Premier Rajapaksa (Left) and President Sirisena are faced with many challenges
- The forces who love and promote democracy are in a way divided
- Rajapaksa has requested from the people to show him the same support which they offered during the war
- We tell our citizens that they must learn to coexist with anyone despite having different views
- We scream for a united, free and peaceful Sri Lanka
There was some hope for Sri Lanka when the majority within the parliament came together to move a no-confidence motion against the Sirisena-Rajapaksa Government. But togetherness seems to have been temporary with both the TNA and the JVP making it clear that they wish to be no part of a broad alliance that the UNP wishes to form in the future.
In other words the forces who love and promote democracy are in a way divided; hence a divided Sri Lanka!This nature in Sri Lankans to be divided has cost the island dearly. Just imagine how helpless the present government is when one knows that it can’t pass even a simple bill in parliament because the people’s representatives within are so divided.
Nine years ago the majority of Sri Lankans stood behind the Government’s efforts to crush a rebel uprising in the north and the east. Those were hard times for us and Sri Lankans decided to grin and bear when the cost of living rose sharply. Rajapaksa finished the war and the people showed their gratitude by voting for him again to make him the president for the second time. Nine years later this most popular parliamentarian to emerge from the south has to remind people about the war that he finished in his present attempts to win their support. In a recent statement he has requested from the people to show him the same support which they offered during the war to rebuild this nation. He has warned that this could be the final chance for them to do so and save the country.
At present, rather than looking for ways of pulling the country out of this political mess, the Government and the opposition are interpreting the Constitution in different ways for political gains
Despite the experience he carries in politics and the popularity he basks in, premier Rajapaksa has to rely on ‘war heroics’ to garner support for future elections. Most Sri Lankans are trying to put the whole war in the ‘forget file’ and look to the future, but the man wearing the ‘satakaya’ (shawl) wants to recall war memories and use them to his advantage. Then in this context the police should not have requested form the Kopay Magistrate to issue an injunction order to prevent Jaffna University Students from holding their ‘Mahaviru Samaruma’ . This is because if war memories are important to Rajapaksa so are they to the Tamil Community whose members lost their loved ones during the civil war.
Whether we like it or not, Sri Lankans have the tendency to be divided. Whether it is a struggle between the rich and poor, the elite and the down trodden masses, the Sinhalese and Muslims and finally those who value democracy and those who demand economic progress at the expense of democracy, what surfaces is that we Sri Lankans are constantly in search of ways to oppose each other. In other words we have big egos which are bigger that the need to collect the pieces of this shattered nation, put them together and move forward.
We are a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country. But we don’t look into any of these when we admit students to our local universities. The only criterion for admission to university is the Z Score and the education authorities are very fair in discharging their duties. But within the universities ragging takes place. And most of these ragging sessions are carried out with the view to even out social disparities. However, all are equal when they graduate, but their names, places of birth and ones pride (Nama, gama and adambarakama) are built in features and surface when these graduates enter the job market, get promoted within organisations and become decision makers. Once out of campus they are greatly influenced by the divided society, again. This division has cost us heavily.
One reason for the political mess in the country is President Sirisena breaking off ties with the former prime minister Wickremesinge. Sirisena affirmed that he didn’t fancy Wickremesinghe’s work culture. He also underscored the fact that the two were culturally poles apart.
At present, rather than looking for ways of pulling the country out of this political mess, the Government and the opposition are interpreting the Constitution in different ways for political gains. UNP parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella has said that ‘the House is bound to follow Section 7 of the Parliament Power and Privileges Act which says the House is bound to follow the tradition of ‘House of Commons’ when the country’s Constitution is unclear’. But unfortunately this proposal is unlikely to receive the corporation of the majority in parliament.
In this context it’s important to mention the fact that presidential polls are fiercely contested in the United States of America, but when the winner is found everybody cooperates to push the country and the economy in one direction. This is what’s lacking in Sri Lanka; after most presidential elections.
The presidential polls in 2015 progressed peacefully and the transition of power from Rajapaksa to Sirisena happened rather smoothly. Sirisena had a cracking start, after being sworn in three and half years ago. But the healthy start he had hit a snag soon because of the differences he had with Wickremesinghe. We tell our citizens that they must learn to coexist with anyone despite having different views. This lesson must be taught to both Wickremesinghe and Sirisena; the latter most importantly because he is the head of state and must set an example to the others.
Right and wrong
It’s in this context that many opine that Sirisena should have found a way in which he could have worked together with Wickremesinghe, despite the differences, till 2020. His breaking away from the unity government, formed in 2015, has put the island nation under tremendous strain financially.
Right now all parliamentarians are bracing for a crucial debate that will take place on November 27 and 29 to discuss a motion brought by the UNP to stop Government spending. If this motion is passed with the support of the majority we would be in for more trouble. This is because that would mean the Government would not be capable of passing a simple bill in parliament in the future due to the opposition forming the majority.
Despite the experience he carries in politics and the popularity he basks in, premier Rajapaksa has to rely on ‘war heroics’ to garner support for future elections
From the two voices that are echoing, the ones of Rajapaksa and Sirisena are heard loud and clear. Premier Rajapaksa supports a general election and sees that as the right choice even if he doesn’t see that the way in which he was elected as prime minister was wrong. Wickremesinghe sees the stance he has taken in not critisising Sirisena at public forums as right, but fails to see the decisions he took to ‘sell’ government assets to other nations as wrong. We scream for a united, free and peaceful Sri Lanka. Achieving this seems to remain a fantasy given that Sri Lankans are divided so profoundly; for example when we know that these islanders need to have a debate to chose between right and wrong.
The constant debate about what’s good and bad has suddenly turned very ugly!