Why We Should Look at the Bright Side of Things
Posted on November 21st, 2009

Donald Chandraratna, Perth, Australia

A sense of despondency and gloom overhangs the political environment these days. The turn of events after the retirement of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and his likely entry into the mainstream of politics has caused this despondency among the nationalists (we are called pseudo nationalist or chauvinists by Western Oriented Gentlemen WOGS, for short) in Sri Lanka. This situation has also infused a modicum of hope to a moribund opposition which was looking for a face saving device in the event of a hastily called election to the Presidency. Well, let us not panic because as the Australian saying goes “ƒ”¹…”a week is a long time in politics’ and that “ƒ”¹…”God who separates politicians also brings them together’. One thing that we need to remember in politics is that there is nothing impossible. Who would have ever thought that the JVP can vote with the UNP and sit with the pro LTTE crowd? Who would have ever thought that the retired CDS will enter politics when he was implacably shunning a political career at the beginning? Now that he has met with the President after his farewell function will he join with the President to develop the country and bring lawlessness and corruption to an end? This is still possible and that is why we should look at the bright side of things.

The UNP is unlikely to win an election in the country for many more decades to come. Why? Because it has lost the lustre as a party capable of achieving the national good and there is no hope, and not with a leader who is holding onto his leadership in the most undemocratic manner but trying to champion the cause of democracy elsewhere. He has at every opportunity gone round the world to muster forces to save the terrorist curse in the country which it could not overcome when in power. He has been active canvassing for the economic isolation of Sri Lanka in the hope of declaring it a failed state which opens up an opportunity for international intervention under the humanitarian law. The opposition leader is really a “ƒ”¹…”funny man’ who is a master of gaffes. I cannot believe that those uprightly good men and women in the UNP have not got the ticker in their heart to stand up to these treacherous acts of the leader and get rid of him once and for all. What possibility is there for a meekly bunch to win the hearts and minds of people. That is the bright side

The retired Army commander is an illustrious son of Sri Lanka born and bred to run a military outfit. But running a country needs political craftsmanship and that is entirely a different kettle of fish. He has already committed enough sins politically. His views about ethnic minorities and co existence were political faux pas and in that he committed the sin of political incorrectness which is going to haunt him. His early denial of entry into politics was a deliberate lie. His ill preparedness for the complex game of politics will not woo the voters after another month or so as and I said at the beginning of this piece a week is a long time in politics Mr Commander. The decorations of militaristic splendour will fade away in a matter of weeks once you disrobe the military garb and, furthermore enter a vocation which will sling mud all over. Unfortunately the game of politics will bring the Commander to earth and the adulation will disappear soon. The Commander without the shining armour will not be a force that can defeat the present Commander in Chief. Now that is another reason why we should look at the bright side of things

Whatever the machinations of the forces external to Sri Lanka, and there are many already, the President has the foxy maturity to counter. The Diaspora has no clout inside the country anymore. The war is over for good. The right minded Tamil people are keen to be part of the multicultural nation. Already there are signs of dissension here among the Tamil people and the intelligent section of the Diaspora will unite with the peace loving Sri Lankans for a united country. The opposition is adding all the minorities into their ballot box which is not going to happen. The opposition has forgotten that Prabhakaran is history and with no threats to cut off the voting arm literally the Tamil voters will be free for the first time in thirty years. Now that is another reason to look at the bright side of things

The need will be for good governance and Mr Commander has done a stellar job in pointing this as his main slogan. Though his chosen strategy is wrong in sleeping with the enemy I beg of him to join with the peace loving people who shun terrorism in the country. The Commander is needed because the Diaspora instigated threat will be there for another decade or so. Being Sri Lankan I will not speak ill of the General because deep within us we still salute him. There is time to sort out things and hope that joining the correct alliance is still open. The best method to correct the shortcomings of the present lot, and “ƒ”¹…”am sure there are many, is to join the winning crowd and effect change from within. That is much easier than languishing in the opposition. Hope the General will come back to his senses and do the right thing by the country. I am hopeful, and that is why I am looking at the bright side of things. Join the club.

One Response to “Why We Should Look at the Bright Side of Things”

  1. cassandra Says:

    The dominance of a single political party or a single political family (and the consequent lack of an effective opposition) do not bode well for a democracy. And ordinarily the prospect of a serious challenger to Mahinda Rajapakse, at the next Presidential election should have been unreservedly welcome. But the fact that the challenger is to be Sarath Fonseka seems to make a difference, with many questioning whether the former Army commander should present himself as a candidate. Sarath Fonseka is a national hero, and many seem to feel that he would be well advised to stay away from the murky world of politics and preserve his good name.

    Since this article was written it has been announced that he will in fact nominate to contest the next Presidential election. So, all the advice to him not to contest is of course now irrelevant.

    It was Georges Clemenceau, a former French Prime Minister, who is said to have observed that ‘war is too serious a business to be left to the generals’. But the generals may wish to return the compliment with the counter that ‘politics is too serious a business to be left to politicians’. Sarath Fonseka seems to be saying as much. And of course he has every right – as indeed does any other citizen – to aspire for the highest office in the land. Whether he achieves it or not is a matter for the voters to decide.

    I would hesitate to say – as the writer of the article does – that Sarath Fonseka’s “early denial of entry into politics was a deliberate lie.” In hindsight, it may not have been the cleverest thing for him to have said but I am prepared to accept that it may have been his honest view at the time, and in light of changed circumstances he’s had a change of heart. And surely, that’s fair enough. I realize we don’t admire people who chop and change but nor do we think too well of the inflexibility of those who pig-headedly stick to a given position.

    The question of how good military men fare in politics has been discussed in relation to Sarath Fonseka’s decision to enter politics. And this makes for interesting observation. If we look at the example of Pakistan, there’s little to cheer. Nor has Mynamar, where military rule has dominated, give reason for comfort. On the other hand, there is the example of General Dwight Eisenhower who made a successful transition from Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in World War II to a two term President of the US. Then, there is the example of General Charles de Gaulle. Arguably, it was de Gaulle who managed, after years of political instability in the country, to bring France back to an even political keel. But these are examples from ‘another time, another place’ and such comparisons are of little value. We need to look at Sarath Fonseka’s decision to enter political life without being concerned with such ‘precedents’ but by reference to the sort of man he has shown himself to be. The writer notes that “he has already committed enough sins politically. His views about ethnic minorities and co existence were political faux pas” and these things will come back to haunt him. To beat an incumbent President is never an easy task. And now other matters have surfaced that will not help his cause. The allegations made in the article by KT Rajasingham do not reflect well on the former Army commander. In matters such as this, inevitably, some mud tends to stick.

    Sri Lanka is in for some interesting times. But then, what’s new? In the meantime, like the writer suggests, let’s stay positive.

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