Sri Lanka’s citizens are getting a bit jaded now in waiting for that politician with real leadership qualities to emerge and take charge of the nation. Even when there was a tussle for power within the UNP during the time Ranasinghe Premadasa rose in the political ranks, the Green Party had stalwarts in the likes of Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake to choose from. If we take a leaf out of that period when the Green Party reigned, we saw that UNP Leader J.R Jayewardene groomed the next generation of politicians to take over the party and also serve the nation.
But that has not been the case with most political parties, except the JVP, since then and we now see many politicians from all walks of life having lofty ambitions which are sadly not supported by their skills.
UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe still feels the need to be in power at age 69. His opponent right now, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, has received another lifeline and is the Premier of the country at the age of 73. The present President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirisena, whose political career is now shrouded in controversy, is 67 years old to date. What do the ages of all these leaders reveal? Does the term old is gold’ apply to politics? Some feel these politicians seem to have remained quite long in politics. But others would argue that J.R. Jayewardene became the first Executive President of the country at the age of 72. USA President Donald Trump is 72 and recently Mahathir Mohamad swept to power in Malaysia at the age of 93.
Sri Lanka was suffering for the past three decades in terms of politics largely not due to the actions of corrupt politicians, but more due to the silence of ‘good’ people. Last Tuesday (October 30) we saw people who love democracy throw their weight behind a protest rally in Colombo, organised to show support for ousted Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe. These people were not necessarily Wickremesinghe fans, but had thought that they should break their silence and voice their protests.
This could be the first step towards demanding that Sri Lanka needs leaders with stature who promote fair play and value democracy. If the platform was set to highlight the unfair treatment meted out to Wickremesinghe, what came out of it instead was a strong reminder being given to politicians that it is high time that they treat the citizenry fairly. One placard that carried the message ‘I’m not here for Ranil. I’m here for good governance and democracy’ helps us read the minds of people. Is it a sign that the good people have woken up from slumber?
Many who were tired of Sri Lankan politics migrated abroad, more to enjoy a large dose of decency, a fair chance to succeed in life and to see whatever monies they pay as taxes are not misused by the government. It’s good if the remaining democratic civil forces in the country can continue with these efforts and force our politicians to value democracy and decency. The civil forces too should be well grounded in the wider society and not at small enclaves. They should also not be funded by external forces with vested interests and agendas. Those who wish to rewind the clock beyond 2015 and boast about development must be told that success without a ‘human touch’ is not worth highlighting!
We read much in social media about Sri Lanka Pudujana Peramuna loyalists throwing their weight around in government institutes. We experienced Government sponsored strong arm tactics during the Rajapaksa regime and hope such incidents would not occur.
Minister Champika Ranawaka stating that as many as 120 MPs have signed a letter addressed to the Speaker to summon Parliament gives some hope that ousted Premier Wickremesinghe might be in with a chance to prove that he is the one who has the numbers in parliament. On the other hand the Rajapaksa camp has said they have the required numbers. Lets keep our fingers crossed till Parliament meets.