By Gamini Jayaweera –
In recently held UPFA inaugural general election campaign meeting at Anuradhapura, former President Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa very firmly stated that he could clearly identify the Thora (Seer fish) from Mora (Sharks), Mora from Balaya (Tuna), Balaya from Paraw (Trevallies), and Paraw from “Paraya” (?). As I have never heard of a fish called “Paraya”, I looked in the dictionary to find the real meaning of “Paraya”. The word was not in the normal dictionary but it was in the Examples of General Sinhala Slang Words in google. It is an offensive word for an “outsider” or for a person who is “not one of us”. “Paratti” is the female version which is usually prefixed to some other offensive word e.g. “Paratta Balli” literally translates as “outcast bitch”. In our school days these words were classified as swear words and we had been punished if we had used such words. It appears that Sri Lanka has advanced on cultural and religious values during the last decade, for some people it is perfectly all right to use these slang words in public debates. After all, the word has been used by our former President and therefore it must be an acceptable word to use in public places.
“Parayas and Parattis”
Having researched the true meaning of the words “Paraya” and “Paratti”, I have now realised that our former President was talking about two legged “Political Parayas and Parattis” (PP&Ps). I hope that the former President might not be offended as I have added the female version of the word “Paraya” thinking that he must have forgotten to mention it, as we have two legged Political “Parattis” too. The way the former President spoke at the rally, he gave the impression that he would punish these “Parayas” whether they were members of the UPFA or UNFGG if he became the next prime minister of Sri Lanka. It is obvious that former president is not referring to members of UNP, JVP, TNA, & DP as “Parayas” because he and the general public know that these parties are always represented different views to UPFA and opposed the way in which UPFA was governing the country during the last 10 years. So I have done a bit of investigation in to our political arena to identify some of these “PP&Ps” to educate and inform our voters about these people (Parayas) who should be rejected by the Sri Lankan voters in the forthcoming general election.
It is true to say that following MR’s defeat in the last presidential election, some of the UPFA members contesting this election from MR Camp, have made unfavourable and inimical remarks about Rajapakse administration during the past 7 months. “Basil is responsible for this defeat”, “Sri Lanka suffered an unfavourable position in Geneva because of MR’s weaknesses”, “MR did not have a plan to win the hearts of northern Tamils”, “By giving a ministerial post to Tissa Attanayake MR made a serious error”, “MR’s actions pushed India and European countries away from Sri Lanka”, “During Rajapaksa regime we have plundered enough”, “We expect that Mahinda Rajapaksa will also join our election campaign as a consultant”, “Don’t stop investigating Mahinda”, “The Good Governance regime is going on the right path” are a few of the statements made by some UPFA former ministers and MPs who are contesting from MR Camp in this election. I wonder whether MR was referring to these former ministers and MPs as “Parayas”? Will the Sri Lankan voters reject or accept these shameless “Parayas” who have got short memories and thick skins?
There are some other candidates in the MR Camp, who are contesting this election, have allegedly engaged in unprecedented level of Bribery and Corruption during the last decade to destroy former President from the Sri Lankan political sphere. It did not matter to them whether they tarnished the image of the former President, as long as they mis-used the public money to build Castles as their family homes, depositing large sums of public money in their foreign bank accounts, and sending their children abroad for studies, and wives for foreign shopping trips etc. There is no doubt that their behaviour had a direct impact on Mr. Rjapaksa’s defeat in the last presidential election. May be the former President was referring to these former ministers and MPs as “Parayas” in the UPFA inaugural election rally. Will the voters identify and reject these former ministers and MPs in the general election?
Drug Dealers & Murderers
It appears that there are some alleged drug dealers, ethanol dealers, and murderers are also contesting this election as candidates from MR Camp. Former President is well aware of these candidates who have destroyed his “good name” and brought chaos to the country. They spend millions of rupees during this campaign to ensure that former President will become the Prime Minister so that they could continue their illegal dealings with MR turning a blind eye to these activities as he had previously done. But it appears that the former President has other ideas this time as he has already identified these former ministers and MPs as “Parayas” and his intention is to take actions against these candidates and remove them as necessary if he becomes the next Prime Minister. In a recent interview the former president was asked whether he would put a stop to all wrongdoing including bribery & corruption by his own party members if elected as PM. Former president’s answer was “Yes we will ensure all corruption is stopped and a transparent mechanism is introduced to ensure equal opportunity to all.” But all due respect, this is an impossible task to implement as MR cannot become the prime minister without the support of these candidates who are contesting this election from MR Camp and they were involved in this dirty game for the last 10 years. May be MR is expecting the voters to punish these “Parayas”.
Then there are former UPFA ministers and MPs who have gained enormous amount of support from the former President during the last decade, have crossed over to MS Camp and UNFGG camp to contest the elections. It is fair to say that some of these ministers and MPs have crossed over because they have had policy differences with the former President. One cannot classify those former ministers and MPs as “Parayas” and therefore they do not have a problem with the srilankan voters. Some others who have crossed over during this election have jumped from one party to another several times in the past with the blessings of UPFA leaders. As QueenBee said “An honest man can never be bought. That’s why there are so few in politics.” Can we classify the former ministers and MPs who have jumped from one party to another several times as “Parayas” and should we reject them in the forthcoming general election? Recently it has been reported in the newspapers that Arts and Cultural Affairs Minister Nandimithra Ekanayake flanked by MR and former minister Mr. Janaka Bandara was humiliated at an election rally of the UPFA in Matale district when the crowd jeered and hooted at him. It appears that srilankan voters have no time for these “Parayas”.
Former Chief Justice, Sarath N. Silva
Then we have former Chief Justice who campaigned vigorously during the last presidential election to defeat the former President has become a strong supporter of MR in this election. Last presidential election former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva publicly apologised to the nation for a ruling he had given in support of former President in the “Helping Hambantota” case. During last presidential election campaign Minister S.B. Dissanayake said “Our former Chief Justice, Sarath Nanda Silva had recently expressed his displeasure over releasing Mahinda Rajapaksa following the “Helping Hambantota”case. He had also pleaded for forgiveness from the people. … .… Even though he is the chief justice he is accepted as a liar and a criminal who gave judgments for his own whims and fancies.” Do voters support the candidates who have got liars and criminals in their election campaigns? It is true to say that this episode has had a very negative impact on former President’s battle against Mr. Maithreepala Sirisena and hence hundreds of thousands of voters voted against MR in the last presidential election. Having destroyed MR’s image during the last presidential election, the former Chief Justice is now supporting MR to become the next Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in this general election. Sri Lankan voters are educated and intelligent. There is no doubt that hundreds of thousands of voters will again cast their votes against MR because of former chief justice Sarath N. Silva’s participation in his election campaign. Will MR and the voters recognise the former chief justice as a Political “Paraya”?
If Putin can, Why can’t Rajapaksa?
Mr. Udaya Gammanpila, a vocal supporter of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s election campaign recently spoke about the ethics of MR becoming Prime Minister after serving 10 years as President of Sri Lanka. He argued “If Vladimir Putin can become Prime Minister after serving as President of Russia, why not Mahinda Rajapaksa?” It is a good question to ask but not a wise question to answer because Mr Gammanpila is missing a very basic point when he compared the two leaders. Russia is almost a one party system and Mr. Putin is running the country as a “dictator”. Mr. Putin can take any top government position in Russia at any time without getting majority of Russian peoples’ consent. It does not matter to Mr. Putin whether he is the President or the Prime Minister of Russia because he is having all the powers to control the “puppets” who are working to his tune. So, Mr. Putin becoming prime minister of Russia was not a demotion for him. But MR’s case is different. The srilankan political system is also different. Even if MR becomes the PM he is not as powerful as the srilankan President who cannot be controlled by the prime minister. Surely, isn’t it a demotion for our former president? With all due respect Mr. Gammanpila, are you comparing our former President to Mr. Putin and Sri Lankan political system to the Russian system? Mr. Gammanpila, are you implying that the majority of Srilankans also want a political system like in Russia? Remember majority of srilankans do not want to live in a society where people cannot express their views freely without government interference. Voters in Sri Lanka are intelligent people and your statement may have cost Mr. Rajapakse hundreds of thousands of votes. Will Mr.Udaya Gammanpila become a “Paraya” if MR loses this election campaign and does not become the prime minister on 18 August?
The reports published by COPE during the last 6 years, highlighted the high level corruption, inadequate public sector accountability, running at heavy losses by vast number of public institutions and no transparency in the government procurement processes. The following are some extracts from those reports: 2010/11 – COPE Chairman, DEW Gunasekera stressed that poor public sector financial accountability has become a crucial factor and poor attention given to the maintenance of corporate/procurement plans, audit and annual reports was alarming to the level of needing immediate rectifying action. 2013 – The three biggest losers, the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation (CPC), Mihin Air and Ceylon Fisheries Corporation (CFC) accumulated losses amounting to Rs 9.7 billion during 2013, according to the Fourth Interim Report released by the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE); 2014 – The COPE report listed a series of major transactions with inadequate accountability. These reports may have contributed to MR’s defeat in the last presidential election. Can Mr. DEW Gunasekara tell the Nation whether MR government had taken genuine actions to resolve these issues highlighted in the COPE reports? But the irony is Mr. DEW Gunasekara is still supporting MR in this election campaign. “There is no compromise when it comes to corruption. You have to fight it” (A.K.Anthony). Is it fair and reasonable for MR and the voters to identify the COPE Chairman as a “Paraya”?
Mr. Wimal Weerawansa, another vocal supporter of former president always talks about international conspiracies against MR and his regime for any domestic political issues. In a recent interview Mr. Weerawansa claimed that the US and India jointly conspired to defeat the government of Mr. Rajapaksa. Has Mr. Weerwansa got sufficient evidence to prove his allegations? Does Mr. Weerawansa honestly believe that American President Mr. Barak Obama, Prime Minister Mr. David Cameron, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and other western leaders have nothing else to do but talk about and plan how to defeat MR in this general election? Does Mr. Weerawansa believe that the srilankan voters are unintelligent fools to believe his fantasies? Whenever Mr. Weerawansa talks about international conspiracies against MR and UPFA candidates, former president loses hundreds of thousands of votes. Will MR and the srilankan voters identify Mr. Weerawansa as another “Paraya” who has contributed to MR’s defeat?
Credibility of Candidates
It appears that most of the candidates who are contesting from MR Camp have tarnished their political image during the last 10 years because of their involvement in very high level of bribery & corruption, drug dealings, murders, and disrespect for the Rule of Law. This is a huge problem for MR to persuade the general public to vote for these corrupt politicians. During the last 6 years MR’s problem was he turned a blind eye to these misbehaviours by his party members and he had shown complacency, arrogance, full of ego, and greed (Thanha) to stay in power for another 8 years by calling the last presidential elections 2 years early. It has been said that “Thanha is the cause of suffering, and is also considered a cause of immorality and crimes such as theft, telling lies, violence and corruption. It can also result in fear.”
Recently it has been reported that one of former president’s coalition partners and former senior minister, Professor Tissa Vitarana had stated “I admit that there were issues of corruption. We have already discussed the matter with Mahinda. He has assured that he will stop all corruption if he comes back to power.”
Can the voters trust these dishonest politicians? As Charley Reese said “Credibility, like Virginity, can only be lost once and never recovered.”
On a positive note, there are some credible politicians who are contesting this election. In my opinion, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe has made an error of judgement in his dealings with Arjun Mahendran case. He should have suspended Mr. Arjuna until investigations are over. By not doing so RW has given ammunition to UPFA to criticise him and exaggerate the problem about this episode in their election campaign. Nevertheless, we all, even the opposition, accept that RW is a decent honest politician without any skeletons in his cupboard. Candidates such as President Counsel Srinath Perera (Colombo), Dr. Harsha De Silva (Colombo), Eran Wickramaratne (Colombo), Arjuna Ranatunga (Gampha), Prasanna Solangaarachchi (Colombo), Anura Kumara Dissanayake (Colombo), Ruwan Wijewardene (Gampha), Duminda Dissanayake (Anuradhapura), and Wasantha Senanayake (Polonnaruwa) have demonstrated that they are credible politicians who can transform our parliament in to a civilised place where children can attend to watch parliamentary debates and learn how to exchange different views with your opponents, respecting each other’s views. Please note that though I have not given a full list of credible candidates there are many other such candidates who are contesting in this general election.
Hope the Nation will identify the credible politicians from the “Parayas” and vote them in to the parliament to represent us in the forthcoming general election. I appeal to the credible politicians to work in partnership with all political parties to bring different communities together and build One Nation Sri Lanka where all srilankans can live in peace and harmony. Hope you reflect on the following poem written by Larry S. Chengges about “For Those Who Believe All Is Possible” before you cast your vote on 17 August.
Whatever you may have believed;
whatever you may have done;
and whatever you may be in your life –
it’s not too late to change course and begin anew…
A fresh start,
a bright future
and the wonderful peace that passes
are yours for the taking,
now and forever more!
*The writer is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and is a holder of Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Henley Management College, Oxford.