Felicitations for the First anniversary of the UPFA.
In Personal matters, as well as in political matters one has to take risks. Without risks there is no progress.

Charles Perera

It is one year since SLFP and JVP formed the UPFA. I extend my warm wishes for giving the people of Sri Lanka hope and relief. Relief, from what the people and the country went through at the helm of a leadership that laid the foundation stone for the division of our country. They undid many social moves the previous governments with socialist leanings had taken for the welfare of the Nation.

In life whether, it is personal and individual or collective and National, an element of risk is necessary for progress. Otherwise we will continue an uneventful mediocre existence, bored and an unfulfilled life. In taking a risk one has to carefully evaluate the situation and foresee likely, “ pot-holes”, dangerous mine fields, and hazardous encounters. But nevertheless it is a necessary evil. I mean, taking risks.

Sinhala Maha Sabha claimed independence from the all powerful Colonial masters. That put ourselves in the position of being on our own, to shape the destinies of our Nation the way we want. We were still not on firm ground. We did not deviate from the path that had been traced for us by our foreign” Masters”. The first political risk was however, the disposing of a white Governor General and replacing him with one who was a “shade” darker. We built the Yoda Ela and the Laxapana Dam. Then came a more forward looking experience in launching the free education system. But yet the ordinary people were still what they were, and the black”sahibs” of the ruling class, were still the imitations of the “whites” they replaced.

The Leftists were in the forefront of the trade union movement. But they depended too much on the urban workers for a revolution, leaving out the peasant farmers and villagers. Despite their united working class movement, at elections the Tamils did not take them too seriously. They were therefore without a popular support either from the larger Sinhala electorate, or the Tamil and the other minor electorates. They too did not take measured risks, and failed to become a political force in the Independent Sri Lanka. Later on realizing their error, Philippe Gunawardhane spearheaded the United left moment the MEP, which was a major event, which left its mark in the political history of Sri Lanka. But the movement came too late to make any impact on the political scene at the time.

With the disappearance of the old guards of the Independent Sri Lanka, we came to a period more comic than serious, and finally a measured risk was taken by S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike, which changed our leisurely walk on the well traced paths of our colonial masters. There was a change of accepted values, and the ordinary peoples’ voice was at last heard. The atmosphere became different, there was a sense of real freedom for all. Sinhala Mahasabha and the UNP the guardians of the British heritage, became aware of a “Native” heritage, that had been ignored and allowed to decay and disappear.

Thereafter the things changed for Sri Lanka, even the LTTE would not have been thought of before the real independence that came about, after 1956. LTTE was one of the dangers of the risk. However, there were movements which were positive for the country. The movement against Catholic action started by Mr.Mettananda, the land reform bill, the green revolution encouraged by Mrs.Sirimavo Bandaranayake, giving a proper place to Ayurveda , the CTB the public transport system were some of them.

In politics we do not always go forward, for there are the reactionaries,( from the point of view of the forward movement of the “have nots”), who are also prepared to take risks. The well programmed UNP march organized by JR Jayawardhane, changed the situation. Perhaps the revolutionary youth moment of the JVP contributed to this change of events. However, JR Jayawardhana was an astute politician and an able manipulator of the masses. He came into power and destroyed the social progress the country had made that far. He neutralized his chief opponent by taking away her civil rights.

After that the UNP headed by Ranil Wickramasinghe, with the castaways from the PA of Chandrika Kumaratunga, almost drove the last nail into the coffin of a progressive Sri Lanka, that had been lying in a coma for a long time.

It was late, but nevertheless in time, that Ms.Chandrika Kumaratunga decided to take things into her hand, and drove away the UNF and formed a Government with JVP as a coalition partner. That was a risk but taken with a measured foresight. Now one year has passed but very few things have been done.

Ranil Wickramasinghe’s MoU with the LTTE was an illegal document , prepared by a foreign Government and a terror group and not a documents that binds a Democratic Government. Even an International Court of Law may not accept it as a legal document that binds a Sovereign State. The scrapping of that document would have been a risk, but it could have been replaced. It was because of the fear of taking risks, that the government lost a golden opportunity. The people were behind the Government and the Americans were waging a war against world terrorism. The situation was ripe for taking a “risk”.

UPFA is now starting its second year in office. Is it not a risk to give into all fancy and favour of the terroists ? They keep on asking things as if they are a separate State, and any proposal of the Government is rejected or changed. Who is in Command in Sri Lanka ?

It is true that after the death of more than 60 000 in a stupid war, one has to be careful in taking decisions. But how long can a government keep postponing things hiding their heads in the sand like ostriches. Isn’t it time to ask Solheim to go home ? If Norwegians cannot be got rid of, as LTTE has trust in them, the other alternative would be to form another Monitoring Mission with representatives from some other countries such as India, China, and Russia. That would be a risk, but it is worth trying nevertheless.

Karuna was a part and parcel of the LTTE. But he has now parted company and is seeking political respectability. Even in Buddhism one who genuinely regrets what had been done and seeks amends is pardoned and shown the way to liberation. Is it not what all those who fight terrorism is also seeking to do ? If the terrorists were to give up arms against the establishment, and agree to toe the democratic line, should not they be accepted ? After all, they are a “misguided” part of the population.

Therefore, why cannot we (if necessary in consultation with the big powers),accept Karuna as representing the Tamil freedom moment of the East. If we have accepted LTTE as such for Vavunia, we have more than a right to accept Karuna, as he says he is not against the establishment. Karuna does not want the Tamils in the East to be the “fodder” for Prabhakaran and Tamil Selvam and others, living a life of comfort and safety some of them living in utter luxury, with government paid helicopter rides, travels abroad, staying in five star hotels, meeting European Government dignitaries, signing contracts for heavy arms with foreign arms dealers, and who knows what else!

With metta

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