Amphibians are at home in two or more places but are native to none of them. This has been the unfortunate saga of the SLMC since its emergence as an independent political party in the 1990s. When it originated the party leaders proclaimed that they would be the sole representatives of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka and that they would live and die for that community. But the reality was totally different. In trying win parliamentary seats, ministerial positions and wealth seeking opportunities the SLMC stalwarts were willing to sacrifice the interests of the community for personal gain. Even when they bargained for a coalition partnership the chips they bargained with were not benefits to the community but the number of ministries that the leaders would get and the power of such ministries. This was so blatantly demonstrated at the last general elections.
Which political party in the world, can someone point out to me, did sacrifice its own identity, merge completely with another, won parliamentary seats and ministerial positions, and then did go on to claim that the original party was still a force to reckon with and a fortress for its native vote bank? This is exactly what the SLMC and its parvenus are claiming in the Eastern Province. This braggadocio is risible at best and mendacious at worst.
When the Uva Provincial Council elections were held during the waning months of the Rajapaksa regime SLMC contested to test the waters. The rout it received from the Muslims of Uva signalled to the leaders that the same fate would be repeated if SLMC were to contest a general election under its own banner. All SLMC political aspirants except one from Eravur cowardly deserted their own party, obtained tickets under the UNP and entered the parliament through the UNP door. Logically, morally and in terms of institutional structure therefore, that sole winner from Eravur, Ali Zahir Mowlana, should automatically become the leader of the SLMC rump. It is to avoid that eventuality SLMC leadership has now started beating the drums. I have called earlier for the dissolution of the SLMC. The party’s financial and real estate assets should be handed over to another charitable Muslim organization or to the Waqf. This may not happen that easily because of vested interests within SLMC.
UNP’s own strength in the national government is so vulnerable that its leader has to tolerate these amphibians and their braggadocio. If the government were to collapse because of internal fighting between the UNP and the SLFP faction under MS – which possibility cannot be dismissed so easily – and if the President were to call for another General Election the SLMC amphibians will be looking for a an alternative abode to settle; and who knows it may be even BBS if the winds of electoral fortune were to blow in its favour.
If there is one lesson that the SLMC should learn from the last election, it is this: You can fool some people all the time, all the people some time but not all the people all the time.
The national parties including the JVP should become totally national in their structure, composition and policies in order to leave the ethnic parties like the SLMC out in the wilderness. As a first step towards that the Tamil problem should be addressed with sincerity and settled.
For all intents and purposes the SLMC is dead. It is time to say amen (amin) to the requiem (talqin).
*Dr. Ameer Ali, School of Management and Governance, Murdoch University
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