The ISLAND Editorial …. Before the Military Assault at Galle Face Green

Editorial in THE ISLAND, 22 July 2022  …… before the Storming of the ARAGALAYA camp on Galle Face Green by security forses on that day viz TODAY 22 July 2022

TITLE = “An honourable defeat”

Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as the President yesterday. Amidst a host of paeans to him, we believe that a word about the unsuccessful candidates in Wednesday’s contest in Parliament is in order. Dissident SLPP MP Dullas Alahapperuma, who was expected to be a dark horse, lost Wednesday’s vote in the House, but he certainly won the hearts of all Sri Lankans who desire an early end to the corrupt Rajapaksa rule, which has become a curse to all citizens save those who are benefiting therefrom. His was an honourable defeat. A beleaguered regime fighting for survival strikes back ferociously and is guided by Rafferty’s rules. Alahapperuma’s courageous attempt to put the brakes on the Rajapaksa juggernaut is to be commended.

Crowds at Galle Face

   This photo was presented on NEWS RADIO with article by Hazari Mohamed on Day 17 of the Protest

Alahapperuma is not infallible––far from it––and has committed some political sins. He did not scruple to vote for all obnoxious Bills that the Rajapaksas steamrollered through Parliament, and served as a minister under them. He is responsible, to that extent, for what has befallen the country under the Rajapaksa governments. But he is one of the few politicians who have remained above suspicion. There have been instances where he stood up to the Rajapaksas, while being a member of their Cabinet; he resisted questionable deals such as the sale of the Yugadanavi power plant shares to New Fortress, a US energy firm. That was the reason why he was removed from the Ministry of Power last year. He has also earned praise from environmentalists, polls observers and the media for conducting clean election campaigns, which are free from cutouts, banners and posters, etc., and, above all, violence. He has made a name for himself as a capable, approachable politician, who treats public officials and the ordinary people with dignity. These attributes make him vastly different from the lawmakers of easy virtue, as it were.

Alahapperuma’s unsuccessful presidential bid also made the rift in the SLPP permanent, and helped prove that the Rajapaksas fear the people so much that none of them are bold enough to contest elections even in Parliament, and have had to hide behind the UNP, of all parties; the self-styled kings have become kingmakers.

JVP leader and NPP MP Anura Kumara Dissanayake took the public by surprise when he threw his hat into the ring. Nobody expected him to win or even poll more than three votes including his own, but he wanted to send a message to the electorate. In his speech, after the announcement of the winner, he accused the government of having bought off MPs. He said the best forum to make that serious allegation was Parliament itself. He made no revelation, but let him be thanked for telling the truth on the floor of the House itself.

There is a pressing need for electoral reforms to introduce the recall system so that the people can deal with their MPs who betray their trust by taking bribes and indulging in other such malpractices. Corrupt lawmakers turn a parliament into a house of ill fame, as has been the case here. They are also a threat to the country in that they cause the public to lose faith in the legislature and can be bribed into passing laws detrimental to the national interest.

Meanwhile, there are lessons that the Opposition and the Aragalaya activists ought to learn from the outcome of Wednesday’s vote in the House. They have to assess the strength and the capability of their enemy properly and effect changes to their strategy accordingly. Sun Tzu has said in The Art of War, “If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.” This has been the experience of the oppositional forces on the warpath. They have become cocky and reckless. It was a huge mistake for them to try to march on Parliament on 13 July. Their blunder only enabled the beleaguered government to gain the upper hand.

The first thing President Wickremesinghe did, after being elected on Wednesday, was to meet the troops who were guarding Parliament and thank them profusely for a job well done. It is not difficult to guess how the government is planning to tackle protests. But a regime that fears unarmed protesters who take to the streets seeking relief, and has to go so far as to garrison thousands of heavily armed troops with armoured vehicles for Parliament to meet, in peacetime, should be ashamed of itself. No government can defend itself against the devastating landfall of a tsunami of public anger. World history is replete with instances of unarmed civilians stopping battle tanks, and overthrowing corrupt, dictatorial regimes. This is something the arrogant politicians donning saataka and lounge or kapati suits, and those sporting greatcoats with fancy epaulets and brass buttons have to bear in mind.

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One response to “The ISLAND Editorial …. Before the Military Assault at Galle Face Green

  1. N. Goonewardena

    Do we try to elect a President just because he is low on the corruption scale? Is this the only criterion? So, does it mean we are willing to even elect a moron as long as he is not corrupt?

    Having said that, Dullas Alahapperuma does not even have a professional qualification, leave alone an academic qualification above that of the GCE (A/L). Of course, he brags in his CV that he has an honorary doctorate from the University of Plymouth. But, Mervyn Silva and Bandula Gunawardena also have similarly worthless honorary degrees. Furthermore, Dullas Allahapperuma never showed any ‘colours’ in parliament or outside it. So, I think we should be thankful that he did not become President.

    Now, this business of “buying” MPs. The bitter SLFP leader (who did not contest for President) is the first who shouted saying that millions had been spent in buying MPs votes. Anura’s shouting is only an extension of that. Sadly, both of them cannot give a single name of who gave the money and a single name of who received the money. Haven’t we heard so many baseless wild allegations before. “Kaivaaru” is one thing. But, evidence and proof is another. Both Sirisena and Anura fail with respect to the latter, while excelling in the former.

    In a post election interview Anura said that he knew that he would get only three votes. If so, why did you contest, Anura? Was it for the thrill of it?

    Anura goes from getting 3 percent in 2019 to 3 votes in 2022. Way to go, Anura.

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