The Sunday Leader

The Importance Of Honouring Pledges

by Upul Kumarapperuma

Maithripala Sirisena and Mahinda Rajapaksa

It is no doubt that Mahinda Rajapaksa is the only leader who made a physical development in the country in the recent past. During his time the country was driven by the better known Mahinda Chinthanaya and hardly known ‘Unstoppable Sri Lanka 2020’ which can be considered as the implementation manual of the Mahinda Chinthna policy programme.  It is also known that the Rajapaksa brothers spearheaded the mega development projects in the country in an extreme speed. Some of the projects they initiated were beyond the capacity of a conventional politician.

The development of the country had been witnessed, felt and experienced by the citizens and in the same breath they had launched a massive campaign to change the mindset of the Sinhalese majority with nationalist sentiments. The two fold campaign penetrated the minds of the Sinhala majority creating a belief that Mahinda Rajapaksa was the only true Sinhala Buddhist patriotic leader who was capable of challenging the West and Ranil Wickremesinghe was an agent of the West who would dance according to the tune of the West.

The major weapon that Rajapaksa had at hand was the aforementioned belief created by his agents. Rajapaksa was well aware that he could easily attack Wickremesinghe with this weapon and secure victory. Rajapaksa became vulnerable for the first time after becoming the President with Maithripala Sirisena’s declaration as the presidential candidate. At the time of his declaration for the executive presidency, Sirisena was nowhere in the race for the presidency. However, Sirisena managed to turn the table with the blessings of both the majority and minority communities in the country.

Sirisena was capable of changing the ideological minds of Sinhalese as well as other minorities. The reason for the sudden change of the polarised society was the assurance given to them by Sirisena’s supporters.

With the support of people like the late Ven. Madhluwawe Sobitha Thero, Sirisena managed to prove that he is also a leader of the Sinhala Buddhist society and with the support of civil society groups like Purawesi Balaya, he managed to prove that he was a moderate man who was acceptable to any community.

The third force that was instrumental in Sirisena’s victory was the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). Even though both parties did not directly campaign for his victory, their campaign targeted Rajapaksa in an extremely lethal manner.  Even with the vulnerable situation he was placed by the common candidate, Rajapaksa believed that he would win with the Sinhala Buddhist majority. However, in the end Rajapaksa had to vacate Temple Trees before the final result were announced.

Even with the initiative of many vast development projects and the leader who gave the political leadership to destroy the LTTE ending 30 years of civil war and with a belief of a certain sector as their spiritual leader, Rajapaksa lost the game badly to his second in command. What are the reasons for his defeat?

One of the key elements involved in Rajapaksa’s setback was nepotism. His brothers and sons controlled the major portion of the country with an authoritarian rule which rule incapacitated not only the politicians of his own party but also the governing structures of the country. The majority portion of the annual budget of each year was allocated to the ministries and institutions managed by the Rajapaksas and the control of other ministries and ministers were directly carried out by the Rajapaksas. The ministerial powers were stripped off and the ministers behaved like toothless tigers who used to consult the Rajapaksas even to give an undertaking to a trade union.

After defeating the LTTE, Rajapaksa was elevated from where he was by the majority of the country. He was praised, treated and honoured like a king.  A different culture was created with the contribution of academics, artists, politicians and ordinary citizens. This culture was created in an extremely organized manner, where history was recreated linking Rajapaksa even to Lord Buddha. Some used to call him the ‘king’. With praises, commendations, and admirations Rajapaksa decided to scrap the democratic features of the Constitution and redrafted certain provisions the way he wanted. This became the beginning of his authoritarian rule. A fear psychosis was created in the country targeting his political opponents, journalists, civil society leaders and activists who criticized his government. Most of the incidents of extra judicial killings, abductions, intimidations, assaults ended up in courts or otherwise as cases where the accused is unknown. Any form of criticism was considered as a personal injuria to him or his loyalists.

The other major allegation leveled against the Rajapaksa rule is militarisation and polarisation of communities. It is a general idea that Rajapaksa missed the opportunity of creating the environment for reconciliation and long standing peace in the country due to his nationalist ideas. Especially after the war Rajapaksa unceasingly held the North under a military grip. He was reluctant to release the military grip and create a free environment in the North. Most of the high ranking military men were posted to foreign missions and the public service. He had given a quota for the military from his party to contest for elections under the tagline of ‘war hero’.   The same militarisation was brought to the South in various modes. He facilitated the military to run businesses all over the country, the military was given special privileges. School principals were given military training and they were commissioned as ‘Bravo Colonels’ while university students were given military training and created a belief that the entire country was dependent on the military.

With the rebranding of Mahinda Rajapaksa from the Executive President to the Eternal King of the country, the Rajapaksas and their loyalists believed their rule could not be toppled forever and they got a free hand to do whatever they wanted. No action was taken against any wrongdoer if he had been loyal to the then regime. There was a situation where no one was accountable to anything and checks and balances of the government had only become a term.

The interference with the judiciary, and law enforcement agencies had become part of the daily life style, and criminals were discharged, cases were withdrawn according to the whims and fancies of the rulers.

On January eighth 2015, the citizens of this country halted the journey the country was treading at the time.

On that day people of this country knew nothing about Maithripala Sirisena. They knew nothing about the next government, they knew nothing about the conduct of the next government but they knew that changing the existing political culture at the time was a must. That is why they elected Sirisena with the minimum guarantee given to them by civil society leaders of the country.Therefore the voters who voted for Sirisena are the revolutionists of the revolution.

When one looks back at the slogans of the historical presidential election, most of the slogans chanted at that time focused on the principles of good governance and the wrong doings of the Rajapaksa regime.  The expectations of the country was more focused on eradicating corruption, eradicating nepotism, eradicating favoritism, punishing perpetrators, establishing an apolitical culture and depoliticising state mechanisms, etc.

However, what seems to have happened is contrary to the spirit of those slogans. Even though the President himself vouched to eradicate nepotism, he had reversed his own words and appointed his brother to a top post in a state owned institution and others have now started followed him. The key officers of the present government are accused of corrupt deals, but nothing has happened.

The JVP had to hold a protest demanding the enforcement of the law against fraudsters due to the inaction of the government.

The hopes of the people of having an apolitical President for better governance has been shattered by the President himself accepting the leadership of his party.

The people of this country had the courage to defeat Rajapaksa even with the physical development he had contributed to the country due to his authoritarian and arbitrary rule. Therefore it is the prime duty of the government to fulfill the aspirations of the citizens of the country without diluting the spirit of the people’s decision on January eighth.

(The writer is a senior lawyer)


8 Comments for “The Importance Of Honouring Pledges”

  1. This article is prejudiced against President Rajapaksa and a writer without a name who had misdirected himself of the facts and the Law. Abductions and killings were greater during the UNP rule from 1977 to 2000 and the State hit squads planned and executed under Ravi Jayewardena and President Premadasa included assasinations of Vije Kumaratunga, Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali, Gonawela Sunil and a TV Caster among many with beheadings with chain saws, tying into lamp posts and shooting and throwing suspects after severe torture from the CID 4th floor windows to death, sending barbed wire up the JVP suspects rectums and summery executions and burning JVP leaders in the crematorium among many.
    President Sirisena came to power by gross mendacity and a well planned defamation against President rajapksa in the election meeting, and in the Youtube media andb financed by the UNP.
    This article also is contrary to your policy of unafraid and unbowed.
    Truth seeks no corner

    • danapala

      Yes Mr Lakshman De silva,to let you know there were contradictory evidence as to how Vije Kumaratunga,lalith Athulathmudali others how they were assacinated
      and they were not directly involved in the murders
      where as our so called ex president was arrested and kept in remand for a considerable period
      around 15 to 20 years ago for the double murder in the Mulkigigala by election
      even the current was there at the meeting and he even heard the two gun shots
      the case went to courts and Mahendra Rajapakse escaped gallows by the false evidence given by the current Religious minister John Amaratunga who said that the two gun shots came from the top of a tree,John Amatunga lied in court and lied to the district judge,the case was thrown out,he escaped gallows
      and subsequently he became the president of Sri lanka,what a miscarriage of Justice,MR knows very well that he double Murderer,say no more
      Lakshman De silva.
      he is the most corrupt president ever,bloody disgraceful

  2. Gonponil

    I did not vote for Sevalasena or Sorrysena. I know several laks voted for MR. Sorrysena does not represent me.

    In fact Sorrysena and Ponil disenfranchined me and others like me by fraudulently making TNA (which by the way was elected less 6% of the total votes of Sri Lankans) the opposition party.

    MR will always be my President and not this fraud.

  3. selective memory is worse than nepotism Mr. Kumarapperuma. The last paragraph sufficiently describes where the country is today. Other words are Rajapapsha bashing. That makes you a hypocrite. I will vote for Mahinda even today ! And I say it proudly.

  4. Ikarus

    If not for the determined actions by the previous President Mr. Rajapaksa (irrespective of allegations against him, with an view of taking revenge), who with his Brave Sinhalese Soldiers defeated the Ruthless Tamil Terrorist Butchers which rampaged the country for 30 odd years, Sri Lankan soldiers will be still in the battlefields of North & East and in surroundign areas. Additionally, it will be the BODIES OF SINHALESE SOLDIERS reaching Colombo every day. Now that fear of getting blasted from wayside bombs is gone, the citizens of Sri Lanka can move around very freely, some of the Sinhales were very ungrateful. It is true some of the former regime members were corrupted like those who were in regimes of late Mr.J.R.Jayawardene, Late Mr. Premadasa, late Mrs. Sirimawo Bandaranayaka and CBK+Ranil etc.,all these regimes evaded taking stern military actions aganinst these Terrorists. However, it was Mr. Rajapaksa stood up and became the saviour of the country from the clutches Terrorist Butchers like Dutu Gemunu in 173 BC. Now there is three most important Sinhalese citizens in the history of Sri Lanka who should be respected and remembered at all times, that is the late King Dutugemunu who was ruling in 173 BC, late Mr. Senananayaka -(seinor), who got the Independence in 1948 from the British and Mr. Rajapaksa who brought peace to the entire country, without heeding to orders from US and others to stop the last phase of the war against the RUTHLESS TAMIL TERRORIST BUTCHERS. Additionally, Mr. Rajapaksa kept Sri Lankan Military Installlations in North and in other provinces of the country mainly for the safety and security of the entire NATION and not for his benefit or to harras the citizens. The presence Military will be a thorn in the EYE only for those who are planning atrocities and not for others.It was like the US is keeping it’s Military Bases around the Globe for its security, from those so called GOHST ATTACKERS, but in Sri Lanka it is still a reality. This is called it is better to be prepared to NIP some troubles in the BUD without any time delays.

    • kumara

      Hey Lkarus,lets start from scrath,MR became president through corruption
      he bribed Prabakaran,gave him billions,requesting the tamil community
      not to vote ok,as a result there were hardly any votes for Fonseka,if not for MR
      bribing MR would have lost,except the truth,
      As result we had fake leader by the Name of Mahinda Rajapakse,the Pakaya
      won it.
      He is not the real president of Sri Lank,if you don except this do not worry about the rest.
      All Governments were killing the LTTE in a gradual systematic process,all Forces had leaders that were eliminating the LTTE in a very strong way,air fOrce,armyNavy etc,it was just a matter of time,Rajapakse was nto in Sri Lanka
      in the last two weeks of the war,the forces were doing their JOB,irrespective of what leader was in Power,
      so basically,Rajapakse was not in the when he arrived in Colombo mate the war was over
      and praise Rajpakse fro this do you must be minus your balls
      he took the Prasise when he came back from overseas
      Check this out before you talk

    • mr Rajapaska is not a brave soldier. he is a civilian and came to politics. He can not operate a GUN. he brought his family to politics .he has no qualification and his family did not have education.he was back by ms sonia ganthi, and indian prime minister mr Manmohasingh.wanted to killed mr Paraba.india gave all backing to mr Rajapaska srilanka army trained by indian government. to fight with srilanka civil war, 1948 onwards srilanka majority treated the minority as a slave, in education employment ,economic, culture, human rights. and law and order against tamils .problem started by sinhala budhhist,srilanka isolated in the western countries,two major party joined win the election now time has srilanka for democracy and equal right for every citizen

      • carlion

        Danapala says that Rajapakse committed double murders using a gun while dharamapala says that Rajapakse cannot operate a gun. Now who is saying the truth? People writing nonsense thinking they know facts of every case.

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