By Shamindra Ferdinando
Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has queried whether the UNP-SLFP coalition wanted to deprive him of civic rights for bringing the nearly 30-year war to a successful conclusion.
Had they been trying to find fault with me for rapid development after the eradication of terrorism, Rajapaksa asked a cheering crowd at Dravindra Seth Vijaya Mendis playground at Katunayake on Monday.
Addressing the rally held in support of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) contesting Feb. 10 Local Government polls, Rajapaksa warned the government that denial of his civic rights wouldn’t be an easy task.
Rajapaksa dared the government to strip him of civic rights while recalling how Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike was stripped of her civic rights by JRJ government in the most draconian manner.
Declaring his readiness to face any eventuality, Rajapaksa said he was ready to face the Commission of Inquiry appointed to probe two national carriers-Sri Lankan and Mihin Lanka from Jan.1, 2006 to Jan. 31, 2018
Retired Supreme Court Justice Anil Gooneratne heads the Commission of Inquiry that will probe the management of two national carriers during the Mahinda Rajapaksa Administration and the present Administration.
The other members of the Commission are Gamini Rohan Amerasekera (Judge of the Court of Appeal), Piyasena Ranasinghe (retired Judge of the High Court), Don Anthony Harold (retired Deputy Auditor General) and Jayaseeli Kapugama Geeganage, (Director General of the Sri Lanka Accounting and Auditing Standards Monitoring Board).
Referring to cancellation of aircraft ordered from Airbus during his administration, Rajapaksa alleged that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government had paid a colossal sum as compensation to the supplier. The former president said the amount spent as compensation was sufficient to acquire two brand new aircraft.
The former president who also held the finance portfolio said that the country didn’t require what he called political commissions.
Recalling countrywide development projects undertaken by his administration, Rajapaksa urged the electorate to be mindful of post-war crisis caused by present day rulers. He alleged that the UNP-SLFP coalition was busy dividing the country on ethnic lines in the name of national reconciliation.
Rajapaksa declared that lasting peace could never be achieved by giving into the demands of extremist elements. The former Commander-in-Chief warned of dire consequences if the government was allowed to go ahead with its plans. The division of the country would cause permanent enmity between communities, Rajapaksa warned, urging the electorate to exercise their franchise in support of the SLPP at Feb 10 Local Government polls. The former president said Feb 10 vote should be considered as a referendum on three-year failed joint administration.
“Exercise your franchise to register strongest possible opposition to the planned break-up of the country.”
Rajapaksa said contrary to claims the government was engaged in a well calculated operation to suppress the media. The former president recalled that Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe both in and outside flayed some journalists last year. Alleging that free media was being brazenly intimidated, Rajapaksa pointed out the proprietors of privately-owned media received specific threats from yahapalana rulers.
Urging the electorate not to be deceived again, Rajapaksa claimed that the coalition lacked vision and failed to adopt even basic economic management skills, thereby causing chaos all-around.
A smiling Rajapaksa said that the treasury bond scams had resulted in President Sirisena and PM Wickremesinghe and their colleagues calling each other thieves. Those who had been awaiting much touted economic miracle reacted with shock and dismay at the treasury bond scams at the onset of the new administration, the former president said.
Rajapaksa flayed the government over the proposed Indo-Lanka Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA). The former SLFP leader alleged that ETCA would give unrestricted access to Indians to get job here. “ECTA will turn Sri Lanka to an Indian colony. They’ll flood the country with Indians.”
The former president said the country was in dire straits for want of clear political direction. The only way to reverse the slide was to deliver a knockout blow to yahapalanaya at Feb 10 polls. That would be the beginning of the end, Rajapaksa said.