13 December, 2017

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Australian Labor Party Elects A New Leader! Bill Shorten

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

Just before the public announcement this afternoon, I received the email signed by Chris Bowen, Acting Leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), saying, “With a Caucus vote of 63.95% and membership vote of 40.08% which totals 52.02%, the new Leader is Bill Shorten.” I received this email not as ALP member, but as a Labor supporter.

I write this news to mainly a Sri Lankan audience not to compare ‘apples and oranges,’ as some might argue, but because of the unresolved leadership crisis within the United National Party (UNP) and also to highlight the importance of internal party democracy of all political parties for a properly functioning democracy in the country. Of course, a party should not change the leader for the sake of changing him/her or otherwise it would be like a typical Kotta Maruwa (changing the pillow). However, it was not the case in Australia.

After the defeat of the Labor Party at the last Parliamentary election on 21 September, Kevin Rudd gracefully resigned from his leadership position. He knew that there are many capable people to lead the party and the circulation of leadership is in fact a good thing for a dynamic political party. Of course in addition, there had been several factional struggles within the party, and no party or country is immune to these problems. But the difference perhaps is about how one resolves them in a decent and a democratic manner. Well before he resigned, and even before the election, Rudd proposed and the party accepted a new formula to select the party leader. That is what worked today.

It was a broad democratic process where both the elected MPs and ordinary party members equally participated. As the email I received further said “This historic vote which combines the votes of Labor Caucus with the votes of 30,426 Labor Party members – a 74% turnout – has changed our great Party forever and is already making us stronger.”

The reason to say that was “since the leadership campaign started more than 4,500 people have said they want to join Labor.” I am again quoting from the email. This is the merit of internal democracy of any modern political party. It might be the case that a ‘complicated democratic formula’ cannot be implemented in the Sri Lankan case or in the case of the UNP. In that context, the proposed Leadership Council might be the best or the transitional option, until other matters are settled. But the move should be towards democracy, respect for others’ views, and the involvement of grass roots and settling of disputes with utmost civility.

I have followed the leadership campaign very closely and both Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten campaigned on principles and campaigned with respect for each other. There were no ‘demonstrations’ or harsh words, let alone ‘shooting in the campaign trails.’

I have just now received another email form the newly elected leader Bill Shorten, announcing his intentions. It begins saying “Today is an historic day for the Australian Labor Party. For the first time in our long and proud history, members have been involved in selecting a new Labor Leader.” Then he went onto appreciating his contender saying “I want to congratulate Anthony Albanese on his campaign. Anthony is a good and decent Labor man and we are lucky to have a man of his formidable talents in our Parliamentary ranks. He will continue to make a strong contribution to the Labor team.” It further said in boldThis leadership ballot represents a new beginning. It was inspiring. It was democratic. And it was a privilege to be a part of it.”

Political parties in Sri Lanka, particularly the UNP at this juncture may or may not willing to take examples from ‘foreign countries’ like Australia. But there are examples from our own history. Let me digress somewhat a bit from the main theme of the Labor Party to make this point.

When Senarat was the King of Kandy in early part of the 17th century and when he was not well to carry forward his duties, he opted to call the Royal Assembly. He could not handover the leadership to his son, Rajasingha II, as he was still small. When the Assembly assembled, he said “I first of all desire you to forgive me all miscarriages I may have committed or the same having been done without my knowledge.” (Philip Baldaeus, Description of Ceylon, p. 693). He then asked them to elect a new King to take care of the affairs of the country until his son matures. But they were humbly reluctant to do so or to come forward. Then he asked his little son to come and select two from the Assembly. In fact, Rajasingha selected three and they became a kind of a Leadership Council!

The quotation is from Baldaeus to show that even the Kings (at least some) were very humble when there were miscarriages of affairs of the country, not to speak of a political party. Baldaeus also records that even the King was crying. I am sure when the wise monks proposed a Leadership Council to the UNP, they were well aware of these good traditions of the country (besides the horrible ones). It is also possible that King Senarat was suitably cunning to avoid a violent competition between the different princes to the throne or to divide the territory among them and through this devise of the ‘Leadership Council’ that predicament was avoided until Rajasingha II came of age. It is interesting to note that an envoy from the King of Jafnapatanam was also there. It is possible that I must have massaged the story a little bit to suit the occasion, except the last fact, and even Baldaeus must have done the same.

However the contemporary lesson is clear. Whatever the difficulties or problems in countries or political parties, the issues should best be resolved through democracy, possible dialogue and decency. The Australian Labor Party might be the best example to device some ways of resolving internal party matters for the best interests of the parties and the country.

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Latest comments

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    Prof. you are right!
    Political parties and POLITICAL CULTURE in Sri Lanka is rotten to the core today! The name of the game is MONEY POLITICS – you political scientists must write about this and EDUCATE the people on need for reform of political party culture and internal democracy with WOMEN AND YOUTH who are TALENTED given much more space and voice – not just the sons and wives of the current rotten politicians!

    The bad example has been set by Ranil Wickramasinghe the UNP dictator and by Rajapassa for years.. and of course CBK and JRJ before that but today we are at the lower depths!
    Today we have Sajith Premadasa who like Mervin Silva and Mahinda Rajapassa lies about his degrees and academic achievements as the UNP crown prince – because people with ability have left and only those who have family baggage stay on…
    Rajapassa has just appointed more corrupt clowns as Ministers! This generation of politicians is the pits and ALL of them need to be flushed down the toilet as the scum of the earth!
    Southern politics needs a completely new generation of clean politicians in addition to a new Constitution!

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      Kapila why only the Politicians whom you claim as corrupt who should leave and be prevented from participating in future Politics, why what about the Corrupt in society who elected them and the Arm Chair Critics in these blogs contributing their two cents worth promoting Leadership to parties to satisfy their egos, also should be deprived of their franchise?

      These Pseudo Pundits are the very people responsible for electing the Corrupt, as MR and now wants RW out as they believe it is only then they will have a place in society to feel Important. Bloody Humbugs the whole bloody lot. These Pundits talk about the Democratic practices of other countries and expect the Opposition to abide by while completely ignoring the violations of their once elected Political Masters destroying Democracy in the country. What is the writer trying to impress saying he received an e-mail before a Public announcement, is it that he thinks he is a Political Wizard in Australia? This Man first supported Kitchen Brains who destroyed our Political System that had checks and balances, by doing away with the Senate. Then she ruined the Country’s Economy with her Nationalization Policies that completely shut the Private Sector. There after this kitchen brains was responsible for filling the Govt Sector from top to bottom with the mediocrity selected from her Party supporters. Although she promised two measures of rice free even from the Moon, the poor Public had to starve and rummage dustbins for food.

      So these are the Humbugs who promoted such Leaderships then and thereafter promoted this Arse Hole MR and now coming to advice the Opposition to rid RW and find a Vibrant person to lead the Opposition?

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        Biggest problem for Sri Lankan democracy is, UNP main opposition / alternate govt. is blocked by Ranil serial loser of 20 years, this guy has no shame, greediest unknown from days of Hitler .

        Jokers of UNP should kick this man out or expect dictatorship until Ranil dies in 20 or so years.

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          John,

          Biggest problem for Sri Lankan democracy is not UNP but pigs like you who defied condoms in the “dick-in and dick-out process” leaning against lamp posts in the night and trespassed this land like kallathonies!

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      It’s all of South Asia that is rotten to the core. Look at India, a so called democrasy being run by 1 family for decades. South Asian has this insidious malaise of dynastic rule.

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    Like the Muslims with independence its Sinhala Buddhist mysticism that has always been called upon to justify the irrational, one just takes it on faith.

    Rajaporkistan club has caged them to an extent to take their place with vigour like Ape shit- King Kong.

    Did the Ceylonese really fight for independence like in the west or India. No but hid under Tamil Nadu lungi.

    Today if euphemisms are clearly inappropriate, SL politicians merely declare that the war is morally just and necessary to straighten out morally inferior miscreants.

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    Bill Shorten, who hails from the union movement and had been a protégé of Bob Hawke is perhaps the new blood that the party needed, after Gillard’s disastrous reign and Rudd’s alleged arrogant aloofness.

    We cannot compare Australian politics with Sri Lankan politics, as the latter is far less developed in terms of maturity with its entire social framework degenerating to new lows each time polls had been called…

    • 0
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      Have you listened to Ms McKew and former speaker of the house and announcements by the faceless and their faces.

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    Laksiri Fernando,

    You are an ignorant dwarf hanging on the political footboard devoid of any realistic bearings on the life and death politics practiced in SL. Though you pretend to profess with your half-baked knowledge on cunning and subtle politics here you are living in an Australian political utopia and trying to concoct a Kangaroo kanji mixed with Sri Lankan taste! Apples and oranges, emails, leadership crisis, internal party democracy bla bla! What nonsense is this? Wake up from your stupid Kangaroo wet dream and descend on to Rajapaksha Sri Lanka where all forms of “billboard only and not in substance and spirit democracy” are forced down the throat. To begin with, there is no “unresolved leadership crisis” at all in UNP! The crisis is in your “Kangaroo brain”! You create this infantile leadership crisis in collusion with your block head MARA and the criminal rogue gang and stuff it down the throat of the morons in the country using your buddy bloody Sirasa and other media whores. The whole country is fed with this diabolical lie over and over again 24/7 ad nauseum and the fools like you come to believe your own fabrication-self-hypnosis!

    Australia is a country where all the democratic institutions and systems are practiced and protected-there is media freedom, functioning law and order and justice system, checks and balances, compliance with every form of constitutional requirements, there are no piecemeal staggered elections like a daily tele-drama but elections are held throughout the country at one fell swoop without involving any of the election malpractices committed by the MARA’s regime, there are no “buying” and “self-selling” of elected members of parliament there like here! Because of this democratic space and the relatively high level of educational opportunities, sound economic and income situation of the general caucus of the country “leaders” are born, groomed and nurtured. People have ample opportunities to invest their talents and reap the benefits collectively and personally as well. But alas, what about Rajapaksha Sri Lanka? These uneducated, uncultured Rajapaksha bastards have destroyed altogether those fundamental system and machineries altogether and infiltrated their fake and despotic familial project in to the political psyche of the country and its people.

    The LTTE bastards with the connivance of the Indian bastards destroyed this country by assassinating its leaders in UNP, the SLFP bastards sow the seeds of racism and hatred and destroyed the education system and its quality, Sirima and Chandrika bitches continued the same culture and now this Rajapaksha buffalos have completely destroyed the whole country. You stupid person, you are fantasizing about 17th century king Senarat, his Leadership Council and the bloody betel chewing monk’s Leadership Council thereby showing your bloody immoral, vindictive, jealous, hypocritical and ill-bread qualities and nature by not acknowledging Ranil’s supreme tactfulness and cleverness in devising this Leadership Council. How do you say the monks proposed this? Where were all these bloody fools all these years without talking of such a proposal but only criticizing the leader for their own failures? You such a funny foot-board traveller of Sajith-Shirlal-Kili-MARA bandwagon that you time-walk to 17th century and rake about and fork in the king Senarat’s attic but not a word is uttered about your pet fool Sajith’s evading of Leadership Council meeting or the party’s excellent proposal of posting Sajith as the Chief Minister for South challenge! You are such a pathetic sorry little intellectual creature wasting your own time on trivial conspiracies without doing any service by the country. While the country and people are facing gigantic scale problems and horrors under Rajapaksha juggernauts you [Edited out]

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      Silva,
      I am with you 100%.
      Laksiri lives far away and preaches as if we are all morons.
      He should come and live here and then pontificate.
      Why does he not go to UN during the UNHRC session and say all this?
      I have relatives – professionals – in australia and canada and know that democracy is practised in those countries – but even there,people grumble.

      Sri Wickrema Rajasinghan,the last king of kandy, was a tamil from india.
      The Kandyan Convention was signed in tamil by most of the adigars – a photocopy of it was in Our Heritage Parts I & II by G.C.Mendis we used as the history textbook in the forties.
      The wife of an adigar who fell out of favour,was forced to pound her two infants in a mortar using a pestle,in open court.
      Impaling offenders on iron spikes and leaving them to die slowly was a common punishment. So was tying legs to two adjacent/bent arecanut trees and cutting the ties to tear the limbs asunder.
      Madduma Bandara and his brother,sons of another adigar were beheaded in open court.
      Theva Nampiya Theesan became ‘Devanampiyatissa’.
      Mootha Sivan became ‘Muttasiva’.
      All kings in the Mahavamsa killed their predecessors to ascend the throne.
      No abdications,retirements,deaths due to natural causes or entering the priesthood were reported.
      The same bloodthirstiness is rampant today in politics in this dharmadwipa.

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      Why waste your time on this guy?He has nothing else to do other than attacking his motherland.[Edited out]

  • 0
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    Doc Laksiri,
    When ever I read your article, its always remind me ELLE GUNAWANSA Keru Monk… [Edited out], please dont read as this article is a waste of time

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    Laksiri,

    justice says,

    “..Sri Wickrema Rajasinghan,the last king of kandy, was a tamil from india.

    The Kandyan Convention was signed in tamil by most of the adigars – a photocopy of it was in Our Heritage Parts I & II by G.C.Mendis we used as the history textbook in the forties.

    The wife of an adigar who fell out of favour,was forced to pound her two infants in a mortar using a pestle,in open court.

    Impaling offenders on iron spikes and leaving them to die slowly was a common punishment. So was tying legs to two adjacent/bent arecanut trees and cutting the ties to tear the limbs asunder.

    Madduma Bandara and his brother,sons of another adigar were beheaded in open court.

    Theva Nampiya Theesan became ‘Devanampiyatissa’.

    Mootha Sivan became ‘Muttasiva’.

    All kings in the Mahavamsa killed their predecessors to ascend the throne.

    No abdications,retirements,deaths due to natural causes or entering the priesthood were reported..”

    Lol! Didn’t you find any information about the above facts in Senarat’s and Baldaeus’s attics?

    Don’t you see the direct link between mortar and pestle pounding deaths, iron spike killings, arecanut cutting limbs asunder, open court beheading culture and the Rajapaksha killer cult? The planted leadership crisis in UNP is an extension of the same killer instinct of Rajapaksha regime. The killer instinct nearly consummated when the Herman dog, the bastard who begot Maithree dog shot at the UNP protesters!

    And you [Edited out], how on earth did you miss the point that Ranil has been elected and mandated to be the leader for 6 years by the authentic and relevant forum to decide and elect the leader of the party and this forum included your uneducated bastard Sajith too? And once voted and elected by massive majority how and why do you mongol [Edited out] jump up and down like monkeys yelling out at Ranil to give up leadership and hand it over to a lunatic fornicated by a senile tin pot dictator? What is the forum to decide on the leadership of the party and do any amount of cries for leadership change carry a valid and practical voice to such a change outside the party constitution? Can you and the Sajith-Maithree unholy concoct make agitations and protests on the streets and internet etc. and demand bloody MARA to give up Presidency and make someone else the President? If not then why do you to your name announcing you are [Edited out] an educated and respectable person? Are the Drs this stupid in the world or is it only in Sri Lanka where we have Drs like you and Mervyn Rilava who are hard to be differentiated from vermin?

    This is a reply to your incessant unjustified indefensible series of attacks against Ranil and UNP posted at various times. You are like that Sakvithi bugger who tried to be an educator and a building contractor at the same time-never mergeable contradictory contrasting entities-and the bugger ultimately went to jail after jeopardizing and impoverishing the lives of thousands! Fools may heed to your pontifications but not us!

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    What bull crap. The Labour leader was elected by, a funny vote. The so called Caucus the standing members the Labour voted for Shorten and the members voted for the Albanese. You call that democracy?
    Then comes the front bench of the opposition that was appointed by the leader so democratically selected and guess they are the faces of the faceless.

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    Bill Shoten was the King and Queen maker of the Labour party and he is the King now. He got rid of Kevi Rudd and got Julia Gillard, then he got Kevi Rud back and Julia out.
    The King Shorten is already in hot water from his own factions.

    Politics are the same in any place.

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    I wish Bill’s term to be Shorten. He doesn’t deserve to be leader for his past acts of orchestrating dumping of leaders, the caucus is a dead thing which has no sense of membership’s wish. But prof Laksiri has not debated on this.

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    This self-assumed academic who calls himself a political scientist writes at the drop of a hat on any subject whether he is competent or not. One saw his earlier article on recent Australian elections.Bullshit!He was trying to draw a picture of electioneering in Australia without understanding the pockets of influence operating in that electorate.All predictions of a landslide victory for Abbot in pre-poll assessments went wrong because of these ‘pocket of influence’.
    Australia and SL are far apart in politics although SL experimented with Universal Suffrage (for women) before Australia.If one cannot understand that and tries to draw lessons from what happens in Australia for Sri Lanka, that shd.point to not just how far he is away from Sri Lankan reality but to his stupidity.He tries to draw lessons from SL history by quoting Baldaeous on how King Senerath acted in choosing an immediate successor to him.What bloody balls? this must be a bit from Chinese history that Baldaeous interpolated. What Sri Lankan history does our man know when he quotes these sources without applying any textual criticism? He should busy himself with what he knows w/o trying to be a Mahadenamutta in everything.

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