THE eloquent speech delivered by Tamil Attorney George Willy to President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his recent visit to the US has been roundly applauded for its courageous content – much of which few people would have had the nerve to deliver face-to-face.
In beautifully-worded prose, the Tamil Attorney recalled the splendour of his birth country and called on the President to understand the needs of the minority communities. Taking the oft-used comparison of Rajapaksa to King Dutugemunu, he gave it a new twist by recalling how after defeating Elara, the latter built a monument in honour of his late rival and ordered people to pay respect to him.
The great magnanimity and understanding the King displayed denoted his formidable political powers and founded a truly united nation. “The Tamil people are naked and hungry; looking for you to assure them that there is a place for them. Make sure they have one,” he said, adding, “You killed one Prabhakaran, but do not let another one grow. You cannot prevent another one with swords and guns. You can only do that with your heart and wisdom. The compassion, truth and justice you learned from the Buddha are the only weapons you will need.”
The simplicity of the emotion that he conveyed and the depth with which he connected all the salient issues that plague the long road Sri Lanka is treading to unity made the speech unprecedented in recent times. For a political figure surrounded by ‘yes men,’ it was a disarmingly frank representation that could not be ignored or belittled as political hogwash, neither could it be dismissed as being unfounded.
It directly dealt with the concerns that many Sri Lankans believe but do not have a method to communicate to the top. In many instances politicians disregard the importance of the message simply because the messenger might be from the international community – it is often dismissed as a “conspiracy” with little regard for the importance of what is being said.
Dissent is not disloyalty – different people chose to love Sri Lanka in their own way. Some by paying lip service to the powers that be and others by pointing out the flaws and challenges that still need to be addressed to realise the nation’s full potential. Different as these methods are, they nonetheless spring from the same root of love and regard felt for their motherland. Be it from a top lawyer abroad or a beggar on the street or a journalist with little more than his pen, the intentions must be understood and respected.
It is heartening to note that the Government plans to include the negative reports made to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) as mentioned by Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, but the public must ensure that these promises are implemented and not simply words dragged out of a heckled Government representative. Copies of the finalised report are to be circulated to all stakeholders including the UN and Diaspora community and therefore the latter must heed the call for help from their motherland.
As Attorney Willy pointed out, “new policy backed by law with teeth to enforce” is the imperative need of the day and assistance from the Diaspora community for holistic development.