Compromise national security – probably gravest and unforgiving
Posted on May 9th, 2019

By Abdul Samad Saleem Courtesy Ceylon Today

The 8 January 2015 will go down as a date that Sri Lanka changed forever. A country with abundance of resources, a multi-billion dollar geographical location, and unmatched human excellence was destined to become a graveyard.

Sri Lankans voted in this government expecting CHANGE. A change that was perceived to be better promising the Sun and the Moon to the citizens of this country. Sadly, it was a fabricated move by the so-called joint opposition and certain media heavyweights of this country to destabilise and destroy a thriving country under a strong, capable and efficient leadership.

None of the said things in the manifesto did make any sense then nor do they make any sense now. What has made sense is that
Sri Lankans were misled, used and ultimately killed to fulfil the financial and power thirst of some greedy, mudslinging, classless politicians directed and driven by their imperialist masters.

The struggle and the result

A complex and decisive election for the UNP at the time meant that the party had to field in someone who would appeal to the masses and was worthy in the eyes of the people to be at the helm. Ranil Wickremesinghe, was never going to be that personality or ‘Man’. With his imperialist upbringing, background and education he would never be able to adopt himself to be the heartbeat of the masses. Hence, Maithripala Sirisena was chosen as the marketing tool to win the votes, a successful strategy.

From its inception it has perceived to be a herculean task to make this government function. Polarised personalities, views, policies meant inefficiencies, delays, tireless bureaucracy handicapped public administration and national security. It started off with a collapsing economy. GDP growth which was at 6-7% dropped 3%, bringing down the momentum coupled with increased interest rates resulted in a liquidity crunch not experienced in recent history. An IMF drilled Fiscal Policy agenda drove taxes higher burdening businesses, halting expansion and growth. Resulting in a falling disgraceful equity market and no job creation making lives miserable for the youth of this country. Amidst this fall from grace, the Rupee devalued by about 25% resulting in spiralling inflation and unbearably high cost of living.

However, Sri Lankans being nice and kind people by birth have tolerated this menace. 21-04-2019 saw the darkest chapter in Sri Lanka’s history when more than 250 people were killed and more than 500 shown the way to hospitals. Why? An incapable, inefficient and disastrous government did not act decisively on intelligence and compromised national security to the detriment of its citizens.

High literacy

Sri Lanka has a proud rate of high literacy. Do Sri Lankans need a government that cannot protect them and make them live secure and comfortable lives? It’s beyond comprehension how the people of this country can be so tolerant.

Administrative Achievements  

In this paragraph I would briefly list down some of the key administrative achievements of this government during this time.

Multiple changes in Ministries and Ministers, so much so that it felt like musical chairs at times. What promised to be a scientific approach to appointments turned out to be a National joke, resulting in poor policy making and administration collapsing the system and the end result.

Trying to push through a reconciliation process and implement a federal system that by no means is convincing or appealing to the masses of this country. Constitutional changes and the so-called reconciliation agenda was made to look like more important than the economy and the general well-being of the people. Once again, a well-choreographed event by the Media and the administration.  Making false announcements have been another trait of this administration. The Volkswagen factory investment announcement and most recently the Oil refinery announcement have all proved to be marred by controversy or proven to be completely untrue or false.

Over obsession to remain in power. Throughout the tenure of this government it has been a highlight the focus it has given on consolidating power. It’s rather unfortunate to say if it had concentrated on delivering results, remaining in power would have been an automatic consequence.
Mudslinging – baselessly accusing prominent figures of the previous administration and in the process spending unaccountable millions and billions on legal infrastructure. As of now, there has not been a single verdict or desirable result which would have proved worthy of the cause. 

Api horu allannawa was the tagline during the presidential elections.  Compromise of National security is probably the gravest and most unforgiving of crimes this administration has bestowed upon Sri Lankans. It’s my country, my love, and my peace that’s been taken away by a bunch of incapable public administrators. Peace that was achieved after three decades of war, unparalleled loss of life and mega sacrifices of the tri-forces. We have been set back by a decade economically and socially. Sri Lanka’s flourishing international image is back to doldrums.

A promise for a better tomorrow

January 2020, will bring another opportunity for us to rise from the ashes. A sense of new hope to elect someone truly capable to guide this country to its rightful place on the international stage, both economically and socially. Leaving aside my political bias I would try to list out a few reasons why former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse should be elected to the helm of Sri Lanka’s public administration.

Personality and Strong leadership. During his stint as the Secretary of Defence, he proved his leadership with seamless integration of policy making and administrative excellence. Unprecedented infrastructure development and a robust well-comprehended national security policy ensured a stable prosperous Sri Lanka. An uncompromising personality and strong leadership with a vision were the cornerstones of this success.
No-nonsense attitude and approach to decision making. This is probably the most important trait the next leader of Sri Lanka needs to have. It is precisely this approach that produced dynamic leadership and a result-oriented work structure.

Unconventional politician. It’s probably time that Sri Lankans take a stance against all conventional politicians and their petty politics. Their contribution to the country and society has been an absolute curse to say the least. America is reaping the rewards of electing an unconventional president. Its economy is growing at a faster rate than ever. Millions of jobs are being created, companies are starting to come back with billions to invest in manufacturing and knowledge-based infrastructure. France elected a rookie at the helm and is the second most stable economy after Germany in Europe. Decades old and much-needed labour reforms are coming to facilitate companies to operate and flourish in a competitive environment.

Close and healthy relationship with China. The Rajapaksa regime had a close knit and healthy relationship with China. Much was said about Chinese debt which only constitutes less than 10% of Sri Lanka’s total debt. Balance comprises of debt that came from imperialist institutes such as the IMF, World Bank and ADB. They are collectively responsible for holding the country to ransom and influencing fiscal and monetary policy, making life miserable for the citizens.

The 80/20 policy. The major challenge for a leader is to ensure the majority of the people under him are happy and convinced. This was much the case with the previous regime where some decisions taken in the best interest of the country were less appealing to some minorities. What we as intellectuals have to realise is a leader’s job is not to make or keep everyone happy, if one needs to achieve that, he or she can sell ice-cream by the roadside. What needs to be achieved is a framework where a majority of the people remain confident and satisfied.

The drawbacks

Like all leaders Gotabaya Rajapaksa also has certain flaws in his short political stint. In its post-independent history,  Sri Lanka has produced only two capable and result-oriented leaders – the late president Ranasinghe Premadasa and former president Mahinda Rajapaksa. What distinguishes both these great leaders from Gotabaya Rajapaksa is their pro poor policies and their closeness to the masses.  If Gotabaya aspires to be a successful and long term leader of Sri Lanka, changes need to come in policy-making and personality to  appeal to the masses. If people vote for him, especially the masses, it will not be for him but for Mahinda Rajapaksa who is pretty much still the people’s president. Gota needs to build and operate on his own image for a successful career in public administration.

Secularism prevails in his approach to politics. As a person and writer who has closely followed him, I can be rest assured Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa is not at all a racist in any form. However, certain elements close to him give such an impression to the minorities. A carefully articulated practical policy with the right people in-charge of implementation will ensure secularism could be used as a positive vibe as opposed to being viewed as negative for a certain section of society. Of course the perception among Muslims is changing but needs to change faster.

A decision for the future

We, as Sri Lankans in January 2020, need to decide on our priorities. Do we need a democracy where there is no value for human life? A Democracy that does bring prosperity or security?A democracy that divides citizens with race and religion. A democracy that breeds corruption and inefficiencies in public administration.The irony is this is exactly what we have today – a regressive economy, a Media that’s corrupt and politically/financially motivated. The interest of the country is the last priority. Is this what is expected from this government?

We, as Sri Lankans are equally responsible for what’s happening now and what will happen in the future. It’s our collective responsibility to elect someone who is capable and will deliver on his promises. Gotabaya Rajapaksa seems to be the only public figure who can guide this country to its rightful place on the international stage.

Readers might argue this might not be the best possible time to write an article of this nature. But then what is a good a time? As a person representing a minority of this country, I assume it’s my responsibility to bring the best of my knowledge and experience to my people.

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