By Ameer Ali –
If members of a political party surrenders that party’s original manifesto and symbol and embrace those of another party to win entry to the legislature, and possibly to the cabinet, what does it convey to that party’s dedicated supporters and to the supporters of the party that now accommodated them? Aren’t they a bunch of traitors to their own party and birds of passage to the accommodating party? Who can trust these instant-party-switchers or turn coats?
These are questions that now arise regarding the position of SLMC now and towards its future. With one or two exceptions almost all SLMC candidates who won in this week’s elections did so under the UNP symbol. In doing so did these contestants embrace only the UNP symbol and not the manifesto of the UNP? If they had only embraced the symbol for the sake winning the contest then UNP should not accommodate any of them in the new cabinet because they have no commitment to UNP manifesto. On the other hand if these birds of passage had accepted the manifesto of UNP and its symbol then they had treacherously betrayed the trust placed on them by those Muslims who believed in SLMC as the only hope for the community’s political survival.
The time has come to take a serious stock of the current status, costs and benefits of SLMC. I did call before for the outright dissolution or wholesale rejection of this ethnic political monster. Just before this week’s election I also appealed to the national parties to marginalise SLMC. To a certain extent the results of the election has vindicated my stand. The behaviour and performance of the SLMC candidates at this week’s elections has left no doubt in my mind that in the larger interest of the country and in the interest of the Muslim community in particular SLMC as a political party should disappear from the national scene. There is no problem for that entity to continue operating as a lobby group for Muslims.
In the current climate of ethnic tension and religious chauvinism the Muslim community desperately deserves a Muslim leadership that can rise above ethnic particularism and identify itself with national interest and work for the betterment of the Muslims and the nation together. The community had such leadership in the past and it should endeavour to produce one for the future. Such leadership can only arise from the bosom of national parties.
No minority in a plural democracy can thrive without the support of the majority, unless it chooses the enormously risky path of secession and succeed. The Muslims of Sri Lanka will not even dream of such a suicidal option. They are an integrated element of the island’s political terrain. At the moment they are paying the price for choosing leaders who neither have commitment to the community nor to the nation. The Holy Quran has already warned the Muslims and humanity: “Even Allah will not change the situation of a community unless its members change themselves”.