5 August, 2020

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Devastating Defeat For Sri Lanka Muslim Congress

By MYM Siddeek

Dr. MYM Siddeek

Dr. MYM Siddeek

The recently concluded election must have taught a very good lesson to Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) since it faced a devastating defeat as the first time in its history of nearly three decades. The party could secure only one seat in the districts where it contested in its own symbol, tree. The one seat was won in Batticaloa district where SLMC was born. The organisation was formed as a non-political civil movement by late MHM Ashraff, late Ahmed Lebbei, former Batticaloa local council chairman, and a few other well-wishers in 1981 in Kattankudy. Later in 1986, it was declared as a political party and recognised by the Election Commissioner in 1988. It contested its first parliament election in 1989.

One seat party

I cannot give credit to SLMC even for the one seat it secured in Batticaloa, because it contested jointly with another new small party (National Front for Good Governance – NFGG). Both parties’ candidates were contesting in SLMC symbol in the same list in the district. NFGG is not well known to many people in the country, but it is widely known to the voters in Kattankudy because it is the birthplace of the founder chairman of NFGG. He was polled around 12000 votes out of about 28,000 votes for SLMC. If not for the NFGG votes, even in Batticaloa, the SLMC might have faced a severe setback. It is also noteworthy that the UPFA candidate lost by only a very small margin in the district. In recognition of this he has been appointed a member of parliament from the UPFA national list and now he is a State Minister.

Rauff HakeemIn Digamadulla District, where there is a large number of ardent Muslim UNP supporters, three SLMC candidates were elected since they contested in UNP symbol, Elephant, and embraced the UNP manifesto. When analysing the mood of the Muslim voters before SLMC crossed over to support the presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena in the eleventh hour even after the postal votes were cast, anyone could have concluded that the party would not have secured a single seat from Digamadulla electoral district, had they contested in their own tree symbol. It is the well known fact that the UNP wave, anti-Rajapaksa atmosphere, the stand taken by the President and the JVP campaign, among other things, helped many unexpected UNP candidates get elected in the elephant symbol in the last parliamentary election. Had SLMC contested in its own symbol, some analysts suggest now, it might have secured only one seat (maximum) with great difficulty in Digamadulla electoral district, the birthplace of the SLMC founder leader, late MHM Ashraff.

In the electoral district of Kandy too, one SMC candidate was elected to the parliament since he contested in the UNP list and a large number of UNP Muslims and Sinhalese too cast their preference votes to the winning SLMC candidate. Further, the campaign of one prominent Muslim UNP provincial councillor of Central Provincial Council and another very popular Muslim UNP candidate who is a cabinet minister now went very well in the district. These factors helped the SLMC candidate got elected in the district.

In Trincomalee district, SLMC which contested in the UNP list could not secure a seat. It lost to the UNP and ACMC candidates. The ACMC candidates too contested the election in the UNP list in the district. In Vanni electoral district, where SLMC contested in its own symbol, the party was severely defeated by ACMC (UNP list) and UPFA. In the district, SLMC was polled only about 5,700 votes where it had its own MP in the past. In nutshell, had SLMC contested in its own symbol, it might have secured only one seat (maximum) in the recently concluded parliamentary election. In Jaffna electoral district, the party could not field candidates where it secured one seat in 1994 and gained about 8,000 votes in 1989 parliamentary election.

In Colombo district where there are nearly 300,000 Muslims, the party could not field its candidates. The same could be said in respect of other districts where Muslims have been elected to the parliament from other parties. Therefore, for securing 5 seats in the last parliamentary election by contesting in the UNP list and with NFGG, the credit should go to those parties too. Now the party has 7 MPs in the parliament including two national list MPs. The party leader expected to gain more than 10 seats excluding the national list MPs. Therefore, it may be said that SLMC sacrificed its party symbol and its own policies, if any, to secure seven seats in the last parliamentary election. It may also indicate that SLMC could not stand on its own feet in the last election and it may be the case in the future elections too unless the party leadership revives its stand and policies. Therefore, there is a consensus view among many analysts that it is fair to give one of the two national list seats given to the SLMC candidates to a UNP Muslim national list candidate.

When we look at the performance of SLMC when it contested in its own symbol in the past parliamentary elections since 1989, it was at its peak in 1994 and secured 7 seats. In 1989, 2001 and 2004 parliamentary elections also the party contested in its own symbol and secured 4 seats, 5 seats and 5 seats respectively. Although the Muslims were about 8% of the total population in Sri Lanka, the party could win only about 2% of the total votes in 2004.

Possible causes for the defeat

There is a consensus view among many observers that SLMC did not achieve anything concretely for the benefit of its voters rather than for a small group of people who were very close to the party leader and its key members. The burning issues facing the Muslim community continue to exist even after nearly three decades of the existence of the party. It is also alleged that the voters could not hear any clear statements about the party’s policies towards these issues and the community aspirations. Rather, the election campaign meetings were based on character assassination of the opposite candidates, the number of seats and portfolios, national list MPs, pathetic stories about the candidates’ past and so on. It is the view of many voters that the party should have had a credible election manifesto which could have had some positive impact on the voters.

Further, more importantly, the election campaigns by the SLMC splinter groups have damaged the party considerably. For example, SLMC lost about 50,000 votes to its splinter groups in Digamadulla district.

Another allegation against the party was that it did not honour a number of promises given to the voters in the election campaigns and the opportunistic stand taken by it in the past. For example, the party waited until the eleventh hour even after the postal votes were cast to support Maithripala Sirisena in the last presidential election. Further, it could not do anything acceptable to the community about the atrocities committed by the racist elements against the Muslims in the past when they were clinging to the ruling parties.

Furthermore, there are allegations about the way the candidates and national list MPs are selected by its leadership. It is learned that the party could not finalise its national list MPs even after about a month has lapsed from the date of the parliamentary election when all other parties have already finalised weeks ago. It is also learned that a severe in-fighting is going on within the party activists in sharing the two national list MPs gained from the UNP list. As a result, the appointments made so far as national list MPs in respect of SLMC is just to settle the problem temporarily until a final decision is made by the party leader. Now the two temporary national list MP appointees are the brother, and friend of SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem.

Another common allegation among many SLMC supporters is that the people did not have easy access to meet the party leader in the past several years since he was elected from another electoral district and representing that district unlike the late leader MHM Ashraff who hailed from the Muslim majority Ampara district in the Eastern Province.

Further, many Muslims think that some of the practices and behaviour of the SLMC candidates and the leader were against the basic Islamic principles although it was claimed that the party would follow the teachings of Quran and Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) in its activities.

The SLMC Splinter Groups

In the last parliamentary election, not only SLMC but also its splinter groups must have learned a good lesson. For example, All Ceylon Makkal Congress (ACMC) could not secure a seat in Muslim majority Digamadulla district ; similarly National Congress leader lost the election in the district. ACMC secured four seats in the districts where it contested in the UNP symbol. It is noteworthy that ACMC lost in Digamadulla electoral district where it contested in its own symbol peacock. Unless SLMC and its splinter groups come together and unite, I believe, there may not be a better future to the Muslim political parties in Sri Lanka.

The Tamil-Muslim relationship

Now the major Tamil parties (including up-country) have realised that they can work closely with the national parties and solve the problems facing the Tamil communities amicably. This is an opportunity for the Muslim politicians too to explore the possibility of joining hand with the Tamil parties to solve the common issues facing both the communities. For this to happen, both the communities and their leaders should forget their past bitter feelings and suspicions. The Tamils need to forget the bitter experience caused by the Muslim politicians since 1950s from the time they contested in Federal Party to the present SLMC time. Similarly, the Muslims must forget the bitter experience caused by the Tamil politicians from Ponnambalam Ramanathan to Velupillai Prabhakaran, to work on a common platform. First, they should develop mutual understanding and build their trust and relationship. The way the two communities’ political leaders recently settled the conflict arose with regards to the position of Chief Minister of Easter Provincial Council amicably is a very good starting point for this. Uniting two distinguished communities in this 21st century may be unrealistic. But they can at least develop understanding and build their trust and relationship as minorities to fulfil common aspirations of the Tamil speaking peoples. This can only happen by recognising each other’s separate identity, fundamental rights and aspirations and respecting each other. Like there are commonalities between all Sri Lankans, there are specific commonalities between the Tamils and Muslims. For example, the language they speak, some cultural norms they follow and living in the neighbourhoods in the Eastern and Northern provinces. These commonalities can be used as foundation to develop good undertaking and build trust and relationships. This will help solve common burning issues facing the two communities.

Need change within SLMC?

There is a firm believe among many SLMC activists that the decision-making process needs to be democratised in respect of appointment of office bearers including the position of the party leader, selecting candidates for elections, selecting national list MPs and so on. If the change in the process could be made, it may also pave the way for the SLMC splinter group leaders and members to come back and unite under one umbrella party. This will also warrant change in its party constitution. The leadership contest needs to be democratised and the opportunities must be given to other aspirants too to contest the position. The leader should be elected by secret ballot by the party members island wide. Nearly 15-year tenure of the current leader of the party is too long as many party activists and common man think.

There is a common believe among many Muslims that some party activists left SLMC and formed their own parties since they could not resist the leadership, their disagreement to the selection process of the leader, and the disagreement to some decisions taken by the current leadership which were against their wishes and not in the best interest of the party.

A radical change within the party and to its constitution may also pave the way for the founder members of the party to come back including intellectuals, professionals and academics and work for the party and common cause. This may also help expand the Muslims’ future representation countrywide. For example, there is no Muslim representation at all from Southern Province in the parliament from any of the parties now.

Alternatively, as the second option for the Muslim politicians to unite, they can come under one united Muslim front, even if each splinter group wants to keep their party and symbol, to contest the future elections under one symbol like TNA. This may reduce their dependence on the major political parties and enhance their bargaining power even if they want to bargain for portfolios and high profile positions. There may be obstacles for such a move from the elements that have vested interest in dividing the Muslims. The success of uniting the Muslims depends on how they overcome the obstacles. In addition, the parties should have clear vision and objectives for the community and strategies, policies and programmes to achieve them.

If they can unite, it may be possible to restore the identity and symbol of the parties which have been faded in the last general election. Then the parties will not need to embrace the symbol and policies of other parties for the sake of winning the contests in the future elections. This will rebuild the trust of the Muslims which have been lost considerably now. This will also clear the bad image the Sinhala leadership may have about SLMC and its splinter groups that they can be bought over for portfolios and positions anytime and, therefore, they do not need to take them serious.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    Hakeem is cleverer than this guy Siddeek. That way he got Sinhala votes. What matters is entering parliament not party symbols. Still cleverer is Ranil. He got ALL the Muslim votes to Aliya this way and made 1 1 6 UNP.

    Now being clever is not being wise. Although the word Muslim has 6 letters today majority of Sinhalese refer to them in 4 letter words.

    Soma

  • 5
    2

    Dr. MYM Siddeek

    RE: Devastating Defeat For Sri Lanka Muslim Congress

    The Muslims are maturing.The election results show that.

    The Tamils are maturing. The election results show that as well

    The Americans have matured and elected Obama in 2008.

    Will the Sinhala Buddhists of Sri Lanka, who are Paras from India, like everybody else, except the Native Veddah Aethho, based on the DNA in their bodies, brainwashed in Mahawansa, as well mature in due time?

    MaRa MaRa Chatu MaRa and his cronies, made a calculated bet that the Sinhala Buddhists have not matured, and they lost.

    Need to keep singing the Jaya Mangala Gatha in the original Pali to get rid of Mara, MaRa and his cronies.

    PS. Is there any chance of reforming the Wahhabis, who follow Iblis, Satan Shaitan, Devil, Lucifer and Mara?

    ISIS follows Iblis and the Wahhabis.

    • 0
      4

      Hey Amarasiri the lier,

      What DNA evidence. Oh don’t talk about things you don’t know.

      • 2
        0

        lipwe

        The Sinhala, Tamils and others are Paras, Paradeshis, in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho.

        “…both Tamils and Sinhalese clusters were affiliated with Indian subcontinent populations than Vedda people who are believed to be the native population of the island of Sri Lanka.”

        Mitochondrial DNA history of Sri Lankan ethnic people: their relations within the island and with the Indian subcontinental populations
        Journal of Human Genetics (2014) 59, 28–36; doi:10.1038/jhg.2013.112; published online 7 November 2013

        http://www.nature.com/jhg/journal/v59/n1/full/jhg2013112a.html

        Abstract
        Located only a short distance off the southernmost shore of the Greater Indian subcontinent, the island of Sri Lanka has long been inhabited by various ethnic populations. Mainly comprising the Vedda, Sinhalese (Up- and Low-country) and Tamil (Sri Lankan and Indian); their history of settlements on the island and the biological relationships among them have remained obscure. It has been hypothesized that the Vedda was probably the earliest inhabitants of the area, followed by Sinhalese and Tamil from the Indian mainland. This study, in which 271 individuals, representing the Sri Lankan ethnic populations mentioned, were typed for their mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) hypervariable segment 1 (HVS-1) and part of hypervariable segment 2 (HVS-2), provides implications for their settlement history on the island. From the phylogenetic, principal coordinate and analysis of molecular variance results, the Vedda occupied a position separated from all other ethnic people of the island, who formed relatively close affiliations among themselves, suggesting a separate origin of the former. The haplotypes and analysis of molecular variance revealed that Vedda people’s mitochondrial sequences are more related to the Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Tamils’ than the Indian Tamils’ sequences. MtDNA haplogroup analysis revealed that several West Eurasian haplogroups as well as Indian-specific mtDNA clades were found amongst the Sri Lankan populations. Through a comparison with the mtDNA HVS-1 and part of HVS-2 of Indian database, both Tamils and Sinhalese clusters were affiliated with Indian subcontinent populations than Vedda people who are believed to be the native population of the island of Sri Lanka.

  • 4
    1

    It was well known that Muslims should vote for the mainstream UNFG since any other strategy would allow room for the racist UPFA to gain control.

    It is no longer feasible for small parties like the SLMC to compete at National level as witnessed by the debacle faced by the JVP and DF. Since UPFA has chosen the racist card there is no other choice left for the Muslims other than the UNFG.

  • 11
    0

    “Devastating Defeat For Sri Lanka Muslim Congress”;

    Maybe true: But the fact is that it is only a total defeat for the muslim community at large. Never a defeat for the so-called muslim ‘leaders’ masquerading as champions of the communitys interests. Just look, under the so-called National government, all the big rougues are back in -Fuckeem, Bathdeen, Paisa, Pitbullah, Powsie et-al. For the next five years at least, they will make enough money to secure themselves and their families, all at the expense of the community they are supposed to represent. Each election time, they will pole vault and criss-cross party lines to gain maximum advantage for themselves whatever the consequences to the community. Eventually, the community may suffer, but these shameless rougues certainly will not. The muslims should totally reject communal politics and instead align with the mainframe parties who they think will be beneficial to the country at large. Supporting communal politics will only give these crooks an opportunity to thrive like flies on a festering sore.

    • 3
      2

      I think ethnic groups can only vote mainstream once the constitution is changed to remove ‘buddhism as having foremost place’ – until then voting mainstream is just voting for Buddhist majoritarians.

    • 3
      1

      Shahabdeen

      Religion is the Opium of the masses…Karl Marx

      Examples are many, including Sri Lanka.

      The Leaders know it, and make sure of it.

      Muslims, Sinhala Buddhists are no different.

      They will promise Nirvanna, Nibbana and Heaven, like politicians, and will not deliver.

  • 4
    0

    “Food for Thought”. All leaders must be united under national government for good governance, economic development and minority issues.

  • 1
    2

    I am not the least bit surprised at the demise of the SLMC. The funds generated by the local Muslims and funds received from abroad, especially Saudi Arabia, are simply squandered to the benefit of no one except the elite leaders who appear to bend over backwards to appease the Saudi Wahhabis at the expense of the local Muslims:-
    1)No form of protest when young Rizana Nafeek, presumed innocent by international forensic experts, was cruelly convicted regardless and beheaded.
    2)No form of protest at the cruel mistreatment and torture of Sri Lankan maids, many of them young Muslim women and a few Sinhalese, lest they upset the Saudis.
    3)No attempt to alleviate the hardship suffered by sections of the Muslim community but every attempt to:-
    a)Introduce cruel Shariah Laws by stealth
    b)Introduce the Saudi dress code and other restrictive practices such as divorce settlement laws that affect women unfairly.
    c)Education of Muslim children not following the standard curriculum and out of kilter to all others that has no benefit to further higher education or employment.
    d)No attempt whatsoever to assimilate with the rest of the population. E.g. The Kandy Perahera or Independence Day celebrations, loads of tourists, Christians, Hindus and all races join in but the Muslims conspicuously do not participate. A national flag has never been seen flown from a mosque.
    e)Millions spent on trying to replicate Arabian cities. E.g. In Kattankudy (birthplace of SLMC) the roadside is abound with palm trees and sadly almost all of them are now dead as the Sri Lankan climate is not conducive.
    f)The inhuman way animals are slaughtered for consumption to make them Halal.
    g)Mosques being built without any demand for them and in areas, practically empty. I believe in Kattankudy (birthplace of SLMC) alone there are 58 mosques catering to a Muslim male adult population of a few thousand.

    A separate political party for the Muslims is a new phenomenon thought up in the late 80’s when funds began to filter from the Middle-East but totally redundant as any winners would have to align with the ruling party to gain anything. They looked woefully opportunistic and deliberately and unnecessarily alienated the Muslims from the Tamils, causing untold misery as much of the areas in the North and North-East were inhabited harmoniously by both communities for centuries, joined by a common language.

    • 2
      0

      Sylvia Haik and Dr. MYM Siddeek

      “1)No form of protest when young Rizana Nafeek, presumed innocent by international forensic experts, was cruelly convicted regardless and beheaded. “
      1. Because of Iblis Theology and “Justice”

      ISIS and their Wahabi Agenda
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaxgD2HxV2M

      Published on Jun 20, 2014

      Militant group the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (ISIS) has seized large parts of northern Iraq, including the city of Mosul and Tikrit, unleashing wave instability in the region. Currently, nearly 40 Indian workers are believed to be held hostage in Mosul.

      In part-one of a two-part interview, Manjeet Kripalani, Executive Director of Gateway House, interviews Professor M.D. Nalapat, Director of Geopolitics at Manipal University, about the rise of ISIS and their Wahabi agenda.

      “2)No form of protest at the cruel mistreatment and torture of Sri Lankan maids, many of them young Muslim women and a few Sinhalese, lest they upset the Saudis.”

      Because Brainwashed by Iblis Following Wahhabis.

      “3)No attempt to alleviate the hardship suffered by sections of the Muslim community but every attempt to:-

      “a)Introduce cruel Shariah Laws by stealth “

      Because Brainwashed by Iblis Following Wahhabis.

      “b)Introduce the Saudi dress code and other restrictive practices such as divorce settlement laws that affect women unfairly. “

      Because Brainwashed by Iblis Following Wahhabis.

      “c)Education of Muslim children not following the standard curriculum and out of kilter to all others that has no benefit to further higher education or employment. “

      Because Brainwashed by Iblis Following Wahhabis.

      “d)No attempt whatsoever to assimilate with the rest of the population. E.g. The Kandy Perahera or Independence Day celebrations, loads of tourists, Christians, Hindus and all races join in but the Muslims conspicuously do not participate. “

      Because Brainwashed by Iblis Following Wahhabis.

      “A national flag has never been seen flown from a mosque.”

      Because Brainwashed by Iblis Following Wahhabis.

      ” e)Millions spent on trying to replicate Arabian cities. E.g. In Kattankudy (birthplace of SLMC) the roadside is abound with palm trees and sadly almost all of them are now dead as the Sri Lankan climate is not conducive. “

      Because Brainwashed by Iblis Following Wahhabis.

      “f)The inhuman way animals are slaughtered for consumption to make them Halal.”

      Because Brainwashed by Iblis Following Wahhabis.

      ” g)Mosques being built without any demand for them and in areas, practically empty. I believe in Kattankudy (birthplace of SLMC) alone there are 58 mosques catering to a Muslim male adult population of a few thousand.”

      Because Brainwashed by Iblis Following Wahhabis.

  • 4
    0

    It is my humble opinion that we do not need to have a special Muslim political party like SLMC. It has been using religion for political game. What they have done for nation. Or our community. Where have been when mosques were attacked by BBS

  • 2
    0

    The enlightened Muslims have joined the mainstream while the SLMC had long outlived it’s usefulness, if ever there was any.

  • 1
    0

    Baloons, Balloons, Cheap, Cheap, Green Ones, Black Ones, Come On All Ye Muslims, Buy One, Get One Free. Tomorrow I Bring More Colours, Red Ones, Blue Ones, Yellow Ones. Just Close Your Eyes And Buy From Me.

  • 2
    0

    I agree with most of the sentiments expressed by my friend Dr.Siddek. To be honest the muslins of Sri Lanka don’t need a community/ethnic base party such as SLMC. This was realised by the late leader MHM Ashraff and he already registered new party before his tragic death.I even heard him speaking at a meeting that the SLMC as party will be replaced by NUA by 2010.RH kept this party in order to get him self elected along with his cronies.None of them are in interested in Muslims population. Their only purpose is to safe guard their positions in power.

    The current SLMC and the so-called splinter group like ACMC will never come to gather because they both have completely different agendas.If RH has any guts he should contest next Pradhesha Shaba election on his own tree symbol and win. He will not do this again.He believes “he can fool all the the all the time” as long as he can stays in power.

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