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An open letter to Sajith Premadasa

Comments / {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}} Views / Thursday, 22 November 2018 00:00


Dear Mr. Premadasa,

You do not know me but I know you. Quite a few times, you have driven up in a rush and completely blocked our view of a leopard sighting in Wilpattu or Yala, by parking your vehicle right by the leopard so that you have the best and closest view. More on that, later.

In the past three weeks our country has been plunged into a chaotic turmoil which we could not have foreseen even in our wildest imagination, entirely due to the unadulterated and all-encompassing needs of two individuals; one to remain in power, and the other to regain power, for different reasons. In that time, I have been increasingly impressed by the manner in which you have responded, and reacted, to a situation which defies description. 

Firstly, your body language has been calm, confident and composed in public, even if you may have given vent to your feelings in private, by using utterly appropriate language. Then, whatever you articulated in a smooth flow of words, whether it was to furious masses who gathered at protest rallies or local and foreign media, was well-considered, mature, factual and balanced, and importantly, established a bond between you and us. Next, despite obviously strong temptation triggered by the traitorous development, you resisted maligning the treacherous traitor in public, much as he deserved all the foul epithets you may know. 

Finally, at two massive rallies, your words were so spontaneous and your delivery so compelling, that it was obvious that what you said was absolutely heartfelt. Your appeal to the masses to stand united and fearless to protect the democratic freedom of our nation, with your pledge that you will stand with us and fight alongside us, the masses, even if we have to lay down our lives for our beloved motherland, was so inspiring and motivating, that our affirmative response to you was deafening, and drowned out all other sounds in our emphatic espousal of the values endorsed by a civilised society: justice and fair play, equality and freedom, transparency and accountability, and an inalienable dedication to restore to our motherland, the glory that is hers on the world stage.

Your conduct, attitude, and words at this critical moment in time, cutting across party lines, have shown that you possess a degree of statesmanship that only two or three politicians in our country, possesses today. The manner in which the masses responded with deafening roars of approval is not something that can be genuinely evoked, even by the other side. 

It is obvious from public reaction to the totally unacceptable situation that was thrust on us, that the masses are bone weary of the same long-in-the-tooth politicians peddling the same baloney all the time, and expecting, especially the young generations, to believe in pie-in-the-sky. But in you, the people see a different face at the forefront, and they hear a new, plausibly genuine, ring to the call for patriotism. There is an element of novelty and freshness in an otherwise stale and putrid political cauldron, which is repugnant to the majority of people. 

Most of the right thinking people in this country wonder whether our motherland ever had such a dark period. History will record how an utter traitor, with a smile, went back on his pledges and with a smile, sacrificed an entire nation on the altar of selfishness. Generations to come will scowl in disgust when his name is mentioned. 

Mr. Premadasa, however desperate and discouraging the situation, I have always believed and continue to believe, that cometh the hour, cometh the man (or woman). It seems obvious from public reaction that the moment is yours, to capture. To be blunt, at this moment, you seem the best out of a bad lot. 

The lowest moment in a nation’s or person’s life can be made the turning point, given the right attitude. It takes immense courage and resolute leadership. I believe that moment has arrived for our nation. 

The masses seem to solidly ache for a respectable person who can illuminate their gloomy imagination of the future, with a vision of the glorious heights to which we can raise this blessed motherland of ours, given the huge potential she possesses. That potential was raped and pillaged brazenly for their personal gain by those who presumed that the end of a brutal war against terrorism endowed them with personal ownership of this land, and they will continue that plunder with reinvigorated abandon if the present situation is allowed to continue. 

It is up to a person who is palpably acceptable to the masses, to give leadership and momentum and harness that rebellion to result in a massive push as never before, to clean the system of the dregs of society who have now reduced our parliament and system of governance, to national and international ridicule.  If such a leader rises to the occasion bravely and valiantly, as the Honourable Speaker did during the past few weeks, he or she will quickly discover a massive wave of civil society, from religious leaders, academics, professionals, and men and women from all walks of life, cutting across party lines and in identifying a leader they can bond with, rising in an overwhelming tide of support to purge and then purify the system of governance. 

If one positive result has emerged from the destruction of the past three weeks, it is that civil society has been galvanised into action by the insufferable outrage, and that swell of outrage will grow progressively and cannot and will not be trampled. Such cleansing upheavals have been witnessed in Asian countries, particularly in the Philippines and Indonesia, in the not too distant past, where nepotistic, narcissistic, utterly corrupt rulers have not only been thrown out by sheer people’s power, but even banished into exile. 

The war against terrorism shackled our motherland for three decades. The present situation, brought about by sheer greed and desperation, have constricted this nation’s breath over three weeks. While the perpetrators may be all smiles and cutting cakes on top of tables, and cutting deals under the sheets of the bed that two unlikely bed-mates have snuggled into, we, the citizens whose country this is, are gasping.

I have no idea as to how you can do it, but you possess a certain suaveness. Use that, with the political skills at your command , and the combined skills of the handful of respectable, educated, civilised politicians who are easily discernible, to rise to the occasion as the hour demands and appeal to the broad spectrum of society with a system of governance which espouses integral values of democracy, and you might just make it. It will be your finest moment yet, and one for which generations yet to be born in this our glorious motherland, will salute you. 

Namo Namo Maatha! Apa Sri Lanka!!

With best wishes,

Mahendra Fernando

PS: Back to the wildlife parks. This country, including its wildlife parks, belong to all of us, its citizens. No one has a prior claim. Let us enjoy our beautiful motherland with respect for each other. 

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