28 September, 2020

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Crunch Time – Less Than Ten Days To Go!

By Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

So far there have been relatively few polls published relating to the watershed election that will soon be upon us and some that I have seen amount to little more than gobbledegook parading as erudition, with the text seemingly contradicting the graphs and other mumbo-jumbo accompanying it! I don’t know whether this is a phenomenon typical of the current political discourse in English in Sri Lanka or whether the so-called “researchers” really don’t know what they are talking about and fall back on concealing that fact with a pile of verbiage.

I should insert a disclaimer here in the matter of polls, surveys and analysis conducted by Social Indicator, the survey research unit of the Centre for Policy Alternatives. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu’s much-reviled (by the Malinda Seneviratnes of this country particularly!) publication and organization have published a literate and seemingly balanced analysis of a poll reflecting the current public mood. Thank you, PS & Co. for another example of literacy that serves, among other things, to expose the “Free Lap-top Journalists” for what they are and for whom they act as poorly-disguised apologists.

Mahinda-Ranil-And speaking of the English language and its debasement, recent copies of the daily and Sunday papers to which we subscribe carry advertisements for candidates in the election soon to be held which, if collected in one volume, could provide the ultimate catalogue of banality and abuse of the English language. Sometimes both, but always hilarious!

Typical of politicians, the slogans are vacuous.

One says, in part, “…the main object of education is not only scholastic achievement but to bring forth exemplary citizens.” Whatever happened to the 20th century school of simple expression that followed Ernest Hemingway’s admonition against using “ten dollar words?” Maybe, they’ve all followed Margaret Mitchell’s ode to banality and have “Gone with the wind!”

Then you have our current (and post-election?) Prime Minister promising to “sow the seeds for a bountiful harvest” in a full-page advertisement, no less. Back to Papa Hemingway and his timeless advice not to indulge in vacuous verbosity!

Then there is the man proclaiming himself a “Visionary Educator.” Based on what? The fact that he is a glorified “tuition-teacher” whose exploits resulted in his being “persuaded” to cross the floor no sooner he was elected as an UNP member of the legislature the last time? His vision, he claims, “is clear. It is to guide and develop the future of four million children in my country.” He goes on to exhort readers of this piffle to “Join hands with (his) vision,”if that is humanly or even metaphorically possible, one that demonstrably excludes any adherence to principled conduct!

The leader of the chauvinist horde in the Ranil-led coalition echoes what one can expect from the likes of him when he claims that, to elect him, will be “To herald an era of GREATNESS. Let us be 1.” At least the man makes no effort to disguise his “master race” proclivities and one can hardly expect modesty in a politician, leave alone the avoidance of thinly-disguised arrogance, both personal and in respect of his “race.”

One candidate has a modest little advertisement that simply says “Integrity.” The fact that even a blasé electorate could well judge candidates by their previous behaviour and performance rather than such a lofty claim doesn’t seem to have entered into this guy’s thinking processes.

Then there is another candidate, very prominent in his own religiously-based community and notorious in the entire nation for constantly fulfilling the most racially stereotypical allegations made against his community of being the masters of vacillation with political behaviour that befits the proverbial weather vane. He requests readers of his blurb to visit his website so that they may “learn more about his vision to empower the common man.” Given his conduct, this should qualify for its entry into something like the Gratiaen or other literary award for works of fiction if not the Guinness book of records for repetition of “principles” that have proved to be in an eternal state of flux.

Another man who once scurried away from a prominent office in the judiciary after the then-President dropped by for a chat subsequent to his house (the legal luminary’s) having been subjected to gunfire, simply says “Dignity of Politics.” What on earth is that supposed to mean? Or is it, stereotypically, legal jargon intended to cause confusion?

Of all the political advertisements I have seen recently the one that makes a truly unbelievable claim is that of the man, inconsistent to say the least in his political allegiances and best known for his connections to the gaming industry (with all that entails), who claims to be “An intellectual the world acknowledges.” Modesty is obviously not this man’s strong suit and it would be interesting to ask him to provide one iota of evidence to back up his claim!

It also helps, in terms of (square-foot) coverage if daddy owns a whole newspaper chain. However, if one wants proof that quantity does not equal quality, the barrage from this quarter provides ample evidence of that fact.

One thing that seems apparent from these advertisements is that the United National Front for Good Governance (have I got that title right?)`does not have a central coordinating person or committee of any description to ensure that there is some commonality in the exhortations, appeals and boasts that their candidates insist on inflicting on the English-reading public of this country. I can only hope that the Sinhala and Tamil media doesn’t carry material of the same quality!

Not untypically, it was the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna’s advertisement couched in the form of letter to state employees that, very soberly reminded them of the realities that they have already faced and simply asking them to assess the facts before casting their vote. Like the entire JVP campaign, this treated those at whom it was directed with respect, not like buffoons or baboons.

Yes, it is “crunch time” and short of staying away from the polling station on election day, every person of voting age in this country has got some very serious decisions to make.

Do you return the “known devil” in Mahinda Rajapaksa and his fellow candidates or do you opt for Ranil Wickremesinghe and what seems, at times, like a motley crew with a wide spread of political philosophies and a spread of opinions and egos to match? Or – the third choice – do you overcome whatever animosity you still bear the JVP for its monstrous conduct at the end of its second insurrection and vote for an organization that is most unlikely, even in a very best case scenario, to form government but has displayed a disciplined and cohesive approach to its campaign, fulfilling the cardinal rule in any campaign: “staying on message?”

The poorly-written (and insulting to the reader’s intelligence) material that has seen print does not make that choice any easier for the voters of Sri Lanka.

What approaches is a point in our history which promises to live up to that ancient Chinese curse that goes, “May you live in interesting times!”

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Latest comments

  • 1
    5

    Emil, great riposte on candidates of all parties. Won’t it be nice if you and I had a large media empire in our Daddy’s hands so we could be promoted as these learned British educated giants?Didn’t one such person get his cabinet post simply because he is closely related to RW?

    My prediction and also concomitant fear is that UNP RW will score a landslide and slide back into their Batalanda mode after removing more power from Sirisena.

    What is your feeling? I think UNP will get 50% or more of the votes in Sinhala areas and Medamulane will get less than 37%.

    Will people who shout on Colombo Telegraph or their new pack of “different politicians:” like “I am a PhD and I am educated” Harsha and “I am Assemby of God Preacher” Eran types deliver and make sure rapists like Gonawela Sunil, or thugs like Kalu lucky, Soththi Upali and other underworld elements who fled in fear and have now come back, cause havoc and exact revenge on MR and his loser thieving brigands? Why do Buddhist politicians visit Churches, Mosques and Kovils but you never see a born again Christian or even a UNP Catholic or evangelical or a muslim visit Buddhist temples to show respect to other peoples’ faith?

    David Cameron said UK is a Christian nation with Christian values.Why is that ok but not ok for Mahinda to say predominantly Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist nation whose values are based on that before all the thuggery took over?

    Having said that, I hope the Kleptomaniacal Rajapakses lose. But I am afraid of Thuggery-Thanthraya aka Thuggocracy of the UNP.

    • 1
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      Good old mate Emil,

      [Edited out]

      • 2
        0

        Good one Emil! JVP has my vote this time around.. since am disgusted with the Ranil-Mahendran show and SLFP has gone to the dogs!

      • 1
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        his comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 4
    1

    Crunch time indeed and it will also be loo time for laptop journalists as they will fear if MR loses the PM seat their benefits too will slowly go away ;(

    and in the meantime K A Sumanasekera is quiet as his paycheck has bounced hence he is unwilling to write for free till he is paid to write rubbish again

  • 3
    1

    Emil van der Poorten –

    RE: Crunch Time – Less Than Ten Days To Go!

    It will be an interesting Final 10 days.

    I hear Mahinda Rajapaksa, Clan and Cronies are looking for a Ranil Wickramasingha look alike, just like they found the Srirsena look alike.

    Mara MaRa Chatu MaRa

    MaRa MaRa Amana Mara…

    [Edited out]

  • 4
    0

    Thank you Mr Poorten for pointing out how the Queen’s language has been mutilated. We owe thanks to the Oxford returned Mr S.W.R.D Bandaranaike. If not for him we will not be taking about the Gratiaen Award or the Guinness Book of Records, will we?.

    • 2
      1

      Leon:
      You need to brush up on your history a bit. The use of the English language did not take a quantum leap on SWRD’s return (in bow tie and three piece suit) to Sri Lanka where he immediately garbed himself in “national.”
      You can thank Michael Ondaatje (and perhaps his father, Mervyn and his maternal uncle (Noel Gratiaen) who was one of the finest jurists that Sri Lanka ever produced. None of these people learned their English at SWRDB’s knee!

      • 4
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        You got me wrong Mr Poorten. What I said in essence was that it was due to the Sinhala Only policy of Mr SWRD that the English is being mutilated now. I dint disagree with you Mr Poorten.

        • 3
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          Leon:
          My sincere apologies for misunderstanding what you meant with your comment.

  • 1
    5

    Has the custodian of the Elite and the Anglicans joined the Che Guevara Party?…

    This has nothing to do with the Dalits who are the great majority ….

    Because they” no understand English”

    But the choice the Elite , Anglicans and the Colombo Vellalas have is unreal.

    I am surprised Galleon didn’t get a guernsey in this kick ass assessment.

    Good to know Batalanada has been sowing his Oats…to give us Yahapalanaya.

    • 3
      1

      Sumaney:
      I suppose it is one of the guilts I’ll have to carry to my grave – having the sight of my name in CT provoking you into writing what you (and you alone) believe to be English.
      Ah, well, nobody said life was going to be a bed of roses!

      • 0
        1

        Mr Poorten..

        What’s wrong mate.. It can’t be that bad..with your mates’ Yahapalanaya in place.

        Why don’t you start coaching classes for the Colombo Elite in spoken English ,Western etiquette, body language and basic communication skills.

        It is sad to see the Elite politikkas of the UNP in Palay Kart Sarongs and wearing a Pirith Nule , appearing on free to air TV to argue with our Dalit Politicians.

        Did you see the Poodle Club pin up chick , the new convert Hirunickers on TV with the ageing beauty Rosy ,

        Even you must have had a crush on the latter at some stage.

        Did you listen to the power packed delivery of Hirunickers to the Elite on how she is going to stop men raping women and give rape victims special courts.

        She even promised to silence the boys who call chicks , Sweetie , or Pretty or Honey when they walk in Colombo.

        Did you know that a man rapes a woman ever 90 seconds even under Yahaplanaya?.

        And did you hear about the Dalit Polikka from the South who has laid 100 Virgins and threw a party to celebrate the century.

        Please don’t get me wrong , She is a good unit.

        But she needs training badly, if your Elite want to her represent them.

        You know what I mean..

        And same goes for the young male Politikkas who are under Batalanada Ranil.

        Sarong doesn’t go well to represent and depict Western Culture and Western values … Right.

        Even I gave up the Sarong longtime ago because it doesn’t look cool.

        Although it is only less than 7 days more to the Election,proper coaching will be more important for the UNP a Politikkas when they get set to give us Yahaplanaya for the next five years, with the generosity, kindness, and fairness of the American, British and Canadian Governments.

        Just imagine , Harin , Sujeeva and Keselwatta Kid pulling up at those Consulates for Cocktails and talk Business. in Sarongs…

        Even if they have good Jock Straps it is uncomfortable to stand and drink let alone do a a bit of Boogie after drinks..

  • 4
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    Emil, It is doubtful that most people will actually read and/or believe these adverts as most of these politicians’ words and deeds are out there for all to hear and see. Thanks to some TV stations we are now able to gauge, not only the mentality of these guys, but are also able to see their reactions and answers to fairly incisive questioning.

    The problem is figuring out the host of ‘unknowns’ whose names and credentials are unheard of. Maybe a better way of advertising themselves would be to list their educational and other achievements, expertise and experience, so that we could know who and what we are voting for.

    Better still, would be for legislation to demand that the respective parties include these details (including criminal charges and/or convictions) when nominating their candidates for election so that the public would have some idea of who these characters actually are and what their past reveals.

  • 5
    0

    When the nice man from the local election ‘karayalaya’ called during the week asking for my ‘support’ I promised him one thing, that after my traditional election morning breakfast of kiributh and lunu miris followed by a sour plantain, I will call at the polling station, and then, and then only, will I make my choice. This will ensure that I will have the utmost opportunity to listen to all the shit that will be shovelled in the director of US the voters of this blessed country.

    Mr van der Poorten has rightly anguished over what passes for English in our press these days. The demise has been gradual, over many years, and, save for some redeeming writers, reading the rest of what is passed as an ‘English’ newspaper these days requires a strong constitution, and a sense of humour.

    In this time of change, our voters need to test the electability of each candidate, and not make their choice based on old allegiances to family and party; and even intimidation, dare I say.

    Let the curses that come the day after election be those of the rejected scoundrels who have been found out by the voters up and down this land.

  • 9
    1

    I do not agree with Mr Van der Poorten on this.

    The stark choice for the voters is: Bring back Rajapakse or keep him out?

    All but absolute idiots know that Rajapakse regime was corrupt, incompetent, and lawless. And, given another chance, he’d be worse on all counts. Yet, there are many who will vote to bring that regime back. Why? Because of their belief that Rajapakse will bring about a Dutugamunu Era and ensure Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony across the entire country.

    The fact that geo-political reality in this globalized world will force any government in Colombo to devolve power to N-E, peacefully or under duress, is lost on the Rajapakse voter base. Rajapakse & Co have played their racist card well. The gullible, and they are in their millions in Sri Lanka, fall for it every time. We are talking of people who, in the past, voted political parties to power on the promise of two measures of rice, even if it had to be brought from the moon! Such is the intelligence of our voters, supposedly the most literate in South Asia. Make no mistake: many will fall for the Rajapakse rhetoric.

    On the other side, there is Ranil & Co, also corrupt, (but may not to the same extent as the previous regime), less incompetent and probably less lawless. One plus point is that the UNP is less devious about devolving power. Whereas Rajapakse, under duress from great powers, will concede the same degree of devolution, he will only do that once he has total political control and when he is able to shut the dissenting voices (in some cases permanently) of those who foolishly voted believing him to deliver a Mahavamsa based “Dutugamunu utopia”.

    The JVP, principled and disciplined though, will only be a spoiler in the August 17 tussle. A vote for JVP is a vote less for UNP and therefore a gain for Rajapakse. As much as I like to see a chap like Anura Kumara Dissanayake in the PM’s chair or even as the Leader of the Opposition, voting for JVP this time around will not make it happen. All what a vote for JVP can do is to weaken the UNP’s chances and strengthen the Rajapakse group.

    If Sri Lanka wants to keep the Rajapakse gang out, they must vote for the UNP, however repugnant it may be for some, like it is for this writer.

    The first task is to kick Rajapakse out permanently and put UNP and Ranil on notice. And next time around (and that can happen only if Rajapakse does not come back), elect a guy like Anura Kumara to run the country.

  • 3
    1

    Centre for Policy Alternatives is not going to waste time and money publishing surveys unless it serves their agenda. Asute readers can guess what that is, is it to bring back MR?

    • 5
      1

      Vanguard:
      I don’t suppose ANYONE of conscience will welcome a return of the Rajapaksa Regime. However, if you check their published material from the past, you will have to admit, even as someone who might dislike them immensely, that they have been professional in this kind of work and not fabricated or distorted information.
      May I ask whether you’d place greater credibility on the pronouncements of the so-called intellectuals supportive of Rajapaksa such as Rajiva Wijesinha or G. L. Peiris (and now Thilanga Sumathipala) in statistical information of this kind?

      • 2
        0

        Vanguard:
        In case there is any confusion, statement ” However, if you check their published material from the past, you will have to admit, even as someone who might dislike them immensely, that they have been professional in this kind of work and not fabricated or distorted information,” refers to the Centre for Policy Alternatives.

        There IS a difference between bias and fabricated statistics and even if CPA is accused of the former, I don’t think anyone (not even Malinda Seneviratne!) can accuse Paikiasothy and co. of the latter.

  • 0
    0

    Interesting analysis of what is going on in the field. I too have an interesting hands on experience. I was waiting to take the bus home after visiting a friend. A group of around ten young persons were also waiting for the same bus. I guessed all of them were returning after attending a political meeting; but my guess was wrong; they were all candidates returning after writing the GCE (A) level examination. They were not discussing any matters relating to their exam; but discussing the subject matters stated by politicians on the stage and the posters that were displayed. That is how I made my above mentioned “guess”. All of them were reading the poster material and the sort of “promises” held out by the speakers on the stage. They were all “unanimous” of one comment: ” Ado, munge meeting walata yana unta gahanna ona kang pellenna. Oya kiyan eva denna kohinda mung salli hoyanne kiyala ekek kiyanne neha. Ahnag inna unuth booruwo wage kang wanala visira yanawa. Warellako me sare”. Another said: “Anna hari machang. Gedara untah kiyann ona honda hitala me sare chande denna kiyala”. (We must slap those attending these meetings. They never tell us from where they are going to get the money to give all these promises. Even the people attending these meeting listen to the speeches and walk away like donkeys. We must tell our home people to vote this time intelligently. Come this time, we will do the needful.)

    They saw me listening and smiling slightly. One youngster asked me: “Api kiyanne boruda uncle”. (Is there anything fault in what we say) What do you get from this discussion?

    • 1
      0

      Douglas:
      What do I get from the conversation you reported? Justified disgust all around. However, one can but hope that these young citizens at least vote for what they might see as “the lesser evil,” but vote they must!

      • 1
        0

        Yes Emil, hope these young voters will learn to join the Web revolution.

        We mustn’t give up the ideals of revolution through technolgy, including in Sri Lanka, Right?

        Good luck from a relative not too well disposed.

        • 0
          0

          Cousin George:
          You’ve forgotten something in your “research,” you piece of … which keeps trying to use the names of genuine friends and relations as YOUR pseudonyms for your inanities parading as “wit.”
          The wheels of justice may turn slowly, buddy, but they grind extremely fine, so you’d better watch you back.
          CT should have adequate evidence of who this reprehensible …. is to block him irrespective of what pseudonym he uses. I hope it does. In HIS interest. And if that sounds like a threat, it isn’t, it’s a promise.

  • 1
    0

    Dear Emil: Thank you. I am confident that they are going to vote and vote intelligently. That is something I admire of this young crowd. Incidentally, that discussion went on for some time and it came to light that one of them had worked for Nil Balakaya at the last Presidential election and collected Rs. 42,000.00 at the end of the campaign. He was Booed; but explained to say that the parents were in debt to the Tuition Master to the tune of Rs. 20,000.00 . Therefore he was compelled to do that. This is the World of the YOUNG in Sri Lanka today. He of course, vowed to vote intelligently this time. Wait and see is our world.

    • 0
      0

      Douglas:
      Thank you very much for that interesting addendum to your earlier submission!

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