කොලම

Is Ali Sabry a Trojan Horse?

Summary

If you kick a bush, a dozen like Ali Sabry would pop out. We have just one Gotabaya Rajapaksa.This must be understood.

A wooden horse was deployed by the cunning Odysseus to defeat Troy. The Trojans, believing the magnificent and enormous contraption to be something of immense value and moreover a symbol that the long years of deadly battle had come to an end, dragged it to the center of the city. By the time they realized the true intent of this ‘gift’ it was too late. In the end Troy was sacked. Grief enveloped the city, ruin became its signature.

Let’s get to our story, our Trojan Horse.

There were 12 Muslims ministers in the Yahapalana Government of Maithripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickremesinghe, happily co-existing and absolutely reconciled with the likes of Sajith Premadasa and Patali Champika Ranawaka. Here’s a list and in the Christmas spirit we invite you to shake it twice: Rishard Bathiudeen, Rauff Hakeem, M.H.A. Haleem, Kabir Hashim, Faizer Mustapha, A.H.M. Fowzie, M.L.A.M. Hisbullah, Ameer Ali, Caseem Faizal, H.M.M. Haris, Cader Masthan, Said Ali Mowlana.

None of them are ministers today. However there’s one Muslim minister to match them all. Ali Sabry.

A total of 6.9 million people voted for Gotabaya so that he could rule the country according to his own agenda as elaborated in his election manifesto. Ali Sabry however seems to be operating according to an agenda of his own.


There were sections of the Sinhala polity that objected to Sabry being given the Justice portfolio. It was only Dilith Jayaweera who came forward to give Sabry a character certificate. Gotabaya insisted that Sabry would be made the Justice Minister. He was.

Those Sinhalese who objected to Sabry did so because they harbored certain suspicions. The behavior of the Muslim ministers in the Yahapalana government was an important reason for these suspicions.

Well, what has happened now?

Ali Sabry is acting in a manner that confirms these suspicions. He has become one of the main if not the principle reasons for a decline in Gotabaya’s popularity.

Sabry, when he arrived to the swearing in ceremony, was accompanied by his wife, who wore a sari. That was the garb he chose for her. It looks like it was a camouflage now.   

Since he accepted the portfolio, Sabry has talked considerably less about issues pertaining to justice than he has about the cremation of Muslims who died on account of Covid-19.

Now there are members in this current parliament who belong to various faiths. None of the non-Muslim members have allowed their religious or ethnic identity frame their opinions on the pandemic.

It is the health authorities who have to decide whether bodies should be cremated, buried or floated down rivers. Politicians are merely required to help officials implement such decisions.

The latest chorus is for Muslim victims of Covid-19 to be buried in their motherland!

This is interesting. There are Muslims for whom ‘motherland’ is either Pakistan or Bangladesh when their countries play cricket against Sri Lanka. However, after being infected by Covid-19 and succumbing to the virus, their motherland, so their near, dear and political representatives claim, is Sri Lanka!

This is a joke. Seriously!

Those who having lived on the motherland, having enjoyed all privileges and rights, said nothing when their brethren cheered for Pakistan or Bangladesh do not have a right to invoke ‘motherland’ over the matter of disposing dead bodies. Or any other matter, for that matter.

None of those who today are dying to have their dead buried uttered one word of condemnation at the way Muslims in Atalugama behaved when that village came under a Covid-19 threat.

So is it that Muslims just have rights? Have they not heard the word ‘responsibility’?

We believed that Ali Sabry was a moderate. It is clear now that we were wrong. When even those who are considered educated jump on corpses and dance the merry devil, pardon the term, how can people not wonder what ordinary people think and would do? 

What would they do if and when a vaccine for Covid-19 arrives? Well, here’s a news report from Indonesia:

‘Suspecting that pig fat could have been used in vaccines, countries where there is a Muslim majority like Indonesia are now demanding Halal certification for vaccines.’

Wouldn’t the same thing happen in Sri Lanka? How, in these circumstances, is a country to respond, is a country to move forward?

This religion-fixated behavior will stop countries from surviving the pandemic; they will instead by buried. Well, metaphorically.

Then there’s the issue of Gotabaya’s One Country – One Law pledge. How can that materialize when individual ministers pursue their own agenda? Isn’t their effort nothing less than burying the notion?

We are facing a severe crisis. The Treasury is empty. This is a situation that is common to many countries. Sri Lanka has imposed certain restrictions on imports in order to protect foreign exchange reserves. Many in the private sector have lost their jobs. Others have agreed to continue working for lesser salaries.

And in this situation what did Ali Sabry do?

He took the Justice Ministry to the World Trade Centre, agreeing to pay a massive rent! Even Mervin Silva wouldn’t dare make such stupid decisions in situations like this.

On the other hand, can those who cried foul over the decision by the Agriculture Ministry of the previous regime to rent Sabitha Perera’s building (and never occupy it!), remain silent? Their silence only adds to the insults leveled against President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Whose contract, we have to ask. The opposition? The West? Is this the latest face of the Trojan Horse?

There’s a basic lesson in politics: it’s the closest who are best positioned to knife you. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should not remain silent. He cannot afford to be silent.

A few months have been sufficient for many ministers to have forgotten why the people voted Gotabaya Rajapaksa to the presidency. As such the president has to battle not the opposition but those closest to him. His own team, let us reiterate.

Ali Sabry is behaving like just another traditional Muslim politician. We need to understand one thing: if you kick a bush, a dozen Ali Sabries would pop out.

We have just one Gotabaya Rajapaksa. We need to protect Gotabaya. Right now, right or wrong, there’s only one journey apparent, a journey with Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

We do not need any Trojan horse blocking the path. 

[based on an article on the same subject in Sinhala published in the website www.theleader.lk]

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