extremist, separatist, vioelnt head of Tamil ethno-natonalism under the “Tamil rights” banner.

        Sri Lankans know better.

        • 0
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          Ben Hurling:

          “please de-mystify what you mean by Tamil rights?”

          I wrote:

          “The minorities demand what is rightfully theirs which they lost under majoritarian rule”.

          Where did I mention Tamil right?

          When we discuss democracy why do you get worked up?

          Please look up the dictionery to check the meaning of minorities and majoritarian.

          “The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather that of the party…that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.”
          Lord Acton (1834-1902)

        • 0
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          Ben Hurling

          has a vivid account of the whole sale butchery of innocent civilians and reminisces the death of Tamil speaking fellow islanders.

          My long term memory tells me the butchery of innocent civilians didn’t start with Mullivaikkal and will not stop there. Those who celebrate the killing of innocent Tamil civilians will do well to remember 5th of April 1971 when the dogs of war was unleashed against youth.

          Since that day the armed forces never stopped to look back. The killings continue unabated. Assuming that the Sri Lankans knew better they could have stopped the estimated killing of 18,000 youth in 1971, 130,000 youths between 1987 and 1991 and 150,000 people over 30 years.

          I guess if the state killed another 200,000 innocent civilians you would feel much much better.

          You say:

          “We also know you are a little irritated about that”.

          How do you know I am irritated?

          A mildest criticism of the undemocratic nature of the state has made you hopping mad.

          You say:

          “You cannot hide hide the ugly, racist, extremist, separatist, vioelnt head of Tamil ethno-natonalism under the “Tamil rights” banner”.

          You can run but you cannot hide from facts and responsibilities.
          Denial is a good strategy until it blows up in your face.

      • 0
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        Wanna’ shed some light on exactly what was lost that rightfully belonged only to Tamils under majoritarian rule?

        Be concrete please. So we can restore those lost things. One at a time.

        By the way, 75% of the population is actually Sinahlese. That will reflect in the government. It is only democratic. Not majoritarian.

        Beyond that agree with you on more discpline for our Police and Armed Forces. These two institutions have a large potental for improvement.

        However, LTTE Die-Ass-Pora should not be allowed to benefit from such a process.

  • 0
    0

    why does the media continue to pay attention to this irrelevant narcissist? He had his 15 minutes of fame but now refuses to go away silently. He lives for the attention. He has nothing to add to reconcilliation efforts.

    Also, in all earnestness I ask if the accusations against the Rajapaksas are true, why hasn’t he disappeared into a white van by now? Certainly neither the Chinese nor Russian dictators would have tolerated so much dissent from a former ally.

  • 0
    0

    General Fonseka runs a serious risk to his life. I sincerley hope he takes his security very seriously. Not to mention his ill-health.

    We live in a violent, lawless country where corrupt UPFA politicians and their cronies will stop at nothing to remain in power.

    Sri Lanka needs General Fonseka to lead the opposition. We are facing the most despotic regime in post-independence Sri Lanka. Kicking them out will not be easy. Just look at the mess in Syria.

    This interview proves General SF has made the transition from military leader to political leader.

    The General has a backbone of steel, not corrupt, patriotic and seems like a moderniser. Exactly what Sri Lanka needs.

    He may not be perfect. Yet, the only right man available at this time for Sri Lanka.

    • 0
      0

      If Gota is a war criminal and all these horrible things he is accused of, then Fonseka is just as guilty . As he claims credit for running the war, he cannot claim he was just following orders from Rajapaksas now can he Ben? He wants the credit but refuses to accept responsibility for the excesses.

      Yet in your myopic hatred of the Rajapaksas you seem to lionize a war criminal who you now claim can be a statesman leading the reconciliation effort? This is rank hypocrisy. SF cannot, after the fact, distance himself from 2009.

      • 0
        0

        To everyone s eye, GOTA is war criminal eccept for few appologists of MR regime. I have no doubt if SF would also be punished by Hague, he will not go against. He has expressed this several more times sofar. He is a great son born to the our country – to prove that average of the nation are not in the view of murderous megalomaniac Rajapakshes totalitarian mentality.

        As any right thinking may feel, if SF wanted to leave country for his and his family sake, he could have done that immediately after the war is over. In contrary to this, Gota is proved traitor who left the country for the STATES and returned after 15 years.

      • 0
        0

        Mate

        Unlike the corrupt Rajapakse clan, General SF is willing to answer anyone anywhere about so called war crimes allegations?

        He is not running scared with tail between his legs screaming “zero casualties”.

        Please note Sri Lanka is not a private property of anyone. The ruling corrupt family will be shown the door by the people at the right time.

        Make no mistake about that.

        • 0
          0

          Gota is a patriot who gave up a stress free life in California to return to save the country he loves from the worst terrorist since Pol Pot. And he was remarkably successful in doing so. Fonseka followed orders like any soldier, but Gota formulated the strategy and, through the assistance of his brother the President, was able to finish the job despite immense pressure from the international community to call off the dogs in May, 2009. VP thought until the very end that a submarine or helicopter would come whisk himself and his family out of harm’s way so he could regroup overseas for Eelam War V with the help of the terrorist diaspora. But Gota has the heart of a Lion and he made sure the Tiger’s lair was destroyed and the leadership annihilated despite the pressure from outside Sri Lanka.

          I hope my president (Obama) will show the same resolve and continue the drone strike and SEAL raids until the last al Qaeda leader (Ayman al Zawahiri) meets the same fate as Prabhakaran.

  • 0
    0

    Remember this man saying “this country belongs to sinhalese”, in a civilized country like England, he would have been stripped from his ranks, it expelled from Army and asked to apologize, did not happen in Lanka and he too enjoyed it, now he talks of England and law, joker.

    • 0
      0

      JEGAAAATH

      What about American Passport holders talking About Sri Lankan,/ Sinhalese Patriotism,
      So there is NO big hullabaloo about “This country belongs to Sinhalese”.

      It should be corrected AS “This country belongs to Sri Lankans”

  • 0
    0

    SERUVILA SENARATH

    The island belongs to my people. You are living in this island on a long lease. Renewal of lease depends on your good behaviour.

  • 0
    0

    RAJA paraya now destroying our entire country someone has to take action againt this national criminal like Gadafi on to the street and punish this raja hora.

  • 0
    0

    Sounds like an outstanding interview – courageous, defiant, forthtright and intelligent, the sort of comment that can galvanise a demoralised nation – in contrast to the useless whimpering of other mediocre politicians.

  • 0
    0

    The more closer you get to china, the more problems you will face. There is no need to elaborate on this.

  • 0
    0

    Jegath

    Please try once again you might do better.

    I sometimes wonder how the puny Sri Lankan armed forces did manage to wipe out the LTTE which had already beaten the 4th largest army.

    Perhap it was because of the goodness of LTTE leader’s heart VP sacrificed Tamil people, LTTE and himself to give glory to his opponents. What a kind man he was. You are another stupid Tamil who is trying rewrite history like Rambo movies.

  • 0
    0

    There is an old saying; “poison kills poison”. LTTE was a poison and SL forces used their venom to eradicate LTTE poison. And in the process both sides underwent heavy casualties. That is it. It is over now. Should there be any offshoots from the civil war, it must be limited to defined areas such as reconciliation, accountability, redress, normalization, counseling etc. Sinhalese nationalistic sentiments owe an apology to Tamils towards pushing them towards an armed struggle in as much as Tamils own an apology towards Sinhalese for doing what they did which may be addressed by the reconciliation process now. A democracy is never intended to linger on past wounds or war-happy operations and measures. No normal and sane ethnic entity in Sri Lanka wants to go back to warring situation. Some of the comments posted here are but war mongering thoughts and seeds of hatred. Sarath Fonseka has done his duty as a professional soldier and commander. And Prabakaran too has performed his part in an extremely revolutionary and fearsome manner. Although for Sinhalese he is a villain for Tamils he is a hero and vice versa vis a vis Fonseka. This is the reality and what is required of responsible and sane people like us and others is to understand the reality and use all the experiences and knowledge garnered from this terrible war experience for the prevention of a repetition and to create unity and one-nation concept among the fragmented ethnicities. The existing government has proved beyond any doubts that it shall not and not capable of healing the wounds and solving this problem once and for all. The most viable option to do that seems to be the UNP led by Ranil and ably supported by the parties in the common opposition. Everybody please give your support to Ranil for that worthy cause to be accomplished.

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