We need a statesperson to run as an independent presidential candidate

A highly respected businessman who has made a habit of calling a spade a spade over the decades wrote in a Guest Column in the Daily FT recently that he believes “it is time we (the general public)… think about how we could expose the present set of politicians (every one of them in the parliament) for ‘indifference,’ ‘negligence’ and ‘inefficiency’.”

And as Rienzie T. Wijetilleke says in this edition of LMD, “special interests and political influence must not undermine the greater good.”

Indeed, the head of state and 225 parliamentarians have shown their true colours in the lead up to and aftermath of the Easter Sunday attacks, which took our precious land back decades – in many ways, to as far back as the ugly events of ‘Black July’ in 1983.

Ironically, the nation was preparing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a famous war victory on 18 May when ISIS inspired terrorists ran amok on 21 April. And the fact that this was followed by the ignominy of racially taunted and politically instigated mob attacks, embarrassed and angered millions of peace-loving citizens.

So what lies in store for the island we dearly love?

The good news is that this is an election year; a year in which there will be a window of opportunity to right what is so obviously wrong – we need a radical change from the status quo. The not so good news is that such a radical change calls for a presidential nominee who is clean and will run as an independent candidate so that he or she isn’t held to ransom by a corrupt party machinery.

By all counts however, there’s a lacuna at this time. There is nothing to suggest that the status quo will change.

As President Emmanuel Macron did in France a little over two years ago, a candidate from outside the establishment and who isn’t backed by a political party can appeal to the people if they’ve had enough of watching a circus that doesn’t perform – a circus that is acted out by corrupt politicians and their henchmen, some of whom allegedly even have blood on their hands.

There is also a gaping lack of calibre in the hallowed house we call parliament. And to add insult to injury, when the nation faces a crisis, the 226 men and women who are supposed to handle it are either not here, don’t hear the alarm bells or are more interested in pointing fingers at each other to gain political mileage – yes, even at the expense of the dead and injured.

Is it right therefore, that we elect such undesirables to make the law… then break it themselves?

This is an opportune time for business and civil society leaders, and even a united clergy, to step in and stop the rot by nominating a presidential candidate who can do what Lee Kuan Yew did for Singapore or Dr. Mahathir Mohamad continues to do for Malaysia.

The people of Sri Lanka are crying for statesmanship, for competence, for decency… and above all, for clean politics.

– Editor-in-Chief