My dear Gota maamey, I am writing to congratulate you on your very convincing victory in the big race last week. Most people, which I suspect includes yourself, expected a tight contest. In the end you won with a wide margin, leaving no doubt as to who the winner was and without any need for [...]

5th Column

What matters now, is what will be done for all of us


My dear Gota maamey,

I am writing to congratulate you on your very convincing victory in the big race last week. Most people, which I suspect includes yourself, expected a tight contest. In the end you won with a wide margin, leaving no doubt as to who the winner was and without any need for a ‘second count’.

I hope you appreciate your unique position. You got the top job in the country with absolutely no experience in public office- whereas Mahinda maama got there thirty-five years after becoming a parliamentarian- and the Green Man couldn’t get there even forty-two years after entering Parliament!

Those in the Green camp must be scratching their heads and wondering what happened. Clearly, your message to the voters- of a safe and secure country- was more important to them than the welfare measures promised by Sajith. It is also not fair to put all the blame on him for the loss; he did his best.

Gota maamey, I don’t know whether you realise this, but you didn’t win the race on the 16th of November. You won the race between eight forty-five and nine o’clock in the morning on the 21st of April, when all those bombs exploded, killing hundreds of people. That is when this race was decided.

Last Saturday’s race was unique in many ways. It was the most peaceful race held in Paradise. That is not because Cheerio Sirisena was ‘neutral’ but because of the independence given to Mako and the Police. That was possible only because of the 19th Amendment enacted during ‘yahapaalanaya’.

The other aspect was the result itself. While you were a clear winner in the South of the country, Sajith swept the board across the North and East. Sajith was always expected to win in those areas but it was the margin by which you were rejected there that is surprising- and quite worrying too.

The reason for that is the hate speech that was heard at your campaign rallies- from those like Wimal and Gammanpila, though not from you. They portrayed the race as being between ‘them’ and ‘us’ and tried to equate those in the North and East with terrorists. No wonder they didn’t vote for you!

Soon after you were declared the winner, you made it a point to say that you are now the leader of not only those who voted for you but also of those who didn’t vote for you. That is a very important sentiment that must filter through to the North and East and I hope you do mean what you say.

However, addressing the nation after taking oaths, you said you had proved you could lead Paradise with the votes of just the majority community. That is now true but it is not the wisest comment to make in your first major speech because it will alienate the minority communities even more.

Some of your other first acts are impressive. You didn’t want your picture staring at us from every government institution. You have opted for a smaller Cabinet, at least to begin with. The functions which you attended have been simple affairs. It is a good beginning. We hope you can keep it up.

As you go along, there will be challenges. The biggest challenge is the fact that you are not a politician and you haven’t risen through the ranks of a political party. So, you have to rely on the ‘pohottuwa’ chaps to support you, especially in Parliament and after the next general election.

If you look around you, you will see the same people who tarnished Mahinda maama’s reputation and led to the downfall of his government, still hanging around. Some of them were present when you assumed duties. With these people around you, I am not sure how you can run a ‘clean’ government.

Then, there are those who worked for you victory with ulterior motives. They will soon be demanding their pounds of flesh. I hope you will be able to say ‘no’ to them, such as when the owners of a media outfit which openly supported you request that their little brother on death row be given a pardon!

While you bask in the glow of your victory, people will also remember your reputation as a ruthless enforcer. Many are still afraid of you and question how you can suddenly become a great democrat. The next five years will tell us whether those fears are justified or whether you have changed.

I hope you can change the political culture of Paradise. You could start by denying nominations to the corrupt at the next elections. I am not sure whether Mahinda maama will be able to guide you on that. Seeing Wimal and Johnston in the new Cabinet, people already doubt whether you can do that.

After winning the war, Mahinda maama had a glorious opportunity to revive Paradise but he surrounded himself with cronies and made a mess of it. Cheerio Sirisena promised ‘yahapaalanaya’ but under him, there was no ‘paalanaya’ at all. We hope you will learn from your predecessors.

As you embark on this task of resurrecting this Paradise, you have the blessings of every right-thinking person. They will realise that, with the race now over, it no longer matters who we voted for. What matters is what you, whom the majority voted for, decide to do for all of us. We wish you well.

Yours truly,

Punchi Putha

PS-SWRD broke away from the party he was in, formed a new party and contested on a slogan of ‘Sinhala’ only. He was supported by those in charge of the Kelaniya Temple. He won, but became a victim of those who brought him to power. History, we hope, won’t repeat itself, Gota maamey!

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