Need of the hour: True national leader
Posted on June 27th, 2019

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe Courtesy Ceylon Today

The drama caused by Muslim politicians, since the decision to leave their Ministerial posts, has taken a new twist. Out of the nine Muslim politicians, who resigned in a huff, two have returned to their posts; almost from the backdoor. 

Kabir Hashim’s and Abdul Haleem’s decisions have caused a rift among the group and in the process they let the cat out of the bag, as to the real reason for this group to take the stand it did when they resigned from their Ministries.


After the collective decision to leave their posts, they held a press conference to explain the reasons to the Sri Lankan public. They told us that it was to facilitate the ongoing investigations into the Easter Sunday massacres, that they were leaving their posts. Even at the time this statement drew much scepticism, for if it was indeed the case, they would have left the Yahapalana Government altogether.


Instead, not only did they opt to stay in Government and to support the Government,  Rauff Hakeem continued to sit in the Presidential Select Committee appointed to probe into the 21/4 tragedy. From the aggressive manner he pursued the Government Circular, regarding the dress code for Government servants; the role he plays in the panel is obvious. Furthermore, despite their pledge to sit as backbenchers, they dominate the front, on flimsy excuses. Instead of revoking their Parliamentary privileges that they were no longer entitled to, as mere Members of Parliament, their security had been enhanced.


Favouritism    


These decisions taken by Speaker Karu Jayasuriya are highly questionable indeed and did raise the hackles of Parliamentarians like Udaya Gammanpila. The reason given to justify a front bench seat for Bathiudeen, is applicable to Gammanpila as well. However, Gammapila who was in the Joint Opposition since 2015, and now in the Opposition since the beginning of this year, has been discriminated by the Speaker and forced to sit as a backbencher, despite being the leader of a political Party, the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya. 

 While the official reason for the Muslim politicians to quit was to facilitate the 21/4 investigations, unofficially, another reason was circulated among the public. Apparently, when Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M. Hizbullah and Western Province Governor Azath Salley resigned, from their posts, on the request of President Maithripala Sirisena, pressure for Rishad Bathiudeen mounted. However, apparently he was obstinate not to follow suit. After much persuasion he had agreed, if all resigns. Therefore, fearing a backlash against the ordinary Muslims by non-Muslim communities, the other eight Muslim politicians opted to resign, en masse, ensuring that Bathiudeen too resigned.


Rathana Thera factor


This might have been palatable had it not been for the sequence of events. Venerable Rathana Thera began a fast-unto-death campaign to pressurise Bathiudeen to leave the Government. Interestingly, Rathana Thera’s campaign came in the backdrop of the Opposition’s call for a No-Confidence Motion against Bathiudeen. This NCM comprised a ten item charge sheet that links Minister Bathiudeen with the terrorists responsible for 21/4.


In the most unexpected manner Rathana Thera’s campaign gained traction. The non-Muslim communities united in this campaign to oust Bathiudeen from the Government. For Rathana Thera this was an incredible rejuvenation from the political wilderness he was stumbling about after the Yahapalana Government he helped to instal proved to be an absolute disaster. However, the reason for the campaign to draw the support, it did, was not because of Rathana Thera but because the animosity Sri Lankans have against Bathiudeen.


Until Rathana Thera took the initiative he was rendered a nonentity in the political arena. By the third day of the fast, however, the Thera’s well-being had become a national concern and even His Eminence Ranjith Cardinal Malcolm visited the fasting monk whose strength was fast deteriorating. By the time Hizbullah and Salley resigned Rathana Thera was almost comatose, but had regained some of his former glory. That may be the reason for the Venerable Thera to quit his campaign, without holding on until Bathiudeen too followed suit.


Nine Ministers


The group of nine Muslim politicians quit their Ministerial posts (but not the Government) after Rathana Thera stopped the campaign and while he was recuperating in hospital. Though they called a press conference and announced their resignation, they had not handed over their resignations even by the time Rathana Thera had left the hospital.


The No-Confidence Motion that was brought by the Opposition was against Minister Bathiudeen. However, as he is no longer a Minister of the Yahapalana Government, this NCM too went into abeyance. Despite Bathiudeen’s continued presence in the Government, Rathana Thera too had lost interest in him and was off to other ventures like storming into the controversial university that is under construction in the East conveniently with a Media crew on tow. However, in the wake of Hashim and Haleem retaking their Ministries their real reason for resigning in the first place was unwittingly revealed. This duo’s return to their posts was obviously done without the knowledge or consent of the other seven Muslim politicians, as this has come as a shock for the rest of the group. It is in their shock that they revealed that it was their collective decision not to return to their Ministries unless Bathiudeen was also reappointed. Therefore, this duo returning to their Ministries without Bathiudeen and the rest is being seen, by the rest of the group, as an act of betrayal.


Bathiudeen factor


If the collective decision was not to accept Ministerial posts unless and until Bathiudeen is also reappointed, then the decision to leave in the first place was obviously to protect Bathiudeen. They were protesting as a group against the call for Bathiudeen’s removal from Government.


It is indeed a pity that these politicians cannot keep track of their own falsehoods. When they thus expose themselves it is their supporters who are left with egg on their faces. Bathiudeen being protected by other Muslim politicians, just because they share the same faith, is a racist act and must be condemned unreservedly. Their collective failure to understand the gravity of the tragedy that befell nearly a thousand Sri Lankan citizens, in just one day within the space of an hour or so, is almost criminal. The explosive material used by Zaharan and his clan causes far more serious burns than the C4 used by the LTTE. Even as this is being written, there are many children still under treatment for their burn injuries. This is only a pinch of the tragic stories that 21/4 caused.


Ranil upset


Yet, most interestingly, it is not only the seven Muslim politicians, still in the group, that has taken exception to this duo’s return to their Ministries. It had riled Ranil Wickremesinghe, as well, as he had alleged that this group took the collective decision after consulting him. However, he had been kept totally in the dark when the two Parliamentarians decided to return to their Ministries. Thus, he obviously finds the decision of this duo most unethical.


The fact that these two had gone behind his back, to his arch enemy Maithripala Sirisena, to be reappointed, had hit Wickremesinghe hard. He had lashed out, at a UNP Working Committee meeting that he as the Prime Minister must consent to the appointment of any Minister, for Sirisena as President to appoint. So, naturally, he is not very happy that this ‘vital’ step had been ignored.  


Most unfortunately, he too had unwittingly exposed his role in this contentious matter. It is obvious from his remarks that he too had played a decisive part in divisive politics to gain block votes at the expense of national security and unity. 

It is indeed incredible the despicable lengths some of our politicians go to, just to get vote blocks, to retain the power base for themselves. It is time we realise, the sheer evilness of our current politicians and that Sri Lanka is in dire need of  a true national leader who has no time for politics or to play this disgusting number game.

ranasingheshivanthi@gmail.com

6 Responses to “Need of the hour: True national leader”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    I assume the key operative term is “national” leader.

    A national leader is someone who wins the confidence of the entire nation – all ethnic groups. If anyone wins the support from one ethnic group and rejected by other ethnic groups, he/she cannot be national. He/she is only sectarian.

    JR, Premadasa, Chandrika and Sirisena were the only national leader presidents we had who represented voters from all three main ethnic groups. If they were good or bad is a different matter.

    DB Wijetunga was not elected and Mahinda always failed to win a significant minority support. Mahinda is a Sinhala leader and certainly not a national leader. So will be Gotabaya/Basil/Chamal.

    On the other hand, all prime ministers before 1977 were national leaders as they had elected MPs from all ethnic groups. There was no national list then.

    Yes; we need a president who can unify all ethnic groups, not divide them on the election day. If they cannot unify voters of all ethnicities on the election day, there is no way it can be done after the election.

    So I agree we need a true national leader who is voted in by a majority of all ethnic groups. However, he/she may not be the best for the nation.

  2. Randeniyage Says:

    @Dilrook
    Puzzled by your definition of ‘National leader’.

    Mahinda was an ‘International leader’ as he work hard to earn the ‘Commonwealth Leader’ title.

    ‘National Leader’ shall be a ‘Leader’ first before we call the person ‘National Leader’.
    Does that ‘Leadership’ created by ‘VOTES’ ? I don’t think so.
    A leader should do more for the people and the country than for oneself and the clan or the political party.
    We never had ‘National Leaders’ but ‘Political Leaders’ except Mahinda who was a real ‘National Leader’ who got rid of LTTE militarily ( at least). A true National Leader would have completely irradiated separatism in 5 years.

  3. Randeniyage Says:

    We need a National leader who should work for the majority and minorities proportionately. He should control the rogue minorities from unproportionate demands.
    How can we say we ever had a single Notional Leader if a small town has 70 mosques and no temples ?
    I can write list.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    We have not only a TRUE NATIONAL LEADER but also a TRULY PATRIOTIC LEADER, in Gothabhaya Rajapaksa!

    Let us ELECT Gothabhaya as the NEXT President of Sri Lanka, to FOSTER, DEVELOP, DEFEND & PROTECT our Motherland and ALL of its law-abiding citizens who are yearning for ABLE LEADERSHIP!

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    I agree with Randeniyage.

    When we say a National leader should represent ALL citizens, we REALLY mean that he should have the support of the overwhelming MAJORITY of citizens.

    That is the goal of a DEMOCRACY in a nutshell.

    In contrast, support of ALL citizens including ALL DISAFFECTED minorities is UNACHIEVABLE.

  6. Dilrook Says:

    A politician who is overwhelmingly rejected by two largest minority groups cannot be a national leader. National means covering the entire nation – mostly in terms of people (not so much the territory).

    Gotabaya is the perfect Sinhala leader but he can never be a national leader as he will be overwhelmingly rejected by minorities. Mahinda desperately tried to become a national leader by trying to win the “hearts and minds” of minorities; invested a disproportionately large amount of loan funds in the north and east, allow a freehand to ACMC, SLMC, CWC politicians but still failed.

    The less spoken danger of presidential election is every time we have a presidential election (especially after 1994) is that the world sees the Tamil Eelam and Malaya Nadu maps. These are mythical states but they come to world prominence and visibility at presidential elections.

    A few years ago Gotabaya said if the 13A or the proposed confederated constitution was put to a referendum, separatists win either way. If they outright win the referendum, they win. Even if they lose, the world will see the divisions (just as in a presidential election). But he will (unintentionally) create that national split at the next presidential election.

    Although a national leader is a great thing, that is not the main thing. We need a leader who protects and promotes the national identity, what is nearest and dearest to the nation and exterminates terrorists. In that sense, Gotabaya is the best available choice so far. But he can never be a national leader who can unify people of all ethnicities as LKY, Lincoln, Churchill, DS Senanayake, Nehru, Modi, etc. did. We must be truthful in our assessment. Sweet lies and lies too.

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