President's political acumen incomparable
Sri Lanka was in a state of near collapse or disintegration when
President Mahinda Rajapaksa assumed office in 2005. The country was in
flames. Many attacks on places of worship, educational institutions and
centres of economic significance were being carried out causing severe
damage and financial loss in every part of the country.
Several foreign countries such as Norway, the UK, USA called for
cessation of hostilities and to resume negotiations as the government
was fighting an unwinnable war. They said the LTTE was invincible.
Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Leader of the
Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe had expressed similar views.
At the 2005 elections, the voters were clamouring for peace - peace
at any cost. With a dwindling economy and sans strong friends in the
international arena, Sri Lanka was in a parlous state. In the North and
the South we had to face military setbacks which rendered the country
helpless and destitute.
The LTTErs massacred Tamil leaders who fought for democracy and
No clear vision
President Rajapaksa said that terror must be met with strong military
opposition to bring peace and prosperity to the country. The leaders who
preceded him had no clear vision with regard to the battle against
terrorism and they thought that negotiating a settlement was the panacea
for all ills in the country.
The President always believed that the future generations should
inherit a country devoid of strife and turmoil.
He convinced his Cabinet and the Forces and the Police of the need to
fight the war to a finish. Money was allocated to ensure the wherewithal
to fight the battle on land, in jungles and wherever it raged. With the
help of the valiant forces and President Rajapaksa's strong leadership
we put an end to LTTE terrorism on May 19, 2009.
The People were jubilant over the victory as it brought peace and
tranquillity to the country.
Although we have achieved peace we are on the way to achieve the more
difficult goal of economic revival which was in the doldrums due to
terrorism which resulted in a severe monetary setback. The cost of
living went up while the standard of living came down and the people
At the last meeting with our professional friends we had very
interesting discussions on the aftermath of the terrorism and the
impending parliamentary or presidential elections. A pertinent question
was posed by a legal luminary as to what would have happened by now if
the battle against terrorism was not won. Many parents in the North and
the East silently suffered over the abduction of their children by the
They were killed as they were put to the front as cannon fodder.
Since most Tamil leaders had been killed, the only leader, who could not
be met, heard or approached, was Prabhakaran.
Of course, he had his children educated in foreign climes, lived in
secure places and had the best of both worlds.
What would happen if a situation arises again with the re-emergence
of the LTTE which is being helped and supported with massive monetary
input by the so-called Tamil diaspora.
The so-called Tamil diaspora does not tell the world that there is
peace in the country as they fear that they would be sent back to Sri
Lanka and they would lose the cushy and cozy lives they spend in the
Since the word elections is looming large, a timely question is, if
President Rajapaksa is not there who is going to be the leader of this
country to face a situation of that nature and magnitude if any unrest
occurs in the country.
Some said why not a common candidate. I asked them to name one. One
I reminded him that his Party has no confidence in him. The Party is
broken into pieces.
The internal rivalry in the UNP has riven the Party asunder. Ranil is
not in Sri Lanka as he is in MIT Massachusetts, lecturing and being
lectured to on politics.
He has not being able to attract a crowd as he has failed to deliver
the goods for the Party having lost more than 20 elections in a row.
Anyway, he cannot be dislodged from the Party leadership as long as
the present UNP constitution remains unchanged and unamended.
A strong champion of Sinhala Buddhist Balavegaya wanted to know
whether Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera would be a candidate suitable
even for a short period of time to abrogate the Constitution and do away
with the Presidential system.
Chandrika Bandaranaike when she was the President was castigating Ven.
Sobhitha as a dubious character. Rev. Sobhitha will never be able to see
eye-to-eye with her over this issue and there will not be any getting
together of these two.
Also a country which is secular would not like to have a priest of
whatever denomination as the leader as it would create religious discord
in the country.
As we know today, in politics, there is no place for extremism or
sectarianism, but only for secularism. So Ven. Sobhitha is out.
A Tamil professional suggested the name of C.V. Wigneswaran who is
currently the Chief Minister of the North-East Provincial Council as
Chandrika’s name was reluctantly suggested by a former Chairman of a
Statutory Body which became the subject of laughter and it was said that
she had not done anything worthwhile in the past for her to ask for
Presidency as she woefully failed to fulfill the promises she gave to
the constituents at the hustings in 1994.
She said she would do away with the Presidential system, bring
terrorism to an end, raise the standard of living of the people, prune
the Cabinet to a sizeable number, and give people food, clothing and
shelter but we all know she could not deliver any of these things.
She won the second time only due to sympathy votes she received as
she lost the sight of her left eye as a result of a bomb blast at a
meeting at the Town Hall junction. People in this country will never
take her seriously.
When a middle-aged, fire brand of the former LSSP asked what about
Anura Kumara Dissanayake of the JVP, a university lecturer inquired
whether the crowd could not remember the number of people killed by
JVPers, how they destroyed electricity transformers in the country,
factories and how the JVP kept the country in darkness in the 1980s.
How people were killed and their bodies were dismembered and thrown
to the road as a warning to the people who went against their chit
orders is still fresh in the minds of the people.
Karu Jayasuriya was criticised as one man who ruined his own Party by
crossing over to the other side with 18 people and coming back to the
same Party again minus that 18.
He is like a vegetable which is good to be given to ageing and ailing
invalids in hospital, someone said.Ranil, a shrewd politician of
Machiavellian style has given Karu a dead rope to send him into
political oblivion by making him the president of an organisation which
is not stronger than a Mahila Samithiya in a village, toothless,
ineffective and powerless.
When Sajith’s name was proposed everybody said that he is
inexperienced and immature and that he cannot come forward as long as
Ranil is there and the only option available to him is that he should
set up a new organisation such as the Puravesi Peramuna of his father
with a few friends such as Maithri Gunaratne and Shiral Lakthilaka.
Everybody accepted the fact that a lot of things have been done and
achieved by the incumbent President and few things more need to be done
in time to come.
This is not the time to upset the implementation of programs launched
under the Mahinda Chinthana as there is tangible proof that President
Rajapaksa is the only person who can unify this country under one banner
and bring all communities together to the satisfaction of everybody.
The propaganda machine of the Party and the Government should be
accelerated to convince the people of the monumental work done by the
President, the Cabinet and the two able Secretaries, Lalith Weeratunga,
Gotabaya Rajapaksa. There is no reason to reiterate how grateful the
people should be to the President for the development work he has
launched.We all are beholden to the President for ushering in peace on
May 19, 2009, eradicating terrorism from the country. Sri Lanka is one
of the safest places in the world to live in. His experience is vast and
unparalleled; political acumen is incomparable as he had been an MP,
Deputy Minister, Minister, Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and
the President of the country.
With the emergence of a strong leader in the neighbourhood of Sri
Lanka it is very necessary for Sri Lanka to have a strong leader of the
stature of President Rajapaksa at least for another 10 years.
The writer is a senior Attorney-at-Law.