29 September, 2020

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A New Dawn

By H.L. Seneviratne

H.L. Seneviratne

H.L. Seneviratne

I am neither an astrologer nor a pollster, but purely on the basis what happened on January 8th and, more important, what underlay that event, it is clear that there is no way the Mahinda Rajapaksa faction can win the August 17th election. January 8th was the expression of a social fact that had quietly come into being and gradually gained a momentum capable of demanding the loyalty of increasingly larger numbers of individuals. This development suffered some loss at the inability of the SirisenaWickremesinghe government to achieve the promised reforms swiftly, energizing the forces defeated on January 8th, and leading them to think that the new force was dead. But subsequent events have shown that it was only sleeping, and it has now awakened with a roar. Our responsibility as citizens is to be vigilant and make sure that the incoming UNP led government does not precipitate itself into the same political culture that we are trying extricate ourselves from. This should be a major concern of every responsible citizen, particularly the elites who are capable of theoretically comprehending this political culture as a social phenomenon.

JVPFor, this political culture did not come out of the blues, but is the culmination of an evolutionary process. While it is true that the Rajapaksa regime best exemplified it, its origins go back to independence and indeed, in a sense, to the pre-colonial era of traditional authority marked by the ruler acting as if the kingdom were his private household. The more direct and proximate roots of the phenomenon are the constitutions of 1972 and 1978, the former politicizing the public service and giving state recognition to the majority religion, and the latter replacing the first past the post system with a preferential system, along with the accompanying replacement of the electorate with the district as the electoral unit. This led to a massive increase in election expenses that in turn encouraged an unholy union between politics and black money. The end result of this process is the political culture that we are trying to extricate ourselves from. The danger however is that this political culture has now become endemic and has invaded every cell of the social organism, making it extremely difficult to eradicate. Yet somehow this needs to be done, and it is for accomplishing that onerous task that the UNP led coalition is about to get its mandate.

The restoration of good governance has already begun since January 8th. It needs to be made more comprehensive, more organized, and placed on a methodical foundation. Among its many areas of work are law and order and the independence of institutions as envisaged in the 17th Amendment. It augurs well that the UNP led coalition plans to enact a new constitution rather than tinker with the existing one. It’s important that this task is done properly with adequate time allocated for public discussion and input. It hardly needs mention that among the most urgent tasks facing the new government is national reconciliation, the belated first step in crafting a nation.

The idea of a national government is timely, and should be pursued to the fullest. The value of a national government lies less in its form than in what underlies it, namely, a national consensus, which should be the expression and watchdog of the national interest. Competing political parties can pursue the national interest in their own different ways, but they should all be loyal to the national interest, and should act only within the frame of the national interest. A national government is the embodiment of the national interest, and is an excellent training ground for the eventual rise of partisan governments that seek to advance the national interest in their own particular ways. There will always be attempts to equate partisan interest with the national interest, which warns us of the magnitude of vigilance and perseverance necessary to safeguard the national interest.

Relentless vigilance is the price of democracy. Among the requirements for vigilance is a free and vibrant press. A free press is the most efficient vehicle of dissent, and dissent is essential for fostering accountability and good governance. Especially given the prospect of the incoming UNP lead coalition forming a numerically strong government, it is important that we remember that power corrupts, and the arrogance of power can debase the best of men. In such a context it is not entirely irrelevant that we wish the best of luck to the small parties, especially the JVP and the TNA. The JVP should continue and intensify its excellent recent record of exposing instances of corruption and other manifestations of ill governance.

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  • 4
    0

    H.L. Seneviratne

    RE: A New Dawn

    The Dawn of a New Era after the End of MaRa, Mara, Era.

    “I am neither an astrologer nor a pollster, but purely on the basis what happened on January 8th and, more important, what underlay that event, it is clear that there is no way the Mahinda Rajapaksa faction can win the August 17th election. “

    Nava Yugayak free of MaRa MaRa Chatu MaRa Mmana MaRa..

    The time has come to say Go away,

    MaRa MaRa Mara, Mara Chatu MaRa

    MaRa MaRa Amana MaRa

    MaRa MaRa HoRa MaRa

    MaRa MaRa Dhushana MaRa

    • 1
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      H.L. Seneviratne

      RE: New Dawn- Back of Envelope Prediction for August 17, 2015

      “I am neither an astrologer nor a pollster, but purely on the basis what happened on January 8th and, more important, what underlay that event, it is clear that there is no way the Mahinda Rajapaksa faction can win the August 17th election. January 8th was the expression of a social fact that had quietly come into being and gradually gained a momentum capable of demanding the loyalty of increasingly larger numbers of individuals.”

      How will the New Dawn, dawn on the 17th? We will know on the 18th morning.

      While it is difficult to say how the results will turn up,given below is my back of the envelope calculation of the results prediction, starting from the Jan 8th results.

      Jan 8, 2015 Aug 17th, 2015 %, Seats

      Sirisena 51.28%

      UNP(UNF) 36.28 52.53 119
      JVP 5% 7.3 18
      DP 2% 1.0 1
      TNA 6% 6.8 16

      SLMC/others 2% 2.0 2

      Sub Total 69.63

      Rajapaksa 47.58%

      SLFP-UPFA 46% 30.36 69
      UPFA 1.58%
      NDD ( Weerawansa)

      Others

      Total Seats 99.99 225

      So, Mahinda Rajapaksa will not be the Prime Minister.
      He can be an MP.

      MaRa can retire and fish, or be be subject to further ridicule. It is his choice.

      He has been sent up a Murunga Tree by his cronies.

  • 8
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    Thanks Professor HL Seneviratne for your studied and instructive analysis and for the healthy perspective you put across so well. I am with you with your caution to all people to keep their vigilance so that the new regime will not bear strange similarities with the old. In particular, civil organisations like Purawesi Balaya must keep going. One cannot leave the field open to only politicians.
    I like Ranil’s idea of Grama Rajyaya,which has the potential to involve rural-level participation in the governance process. Ranil, alone, has the integrity, vision and honesty to bring in the new dawn that you and we hope. May that be!

    • 3
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      Unfortunately Shyamon, the majority of voters do not think the same way about Ranil!

      • 1
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        Stock market in Colombo has already voted with lots of money that UNP-lead coalition will win the election.

        Usually the astute, deep pocketed investors are right in their projections. Let’s wait and see.

      • 2
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        Hamlet, Are you a Mahinda shill?

        [Edited out] Mahindapala who should be doing it. Where is [Edited out]

  • 3
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    so we have to cast our vote for JVP-Anura and the rest, DP and Sarath Fonseka, and TNA to keep rainbow revolution

    Not for Mr. Madamulana or Mr. Batalanda……!

  • 1
    13

    All that fine tuning of the political function (black money and all) is only of fractional importance compared to how each party intends to make money for the country.

    A)UNP allies itself with JVP. Main themes:

    1) Take on Western capitalistic loans

    2) Capitalistic loans worked in communist-style in Sri Lanka

    3) Develop island-wide mega-city industrial sites,

    4) Build land bridge to India,

    5) Speak of taxation systems, but will not need tax, with the communist style distribution of money for masses – rich will get away scott-free

    5) Pluralize the country with Indian effusions

    6) Cut and dried solutions scornful of heritage issues

    *************

    B) UPFA allies itself with Communist-Weerawansa. Main themes:

    1) Build up on already taken Chinese loans

    2) Building of Port-city to be re-evaluated and possibly discarded in favor of proper taxation of already implemented schemes.

    3) Heritage of the masses assured, with heritage and culture (of both races) gracefully caressing the land.

    • 0
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      *Under UNP-JVP:
      ….rich will get away scott-free (but soon die off because there’ll be no masses left to make money off)*

    • 0
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      Ramona,

      What the hell are you doing in the U.S.? Aren’t you a hypocrite living in a capitalist country and uttering such nonsense?

      • 0
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        BI,

        Not at all! I prefer to be back in Sri Lanka. My family left Sri Lanka when I was very young, due to poverty, and never had a chance to get back. If there is a decent program to rehabilitate me into Sri Lanka, I will sign up.

        I am glad I am here, for I can compare and contrast USA and Sri Lanka, and especially the taxation systems of both places.

  • 5
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    Hear Hear HL.

    Best wishes to the JVP and the TNA.
    You folks together will hold the incoming UNP led Coalition Govt’s feet to the fire.

  • 5
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    Election Result

    UNFGG-120
    SLFP/UPFA -70
    JCP- 15
    TNA-18
    Others-2

    • 1
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      John

      Thanks for your effort and time.

      Could you also spend some time to compute the following when the horse trading starts and transfer window opens on the day after the elections:

      Anticipated transfer best prices of ministers, senior MPs, jounior MPs, loyalties, ….. and the number of MPs willing to cross over to the other side.

      The total monetary value of the MP’s one month after the end of the elections.

      What are the odds Sivajilingam defeating Mahinda in Kurunagala electorate?

      Please feel free to use the following econometric, mathematical methods for economists … as tools for your calculation:

      Price mechanism Demand and supply

      Elasticity of demand and supply

      Utility, satisfaction, ….

      Game theory

      Anticipated Foreign investments on party, person, …..

      Comparative industry standards (Indian model)

      Anticipated cost incurred by each member on electioneering

      Ignore how voters will react after the trading comes to an end.

  • 4
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    a new dawn and a new beginning. I hope they deliver, and deliver fast. We are voting not only to replace the old order for a new, but also for justice. Criminals to be behind bars (never mind who they are) and not in hospitals. Siphoned out dollars to be brought back. More work and less talk please. Expose and convict. So far it has been expose and go to sleep and we are sick of it.

  • 5
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    A currently relevant quote from the former British Prime Minister William Pitt:-

    “Unlimited Power is apt to corrupt the Minds of Those who Possess It; and this I know My Lords: that where Law ends Tyranny Begins!”

  • 8
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    Be assured of good governance under Mythree and Ranil government. The political culture is certainly set to change for the better and a would open for more professionals to enter political field in the future.

  • 2
    1

    What Sirisena/Wickramasinghe government ? It will be a wickrmasinghe & Co with a peon called sirisena.
    Whenever Ranil becomes PM even the rains stop falling. All kinds of bad things happen to the country. He will shout in english in a skweeky voice but the people dont like him.
    Ranil is not even in reality. He is not the PM of a dominion status inferior to the queen. But always in coat and tie !In case an englishman thinks he is not a gentleman !
    Do we have to go back to 1950s, like sir John’s time ?
    Only Oscar wilde will describe a Wickramasinghe government ” Everyman with an indecent posture will get a high appointment”

  • 1
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    A recognized Psephologist (one who studies election trends) Mr. N. Rahman had this to say, on 6.8.15, elsewhere:-
    “MR is no longer in power and does not have recourse to the vast and unlimited resources he enjoyed (unleashed) at the January election. • The UNF propaganda blitz has had some effect on discrediting MR’s team on the issue of corruption and oppression. • The floating vote, true to its tendency, will move away from MR’s team. • The proliferation of parties/independents will eat into some of his earlier vote base. (The effect on the UNF will be less) • This time MR is running only in ONE District and a large percentage of the voters in the other Districts will be influenced by parochial issues and the popularity/unpopularity of the individual candidates. • MR’s team is still selling the War and Ethnic Issues – this did not work on January 8th – there is no reason why it should work on 17th August. • The presence of Champika R/Atureliya etc on the UNF Ticket is bound to draw away some of the Sinhala Buddhist base away from the UPFA. • The UPFA is a House divided against itself. • There is a very strong likelihood of a lower UPFA voter turnout. • Voters do not buy the story : “We will correct our mistakes” • Nor do they buy “We will do now what we did not do in the last ten years. • There is no logical reason why the voters who rejected MR at his strongest point should now do an about turn and vote for him now. Finally there always is a tendency against long incumbency – (The UNF does not have this disadvantage at the moment) The resulting position will then be (+/-):

    UPFA 74 TNA 15 JVP 15 Misc 6 TNA/JVP/SLMC/ACMC/Others UNF 115

    The SLMC and the ACMC which are contesting on their own tickets in the Vanni and Batticaloa are likely to add a seat or two to the UNF alliance. To all this must be factored in the statistically unquantifiable element that favours the winning side. For example no analysis in 1977 predicted more than 120 seats for the UNP, but they went on to win 144 seats. Similarly at the last election in the UK all polls predicted a hung Parliament with the Conservative having a slight edge – but they won by a landslide “

    • 1
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      punchinilame

      One plus point for UNP and its allies is that Dayan has been spinning for MR.

      Other UNP political assets:
      Vasu, Rajiva, Wimal Weerawansa, Dinesh, Gota, Basil, GL, Namal, ….

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