By Gamini Jayaweera –
Following the defeat of the UNP by Mr. SWRD Bandaranaike’s Mahajana Eksath Peramuna, my late brother Wimaladharma Jayaweera (former Co-ordinating Secretary to the late SLFP Minister Mr. C.V.Gunaratne) wrote an article titled “Battalu Hum Galaweema” (Removing the Sheep Skins) which was published in the Lankadeepa Newspaper in 1956, explaining how SWRD was managed to unite the forces of “Pancha Maha Balawegaya” – the five great forces of the Buddhist Clergy, the Ayurvedic Physicians, the Teachers, the Farmers, and the Workers to remove the sheep skins from the elite class of the rich (“People of Bamunu Kulaya”) who governed the country since independence pretending that they would work towards the upward social mobility of the common person in the society. Though the elite class of the rich who governed the country did not provide sufficient facilities to the common person to get into top level administrative and other high level professional jobs, to their credit, they did not get involved in practising unprecedented level of bribery and corruption, violation of the independence of the Judiciary, providing protection for murderers and drug dealers, violating the rule of law, using foul language in parliament to address their opponents, unlawfully taking public money & engaging in drug dealings to become “super-rich”, and taking away the democratic values of the nation.
After 59 years of SWRD’s social revolution, today we are facing another battle to remove sheep skins from most of our “super-rich” corrupt politicians and so called educated “socialists” who are trying to deceive the nation to get into the parliament at any cost. In this critical battle it is very important that our President Mr. Maithripala Sirisena who has worked with some of these politicians for 47 years should publically appeal to the nation to reject these candidates irrespective of their allegiance to SLFP or UPFA. Majority of the Srilankans feel that it is a personal obligation of the President to the vast number of people who supported him publically risking their lives during the last presidential election. I can understand that the President may be under pressure to give nominations to most of these politicians of the UPFA and SLFP but is he under any pressure to speak out the truth for the sake of saving the nation from thieves, murderers, drug dealers, and violators of our democratic values entering the parliament? Hope that our President will demonstrate the qualities of a Statesman as defined by James Freeman Clarke: “The difference between a politician and a statesman is that a politician thinks about the next election while the statesman thinks about the next generation.”
“Socialists” in the UPFA
The so called “socialist” party leaders of the UPFA have no popular vote base in the country. They know that if they are not part of the UPFA they will not get enough votes to get into the parliament. It appears that they are not interested in establishing a new political culture and getting rid of law breakers, murderers, drug dealers, and robbers of public money. One of their popular slogans is that they will never work with the UNP. That is not a credible party policy for an established political party. Political parties should change their policies from time to time based on the circumstances and as grown up politicians, they must recognise and support the changes if those changes are good for the country. That is why writer, poet, and journalist Mr. Kumaratunga Munidasa said that “Aluth aluth de nothanana jathiya; lova nonagi”. Same principle will apply to the so called “socialist” parties in the UPFA as they appear to be stuck in their ideologies, support corrupt politicians and are unable to move forward. It appears that they are allergic to creating a new political culture as advocated by the President. Some of these so called educated “socialists” are using obscene language in parliament, the highest institution in Sri Lanka, to address their opponents. This kind of disgraceful behavior should not be tolerated by the general public. It is time for the nation to remove sheep skins from these UPFA “socialist” party leaders who kept their mouths shut during the last 6 years while the country was heading towards anarchy due to the breakdown of rule of law among other things.
It is reported that UPFA has given nominations to most of the former ministers and MPs who have been either charged or under investigation for bribery & corruption, murders, mis-use of public property and money, drug dealings, and mis-use of power for personal gains. These former ministers and MPs are hiding behind the previous president to contest the forthcoming general elections because the previous president has still got a sizable following in certain parts of the country. When these candidates appear in TV debates or addressing political rallies the language they use reminds us the novelist George Orwell’s words about the political language. “Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” (George Orweell).
News media in Sri Lanka has an obligation to expose and inform the general public about these corrupt politicians through media right up to the forthcoming general election to ensure that the nation will get an opportunity to remove the sheep skins from these “political wolves”.
The next category of “Political Wolves” in sheep skins are some of the senior figures in the SLFP. During the last few months these senior figures in the SLFP were pretending that they were supporters of the President while keeping close contacts with the former president Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa and supporting secretly for his return to active politics and his candidacy for the post of Prime Minister. It appears that they played this dishonest game until the last minute and they made sure that the President would be isolated from the majority of former SLFP MPs. At the end the President did not have any other options but to agree nominations to the former MPs in question. This episode reminds me the words of Ronald Regan, former President of USA. “Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.” It appears that these senior figures in the SLFP do not want to support the President Maithripala’s vision of establishment of a new political culture. Hope that the general public will recognise these “political wolves” in sheep skins and they take appropriate actions to remove the sheep skins during the forthcoming general election.
After reading this article people may assume that I am a supporter of the UNP. I want to make it clear that I am not a member of any political party. We all may have experienced some administrative wrong doings, appointing former corrupt officials who worked under UNP government during 1980s as advisers to ministries, and certain other irregularities. The nation’s loss due to these wrong doings is small when compared to the potential bigger loss to the nation by supporting the previous administration led by Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa because of the unprecedented level of bribery & corruption, breakdown of the rule of law, mis-use of public funds to become “super-rich” politicians, and lack of freedom for all citizens, press & national institutions to conduct their affairs without interference or intimidation from the governing party. That is why I agree with setting up a National Government led by Mr. Maithripala Sirisena with the support from the newly formed United National Front for Good Governance and other progressive parties to re-build a democratic, compassionate, peaceful, law abiding, and sovereign society while working towards the advancement of social, religious, cultural, economic, and technological developments in the country. As Martin Lither King Jr. said “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”
*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.