MP Harin Fernando is sceptical of his political future. He consolidated his political power through a Sinhala-Buddhist electorate and later asked to move to a predominantly Catholic area. He now faces a major challenge in establishing his politics. He is not the first person to face such a situation and the majority of politicians in this country have faced such challenges. Some overcame while others lost the game.
Trading Honour for Pleasure – A screengrab from a video published on YouTube.
Take the Leader of the Opposition Sajith Premadasa as an example. Sajith, who was subjected to deliberate ignorance and pitiful discrimination of his leader, worked hard to overcome the challenges and won with his ability irrespective of race or religion. He must be credited for not playing with religious or racial extremism as well as fundamentals of national security. But some of his fellow colleagues and feeble-minded politicians like Harin and a news anchor turned politician Manusha Nanayakkara, unfortunately, are kept on barking at the wrong tree. Their ulterior motives are not only vulgar but also destructive.
There are a number of commonalities in the approach taken by most politicians who have faced challenging and complex situations in maintaining their political stability. One of the key features is that many politicians who have faced such situations are abusing the ethnic and religious roots of the people living in the targeted electorate. When there is a significant division among the people, political benefits can be easily gained in a very short period of time.
Politicians who are struggling to secure their electorates need a tipping point to manipulate the voters. Generating the tipping point requires an event (or a series of events) that is generally accepted and cared for by the public. Then they can take control of the community by giving priority to the emotional aspects of the event. This is the absolute truth behind many racial and religious extremist incidents that have taken place in this country. As Malcolm Gladwell defined in his noted account, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, “The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”
What does it look like for the clumsy group led by MP Harin, to be so interested in the Easter attacks by Islamic extremists and propagating fraudulent falsehoods about the incident by abusing their impunity as the Members of Parliament? It is his attempt to secure his future political existence based on the Catholic Church. He is searching for the tipping point. That is, he needs a moment when he can deceive the public and bring their emotions under his manipulation. As Gladwell noted, “emotion is contagious.”
In the political history of Sri Lanka, many politicians have no boundaries to gain a political advantage by manipulating public sentiment. They do not hesitate to betray even national interests for political gain. This is because many politicians do not have a real care for the people of the country. They drive for personal pleasure rather than to serve the country. This is the truth behind the allegations made by MP Harin Fernando and others that the country’s intelligence service supported the Easter attacks. It is shameless to act in this manner for the sake of one’s political existence without any credible evidence. Using existing threats without any proper reading and understanding to undermine the driving forces behind national security could have serious consequences.
We must have a country left to pursue political dreams. National security must not be taken lightly if the country and its people are to live in safety. Ranil Wickremesinghe, who served as the Prime Minister of the government where Harin Fernando and his group held ministerial portfolios, emphasized a very important point in Parliament yesterday. That is to say, there was a very serious breakdown in the intelligence services during the tenure of his government. Former Premier asked others to accept this truth. That was a serious statement. The Sri Lankan media and social media mongers, however, did not seem to pay much attention to the Prime Minister’s confession. The serious breakdown of the intelligence services was due to the endless conflicts and indifference within the political strata, which extremists took advantage of. MP Harin and his team must look back at the political indifference and irresponsibility they have gone through in the name of good governance. Putting that aside, blaming the intelligence services for covering up their failure is disgusting.
There is a big difference between the miserable pleasure that secretly gains from indulging in personal desires pursuit with women & drugs, and the respect that comes from dedicating oneself to ensure the safety of national interests. It is a matter of the conscience and moral values of each individual. Harin Fernando, who is playing a bizarre amusement these days attempting to prove his sincerity towards Catholicism, should learn and perform basic teaching of the Holy Bible. The seventh chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament reads, “You hypocrite! First, remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
The common enemy we face is more complex and evolving than we think, so the Catholic Church and the people of the country must be careful not to fall into the trap of these opportunistic politicians. It is time for us to set aside the so-called conspiracy theories and work to ensure national unity and inclusiveness in which the seeds of extremism will never be succeeded. Period.