By Helasingha Bandara –
Prabhakaran’s infamous boycott at the 2005 election backfired and paved the way for Mahinda Rajapaksa’s emergence which did not help the separatists’ course. The country as a whole benefited from the boycott that time as MR played the lead role in vanquishing Prabhakaran and his murderous marauders.
After the war Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR) had the most conducive political and social atmosphere to be the best-ever leader that Sri Lanka had seen. He had everything in his favour to create a country in which all communities: religious, ethnic or otherwise to live in peace and harmony. He could create a country in which all its citizens feel Sri Lankan irrespective of their ethnic and religious backgrounds. He could create a country in which everyone has equal right to education, employment and prosperity. Sadly MR, despite having the political cunning, did not have the intelligence to realize that he had the best opportunity to adorn the history books as the best-ever leader of Sri Lanka who could make this island the true wonder of Asia.
Instead he chased an unrealistic dream to become an uncrowned king of modern times. The chasing of glory only for himself and his family became the order of the day and as a result he discarded all the rest who played vital parts of defeating the Tigers. The best example was the imprisoning of Sarath Fonseka, the former army commander who played not any lesser role than what MR played. Being surrounded by opportunists who sang praises of MR for a job, he gradually developed dictatorial traits. To do so he needed absolute power and such power was mostly purchased. He needed a group of people to help him sustaining that power through improper means. That resulted in making Mervin Silva and the likes to act with impunity. The judiciary and the security forces were politicized and the country started experiencing complete lawlessness. The poor became poorer because the wealth of the country was allowed to be thieved by the Rajapaksa cronies.
While going on that path he naturally forgot that the Sri Lanka population is more politically aware and active than its other south Asian neighbours. He forgot that the Sri Lankan citizen does not appreciate lawlessness, corruption and malpractices. He went along the path of securing power and wealth for his current family and many generations to come while making allowances for the evil to raise its head with impunity. No doubt that most Sri Lankans today feel sorry for him that he did not turn out to be the leader that they expected to. They feel that it is time for him to go peacefully. But Tamils may not let that happen.
As long as Tamil Diaspora keeps on clamouring for a unrealistic dream of a separate state within tiny Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa the vanquisher will keep on winning on the claim that he and his family are the only people who would not allow Tamils to carve out a separate state.
In an interview with Al Jazeera’s Jane Dutton, Suren Surendiran, director of Strategic Initiative for the Global Tamil Forum said that as soon as MR loses power he would be arrested and taken to The Hague to be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This is absolute ammunition for MR to shoot at the common opposition candidate to corroborate the so called international conspiracy theory that some of his Ministers have already talked about. This statement would be enough for MR to inculcate fear in the minds of the Sinhalese that a defeat would mean his arrest.
If Tamil Diaspora is truly concerned about the wellbeing of Tamils in Sri Lanka, as Rajiva Wijesingha put it, they should stop exaggerating the civilian casualty figures of the war and predicting what would happen to MR if and when he loses. Such claims would work in favour of MR. It is a fact that the gullible majority of Sri Lankans can be swayed with minimum nationalistic feelings. If Tamils want a regime change the Diaspora has to distance itself from this election and avoid making unnecessary comments.
On the other hand TNA may decide not to support the common candidate or to boycott the election all together. Either of those actions will tremendously favour a MR victory. Tamil leaders within the country should seek fair equal opportunity policies from a future government and should agree with whoever is willing to give them those. On that principle if the common candidate agrees to such demands they should support him. This should not mean that they try to squeeze out an agreement to have a separate state out of the tricky situation that the common opposition candidate is in.
The common opposition would be able to justify to the nation that we cannot live in the modern world divided on racial or religious lines. Equal rights for everyone in education, employment and civic engagement are a must and the only way forward.