Wednesday 14 August 2019

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

14  August  2019

Military Rule is Foreign Rule in Democracy

I ran and caught up with Prassanna Aiyer – the priest who sings the praise of Lord Murugan at Nallur. When this priest sings it melts my heart. I completed the experience by expressing appreciation. To me, having that experience is confirmation that I am self-governing at Nallur. I was able to because my own mind was not concerned about security risks. The government that facilitated this has my vote of thanks. It is that vote that would promote all responsible to the higher level of governance, including through elections but not limited to elections.

To listen to that Divine music in a crowded area, one needs strong focus. Initially I tended to discipline those around me who were noisy. But yesterday, after sharing my appreciation,  I was able to focus above the noise. All genuine devotees facilitate that kind of experience. To me that is the specialty of festivals. At Nallur, I was able to self-govern more than in previous years. To me that is the value we have derived from the current government.

My attention was drawn today, to the letter written by Ms Ahimsa Wickrematunge, the daughter of slain journalist Lasantha Wickrematunge, to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in which the lady states as follows:

[Yesterday, in a political speech, you referred to my father, and your close friend, Lasantha Wickrematunge, who was murdered on 8th January 2009. Responding to a claim by Gotabaya Rajapaksa that as president, he would create an environment without fear, you asked whether Rajapaksa would apologise for my father’s murder and several other gruesome crimes.
Let me put your mind at ease. No. Gotabaya Rajapaksa will never apologise for my father’s murder]
As a journalist, Mr Wickrematunge would have appreciated the greater level of self-governance enjoyed by the media under this government – largely due to Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership. It’s not something that one needs to prove. Every true journalist would naturally identify with  it. Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe would have known that Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa would not. It was the responsibility of the then President and hence the question now that Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa is seeking to hold that position. Many leaders including LTTE leaders were responsible for the killing of Mr Wickrematunge – the journalist.

Many years ago, I was caught between the crowd and the group carrying the idol of Lord Muruga on their shoulders on Theertham (Holy bathing) day. One of the guys carrying Swami felt anxious for me and said ‘why did you come into this area?’. I shouted back at him words to the effect ‘you ought to have cordoned off this area’. He facilitated for me to move out. The main reason for that problem was the unruly behavior of young guys who messed about in the Kerni (water tank) area and this resulted in the priest getting pushed into the water. When a small group become strongly violent – it affects all of us and all of us have to pay our own price to redeem good order that we enjoyed before. This is highlighted by Ms Ahimsa as follows:

[In television interviews over the last 10 years, he has made no secret of the fact that he was proud of it. He has made up his mind not to apologise. But have you, Prime Minister? Will you apologise for spending the last four and a half years protecting and cavorting with the man you today call a mass murderer?
From the day my father died, you have invoked his name to win votes. My father’s murder was a prop in the 2015 presidential and parliamentary election campaigns that made you Prime Minister. You brought President Sirisena to power and won control of Parliament for the UNP, all by promising justice for my father’s murder. As soon as you came to power, your priorities changed. When I met you at Temple Trees in February 2015 to appeal for your support in making sure my father’s killers saw justice, you told me that there were “other priorities” and that justice was “not just about Lasantha.”
Lasantha, as a true journalist has earned a permanent place as a positive contributor to Press Freedom. Many others including politicians added their own contributions to self-governance to redeem the media from its imprisonment. Punishing through the Administrative process would have been difficult due to lack of evidence. If Mr Wickremesinghe had focused on punishing Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as an individual that would have been unfair to all others who lost loved ones in the war for the simple reason that they were doing their jobs. That is NOT why Mr Wickremesinghe got the mandate to be democratic PM.

Whether it is Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa or Mr Wickremesinghe – as leaders – they have the duty to address any matter at ‘issue level’. The fact that Ms Ahimsa is intensely active at this time – confirms to me that the lady is also using the political pathway. As they say  In  politics - there are no permanent enemies, and no permanent friends, only permanent interests.
The way I see it – successful politics is about belief based emotions. One does not need to think logically and yet a belief based vote would be perfectly logical to the mind that cast it. Hence politician or voter needs  to focus  above the background noise – to identify with the issue that is most important to her/him. To me this is self-governance in Sri Lanka and so far my prayers have been answered because I have done my best before seeking the Lord’s blessings.  
The Island’s editorial under the heading ‘Elephantine turmoil’ concludes as follows:

[Many were those who expected Gotabaya Rajapaksa to come under a hail of barbs from Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, after being declared the SLPP presidential candidate. There is no love lost between them.
Fonseka has acted with restraint—for once. He says the SLPP has given priority to the task of safeguarding national security, and that was why Gotabaya was chosen to run for President. Curiously, he refrained from launching into a diatribe against Gotabaya.

True, national security is Gotabaya’s long suit and he earned a name for himself mostly as an efficient Defence Secretary. Fonseka would have us believe that Gotabaya’s security background is the sole reason why the SLPP has named him its presidential candidate. Reading between the lines, one sees the Field Marshal’s point which he has chosen to leave unstressed; the UNP, he seems to say, has to convince the public that it is also serious about national security. How could it do so? It, too, has to field, as its presidential candidate, someone with the same background as Gotabaya. Only Fonseka fits the bill! (Speaker Karu Jayasuriya is also a former soldier, but he has not fought any war.) Fonseka told the media, yesterday, that he was willing to run for President!
The UNP may not be able to secure the backing of enough voters to win elections, but it does not seem to be short of presidential hopefuls!].

The editor confirms his desire for an armed fight which these personalities are capable of invoking. The permanent interests of true journalists ought to be to prevent armed fighting by continuously raising the problems to the level of intellectual fighting.

The positives for UNP through Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa’s nomination is that all Sri Lankans who reject war – would reject Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa just as they rejected Mr Fonseka in 2010.Northern Sri Lankans rejected Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa by voting for Mr Fonseka. But more to the point – majority  did not participate in elections – confirming their pain due to the war. When participation in voting is low, the risk of separation from politics is high. One needs to become a member in politics to have a political say in-between elections. That participation was pretty low in Jaffna for the 2010 elections . From around 26% this rose to 66% in 2015 Presidential elections.  If this has risen now – then the government that developed this participation is the winner of ‘Uniting Sri Lanka’ program. Weaning Jaffna Tamils out of war is a full-time job.

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