What the General Election meant for us as a nation…

What the General Election meant for us as a nation…

It is The Day After.

It’s the day after the General Election. Just a few months ago, I remember waking up on the morning of the 09th January, with a feeling that would always stay etched in my mind. I was free, my family was free, my country was free. From dictatorship and a mad man’s grip. But the nightmare wasn’t really over , bits and pieces kept wanting to take Sri Lanka back by force, if necessary, to those stifling times.

All of which finally ended yesterday. At the ballot box. When millions of Sri Lankans chose to go the polls to elect the best among them, the most deserving, not in terms of adoration and popularity but in terms of making Sri Lanka the kind of place we want to live and thrive in ; one in which our children can live well and be content. I think the word is content – if you are content with your life, you have little to grumble about. Oh, yes, we had a lot to grumble about – not the beautifully paved roads and the gleaming shopping malls where most were window shoppers but the quagmire underneath those facades – one that was rotting with nepotism, vulgarity, mass murder and big time financial misconduct.

So what did it all mean, the election, in which the rogues went on parade once again, seeking votes from the poor and the vulnerable and surprisingly, even from the so called learned who could sadly be labelled the ‘educated but unlearned’. The few good men, if they could be thus called, found the manape pore a tough one but they persisted. I can honestly be glad that I voted for three honest men who contested. In the end, as they say, it is between you and God – you must be honest to your own self not only because you can then sleep well at night but also because it feels right to do so.

This election was unique because it involved the people. From a high octane social media overdrive that saw some of us virtually engaged round the clock, to one to one election campaigning, the people relished the role they played. As never before, Sri Lankans engaged the politicians with questions, queries and lagging doubts. Admittedly, as in the Presidential Election, social media played a key role in giving us voters that platform. Some of the contestants forgot that the ship of voter amnesia had sailed. In the era of smart phones and internet, every word uttered and every promise given, every insult to public intelligence, has been captured and could be plastered all over the web in a matter of minutes. Those who understood the power of voter capacity, did well to play it wise.

So where are we now? We are facing the prospects of a new Sri Lanka not just on economic terms. We face a new Sri Lanka on new terms of engagement. The government will be watched by a populace who are no longer afraid nor incapable of questioning those who are not doing their job. The rogues will be noted and called out. For the first time perhaps in the history of Sri Lankan politics, we have accountability as a key factor present in the new parliament. They will need to keep their promises because we will be monitoring them as the people who voted them in.

We need to stay connected the way we have done during the election – keep playing the role of the engaged active citizen..the citizen journalist…the vigilant..because we are dealing after all, with professional politicians to whom cat and mouse games are easy…our task as citizens is not done..will not be done until this country becomes the kind of place all of us can thrive in..

It is an exciting time to live in – these are indeed life changing times. Someday, we can tell our children and grand children, we remember the great change. The change that heralded in the new Sri Lanka…

A requiem for Wassim “Wassa” Thajudeen – Esto Perpetua

A requiem for Wassim “Wassa” Thajudeen – Esto Perpetua

At the school by the sea, the boys are introduced to sports at an early age.

The Thomians like to stress on their balanced education system, one in which sports and knowledge go hand in hand in order to build the personality of young men walking the hallowed portals of learning at Mount Lavinia.

My son, now 17, switched to rowing later on but at STC, he started rugby early on. Rugby is a Thomian passion, one they take very seriously. For the ruggerites of STC, it is more than a sport ; they live and love the game during and after the season. Wassim Thajudeen was no exception – he was a fine young player who showed much promise. In true Thomian fashion, he cared not for false bravado displays of so called false princes, true pretenders to a throne that seemed very real at the time. In the end, that was too much for the demons who could not stand his unspoken dominance, his talent, his capability on the rugby field.  Wassim “Wassa” Thajudeen, as he was affectionately known among his fellow Thomians, was a true blue “Preppite”, a boy from the STC Colpetty, my son tells me, and was indeed much loved.

I can understand that very well. At S.Thomas’, the boys didn’t know each other by their religion, cast or creed but by the fellowship they shared among a brotherhood of Sinhalese, Tamils and Moslems, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus. It never occurred to them to divide their fellow students among ethnic or religious lines.How so unlike the false royal family and its bunch of rogues.

In Wassa, S. Thomas – and Sri Lanka lost a fine young rugby player who would have had a stellar career had he been allowed to live. In retrospect, we realise that we as a nation lived through such dark times that only the mercy of his Allah and my God could have seen us through. Today, as his mother still mourns the untimely loss of her beloved son, I can understand her pain. When you lose your son, you lose your world. And it is never the same again.

The fact that he was tortured and murdered has always been known albeit limited to the circles of Colombo’s dinner circuits – it was a whispered secret that today, is loud enough to be heard in the highest portals of justice. Yet no one dared to point fingers back then. Unless one wanted a free ride in a white van, never to return. But today, thanks be to God, it is different. We can take comfort in knowing that justice has come full circle. For Wassa and the many others whose lives were cruelly snatched during those cursed years of Rajapakse rule, there will be justice. That’s what Good Governance is all about.

Back in the day, I recall telling myself that this, too shall pass.

And it did. On January 08th 2015 – who can forget the sense of liberation and freedom of waking up to a Sri Lanka finally free of the Rajapakse curse.  As we stand on the threshold of yet another election, one that seeks to bring back the demons of injustice, murder, we would do well to remember his death and the deaths of countless others murdered during those long and dark Rajapakse years. Their blood, spilled long before their time and spilled in the most inhumane manner imaginable, cries out for justice.

All mothers still yearn for their little boys inside their grown sons – Wassa’s mother would have been no different. In her heart, I’m sure she still can hear his laughter, his little foot steps echo in the hall way. And what pain it must be to have to live through it. Losing a child is a lifelong nightmare. And there is a lesson for us all in that nightmare.

We owe a responsibility to Wassim Thajudeen, Prageeth Eknaligods and all those brave Sri Lankans whose deaths must not be in vain – we as a nation must ensure they are given peace in death, that justice is done as we head for the polls on the 17th. Let their murders be avenged with the perpetrators brought to justice. That should be our vision – and our goal on the 17th August 2015.

Evil men do not understand justice, But those who seek the Lord understand all things.Proverbs 28 – 5 – The Bible

“God commands justice and fair dealing…” – Quran 16:90