Thursday, January 28, 2010



It is gratifying that the Presidential election in Sri Lanka has been conducted at reasonably good standards and a firm verdict has been given by the electorate. Obviously, Sri Lanka now needs a prolonged period of reconstruction in an atmosphere of peace and good will and a healing touch. What is really important is not as to who has won the election but how the victorious candidate would approach the various issues confronting Sri Lanka.

The President Rajapaksa should reveal enormous quality of wisdom and statesmanship and take the country forward along with him. The whole world which watched the recent Sri Lankan Presidential election with admiration and awe would be watching the post electoral scenes in Sri Lanka with equal interest. Certainly, the world opinion would be disappointed if . Rajapaksa would fail to ensure an era of peace and amity. Of course, in the true democratic tradition, the defeated opposition would be critical of the government . But, the critical attitude of the opposition would do lot of good to Rajapaksa and the Sri Lankan government if the criticism would be viewed in right spirits.

One of the severe criticisms that has been leveled around the world in the recent past against the Sri Lankan government has been the arrest of journalists on one reason or the other and murder of several well intentioned journalists by whatever elements. The fact is that the earlier Sri Lankan government of Rajapaksa has failed to counter such criticisms and it does not appear to have done anything substantial to ensure that the journalists would be provided protection and security and the freedom of the press would be safeguarded. Any claim of robust democracy in Sri Lanka will not hold water, when press would feel threatened and journalists are attacked and victimized. Rajapaksa should walk an extra mile to reassure the world that the freedom of press in Sri Lanka would be respected. This is his first challenge.

It is very important that Rajapaksa should develop a working relationship with the opposition parties. Since he is in the leadership position now, it is the duty of Rajapaksa to take the initiative in reassuring the opposition that the government would recognize the role and duty of the opposition parties Unfortunately, in the past, there have been bitter and counter productive difference of opinions between the ruling party and opposition parties. With matured stand from Rajapaksa, this situation can be rectified.

Rajapaksa should also take note of one of the major criticisms against him, of promoting the family members in crucial governmental positions. While persons with merit can certainly be in crucial positions, it should be ensured that only persons with merits would occupy such positions and the members of the family would not be pushed up at the cost of others with greater merits. Rajapaksa needs the support of technologists, intellectuals and economic experts to steer the country ahead and he can get their support only by ensuring that they would be given suitable positions, irrespective of the fact whether they would belong to his family or not. Entire Sri Lanka would now watch whether Rajapaksa would rise above the family preferences.

The basic issue to be tackled in Sri Lanka is industrial and economic growth. Sri Lanka has all the natural advantages and potentials to become an economic power. The successful leader should have the capability to ensure that the focus of the nation would be on industrial, agriculture and economic targets, avoiding counter productive fissiparous tendencies. The best way to avoid negative developments would be to focus entirely and fully on positive directions of growth and building up of the economy in a pragmatic manner.

Finally, Rajapaksa has a great opportunity in proving himself as a man of peace, by approaching the problems faced by the Tamils living in the erstwhile areas of conflict with great compassion and understanding. He should keep in mind the fact that the percentage of polling in Tamil dominated areas have been low, obviously implying that the Sri Lankan Tamils are still apprehensive.

One would wish Rajapaksa all success and one hope that he would rise up to the expectations of the Sri Lankan population.

Article by:

N S Venkataraman

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