The nation needs a forward march
Our society stands divided both racially and politically. The major
political parties have experienced cracks. Political disunity thwarts
the forward march of the nation. Therefore, we must recognize the
immediate danger posed by fragmentation of political parties.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa
If political parties continue to experience cracks within, the
challenges before the nation cannot be met. And no visible progress
could be achieved. The urgent need is to examine our priorities to unite
this nation as one people of one country. Infighting in political
parties will only waste resources of the nation and the manpower of the
The time has come for us to make a careful evaluation of our progress
since Independence to look to the future. When we look back, all efforts
by successive Governments to take the nation forward had been thwarted
by a prolonged three decade old ethnic strife, which had torn apart the
people and the nation, thus creating a fear psychosis in the country.
The alarm bell to the impending danger has rung many times. But, many
of our political leaders have failed to wake up to the call to meet this
immediate challenge before the nation. They should now, without any
further delay, join hands to agree on a common vision to guide future
actions and draw up plans to pull the country out of the current crisis.
When the year 2000 dawned, many of our political leaders spoke of the
future of the people, national unity and the priorities of the new
millennium. We are now at the tail end of the first decade of the first
century of that new millennium.
When we look back to the eight years now near ending, political
disunity has heightened. All want to come to power at the earliest. That
clearly demonstrates that most of our political leaders have got their
priorities mixed up or have messed up their political agendas. The
country stood at cross roads at the end of the past millennium. With the
dawn of the new millennium, we heard many of them talking about new
The first national calamity that came our way in the new millennium
is the Tsunami in December 2004.What did our political leaders do? They
stood united for a moment holding hands on one stage, pledging to stand
up for the people and the country.
Then, in the typical Sri Lankan political style they pulled each
other by the leg. Isn't that the cause that many Tsunami victims are yet
suffering in temporary camps? Could our political leaders boast of a
collective finite cognitive past or a present, to at least gain credit
for what they have done amidst infinite possibilities?
Have they set themselves as one team, irrespective of political
colour to meet the priorities they spoke for the new millennium? Or do
they lack cognition in that direction?
Surely, they cannot be ignorant to the need of cohabitation in this
multi cultural society! It is sad that their coherent conduct lacks the
need for political cohesion.
For years, we have been talking of making constitutional changes,
introducing new constitutions and plans to resolve the ethnic crisis
which destroys man and wealth of the nation.
When a draft constitution was to be placed before Parliament towards
the end of the first administration of President Chandrika Kumaratunga,
the then Opposition Leader of that Parliament, Ranil Wickremesinghe
opposed it and said the UNP stood for the Thirteenth Amendment as the
best solution to the crisis and urged Kumaratunga to implement that
Amendment to the letter.
Today, incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa has placed the
Thirteenth Amendment as a basis to resolve the crisis. Unfortunately,
the present Opposition Leader, the same Ranil Wickremesinghe claims that
the Thirteenth Amendment is insufficient to resolve the crisis.
Wickremesinghe has changed his stance on the ethnic crisis within a
It was the same UNP under President JR Jayewardene which viewed and
introduced the Thirteenth Amendment as a solution under the Indo-Lanka
Accord, a move which Wickremesinghe supported as a cabinet minister of
that Government. Political party leaders holding responsible positions
in the nation should not play politics for advantage putting the nation
behind when focusing attention on national issues.
The more we delay a resolution to the ethnic crisis, those who live
fine would be our fortunate politicians. And the not so fine are the
unfortunate masses. If that trend is to continue on the political stage
of Sri Lanka, do not we lack form and content in the direction towards
stability as a nation? The tragedy is that, the same politicians who
scream for stability and peace as a nation stand divided on the
political platform of the country.
And they are the very people who dream of a reality towards a global
village and global neighbourhood concept. First they should forge unity
among themselves and, then link the people at village level before
dreaming of global concepts which are far from reality at present.
Our politicians are Champions to argue on facts and figures, which at
times are contradictory and inaccurate in nature. Before debating on
facts and figures to create stability, the priority is to end the war
and restore peace. Without peace there would be no stability both
socially and economically in this country.
If peace can be restored, we could then think of a viable Growth and
Development Strategy for the nation.
Annual budgets are good and they have many targets for the year to
come. But, how far have we been successful in achieving such targets by
the deadline? What obstructs the process of achieving such targets?
Isn't it the ongoing war situation? How long has that situation
prevailed? Had it not existed over the past thirty years? Have our
politicians ever met that challenge? When a leader in office attempts to
place a resolution to the crisis, the other had always opposed it.
They must ask themselves whether a nation could go on and on like
this with a festered wound like the ethnic strife, now looking very much
terminal in nature.
Petty politics and the belief of man before country have dragged us
into darkness over years. The once united communities at all levels in
this country were disunited by politicians who used the political
platform for their political advantage. That was the cause for unrest
and armed struggles in this country.
In the South, our political leaders of the past spoke about greener
pastures to youth. In the North, political leaders pledged a separate
state to that youth. In the East some spoke of separate units for
separate communities living there.
All those were dreams that could never be turned into reality. Why do
politicians mislead the masses to gain advantage at election times? The
tragedy is that all our politicians want to come to power at the
earliest. They pledge to resolve the crisis through a mechanism of power
However, the Oppositions in this country have never set an example
through any agreement to be partners or stakeholders with the
Governments in office, which is also a power sharing mechanism and a
base to strengthen democracy and stability of the country.
Also, both Governments and Oppositions in this country have a history
of judging each other with suspicion and contempt. With such an attitude
and conduct, could we ever dream of a transformation process for a
better future? The people yearn to witness a process that is more
responsive to the concerns of humanity.
Democracy must be defined in a manner that it devolves power to the
people and not to the satisfaction or the benefit of a few beliefs of
politicians. We as a people should not be destined to experience
misadventures all the time as a result of political errors. Because, we
have witnessed many misadventures at national level since Independence.
It is time to create adventures that we could be proud of, and leave
them for study to our next generation. It could only be done if our
politicians do not mix or mess up priorities of the people and the
nation to gain political advantage or mileage on national issues.
It is time to march forward in unity towards the goals of the nation
to establish a strong and stable law governed society that enables us to
find resolutions to conflicts through peaceful means.
What remains to be seen is whether our politicians are ready to live
up to that challenge, to make a serious effort in a practical way. If
they do, they could then tell the people that we have now come to the
end of the tunnel, where there is light.
If we continue together, we could assure that this century of the new
millennium no longer carries the dreadful plight of the devastated
picture of the man, woman and child killed yesterday by deadly terrorist
explosions. Let us wait no longer for another day to build up
partnership to take this nation towards a forward march.
General George Patton of the United States once said-"Never tell
people how to do things. Establish what you want to achieve and they
will surprise you with their ingenuity".
If our politicians could make a sincere move to take this nation
towards a forward march, the people would follow to commit themselves
build a stable Sri Lanka for all people and future generations. That is
the need of the hour!