23 July, 2019

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Elections 2015: The Stakes

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

The Sunday newspapers carried credible reports that the Presidential election would be held anytime after November this year, most probably in January 2015 while parliamentary elections would be held before the Sinhala and Tamil New Year 2015.  What this means is that over the coming year, the serious political participant or student of politics should think almost entirely in terms of three subjects:

(i) Sri Lanka’s external relations (the OHCHR probe, relations with the incoming Indian administration),

(ii) The Sri Lankan elections and

(iii) North –South or Tamil-Sinhala relations in the light of (i) & (ii).

The crisis in Sri Lanka’s external relations can be successfully addressed only if there is a change for the better in the political behaviour of the regime, which may depend on a change in regime composition. If there is no change for the better, we may expect a dramatic denouement along the lines of what I would term ‘1987 Plus’.

Simply out, the full and expeditious implementation of the 13th amendment would enable us to secure the support of the new Indian administration and neutralise one front. We could then secure the support of India to face and blunt the buzz saw of the international inquiry originating on the Western front. The 13th amendment is the smallest price we have to pay. The window for a settlement based on the implementation of 13 A won’t remain open for much longer. If we do not implement it fully and expeditiously, if the Sinhala hardliners prevent it, the next stop will be externally-driven federalization or worse. If we alienate the incoming Indian administration Sri Lanka will be caught on two fronts. An economic squeeze and legal pressures from the west and a push on Tamil autonomy or more from India will mean a siege that Sri Lanka cannot sustainably resist.

President Rajapaksa knows much of this or intuits it, despite the sunshine stories given to him by his clan and courtiers. Hence the likely timetable for elections. The President is attempting to outrun the external pressures. He obviously does not wish to run for re-election with an economic squeeze in place. Therefore the Presidential election will probably be held before March 2015, when the OHCHR is to report in writing to the UN HRC about the progress of the 2014 resolution, but after November 2014, when he passes the four year mark.

The Opposition which seeks to capitalise on mass disaffection in the wake of sanctions will be unable to simply because the economic crunch will follow, not precede the crucial election.

If the crisis in Sri Lanka’s external relations is not to cause a crash in Sri Lanka’s economy and the living standards of the citizenry, the regime’s policies on the Tamils, India, human rights, good governance and accountability will have to change. The LLRC’s recommendations on reconciliation and limited accountability, as well as the 13th amendment, must be implemented within compressed time frames.

The elections of 2015 and the run-up to them can be utilised to unfreeze the situation, prise open political space, catalyse reform and improve regime behaviour.  This requires certain shifts in the Opposition, which can only be undertaken by the Opposition itself.

The most crucial data in preparing for the election came in a poll by the local affiliate of an international polling giant commissioned by the LBO, published in the LMD and reproduced in the Daily FT.  The data revealed that 95% of the citizenry regard the West as having double standards on human rights and 85% stand opposed to any external inquiry into Sri Lanka’s human rights record. This is far in excess of the percentage of Sinhala Buddhists in the island.

It is huge patriotic-nationalist ocean of opinion that the regime frolics in but has proven unable to fully utilise because of its poor performance in Geneva over the past three years. However, the enormously widespread nature of anti-external interventionist sentiment among the citizenry almost certainly puts paid to the prospect of a win by the UNP as it stands, given that its spokesperson Mr Lakshman Kiriella called upon Sri Lanka to cooperate with the OHCHR probe.

If Ranil Wickremesinghe or Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga is the Opposition candidate, the margin of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s victory— the gap between Mahinda and either Ranil or CBK— will be roughly equivalent or even more than the percentage of the vote that either of them obtain. Right now the gap between Ranil’s UNP and Mahinda’s UPFA is larger than the percentage that the UNP has obtained.

While there is considerable disaffection within the SLFP at the glass ceiling imposed by the rigidification of clan-based rule, this disaffection is limited to the party’s barons; the old guard whose upward mobility has been unfairly blocked. Just as their grievances are, these barons cannot take their vote bases away from Mahinda Rajapaksa and switch them over to Chandrika Kumaratunga.

There is another quite salient factor which is swept under the rug by the pro-Chandrika ideologues and ‘intellectuals’.  In her heyday CBK ran against and beat two of the weakest candidates the UNP ever put up: Mrs Srima Dissanayake who was not even a UNP member when she was pressed into service after the assassination of her husband Gamini Dissanayake by the Tigers (1994) and the incomparable Mr Wickremesinghe (1999). Even in her political prime — which is way past her— CBK never climbed into the ring with a candidate weighing in with as historic an achievement and as an organic a mass appeal as Mahinda Rajapaksa.

As for a Buddhist monk as an opponent of Mahinda Rajapaksa, the less said the better.

What happens if the Opposition gets it wrong and fields any one of these three non-starters against Mahinda? This brings us to the question: What is really at stake at this election? I submit that it is the margin of victory. Mahinda Rajapaksa will most probably win the upcoming presidential election and it is logical that he would do so. If the country gave two terms to CBK who signally failed to overcome the main challenge facing the nation, it is almost certain to give a third term to Mahinda Rajapaksa who did so. Personally I have no problem with that outcome, except that Mahinda Rajapaksa today is part of a package or a matrix— a ruling clan. To me Mahinda Rajapaksa (singular) is not the problem and is not even a problem— but The Rajapaksas (plural) are, and the perpetuation of their rule is.

If Mahinda wins by a handsome margin, he will in all probability purge the SLFP of dissident or suspected dissident elements, give nomination to those who are loyal to the Rajapaksa clan, thereby remaking the SLFP in the Rajapaksa image in a manner that secures the succession, and have a snap parliamentary election capitalising on the momentum of his own win.  The ruling clan will secure a greater grip on the legislature than it has today.

If Ranil or CBK has been the Opposition candidate, the UNP’s defeat at the Presidential election will reduce its parliamentary representation by half the current, wholly inadequate number.

These facts, together with the greater grip that the ruling clan and its most hawkish member will have on the President himself, will almost certainly thwart the chances for re-opening of space and democratic reform. This means that the Sri Lankan state will be far less flexible, far more brittle and far less smartly resistant to external pressures from all quarters. The State will splinter at its North-Eastern periphery and the country will be divided. Repression and anarchy will war with each other in the South.

Thus the stakes cannot be higher than those at the coming elections of 2015. What is needed to prevent a catastrophe is a Hassan Rowhani type Opposition candidacy: a moderate patriot/nationalist i.e. a liberal or progressive Sinhala Buddhist.

Even today, only that subset of the Opposition with a patriotic profile and track record showed growth at the recently concluded provincial election: Sarath Fonseka’s DP, the JVP and Sajith Premadasa in Tissamaharama/Hambantota.

Though they will be very difficult to withstand, economic sanctions won’t bring the desired result for the West. In Iran it did because there was an election down the road. In Sri Lanka, a regime re-legitimised by electoral victories will crush economically driven street protests with an iron fist, on the pretext of preventing externally motivated regime change ( what used to be called ‘ destabilisation’ in the 1970s and ’80s).

The only thing that’s work to improve rather than worsen the situation is not economic sanctions but electoral competition.

What analysts and commentators have failed to grasp is that the provincial council results show something new in Sri Lanka’s political landscape: for the first time, the Opposition is multi-polar.  To re-state it, the overall national situation is not dictatorial but uni-polar (‘one-party dominance’), while the Opposition has turned multi-polar. The reasons for national uni-polarity and Oppositional multi-polarity are the same—the electoral implosion of the opposition under the leadership of Ranil Wickremesinghe. If (a) the Opposition goes into the 2015 elections under the very leader who has caused the drastic degeneration of the UNP and the splintering of the opposition, or (b) if it fields Chandrika whom the UNP voters will not cast their ballots for and UNP grassroots workers will not work for, the regime and its oligarchic character will be strengthened at the two elections. If so the country will have a crash landing.

Let me take the bull by the horns. Who would be a Hassan Rowhani type candidate? President Rajapaksa retains the option of fully re-enfranchising Sarath Fonseka and tempting him into a ‘wild card’ candidacy or keeping him in the grey zone. In any case, Gen. Fonseka is hardly a moderate, liberal or progressive Sinhala Buddhist. Therefore I can think of only three possibilities:  Sajith Premadasa (with Karu Jayasuriya as No 2), Karu Jayasuriya (with Sajith Premadasa as No 2), and Anura Kumara Dissanayake.

If Sajith and Karu deadlock each other and Ranil emerges the candidate with either one in support, then the country would be better served by rallying round an out-of-the box presidential candidacy from the Left Opposition: Anura Kumara Dissanayake. I regard him as a far more serious moral, ethical and ideological challenge to the Rajapaksa Raj, than Ranil, CBK or Reverend Sobitha.

If and only if there is a Hassan Rowhani-type candidacy, Mahinda will have a real race on his hands. If his margin of victory is whittled down, the dominoes will begin to fall at the parliamentary election. The two-thirds majority will be lost, opening the way for the reintroduction of the independent commissions and control of finances. The oligarchy can be dismantled through ‘salami tactics’. The resultant return of rationality and realism will resolve the crisis in Sri Lanka’s relations with its neighbours and the world.

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Latest comments

  • 1
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    Dayan knows very well that Tamils accept 13A only as a starter to their ‘aspirations’; he knows that Tamil goal is Eelam. But 13A remain Dayan’s pet project. To get 13A implemented, Dayan has been trying to inculcate all types of fear psychosis on Sinhalas and the government since before the end of war. So much so, Sri Lanka and MR and his government would have been finished by now had he been right. Thanks to MR strategies, Sri Lanka is moving ahead in spite of many a short coming. Anyway Dayan has not only confused many but even made a number of enemies promoting 13A from all sorts of angles.

    Today, except Dayan, none are naïve enough to believe implementation of the 13A is the answer to neo cons finger pointing.

  • 2
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    I agree that at least 90% of Sinhala Buddhists are dead against the West and 50% of others consider the west is hypocritical. Both Ranil and Chandrika are proven admires of the failed neo-con policies of the west.

    But Ranil will be the UNP candidate next time around. Sajith will back him to the hilt hoping to be the leader aftermath Ranil’s defeat. JVP will field Anura as their candidate, but he can never ever be the common candidate. SF will be re-enfranchised and he will follow suit. If this become the trend, Dayan’s forecast will not be far out: MR will win with a majority of more than the total UNP vote bank.

    It is amazing however, DJ doesn’t realize MR is nothing without ‘Mahinda Chintana’ and ‘Mahinda Chintana is primarily a formulation by nationalists. Daya should know that it is ‘the Rajapaksas (plural)’ that keeps his government steady and his popular projects moving.

    Mahinda is an astute politician if not a political animal. He sees all things positive and negative. However much SLFP old guards dislike MR, they know very well that they have become nothing, and they’re no vote pullers, and they have to ride a piggyback on MR if they want to get elected as MPs at the next parliamentary elections.

    CBK had become popular by default. Her lucky, plucky and glory days are over. She’s a dead horse that can only neigh at times.

    As Dayans says, the least said about ven Sobitha is the better. He has been over animated by that NGOs, evangelists and professori David. Sobitha has been looking for a last hoorah in the twilight hours of his life. I always said, Sobitha project is a nonstarter. Pity, Ven Sobitha doesn’t realize, he should concentrate with his mediations and not politics.

    I don’t know what DJ means by ‘if Mahinda wins by a handsome margin.’ If Dayan means all the opposition with different agenda is in one boat against MR, then MR will not have a big margin? But with the nearest rival he’ll have massive margin.

    MR will definitely purge Chandrika backers of the SLFP before the next parliamentary elections. He has said so indirectly. I think that’s a must for the wellbeing of his new government.

    Not just Dayan even a primary school child knows that neo cons are out to change the regime or get Rajapakses fixed for war crimes or both. I believe shameless neo cons will learn a lesson.

    • 2
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      Banda,

      You say in your first para…….. “I agree that at least 90% of Sinhala Buddhists are dead against the West and 50% of others consider the west is hypocritical. Both Ranil and Chandrika are proven admires of the failed neo-con policies of the west.”……..

      But in reality isn’t it MR who is more West than Ranil and Chandrika in Practicle development of Sri Lanka…….

      Importing Lamborghinis and super luxury cars and SUVs to Sri lanka and having Night Races,bringing in foreign poodles, parrots, liquor etc, while building Drug, cocain, ethenol and casino empires, tourism and family oligarchs as economic developments which are interlinked to Western capitalist agendas and not the socialist economies. Also MR’s two brothers are duel US/ Sri Lankan citizens.

      Now MR while acting as anti Western to outside population is really more than Western inside. People could no longer be deceived.

      You say…….”However much SLFP old guards dislike MR, they know very well that they have become nothing, and they’re no vote pullers, and they have to ride a piggyback on MR if they want to get elected as MPs at the next parliamentary elections”……..

      Who are SLFP old guards. They are Maithripala Sirisena, D.M Jayaratne,Lakshman Yapa,Anura Yapa, Susil Premajayantha,Earl Gunasekera and few others who are currently unhappy with the way Rajapakses governing.If MR purge them, they will be very happy to join Chandrika faction and will topple Rajapakses.

      All the rest of cabinet minisers are Mere IMPORTS AND FROM OTHER COALITION PARTIES WHO COULD JUMP OVER THE FENCE WHEN EVER THEY FEEL LIKE AND THEY WILL WHEN TIME COMES.

      Therefore who is rellay UPFA…….UPFA is mere four Rajapakse brothers who control 90% of Sri Lanka’s economy, budget, capital markets,all contracts,defense,police, judiciary, media, imports and development.

      Therefore UPFA is mere four Rajapakse brothers who have come to power with only 20% of country’s Southern population…..namely Hambanthota, Matara, Thangalla and Tissa districts. Nothing else. Gampaha and Kelaniya are not Rajapakse home towns and could change hands overnight to Attanagalla’s Chandrika faction if she contest next Presidential elections.

      You say…….”CBK had become popular by default. Her lucky, plucky and glory days are over. She’s a dead horse that can only neigh at times”…

      This is what Rajapakses fear most.Read the folowing web.

      http://www.ceylontoday.lk/16-45300-news-detail-govt-preparing-list-of-chandrikas-slfp-buddies.html

      At the moment Pres.Rajapakse has no visible support from Tamil and Muslim communities and he knows about it. Also his Sinhala vote base is fast depleting.

      It is insane to think the opposition parties will submit their own candidates for next Presidential elections. They are not that stupid. It will be like last Pres. Election as Gen.SF as common candidate.

      Now all the opposition parties are united and will submit a common Pres. candidate who will be Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge. Nobody else.

      Yes, the come back kid “Bandit Queen” “Chaura Rejina” will make Rajapakses, Dr.Dayan and you shiver and Fear most ad get back her father’s grand old SLFP from hooligans.

      MR will try to activate his “THUG ARMY” and the “THREE WHEEL TAXI ARMY” while using Police and Judiciary for cover up like last Hambanthota fiasco, but I think this time all Opposition parties are prepared for it.

      MR in hot seat and his days could be numbered.

      • 1
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        Jayantha,
        If things are as you say, then Eelam Separatists, Evangelists, Noe Con agents and their NGO parasites are on the winning streak. I have written my opinion. You wrote yours. We can write more in time to come.

        Last time, my predictions were proved correct and you’re wrong. You may have read mine in ‘the Leader’, ‘transcurrents and etc. Where was your under what name?

        This time I say to you a long way ahead; be ready with your reasons and excuses when results are declared at the end of the coming up Presidential elections.

        • 1
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          Banda,

          Yes, I know everything how Pres. Rajapakse won last Presidential election. Please read following how he won last Pres. Elections.

          First, I have been advocating Madam CBK as the best suitable opposition candidate for next Presidential elections after doing intensive study and research for the last two years.

          Yes, there is no other candidate to match Madam CBK as a joint opposition candidate for next Presidential Elections. Also there’s a strong possibility that she herself is mentally and physically prepared to face Rajapakses who are her arch enemies.

          It is Rajapakses themselves who are most fearful of her candidacy.

          Watch the following Viedos.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ByE3W4NKMA
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vb0unIzzR4
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEfZEpcAczI

          Also there are ample videos of her in Youtube and her views on Rajapakses.

          I hope all the opposition parties have vision and will to Nominate and to protect Madam CBK for next Presidential elections.

          Therefore I have jot down some criteria which Madam CBK has to give attention before she decide to contest for next presidential election.

          Pres.Rajapakse will use all the following tricks,tactics, thuggery, funds, bribery and power to win Next Presidential elections.

          All government and country’s Resources, manpower, funds etc,etc, all the loop holes and tricks available under 18th Amendment, from Voters to the voting center and to the final ballet coun down, all media,advertising, posters, cut outs etc,etc, giving bribes, gifts and promotions to lure votes, using all the Govt.parliament members, provincial counsil members, all Govt.corporations and department heads, all clergy, all school children,school teachers and other Government servents and will use all Rajapakse thugs to intimidate opposition voters, using all media TV, Radio and press, all Sri Lankan foreign Diplomats and Foreign ministry, all Judiciary, Police, Supreme court, election commission, all the funds available from National Budget, all youth movements such as Tharunayata Hetak,Divineguma receipients, Public and private banks, enterprises and donors etc,etc.and finally using over 450,000 Police and Armed forces to lure votes for Pres.Rajapakse.

          Madam CBK or any other Presidential candidate who plan to contest should be able to face all the above challenges to win next Presidential elections.

          Also Madam CBK should remember, during Last PC elections,just one Government UPFA Western Provincial candidate spent a whopping ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE MILLION RUPEES (1,125 Million rupees)during last PC election….. Just one Rajapakse Candidate.

          Just imagine how much President Rajapakse and his brothers and his Family Oligarch will spend for next Presidential elections is anybody’s guess…………. It’s Un-imaginable.

          Therefore If Madam Chandrika is hoping to contest for next Presidential elections, she has to be prepared to face all the above challenges.

          Also she has to find out why Pres.Rajapakse suddenly pardoned and released the ten Criminal thugs who attacked Chandra Leka and Rukantha. The ten who were Madam Chandrika’s PSDs during her reign, who were suddenly released from prison by Pres. Rajapakse two weeks ago. May be a conspiracy in waiting.

          Also Madam Chandrika should know what happened to Gen.Sarath Fonseka during the last Presidential ballet counting, where Gen.SF was kept under house arrest at Hotel Cinemon Lake side.
          Madam CBK should be prepared for any eventuality.

          Also Madam Chandrika should understand how Election commissioner was kept under house arrest dring the last Presidential election ballot counting, and the only time we herd about “Computer Jilmart).

          Madam Chandrika or who ever planning to challenge Pres. Rajapakse in next Pres. Election should find answers to above before deciding to contest next Presidential elections.

          Awaiting comments.
          .

          Yes, there is no other choice to match Madam CBK as joint opposition candidate for next Presidential Election. Also there’s a strong possibility that she herself is mentally and physically fit to face Rajapakses who are her arch enemies.

          It is Rajapakses themselves who are most fearful of her candidacy.

          Watch the following Viedos.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ByE3W4NKMA
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vb0unIzzR4
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEfZEpcAczI

          Also there are ample videos of her in Youtube about her views on Rajapakses.

          I hope all the opposition parties have vision to Nominate and protect Madam CBK for next Presidential election.

          Pres.Rajapakse will use all the following tricks, thuggery, funds, bribery and power to win Next Presidential election.

          All government and country’s Resources, manpower, funds etc,etc, all the loop holes and tricks available, from Voters to the voting center to the final ballet coun down, all media,advertising, posters, cut outs etc,etc, giving bribes, gifts and promotions to lure votes, using all the Govt.parliament members, provincial counsil members, all Govt.corporations and department heads, all clergy, all school children,school teachers and all Rajapakse thugs to intimidate opposition voters, using all media TV, Radio and press, all Sri Lankan foreign Diplomats and Foreign ministry, all Judiciary, Police and election commission, all the funds available etc,etc.

          Also Madam CBK should remember, during Last PC election,just one UPFA Western Province candidate spent ONE THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FIVE MILLION RUPEES (1,125 Million rupees)….Just one Rajapakse Candidate………..

          Just imagine how much President Rajapakse and his brothers and his Family Oligarch will spend for next Presidential election…..Unimaginable.

          Therefore If Madam Chandrika is hoping to contest for next Presidential elections, she has to be prepared to face all the above challenges.

          Also she has to find out why Pres.Rajapakse suddenly pardoned the ten Criminal thugs who attacked Chandra Leka and Rukantha,the ten who were Madam Chandrika’s PSDs during her reign, who were suddenly released from prison by Pres. Rajapakse two weeks ago.

          Also Madam Chandrika should know what happened to Gen.Sarath Fonseka during the last Presidential ballet counting, where Gen.SF was kept under house arrest at Hotel Cinemon Lake side. Subsequently Gen.SF was Jailed for 2 1/2 years simply because he challenged Rajapakses for Presidentship. Madam CBK should be aware of this.

          Also Madam Chandrika should understand how Election commissioner was kept under house arrest dring the last Presidential election ballot counting.Also it was the first time we herd about “Computer Jilmart”

          Therefore Madam Chandrika or who ever planning to challenge Pres. Rajapakse during next Pres. Elections should find answers to all the above before deciding to contest for next Presidential elections.

          Yes, “Chaura Regina” will face her arch rival and make Sri Lanka a much more better place for everybody to live after winning the Pres.Elections.

          Also I finally say it is not the opposition parties or LTTE or TNA who are MR enemies, but it is his own brother Gotabaya Rajapakse who is his enemy number one. It is Gota who is creating all the trouble and making the down fall of Pres. Rajapakse.
          Gota is doing all the wrong moves that makes Pres.Rajapakse’s exit very quick.
          Take my word today and call me in one year to see if I am wrong.

          Awaiting comments.

  • 2
    0

    Mahinda Rajapaksa is part of the problem Rajapaksa clan. It is only the SLFP which can get rid of the Rajapaksa clan that is re-shaping party in their own image. It is unlikely to happen in the near future unless the people rejects the Rajapaksa clan,including Mahinda Rajapaksa.

  • 2
    0

    Wrong analysis by our great gymnast. It will be so much easier to get re elected in a world hating Burma or North koreanised Sri Lanka. When sanctions bite the great majority will want to bite the sudhoos after they have chewed over the Tamils and the Muslims.

    The emperor will do better with global scorn biting the back of the Sinhalese masses. The gymnist states clearly that he has no problem with the empor and only wants to serve him better. In many ways thinks like him counting mainly on the votes of the great majority relying solely on the ” Patriotic Parties”. The effect of the para demalu parties in his analysis does not come to play.

    Time for this gymnist to swing on trees instead.

  • 0
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  • 6
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    Dayan:

    Mahintha is caught between Devil & the Deep Blue sea and he has no escape route. I am sure his calculation now would be to cling on to power as long as possible and leave the country and claim Asylum in China. It is no longer a question of IF but WHEN.

    • 2
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      Right respecting groups of the nation would somewhat relieve their torments if MR and the rogue bunch should meet with the same punishments as given to the current NOrther korean leader´s uncle -Jang Song Thaek — Kim’s 67-year-old uncle and former second-in-command — and five aides were killed after being fed alive to 120 hunting dogs which had been starved for days.
      I believe rulers´ might have become their rights in manipulation the nation today – as it is the case with Northkoreans – our villagers have already been adapted to the system – (recally Northkoreans were asked to weep in a state funeral ceremony – they did it as they are made to do so). The reality of current day srilanka is also made believe to show the entire world, that MR is respected by majority folks, but people hate him and his administration so strong to this day.

  • 0
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    This man Mr.Jeyatilleka says implementing the 13th Amendment is the smallest price WE have to pay. I am emphasising on the word he used as “we”. Who are these “We” Mr.Jeyatilleka refers to. I suppose it is the “Sinhalese”. He is an educated ex-diplomat talking about racial supremacy. Therefore he impresses on the Tamils that there is only way out of subjugation is separation which I personally do not advocate but Indian style governance in Sri Lanka and which is the best solution for Sri Lanka for both communities to live peacefully. Why I do not support separation is that enmity would grow further between the two communities.

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