With Kafirs and Migs flying overhead amidst a 21-gun salute Mahinda told the LTTE that Guns, bombs and cyanide would not help them to liberate the Tamil people. Very true for both sides! What was the significance of Thoppigala for Mahinda to close the city roads and spend state funds to have such an elaborate ceremony when so many innocent people have died in the crossfire? In fact an emotional Hakeem in Parliament pointed out that war rhetoric at such ceremonies will not promote ethnic harmony and by blowing the trumpet to captivate the Southern Audience would not help to unite the country. In fact the UNP while saluting the brave soldiers for their sacrifice, condemned the government for politicizing Thopigala for political gain. The UNP has gone on record saying that it was captured twice before. Therefore there was no real need to celebrate this victory other than recognizing the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. This is also true. A political exercise built on military gains can only make the Tamils feel as conquered people. It was Ernest Hemingway who said many years ago that the first panacea for a mismanaged country is inflation of currency, the second is war . Both bring temporary prosperity but bring ruin. Both are the refuge of political and economic opportunist. In a country where even a toilet opening is politicized for political gain. Thoppigala capture was a top agenda item for Mahinda and his advisors for many weeks. So no one expected Thopigala victory to be spared. It was evident that the government wanted to glorify the military victory to boost the fledging images of some of the government leaders. On the other hand the government troops would have found it very difficult to take on the LTTE in the East if not for the crack in the LTTE following the break away of the Karuna Group, thanks to the CFA signed in 2002.Therefore this was not a victory for the Blue side or the Green side. While we all agree the government should get some credit for the victory. The ceremony perhaps could have been celebrated at the President`s house to honor the soldiers who lost their lives. The money allocated for the ceremony should have been given to the families of those soldiers. According to a newspaper report many soldiers are still waiting for the loans they applied for some time back. It is the sons and daughters of ordinary people who shed their blood to capture Thhopigala, they did not have the bullet proof cars like their elected people representatives or the escorts like their top brass in Colombo to protect their lives form the mines and bullets. Also it was the ordinary mans tax money and money borrowed in his name that paid for the bullets, the Migs and the Kafirs and the gun ships to fight the war. Therefore no one has the right to claim the ownership of the victory or ridicule the military victory. So we all need to rise above petty party politics and rise up to the challenge of finding a durable solution to the North and East problem. Because holding land in the East will be a big challenge for Mahinda and his team.
Mahinda in his address yesterday said that what he seeks to achieve through the APRC is to bring together the diverse views of political parties to find a political solution to the North and East Problem. The question is whether the President is saying this for the consumption of the Co- Chairs or is it a signal to Tissa Vitharna to speed up the APRC effort? Mahinda also invited Ranil to be a stakeholder in the victory. The UNP has said if the President is genuinely interested in getting the UNP engaged in finding a durable solution he should talk to the Opposition Leader instead of talking to MPs individually or making public statements. This argument too makes perfect sense. Mahinda is the man with the power and resources, he can make things happen. So if he is keen to form a Southern consensus, firstly he needs to give the APRC effort more credibility and support. Secondly, he needs to engage the Opposition Leader to work out a common program on how power can be shared? Any attempt to find a viable solution should focus on creating an affordable administration. It is time our politicians realize as Tony Blair pointed out recently that politics is all about public service and make some effort to sacrifice their personal well being to build a better future for the hapless they represent. With the escalating cost of living, rising military expenses, the ever increasing cost of maintaining different levels of political platforms and the continuing abuse of resources will only bring more hardship to the general public. So a Southern consensus will do a world of good for our country. Because it would create a platform to offer a durable set of peace proposals to the LTTE which they would find hard to dismiss and above all would help to win back the confidence of the international community. As a relatively under developed country we need the support of the international community for our welfare. Engagement of the interested parties in the international community to satisfy each other`s concerns may be the best approach we should take for the betterment of the country in the short term.
The UPFA government so far has delivered anything but rhetoric according to most political observers. The government is making a big noise about the military victory when they cannot even cushion the Kerosene price used by the poor. This is no doubt a pathetic situation. Channeling state resources to vilify the UNP for their past misdeeds and to promote government leaders is not what the people of this country wants from the Mahinda government. The people of this country threw out the UNF in 2004 because they failed to deliver. Further more though most of our people are poor and not tutored they cannot be fooled all the time. As Lincoln said many years ago `You may fool all the people some of the time, you can fool some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time`. The people of this country did not give Mahinda an overwhelming mandate despite all the promises because the people wanted the government and the UNP to work together to usher in peace and prosperity to this country. The government must realize that a government that fails to safeguard democracy will not have the support of our lenders and Sri Lanka would be reduced to an international pariah status for no fault of its people. A better strategy for the government would be to co-habit with the opposition until the economy and the peace process is put back on track. We need international support to develop our infrastructure, for North East reconstruction and to bridge our huge budget deficit. Without international support we will find it hard to balance our books resulting in an unstable economy. So it is time the opposition and the government got together to work for the benefit of the people. The government needs to win the hearts and minds of the Eastern people if they hope to restore normalcy in the East.
Serve the People
The benefit of peace is incalculable and all political parties should therefore support Mahinda to bring about a set of durable proposals to be offered to the people of the North. The people of this country want Mahinda to articulate a clear vision, display an exemplary commitment to the law and deliver their promises, which they have so far failed to do. The opposition who are currently behaving like corporate executives must support the government of the day to deliver while highlighting any government`s excesses. In the final analysis what Sri Lanka urgently requires is for the two main parties to co-exist for the betterment of the people. Accommodation between the two parties is probably what the country wants. Accommodation between Mahinda and Ranil requires confidence and trust. The President should walk the talk at least in the interest of the country at large. The power struggle in the South needs to be resolved fast to consolidate the peace process and provide the people of the North and East a peace dividend. They will not wait in silence while the government and the opposition heaps abuse at each other and a final settlement to the conflict is reached for economic revival to take place. People expect the government to deliver in the short term. People have elected their MPs and pay them to serve the people and not to be served by them. This will not happen until our private sector and civil society gets tough with our VIP people representatives (elected to serve the people) from all sides.