As the presidential election campaign moves to combat readiness among candidates and political parties, one must be pardoned for drawing the recent deaths of seven elephants in the Palugaswewa Forest Reserve into the political plot. With Sajith Premadasa choosing the Swan symbol for his candidacy, does it mean the end of the UNP’s elephantine decades?
As we await the full post-mortem probe into these deaths (or killings), we must get some insights into the elephant disaster in the UNP; when a party candidate – who is its deputy leader – has to think of swimming to victory on the back of a swan. The two previous swan candidates – former Gen. Sarath Fonseka and hopper cross-over Maithripala Sirisena were not UNP leaders, or even members. What we are now seeing is the Swan Ride of Sajith Premadasa to face the Pohottuva ride by Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Of course there are others in the presidency hopeful list too. But the trend of current politics puts these two in the lead, but why?
Can the country and the voters expect anything of national value from these candidates when the record of the past seven decades point to a complete failure of political candidacy on the larger issues of national development and social progress? Yes we know how the two violent uprising of the JVP were put down, and how the LTTE’s separatist terrorism was defeated. But are they good examples for social and national progress, when the post-event scenarios in both situations were those of massive corruption and political crookedness?
What can these two candidates offer the people of Sri Lanka in any way different to the policies of the Wickremesinghe UNP and Rajapaksa SLFP, now SLPP? There is nothing of any value as the country moves from bad to worst in the economy, social progress and political honesty. Just look at the key policy proposal adopted this Thursday at the UNP’s Convention that adopted the Sajith Premadasa candidacy. They are: Devolution of Power, Reform of Electoral System, and continuing Constitutional Reform including abolition of the Executive Presidency.
Can there be any more humbug thrown at the people? Devolution of Power has just been a talking point of the Wickremesinghe-Sirisena Yahapalana coalition. The reform of the Local Government electoral system, passed in midnight hours, was a disaster in the numbers elected for profitable office, and nothing to do with the urgently needed changes to the twisted Proportional Electoral System dumped on us by JR and Ranasinghe Premadasa. Constitutional Reform has been stuck with the beneficial changes of the 19th Amendment, but not moving ahead on abolition of the Executive Presidency, other than a last minute Cabinet farce.
Are we to accept the Prema Putha candidacy on such a record? What was this Sevaka Putha doing about the Central Bank bond scam? Does this ‘geval godaval putha’ know anything about the huge disasters to nature and the environment from the 300-plus Gam Udavas – that must reduce the forest reserves for elephants and other species? How many more Viharayas have the people of this country wanted or demanded, and is that the path to meaningful progress in society? What are the genuine assurances of progress that this Prema Putha gives to the minorities in this country – yes, Tamils and Hindus, Moors, Malays and those of the Islamic faith, Christians of all brands, and others too?
That is only one side of this crooked political coin that is being tossed before us. On the other side is the Gotabaya Keliya. What does this long time (and possibly given up) American citizen offer to the people of this country, other than what his brother gave the people, and was sent home for, by the voters? Does the Viyathmaga have any scientific solutions to the huge spread of corruption that is the continuing malady of this country and its people? Are the people to ignore or forget the fact that he is the only presidential candidate in our presidential history with multiple law suits filed against him currently before the courts, and not acquitted of any?
Is this GotaVansaya forgetful of the white vans of vengeance on our streets, when he was the Defence Secretary, under his brother President Mahinda? Should the people not know or be ignorant of the highly profitable state business surveying the seas, which was transferred to private profit makers? Does he want the people to forget, or be ignorant, of the 18th Amendment brought and passed with the dominance of his brother for the Executive President to have an unlimited term of presidency? Did he even accidently voice any objection to this hugely antidemocratic move, even after many years of experiencing American democracy? Does he also expect us to forget the anti-Muslim riots are Beruwela and Aluthgama, and how the yellow robed leaders of that violence prevailed over the then government? That is certainly a lot for the people to bear in mind.
The message is quite clear. The traditional parties and their candidates for this presidential poll having nothing of purpose or meaning to offer the people, the voters, other than the continuing corruption, fraud, political mockery and overall baloney spread throughout this campaign. One does not know whether any of the candidates coming from the wider civil society and politically activist organizations can grab the votes of the masses. It looks like the country is bound and bonded to the politics of crookedness.
The call of the day and hour is the search for honesty and service to the people. We may need more elections and more dirty politics to come anywhere near this goal. Time is certainly not on the side of the people of Sri Lanka!