By Mano Ratwatte –
There are Democracies and there are Democrazies. One person has already lost his life in Nivitigala in this cycle. In Hambantota, Mr. Premedasa’s facebook page shows torn down posters and banners. Why is there so much personal animosity between partisan supporters that the same people who go to Temple, Mosque, Church or Kovil regularly then start getting mad at each other and start beating people up and even killing them over a damned ballot?
Masses are ululating again. “Apey mahathaya, Apey Ranil haamu, Apey Mahinda Raja” whoever that Apey person is going to win is secondary to the massive drain on public resources. Consider how much money all parties and candidates will burn (and houses); some will win and recoup their expenses, getting high interest returns on their investments; others will lose; but in modern times not one candidate of UNP, SLFP, UFPA will go bankrupt unlike in the good ole days where people ran for office to serve the people and not serve themselves. Partisan hacks vociferously only attack the other side.
Typically, in a capitalist society like US, more money pours into the winning side or the side that is trending towards winning; the odds are, Lankan bookies already know which side is trending.
The US Supreme Court ruled Corporations are people too and lifted the limit a company or person can contribute to a campaign. In 2014, January the Supreme Court removed the limits on corporate spending in political campaigns, paving the way for unlimited corporate influence in elections.
Republicans praised the court for a monumental decision toward restoring the First Amendment rights for corporations and unions. Democrats have asked for legislation to reinstate the ban on direct campaign spending by corporations.
Obama whined, “ It is a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”
What a load of malarkey; Obama has spent more time flying at Tax Payer expense, raising money for his party from rich special interest groups too.
No such campaign regulations exist in Sri Lanka; there is no compunction to spending other people’s money amongst Sri Lankan politicians; green, blue or Rainbow (trending worldwide) etc.
Consider the Hundreds of Millions of rupees of cash that is carried in bags and given to Lanka politicians in hush-hush. All black money; untaxed money that should go to build tube wells, help the mentally ill in Sri Lanka, build houses or pay compensation for disabled veterans who sacrificed so much ( or even to Tamil Tigers as one Minister tried with a cabinet paper). Is this out of love for the nation? Or is it for the chance to queue up post election for contracts, sub contracts, favors, foreign postings etc.?
Bigger the pile, closer to the front of the line one will be. SLFP or UNP same difference; does anyone believe that big businessmen (even the legitimate ones), kudu jaaawaram kaarayos give money out of love and on principle to the major parties in Sri Lanka ? Seems like only the JVP gets money based on principles by the working class.
Throw in secret money from interfering foreign Embassies. Typically, before the dynamic and positive economic changes that happened in 1977, the Commie Soviets, and Chinese and Indians under Mrs. Gandhi, gave money to the SLFP types. USA and other western nations give money to the Grand Ole Party. Since end of the cold war, the dynamics have changed drastically but the pattern of pumping money to peddle influence remains the same.
That the US and India helped engineer the change on 8th is now clear. Question is which of those nations gave the Satellite phones to the then opposition? Is it true the US used the educated journalism students it sends to the US on scholarships for short term training programs were deployed to help the UNP?
Big powers have their own reasons to pump money into the elections. Yeah, some of it is possibly based on principle<cough> but it was more out of long term strategic concerns about the growing Chinese influence in the region. India did the same.
An egotistic man who wished to be King, and his coteries thought they could play the China card but they overplayed the hand and ignored the signals. If India invades again, (for the Indian “Intelligence” agents and arrogant N.Indian boorucrats from New Delhi , posted in Colombo it was a “peace keeping force”) China, Pakistan or Russia won’t intervene nor help Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is clearly under Indian District 9’s sphere of influence.
Rewind to 1983: The first instance of Government instigated thuggery against Judges: the stoning of Justices Soza’s, Barnes Ratwatte’s and Percy Colin Thome’s houses happened in early 1983. There was a Demonstration in Colombo which was broken by police and where late Vivienne Goonewardene was ill treated during the break up. She won a fundamental rights case. The judges held that her fundamental rights was violated by a Sub Inspector (of Kollupitiya station ) . The courts fined the officer Rs 10,000 It was actually a great victory in the face of an arrogant govt. However Dharmista JR’ s intolerance knew no bounds. At a cabinet meeting they decided to pay the fine of Rs 10,000 from govt. and not only that, the officer was promoted to ASP. The next day people came in CTB buses parked in front of the judge’s houses and demonstrated in front of their house and Justice Percy Colin Thome’s house was stoned. The Sun and Aththa newspapers did their own investigative work and discovered that the whole thing had been carried out by a know UNP thug and his gang; of course nothing happened!
Have people forgotten how a “Referendum” was rigged to extend the life of the 5/6 Parliament because JR was greedy for power too?
Or how charismatic humanist Vijaya Kumaratunga was jailed under trumped up charges because of his paranoia about “Naxalites”?
Their impunity culminated with the heinous violent pogrom against innocent Tamils in July 1983. The government of the day tried its best to frame the JVP or “Naxalites” but at the end of the day everyone knew whose thugs and whose goons carried out those vile attacks.
Let us start with an honest discussion of that too. Why were people allowed to get away with that pogrom? It is the seminal event that led to the relatively unknown and small LTTE to grow into this massive movement and to be seen as protectors of Tamils. Rest is history.
“Dooshana Beeshana” 1987 to 1989 is another tragedy: everyone knows which party was in absolute control. Royalists kept deaf dumb and mute to protect their own class.
The shameful NWP council election during CBK’s regime: again no one was punished. She just evaded the issue by blaming powerful ministers in the Cabinet some of whom are powerful ministers of the cabinet now.
Young MP , Late Nalanda Ellalawa (February 1997) was shot dead in broad daylight by UNP thugs; but they switch sides, became MR’s ministers and case closed. It is never a good idea to challenge politicians with Guns in Sri Lanka is it?
Same pattern; in 1977 more people were killed and more people’s houses were burnt by the Dharmishta UNP than ever before or since. Sadly there was so much anger and resentment at the way the SLFP led government had totally mis-governed the economy, albeit on a much smaller scale than what followed. Some may have just attributed it to seeking revenge.
Another flashback: When Hon Dudley Senanayake died, the SLFP desperately wanted to win the Dedigama electorate(1973). They tried intimidation and MPs including a couple of young SLFP MPs known to the writer, went around on election day throwing what was then called “dappi bombs very loud “Thun mulas” type firecrackers that made a lot of noise to drive fear into UNP voters. It didn’t help their cause; because Dudley’s nephew from the UNP still won! Message wasn’t received and they continued until the debacle in 1977.
Hope the JVP gets at least 20 seats this time so they can keep both the SLFP and UNP in check and hold their feet to the fire: Central Bank Bonds, Airports sans Aeroplanes and Ports sans ships.
Insurrections, massacres of innocents, Systemic discrimination against minorities, attacks on Muslims in 2014, fascist tiger terrorism and Tiger Diaspora funded suicide bombers, torture camps, state and radical JVP murders during 1987-89; tyre-pyres and lamp post killings. That is one hell of a proud post 1948 record we have.
Should we just continue to blame the British Colonials for all this? Surely it is not just alcohol and drugs or money? Or is it in our genes? For whom does the bell toll this time?