By Latheef Farook –
Democratic forces from all three communities – Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims – in the island are seething with anger at the six Muslim parliamentarians who voted in favour and enabled the government to obtain the required two third majority to pass the draft Bill of the 20th Amendment to the Constitution.
A total of 156 MPs voted in favour of the draft Bill while 65 MPs voted against it. If not for these six votes of what many Muslims described as sell outs, the amendment would not have got a comfortable two third majority.
Thus they were fully responsible for what the democratic forces consider as the shameful betrayal of democracy and freedom, bound to affect the country and their own bankrupt community which send them to Parliament.
Of the six Muslims who voted in favour, four were from Rauf Hakeem’s congress and two from Rishard Bathiudeen’s splinter group. They include Nazeer Ahmed, Feisal Cassim, HMM Harees and MS Thowfeek from Rauf Hakeem’s camp and Raheem and Ishak Rahuman from Rishard Badurdeen’s splinter group.
Now the question is whether these MPS could vote in favor of the amendment without the consent of their leaders-Rauf Hakeem and Rishard Bathiudeen. It appears both Rauf Hakeem and Rishard struck secret deals as they always do and hoodwinked the community and the country perhaps for reason better known to them.
The two were masters in the art of striking deals and betraying the community for positions and perks .However in this issue they sold the community and the country for generations to come. Only the future will tell the outcome especially with a president who represents the Sinhala Buddhist interest in power.
Known for striking deals and betraying the community for positions and perks many in the community, sandwiched between corrupt Muslim politicians and equally controversial religious leaders, said this has been their tradition since the demise of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader the late M H M Ashraff.
For example ministers, deputy ministers and state ministers resigned from their portfolios in the wake of Easter Sunday massacre on April 21, 2019 to provide for what they said as space to carry out independent investigations into the Easter Sunday attacks. However, as expected, they accepted their portfolios even before an independent investigation was completed.
This was not something unexpected. Their so called resignation was only to hoodwink the community.
The SLMC was the outcome of the racist politics of the majority community from the time of independence and the racist arrogance of late President JR Jayewrdene who dismissed the Muslims when they opposed bringing Israelis here saying “well if the Muslims wanted to remain with the government they can do so .Otherwise they could leave“. He told this to a delegation led by respected Muslim leader Dr M.C.M.Kaleel who was then the Chairman of the president UNP.
This unfortunate situation continued after Ashraff’s death as many started striking individual deals and support the government in power often for petty benefits abandoning moral principles, policies and the community.
However the 20th Amendment to the Constitution is an issue which strikes at the very root of democracy, peoples’ freedom and the rights which the community and the country as a whole enjoy.
These MPs were aware how the entire Muslim community was persecuted for no valid reasons by racist elements now in power ever since the end of the ethnic war in May 2019. Knowing this very well how could these MPs vote for this amendment which would give undue powers to the very same forces which persecuted Muslims.
The immediate response of many knowledgeable Muslims that emerged was perhaps both Rauf Hakeem and Rishard Bathiudeen, may have struck deals with the government for reasons better known to them and the people and allowed their MPs to vote in favour.
Respected Muslim scholar and well known columnist Professor Abdul Cadre Lebbe Ameer Ali from Australia who made an all-out effort all the way from Australia to persuade Muslim parliamentarians not to vote in favour said “I am at a loss to understand. Do Muslims need enemies when they have their own leaders who are oblivious to what is happening to their community and blindly support GR.?
As we all know this is a Sinhala Buddhist government, like the violent anti-Muslim RSS front BJP government in India, with their own hostile agenda to minorities; Hindus, Christians and Muslims alike. They are quite open about it and also ruthless in implementing their agenda.
One could forgive these Muslim parliamentarians had they voted in favour of the government on another issue. The question is how could they vote to make a president all powerful as his agenda is hostile towards minority communities.
These MPS will be fully responsible for any measures that will be taken by the president or his government using the additional powers given under the 20th Amendment to further harass, harm or deprive the rights of the minorities.
This government has not shown any respect towards the feelings of the Muslim community since assuming office. For example refusing to allow the religious burial of Muslim corona victims and threatening to ban cow slaughter, the poor man’s meet without banning atrocious pig slaughter etc.
PEO TV has removed well known Islamic Scholar Zakir Naik’s Peace TV though Muslims are third most important community, but provided special channels to Israel, despite its crime records, and to evangelical Christians.
A Sinhalese friend of mine, a constitutional lawyer whom I meet regularly at Wellawatta Kinross beach said the day after the 20th amendment was passed-Latheef. I am sorry to say those six Muslim MPs who voted in favour of the amendment only proved the allegations made by many, of Muslims’ credibility.
I was speechless and defenseless. Under the circumstance the Muslim community in general and the civil society in particular should wake up and join hands with average Sinhalese who believe in communal harmony and peace. Unfortunately the community refuses to wake up to its own fate.