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Chandrika to the fore or suffer Rajapaksa at your peril

| by Pearl Thevanayagam

(July 06, 2014, Bradford UK, Sri Lanka Guardian) Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga is needed at present to make a comeback. She has the chutzpah to call a spade a spade and she brooks no nonsense. Whatever her critics may say, her tenure was the most honest and open in the history of post 1983 Sri Lanka. She has what it takes to resurrect the damage the Rajapaksas have done. 

How she would achieve this open to question since she has to contend with hard-core Buddhist elements of which she is part by default while garnering the support of the minorities who are reeling from their ravages of war and religious intolerance.

The present government is bereft of capable parliamentarians and the opposition does not know whether it is coming or going. The national coffers are deplete with government overspending not on its populace but its bloated cabinet and bureaucrats which largely comprise the Rajapaksa clan. 

The breakfast table at the President would cause more mayhem than the BBS riots against Muslims since ordinary folk cannot afford one decent meal a day. Billy Bunter Namal with his Tourette’s syndrome and horrible teeth could lose a few kilos but it is too much to ask the Rajapaksas to cut down on their indulgence.

After all, hailing from arid Hambantota and overnight catapulted to lead a country by fair means or foul they have legitimate reason to enjoy the spoils of Presidency. Rajapaksas are in no hurry to abandon their easily won victory and they would move heaven and earth to cling onto power at any cost. 

Atpanaku pavisu vanthal artha rathiriyil kudai piddippan, translates into ‘a noveau riche would hold an umbrella at midnight’.

While the country is deep in debt and ordinary folk cannot afford three square meals a day, children attending school without breakfast and milk having become a luxury item, the Rajapaksas are having breakfast every Wednesday to sort out how they could cling onto power.

That the country is run by cowboys (in Sri Lankan parlance meeharakas, erumai or bullocks) should be desisted in any democracy. The opposition is weak and the JVP is torn between two lovers of the opposition and the placating government in power and it has enough jokers such as Wimal Weerwansa and Mervyn Silva who change colours like the chameleon.

Given this scenario why should we accuse the UNHRC of bringing the government before the ICC. The government is committing hara-kiri of its own making devoid of external influence. 

Today we have a government which respects neither law nor democracy and is bent on enriching the President’s family as inheritors of the island going so far to tout every law inherent in the constitution.

For this tiny island, a tear-drop in the Indian ocean abutting India, it has had its fair share of turbulence post-independence. There was every opportunity to keep this island nation intact but as British conceded we should have autonomy the Sinhalese took it upon themselves that Ceylon would be predominantly a Sinhala Buddhist nation.

While many theoreticians credit S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike as the evil harbinger of Sinhala nationalism, it was J.R. Jayewardene who in his Colombo Plan in 1951 mooted Sinhala chauvinism. He had the support of Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan and Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam who forfeited their allegiance to Tamil cause for senatorial positions and to this day Tamils would pay the price for their betrayal. Thanks to them, the upcountry Tamils would be disenfranchised to become Ceylon citizens and to this day they are slaves in tea plantations which brings a major portion of our national income. While they live in abysmal conditions bereft of their rights, the government is partying like there is no tomorrow.

Had the Tamil politicians took it upon themselves to barter with the departing British the need to give parity to the Tamils who have inalienable right to govern alongside Sinhalese then we would not have had the 1958, 1983 and the recent Tamil genocide of 2009. 

Ambassadorial positions are meted out to family members and sycophants of the President. Career diplomats are side-lined to accommodate government stooges and military officers in foreign diplomatic posts.

The recent unprovoked attacks on hapless Muslims brings into question whether the government has any feelings to accommodate ethnic minorities. It is open secret the BBS was a stooge of Defense Secretary and brother of the President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and it unleashed mayhem bordering on hooliganism while an opponent monk who desisted BBS bullying was arrested whereas the mad monk of the BBS is under protection of Gotabhaya, an equally deranged person and an army deserter.
As a former petrol-shed assistant and a dual US-Sri Lankan citizenship holder Gotabhaya stands a good chance of being indicted for war crimes under US and EU laws. To cap it all the BBS was exonerated of its hate mongering speech as a simple outburst of nationalism while a dissenting voice was taken to task with the accusation that he inflicted wounds himself and was forced to admit to the same effect.

So where do we go from here? Should we remain silent and let the Rajapaksas plunder the nation and make it their own fiefdom to the detriment of all its citizens who have been mesmerised into believing the majority Sinhala Buddhists should hold sway while ethnic minorities should be forever be thankful for the crumbs offered.

It is time to say no to Rajapaksa rule if our island is to become the serendib it once was.

(The writer has been a journalist for 25 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005 the membership of which is 200 from 40 countries. She can be reached at thevanayagampearl@yahoo.co.uk)
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