ECONOMYNEXT – The ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) and the main opposition Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) are two sides of the same coin, former foreign minister Mangala Samaraweera said.
Samaraweera, who in 2019 supported the presidential bid of then United National Party (UNP) deputy leader Sajith Premadasa, took to Facebook on Wednesday (28) to decline an invitation by SJB working committee member Rehaan Jayawickreme to rejoin the SJB, the party now led by Premadasa following an exodus of UNP stalwarts after the 2019 defeat.
“Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna and Samagi Jana Balawegaya are two sides of the same coin. Our country is desperately gasping for a total u-turn in its policy direction. Thank you, Rehan but I have to regret your kind invitation; fondest regards to your leader (sp),” said Samaraweera in his Facebook post.
The former MP, who announced his departure from active politics in the run-up to the 2020 parliamentary polls, liked his reluctance to join the SJB to his surprising exit from the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government in 2007 along with his colleague Sripathi Sooriyarachchi.
“When I was sacked from the cabinet in 2007 and then invited to rejoin the government several times, I regretted all such invitations because the new [Sri Lanka Freedom Party] under [Mahinda Rajapaksa] was taking the country in a direction my conscience nor my political beliefs could possibly endorse as with the SJB today,” said Samarweera.
The Matara district politician had just days prior denounced the SJB as having failed in its endeavour to be a vibrant opposition to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government.
“It’s not Sir who has failed. It’s the ideology sir represents – the majoritarianism and outdated socialist ideology that this government represents that has failed,” Samaraweera told reporters at the launch of a new “apolitical” movement named the Radical Centre.
“Sir fail” has been a popular meme on social media in Sri Lanka which has now become an opposition mantra against the failures of the government.
“Beyond Sir’s failure, the opposition that proposes an ideology which also contains racism, religiosity and majoritarianism has also failed,” he said.
“In short, Sir has failed, and ‘Sa’ has also failed,” he added.
Samaraweera called for an ideological U turn for those entrusted with governance and an end to the executive presidency, a pledge that successive presidents – many of whom Samaraweera had backed in his decades-long career – have failed to uphold.
“What the country needs today is an alternative; not a replacement,” he said. (Colombo/Jul29/2021)