A change in government? Goodness, NO!

Truly frightening, spine chilling, speeding up the heartbeat through abject fear. This and more negatives were what this cat felt when she heard the ex-Prez, Mahinda Rajapaksa, announce to media persons at a meeting he summoned that he and his cohorts will take over the government of the Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka this year, yes, 2017. How can that be in a democratic country, any idiot will ask. A government is taken over after a general election, fair or otherwise. We do not believe Mahinda Rajapaksa shoots his mouth like the loose cannons in his Joint Opposition. So, it will have to be achieved illegally and that means through an insurrection or a violent toppling of the government. Or else, there is another possibility - cross overs. His is the master whip that cracks and stupidos, rather, utterly greedy politicians for millions with no honour in them, not an iota running through their arteries, will answer the call and salivate at the sight of lucre.

A hope sprang in this feline’s heart. Was it an astrological prediction he was repeating to the media persons? No, I think he learnt his lesson trusting these star gazers and horoscope readers. His boundless ambition and never wanting to give up power are strong forces. He has not only a desire for power but to save his kith and kin from the very many accusations tabled against them.

So what should the present government do? They surely know best. But they seem to be soft pedalling matters, trusting him, not pushing accusations to a final reckoning with all sorts of crimes committed from murder to stashing away money.

Envisaging a coming true of his threat/prediction/wishful thinking, this feline’s blood froze; she got paralyzed with fear. More white vans with a vengeance; more tyranny, more censorship of news; much more arrests like that of the best army commander in the world, according to Mr Rajapaksa and his brother. And “I’ll teach you all a lesson” will be emblazoned across the bloodied sky, writ large and clear - in violence.

Voices almost in the wilderness

There have been warnings, rebuttals and reminders to the general public of what we suffered for 10 long years of dictatorial rule. One such outspoken person is maverick MP Thewarapperuma. He is applauded for his timely lashing out. We had a different idea of him when he did some gymnastics about education – protesting on the hood of his car and trying to hang himself in a school. But now, he is patriotic and unafraid to raise an alarm. He has said: “Those parliamentarians who raise a hue and cry over nothing today were like little kittens back then. Everyone sat down when ordered to do so. They stood up when they were asked to stand up. That is how they acted, these uninhibited and vociferous JO Members of Parliament were so scared to protest. They came to Parliament like kittens.”

Veto for vetoing’s sake The latest of JO attacks is over the proposal to create a Minister with special powers for the purpose of acting as a ‘one-stop-shop’ coordinating investment and development. JO cried foul about what they dubbed as a ‘Super Minister.’ “We saw,” Thewarapperuma asserted, “that there were Super Ministers in the previous government. Basil Rajapaksa was a Minister with super powers. Development was in their hands. Projects were also in their hands. Even Commissions as well as Institutions were in their hands.” The other side of the story that favours such a ministry is that “such a post is required to create job opportunities for the youth in the country, to develop it.”

To the critics of the government proposals

JO’s habit of attacking proposals long before they are definitely planned is evident in their protest about the proposed trade agreement with India (ETCA), which is still being worked out between the two governments. Talks are ongoing so that a workable arrangement is ready, that benefits both India and Sri Lanka.

As a product, the ETCA is yet in the negotiating stage. Judging by what they say, one would think ETCA is already in place and hordes of Indians are knocking at the Lankan door to get in here and grab jobs. The JO complains in this instance that the government was trying to repudiate China and get into the lap of rival, India. They protest strongly against leasing out the Hambantota harbour to China. What do they want? They were the ones who first cozied up to the Chinese.

It’s the same with the new Constitution. They accuse the government of several crimes in this instance. There is no transparency they say; Tamils are to get Eelam; Buddhism will lose its hitherto held special place. We have to consider all who live in this island as Sri Lankans and also work towards a truly secular state. Here again, they are seeing phantoms where there aren’t any. The Constitution project is still in the gestation period. Ideas from the public are coming in. A Steering Committee of Parliament is studying these proposals and it will draft a Bill to be presented to Parliament for a two-thirds majority. Thereafter, the Bill has to be approved by the people at a referendum. Hence, this is a long procedure and a very transparent one.

Where will all this end? Mahinda Rajapaksa has announced that he will overthrow this government long before it has a chance of doing anything. Why oh why, don’t these powerful politicians think of the country and what is good for it, and not be so self-centered and power hungry?

We applaud the launching of the sustainable development plan and the industrialization in Kuliyapitya and elsewhere on 2 January by the President and 4 January by the Prime Minister. Jobs will be created and thus one of the government’s major targets - eradication of poverty – will hopefully become feasible. As was said, it was not reduction in poverty that was targeted but the eradication of this scourge that dodges many of our people. Everyone should get together and achieve such goals: the UNP and SLFP in the government and the SLFP in the opposition. The JVP which proclaims it champions the cause of the poor man and tries to give him a better deal should be very much with the projects.

Very disappointing, but true, that the betterment of the country and its people takes second place in the political race. Power for individuals and their aggrandizement are of the essence to most politicians. You get a bright spot here and there, like Ranjan Ramanayake not accepting the Rs one lakh extra payment given to all MPs.

We’ll keep our fingers not crossed, but in prayer as the year moves on.

- Menika 

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