a red noose around Sri Lanka’s neck
Mahinda Rajapaksa is calling for abandoning the current cease-fire and peace process. The opposite of cease-fire is, uh, fire and that’s where he and his extremist JVP/JHU allies are leading us. Ranil Wickremesinghe, on the other hand, negotiated the current cease fire and can carry the peace process forward. When you have a tiger by the tail you should be very careful before you make any sudden moves. When you’ve got the racist JVP and JHU pulling your red scarf in the opposite direction, it’s a recipe for disaster.
Ranil got the LTTE to agree to a solution within a united Sri Lanka, which was truly remarkable. Mahinda says that the cease-fire ‘complicated the problems’ but he should tell that the people on the ground. The banks aren’t exploding, there aren’t check points and people can almost go about their lives. Mahinda calls for abandoning peace and starting the peace process from scratch. I see no reason why Sri Lankans should abandon a peace supported by CBK, the SLFP and the international community. I see no reason to elect Mahinda, and every reason to elect Ranil.
Mahinda’s (Tunnel) Vision
First off, Mahinda has accomplished absolutely nothing in 37 years of public service, besides enriching himself and throwing some nice parties. His biography is similar to that of George W. Bush – wealthy political family, mastery of ‘looking’ common (be it cowboy hat or national dress), and a history of doing nothing real. This is what his online biography says:
Mahinda proved to be a remarkably successful Minister of Labour, despite suffering a major setback in being unable to bring his brainchild, the Workerâ€™s Charter, into law… He also created the Vocational Training Authority to recognize the rising need of unemployed youth. He was equally dynamic Minister of Fisheries, initiating several important programmes such as housing programme for fishermen to improve the lives and livelihood of fisher-folk, and also strengthen the industrial base of the fisheries industry. Inland fisheries too, benefited from these reforms, with the national harvest almost doubling between 1994 and 2001. Infact he initiated the first ever University for Oceanography known as Sagara Vishwavidyalaya. Establishing a Coastal Guard Unit, a much needed security system for an Island nation was one of his remarkable steps taken as the Minister of Fisheries. In addition to the Portfolio of Fisheries, he also held the Portfolio of the Ports and Shipping for a short period of three months. Within this period he started and gazetted the much needed construction of Hambantota Harbour.
I’ll go into detail later, but for starters there is no Sri Lankan Coast guard, and there is no Hambantota Harbour. All Mahinda has done is gone to some ribbon cuttings and smiled for the photo-ops, cause that’s all he’s good at. He has no real accomplishments besides grinning and looking pretty. Which is to say, Mahinda Rajapaksa isn’t qualified to move the current peace process forward, let alone scrap the whole thing and start all over. Mahinda has never shown any interest in policy or real accomplishments, and he’s unlikely to start. He’ll show up for the photo-ops, but the real policy will be defined by the extremist JVP and JHU (mainly the former). Seeing as the JVP has called for simultaneously disbanding the army and abandoning the cease-fire, that’s a high road to a losing war.
So, as to Mahinda’ Vision, he has none besides his own reflection and he has neither the experience, skill nor independence to lead this country to peace.
Mahinda’s Way (Backwards)
Even though he calls for abrogating the painfully worked out consensus between the UNP and the UPFA on the ethnic problem and the agreement arrived at between the Government and the LTTE and the Oslo and Tokyo declaration. This process has guaranteed the unity, democratic character and territorial Integrity of Sri Lanka and created the framework of a solution acceptable to all communities of the country – and Mahinda will throw it away in exchange for… nothing. His Chintana calls for 3 months of talks between Members of Parliament, religious leaders and Tamil/Muslim representatives. *Mahinda wants to throw away 3 years of peace so he can have some meetings and photo-ops*. There is no alternative solution presented, we’re just expected to trust Mahinda to deliver peace like he delivered the Coast Guard and Hambantota Harbour.
Most audaciously, Mahinda says
In the course of the consultative process, I shall initiate direct talks with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. I also intend to meet their leader and other representatives for such discussions. At such talks, I shall present the concession reached to the LTTE
Mahinda thinks that the LTTE will simply accept whatever the JVP and JHU serve up and sign on the dotted line. What he displays is a sheer level of naivete and incompetence bred by a lack of real experience. That sort of immaturity leaves Sri Lanka wide-open to war. The LTTE has no reason to give up a negotiated solution for a unilateral decision, especially one largely drafted by the chauvanist JVP. Strategically, they would never agree and the only option would be war against the incompetent government that would propose such a thing. Ranil’s peace negotiations involved hard compromises and agreements – which Mahinda would throw away. He thinks that he can let go of the tiger’s tail and go for a better grip, but with his fumbling inexperience Sri Lanka will get nothing but bitten.
If you read his manifesto, it’s a bunch of hot air and empty words. What we have in hand is 3 years of cease-fire and a working (if neglected) peace-process. Mahinda wants to trade that for platitudes.
Ranil’s Real Alternative
Whereas Mahinda has accomplished nothing in his term as Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe negotiated the Peace Process which has held for 3 years, allowed Sri Lanka’s economy to grow, and allowed people to live and walk the streets without fear of terrorist attack or check points. Because the peace process has been wholly neglected by the current PM (Mahinda) and the UPFA the situation is still bad for people in the North, and the East is especially unstable. Rather than scrapping the gains we have made, a government under Ranil would build on the current peace process – which has broad UPFA and international support – and bring it to completion. That being a solution acceptable to all communities within the framework of a united Sri Lanka, as in the text of the Indo-Lanka accord. Ranil would resume the peace process which was so well drafted and managed that it has held even under the pressures of UPFA apathy and JVP extremism.
Rather than starting from scratch Ranil would:
# Recommence the Peace Process, under the cease-fire upheld by the Supreme Court
# Strengthen the Cease-Fire by restructuring the Monitoring Mission and strengthening the police to give them the tools to deal with the degenerating law and order in the North and East
# Stop the killings, like that of Lackshman Kadirgamar. The current government has invited these deaths by neglecting the peace for so long.
# Ensuring that peace dividends flow to the North and East by allowing humanitarian assistance to flow there through mechanisms like P-TOMS and a dedicated ministry for displaced persons.
# read more in Ranil’s People’s Agenda.
Furthermore, unlike the JVPs calls for disbanding the army, Ranil would modernize and strengthen it as well as retaining the international support that chokes the LTTE’s access to funds and arms. Because of his work and the courageous work of Lackshman Kadirgamar, among others, the LTTE is an international pariah. This, along with support of the army, strengthens the security of a united Sri Lanka. The JVP, however, hangs around Mahinda’s neck as a chauvinist/communist party with a history of terrorism. Their rhetoric and racism will make Prabhakaran look good, making Sri Lanka weaker in peace and ever weaker at war. Ranil has dragged Sri Lanka to the international high-ground and we should stay there. Whether for war or peace, it’s easier to fight downhill.
The way forward for Sri Lanka is to stick to the cease-fire, elect someone competent and finish the peace process that Ranil began in 2001. Ranil was carrying it forward until CBK staged her legal coup, stopping the peace process in its tracks. Now Mahinda and the JVP want to kill it entirely. They would trade a tiger in the hand for two in the bush. Mahinda invites war through platitudes and extremist alliances. Ranil can bring peace through experience and intra-party and international cooperation. What we need is a real and solid peace – not an empty photo-op. That’s why I’m voting for Ranil.