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To Sleep or Not to Sleep

Is it not transparent that his aim is to be the next President using the same tactics that the Rajapakshas had used? There is no sincere intention to take the country out of the abyss that it has fallen into. He or his colleagues have proved otherwise during past 20 or so years.

by Helasingha Bandara

The people of the resplendent island, also sometimes known as (aska) Fools’ Paradise, have made a magnificent bed that is wide, strong and luxurious especially in protest against the previous government. It is up to the Rajapakshas to sleep in it or not. The proverbial bed making has a negative connotation, “You’ve made your bed, now lie in it ”. The bed for the Rajapaksa family is made by people with positive intentions leaving no room for a complaint of the type ‘there are troublesome Tamils in the North and there is the dead sea in the South, how can I stretch as I like’ to emerge. This bed was made with the trust that Gotabaya would be different from the other Rajas because of his military discipline and the experience and perhaps the skills that he gained while living in a developed country.  Before a discourse on the tell-tale signs of Gotabaya, let us examine the potential reasons, if any at all, for them to avoid sleeping in a bed that has no shortcomings.

Euphoria

The annihilation of the opposition at both the Presidential and parliamentary elections could lead to a euphoria that might last for the next four years. It has been victory every step of the way so far and the members of the SLPP are more than jubilant. Such elations invariably mislead people to presume happiness and victories are immortal. With that psyche, the ruling leaders may decide against sleeping in the proverbial bed, however cushy and cosy it might be.

Amnesia

Those who are under the illusion that Rajapakshas are invincible, may forget the most recent lessons. By 2015 all-powerful Mahinda, backed by the claims of the victory and the ending of the thirty-year war, the construction of an efficient transport network and other developmental projects etc. was thought to be invincible. On a cold morning in January 2015, the people sent Rajas packing home cold-bloodedly.  Euphoria may aggravate amnesia, but in reality there is no guarantee that history cannot repeat itself.   Euphoria and amnesia may have emboldened the family to be stubborn and inflexible. “Strong winds can uproot an Oak, not the grass that bend with it”.

Verbal diarrhoea

Rhetoric, a euphemism for verbal diarrhoea, is presumed to be effective in keeping people misled and silenced, a blunder that all politicians make without realising that they themselves are the only victims of the distorted versions of the truth. For instance, Wimal Weerawansa and Gammanpila are the only people in the country to believe what they said before and after Pompeo’s visit. Wijedasa Rajapaksa’s and Diana Gamage’s explanations on their stand on the constitution amendment process are nothing short of shameless ranting. Sense of shame, dignity, pride, etc. are concepts that are respected by civilized human beings. How to classify People Like Wijedasa and Diana in the civilised human spectrum is a task beyond a decent human being’s thought process.

The main opposition

The former UNP, now known as SJB ruled the country not long ago. It is repulsive indeed to hear them criticize everything that the present government do. They are already suffering from the chronic amnesia that they have forgotten that their inefficiency, insincerity and incompetence reversed the people’s revolution against the Rajapakshas’. As my vocabulary of a foreign language is insufficient to express my true feelings about the opposition, I may ask “Thopi, redi endagenada Katha karanne?”. Visiting Buddhist temples has become the daily routine of Sajith Premadasa’s itinerary. His tone of speech either at the parliament or at temples or at press conferences signals the tranquillity of a recluse. Is it not transparent that his aim is to be the next President using the same tactics that the Rajapakshas had used? There is no sincere intention to take the country out of the abyss that it has fallen into. He or his colleagues have proved otherwise during past 20 or so years.

Progressive opposition

This opposition has not progressed in any sphere. They do not know the reasons for their abysmal political advancement. In Sri Lanka, although necessary, the verbal opposition to evil actions against the poor masses does not have the desired effect. Their barking until the cows come home has not done them any favours so far. Action is needed. There is a range of practical actions that the so called activists can take without resorting to violence. Buddhist monks keep on blaming the Christians that they try to convert the Buddhists into Christianity when helping a poor villager to get a well dug for drinking water. Instead of crying their hearts out, if 40000 odd monks can help people on the ground, they may be able to retain the Buddhists and convert people from other faiths. Similarly, the activists keep on talking without doing anything. Take the human elephant confrontation. Get to the villages and design strategies and get the local politicians involved and achieve a feasible solution. Say a campaign of “Alida, Apida?” (Elephants or humans?). In a blink of an eye, people start rallying round you from all corners of the country.  This is only one practical example.  Have a master plan of how to address people’s issues, get to work on the ground with people, then people will begin to recognise you in no time as a force to reckon with. Four years ahead is not a long time. You need to act now.

Gotabaya at 71

Gotabaya has four more years, possibly another term. However, Gotabaya cannot be expected to rule beyond eighty years of age. That is not a long time away, only nine years left. It has already taken a full year to hold a general election, pass a 20th amendment and to tackle a pandemic. The entire nation knows that Mahinda had the best opportunity to go into the history books as the best achieving political leader of the modern era. He missed the boat. It is Gotabaya’s turn now. People placed trust on Gotabaya and believed that he knows, he is a strategist, and he is disciplined.  If he is part of a dynasty building process, that would be unfortunate for them and disastrous for the country. No dynasty survives forever. If he was portrayed as the strategist at the expense of the true strategist in relation to the war and national security, that is a shame on them and a catastrophe for the country.

Power is relative. What type of satisfaction does a ruler get out of ruling a begging country and starving and underdeveloped people? Every news media carries sob stories about the poor people of this country. No roads, no water, no houses, no jobs, nothing to eat are the stories played on screens. How can a ruler be proud of ruling such people and such a country? Gotabaya has a golden opportunity to change this country and go into the history books if he can think like his holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet, the leader of the government of Tibet in exile.

“May I become all times, both now and forever

A protector for those without protection

A guide for those who have lost their way

A ship for those with oceans to cross

A bridge for those with rivers to cross

A sanctuary for those in danger

A lamp for those without light

A place of refuge for those who lack shelter

And a servant to all in need

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