This is a translated version of an article appeared in Divaina newspaper on last Sunday (24th Jan 2010) by Dr. Damma Disanayake, a senior lecturer at the University of Colombo in Political Science.
There are only a few days left for the presidential election. The main question before us is that whether we should ensure President Rajapaksha's victory or we should defeat the opposition coalition. My answer to both questions is "Yes". That means we should ensure President Mahinda's victory. The opposition coalition should be defeated. Why should we do so? Why should I, as a lecturer at a University, make a similar request?
I'm neither a member of any political party nor have any intention to be a member of any political party. But I have a political vision. Therefore, I don't have a habit to be a passive observer in a meditative mood at a time when our country is in a politically, economically and socially critical stage. Therefore, we should play a role of intervention. There have been instances where these interventions have yielded positive results.
Interventions we made in 1994 have been such an example. The UNP government that came to power in 1977 promised to create a "Righteous Society" and provision of 08 pounds of grain to the masses. But what in fact happened was an entirely contrasting thing. Instead of a "Righteous Society" a society replete with thousands of deaths and mayhem was created. The circle of violence unleashed subsequent to the election held on 22nd July 1977 went on unabated for weeks. What then president said was that he would give the police compulsory leave for one week. The properties of people belonging to the opposition parties were set on fire and looted and the people were tortured. The executive presidential system and Proportional Representation were introduced by the amendment to the 1978 constitution. The democratic system was adversely affected by this Proportional Representation system. The civic rights of one of the leading and prominent figures of the Non- aligned movement and also the first women Prime Minister of the world Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranayake was abolished for 06 years by Presidential Commission. Forty thousand government servants who participated in a mass scale general strike in 1980 were expelled and the vacant positions were filled up with their party supporters. There were rampant malpractices such as vote rigging and stealing of ballot boxes in the District Council Election held in the same year and also the Jaffna library was set on fire.
Further, the duration of the parliament was extended in 05 years in a most undemocratic manner by an election held in 1982. The Election Commissioner declared that It was the most corrupt election that was ever held. The president election held in 1983 was worse than the one held in 1982. Though It was the supporters of UNP who were responsible for attacking Tamils in 1983, the parties that were abolished were Samasamja Party, Communist Party and the JVP which had no connection whatsoever to the violence unleashed. In addition, those who had different political views were assaulted and imprisoned. Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero and Professor Ediriweera Sarathchandra were assaulted. Wijaya Kumrathungas was charged as being a Nastalite activist and was imprisoned.
In 1987, the Vadamarchchi operation against Prbakaran was stopped giving into the pressure from India and Indu-Sri Lanka agreement was signed. This happened because of the immature manner in which the foreign policies were handled by then government. The terror period unleashed by killing and burning more than 65,000 men, women and adults were so traumatic that it was no second to the horror unleashed by the JVP opposing the Indu-Sri Lanka agreement. No legal actions were taken against the perpetrators. The May Day in 1987 was prohibited and a few who tried to attend the prohibited May Day was shot dead. No one can erase the experiences of the terror period in 1987-90 from their memories. I was a university student then and was about to be abducted and killed. A random stroke of luck saved my life.
By 1994 we demanded only one thing. We wanted the life instead of the death. We wanted a government that respects the life. We came forward to defeat the UNP government and made a decisive intervention. We campaigned in every village, town, and junction and requested from the people to give us a government that does not kill people and respect the life. People listened that request and the UNP government was defeated.
When the UNP government went out of power, it left a trail of destruction. The country's economy had entirely been sold to the foreign countries. Our society was pushed to an extreme consumerists society and a reckless privatization. National culture had been destroyed. Sectors like education, health and transport had been ruined. National assets had been sold and the sovereignty and the dignity of the country had been compromised. Though the government that came in to power in 1994 failed to undo these things we got a government that gave the life instead of the death.
However, we could not get rid of terror completely. We were under the impression that we could never get rid of the LTTE's terrorism. Every person in the society lived in wonder and fear whether their loved ones are safe and news of deaths of them caught to a bomb blast had been a common thing. Chandrika's government could not give a solution to this problem.
As a result of Chandrika government's failure to give solution to this question UNP government came in to power again in 2001. The UNP government gave a legal status to the LTTE and as result the sovereignty of the country was compromised. The armed forces and the people of the country were betrayed. It gave a chance to the LTTE to kill the intelligence officers. We realized the perilous consequences of Ranil and LTTE combination. We again made a decisive intervention in the political arena after 11 years in 2005 in order to defeat the Ranil and LTTE combination and to elect a leader who could save the country from the clutches of the LTTE.
This effort results in with President Rajapaksha coming into power. We did not expect miracles from him, an ever enjoyable society, Bracelets, Chewing gums or Reloads. We expected from him a country for our children who can live without fear. Mahinda not only took that responsibility but made it happen in 100% perfection. It is an undisputed truth that he did this with an immense pressure exerted by Miliband, Kushner, the entre Western Europe, North America and the I/NGO's clan who support them and the opposition. With all these internal and external pressures Mahinda was stable and strong as a magnificent rock. When the world famous film stars from Tamil Nadu such as Vijay Kumar, Rajini Kanth and Kamal Hasan were organizing mass rallies against us it was Basil who went to India to douse the fire and created a conducive environment for us. It was Gotabhaya who gave the much needed glory to our armed forces who were subjected to humiliations by LTTE and were constantly attacked by claymores and pistol gangs. In the Asian context the family is a strength rather than an obstacle. It can be used either for good or bad pursuits. But the Mahinda, Gotabhaya and Basil combination was a blessing for us.
For last 7-8 months we Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims live in peace without any fear. This makes some people in abroad and here feel uncomfortable. It is obvious that the combination of LTTE's political arm TNA, Mano Ganesen, Hakeem, Mangala and Ranil are again trying to drag our country to a disaster. LTTE, UNP and JVP who are responsible for killing people in various degrees are in this combination. So It is not a surprising combination then. The sole aim of this combination is to create a chaos politically, economically and socially in the country resulting in heaps of dead bodies of innocent people and achieve their power hungry political goals filled with hatred.
Therefore, it is our responsibility to preserve the freedom we won defeating this dreaded combination. Our children also need the life as we do. Let's give victory to the Life over the Death. Mahinda is the Life at this moment. I wish you all a Brighter Future!