(Professor Sarath Wijesuriya, SLB photo)
Distinguished Colombo University don Professor Sarath Wijesuriya, Convener of the National Movement for a Just Society (NMJS), fired cannons at the government last week at its seemingly ‘lethargic’ approach on ensuring good governance. The Professor, who succeeded NMJS founder, the late Ven. Maduluwave Sobhitha Thera, as the Movement’s Convenor, is a key member of the civil society coalition which supported the political change of January 8, 2015. He made these remarks at the launch of his book Hudekalawa in Colombo, last week.
“We ensured the Rajapaksas’ defeat at the last Presidential election. We have no regrets about it. We know that the best leadership choices for the country at the moment are President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. But that does not mean we are entirely happy with the state of affairs in the present government,” Wijesuriya said, commencing his fiery speech.
The professor also directed criticism at the controversial song made to mark President Sirisena’s first anniversary in office. Although the President’s office said it had nothing to do with the song and that there was no ‘official’ song to mark the President’s inauguration, Wijesuriya held the President’s media advisers accountable for the song.
“Those who brought this government to power should maintain a continuous dialogue on its shortcomings. This constructive criticism should be done without vested interests, without expecting perks and privileges from the government.
Those who supported former President Rajapaksa to ascend to power never criticized his government at any cost.
“They became mere yes-men and unconditional stooges of the Rajapaksa family. Today, the same elements who were responsible for Rajapaksa’s downfall are gathering around President Sirisena. In addition to them, a section of those who supported the President to ascend to power are also acting like stooges.
“It is quite evident that President Sirisena is already undertaking an extremely tough job. The national unity government formed by the President is an artificial phenomenon. There is no life in it. As a result, President Sirisena is compelled to give life-support to the unity government from outside. I am sure the President himself is not too happy with some of the developments within his own government. But, the citizens of the country are getting tired of it by the day.
“President Sirisena, a leader who has earned wide respect in international circles, needs an exceptional secretary such as Bradman Weerakoon who can handle his public image. The President should not speak impulsively, letting all his feelings out. On the other hand, he should speak at the most appropriate occasions. As there is no national election around the corner, the President should now grant leave to the politician living in his soul. He should now awaken the statesman in him and embark on social and political reforms.
“Under the Rajapaksa rule, some prominent personalities ended up being victims of politicization. Two of the finest examples in this regard are Prof. Carlo Fonseka and Vasudeva Nanayakkara. Prof Fonseka, a staunch of ally of the Leftist movement and a intellectual of the highest calibre, became a blind follower of Rajapaksa-ism. Vasudeva Nanayakkara, a humanist and a Leftist politician who had a great understanding of arts and culture, has now aligned himself with a bunch of power-hungry racists and extremists.
“Some sections think Wimal Weerawansa is a fine orator. He is considered a good orator because there is a huge vacuum in the country’s political sphere. A good orator can always enrich the national psyche and uplift the standards of the collective intelligence of the people.
A rabble-rouser and a man who panders to the most primitive chauvinistic sentiments of the people cannot be considered a fine orator.
Weerawansa is a man who exploits race and religion for his own survival,” Wijesuriya said in his hard-hitting speech, sending the government a loud and clear message to understand its priorities. Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Deputy Media Minister Karunarathne Paranavithana were also in the audience when Wijesuriya made his speech.
The Convener of the NMSJ also directed his criticism at UNP MP Hirunika Premachandra and Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran for allegedly violating the basic tenets of ‘good governance’.
– Excerpts from a Sunday Observer article