Those who pave the way for a change are called “revolutionaries”. Normally for the ruling class these revolutionaries are thorns in the eye, for it is the revolutionaries who fire the first salvo when changing a regime.
Usually only a fraction of individuals in a country become ‘revolutionaries’. However, during recent years a new trend has emerged where the majority of the global population have transformed into revolutionaries in ousting corrupt and tyrannical regimes. Even though the rulers have tried to mock these “uprisings” in order to retain their power, this caravan of revolution has moved forward swarming through the world. What Sri Lanka witnessed on January 8th this year was another “societal changing” revolution, that was launched by a multi racial uprising. The specialty of the January 8th revolution is that it is not a classic red capped rebellion but a real people’s revolution instead. It saw people representing various colours and political ideologies contributing towards a change.
But even after the then regime was democratically defeated by the voters with a clear majority, it was witnessed during the past few months how the defeated party tried to carry out a propaganda campaign to diminish the people’s “victory on the 8th”.
They commenced raising the question “was the change better?” Since it is common sense that a hell cannot be converted into a heaven overnight nor ruffians be converted into saints, the intelligent voters who took the decision in favour of Good Governance were moved by wisdom rather than petty emotions. And it is their wisdom of seeing the future relative to the present that is being mocked by such claims.
We all know how “Tamil separatism”, which was planted and nourished by past politicians allowing it to grow to become a giant tree, dragged the country through 30 years of bloody war. We also know that this particular war has caged the spirit of the entire Sri Lankan nation causing it to decay. And we know that there were times when separatism claimed lives regardless of their ethnicity, race, religion or class. It is common knowledge how the separatist movement, a socioeconomic and cultural movement with its fame well rooted among foreign countries, became the referee of the country’s fate and how it managed to destroy countless lives from leaders to citizens who attempted to put an end to it. Thus it is an unarguable truth that the people, who were desperate in a desperate time, were in need of a catalyst.
How the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime from 2005 sounded the rallying call to address the nation’s call and how it finally was able to defeat separatism and unite the country under one flag for the first time in its modern history, is a fact well known locally and internationally. It is a truth that cannot be erased from the pages of the country’s history. It was made further clear when unsuccessful attempts were made to erase the name of General Sarath Fonseka, the man who gave the military leadership in achieving victory, from the battle map.
Similarly the political leadership provided by Mahinda Rajapaksa and its importance in bringing the 30 year war to an end cannot be wiped out from history books. However, Fonseka after first being decorated as a high ranking military officer by Rajapaksa himself was later confined to a prison cell after he contested against the Rajapaksa system at the 2010 Presidential election.
No leader is born without a cause. The birth of a country’s leader is a timed venture created by the socioeconomic and political driving forces of that country. Thus no one must hold any ethical right to look down upon such a leader of a state.
It is this historical mission that brought Mahinda Rajapaksa, the politician who did not hold any “classy” ministerial position in his political career, to become the nation’s leader. It is in no way a coincidence.
It is not that his four predecessors in the post of executive presidency had failed to do their best to defeat separatism, but when analyzed carefully on how the facts fell in to place, it can be seen that the historical mission was vested upon the shoulders of Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Even the political parties who understood the sensitivity of the situation except a few opportunists, the relatives of the military officers who made up their minds to send their loved ones to the death’s mouth in sacrifice of the country, and the media who were able to change the attitude of a nation that the war could not be won, must all be given its fair share of the glory.
At that time what all these parties hoped for was the splendour of peace that comes after the end of the war, and the freedom to enjoy that peace in harmony. People won this freedom on the 8th of January. This freedom was not bestowed upon them after the end of the war. January 8th, 2015 marked the first chapter of freedom that all free citizens in a country must enjoy. But this is not an end but the beginning of a journey. To move forward towards a meaningful end is no easy task. And it is not unknown to those who set out on that venture either.
It is because of this deprivation of due freedom that compelled the intellectual general public in this country to rise up to set on a journey to change the existing system.
And it is the defeated party, rather than the general public, who must feel that the change achieved by overcoming the previous regime is far more “comfortable” compared to their own rule. It is due to this change the defeated party has been able to carry out its political work freely by holding rallies and criticizing the government without any disturbance, even when the person who challenged him and won with the help of the opposition in becoming the Executive President, is in power.
It must be asked whether the change is “comfortable” in comparison to the fate inherited by the loser at the previous Presidential Election. The defeated party must think of its good fortunes that it did not fall prey to such a cruel fate.
Fonseka who contested against Rajapaksa at the 2010 Presidential election was jailed one month after the election. However, Rajapaksa who contested against President Maithripala Sirisena at this year’s Presidential election did not suffer such a fate after being defeated. In fact, Rajapaksa had been able to continue with his political career and is now a candidate for the UPFA from the Kurunegala District at next month’s general election.
January 8th was a first step and the journey has to now continue.