The thirty-year battle against terrorism has turned into a vicious battle for the spoils-of-war in recent times. This post war phenomenon does not augur well for the people of Sri Lanka. In a strange quirk of history, what took place within the Tigers of the North since February 2004 is now taking place among the Lions of the South since May 2009. Cut-throat competition for the spoils-of-war between Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR) and Sarath Fonseka (SF) in the aftermath of the total defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in May 2009 is reminiscent of the cut-throat competition for the spoils-of-peace (ceasefire) between Veluppillai Pirapakaran (VP) and Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan (VM alias Karuna Amman) of the LTTE since the indefinite ceasefire of February 2002 and desertion of the latter in February 2004.
Karuna Amman, who was a â€œgreat hero” (Maveerar) due to his key role in major conventional military battles against the security forces especially in the over-running of the Elephant Pass military garrison in April 2000, had become a â€œtraitor” due to his refusal to abide by the summons served by his leader in the Vanni in early-2004. Karuna Amman expected some respect and reward for his substantial contribution to the victories of the LTTE in the battlefield, but was instead sidelined by his leader. In the same way, MR sidelined SF immediately after the victory of the security forces against the LTTE in May 2009, for reasons best known to him, and brands him â€œtraitor” after the latter became the common candidate of the opposition in the upcoming Presidential election. The battle between the field commander and the supreme leader was finally resolved in favour of the hands-on commander who formed an alliance with the most unlikely partners at that time. We are fully aware of the victor and the vanquished in the military tussle between VP and VM. The people of this country now await with baited breadth to see how the new battle for the laurel crown will be resolved now that the decorated general has crossed the Rubicon! Ooops! The Ambalangoda River, which he claims to have crossed hundreds of times as a young village lad.
Both Pirapakaran and Rajapakse revelled in glorification of war; both are propaganda masters and cardboard heroes. Pirapakaran and Rajapaksa have never fought in the battlefield; yet they claim the wages of war. Both Pirapakaran and Rajapaksa have deviously (ab)used the successes in the battlefield for self-promotion, while being aloof from the battlefield themselves. Propaganda of the Rajapaksa government resembles that of the LTTE; such as hyper exaggerations, pervasive culture of denial, half truths and blatant lies. Furthermore, Tamil songs eulogising Rajapaksa that are broadcast frequently in the Tamil commercial service of the state-owned Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) in the past several months is reminiscent of the Voice of Tigers (VoT) airing songs eulogising Pirapakaran. With the exit of the â€œbunker raja” (VP) in the North, enters the cut-out raja (MR) in the South. Cut-outs of the President and billboards of the Rajapaksa family (including 2010 calendar of the Rajapaksa family distributed free-of-charge to public servants) suggest that President Rajapaksa is more suited to become a bollywood star than to become the President of this country.
2. Accidental President to self-proclaimed War Hero
Mahinda Rajapaksa became an accidental President due to the boycott of election enforced by violence by the LTTE throughout the Eastern and Northern Provinces, particularly in Jaffna and Vanni electoral districts, at the last Presidential election held in November 2005. Due to the enforced boycott, the opposition candidate lost the Presidential election by a mere 188,000 votes (out of almost 10 million votes cast), which would have been overturned if only Jaffna voters were allowed to cast their votes. In effect, Pirapakaran elected Rajapaksa, for which the latter owes a debt of gratitude to the former. Therefore, the claim by the incumbent President that he has fulfilled his mandate (to eradicate terrorism) is a hoax; there was no mandate in the first place. Secondly, Mahinda Chinthana (election manifesto of MR) did not advocate war and decimation of the LTTE. The war was resumed by Pirapakaran and the LTTE unilaterally in December 2005.
Therefore, the public advertisement captioned â€œPromised. Delivered” by MR is a misnomer (a`la â€œMission Accomplished” by President George W. Bush). However, MR has been a very lucky President unlike George W. Bush, who could not find weapons of mass destruction. MR thought that military victory can be made into a weapon of mass mind manipulation. Pity, the armoury was with someone else. MR could not only claim credit for something delivered by others that he never promised, but he is also the beneficiary of the added bonus of post-tsunami infrastructure development work, particularly in the Eastern and Northern Provinces.
The President and his joint family (especially his siblings and children) are shamelessly claiming exclusive credit for the defeat of the LTTE, while the real war heroes have retreated to the wilderness after the end of the war in May 2009. There is no one person, group of persons or a single country could claim exclusive credit for the total defeat of the LTTE. There are several factors, persons and countries responsible for the defeat of the Tigers. First and foremost, the beginning of the end of the Tigers was the desertion of Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan in February 2004, which was an indirect and unintended consequence of the indefinite ceasefire agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the LTTE dated February 22, 2002. Therefore, despite being persistently branded as a traitor, former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe had laid the foundation (albeit inadvertently) for the defeat of the LTTE (despite several instances of appeasement of the LTTE â€“ most prominent among them was allowing the import of high-powered V-SAT communication equipment).
Secondly, the ceasefire also exposed the true nature of the LTTE to the Tamil masses (e.g. indiscriminate and exploitative direct and indirect taxation of the people). Thirdly, the ceasefire facilitated access to former LTTE-controlled areas that provided rare opportunity for independent researchers and journalists to expose the true nature of the LTTE regime in the Vanni and the East to the Tamil people outside LTTE’s control and rest of the world. Fourthly, many countries (particularly America and India) have provided valuable and timely intelligence to the Sri Lankan security forces, prevented arms purchase abroad and smuggling to Sri Lanka, and curbed fund-raising among the diaspora (though insufficient). Fifthly, unwavering commitment to eradication of terrorism and the LTTE (in spite of severe international pressure) by the political leadership led by President Rajapakse and administrative leadership led by his brother and Secretary to the Defence Ministry has been a critical factor in the defeat of the LTTE. Above all, the â€œtrue believer” in defeating the LTTE, in spite of a suicide assassination attempt by the LTTE, was the former Commander of the Army, General Sarath Fonseka. It is SF’s firm belief, commitment and perseverance that led to the historic win over one of the dreaded and long-time terrorist organisations in the world.
Therefore, the defeat of the LTTE was a collective effort of the Sri Lankan armed forces (Army, Navy, and Air Force) including the Police, political and administrative leadership led by the President and his brother, Tamil people (including former members of the LTTE and armed groups), international community (particularly America and India) and the former Premier Ranil Wickremasinghe (albeit unintentional). However, the single most share of the credit should go to Sri Lanka Army (SLA), led by Sarath Fonseka, which sacrificed the most in the past 30 years of civil war. It was the unconventional warfare introduced and spearheaded by Sarath Fonseka and carried-out effectively on the ground by his troops that turned the tide against the LTTE. In this reality, it is abhorrent that a single politician and his joint-family claim exclusive (or largest) credit for what happened to the Tigers and terrorism in Sri Lanka.
Similarly, almost all the infrastructure development in the East, North and most in the South in the past five years were/are post-tsunami reconstruction work started or planned and funds secured in 2005 before the current President was elected by default to office in November 2005. For example, USAID had agreed to fund the reconstruction of the bridge in Arugam Bay in Ampara district; Mannampitiya bridge in Batticaloa district was already in the pipeline with Japanese funding; Saudi Arabia had signed an agreement to fund the construction of the bridge in Kinniya (Trincomalee district); and a school reconstruction in Vaharai, which was jubilantly opened by the incumbent President in 2008, was a post-tsunami work. All the foregoing infrastructure works were completed and opening ceremonies were held during the rule of the current President and unashamedly claimed to be development work carried-out under the Eastern Reawakening Programme of the Mahinda Chinthana. The same folly is repeated in the North in the past six months under the Northern Spring Programme of the Mahinda Chinthana.
In any case, Sri Lanka is an outlier country where a military victory against a domestic enemy is celebrated as a victory against an external enemy. For instance, India did not have national celebrations and holidays to mark the military defeat of Sikh separatism in late-1980s. Even Sri Lanka has militarily defeated another domestic enemy (the JVP) in the late-1980s, which did not result in national celebrations, holidays, and claims and counter-claims of credit. In this circumstance, competing claims of credit for the defeat of the LTTE since May 19, 2009 were/are a reflection of low self-esteem of the current Sri Lankan political leadership. Even an intellectual aligned with President Rajapaksa recently claimed that â€œWe have won…” It is this â€œwe” and â€œthey” continuum that is a major stumbling block for ethnic reconciliation and peaceful coexistence in post-war Sri Lanka.
3. Crony Capitalism at its Zenith
The economic policy framework of the Mahinda Chinthana could be termed as â€œcrony capitalism” â€“ meaning an economy largely run by family and friends of the head of state and government; first coined in the Sri Lankan context by Michael Moore (of the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex) in the early-1990s to describe the type of economic regime under President Premadasa. Of course, all Sri Lankan governments since independence have had a tint of crony capitalism, which has reached a peak under President Rajapaksa where key positions in the government (including the foreign service) and semi-government institutions are held by extended family members and friends of the Rajapaksas (over one-hundred, it is claimed), who are by-and-large incompetent and unsuitable to the positions they hold. Besides, in the past four years, roughly sixty percent of the annual national budget has been apportioned to the President, because he also holds the ministerial portfolios of finance and defence (two ministries with highest allocations of public money).
4. Coalition of Satanic Forces
The ruling coalition government has a strange composition of satanic forces from the two major ethnic groups, viz. Sinhala and Tamil. On the side of the majority community, the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU – an avowed racist party) and several individual supremacists (Kotakadeniya-former DIG, S.L.Gunasekera, Gomin Dayasiri, Wimal Weerawansa, et al) are the real ideologues and power behind the Rajapaksa throne, whose members have over-influence on policy formulation at the Presidential Secretariat which are endorsed by the Rajapaksa brothers. On the side of the minority community, former fourth-in-command of the LTTE (after Pirapakaran, Pottu Amman, and Soosai) and mass murderer, who is currently the Minister of National Integration (!!) is the darling of the Rajapaksas. Remember the cold-blooded murder of over five-hundred surrendered unarmed police personnel in Batticaloa, mass murder in the mosques of Eravur and Kattankudy, and hacking to death of hundreds of civilians in the border villages in the Eastern Province?
It is hypocrisy of highest order that the Rajapaksa regime is crying foul when the Tamil National Alliance (TNA â€“ an avowed apologist of fascism of the Tigers in the past) has formally aligned itself with the common opposition candidate (â€œunholy alliance”), who was the real hero against the Tigers, while it is in alliance with former mass murderers/fascists and avowed and unrepentant racial supremacists. Of course, both main candidates have forged opportunistic â€œunholy” alliances for the upcoming Presidential election, but the allies of the incumbent are more vicious than that of the opposition candidate.
The President publicly urged the common opposition candidate not to obtain money from Pirapakaran’s parents and the pro-LTTE diaspora, while Minister of Justice, Milinda Moragoda, is alleged to have obtained donation from Raj Rajaratnam (one of the high-profile diaspora funders of the LTTE and major portfolio investor in blue chip Sri Lankan companies via the Colombo Stock Exchange who is currently facing serious charges of insider-trading in the United States) for the rehabilitation of former LTTE combatants. The reality is that neither the common opposition candidate nor the Minister of Justice has knowingly obtained funds from terrorist sympathisers or funders. Besides, Pirapakaran’s parents are poor pensioners and do not have any money to donate to any Presidential candidate. The only Presidential candidate who may have knowingly and willingly obtained funds from pro-LTTE diaspora is Sivajilingam, who has lately become a propagandist for the incumbent President.
In the aftermath of the death of Pirapakaran’s father on January 06, 2010 and the government’s support for the take-over of the body by Sivajilingam (ostensibly a relative of the deceased, which I doubt), I would not be surprised if he withdraws his candidature and openly supports the incumbent President nearer the election (for a payback, of course). Incidentally, in an obituary notice for the father of Pirapakaran placed in the Virakesari newspaper on January 09, 2010 by Sivajilingam, a pretension is made that Pirapakaran is still alive. In fact, Sivajilingam has been making this claim ever-since May 2009 while living in Tamilnadu. My hunch is that Sivajilingam is attempting to advance his political career for rest of his life through this bizarre claim.
5. Four Models of Leadership, Governance or Development
There are four potential models of leadership, governance or development. They are:
- Corrupt AND Inefficient
- Non-Corrupt AND Efficient
- Corrupt BUT Efficient
- Non-Corrupt BUT Inefficient
One type of political leader, governance structure or development model could be corrupt AND inefficient in the delivery of public goods and services; a second type could be non-corrupt AND efficient; a third type could be corrupt BUT efficient; and a fourth type could be non-corrupt BUT inefficient. Ideally, people of any country should aspire to have a non-corrupt AND efficient political leadership, governance structure or development model (a`la Singapore under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew). Second best option could be corrupt BUT efficient political leadership, governance structure or development model (a`la Malaysia, Thailand and East Asian tiger economies such as Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong). No country would like to be corrupt AND inefficient (a`la Cambodia under Premier Hun Sen) or non-corrupt BUT inefficient (I could not find a leader or country matching this criteria).
In Sri Lanka’s experience, President Premadasa’s regime in particular and UNP-led regimes in general have been by-and-large characterised by corrupt BUT relatively efficient administrations. Despite being crony capitalist regimes, UNP-led regimes since independence have delivered on economic growth and development with competent people in positions of power and public service. On the other hand, SLFP-led regimes have been by-and-large less corrupt and relatively inefficient. Although SLFP-led regimes have been mostly less corrupt than UNP-led regimes, it hardly had an efficient administration that delivered public goods and services in a cost-effective way. Generally, economic growth has been higher and many other macroeconomic indicators have been better during UNP-led governments. For instance, lowest economic growth rates in the post-independence period have been during SLFP-led governments in 1956 (0.7%), 1971 (0.2%), and 2001 (-1.5%), and the average economic growth rate during the years of UNP-led governments has been higher than the average economic growth rate during the years of SLFP-led governments.
Now let me compare the two main candidates in terms of the foregoing characteristics. Since the common opposition candidate has no prior political experience, we have to take the main political party that is backing his candidacy, viz. the UNP, for comparison with the incumbent President and his regime. There is no doubt, in my judgement, that the UNP-led governments (especially since 1977) have been relatively more corrupt than the SLFP-led governments since 1956 (baring the current SLFP-led government of President Rajapaksa). On the other hand, there is no doubt, according to my judgement, that the UNP-led governments have been relatively more efficient than SLFP-led governments in delivering public goods and services in a cost-effective way. Therefore, I would characterise the UNP-led regimes as ‘Corrupt BUT Efficient’ model of leadership, governance, or development (a`la Malaysia). I also believe that SF is NOT above corruption, but relatively less corrupt than the incumbent.
On the other hand, I would characterise the current regime under President Rajapaksa as ‘Corrupt AND Inefficient’ model of leadership, governance, or development (a`la Cambodia). There is no need for me to delve into the allegations of corruption against the present regime because a lot has been exposed in the media. Although none of these allegations have been proven beyond reasonable doubt, the fact that no investigation has ever taken place could be an indication of guilt. For instance, the abrupt transfer of the Director General of Bribery Commission, Piyasena Ranasinghe, in 2008 is a case in point, because at the time of his removal he was involved in the investigation of the alleged corruption in the purchase of MIG fighter jets by the Ministry of Defence. Although, SLFP-led regimes have been relatively less corrupt than UNP-led regimes in the past, the present SLFP-led regime under President Rajapaksa has earned a dubious reputation for surpassing all previous records on corruption. It is not only the Rajapaksa joint-family; many Ministers are alleged to be corrupt to the core.
Inefficiency has been a hallmark of the Rajapaksa presidency. There is very little chance for performers to get positions of power in public service under President Rajapaksa; instead extended family members, friends, and stooges are the preferred and pampered lot. The abrupt withdrawal of Sri Lanka’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Dr. Dayan Jayatillake, soon after the end of the war, while retaining President’s cousin as the Ambassador to the United States (who is incompetent to counter the professional pro-LTTE lobby in America), is a classic example of politics of inefficiency. Although Dayan Jayatillake was at times undiplomatic and abrasive, very few could match his intellectual wit among Sri Lankan diplomats. Moreover, the reinstatement of the Treasury Secretary (who was severely reprimanded by the Supreme Court in 2008) in the name of â€œnational interest” is another glaring example of inefficiency. Similarly, the appointment of Milinda Moragoda as Minister of Justice (who has no legal background) is a blatant contempt of court because he was also severely reprimanded by the Supreme Court in early-2009. There are several more examples of incompetence of the current regime I could cite if not for limitation of space. How come a self-designated â€œpatriot” and sole-lover of the â€œmotherland” sacrifice the interest of his country for the sake of his extended family members, cronies and stooges?
Though former President Premadasa also had meagre education and autocratic tendencies as the incumbent President Rajapaksa (who has an attorney-at-law qualification by virtue of being exempted from the entrance examination to the Law College as a Member of Parliament), the former had competent advisors and administrators who were able to steer the public administration and economy efficiently after defeating the JVP insurgency in the late-1980s. The incumbent President’s advisors are mostly failed academics and professionals (who are at the end of their life), racial supremacists, joint-family members, and cronies.
6. Critical Issues facing Sri Lanka
There are three critical issues facing Sri Lanka at this crucial post-war juncture: which are (a) political resolution of the protracted ethnic conflict, (b) poor governance, and (c) economic downturn. Let me evaluate the likely performance of the two main presidential candidates to address these critical issues.
(a) Political Resolution of the Ethnic Conflict
Both the main candidates have not spelt-out their policy towards resolution of the protracted ethnic conflict unambiguously and have been vague and evasive on this critical issue. On this score there is little hope for the people whoever wins the upcoming election. Both the main candidates have made derogatory statements against the minority communities in this country at different time periods. However, Mahinda and Gotabaya Rajapaksa have not only used words but have taken actions as well to denigrate the minorities, particularly the Tamils. We may forgive, but WILL NOT forget the illegal expulsion of Tamils from Colombo in 2007, which was rescinded only after a Supreme Court order. On the other hand, Sarath Fonseka, despite his occasional gaffes, has personally intervened to assign army personnel to protect the family of a murdered university student in Trincomalee in January 2006 (allegedly by naval personnel).
Since SF would feel the pain of war due to his active service in the battlefield, he would be more inclined to resolve the conflict by peaceful political means than the incumbent President. Besides, MR has not acted on resolving the ethnic conflict by political means in the past four years in office, despite giving repeated assurances to Tamils, India, and America. Further, MR has sabotaged the All Party Representative Committee (APRC) set-up by himself to evolve a majority consensus on the pressing issue of ethnic conflict. MR’s record in office has been characterised by establishing independent committees and commissions (APRC, independent commission to investigate human rights violations, etc) and then sabotaging those processes himself.
Therefore, I would argue that, as regards the resolution of the ethnic conflict by peaceful political means, there is no hope on President Rajapaksa whereas there is at least little hope on Sarath Fonseka. How could the people have hope on a President who has failed or lack the political will to implement the 13th Amendment to the Constitution (devolving powers to the Provinces and establishment of Provincial Councils) that is already in the statues book?
(b) Poor Governance
Deteriorating rule-of-law and human rights violations in particular and governance in general, and corruption at its peak have been yet another hallmark of the Rajapaksa presidency. Although UNP-led governments also have had poor record on corruption, human rights violations, rule-of-law, and suppression of the media, Rajapaksa regime has surpassed them. For instance, 19 journalists have been killed and few others â€œdisappeared” during the past four-years of Rajapaksa regime, which is unprecedented. Sarath Fonseka also has blood in his hands as regards suppression of the media, because of his alleged connection to violent attacks on two journalists, namely Keith Noyer of The Nation and Namal Perera of the Sri Lanka College of Journalism.
Rajapaksa joint-family has been on a course of protecting self-confessed murderers, human rights violators, and other law-breakers; prominent among them is Minister Mervyn de Silva, who is the self-confessed person behind the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunga (senior journalist and founder editor of The Sunday Leader) on January 08, 2009. At least an investigation should have been carried out on the public self-confession of Mervyn de Silva. The court case against the accused in the case of the murder of T. Maheswaran (a UNP Member of Parliament from Jaffna) is deliberately dragged-on presumably to protect another Minister in the government. The person who is suspected to be behind the kidnapping (and presumably killing) of the former Vice-Chancellor of the Eastern University has been elevated to the position of Minister.
Political interference in the judiciary by the Rajapaksa joint-family is starkly evident in the prosecution and conviction of J.Tissanayagam (a journalist) and granting of bail to the three medical officers (who were caught-up in the Vanni at the final stage of the war and were giving false or exaggerated information to the international media up to the end of the war), and surrendered media spokesperson of the LTTE, Thayanithi (aka Daya master). Though J. Tissanayagam did obtain money from the LTTE to run his news magazine and web-based propaganda media (which were partisan in favour of the LTTE), Thayanithi and three medical officers were long-time hardcore members (having undergone military training) of the LTTE who were involved in heinous crimes on behest of the LTTE.
How can we trust the incumbent President who is adamantly refusing to implement the 17th Amendment to the Constitution (setting up of independent Public Service Commission, Judicial Commission, Police Commission and Elections Commission to de-politicise public institutions), which was unanimously passed by the parliament in 2001 in a rare feat, even after the end of the war? On the issue of governance, SF should rely on wise counsel from the JVP rather than the UNP, which has a dismal record on this score.
(c) Economic Downturn
Economic growth has been on a downward trend since 2006; when it peaked to 7.7% largely due to massive post-tsunami reconstruction work alluded to above and not because of the economic policies pursued by the Rajapaksa regime. Growth rate in 2007 was 6.8%, in 2008 it was 6.0% and in 2009 it is likely to be 4% (the most). Though inflation rate has dropped dramatically during 2009, unemployment rate has begun to rise as predicted by economic theory. The external sector has performed sluggishly in the past couple of years forcing the government to borrow from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in mid-2009. Budget deficit as a percentage of the GDP during 2009 is expected to be in double-digit for the first-time after 2001. Many other macroeconomic indicators have been deteriorating, while few have improved in the past couple of years.
Telecommunications sub-sector, the driving force of the economy in the past decade, is in recession. All the telecommunications operators (both the fixed line and cellular) are making enormous losses. Sri Lanka Telecom (the premier fixed line operator and virtual monopoly) has been incurring recurrent losses since July 2009, when it incurred a loss for the first-time in its 142-year old history. The flagship mobile phone operator, Dialog GSM, has been incurring recurrent losses for the first-time since its establishment in Sri Lanka. The financial sector, another thriving industry in the past decade, is in recession too. Sri Lankan Airlines (the national carrier) has been incurring sustained losses since Emirates gave-up its management in April 2008. Mihin Air, the second national carrier started in 2006, has never made any profit since its inception. While the President rushed to shut-down the Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) immediately after the end of the war, he has not taken action to shut-down perpetual loss-making state-owned enterprises, which reflects his priorities. Both Sri Lankan Airlines and Mihin Air are headed by two brothers who are long-time friends of the President.
Both the candidates are making unrealisable promises to the electorate on economic benefits to the people if elected. These are mere election gimmicks. At least on this front, both the main candidates are at the same level of deceiving the masses. However, as pointed out earlier, UNP could guide SF to shore-up the economy with their relative efficient management of the economy in the past.
Therefore, in the three critical issues facing the country, viz. conflict, governance, and economy, SF is likely to perform relatively better than MR, if elected. At least in the case of SF there is scope for hope, whereas in the case of MR there is NO hope.
Sarath Fonseka is being castigated for not having any political experience. I would argue that it is the single most strength of SF. All the traditional politicians have failed the country and I would gamble on a non-traditional politician like SF. Politicians representing the two main political parties in Sri Lanka have been warming the seat of power for the past 62 years and dithering on taking decisions on pressing issues facing the country and involving in self-seeking parochial politics. It is time for a person above party politics to take the reins of the country. Besides, I wish there were many more public servants in Sri Lanka who would stand-up to the tyranny of political authorities like SF has done (particularly I wish we had an Election Commissioner of the calibre of the former Chief Election Commissioner of India T.N. Sheshan).
Sri Lanka has experienced two types of terrorism since 1971: one is the anti-state terrorism of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP â€“ People’s Liberation Front) and the LTTE (and other armed groups of the North & East), and the other is state terrorism practised by successive governments (both SLFP-led and UNP-led) to quell anti-state terrorism and dissent within and outside the ruling party. Although Sri Lanka has successfully defeated both anti-state terrorisms of the JVP and LTTE, it is yet to defeat state terrorism. No one is better suited to end state terrorism than a former soldier who has borne the brunt of anti-state terrorisms of the past.
It’s time to stand-up against the tyranny of the Rajapaksa joint-family rule in the same way few of us in the Tamil community stood-up against fascism of the Tigers. We have to either make a decision to pawn the country to the Rajapaksa joint-family or else decide to vote for positive change and hope. But, whoever loses the election should bury the hatchet (of self-serving parochial politics) and lend his support to the victor to constructively and positively address the three critical issues facing the country, viz. conflict, governance, and economy. Even if SF does not win the Presidential election, if he could prevent the ruling party getting a two-thirds majority (which was a real possibility few months ago) in the subsequent parliamentary elections he would have done a great service to the people of this country. A two-thirds majority in Parliament for the Rajapaksa joint-family rule is most likely result in a life-time President (a`la Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe) and repeal of the 13th and 17th Amendments to the Constitution.
At the age of forty-six, I am going to vote for the first time in my life. Hitherto, I did not feel that any of the candidates in the past elections were worthy of my vote. However, this time around I would like to vote for a non-traditional politician who has a proven track record of active public service (as opposed to most public servants who largely warm their seats) that gives me hope for positive change by breaking the UNP-SLFP duopoly in Sri Lankan politics. I have NOT taken this decision because the UNP, JVP, or the TNA (all of whom have dubious track record in Sri Lankan politics) is supporting the common opposition candidate; instead I am supporting Sarath Fonseka as a gratitude for eliminating terrorism and fascism that had engulfed my community and the country at large.
Muttukrishna Sarvananthan is the author of â€œIn Pursuit of a Mythical State of Tamil Eelam” (Third World Quarterly) and currently working on a book titled from Liberation to Terrorism: the Rise and Demise of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.