By M H M Faizer –
As a born and practicing Muslim I am inclined not to vote for Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR). MR was quite insensitive for issues faced by the Muslims in Sri Lanka. He maintained a deafening silence when all things were going wrong for the minority Muslims in the country. His brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was quite open in saying that there is Muslim terrorism in Sri Lanka. MR was witnessing the development and growth of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS). BBS was going out in all directions to attack the Muslims. They were inculcating into the minds of ordinary Buddhists that the Muslims are fast becoming a threat to the Buddhists and Buddhism and that they are in touch with the Muslim terrorist organizations worldwide. The political leadership also was endorsing this view of the BBS by not acting against their violent speeches and actions.
I agree that a majority of Muslims in Sri Lanka have become EXTREMISTS but certainly not TERRORISTS! They have become extremists in terms of practicing their religion. They want to become extremely pious. Islam after Prophet Muhammad is now almost 1450 years old.Over this period the practice of original Islam have diminished mainly due to whole lot of rituals being added! In the last forty years or so there is a revival of the original practices of Islam. Thanks to technology and other forms of communication there emerged a large number of Scholars who clearly communicated the original practices of Islam. The correct understanding of its principles in terms of social life,business practices and spiritual beliefs were imparted. Thus, emergence of Sharia banking ( though interest dealings are a taboo, the Islamic countries freely practiced them without correct knowledge), the Purdhah and Hijab for women, the details of Haram and Halaal food are some examples of them. So Muslims started following these original practices once again.In other words they were trying to become Extremely religious – whats wrong with it? In fact it is good for the society. When a community becomes religious they become more and more passive. Despite the killings and burnings at the Aluthgama incident, the Muslims did not retaliate.They also did not respond to all the Hate speeches of the BBS! Why? One contributing reason is their strong and extreme faith in Islam which strongly advocate Patience and to seek assistance from God Almighty!
The Muslims were hurt that the then Government did not take any proactive measures in curbing the threats of the BBS. The reactive measures taken by the Government since the Aluthgama incidence were also not that effective. There was ample proof about the people who were responsible but no arrests or any tangible stern action were taken.
In addition to this Muslim Factor the second major factor that goes against MR is the Corruption charges! This need no discussion .We all know the Magnitude and Scale of corruption and even MR acknowledges it. But here again MR remained silent and turned a blind eye. He was vey well aware of all the corrupt deals that were going around! The Corruption became very visible especially because it was done by a handful of few people unlike in a normal government where too corruption takes place but does not get highlighted because it is done by more than a hundred people in the Government. Nobody can stop corruption in Asian Countries whether it is a MR government or any other Government. The accusation that MR government is Corrupt does not imply in no way that another government would be corrupt free. This is a fact. Corruption is a common game for any government. Some are not tactful and get caught but for some others it is an Art.
MR on the other hand stands a unique leader for his achievements. It might take another hundred years to find a leader like him for a country like Sri Lanka. The way he fought the Tiger War was incredible. You need a lot of Guts to raise your finger against the USA and to give two hoots for their requests to halt the War! He had the same attitude as Winston Churchill when he fought the War! MR was determined, well focused, arrogant and dictatorial. One need to have such traits to win against a ruthless but a powerful enemy!
It will be inhuman if one will forget the Man (MR) behind this Victory. How can we forget the hundreds and thousands of people killed up to 2009? This include the 147 Muslims killed inside the mosque in Kattankudy in 1990: 990 police officers also in 1990: 127 in Habarana in 1987: 113 at the Pettah bus stand in 1987: 91 in Central bank Bombing in 1996: 64 in Dehiwala train bombing etc etc: and assasinations of Gamini Dissanayake (1994), CV Gunaratne (2000), Ranjan Wijeratne (1991) and President Premadasa (1993) etc.
In addition to this, the economic development since 2009 has also been very impressive. The macro economic parameters such as the growth rate, per capita income, inflation rate,unemployment rate, and several others have dramatically improved since 2009.
One more striking factor during the MR period was the amount of infra structure development that took place in the country. This needs no discussion since we all can see this development not only in Colombo but throughout the island. The life has become better in Sri Lanka of course. Billions of rupees was spent on the war and the Country rating was least impressive due to our label as a war torn country. Hence one cannot have expected FDI and other form of Investments into the country. But yet to build so much infra structure development was indeed is remarkable even at a high cost!!
The argument that the Muslims will be attacked once again if MR comes back is a myth. This is a propaganda by parties with vested interests! It does not happen that way. The same story was there immediately after the 1983 killings of the Tamils. Similar stories were spread immediately after the Tsunami and the beach lands were sold for a toffee.
It makes economic and development sense to vote for MR for the betterment of the Country but as a Muslim i am confused. I cannot vote for MR. Hence my decision is NOT to vote for anybody!!
Note: Another important factor that influenced my decision of NOT to vote is our current Muslim Political Leadership. I cannot find a single person either in the Government or any other party whom I can be of convinced will fight for the rights of Muslims. They do not seem to know the difference between Self Interest and Selfishness.
*M H M Faizer – Founding GM of Amana – now into Amana Bank & Amana Takaful, Former Deputy Director General of the BOI