Dear Mr President,
It is one year since I woke up to an ‘aha!’ moment in my life… A long awaited sense of freedom, not just freedom from terror, but also freedom of speech, freedom of living a life devoid of constant fear of being ‘watched and listened to’, a violation of basic human rights, stolen from us for over a decade. I also woke up to the hope of a clam on ‘excessive corruption’, cronyism, nepotism, lawlessness and political thuggery, to name a few. Yes Mr President, I jumped out of bed on the 8th of January 2015, realizing that the nightmare was over and it was going to be a fresh start for the country with a rainbow coalition lighting up our land. Many ridiculed me for my wishful thinking. But I am an eternal optimist Mr President, just to let you know.
Let me congratulate you Mr President, for the freedom you have given us. Yes, we have an abundance of it. Freedom of speech to write, call you names, criticize you using any form of media, without the fear of facing any repercussion, which would have been unthinkable an year ago. This is great! At least we can give vent to our frustrations and anger at will, even though nobody seems to be listening! Now that’s another matter altogether.
From the moment you took oaths in a sense of ‘chaos’, we kind of figured that the government would also follow suite, finding some “order in chaos”, especially because we knew that the new government was going to face a lot of resistance and challenges from within. Well, democracy is not an easy game, we know that for sure. So I guess we were willing to give you that space. At least for a while!
Contrary to many of our impatience and frustrations, you have in fact achieved some significant milestones amidst this chaos and madness we seem to witness on a daily basis. I salute you for shrewdly managing to get the 19th amendment passed, even though it didn’t exactly abolish the presidency and had undergone numerous amendments which sadly watered down the original bill. The fast and furious way you managed to restore our tainted image internationally is truly commendable. The creation of a constitutional council is definitely another huge feather in your hat, or should I say ‘an additional ring on your finger’, Mr President? The Right to Information (RTI) Bill I am told, is considered best in class. Undoubtedly, the country will reap its rightful benefits of these policy changes only later on and since we have short memories, we will forget to thank your government for it then. So thank you for these efforts and more, Mr President
Mr President, your eloquent and sincere speeches before and after taking office, reinforced our belief and faith in you. You willingly or unwittingly positioned yourself as this simple man; “a servant of the people and not a King”. This was a refreshing change for those of us who were desperately looking for a replacement for ‘The King’.
You took up the challenge, putting your life on the line as it were, and we in desperation thought you were the answer to our prayer, god’s gift to democracy and freedom, and just the right change the country needed. You told us exactly what we wanted to hear. You promised to change the status quo and the political landscape, starting with the family rule. And we truly believed you, Mr President.
But Mr President, a year into these promises, it seems like our dreams are slowly turning into nightmares.
Nepotism means ‘favoritism granted to relatives’, Mr President. At least that’s what the English dictionary says. When your own brother was appointed as the chairman of one of the most important government agencies, within a few days after you took office, our confidence shook, Mr President. When your son joined the entourage to the UN, the cracks started to appear, Mr President. Yes we remember how he tried to explain to us that his trip to the UN could not be labelled as nepotism and he even went on to quote some dictionary. However, I am not sure we quite bought it Mr President.
My friends in advertising seem pretty upset these days because your daughter has apparently launched an ad agency and most government work is being channeled to this agency, they lament. Now this can be a rumor or a conspiracy theory by these creative types, but may be you could look into this sometime. After all we know how the previous regime had so many companies with false fronts, making money for the family, right Mr President? You know these things better than me, so why even leave room for such rumors? It definitely wouldn’t augur well for you, would it?
Small things matter to us Mr President. Because we thought of you as a simple, genuine man. We loved the way your family was portrayed; your wife, your daughters and the son, who appeared to be a bit perali but we were happy to give him some time to shape up. Sadly this ‘simple family’ image seems to be changing, Mr President.
When you declared ‘no cut outs of me’ policy, we jumped up in joy because we were fed up with our ex-King waving at us from every lamp post during the last decade. But Mr President, my blood pressure rises each time I go to the airport and see the most grotesque pandol greeting the visitors coming into the country, with you smiling happily on it. It is now faded too, Mr President. Time to take it down, I think. I can see how this old mania of cutouts has slowly crept back into our lives. It is not a nice thing Mr President, to go back on your word, especially when you need to make us believe that we voted in a simple man, who means what he says and says what he means.
This may be also be a rumor Mr President, but your media guys are supposed to be saying that you have become obsessed with wanting to be a news-maker on a daily basis and I was thinking that this may be why you put your foot in the mouth with the ‘bra throwing’ episode, which made you get international media attention, but sadly for the wrong reason, don’t you think, Mr President?
Now that’s another issue I thought of flagging. Do you think it is a wise thing to be policing our culture Mr President? As stated by that great statesman Mahatma Gandhi, “A nations culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people”. I am sure we can take a leaf from India to understand how important it is to be prudent on matters of culture without being seen as ‘prudes’. It is true we have a 2500 plus year heritage Mr President, but don’t you think we have to move with the times? We are living in a world where people should have the choice of selecting how they should live their lives. Don’t you think there are a lot more burning issues on which your attention is badly needed Mr President?
What about making sure law breaking politicians are arrested on time irrespective of their political allegiance and how about hastening the punishment of those you claimed to have committed many a fraudulent and criminal activity and plundered the country? How about putting your foot down when ministers appoint their brothers to high positions under their ministries? We criticized when the previous regime had eighteen or so namesakes in high offices. May be they were indispensable too, come to think of it. I do have a long list Mr President, but I think you get the drift, right?
One more thing Mr President, what was that song all about? Just curious. The song that equates you to King Parakramabahu, is it? I personally didn’t think that was the kind of anniversary song ‘a servant of the people’ should have commissioned, Mr President. Apart from it being badly conceptualized, badly produced and totally old fashioned in its genre, it badly placed you fairly and squarely on the same throne as the King who was dethroned. Tcha, tcha, Very sad!
Are you struggling with a sense of inadequacy or an inferiority complex or an incompetence on the job Mr President? It sure must be a daunting and overwhelming task. Is that why you seem to have surrounded yourself with the same cronies that our ex-President surrounded himself with? Is that why you seem to slowly but surely be going in the footsteps of the King you dethroned? I don’t think this is a very wise thing to do Mr President. Most of these cronies are with you for their personal glory and nothing else. You seem to have a problem in figuring out whom to trust and get the right advice from. Some of the people who helped you get to the presidency seem to be totally disappointed and disillusioned with your new ways of thinking and acting, Mr President. I am sure you must be aware that Sobhitha Thero was a very disappointed man when he died. He was one person who meant well, wouldn’t you agree Mr President? It is painfully obvious that your advisers are definitely taking you for a good old ride. Has that astrologer chap also visited you by any chance? Do try and stay away from him Mr President, and for that matter form that clan of astrologers, for sure.
Finally Mr President, I feel it is still not too late to get back on track and make good those promises you made to a country of hopeful people. After all, it’s been only one year and you have achieved some great things for us already. May be I am nitpicking, really. Sorry about that, I just couldn’t keep all these thoughts to myself.
May be you could just get a crash course on curbing nepotism, cronyism, kingdom building, and lawlessness. These consultant ‘chappies’ who teach how to create visions and missions will also be able to help with reinstating your credo of Yahapaalanaya which has unfortunately become the butt-end of most political jokes and frustration. With a quick brushing up, you sure will be good to go until the end of your term Mr President. That’s just five years more right?
Let me end this note by wishing that you gain the courage to stand on your own beliefs and convictions as the simple man you claimed to be Mr President! May you have the strength to make those who believed in you, not be laughed at by those who said that this whole game plan to usher in ‘a change the country so needed’ was a sheer waste of time and hogwash.
10th January 2016