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Karu says time to rise above factionalism

Aug 16, 2011 3:37:38 PM - www.ft.lk

UNP Deputy Leader Karu Jayasuriya in a lengthy statement yesterday called for all to rise above factionalism saying it was time to build a strong party for a better future for Sri Lanka.

Here is the full statement.
Sri Lanka stands poised at a strange and dangerous juncture of her history, this has now become glaringly apparent to all those of us who live here.  There is a serious absence of accountability and transparency in matters of governance that have effectively sidelined the vast majority of the citizens in the decision-making process.
Whether it is the management of factors essential to daily life, rampant corruption and unprecedented nepotism, whether it is the breakdown of every democratic institution in this country once held sacred, and the politicisation and destruction of all state structures and policies, there has emerged today a single, burning need – for a vibrant opposition that can stem the excesses of the incumbent regime and offer an alternative to Sri Lanka’s people.
Each time this nation has been in dire need, one party, the oldest political party in this country, has risen to the challenge.  Whether it was to usher in independence, rejuvenate the economy after a disastrous socialist rule or give voice to the poor and oppressed, the United National Party was able to answer the call of Sri Lanka’s citizenry.  Sri Lanka is longing today for an opposition that can reverse the dangerous path the nation has embarked upon with the present regime at the helm of political affairs.  It is our moral, patriotic duty to answer this call because there is no doubt that it is only the UNP that can offer a credible alternative to this intolerant dictatorial regime, alleviate the burdens of the Sri Lankan people and restore this country’s standing in the world at large.
We live in a country where the state apparatus uses its defeat of terrorism to unleash terror of its own.  It has used the blanket of national security to infringe upon all the freedoms it claims to be fighting to secure.  With regard to the issue of post-war reconciliation among communities, the government has chosen a path of scandalous sidetracking, taking refuge in setting up various committees and other bodies that have no teeth, refusing to deal with issues head on by discussing the just claims of the minority and arriving at an equitable long term political solution.
The end of the war has opened the space for economic activity but whatever growth we have seen since, is due to the enterprise of the enterprising and not any effort on the part of the Government.  On the other hand, it is very clear that large sections of the population are yet to feel the so called ‘peace dividend’ and are instead being mowed over by economic burden that grows heavier each day.
It is in this context that we, as the opposition, must be more forceful in pointing out the flaws, revealing the inefficiencies, exposing the corruption, nepotism and abuse of power, and articulate the ways and means of correcting all these errors, and in the event that the relevant authorities continue to turn a deaf ear, to mobilise the people of this country to hold the government accountable.
The United National Party is the strongest group in the opposition.  Moreover it is a party with a wealth of experience and a tradition of producing leaders of great capacity, vision and patriotic fervour.  No party is without flaw and ours is no exception.  Just as Sri Lanka should put its house in order before pointing fingers at her detractors for their double standards, the UNP must also address our flaws, correct them and move forward with and for the people of our country.
Where we have been lax, we need to be energetic.  What we have been reluctant to address effectively must now be taken on aggressively.  Where we have faltered, we need to be assertive.  Where we were slow, we need to hurry.  If we shoved things under the carpet at one time, we should now cast out forever the accumulated piles of dust and garbage.  If we were arrogant earlier, we should show humility now.  If we descended into factionalism, then, we should recognise that this is the greatest boost we can give our detractors and the best way to be disloyal to our membership, supporters as well as the general public.  This is the time for unity.  The time for assertion.  The time for humility.
We will be facing yet another election soon.  I do not have to reiterate that we fight from not so ideal positions, given today’s political realities.
 But if we have learnt anything from the past it is that fighting the good fight united, we will succeed. Our candidates have taken a huge risk in coming forward, knowing that the odds are stacked against them.   
We must not fail them.  We need to campaign hard and tirelessly.  We should keep things clean and be an example to our enemies.  We should demonstrate that it is possible for politics to be kept decent.  We should demonstrate that we are the change and the difference that the people desire.
I speak today as a citizen of this country, a member of the United National Party, a person who firmly believed that the threat of terrorism should be defeated and could only be defeated by the democratic forces shedding difference and working together, and as a person who has always remained steadfast in his belief in democracy at all levels, in government, in organisation and in spirit.  This is a moment to rise above differences that have nothing to do with ideology or the burning issues of our time and the needs of our citizenry.  
If there is no togetherness, we are nothing.  If we stand together, we can be everything.  This is a moment to rise above factionalism.
I firmly believe that there are better days ahead for our party and we should to whatever it takes to rebuild this party to be the best it can be.  
In this regard, as I have said before, if what the UNP needs is for me to leave the party, I will do so.  By the same token, I will not shun any role that the party believes befits my expertise, experience and general disposition.
Finally, I would like to appeal to all concerned to restrain from aggressive politics and work towards achieving a win – win outcome that would shape our future political direction.

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