By S. Sivathasan –
In a flash we have seen phenomenal changes within a span of nine months. From nominations for Presidential to Parliamentary elections in a week, events have moved with wholesome rapidity. Called silent or bloodless, glorious revolution or intensive evolution, it has inspired hope and purpose. Defeat and despair stand dispelled.
The national polity which had grown defiant together with a political leadership with its sense of power brought this turn around. A change in the making many would say in January 2010 itself. An election betrayed then, they may reaffirm. So be it. Will the fruits of January 2015 be lost facilely in August? Will there be zero tolerance to a vulgar usurpation? Never, is the rejoinder. Why?
The fruits are too precious to be frittered away. The people were heaving and gasping under a heavy dictatorship. It was becoming more brutal by the day. To the populace of every hue, ethnic, religious and political the regime had become insufferable. Those with governance in their hands, found allegiance of the governed slipping away. They took their inevitable refuge in ‘patriotism’. An ‘ism’ that portrayed glory in blood-letting among Tamils. It was an ‘ism’ viz Fascism that destroyed the Jews in Europe. It was such a relapse of Mahinda that infuriated Ven Sobitha Thero to work so adversely against him as of now.
After demolishing Hindu icons, perhaps having no more temples to destroy, they forayed into burning Mosques. The persecuted minorities joined hands to remove the tyrant out of their way. Will they ever again brook his return? Never in their lives will they accommodate any of the Rajapaksas and the country knows it. Their henchmen stand next in line to be forcefully rejected. In this regard the benefits of January call for defense with an endorsement of UNF policies and programmes. Implicit in the stance is to bring forth the same formation in larger numbers. Herein lies an area of strength for Ranil to lead that formation and to be Prime Minister.
It is to the enviable credit of President Maithripala to have plucked out a dictatorship. People have experienced an air of freedom after a decade of tyranny. As great is the delivery of promises outlined prominently in the 100 Day Programme. Of material value making a significant difference to the quality of living was the drastic reduction in the cost of consumer food commodities and utilities. Coterminously salaries, wages and pensions have been substantially increased. Work of a decade was done in 4 months. The progressive changes have touched on every citizen to alleviate their burdens and to put greater purchasing power into their hands. Can even two convincing reasons be adduced for anyone to clamour for the earlier regime to return?
Mahinda regime had done remarkably great in delivering infrastructure. They were modern and futuristic too. Well developed human resources had to be available to make use of them. To follow should have been inflow of investment. A return of at least 5% of diaspora professionals could have been targeted. A revamping of the legal framework governing FDI was basic to attracting investment. So was modernization of administration with education playing its vital role. None of these happened. People were left to the frustrating talk that not much was derived from the costly expenditure.
What was the cost? Huge amounts year after year. They were met through borrowing. Public Debt ie Domestic Debt and Foreign Debt which stood at Rs 2.222 trillion in 2005, escalated to Rs 6.793 trillion in 2013. It was Rs 715 billion in 1996 during Chandrika’s time. Mattala Airport and Suriyawewa Cricket Stadium are just two instances of profligate borrowing. Utilization of physical infrastructure needs a different mindset, superior mental capacity and the channeling of multiple disciplines. Above all patent honesty in all financial dealings. UPFA has shown its poverty. It has none of them. The people have turned to the UNF. How decisive is the shift?
Forecast or predictions for the 17th will vary. Wishes too will be different. The writer ventures to say the following:
UNF (UNP + Constituents) – 105
UPFA (SLFP + Constituents) – 75
TNA (UNF Leaning) – 18
JVP (Line of It’s Own) – 13
Others – 14
The above is the position on August 18th.
On the first day of sitting, the governing party along with crossovers may stand on shifting sand of 155. A good number for a worthwhile Constituent Assembly.