An Unnecessary Presidential Election
Posted on November 15th, 2009

by Janaki Chandraratna, Perth Australia

The last few days rolled out a sad trail of events for Sri Lanka. The General who had the utmost respect of the patriotic nation has offered to leave the highest position in the forces and contemplating to contest the Presidency.

The General who once said that he would not enter politics has changed his mind. I wonder who is behind his decision. The claims he had made on corruption and IDPs were known to him when he made his earlier comments of not entering politics. The veracity of a coup/no coup is yet to be determined. The saga of Benazir Bhutto comes to mind where she was encouraged and enticed to come out of her retirement to contest Pakistani elections by local supporters backed by international forces.

I still believe that the General is too much of a gentleman of high standing to sell our country for personal gain. I also believe we need the skills of the General for our country’s future but not at this moment. Right now we need a Statesman who can safeguard our national interest and the sovereignty of our country both internally and externally. Besides, currently there is no need for a presidential election as the incumbent President has two more years to serve.

In the interest of the country I hope the President would have the wisdom and courage to call only a general election. This is not to say that the President should be worried of his re-election. The President would no doubt get an unsurpassed majority as any right thinking person would support his re-election. After all, our country was liberated from savage terrorism within 4 years of his term of office. This was an amazing achievement for any leader.

The defeat of terrorism was not a victory for the forces only, although the contribution of the forces was integral to its success. In fact, the victory of the forces was possible only because of the leadership, direction and un-failing support of the political backing. Without the political backing the army would be what it was for the last 30 years.

The defeat of terrorism in reality was a victory for diplomacy in its will to overcome baseless accusations of the international community, the fabrications of the terrorists and the Diaspora and a triumph over cheap lines of attack and conspiracies of unscrupulous local politicians cowing down to international pressures. It was also a victory for the ingenuity of the President who could proudly demonstrate to the world that terrorism was won by not leading the country into a recession in a recessive global environment. I am confident the Sri Lankan electorate is fully aware of the trials and tribulations of the past few months. Sri Lankans all over the world, I am sure, are all proud of the country’s achievements and could only raise the question as to “ƒ”¹…”How did he do it’?

Of course there are other challenges as corruption yet to overcome. Corruption in Sri Lanka has a history of over 50 years. All political parties are guilty of this crime at one point or another. Our colonial rulers were also not free from corruption when the key public positions were deliberately awarded to Tamils over competent Sinhalese in keeping with the “ƒ”¹…”Divide and Rule’ policy commitments. One can argue that the terrorist war would not have ever occurred if not for the imbalance created in the past.

It is pretty clear that the redemption of our society from corruption is impossibility within a brief 4 year period when the priority was on winning the un-winnable war. However, good governance and transparency are, these are prospects we should look forward to in the future and for that we need a parliament with a reasonable majority and a opposition that works for national interest and is capable of an alternative Govt. To this end what we currently need is a general election based on practical policy alternatives. A Presidential election in the current scenario will only divert attention from real issues such as Sri Lankan sovereignty and autonomy to a mud slinging exercise which would not be of any benefit to the country.

3 Responses to “An Unnecessary Presidential Election”

  1. jay-ran Says:

    Sarath Fonseka was only a PAID GOVT SERVANT WHO PERFORMED HIS DUTIES WELL!!! for which he was well REWARDED.

    So what is ther to grumble about not been accorded the highest RESPECT???

    His own fellowmen have supported to get a suicide bomber thru HIS OWN COOK,to KILL SARASTH FONSEKA: Is this not correct?

    Who sent him to Singapore for medical treatments to survive that attack???



    The GSF has retired. He has made the “right move” for himself and others. Let’s wish him well and look forward to a better future for SL without corruption!! Shall we?

  3. cassandra Says:

    Free elections are a sign of a thriving democracy. Sadly, in most countries, the government in power is able to manipulate the timing of elections to suit what it considers the most propitious time for it. So it is in Sri Lanka. I agree with the writer that President Rajapakse (if he is to be a true democrat) should not call an early Presidential election. He should serve out his full term before calling for an election. In the final analysis, whom are you going to deceive? What use is it to cling to power when and if the country no longer trusts you? Is it really worth it? I believe that the Sri Lankans being basically decent and honourable people have no respect for those who try to manipulate and exploit the system for their selfish purposes. The Sri Lankans are also politically astute and have no time for time servers and frauds. It is sobering to reflect that the political leaders we remember with genuine affection are the likes of Dudley Senanayake and his father, MD Banda and TB Subasinghe – honourable men whose honesty and dedication to public service was never in question.

    The country was prepared to give the present government a great deal of latitude because of its effort to defeat the LTTE. But to argue as the writer does that because of this, the country could not fight corruption is not convincing. It seems in fact that many people found the war an excuse to indulge in even more corruption.

    It requires a huge effort (and great moral conviction) to eliminate corruption or reduce it substantially. But corruption is part of the human condition and will always be with us. And corruption in Sri Lanka has a history that goes beyond the ‘over 50 years’ stated in the article. Yes, as the writer says our colonial masters were not free from it but I must say I tire of reading of ‘when the key public positions were deliberately awarded to Tamils over competent Sinhalese in keeping with the ‘Divide and Rule’ policy commitments’. This is a specious claim. Arguably, the colonial masters may not have done the ‘right thing’ always by the majority community but were they really corrupt to the point of deliberately giving preference to those from the minorities out of a sinister motive to divide and rule? At any rate, trying to dwell on the sins of the past over which we have no control is unavailing, to say the least. What is imperative is that we deal with the present and try to address today’s situation and try to combat corruption as it exists today.

    And talking of corruption, corrupting the political system is just as bad as it is to exploit it to gain direct financial reward.

    As for Sarath Fonseka’s credentials as a prospective Presidential candidate, I agree with jay-ran. Well said. SF seems like a spoilt child demanding more than what was his due share. He’s had his due recognition. The government did not try to take away the credit that was due to him when the LTTE was defeated. But surely, he cannot go on asking for more and more, like some latter day Oliver Twist?

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