By Aman Faris –
As both the government and the opposition play the cat and mouse game, the country is kept guessing as to who might be the common candidate from the opposition.
Corrupt government Ministers (all MP’s are ministers barring a handful) keep taunting the opposition ranks to name their candidate. But the opposition is holding their cards close to its chest, like in a poker game.
Up until just the other day the best bet was Ven. Sobitha Thero. But after the visit of the Rajapaksa, things took a dramatic change. Obviously harsh and threatening words must have been used on him and being a decent man he must have been shattered badly enough to be taken to hospital by a Rajapaksa loyalist. The hospital is owned by him.
After that incident my confidence in the venerable thero has been shattered. What if, during the height of the campaign, he was to buckle down under pressure and remove himself from the race or ask the people to cast their votes for President Rajapaksa. These suggestions may sound bizarre, but after what happened the other day, such a thing is possible. Why, the President’s visit accompanied by his brother Gotabaya in itself was bizarre! Why did Ven. Sobitha thero fall for the wiles of a political pimp like Tiran Alles? Suely knowing the antics and double dealings of Alles which includes his involvement in the payoff to the LTTE to support Mahinda Rajapkasa by boycotting the elections in which Ranil Wickremesinghe was a clear front runner, should have set off the alarm bells in the venerable’s head. He should have avoided the trio like the plague. But the fact he didn’t indicates he’s too soft and naïve to take on the might of the Rajapaksas. Up until the incident I was all for ven. Sobitha thero. But not now. How many more would there be like me?
So who is the next best bet?
Pundits suggest Karu Jayasuriya might give the Rajapaksas a good fight (please don’t forget, this is not an election for a president, but for a family). But he’s too much of a ‘baby powder stuff’. His criss cross does not stand him in good stead either, even though the Bhikku front of the UNP wants him to throw the proverbial hat in the ring. I don’t believe he has a snow flakes chance in hell!
The next option is Sajith Premadasa. But he is in a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ mode. Moreover, his attachment to the Maharaja organization and to Tiran Alles’ frightens the daylights out of me. Would we be ruled by cunning media moguls if Sjaith wins? Like in the US or Australia.
Neither the Tiran Alles and the Maharaja organisation owned media outlets have ever uttered even a mildly critical word about Sajith Premadasa. But there is hardly a day when Ranil Wickremesnghe and other UNP stalwarts don’t come under, not criticism (which is fair) but outright vilification.
Hardly a day passes by when we don’t see Sajith Premadas on Sirasa TV or its English channel MTV. That’s how much the Maharaja organisation is propping and pumping young Sajith. If he wins he will have to pay back the favours granted by both Maharaja TV and Tiran Alles’ Ceylon Today and Mawbima. In addition there is word that Tiran Alles will enter parliament via the National List MP. That’s his deal with Tiran Alles.
Viewers have noted with concern that at every political function that is shown on Maharaja TV and Alles’ media ‘Punchi Premadasa’ as he likes to call himself, never has any of his party leaders. Not even his cronies in the party does he invite for these functions. Like his father ‘Punchi’ is a one man show!
Sajith Premadasa is far too selfish to be a leader. If he wins, the experienced and qualified stalwarts in the party will have no place. We must bear in mind how his father treated Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali. And for sure we can expect him to behave in like manner and remove or outmanoeuvre people like Ravi Karunanayake and Mangala Samaraweera and few others like Lakshman Kiriella.
If he wins there is no chance he will have success in government because of a lack of experience. People might say that Chandrika Kumaratunga or even Mahinda Rajapaksa did not have any experience at governing either. The MR’s constituency was the poorest whilst he was representing the people there. But look at the legacies they have left behind! The country is in shambles because of them.
So who’s the best bet. Undoubtedly Ranil Wickremesnghe.
During his short period as Prime Minister, he put the economy back on track. He increased the value of the rupee against the dollar to Rs. 94/= approximately. Chandrika was able to do that feat only because of the tsunami.
There is hardly a day when we don’t see or hear a nasty remark made against him by his enemies and frenemies. But he has not ever responded in like manner. No he has not reduced his status as a man of dignity even once. Sajith Premadasa had said nasty things about him in public dutifully carried by Maharaja TV and Alles owned media. But to this day Ranil has not stooped to Sajith’s level. Moreover, Sajith must remember it was Ranil who saved his father from certain impeachment.
Ranil is a gentleman well accepted by the ‘international community’. Sure, he is too close to rightist groups like the Conservative Party in the UK and the Republicans in the US and he needs to rethink those alliances. But apart from that blemish, he is a gentleman. And we need a gentleman to head the country if we want a future for our children here.