13 January 2015

The Nation above all

An election was held.  Someone won and someone lost.  Accordingly, those who voted for the winner would consider themselves shareholders of the victory and those who backed the loser would partake of the defeat. 

On the other hand, the winners do not automatically become special and the losers lesser citizens.  Maithripala Sirisena is the President of the entire country, never mind the fact that almost 6 million did not vote for him, of which 5.7 actually voted for other candidates.  Preferences change over time and this translates into reward or punishment when people get to vote again. 

Winners typically transfer victory-credit and bragging rights to ‘the people’.  Typically also, the people and their votes recede to some cobwebbed corner of the political victors and remain there until the next election comes around.  Let us hope this will not happen. 

The new President has pledged in manifesto and platform (and reiterated the fact in his speech following induction) to correct constitutional and institutional flaw to ensure better governance.  For this he is applauded.  He will receive greater accolades once word turns into deed.  To his credit, Maithripala Sirisena has locked himself to the pledged agenda in two ways.

First, he announced that he will not be sworn in as President again.  In other words, either the Executive Presidency will be abolished during his tenure or else he will not seek re-election.  More importantly, by promising a maithree paalanaya (A government of compassion or compassionate governance), his every act will have to be underlined by this attribute.  Compassion.  That’s a tough ask.  Some might say that it is promising the impossible, but it is a laudable standard to set oneself.  If there is honesty in effort, errors and frailties will be forgiven.  Indeed, anything better in the matter of governance compared to the previous regime will be applauded by what is fortunately or unfortunately an electorate ever ready to forget and forgive. 

The nation won and not for reasons we’ve heard the victors utter over the last few days.  This country proved to all its detractors (let’s not fool ourselves that the venomous sections of the international community wanted Mahinda Rajapaksa out because they loved the people of this country) that we can do the needful on our own, thank you very much. 

We got ‘regime-change’.   At our own pace.  The way we wanted it.  This is something those who have been hauling Sri Lanka over the coals in international forums should take note of.  No coups.  No ‘Gaddafying’ of Mahinda Rajapaksa.  No pound of flesh, no blood flowing in the streets of Colombo. 

Both the newly elected President and the Prime Minister he appointed immediately after being inducted, have clearly acknowledged the immense services rendered to the nation by Mahinda Rajapaksa.  He recovered the nation for the citizenry, including those who voted against him.  He made a tomorrow possible.  That he forfeited the right to guide the country to other tomorrows is another matter. 

He went with grace*.  As someone pointed out, that should not deserve extra applause.  That’s what he has to do.  The reason why it is applauded is perhaps because there was so much hype about ‘The Rajapaksas’ not going out without a fight. That hype was created clearly by those who do not know Mahinda Rajapaksa and worse, underestimate the democratic spirit of the citizens and their sense of timing.  Mahinda Rajapaksa knew this better than most. 

In any event, the signal to the country’s enemies is clear: do not interfere, we don’t need your help, we know what we want and don’t want and we will do what is best in our interests in a manner of our choosing.  

To the new President, we say the following:

‘Congratulations and may you be true to the promise to be compassionate, and may your compassion be coupled with wisdom.  You have set yourself some tasks and they are all people-friendly.  We will watch, we will cheer when you deserve applause and will critique where necessary.  But Mr President, you also have unfinished tasks.  Even as you get moving on your 100-day program, you cannot postpone two important concerns close to your heart:  the National Drug Policy and the fight against the tobacco industry.  Finish what you started, Your Excellency.  That will give us confidence that you have indeed put the nation above all else.’ 

*The above is the Editorial of 'The Nation' of January 11, 2015.  Now it seems that Mahinda Rajapaksa, probably following the same kind of ill-advice that led to his downfall, was exploring unconstitutional ways of remaining in power.  Thankfully (most of all in his interest) all this came to naught. 



Sum said...

Do you really believe that....

1. MS really have a lot of say in the whole thing? Before and after the election? Do you really think it is MS who has the vision and not CBK or the other MS (Mangala S) and those who are behind the 2.

2. the Nation won? Not the plan of CBK, MS2 and Ranil backed by the West.

3. That you got a regime change at your own pace? Not through any interferences?

Will you start believing otherwise, if wikileaks leaks the US/UK plan in a few years time?

or did you forget to put the note *** In another parallel universe :)

Malinda Seneviratne said...

1. Yes (before election), yes (after the election, if he secures enough support from the UPFA parliamentary group), and 'no' CBK was sidelined a long time ago.

2. In a relative sense, most definitely the nation won. Outcome preferences may converge at times, but this Western Conspiracy is just an imagination-figment.

3. Yes, at our own pace.

I am no clairvoyant to know what will happen years from now. Are you?

Finally, no, not in a parallel universe.

DIL said...

Quite agree with what you've said. However, there are many other issues in a broader context. I will send you a detiailed analysis and would appreciate if you publish in your web with your own comments.

Malinda Seneviratne said...

will do

Sum said...

After couple of weeks with the new leaders, do you still believe 1, 2 and 3?


Malinda Seneviratne said...

yes....but the word would come out of my mouth slower. ;)