By Asoka Seneviratne –
If there was ever a Sri Lankan who firmly stood between his land and vicious Prabhakaran with his war for a Tamil state, it was a brave soldier named Sarath Fonseka, who now hold the highest ever military honors of our land. Field Marshall Fonseka has had the most illustrious and dangerous career in our modern history.
He served his nation in uniform for 39 long years under Sinha Regiment, first as an infantryman. Later destiny made him to fight pitch battle for decades in the thick jungles of the North and East against an extremely hell bent enemy. This battle hardened soldier rose among ranks to be the commander of the army and carries the unique distinction of leading his gallant troops into victory to end the 30 year civil war. The man gave his whole life to the nation, military, and the war. One cannot even begin to fathom the sacrifices he and his family must have made on behalf of his nation. Not only General Fonseka, but all those who wear the uniform and carry a weapon to defend his or her nation are true heroes. They put their life on the line for the rest of us!
To apply a famous saying by Lord Mountbatten “General Fonseka gave his today for the tomorrow of children of his land”. He kept Sri Lanka as one nation to be passed on to the next generation. That is heroism and sacrifice!
He was the victim of an LTTE suicide bomber who survived to fight another day to end the war and still carries shrapnel in his body. He has bled for the nation!
Field Marshal Fonseka has been honored with five titles for his gallantry and service to our nation; Rana Wicrama, Rana Sura, Vishista Seva, Uttama Seva and Desha Putra were all well-earned, not just awarded.
Unbelievably he also carries the unique distinction of being the only man in our land, whose was honored by President for gallantry, and then being thrown in jail by the same President for the crime of daring to run against him for the highest office. This demonstrates the denigrate moral character of the then President.
Then we have MP Harin Fernando, Member of Parliament from UVA province who seems a decent, young career politician. A provincial council member at a young age who later was elected as an MP, and in between was a Chief Minister. By the very definition, he was nothing but a politician and we all know how politicians have ruined and bankrupted our nation in general. I must mention however that I respect his firm stand in the parliament against a corrupt family regime. He is a strong voice. And his commitment to get Ranjan Ramanayake, a political prisoner, released from jail is commendable. Having said that, I totally resent those in his party now and then, many of whom too were part and parcel of squandering our peoples’ wealth but still proudly (and sadly) sits in our highest chamber. Unfortunately for Harin, when one sits with dogs, you get ticks.
Above paragraph basically summarize his resume and service to our nation.
So on May 1st, at the May Day rally, Harin was talking to his party leader and the deputy leader General Foseka was seated next to him. As deputy leader, General Fonseka raised an issue about the itinery from organizer Harin, and those who were selected to speak. General felt that the list was prioritizing Harin’s buddies while willfully downplaying those more deserving seniors in the party. A very valid point in my view raised by none other than the most decorated soldier of the land and the deputy party leader.
Haven’t we, as a nation seen enough of this favoritism as against giving dues to those who deserve? Isn’t that one of the many reasons our nation is in peril today?
Young Harin got mad and blasted the General in full public view. Worse, his party members looked on how he treated the decorated deputy party leader! Not a good example by an upcoming young politician.
This brings to mind a historic event relating to a brave US soldier named Aira Hayes, a native Indian who gallantly fought in the famous Ivo Jima battle in the 2nd world war. While the Japs were massacring the US soldiers going up the hill, Aira Hayes and a few other soldiers managed to climb to the top of the hill and raise the star spangled banner. This was a historic event in the United States annals. Upon his return, Ira Hayes was honored at the White House, became a national hero and a respected household name.
Later in life, Ira Hayes became an alcoholic and wasted his life in bars and often got into brawls. In one of these brawls, the bar owner called the cops. When the cops tried to arrest Ira Hayes, somebody mentioned to the cops that this was the famous Ira r Hayes. The police withdrew, apologized, saluted and walked away, even though Ira was a native Indian. Such was the respect they gave to a war hero and just a mere soldier, not a General who led armies to battle to save his nation.
So coming back to young Harin, I must say he should be ashamed of his outburst and behavior towards a well-respected senior citizen of the nation. Harin has not earned any respect or stripes of our nation yet. He is only known as yet another politician.
Harin was just a jackal barking at a gracious Lion! The Lion who took the war to Prabhakaran and beat him so he could give the luxury of living under a peaceful one nation to young Harin, his family and millions more Lankans!
SJ / May 7, 2022
Let us set aside squabbles inside the SJB camp.
For all the glory of the retired army general what matters is his political acumen.
Are we to forget his clumsy bids for leadership since the UNP alliance, rather foolishly, fielded him as candidate.
The man has no political base and is just as clueless as the other army man on charge of the country.
Naman / May 7, 2022
Sarath F was able to perish the weakened fighters for the state suppressed Tamils because of the Indian and rest of the world support. The countries that supported SL on the basis that GoSL will find PERMANENT ethnic solution. But the GoSL did not bother to settle the Tamils GRIEVANCES. SL had to be one country which is multi ethnic/religious.
Sinhala Buddhist Fundamentalism should be buried forever for there to be peace and prosperity
old codger / May 7, 2022
Sarath Fonseka is a as much a Sinhala chauvinist dinosaur as the odious Sarath Weerasekara. What exactly does he stand for, as deputy leader of the SJB? Has he ever supported minority concerns?
He might as well be deputy leader of the JHU. Military men in general aren’t renowned for their imaginativeness, as we found when all those retired Brigadiers screwed up our economy not so long ago.I would think a non-Buddhist like Harin, who actually has a credible political base, ought to be deputy leader of a party that claims to be multi-ethnic.
SJ / May 7, 2022
Has Harin’s conduct been very credible? (But that does not make him worse than SF.)
This is not to contest the core issue raised by you that “a non-Buddhist [with] a credible political base, ought to be deputy leader of a party that claims to be multi-ethnic”.
old codger / May 8, 2022
What gets my goat is the “lion-jackal” title. The author seems too worshipful of those who allegedly “saved the nation”.
SJ / May 9, 2022
leelagemalli / May 7, 2022
Fully agree about HF.
“I would think a non-Buddhist like Harin, who actually has a credible political base, ought to be deputy leader of a party that claims to be multi-ethnic”.
He is a good guy. He has no such records being connected with any kind of corruptions. He is coming froma wealthy background even if Sepal Amarasinghe attacks him today – just looking at his vehicles.
SJ / May 7, 2022
“The countries that supported SL on the basis that GoSL will find PERMANENT ethnic solution.”
No country supported the war for any such reason. Why do they support the manslaughter in Yemen? Why do they support the neo-Nazis in the Ukraine?
Why do they let US sanctions continue against Cuba, Iran, Venezuela and Nicaragua?
The national question is NOT just a Sinhala-Tamil problem.
It is time that we always remember that other nationalities and ethnic minorities too have equally serious grievances.
13A failed to address them.
Naman / May 7, 2022
I can remember when he decided to get into politics, in one of the interviews he talked about the truth related to “White Flag” incident., This made NGR to boil over and after the 2010 Presidential Election‘Rajapaksas’
made false accusations and jailed him.
SJ / May 9, 2022
But did SF stick by his white flag story?
Raj-UK / May 7, 2022
I have no respect for current politicians. Wasn’t it this Harin Fdo who said his old man, while in hospital bed, had informed him of the impending Easter bombing but did he use his political clout & did anything to avert the disaster? Did he, at least, warn the Cardinal? As for Sarath F, I don’t know much about his military strategy but, as a leader of the country’s army, he doesn’t seem to care much about the Geneva Convention, maybe that was not discussed at military school. Doesn’t say much about him as an officer & a gentleman.
I would have more respect for Sarath F. if retired gracefully as an undisputed war hero to enjoy the comforts of a very generous pension & perks than getting into politics. As you say Asoka, when you sleep with dogs, you wake with fleas. In current SL, you have to be a dog yourself to sleep with other dogs.
Plato / May 8, 2022
The fact remains that the Field Marshal is a square peg in a round hole.
The Head of State an EX;Colonel is also a round peg in a square hole.
Years of Military culture make them out to be thorns in ordinary civilian political life………
Comparing Harin Fernando with Field Marshal is like comparing Apples with Oranges…………………
ramona therese fernando / May 8, 2022
Why isn’t he organizing the Coup!
shankar / May 9, 2022
he does not believe in coups.he believes in democracy.
he is the only one who has the backbone to save this country from its present plight.
he was the only one who saved the country from prabhaharan though the current army commander also contributed immensely.The current army commander can thank fonseka for is meritocracy principle while fonseka can thank gota for appointing him army commander while mahinda and chandrika did not wnt him because they did not trust him to one day not want their jobs and they were right.
He has his faults just like any other human being,a big ego and foot in the mouth disease,but no one can accuse this lion of not having a backbone.
As for harin he only showed that he was too immature to become a great leader.If you can’t control yourself how are you going to control others?
Mevan / May 8, 2022
Harin Fernando seems to think that he is IT; but he is not, well not yet. He certainly shows courage but needs to acquire some wisdom.
kayla2009 / May 8, 2022
I fully agree with the writer and Harin should apologize to the Great warrior Sarath Fonseka for his unpleasant behavior.
deepthi silva / May 8, 2022
Both these guys Sarath and Harin are cashing in on the stupidity of a nation who are forced to look up to these bogus characters.
Harin reminds me of a gigolo ready to bed any partner/ or political cause for benefit. Apart from pathetic sentimentalism his politics has no substance
Is Sarah a lion ? Do you see a lion in a guy who was well protected right through the war?( his crude language disqualifies him from a gentleman)
Every soldier in the world fights. We have fought just one war and that too against a rag tag terrorist group. The LTTE’s reputation is a creation of the fearful imagination of a confused race led by non-performers . In numbers and weapons the LTTE simply did not have the strength to fight a conventional army.When Prabakaran decided to fight a conventional army, the LTTE was doomed.
Lions do not bark orders. they lead the attack.
We have only fought one war . So a nation like us should not rush to talk big about that war which went on for 30 years but had less than 100000 casualties( compare this with other wars ) . nations which have fought hundreds or wars will laugh at us !
asoka1958 / May 10, 2022
Shankar – You are so right.
Right now , the country should be looking for a man ho has unquestioned national stature, non- political background, reputation as a doer, has no record of corruption and solid managerial experience.
I cannot think of any other than Field Marshall Fonseka.
Fonseka at this stage of his long career seems a calm and dignified man who picks words carefully. Who else can match him ?
SJ / May 11, 2022
“I cannot think of any other than Field Marshall Fonseka.”
That desperate man played all manner of games to be accepted as a leader.
asoka1958 / May 10, 2022
Have you ever worn a uniform , carry a gun , fight pitch battles in mosquito and aligator infested hot jungles, risk booby traps, bullets and bombs form a vicious enemy, leave your family for months unending unsure whether you will see your family again and carry your nation to victory as one nation ?
If not, you have no idea of gallantry and sacrifice of a great soldier who made it possible for you and your family to live in peace and as one nation !
Be humble enough to salute those who shed blood for the nation, one war or not !
shankar / May 10, 2022
were you in the armed forces?You have a practical description of what one goes through when fighting in a war? I of course love to only read about battles.
SJ / May 11, 2022
What we look for are people-friendly leaders. Being a soldier good or bad is another matter.
BTW, can we see your battle scars please.
old codger / May 11, 2022
“If not, you have no idea of gallantry and sacrifice of a great soldier who made it possible for you and your family to live in peace and as one nation !”
Really, Asoka? Look around you, do you really see a country at “peace”? This is a direct result of getting brainwashed soldiers to fight an unnecessary “war” against their own countrymen.
SarathP / May 8, 2022
Interesting how armchair warriors are demeaning Sarath Fonseka and “political experts” with short memories are condemning Harin F’do. Harin started the downfall of the Rajapakses in 2015 by defeating them in Uva. Show a bit of gratitude, to both these men.
SJ / May 9, 2022
I have nothing to be tankful for from any politician.
However good a boy Harin is, he owes an honest explanation about why he skipped church on 21 April 2019