by Ariyawansa Ranaweera
One of the unpardonable and lasting damages the LTTE perpetrated on the body politic of Sir Lanka is the killing of Liberal intellectuals and moderate Political leaders across the language divide. It is not necessary to name the victims because, every public spirited person is aware of this dastardly act.
Coming down to moderate political leaders, they saw to it that leaders of the highest calibre like Neelan Tiruchelwam, Katheswaran, Amirthalingam, Pararajasingham, Thambimuttu et al, fell to the LTTE assassins’ bullets . Front line Sinhala leaders like Gamini Dissanayake, Athulathmudali, Premadasa, Ranjan Wijerathne, Gamini Wijesekara, and also a whole host of second rung leaders who had the potential to advance in to the highest level were massacred mercilessly. The LTTE went all out to render the country rudderless.
If you look around the present political scene, it is this void that has adversely affected Sri Lankan politics. It takes years of experience and toil coupled with political acumen to mould a national level leader.
It is against this background that I thought of addressing you as an elderly citizen. You are one of the promising young leaders with the potential to take over the reins of this country. The country is in dire need of a leader who can come up with a realistic and humane programme to take it out of the present mire.
But—it is a big ‘but’—you have to undergo change, if you are to live up to people’s expectations. First and foremost you have to present to the country a viable economic and social programme which will be implemented in case you achieve your ambition of giving leadership to the country.
Are you also going to repeat the Regaining Sri Lanka’ programme condemned by the people? The UNP has not disowned it.
What measures are you going to adopt to ameliorate the conditions of the middle class and the poor, while continuing with the economic growth?
What will be the fate of welfare measures under your leadership?
Instead of trying to oust the present leadership of your party prematurely, you should quietly build up your image and convince the country that you have a strategy and the verve to take the country forward. Resorting to cheap measures like doling out some pittance to the needy giving paltry sums of money to religious places will take you nowhere. They may be able to get you a vote or two, but these measures will not help you move forward as a national leader. People should realize that you have something substantial to offer them instead of empty rhetoric, if they are to accept you as a national leader. In other words, what the county need is a visionary leader.
Secondly, you have to get out of the long shadow of your late father. After all the late Premadasa was not a leader who was a darling of the entire populace. The political legacy bequeathed to you by your father is not without unsavory undertones. You with your experience gathered by now should be able to realize this important fact.
Your delivery, your gesticulations, voice and the contents of your speeches, which deal with mundane matters, rather than profound national issues, give the impression that you are trying to emulate your father. As you know imitators would not make original leaders.
Please unmake the image that you have so far projected. Otherwise, it will be too late. The county will be the loser, if you tread along the same path.
Wishing you the very best!