Jail them and let’s get on with it

Faraz Shauketaly

We could have called this column ‘Enough is enough’ but we come from a stable that is pretty well used to calling a spade a spade. The problem we are facing on this, our beautiful island that is our homeland is one of acute lack of leadership.

Consider that in 1983 that dastardly year of the infamous ‘Black July’ President JR Jayawardena for all his splendid laissez-faire policies that propelled forward in a turbocharged manner, our economy, failed to act decisively, incisively and promptly.

His intransigence and the fact that two of his cabinet ministers namely Cyril Matthew and Lalith Athulathmudali, were widely held responsible for the mayhem that followed, resulted in a colossal damage to Sri Lanka that lasted over 33 years.

Sri Lanka has lost so much and is still lagging behind other regional economies who had far less promise than we in Sri Lanka did, as a direct result.

We say this now to remind Sri Lanka that sometimes what must be said must be said with least delay. It is in our collective interests that such decisive, incisive, prompt action is taken.

Failure to call a spade a spade and to take due and necessary action will result in a recurrence of the dark events of 1983. Our Sri Lanka has suffered and we cannot in any shape or form, afford to gamble away the peace that we now enjoy simply because of a lack of leadership and the need to play games.

Clearly it is beyond the imagination of any sane person on this land that a road rage incident can escalate to a situation that requires the President to declare a state of emergency and impose a curfew and move troops to the area in the hills.

However the media has shown maturity, understanding and depth in its reportage – mindful of not wishing to fan the hatred flames of vile and uncaring men who pursue power no matter the course they chart.

The fact is that there is only now – several days after those affected by ‘Black July’ warned that intransigence and a refusal to publicly admit the likelihood of such similarities – an admittance that these events have clearly been orchestrated by elements seeking to rock the fragile boat of peace. The motivation is clear: the pursuit of political power.

President Sirisena has acted directly: the Prime Minister’s insistence that the law and Order portfolio be given to Sarath Fonseka obviously delayed matters but again brings home the difficulties of ruling in a coalition government especially when ideologically, oceans apart as the UNP and the SLFP originally are.

Politicians in Sri Lanka have unfortunately played the communal card for far too long. We all know how almost easy it has been for some vile, fake men to have used false and misleading analysis to perpetrate ‘nationalism’ when in fact all they were doing was highlighting and showcasing their inherent racism.

There are over 85 detained by the forces accused of participating in this mindless mayhem. Ultimately it is the people of this country who will bear the costs of reparations for damages to property.

The focus should be on the opportunities lost. These are incalculable. Imagine the ‘what if scenario’ had Black July not happened, had the LTTE been nipped in the bud long before they got going or drastic and decisive action against the JVP and their murderous treachery. Who can imagine the size of our Top 100 Corporates had ‘

Never happened. Would our Stock Market be still stuck around the 7,000 mark? Our guess is possibly as good as anyone else’s’.

However what there can be no ambiguity is this: that the investigations must look at all those involved in this mayhem. No one must be left alone, irrespective of their position, that of their relatives and indeed their ethnicity.

Each and every one must be dealt with. With cold neutrality, the full force of the law must be brought crashing down upon them. Apart from anything else it must be made absolutely clear that promoting disharmony and violence and hatred is tantamount to treason. And treason we know attracts the death penalty. And in this country of tolerance because we do not apply the death penalty, these vile, racially motivated, mentally unbalanced delinquents, should be jailed for the rest of their natural lives – albeit under terms of rigorous imprisonment.

Sri Lanka requires a hard stance made possible only through strong leadership. The time is nigh for strong leadership. If there are wannabe leaders they must either step aside or be pushed aside by those who are real, original, leaders.

This is the bare essential for all of Sri Lanka.