hat is Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan’s stand on the alleged involvement by Colombo District UNP parliamentarian Hirunika Premachandra in the abduction of a youth from a shop in Dematagoda last month? What has he got to say about the escalating of the Chronic Kidney Disease in the North Central Province? What does he suggest to make the Mattala International Airport productive? Why doesn’t he speak about the incredible and highly suspicious delay in taking action against the multi-million/billion-rupee frauds that had allegedly taken place during the past regime?
One might view these questions as being odd or inappropriate. Also even if Mr. Sampanthan spoke about these matters sometimes, it might be seen as inappropriate. Another might go one step further and think that he is over the top and fingering into others’ affairs. But if he expressed his views on the proposed Constitutional reforms or if he responded to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa when the latter was going around the country accusing the government of releasing the LTTE suspects while arresting soldiers, he might be viewed as being within his mandate. The country is used to thinking so because the Tamil leaders so far had dissociated themselves from national issues -- from the issues that would not directly affect the Tamil people.
However, it is unethical now on Mr. Sampanthan’s part to keep silent on or to look the other way from national issues, even issues that affect the Sinhalese and Muslims alone, since he is the Opposition Leader in the Parliament representing all communities in the country. For instance, the allegation against Parliamentarian Hirunika Premachandra involves an allegation of abduction using State power. On the other hand, this is one of the major issues that had been haunting the Tamil people for a long time and a Presidential Commission has also been appointed to look into the matter.
True, unlike what happened during the time of the last regime when it took more than a year, until Prince Charles also took an interest to arrest the suspects of the Khurram Sheikh murder that took place in Tangalle in 2011, Ms. Premachandra was arrested under the “Yahapalanaya” within days. But the police were dragging their feet citing the Attorney General’s order before arresting her whereas they had arrested a man in connection with the brutal murder of Seya Sadewmi of Kotadeniyawa months back allegedly just because he had a hair cut soon after the murder. Isn’t the delay in police action in Hirunika’s matter an issue that should attract the concern and the interest of the Opposition Leader of the country?
Mr. Sampanthan cannot lose interest on the fate of the government’s anti-corruption drive which some have begun to call another corruption, since the very leaders of the government said before the last Presidential election that it had involved billions of rupees apart from Sampanthan being the Opposition Leader. The so-called Joint Opposition would not talk about this matter as almost all allegations had been levelled against the leaders and members of it, but if Mr. Sampanthan failed in his duty as the Opposition Leader pertaining to such important national issues, the so-called Joint Opposition would have every right to claim the post of Opposition Leader.
One does not suggest that the Opposition Leader opposes everything the government does or proposes to do, as the tradition had been. He is at liberty to support the government when he feels he should as in the case of the 2016 budget. However, he should not forget his duty as the Opposition Leader towards all the communities in the country. Mr. Sampanthan’s involvement in nationally-important matters would help promote the much-needed reconciliation and the Tamil and Muslim people too might come out from the secluded insular mindset they have been pushed into by the their leaders during the past several decades.