A strong mandate to serve | Sunday Observer
Profound victory:

A strong mandate to serve

Amid numerous adverse surroundings, finally, the general election was held and an extraordinary victory secured by the President Gotabaya Rajapaksa led Sri Lanka People’s Front, commonly referred to as ‘Podu Jana Peramuna or Pohottuwa’. The crushing win with an overwhelming margin and a staggering 145 parliamentary seats seems to virtually bury the combined Opposition completely. The citizenry of Sri Lanka has entirely rejected the petty and insecure leadership of the main Opposition. The great feat amply demonstrates not only the enormous public trust placed on the leadership of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa but also the political acumen of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

However, the win was rightly predicted long before the election. The triumph now provides an enormous opportunity for those elected to serve the country as they have pledged during the campaign. A new trend has emerged this time around throughout the country in solidarity with President Rajapaksa, more than Parliament. This phenomenon was evident whenever the President mingled with voters throughout the election campaign.

This is a clear resemblance to the 2005 general election where the masses pleaded with the Prime Minister-elect Mahinda Rajapaksa to end the battle against terrorism in the North. He did not disappoint the public and permanently wiped out terrorism during his first term itself. Also, similar to the situation during the 2005-2009 period where a complete success was achieved in the LTTE conflict, once again the two great national leaders have come together to be embraced by the entire citizenry. Just as the President- Defence Secretary blend that defeated the ruthless terrorism, the public strongly believes the duo will lead the country to prosperity.

‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’

The Presidential pledge through the ‘Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour’ will undoubtedly be required to be amended in practical aspects due to the new world scenario after Covid-19. However, as per this writer’s opinion, the core concept containing the ten key policies must remain intact. This documented set of policies is probably the best presented by any government in the post-independence history of Sri Lanka. More importantly, in the thick of all pandemonium, President Rajapaksa did not let his promises to the nation slide away. Amid the worst disaster in recent world history, while the whole country was locked down for over two months, he kept on working on his pledges.

President Rajapaksa is not a traditional or conventional politician the public has seen during the past several decades. His leadership practices are predominantly based on the highly respected and best traditions of military discipline.

In powerful countries, serving in the military is considered as an unmatched qualification due to the historically proven leadership competence. The President, since taking over the reins, has displayed plentiful abilities to lead any situation, whether related to the economy, security, law and order, health, or any other national issue.

Now that an extra-strong Government is in place and a seemingly good group of candidates with many new faces were selected by the voters, the time has come to bolster the leader to develop the country.

It is seven decades since independence and Sri Lanka is lagging behind many countries in the region and the world, in development.

The irony is that this country has a citizenry of one of the highest levels of literacy and IQ with many other resources, although the economy and individual income are far from good. The key drawback seems to be the prevailing political environment where oppositions throughout history dragged back almost every good move by governments. This is common to all opposition political parties.

It is a refreshing sign that the next Parliament will consist of young and fresh politicos from the Government. If these newly elected politicians from both sides can get together with the seniors in a viable development and collectively oppose every anti-social project, Sri Lanka will prosper much faster than many countries in the world. These moves for and against the Government should be done leaving petty politics aside.

Thus far the practice is for the ruling party to favour all development projects and the opposition to oppose, with the next poll in mind. Always Government MPs favour the project whether it is harmful to the country in the short or long term or not, while the opposition strikes down any good or bad proposal. This dreadful tradition must be stopped here and now for the sake of the country. There is no better time than now, as the supreme leader is totally pragmatic and utterly fearless in decision making for the good of the country. The elected Government, during the election campaign distinctly spelled out that their next period of governance will build on the Presidential manifesto presented at the 2019 Presidential election.

Of the ten key policies, in my opinion, at this juncture, the most important would be economic growth, law and order, and the development of a nationalistic economy. When these three areas are addressed appropriately, the rest will automatically fall in line.

Economic Revival

The already established Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival and Poverty Alleviation will efficiently and effectively take care of short term and long term economic matters.

The task force, which came into operation under the leadership of Basil Rajapaksa in April 2020 will develop a viable structure to revive the economy that is in hot water at present due to unforeseen national and global crisis including the Covid-19. They will require only the directives of the President to successfully perform the task. However, the law and order situation will need a more active personal input from the leader due to his specialist knowledge and long experience on national security matters initially as the Defence Secretary and later as the President of the country. To create a law-abiding citizenry as promised, he will have to first eradicate the drug menace and then the criminal elements. Gang-related criminal activity has become a menace to society.

As part of the blame customarily is directed at politicians, mainly the ruling party, the whole country, irrespective of political allegiance, expects the Government to bring down the hammer on these elements including politicians if they are so involved. Public opinion is that the ongoing relentless counter measures by the Police must be continued until the end.

On the economic front, the entire world, including the mighty USA, concentrates on promoting native products after the disastrous Covid-19 pandemic. The President and the Government seem to be concentrating on this issue. The task forces on economic matters too will focus their attention to uplift indigenous industries and agriculture.

The Government has already initiated positive moves by banning and restricting non-essential imports. The move is commended by the private sector as well as the public and the results are already visible. The Government has issued instructions to lending institutions to ease the procedures and to offer reasonable interest rates for business loans. The public will expect the new administration to assist existing and emerging business entities of all levels.

It is abundantly clear that the masses trust the capability and leadership of the incumbent President and rally round him with profuse trust.

The ground reality is that Sri Lanka has not seen a Lee Kuan Yew who is recognised as the founding father of Singapore. Yew has transitioned Singapore rapidly from a developing third world country to an economic power in the world.

Similarly, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad who ruled with a harder line also brought Malaysia speedy modernisation and economic growth. Both leaders were explicitly trusted by the citizenry of their respective countries.

Sri Lanka is eagerly awaiting such a leader and believes that President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with his new and powerful Government will deliver the anticipated results to take the country to the next level of prosperity as promised.

The blend of the President and the Prime Minister along with the powerful newly elected Government will no doubt be a blessing to the country’s future.