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EDITORIAL - The spirit of a just society comes alive

12 November 2015 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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While a grateful nation said farewell yesterday to Sobitha Hamuduruwo who played a crucial and frontline role in the peaceful battle to build a just society, a note of consolation and hope was that the spirit of this courageous, prophetic prelate appears to be coming alive in the leaders of the new National Unity Government. 

 columnist Ranga Kalansuriya in our newspaper today makes an interesting and significant observation. If the peaceful people’s revolution that took place on January 8 could be compared to the world-famous liberation struggle in South Africa, something like the role of Archbishop Desmond Tutu was played by Sobitha Hamuduruwo here. Unfortunately Sri Lanka’s Nelson Mandela is still missing. 

 Thankfully the spirit of Sobitha Hamuduruwo—with large crowds turning up to say a sincere thank you to him and the government giving him unprecedented State honours—that vital missing factor seems to be appearing like the dim light of a distant dawn. 

 According to most reports, Sobitha Hamuduruwo during the past few months and specially during his grave illness had not been happy about how the National Unity Government was moving towards the vision, goals and aims that he and the new government leaders had promised to take in building a new Sri Lanka. He may not have said, “my spirit is crushed by sorrow to the point of death”, but after his cardiac surgery he had confided in close friends that the wounds were not healing, physically and mentally. One of the failures that disappointed him and most people was the mysterious delay in investigating and bringing to justice, politicians and officials who were allegedly involved in fraud, corruption and bribery. Since January 8, almost 2000 major complaints had been made to the Commission to Investigate Allegations of Bribery or Corruption (CIABOC), and other agencies such as the Financial Crimes Investigation Department. But the evidence-gathering and prosecution processes were mired in mysterious delays with Sobitha Hamuduruwo and others asking whether  there was corruption within corruption now, whether personal or party interests were being put before the country’s interests and whether robbers, racketeers and other criminals were again trying to take control. 

Amid much controversy on Wednesday, the eve of Sobitha Hamuduruwo’s funeral, President Maithripala Sirisena has directed officials to look at the possibility of the Sri Lanka Navy taking over the Avant Garde operation. As final preparations were being made for one of the biggest funerals in recent times, President Sirisena who is also the Defence Minister and Commander-in -Chief summoned a crisis meeting  of the Armed Services Chiefs, the Attorney General and others involved in or connected with this widely-publicised case. The crisis meeting came two days after Law and Order Minister Tilak Marapana, a former Attorney General, resigned.  

Often in history, when a noble, sincere, selfless and sacrificial personality lives and dies for a cause such as a just society, his spirit comes alive in others. If this is happening, then though we said a sad farewell to Sobitha Hamuduruwo yesterday, we have reason to hope that his spirit will live on and Sri Lanka will march with more vigour and commitment towards good governance, democracy, social justice and public accountability. 
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