Could we envision a country that is devoid of racial discrimination, where each citizen is judged, in the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jr., “not by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”?
Can we envision a nation that is free of racial prejudice and ‘white vans’ and a country and a people that enjoy the freedom to information, so that those who wield power cannot engage in underhand deals at the expense of the national coffers?
Can we envision an education system that is free of idiotic bungling of examination papers? Can we envision an educational set-up that produces not only the best of scholars, but the best of researchers and entrepreneurs for both the public and private sectors?
Can we envision a heath sector that treats the root cause of a disease rather than the superficial symptoms, so that a healthy nation emerges at the end of a programme? Can we decrease our mortality rate and the number of infant deaths? Can we envision a country that could boast of vim, vigour and vitality? Can we envision our roads to be free of choking congestion, where pedestrians too have a right of way, where motorists don’t toot the horn when a walking mother with an infant in hand is crossing at a pedestrian pass?
Can we envision a country in which power cuts are the exception, not the norm? And where a drought would not cause civil havoc but strengthen the spirit of the farmer community to look for alternative crops that need a lesser amount of water?
Can we envision a country where freedom of the press is respected and those who express their own opinions are judged, not in terms of their political affiliations but by the objectivity of their utterances? Can we envision a country in which all journalists could reach their homes after work without being harassed by the presence of the ‘white vans’?
We can and we must. If the Opposition can instill into the minds of the people that what they are after is a better place to live in and a more decent environment to bring up their children in, then the people might give them another chance. But time and again, the electorate has shown that the UNP alone cannot do it. The era of the UNP invincibility is gone, may be forever.
A joint Opposition that is focused on a clear vision and strengthened by a prudent set of policies, principles and programmes might have a chance at the next elections. Underestimating the ‘war-victory’ slogan of the government is foolish and short-sighted.
The rural masses and specially the Sinhalese Buddhists, more than any other segment in the country, have realized the real meaning of peace; the sense of peace that envelopes their lives today. The anxieties and anguish they went through during those rough times of suicide bombers are gone.
Give flesh and blood to the vision. There are academics and scholars who would be more than willing to write up a readable manifesto of liberal democracy. Until such a clear vision is spelt out, until such a vision is given credence to by understandable national goals and objectives, neither the UNP, nor any joint Opposition would stand a chance of a snowball in hell, at any future election against the Rajapaksa juggernaut.
(Excerpts from an article appearing in the “Ceylon Today”)