The Presidential race gets off to an official start this week though
it may seem the warm-up has been enough to burn out even the most
two main campaigns seem to be polarising into very distinct positions;
one set campaigning on a nationalistic populist platform focusing
on the unitary nature of the State, and the other on a development-oriented
platform promising a settlement to the country's north-east conflict
in response to minority aspirations.
next few weeks will see how both parties argue their case before
the people. We can only hope the contest will be more issue-based
and less mud-based.
is also clear that both contending candidates realise that reliance
on their respective vote banks is insufficient to guarantee victory,
and that both of them will need to veer to the centre, trying to
woo some of each other's votes, which is a good thing in the overall
context of this fractured island.
Let's not forget this is a contest for the most important job in
the country. And wasted years need to be swiftly caught up.
Lanka has slipped into the unenviable position of being one of the
least developing countries in the fast-growing Asian continent.
And the exodus from this country to fresher pastures by peoples
from all communities and religions, some risking their lives to
get out of what they consider a hell-hole, speaks volumes.
for now, it's the campaign. And as we have said before, the two
main contenders are relatively decent politicians. But already,
sleazy wheeler-dealers have had a field day lining the pockets of
the contending parties. And that is why we say the biggest bribe-takers
in this country are the political parties.
for the moment, let us hope that their campaigns stay clean in keeping
with the laws of the land and the right examples are set.
Earlier this week, the MP son of a frontline Sri Lankan politician
of not so long made an impassioned plea, if not an angry complaint,
about the fate of the investigations into the assassination of his
Dissanayake was the UNP's presidential candidate in 1994 when he
and a host of other UNP supporters were killed by a suicide-bomber
as he addressed a campaign rally at Thotalanga at the gates of Colombo
11 years later we have the most astounding revelation - that the
files pertaining to this investigation ARE LOST!!! And therefore,
that the case is closed. So too, the cases dealing with the many
others who died in that bomb blast.
too is the case into the assassination of the late President R.
Premadasa. Twelve years after he was killed, also by a suicide-bomber,
the Police, the State prosecutors come up with the sorry story that
the investigations into his murder are closed for lack of evidence.
incidents took place in front of thousands of people - at political
rallies - and the Police say they are unable to conclude the cases.
The question that begs an answer is whether they are simply incompetent
or whether they were deployed on other duties and hence investigations
into the murder of two very senior political leaders in this country
went into limbo just like that. Or still, whether someone inside
was bribed to have the files stolen.
know only too well how crucial files get lost in Courts, in the
Customs, and now, in the Police. From the public's reaction, there
seems to be no big fuss over all this either; Just the sons of the
slain leaders making some noise.
Sri Lanka has had its fair share of politically motivated murders
and clearly, the Police are unable to handle all of them.
there is the question of the will and motivation to probe. And the
difficulty in getting witnesses to come forward and testify. Just
a few weeks ago the Colombo Magistrate asked some policemen who
said they couldn't identify suspects in the murder of Senior Superintendent
of Police Charles Wijewardene, what the public can expect from the
Police, when they will not even come forward in defence of one of
are all the hallmarks of a society just falling apart - and of a
system of law and order that has literally gone to the dogs. A Police
Service that had just four DIGs at the time of Independence and
for some time thereafter, now has 40 plus DIGs - for all manner
of subjects - but no one for politically-motivated crime.
India, when their Prime Minister was assassinated, a three-year
painstaking investigation was launched and concluded. The culprits
were named and sentenced by a court of law.
Sri Lanka, the files are lost!
Quo Vadis, Sri Lanka?