By Latheef Farook –
Disgusting and despicable political crisis triggered by the sacking of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister on 26 October 2018 demonstrated the need for a third political force to save the country.
The irony is that this crisis was sparked at a time when the country is already passing through political and economic instability. Thus the pressing need of the hour is for a political leader like Dr Mahathir Mohamed who within three months after assuming office arrested former Prime Minister Najeeb and his wife.
The mere fact that of the three-President Sirisena, sacked and reinstated Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the illegally appointed Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, did not show any flexibility to end the crisis showed that they were only keen on grabbing power and not the interest of the country and its suffering people.
Long before the October 26 disaster people in general have lost confidence in all three leaders-President Maithripala Sirisena who tricked the people and took the entire country for a ride with his false promises, sacked and restored Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who was accused of involvement in the multi billion rupee bond scam and disgraced prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who together with his family members were accused of widespread crime and corruption.
Thus the mood in the country was overall disillusionment. It was under such gloomy atmosphere President Sirisena triggered this unwanted political crisis.
At the beginning the entire country was shocked. However Sri Lankans, especially professionals, responded promptly and spoken out against the violation of the constitution demanding the restoration of democracy. This included Sinhalese. Tamils, Muslims and all others.
With its unanimous verdict the court restored people’s confidence on the judiciary. In an article Professor Jayadeva Uyangoda pointed out that;
“In two judgments delivered in two consecutive days, Sri Lanka’s supreme court has sent out a firm message to the country’s quarrelling political leaders: constitution and democracy first. The judges have also assured Sri Lankan citizens that in their fight to defend Sri Lanka’s endangered democracy, the judiciary is now a reliable arbiter. The Supreme Court has also said a firm ‘no’ to a narrow and personal agenda of President Sirisena who has, by a series of bizarre words and deeds, repeatedly proved himself to be a liability to the whole country”.
The overall message is democracy has come to stay in the island. Though distorted and projected as victory for Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe, it was really a victory for democracy and the people. In almost every UNP public meetings people in general said” we are not here for Ranil Wickremesnighe but for the restoration of democracy.
Summing up the situation a Sinhalese professional addressing a small gathering at the Baptist Church premises at Liptons Roundabout on the day the court issued the verdict on Thursday 13 December 2018 had this state;
”We have not come out to make Ranil Wickremesinghe the prime minister, but to ensure democracy is restored. Our struggle is for our rights and democracy. He said this country was brought to this disastrous position due to three different factors;
1 – Short sighted racist politics since independence in 1948. These politicians never thought of the country, its developments and its people. With their divisive and destructive racist politics they divided communities and turned this country into a killing field. We cannot allow this to continue.
2 – Monks who, in violation of Buddha’s message of peace and harmony, support these corrupt politicians for personal benefits. They aggravated racist hatred and divided the communities and corrupted politics. This should end in the larger interest of the country.
3 – Irresponsible and disastrous role of certain section of the media serving as tools of racist politicians sowing seeds of hatred and conflicts within communities. This needs to be curbed.
What has come out of the October 26 disaster is the realization that the two major political parties – United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom party – have miserably failed and were responsible for the present plight of the country. Thus the need for a third force with a new leadership which thinks for the whole country and not for one community.
The UNP Deputy leader Sajith Premadasa said that now Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn in as Prime Minister that the new government will go ahead with its development program. This is wishful thinking, judging from Mr. Wickremesinghe’s past performance from notorious Batalanda allegations to bond scam and the related no confidence motion against him. The question is why did he fail to concentrate on developments during the past three years and what made him to protect criminals?
It is also worthy to note that experiments of constitution making has only brought disaster to the country.
Late Prime Minister Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike’s 1972 Republican constitution, detrimental to the interest of minorities, brought together disappointed Tamil political parties under the umbrella of Tamil United Liberation Front-TULF.
Late President JR Jayewardene’s draconian constitution paved the way for an all-powerful executive presidency and turned the country into a dictatorship. Minorities were almost wiped out.
Executive presidency has proved a disaster and it is a positive sign that moves are underway for abolishing it. JVP has initiated the move and the draft legislation has already been presented in Parliament as a private member’s bill by JVP MP Vijitha Herath.
Some call for parliamentary elections to solve the ongoing political crisis. The question is whether the country could afford another elections to elect the very same crooks, frauds, criminals and gangsters?
Civil society has woken up and discuss the possibility of a third political force.
It is worthy to note that during the time of independence, Sri Lanka was one of most stable countries, often described as the role model, in the entire third world. There was political and economic stability, sufficient foreign reserve, health care and education systems, communal harmony and peace. Those were the days one could walk from Matara to Jaffna without the fear of being waylaid. Instead one may have been treated for a free cup of tea or a meal as human values were cherished then.
Rights and privileges of all were enshrined in the constitution. People respected one another’s religious and cultural values. Politicians, professionals, intellectuals and all others were respected by the society. Corruption and crime were relatively unknown.
There was an independent judiciary and police. Thus the country was blessed with everything required to move ahead to ensure a better future for all. Unfortunately majority community has failed to produce a visionary leader who could think above communal politics and guide the country.
The need of the hour is for a political leader and a political force which could restore the country to what it was during the time of independence.
However a third political force, representing all communities, will not be an easy task especially in view of existing corrupt, communalised, criminalised and commercialised political environment. Yet in keeping with the age old Chinese saying that a thousand mile journey begins with a step, it appears the wake up of civil society in the aftermath of October 26 disaster seems to be that first step for the country to regain its lost political and economic stability and peace for all citizens.