Magnanimity and courage for a new Lanka
By YOHAN PERERA
Mar 16, 2011

As the Rajapaksa government continues its political war with major players in the international community, we need to be aware that actions speak louder than haughty or high-sounding words. Instead of a battle of words the Government needs to respond to the pressure from the international community by taking effective steps for national reconciliation and unity, the restoration of the Rule of Law, democracy and media freedom. The Government also needs to take effective action to curb rampant corruption, fraud and colossal waste of public funds while bringing about social justice through a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources.

On issues relating to national reconciliation and unity, parties in the ruling United Peopleís Freedom Alliance (UPFA) appear to be divided. The Presidentís Special Envoy and Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe has told the current sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva that the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) will be implemented. But the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) one of the powerful parties in the UPFA, has accused the LLRC of going beyond its mandate and warned against the implementation of most of its recommendations, especially those relating to devolution of power.

National Freedom Front (NFF) Leader and Minister Wimal Weerawansa -- known for his regular inflammatory outbursts -- has warned his party would not remain in the government if it gives into international pressure. Later he even called for a boycott of American products and firms, compelling the government spokesman to dissociate the Rajapaksa administration from the statements made by Minister Weerawansa raising more questions on the principle of collective responsibility of the Cabinet.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa, enjoying unlimited powers and unprecedented popularity despite the soaring cost of living and other crises, appears to have reached a decisive moment. If he acts like a party politician looking for personal gain or glory, then the nation and the economy may fall apart amid anarchy. That is why the President needs to take bold steps and act courageously like a statesman for the benefit of the people and the next generation and not to win the next election.

Just as he took tough action to eliminate the LTTE, the President must now act against extremists in the South. They need to be sidelined or marginalized and if they are not ready and willing to come to the middle path and reach some accommodation for national reconciliation, the extremists must be told that they must take it or leave.

A just and fair solution to meet the grievances and aspirations of the Tamil speaking people will go a long way towards taking the sting out of the campaigns against Sri Lanka. Heavy pressure is also building up in Tamil Nadu and the Indian Government which has so far taken a moderate line is known to be on a political tightrope. Indo-sri Lanka relations, a vital factor for our country, could also be improved if the Rajapaksa administration acts fast to negotiate with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in finding a solution to the ethnic conflict. Being magnanimous in victory is a great virtue that will have lasting values for generations to come. We hope President Rajapaksa will act magnanimously and courageously in finding a just and lasting solution to the national question as a major step towards building a new Sri Lanka.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka