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What’s in a name?

| by Victor Cherubim

( October 12, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) Oil prices down, food prices down, import prices down, inflation down - that is Britain today. Europe, we are told is faltering and may need some of Britain’s migrant workers. That is not all; events also unfold the swing from Conservative to a new name, UKIP at Clacton parliamentary bi-election yesterday. Is this a lesson for us in far away Sri Lanka?

Our inflation is up, our wages are low, and the expectations of our people are too high. There is a new past time in Sri Lanka. Almost every third person, we learn, three wheeler drivers not excluded, are quietly creaming off brokers’ commission on property sales in Colombo. It may be a “bookies day” for a tax on unearned income, in our next Budget?

Some pundits question the argument spouted by a man who crossed over and who may cross over again, that “a candidate beaten twice at the Presidential election and leading a party which had been rejected 28 times by the people, has no moral right to contest the Presidential election”. Others maintain, a third term is un-constitutional and cannot be challenged in Court.

Then there are still others in the know who say the name, “Rajapaksha” is magic. Mahinda has stomped home in two previous presidential elections, has always triumphed at home, but at the same time, the name “Sri Lanka” has slumped abroad. It can hardly be said for want of spreading the word on terrorism, or in fact, for EAM visits around the world.

What makes Sri Lanka stand out?

The so called “righteous world” took upon itself to be a moral champion of justice. There were many takers in conflict resolution. There was a great responsibility to make sure that Sri Lanka not falters again by the way the war was ended and the question of human rights and accountability is addressed fully in the future. This stand has not weakened, it has continued to increase.

However, the focus has shifted to matters of administration, reconstruction and “political normality”. Both parties to the conflict want to see progress beyond conflict. But tried and tested measures have not produced the “measured” result in the eyes of many.

Confronting the past is a part of moving on. But quite naturally, what has been “perpetrated” and perhaps “experienced” have yet to be investigated fully and put to rest. It does take time, but the fear of it being forgotten worries many.

The island nation has come under intense international pressure, for want of a better expression – a benign conspiracy - to investigate allegations of war crimes during the climax of the 26 year civil war. In Sri Lanka, also there are to some fear of a recurrence of terrorism and strangely the military is thus motivated in various modes of occupation,

There have been many attempts at conflict resolution, at home and abroad, parliamentary and other committees not excluded, but resolution has politically evaded until now.

Will Mahinda Rajapaksa reinvent himself?

A second chance, a third term always, means the question of a legacy in the minds of people and those who stand for re-election. There are two points of view to consider.

It is the question of new alliances, new initiatives, and smart ways at looking at old problems. There is an unwritten adage, which literally states it is “better to work with one’s enemy, if it promotes you.” There is no magic which is beyond our President. We, no doubt, have a lot to learn from him and so does the world. The world too has a lot to learn from Sri Lanka, for being a bastion of democracy, if that means an election every few months.

The people of Sri Lanka, whether they come from the Deep South or the North, have a vision of the future and if external pressure cannot shift them, internal pressure, will drive them on and forwards.


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