An organised crowd of around thousand men and women met in the shadow of the Buddha statue in the Vihara Maha Devi Park in the vicinity of the Town Hall on Tuesday 15 August to demand this Government honour its election promise of “Good Governance”.
This was also to mark the second anniversary of the Unity Government, which was voted into office by them to rid the country of huge corruption, the hallmark of Rajapaksa rule and to have freedom and democracy.
The campaign was thus named 62 Lakhs on Alert. All 62 lakhs, who voted for Common Candidate Maithripala Sirisena, were requested to attend the rally that was to demand from the Government to honour its promises.
Although with not so direct Governmental patronage the rally was a total failure with around thousand participating from the 62 lakhs, who opposed Rajapaksa.
The very project funded probably by pro-UNP interests raise serious issues as to where the 62 lakh voters are now and what they now want.
Though the Colombo leaders of this campaign want to balloon the January 2015 victory as the victory of 62 lakhs, who voted for President Sirisena, that does not remain so, after two years and eight months.
Let’s be very frank about this. The totality of the Tamil and Muslim vote, at least those in the North, Vanni and the East, voted against Rajapaksa and not for Sirisena in political terms.
In political terms, it was a very stubborn anti-Rajapaksa vote that totalled 1,956,222 votes from North-East.
If one adds the Muslim vote from those in the Sinhala Districts, who lived under threat of BBS and other State patronised Sinhala Buddhist extremists, this would swell to about 22 lakhs in all that went stubbornly and with anger against Rajapaksa.
These 22 lakh voters have not been respected in any way by this Yahapalana Government over the past 32 months.
The threat of BBS and other extremist groups have not been removed from Southern politics during the 32 months.
Justice and Buddha Sasana, a dangerously eccentric combination of portfolios presently held by Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe and he is openly in league with the leaders of these very crude Sinhala Buddhist extremist groups. They have in fact met President Sirisena too in the company of Minister Rajapakshe. He is now been found fault with and the call for his removal is for what he said about the Hambantota Port agreement as violating collective responsibility and not for his Sinhala racist stand and patronage of violent Sinhala Buddhist extremism. The Asgiriya Chapter of Buddhist monks has also come to his defence.
He is not the only sympathiser and ally of Sinhala Buddhist racism in this Government. The Prime Minister a few days ago was reported to have said the Cultural Hub project he established would fund rehabilitation of 150 Buddhist temples, as if culture is all about Buddhist temples.
In fact the Government is, perhaps excluding Minister Mangala Samaraweera and a few others. President is an ardent fan of “war heroes” and has vowed he would not allow any criminal investigations against any in the security forces over crimes committed during the war.
With PM Wickremesinghe also compromising, Sri Lanka has now dropped the UNHRC Resolution it willingly and gladly co-sponsored in September 2015. All those bills promised in the UNHRC Resolution and were accordingly adopted and were to be adopted have also been shelved without any hesitancy and guilt.
So much so, the ITAK leader Sampanthan is now asking the US Government to pressurise Sri Lanka to expedite the UNHRC Resolution, while still believing the UNP leadership in the Government would give them a new Constitution with reasonable answers.
Nothing has been offered to the war affected Tamil people in the North and the Vanni. Missing persons, the detained without charges, occupied land, search and arrest operations with serious break down of law and order in the peninsula remain major issues unsolved and not spoken loud in the South.
It had been so even before the 2015 January 8 Presidential election. It was so from the time the much respected Rev. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera was hyped as the leader of the “Movement for Social Justice” in late 2013.
The first programme made public at the rally held at the Colombo Public Library Chaired by respected Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera had nothing about the serious post-war problems and issues going unanswered in the North and East.
All it said in a single sentence was that “LLRC recommendations would be implemented”, something that Rajapaksa by then had already told the UNHRC sessions he was planning to implement.
So was the Presidential campaign that Rev. Sobhitha Thera’s movement and others, who now claim ownership for ousting Rajapaksa contributed to with the UNP in the lead and the JVP adding their rhetorical ‘tuppence’.
From the very beginning in early December 2014, the Presidential Election campaign was one against mega-corruption in the nine year Rajapaksa rule hyped in the South, garnished by white-van issues also in the South and not in the North-East.
The whole campaign thus remained a campaign that promised “democracy and good governance” to the Sinhala South and not for anyone else. The Sinhala South for these Colombo middle-class “democrats” was whole of Sri Lanka and it still remains that.
This 62 lakh voters campaign to lobby the Government to honour its promises therefore was all about anti-corruption this Government can never get rid of.
Bond scam is not about Ravi Karunanayake, but about the whole Government. Bond scam is also not the only major corruption of this Government.
There is huge plunder talked of, at the Foreign Employment Bureau through registration money of migrant labour Minister Thalatha Atukorala is gleefully ignoring.
There were Cabinet Papers approved for PR work awarded to a US company -the Sajin Vas way-that needs investigations.
The renting of the multi-storey building in Rajagiriya for 21 million Rupees a month on a Cabinet Paper presented by PM Wickremesinghe that for over a year is still unoccupied is no less a corruption that can go unseen.
The steel fabricated housing project that is arrogantly being dumped on the Vanni people despite their protests taking the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Jaffna District MP Sumanthiran to the SC with a petition, has not only to be stopped, but also investigated into.
There is definitely a two-and-a-half year of heavy corruption surpassing the nine year Rajapaksa rule that cannot be covered by shouting hoarse about a single bond scam with Ravi Karunanayake given centre stage.
All in all, complete breakdown of law and order, total mismanagement of the economy played around with empty numbers and growing corruption, unholy competition with Rajapaksa for Sinhala supremacy in the South completely ignoring the North accept as a factor to promote Sinhala sympathy, have dropped off the 22 lakh Tamil and Muslim voters from the 62 lakhs that voted against Rajapaksa, the Colombo Sinhala Yahapalana apologists don’t want to accept.
There is also a sizeable percentage of Sinhala votes that in 2015 January went against Rajapaksa, now swinging his way, for lack of alternatives.
These Montessori type poor Sinhala campaigns cannot now keep Rajapaksa as irrelevant for all the reasons this Government is considered incapable, inefficient and dishonest.
The JVP proves themselves total dumb and incapable of understanding what this rut is about, shuttling between anti-corruption and anti-SAITM protests.
The TNA leadership too provides no answers to its own voters, piggy backing a Government wholly incapable of moving with a new Constitution that can please them and is also not going to upset its Sinhala votes.
Slipping into chaos and crisis at all fronts, this country as I have been stressing in most contributions to this Daily Mirror Opinion columns, demand alternate thinking to programme an alternate economic model that would define “development” for better quality of life with economic justice to all, aesthetically improved art and culture, democracy and freedom in a secular, plural society.
It needs a dialogue that Tamil and Muslim people have an equal voice in developing an alternative to this corrupt free market economy that is nothing but a failure.
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