The much awaited release of former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka – whatever the reason for it and whatever the change in strategic political alliances – is widely seen as a major step towards the restoration of democratic values and freedoms.
Political vendettas apart, the former Army Commander who is widely recognised as having played a key role in the military defeat of brutal terrorism was convicted and sentenced by two military courts and by a civilian court. He appealed to higher courts but the appeals were withdrawn yesterday after President Mahinda Rajapaksa signed documents granting him a pardon.
What prompted the President to pardon the former Army Commander is, as so many key issues are, clouded in uncertainty, confusion, conflicting reports and contradictory statements. Democratic National Alliance leader Tiran Alles who negotiated with the President for several months for the release of the former Army Commander is widely given credit for the release.
Magnanimity and humility on the part of the President were also seen when he went to Mr. Alles’ residence last week to meet the former Army Commander’s wife Anoma who had insisted she would not go to Temple Trees to meet the President and make a request or a plea for the release of her husband who was warded in a private hospital for 27 days being treated for a serious chest ailment.
Whoever did what for whatever reason, independent political analysts hope Sarath Fonseka’s release will be the first step in the restoration of democracy. Jayawewa!
Two key issues in that direction will be the restoration of the 17th Amendment and the introduction of legislation to implement the Freedom of Information Act. If the 17th Amendment is restored, Sri Lanka will have an independent Elections Commission, an independent Police Commission and an independent Public Service Commission through which top appointments are made in the State Sector. If such a commission was in existence, Sri Lanka would probably not have seen the involvement of the Chairman and Directors of the National Savings Bank in shady stock market transactions involving some 400 million rupees.
If the Freedom of Information Act is implemented as done in most South Asian and other countries it will go a long way in the restoration of full media freedom, transparency and accountability in transactions involving public funds. It will also help curb rampant corruption, fraud and the plunder of public funds by politicians and top officials, thus helping Sri Lanka to save hundreds of millions of rupees for the benefit of the people.
Good Editorial but it is wishful thinking. What Freedom of Information?. So call 'Action Plan' presented to the US and their allies in bended knees after all the big talk of patriotism and soverignity is for the west only; not for us Sri Lankans who should be the first to know. Sri lankans will be conned again followed up by further consolidation of power.
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