Sri Lankans gave a clear verdict on January 8. The message was loud and clear that, “You cannot fool all the people all the time”. People spoke in no uncertain terms that enough was enough. MR regime which for long thought to be invincible was convincingly defeated paving the way for the installation of a coalition government headed by MS and RW in a unique combination at the helm of affairs.
It is alleged that MR’s lavish campaign had consumed the largest amount of money ever by any election in the post-independent history of Sri Lanka. There were widespread allegations that the watershed poll was largely marred by unprecedented violation of election laws. There had been colossal abuse and wastage of public property, funds and state machinery in the run up to the poll, in a last ditch, desperate attempt to hold on to power at any cost.
Masterminds of the MR campaign left no stone unturned and resorted to every possible gimmick including low-down third-grade tactics. Alleged cooked-up scandals designed to slander the chief protagonist who succeeded to mount a challenge of undreamed of proportions, within a matter of few weeks, received full glare of state control electronic media. Eventually the whole jingbang proved futile demolishing the political fortunes of the powerful MR regime into smithereens. According to independent analysts, had the election been held on a level playing field, MS would certainly have scored a victory with a larger margin.
From the word go MR seemed misguided by the euphoria of invincibility created by his cronies and sycophants. Moreover, he placed heavy reliance on superstitious beliefs and far-fetched astrological predictions to guide his own destiny. He would probably have been driven by unquenchable avarice for plum perks and unbridled power associated with the apex office. His own folly drove him astray to make the fatal error at long last. The dawn of January 9 saw the hegemonic empire of opulence manned by a coterie of elites reduced to rubble faster than could have been imagined possible.
The perceived threat of secession posed by hostile Diaspora driven by the dictates of rump LTTE was flagrantly used as the proverbial “Beggar’s Wound” by the erstwhile regime to perpetuate autocratic rule, following the historic war victory. Steamroller tactics adopted by the then regime tolerated no dissent. It is alleged that dissent was silenced by ruthless means, and also was attributed to so-called international conspiracies -- a hackneyed theory exploited to hoodwink the largely uninformed public.
Despite that, it is undeniable that MR gave a robust and inspiring leadership to the campaign launched to militarily vanquish LTTE lock stock and barrel. He gave leadership to achieve what was long thought of as unachievable. People never even in their wildest dreams thought that this country could ever rid itself of the demonic terror unleashed by the lethal apparatus led by Velupillai Prabhakaran. No one thought that the day VP was no more would ever dawn. Politico-Military apparatus of the MR regime tirelessly worked towards that goal and succeeded in accomplishing it. MR regime launched the biggest humanitarian operation, perhaps the whole world has ever seen, to liberate hundreds and thousands of Tamil-speaking people, inhumanly kept in the brutal clutches by the LTTE. Those innocents were meant to be used as cannon fodder, in facing the formidable military onslaught launched by the Sri Lankan armed forces.
With war becoming a thing of the past and regime emerging victorious, the “Once in a Life Time Golden opportunity” to usher in peace and prosperity was bestowed on the MR regime in May 2009 while MR was basking in glory at the Zenith of popularity. MR, who emerged as the “Undisputed Messiah of the Nation” commanded demigod status attracting public reverence. However, recent history reveals that the MR regime failed to exploit the unparalleled opportunity offered on a silver platter to guide this country towards racial harmony, reconciliation and socio-economic prosperity. MR would be remembered for his historic role in defeating the brutal terror of the LTTE while encountering growing international adversity. But his post-war mishandling of statecraft is alleged to have led to crass wastage, large scale misappropriation, profligacy and embezzlement of public funds and the misuse of power while the man in the street was compelled to undergo untold economic hardships in the name of the war, seems to be denting his larger-than-life public image, probably denying him a Place in the annals of Sri Lankan history as a “Leader Par Excellence”.
Reminiscing down memory lane one could easily come across the highly successful diplomatic campaign spearheaded by the late Lakshaman Kadirgamar, Sri Lanka’s illustrious Foreign Minister. His efforts achieved great success in the international arena and saw LTTE facing isolation in many influential capitals. He exposed brutal acts of terror perpetrated by insurgents whilst countering sinister moves aimed at vilifying and economically destroying this country & tarnishing its image. Moreover, the helpful ‘Hands off and Tacitly Supportive” approach adopted by India, having lost one of its great national leaders to the barbarity of LTTE, also gave the Sri Lankan Govt the opportunity to prosecute war without hindrance. Countries such as India, Pakistan and China directly aided the war effort, while the same was frowned upon by the largely misguided and misinformed West.
On the domestic front, people responded with sincere commitment and endured continued hardships heaped upon them by the colossal economic costs of the war. Renowned war heroes like General Sarath Fonseka, now promoted to the rank of Field Marshall and other brave commanders, gave gallant and inspiring leadership to fighting formations. The then Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa played a pivotal role in sustaining the armed campaign through a well coordinated strategy involving all three armed forces, police and paramilitary outfits and made a significant contribution to the military success. Many, including people at large and particularly those from the so-called border villages who were very often placed in precarious conditions and forced to take the brunt of the brutal acts of terror deserve unreserved commendation for the great sacrifices they made on behalf of the motherland, while the ruling elite wasted no time in apportioning the lion’s share of the acclaim as well as other benefits of war victory accomplished at great economic and social cost.
Regime change has clearly proven that money, power and deception cannot suppress sovereignty and the will of the masses forever. It gave a strong signal to politicians that they had better beware that ballots are more formidable than bullets and no one however powerful or popular would be spared, when comes the moment of truth. The new regime took office on the planks of establishing Good Governance, Rule of Law, and ushering in an era of Social Equality, Ethno-Religious and Cultural Harmony and Socio Economic Progress and the eradication of deep-seated cancers of corruption and politicisation, that had pervaded the society for a considerable time. What is unfolding before the public eye speaks volumes about the sordid saga of vices including gross abuse and waste of public resources, crass extravagance, corruption, politicisation, nepotism and absence of the rule of law, lack of good governance and blatant misuse of authority alleged to have thrived under the previous dispensation. It is opening a whole new can of worms. Stinking stories of how some stooges of erstwhile powers that be alleged to have meteorically risen from rags to riches through ill-gotten lucre at the expense of the poor man’s suffering are aplenty and causing widespread public disgust.
How a section of the new rich have allegedly enjoyed exclusive privileges and wantonly indulged in epicurean luxuries mercilessly devouring the public purse, disregarding the wretched conditions in which the poorest of the poor were made to struggle and toil hard to eke out a living, reveals abominable depths to which greed could descend, in pursuit of money, power and pleasure. The previous regime’s elite enjoying unbridled power, enormous comforts and wealth have for long ignored the real truth that, it is the common man who is busting his ass to make ends meet, has in fact lifted them to exalted ranks of authority, and given them the opportunity to enjoy plum perks attached to high seats. Hence those holding public office need to be mindful that ignoring the plight of the common man, while savouring the best in life paid for by them is an unpardonable crime.
Not a day passes nowadays without fresh news of profligacy coming to light pointing fingers at many erstwhile bigwigs. Intensified action by anti corruption lobbies and has opened flood gates for complaints galore, accusing leading personalities of the ousted regime for involvement in mega scale corruption and frauds involving millions of US Dollars in public money. The Bribery Commissioner’s Department is inundated with information pertaining to suspected mega fraudsters and the media are full of juicy news every day. In spite of the hyped up media spectacle on anti corruption activities, many big boys facing accusations are still at large and for most of them it is still business as usual. People feel let down and it is all hats and no cattle, or no action talk only, so far.
People are at their sixes and sevens not knowing what the heck is going on. They are clamouring for tangible evidence. They want anti corruption crusaders in power to walk the talk. Many are getting disappointed by the day as election rhetoric more or less fizzled out, even before reaching the half way mark of the much touted 100-day programme. Politicians who were gung-ho about taking quick action to bring big sharks to books are conspicuous by their silence. Many are worried about what they perceive as something fishy and not right. There is growing apprehension among the general public that anti corruption action may come a cropper, as many vocal advocates of extensive political reforms, good governance and eradication of corruption are adopting relatively passive postures.
People seem to be fast losing patience because no concrete action seems to be taken against big sharks accused of corruption and mass scale plunder of public wealth, while small fry and minions are taken to task every now and then. People have begun to feel doubtful about the sincerity on the part of some members of the current regime, whom they consider to be of questionable integrity. There is also growing concern about possible backdoor moves and wheeler-dealer manipulations that may be underway to sweep things under the carpet, as it is no secret that money always talks better.
Nearly a decade long quasi autocratic rule has moulded people to believe in expeditious summary justice disregarding the need to adhere to the due process of law. In fact, it was an era where absence of the rule of law, which more or less became the order of the day. Proper functioning of law enforcement mechanism and judicature require due procedures to be complied with to the letter, though resultant processes could prove time consuming and tedious. Many years of misrule has made people accustomed to anticipate summary justice in Kangaroo-Court style. So, right or wrong there is growing concern about the painfully slow progress apparently made by the investigations into a plethora of cases on corrupt deals supposed to be underway at present and perceived by many as a “no action talk only” stance and misconstrued by some as soft-pedaling on action against influential parties.
Most importantly, people have to understand that establishing a novel political culture based on principles of good governance is an uphill task, as the body politic is infested with opportunists, crooks and unscrupulous elements. Genuine crusaders of people-centric agendas could only be found very seldom in today’s political arena. The political landscape is a stinking quagmire of selfish opportunists and Machiavellians in white garbs. Politicians are peculiar creatures capable of doing a volte-face at the drop of a hat and shift goal posts, so long as such manoeuvers serve selfish agendas. They have no qualms or feel no shame about about discarding avowed principles, policies and loyalties, if it works to their gain. For them today’s worst foe could be tomorrow’s best buddy. They are primarily driven by selfish considerations and not public well-being. Instilling principles of moral uprightness, honesty and selflessness in such people hell bent on making hay while the sun shines is certainly a next to impossible task.
It may be unfair for people to expect deep-rooted cancer of lawlessness and absence of good governance to be eradicated in a matter of less than 100 days, although loud political rhetoric would have made a big noise about sky-high promises. Adherence to the rule of law entails compliance with tedious and time consuming procedures, and does not permit hasty and brash measures of hauling suspected wrong doers summarily in to prison cells. Even in most glaring cases when the identity of miscreants may appear obvious, law still has to take its due course, irrespective of how painful or slow the process could be. In this context, people have to appreciate the fact that, progress seems to have been made in establishing good governance in certain respects. Particularly, the commitment demonstrated by the authorities to put aside laws of the jungle and comply with tedious, time consuming legal requirements to pursue action against suspected wrongdoers, disregarding the enormous political mileage that could otherwise be derived by creating a media spectacle of summary action being taken to incarcerate bigwigs in the full glare of the media, especially where intense deliberations on an election is currently in the air. This stance to some extent is self-evident about the prospect of prevalence of the rule of law and, sincere efforts being made to bring in sanity and establish moral conduct in the running of state affairs.
Copious eulogies are loudly sung by some who have been left high and dry in the political firmament since January 9 and moves are afoot by these self-serving sycophants to resurrect the dethroned big boss on the pretext of protecting the interests of several million who voted for him, smacks of deceit and needs to be taken with a pinch of salt. Are they yelling at the top of their voices to safeguard the people’s rights and interests or crying out loud for their own survival. The fault lies mainly with people, and not with politicos who have mastered the art of eyewash and treachery. Many are yet to realize that it is their blood, sweat and tears that sustain flamboyant lifestyles of politicos. People hardly realize that they only get crumbs while their political masters enjoy the plums. People easily get carried away by flattery churned out by unscrupulous ones on their quest to grab power through the mastery in the art of duplicity. People are overwhelmed with the transient illusory feeling of well-being of non-existent fool’s paradise. Masses are so naive and unsuspecting. Many are so simple-minded and even treat arrogantly flaunted flamboyance of heartthrob demigods with awe, little realizing that what lies behind the facade of illusory camaraderie and sophistication is, the sinister saga of plunder, pillage and exploitation that happens day in and day out, sucking the life blood of the poorest of the poor.
Masses should be watchful about the transient collaboration of the main opposing camps as it has already led to ballooning of the cabinet to undesirable pre-election proportions heralding that a marriage of political expediency to sweep dirt under the carpet appears to be in the making. Unhealthy composition of the snowballing cabinet comprising some of the rotten apples of the ousted regime lends enough credence to this viewpoint.
They say people are sovereign in democracy although masses usually get raw deals and end up with continued hardship. For democracy to truly guarantee people’s sovereignty, people should first be enlightened on what democracy is all about and what exactly their role would be in sustaining it.
For democracy to be vibrant and flourish in its pristine purity to serve people, people should become well informed about what could reasonably be expected in terms of democratic rights in a system of truly functioning democracy, and how such rights and systems have evolved over time.
Comments - 3
Loku tens Thursday, 07 May 2015 06:50 PM
The margin of votes between the winner and looser in the Presidential election was only 500 000. You call this a loud and clear message ?.
Loud Saturday, 09 May 2015 10:31 AM
@Loku tens, yes even if it is 1 vote difference that means he is a loser. This will not make any good for the loser if he has lost by 1 vote or thousands. Just try to accept the loss of the dictator..
renu Tuesday, 05 May 2015 01:31 PM
Where are the Women MPs sleeping ???
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