By Vishwamithra –
“Do not be afraid; our fate cannot be taken from us; it is a gift.” ~Dante Alighieri
Presidency goes a way beyond the holder’s personal likes and dislikes. It goes beyond the holder’s fears and pleasures; its scope is so large and extending beyond the personal boundaries of one’s lamentable limitations, a not-so-sophisticated intellect (if he has any) fails to embrace the immense responsibilities and demands that are rested upon the office. As this writer has enunciated in his previous columns, the fundamental function of the leader of the country is to protect and defend its people. However clever he thinks he is, when the weight of office falls on him with immeasurable intensity, if he is not ready or equipped to understand the nuanced attributes of the demands that he is expected to confront and respond with poise and stoicism, he will be judged by history, first as a miserable failure and then even as a traitor to the office he was elected to.
Politicians, unlike those bureaucrats who are appointed to execute the policies and programs spelt out and prepared by them, more often than not, tend to take the easy way out when the going gets rough and tough. Politicians by the very fact of impermanency of their being in power, especially in a democratic republic, usually resort to clever messaging of the facts; their rhetorical insinuations overtake the plain and simple expression of the status quo as related to innumerable crises his country faces on a daily basis; their immediate attention is to the sustenance of their power and in order to solidify that power, they apply all the skills they have accumulated over the years; whether they are intellectually matched with the complex tasks that lie ahead, they have proven to be perfectly matched in the deceptive techniques of this enterprise called politics.
When such despicable characters seek high office in the country, and when they are elected on the strength of the campaign and unusually electric rhetoric they used during those campaigns, an inscrutable phenomenon enters their minds; that inscrutable phenomenon begins to not only shape and define their activities that follow, it acts as a shield and armor against numerous attacks hurled at them by their opponents. Nevertheless, the path that these half-baked politicians choose to trek offers more rugged terrain than rosy meadows. The natural obedience to greed and lust becomes a second part of their very DNA and at the expense of the people who elected them to office, they begin a macabre game of indulgence and luxurious living styles that sometimes belittle those spent by old-rich millionaires and billionaires.
This, in short, is what has happened to our current Executive President. After being elected by the overwhelming majority of United National Party (UNP) supporters and the Tamils and Muslims, this half-baked politician has chosen to brandish his power in the most unethical and immoral fashion; he chose to betray his supporters and go to bed with his mortal enemies, so to speak.
Yet when the name of real war hero, Sarath Fonseka came up for the post of Field Marshall, he did not hesitate to decorate Fonseka with this rare distinction. He saw it fit to make such a magnanimous gesture at the time. But unfortunately for Sri Lanka and her people who were trying to raise their heads above water after a brutal 30-year war, tragedy struck again. On Easter Sunday of 2019, April 21, a well-coordinated and superbly organized terror attack was hurled at the 3 Christian/Catholic churches and three 5-Star hotels, namely, Shangri-La, Kingsbury and Cinnamon Grand, and killed more than 300 men, women and children and injured more than 700, the Executive President was on furlough in Singapore with his family. His fake patriotism and love for the people of his motherland came apart at its seams.
When it was revealed that the Executive was informed of an impending attack of the nature of the Easter Sunday Massacre, the people saw through this man’s utter inadequacy for the job he holds. Usually at moments of crisis, most political leaders own responsibility and pledge to go forward from then and there on. Passing the buck is not usually ascribed to great men. Maithripala Sirisena is not a great man. His deficiencies have been brought to light. What happened is now history. The way forward should be the only focus of leaders of a country. Harboring old grudges is petty and belittling to the office they hold.
Sirisena, you cannot handle the job of national security. You cannot be trusted with the defence apparatus and its sophisticated demands. Standing up and bowing their heads to you is not attributed to you personally; national security professionals do that for the office you hold. Misreading such bureaucratic obedience is a national crisis. Please do not try to hide behind the constitutional clauses and hold on to the Ministry of Defence. You still can be the Minister of Defence but hand over national security to an elected politician who has proven beyond any shadow of doubt or reservation, who can account for the defence and protection of our people.
Sarath Fonseka is a much maligned man. His bravery and undiluted courage was once the source of irritation and mistrust by another regime which was headed by three brothers. The first among them was the President, another was charged with the economy and the other who fled the army he once served in and was in hiding in another greener pasture. The brothers gathered their political and financial capital thanks to their other brother’s Presidency. Credited with almost three fourths (75%) of the national budget, these brothers are alleged to have ransacked the country’s coffers to their will and whims. The guy who is being promoted for Presidency in 2020, got one of his cronies to write a book and attribute the success of the war effort to his own name (..ta’s War). These empty vessels began their symphony of self-aggrandizements soon after the guns fell silent in the North and East.
Plutarch, named, upon becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus, was a Greek biographer and essayist, known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia, who is classified as a Middle Platonist said: “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled”. The empty vessels, that were the Rajapaksa brothers, did not understand the nuanced ways of thinking nor could they relate or empathise with the ordinary shades of life and its idiosyncratic elements. Instead of kindling their emptiness with wisdom and acumen, they opted for the alluring magic of material luxury and ego-enhancing flattery. But the horrendous felonies and misdeeds they are alleged to have committed are now pursuing them like a hyena in scavenging search of easy prey.
While the Executive is being charged, rightly or wrongly, with negligence of duty, Sarath Fonseka chose to wait in the shadows, but no more. Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka could not wait any longer. His remarks in the House of Parliament in the wake of the Easter Sunday Massacre, revealed the very character and traits of a fighter; of a man who knows what national security is, what it demands of those who are held responsible to protect and defend the land and her people.
It is being speculated that Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is responsible for the Easter Sunday Massacre. ISIS is a very sophisticated terror organisation, perhaps second only to or on par with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE). Who else is more qualified and equipped to confront ISIS than Sarath Fonseka, the one who destroyed Prabhakaran and his murderous organisation named LTTE. But Maithripala Sirisena does not see it that way. His anger, jealousy and pettiness have clouded his judgment;
The Law and Order Ministry is a double-edged knife; that is how Sirisena perceives it. Fonseka will man that job and destroy not only all forces that try to destroy our lives, he might go after the Rajapaksas with the same commitment to democracy and rule of law and expose them, once and for all. The alleged pressure on Sirisena sourcing from the Rajapaksas might be unbearable for Sirisena. The man who beat and brought Prabhakaran to his knees, is being held in limbo because he can do the job. But, it seems, placing the country before petty and inconsequential likes and dislike is a hard choice for our Executive. It is indeed a tragedy beyond Shakespearian genre. One wonders whether holding Sarath Fonseka away from the job of Law and Order is part of a deal that involves nomination from the Pohottuwa. That would be even a more unspeakable tragedy.
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org