Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sri Lanka needs democratic ruler; neither ‘General’ nor ‘King’

(By Ajith Perakum Jayasinghe, November 24, Colombo - Lanka Polity

It is now confirmed that Sri Lanka's former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka will contest the Presidential anticipated to be held in January. He has got the obstacles cleared to be the opposition common candidate as the major opposition United National Party (UNP) as well as the Marxist nationalist People's Liberation Front (JVP) have agreed on conditions to prop up him. Fonseka has agreed to abolish the executive presidency within an undisclosed time frame and JVP has also consented to Ranil Wickramasinghe to be the Premier of the caretaker government that will hold power during the transition. Fonseka has further consented to appoint two MPs each from JVP and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).

Reportedly, President Mahinda Rajapakse was told by his intelligence sources and the political informants in the UNP hierarchy that Wickramasinghe would contest in the Presidential since JVP would not consent Fonseka agreeing to appoint Wickramasinghe as the Prime Minister of the caretaker government. Without knowledge of the latest developments that came through discussions in chambers that were shut for Rajapskse’s informants like UNP National Organizer S.B. Disanayaka, the President signed the gazette to call for the Presidential that he was delaying for several weeks.

Rajapakse might lose two years from his mandate if he loses the Presidential. However, he is a born fighter and has already commenced his campaign with vigor and shrewdness. As the supporters of Fonseka are highlighting him as an uncorrupt soldier who devoted himself for 40 years unblemished service in Army, the President hired some prominent Tamil writers to unveil some crucial facts related to Fonseka. The first cannon was fired by Canada-based political analyst D.B.S. Jeyaraj and the pro-government Asian Tribune editor K.T. Rajasingham took a gung ho turn hitting harder to Fonseka to lure Rajapakse. Pro-war Asian Tribune headlined its story as Every bullet fired at innocent Tamil civilians fetched kickbacks to Gen Fonseka family in which the kickbacks said earned by Fonseka’s son-in-law or the Fonseka family as they articulate, through military supplies are outlined.

Both Rajapakse and Fonseka can claim equally for the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. The leadership of these two personalities combined with the Defense Secretary, President’s brother Gotabhaya Rajapakse was crucial for the conquest of the Tamil Tigers that actually reined the northern and eastern parts of the island for nearly three decades. Now it is history and the country needs restoration of democracy and good governance so that the country achievs rapid growth to solve the people’s problems.

Rajapakse is surrounded by a bunch of shrewdest political opportunists whom he himself does not trust at least to support him in a Presidential held after the general election. Now, he has given them the bait either to support him in the Presidential or to perish. His extended family and friends that hail from the village gentry that had less opportunity in the past among the political and economic elite is extremely ambitious to manipulate his prowess to achieve their targets. One of his economic managers is a crook who was punished by Sri Lanka’s Supreme Court and the economists have failed to put the country into a track that the war achievements will result in growth that trickles down to poor masses that are still burdened with massive taxes brought in the war time. However, Mahinda Rajapakse is still popular among people mainly due to his outgoing characteristics irrespective of all the nonsense his associates commit.

The main doubt the opponents of Rajapakse have regarding the retired General Fonseka is his military characteristics. They suspect the bird of freedom and democracy they are trying to portray in Fonseka will ultimately backfire as a military dictator. Still he is General for Sri Lankan media despite he is changing into national suit he is not familiar with although he is very handsome and matured looking in it.

The Tamil writers like D.B.S. Jeyaraj and are so eager to expose the egoistic traits of Fonseka’s character to point out that he is unfit for the post of Presidency, an argument nowhere ever proved since almost all the state heads in Sri Lanka as well as in the world have shown this attribute in various levels.

What the progressive polity needs from a future President of Sri Lanka is neither the ‘General’ quality nor the ‘King’ quality demonstrated by Fonseka and Rajapakse, but a principled democratic ruler that can restore ruined rule of law, democracy and good governance. Sri Lankan voters will decide in January whose head is fit for the cap.    

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