The time has come for taking stock or compiling a report card – call it what you will. The second swearing-in ceremony of President Rajapaksa is also a time that we as a nation assess ourselves and take an honest look at our contribution as well as what remains to be achieved.
All this depends on viewpoints of course. The positive people will trot out many examples of how Sri Lanka has achieved greatness and turned about the impossible into the possible during the last five years. The cynical would point out that more needs to be realised in terms of transparency, rule of law, accountability and democracy.
However, the moderates would present a far more pragmatic and largely upbeat opinion based on the peace and significant development projects initiated across the land. Listening to the President’s swearing-in ceremony speech, the average person can be forgiven for thinking that Sri Lanka has gained much during the last half decade – for it has. The war came to an end, a fact that is perhaps too much harped on, but nonetheless a fact. Perhaps we have not rehabilitated, reconciled and made the most of this opportunity since 19 May 2009, but the potential to do so remains bright.
The President made some heartening points during his speech, candidly admitting that he has greater confidence in his second term than the first. Predictable as this viewpoint is, several that followed it were pertinent. The importance of reconciliation was emphasised by him, along with the need to create equitable development by binding rural areas into the national economy. Sustainable peace also means that the younger generation have to be given better opportunities, equipped with international standards of education and technology.
As he pointed out, the eradication of poverty is greater than defeating terrorism. Finding solutions for this will more than occupy the President during his second term. Adding to the challenge is his keen interest, according to the speech, in reaching this goal in an environmentally-sustainable manner. With massive construction, electricity, infrastructure and industry in the pipeline reaching unspoiled areas of the country, protecting natural resources is an imperative need.
As the President pointed out, working hard for the country is the core of this development. In simplistic terms, if all the citizens of this country genuinely focused on their tasks and thought of the benefits to be reaped by us all as a whole, then the dependence on the Government would be less. The crosscurrents of change would be managed better and the rights of the majority poor would not be overlooked for the benefit of a mighty few.
At a time when the entire country is upbeat over the never-before-felt opportunity for Sri Lanka, the time has come to look beyond politics and evaluate people for their actions – this includes the good and the bad. Five years have come and gone, but their effects will carry on into the future. In the same way the next five years, with both its positives and negatives, will have an unprecedented impact on our future and for its sake we have to make the best of what we have been given – imperfections included.