The Sunday Leader

Nation Of Tragicomedies

by Wimalanath Weerarathne

Joint Opposition that engaged in the Pada Yaathra talks as if it was born out of immaculate conception

Sri Lanka is a country of never-ending tragicomedies. President Maithripala Sirisena who was supposedly the ‘Common Candidate’ at the 2015 January 8 Presidential Election, has yet again forgotten that he was supposed to be non-partisan and above petty party politics if he was to the ultimate – challenge and defeat the then undefeatable Maharajano – the ‘Great Monarch’ Mahinda Rajapaksa , which the people of this country was fortunate enough to prove.

However, yet again at the meeting with Joint Opposition parliamentarians held this week, he said that only objective was to strengthen Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and lead it to victory. And that too at the threshold of signing a brand new coalition MoU with the United National Party (UNP) without which he could not have won the presidential poll against the all-powerful Rajapaksa.

His stance is fundamentally both flawed and wrong (unethical). What he should have said is that he was given a mandate by the people to unite the warring two main parties and as such his sole and prime duty was to ensure that consensus democracy is carried forward. In fact the very same group he had extended his hands to had rejected consensus politics and democracy outright.


Joint opposition Vs. Good governance

There is but only one objective in the hearts and minds of everyone in the so-called ‘Joint Opposition’. That is to defeat the people’s mandate for good governance and push the country back into autocracy, authoritarianism and dictatorship. They have not been in the opposition for the last ten or so years, so being MPs in the opposition is distasteful to them, although they badly want to join the government because of Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe. Ranil as the head of the Cabinet of Ministers is not a seeable sight for Wimal Weerawansa or Kumara Welgama who were cog and wheels of the Rajapaksa regime.

Most probably, they do not wish to join a government led by President Sirisena. There may be many drawbacks of the present United National Front for Good Governance (UNFGG), but in principle, they are against corruption, racism. It prefers interracial harmony, wishes to foster media freedom and democracy.

However the Joint Opposition has the freedom of the asses. In contrast, the UNFGG in principle is against corruption but the systematic flaws of a capitalist system are being highlighted. One or two corrupt politicians within the government can tarnish the reputation of the whole government.

The Joint Opposition that engages in the Pada Yaathra talks as if it was born out of immaculate conception. In comparison where one or two engages in corruption now, during the Rajapaksa regime, whole families, whole departments and whole institutions engaged in daylight robbery and corruption. Although we do not wish to condone bribery and corruption in anyway, what is important is to understand that majority of politicians and public servants now understand that no government can rule for ever.

No political party or minister or MP would be in power for ever. As such the day would come for all to account for words and deeds of all. Embezzlement of public monies was more a tribal ritual for those in the Rajapaksa clan. What the Joint Opposition wants is to push back the country into tribal rule and dark ages.


Sick to the stomach?

The main slogan of those in the Joint Opposition is that the people are fed up and sick to the stomach with the UNFGG. True enough, this government has turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to actions that make the people more distant from the government day by day. But does that mean that the majority of the 6.2 million who wanted a change want Sirisena-Ranil duo replaced with Mahinda Rajapaksa? Does it mean that many prefer going back to days where protests were brutally attacked by the Police, Army intelligence sleuths were used to abduct dissenters and that people are willing to curtail their freedoms and rights? Does it mean that the citizens of this country want independence of the judiciary, rule of law, transparency and democracy reversed?

One must explain to the public as to why these thieves have become good now. Namal Rajapaksa who was remanded in connection with misappropriating a colossal Rs 70 million right after coming out of the prison cell said that they will not stop their journey.

Is he implying that his father, if brought back to power would continue to run a regime more corrupt than what it was before January 8, 2015? Is he saying that sil redi theft was a small robbery in relation to what they have planned for the future? Were his supporters who flocked to see Namal and applaud him implying that he should set up a more corrupt regime far worse than his father? I believe that no other country in the world would hail their jailed corrupt leaders and want them to come back into power. A clear majority of the members of the Cabinet of Ministers are persons charged with corruption allegations.

Any government defeated after an election needs time to take stock and evaluate its policies and strategies and think of a plan to come back to power. It needs to take into account its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It needs time and energy to come into power. Is the Joint Opposition doing such self-criticism? Just a few days before losing the election, Mahinda Rajapaksa said that he safeguarded those who committed mistakes and did not ‘bring out their files’. That was my grievous fault. It is heartening to see that he understood his mistakes to some extent at least. But has he ever taken any corrective measures to ensure that it would not repeat in the future? The answer is no.


Constitution a deathtrap

Joint opposition stalwart and leader of the National Freedom Front (NFF) Wimal Weerawansa organized a series of seminars titled ‘Defeating the constitution deathtrap’. However General Secretary of the Communist Party (CP) questioned as to how the former communist comrade is determined to defeat ‘constitution deathtrap’ without even seeing the deathtrap i.e. the draft constitution.

These are all part and parcel of Rajapaksa’s whimsical dream to come back to power. There is an adage as tail wagging the dog. Joint opposition is actually the tails like Wimal Weerawansa, Dinesh Gunawardene, Vasudewa Nanayakkara trying to wag or control the owner of the tail – Mahinda Rajapaksa.


Role of the Left

Although a bit similar to shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted, the Communist Party announced that it will not participate in the Paada Yathra of the Joint Opposition. It is long gone since the communist horses of the CP had bolted after the likes of DEW Gunasekera took the reins of the party. Only last July 25 DEW understood that the Joint Opposition was treading in the path of racism and extremism. Did not DEW see that when the people in the North and East were being oppressed? Didn’t the CP guess where the country was heading to in the aftermath of the Dharga Town and Aluthgama incident? Did not Prof. Tissa Vitharana and the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) see this dark era being heralded when they along with other so-called left parties lifted their hands in unison in favour of the 18th Amendment which nearly constitutionalized monarchy in this country with unlimited terms of presidency? This was like the same Dr. Colvin R de Silva who opposed the Sinhala Only fiasco with his immemorial verbatim – ‘One language-two countries, two languages-one country’, bowed down to pressure of Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike and enshrined  Buddhism into the 1972 Constitution, thereby throwing away the secular status of Sri Lanka.


Maithri’s new journey

On that fateful 14 November 2014, Maithri embarked on a brand new journey. That journey rejected the tribal, isolationist and protectionist policies of the then ever-powerful Rajapaksa regime. He was to be the apolitical, non-partisan symbol for all UNPers, SLFPers, JVPers and all other all and sundry to unite. He was to be the uniting force for all moderate and progressive Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims etc. For him ideally should not have taken the chair of his own party- the SLFP.

Buddhists believe that the ‘Great exodus’ (Mahaabinikmuma) or the ‘renunciation’ of Prince Siddhartha as the boldest step that a man has ever taken. Critics have condemned Siddhartha for His manner of leaving home and Kingdom. Some described it as a ‘callous abandonment of wife and family’.

“Yet what would have happened if He had not left so stealthily and had approached His loved ones for a formal farewell? They would, of course, have implored him to change His mind. The scene would have been hysterical, and quite possibly the little domain of His father king Suddhodana would have been thrown into turmoil. His intention to seek the truth would have had to be aborted by His father and wife who would prevent Him from His renunciation plans. At the age of 29 years, Siddhartha was a full-blooded young man in the prime of life. As it was, the temptation not to abandon all He had known and loved in order to seek the truth must have been formidable. During His final moments in the palace, He visited His bedroom and looked at His slumbering wife and their newborn child. The great impulse to remain and abandon His plan must have caused Him agony. Certainly in those days in India, it was considered a noble thing for a man to forsake home and loved ones to become an ascetic to lead a holy life. All things considered, it would seem that Siddhartha was right in boldly and quickly achieving His plan. He renounced the world not for His own sake or convenience but for the sake of suffering humanity. To Him the whole of mankind is one family. The renunciation of Prince Siddhartha at that early age was the boldest step that a man could have taken,” says Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera.

Likewise in a layman’s perspective, Maithri should have been above any petty party politics.


Bridging the gap

It is quite possible that Maithri is inundated with the thoughts and opinions of a limited number of persons. Those supported him in his bid for presidency and are now nearly lapidified in those positions. As such, that gave no room for Maithri to select new blood into his team. So it is high time he took into his team persons who not only express their views and opinion but act as conduit in communicating with the people. Only through such initiatives can President Sirisena destroy the great wall between him and his people.


4 Comments for “Nation Of Tragicomedies”

  1. Mahen

    An analysis with good insight and excellent analog. Hope President Sirisena reads this.

  2. LeoKolus

    Well said. People are getting almost sick and tired of waiting for the outcomes of the so called ‘yaha palanaya’ If we all friend or foe work only for the truth and honesty; rest of the puzzele pieces will fall into their places. May God bless our intentions.

  3. Sangaralingham

    Difficult to get rid of old blood ideas not come to terms with new vision for the society. Are we all surprised or puzzled.need analytical thinking and contemplation with wise men women from all parts of the country

  4. Sangaralingham

    No body with power wish for power will never follow the wisdom of prince Siddharta

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