• The Common Candidate.

    All of last week, whenever time permitted, I have spent time reading various articles published online. Gossip sites, political blogs, news websites – I’ve been drawn to explore them all. Digital media, specifically social media is indeed one of the best inventions of the twenty-first century. The free flow of information and the exchange of opinions of individuals, free thinkers, biased minds, keyboard warriors are all so intriguing. The Internet indeed is water to a mind thirsty for knowledge, information, news and gossip. A heated topic making the rounds last week has been that of the upcoming Presidential Election. And rightfully so with the formal handing over of all nominations by interested parties on the 8thof December, the digital space has been a buzz, with articles and posts been churned out quicker than the Navy Rugby team beating Army at their last game on Saturday! Many seem to have varied opinions about the candidates standing for elections. But despite having read several articles, blogs and posts, I still have several questions left unanswered in my mind about the entire recent episode of the common candidate.

    In 2010 afraid to stand up for elections against the popular figure that was applauded by all as the fearless leader that defeated a global terrorist outfit, the Leader of the Opposition not wanting to lose his title as the Party Leader of the UNP, convinced a very gullible former Head of the Sri Lanka Army to stand as a Candidate for the elections under his own independent party albeit supported by the main Opposition party of the island. Needless to say it was almost a one horse race for the reigning President and he emerged victorious at the polls. By their own admission many months later, Hon. Wijeyadasa Rajapaksa an eminent member of the Opposition Party in an interview aired on Derana TV admitted that his party understanding that they stood no chance at the 2010 Presidential Elections, literally placed the former General, Mr. Sarath Fonseka as bait so that their leader Mr. Wickremasinghe can save face with their supporters after the discernible defeat.

    I was personally disheartened to see a respected leader of the Sri Lankan Army been flung around like bait by the Opposition Party. Misled and misguided the poor chap that could have retired as a respected gentleman of the Sri Lankan armed forces instead today desperately cling on to whatever is left of his self-respect which is literally hanging on a shoe string. After all he did betray the island he once defended by disseminating false information that eventually led to the UN wanting an independent inquiry into the activities that took place during the last stages of the war in Sri Lanka. Without batting an eyelid he raised the red flag against his own nation and his own men that fought in the battlefields under his instructions.

    Mr. Maithripala Sirisena, to me will always be a man that dissected a piece of the faith I had in mankind. He was a close friend and colleague of my fathers. From a very young age I have seen him whisk in and out our home; a man trusted by my father and respected by us, his sons, blinded by tall promises tabled by a former Head of State desperately trying to make a comeback and the current Leader of the Opposition all too happy to remain in his comfortable seat, fell prey to the vixen and her weak sidekick and betrayed the Party that was once his haven. Had Mr. Sirisena resigned from the party like a true gentleman in politics and sought blessings from his comrades the story would indeed be a different tale altogether. Instead like the snake that betrayed Eve in the garden of Eden or rather like Judas that betrayed his men after the last supper, without a word of warning switched sides faster than a chameleon changing its color. Let alone him consuming his last meal with my father at our official residence and pledging his support to the Party, a mere few days before the infamous switch he was a volunteer guest at my father’s birthday alms giving and whilst holding the sacred relics in his hands, when inquired by the Loku Hamuduruwo of the Gangarama Temple as to where Mr. Sirisena’s loyalties stood he affirmed the Venerable Thero, whilst holding the sacred relics, that his loyalties were indeed with his Party (SLFP/UPFA) and its leader Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa. Perhaps I shouldn’t be too concerned over this betrayal by Mr. Sirisena, after all if he is a man that can lie whilst holding onto the sacred relics, who are we and the rest of the country to him.

    I was reaffirmed of Mr. Sirisena’s vindictive mind when I read several articles online pertaining to the two MOU’s he had penned with the UNP and the JHU. With the MOU inked with the UNP, Mr. Sirisena has agreed to abolish the Executive Presidency within a period of hundred days and instate Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and form a National Government until the pending General Elections have come to a successful conclusion. Similarly, with the MOU inked with Mr. Sarath Fonseka, Mr. Sirisena has agreed to remain as the Executive President of Sri Lanka albeit curbing his powers to a certain extent (and the extent of which remains unclear) and will appoint Mr. Fonseka as the Minister of Defense. I find the two MOU’s quite amusing. How does Mr. Sirisena plan to abolish Executive Presidency without first obtaining a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Secondly, since when did the Executive Presidency become such a hindrance to Mr. Sirisena? Up until being announced as the Common Candidate, Mr. Sirisena has never proclaimed his dissatisfaction with the mechanisms of the Executive Presidency. Furthermore, by abolishing the Executive Presidency is Mr. Sirisena aware that he would be leaving room for the automatic enforcement of the 13th Amendment, which grants the devolution of powers to the provinces, i.e. grants land and police powers to each province which will undoubtedly carve the road towards a divided nation. Would we as a nation that has suffered through three decades of a brutal civil war want to witness another reprisal of the same?

    It is also interesting to note, that in a recent interview with the BBC, Mr. Sirisena claimed that if elected to power he will not abolish the Executive Presidency and he will only curb certain powers of the Executive Presidency and he will not only retain most powers but will also act as the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, a title he has no claim to should he abolish the Executive Presidency! Mr. Sirisena contradicts himself with every step he takes leading to the polls!

    I fail to understand the term ‘common’ in this entire scenario. What is common between a man that has endorsed SLFP party politics his entire career, a group that endorses UNP party politics, another that endorses a more nationalistic approach to politics, one endorses communism and so on and so forth. To me there is nothing ‘common’ about the common candidate! And I ponder as to whom will the voter be casting their vote for? Mr. Sirisena? Mr. Wickremasinghe? Mrs. Kumaranathunga? Vote for Mr. Sirisena but get Mr. Wickremasinghe instead? I find this attempt by all these individuals as equating to theft. They are attempting to rob the innocent publics vote by misleading them in every possible manner. With the UPFA the public knows what they are in for. You vote for H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa and you will get H.E. Mahinda Rajapaksa governing your state! Mr. Sirisena and his bandwagon of merry men (and a woman!) are attempting to rob the precious vote off the common man by publicly lying to them and misleading them. After all he does claim that once he wins he will languish himself of all Presidential powers and hand over his victory in a golden platter to the Leader of the UNP, his puppeteer, Hon. Ranil Wickremasinghe. What irritates me the most is the manner in which this puppet and his band of merry men along with his puppeteer and his main ventriloquist, Mrs. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaranathunga, is attempting to pull wool around their voters’ eyes. I firmly believe that if you have been elected by the people to serve the people then it is your utmost duty to act in an honorable manner and follow a gentleman’s game of politics. In an election you need to firmly stand on your own two feet and stand tall besides the party that has endorsed you during your entire career and salute the ideologies that you have so firmly voiced throughout your career. After all isn’t that the crux of any politician?

  • Yoshitha Malli in 2006 attired in one of his formal Naval uniforms.

  • 08th December 2014: Ammi and Thaththi review the nomination papers at home before submitting it