27 January, 2023

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Elections Are The Democratic Way To Maintain Political Stability

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s declaration that he is prepared to declare a state of national emergency and use the military to suppress any public protests for change of government would reflect the pressures he is under. The manner in which he has used the security forces to deal with the protest movement has been unexpected. His words and deeds are contradictory to what he has previously stood for as a five-time former prime minister. This is especially true in the case of the ethnic and religious minorities who have consistently voted for him and his party at elections. They have felt safer and more secure under his governments which always sought to reduce the heavy hand of state oppression in which national security is given pride of place. He has always promised them much though he has been unable to deliver on much of what he promised.

Notwithstanding the unfortunate rhetoric and actions of the present time the belief still persists that President Wickremesinghe is the best of the available options. Recent pronouncements of the president have reignited hope that he will address the problems of the religious and ethnic minorities. He has stated that he does not want to leave this problem to the next generation. He has said that he wants to resolve this intractable national problem by the country’s 75th independence anniversary on February 4 next year. The hope that the president will make a fresh effort to resolve their problems has led the main Tamil party, the TNA, to desist from voting against the budget which passed with a relatively small majority. Their spokesperson, M A Sumanthiran said in Parliament that due to the president reaching out to them, stretching out his hand, they did not vote against the budget although they disagreed with it.

It is not only in words that the president has reached out to the ethnic and religious minorities. Reports from the north and east indicate that the Maveer (Heroes) Day commemorations this year took place without incident. During the past two years scores of people were arrested and a massive presence of security forces blocked the people from participating in public events. On this occasion the security forces did not get involved in any attempt to stop the commemorations. University students distributed sweets and even cut a birthday cake to celebrate slain LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s birthday. The analogy that the president drew to himself being seen as a Hitler who exterminated ethnic and religious minorities is misplaced. The release of those held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for engaging in similar acts in the past would further contribute to the reconciliation process.

Worsening Crisis 

In this context, the president’s use of militaristic rhetoric can only be understood in relation to the growing economic crisis that shows no sign of abating. The anticipated IMF bailout package is at risk of getting indefinitely delayed. It was initially anticipated to come in September then in November but now January is being targeted. Japan’s top brokerage and investment bank, Nomura Holdings Inc, has warned that seven countries – Egypt, Romania, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Czech Republic, Pakistan and Hungary – are now at a high risk of currency crises. Sri Lanka is in third place on the table of risk. The next devaluation of the rupee could see another spike in inflation that will make the cost of living even more unbearable to the masses of people.

The president is on record as having said that the economic crisis will get worse before it improves. Both anecdotal and statistical evidence indicates that it is indeed worsening. University teachers at the University of Sabaragamuwa reported that attendance in their classes was down by at least a quarter. Students who come from other parts of the country are unable to afford the cost of meals and so they stay at home. A study by the Institute of Policy Studies has shown that about 4 percent of primary, 20 percent of secondary and 26 percent of collegiate students had dropped out of school in the estate sector, which is the worst affected. The future costs to the country of a less well educated population is incalculable and inhumane.

As it is the situation is a dire one for large swathes of the population. Research from the University of Peradeniya has revealed that close to half of Sri Lanka’s population, 42 percent (up from 14 percent in 2019) are living under the poverty line. Professor of Economics Wasantha Athukorala has said there is a dramatic increase in the poverty level of over three-hold across the past three years. In 2019, nearly 3 million people lived below the poverty line, but that number has increased to 9.6 million in October 2022. In these adverse circumstances stability in a polity can be ensured either through legitimacy or through force. It would be tragic if the latter is the choice that is made.

Electoral Solution 

President Wickremesinghe has been stressing the importance of political stability to achieve economic development. His recent statement that the security forces will be used to negate any unauthorized protest is a sign that the government expects the conditions of economic hardship to escalate. The general public who are experiencing extreme economic hardship are appalled at the manner in which those who committed acts of corruption and violence in the past are being overlooked because they belong to the ruling party and its cliques. The IMF has made anti-corruption a prerequisite to qualify for a bailout, calling for “Reducing corruption vulnerabilities through improving fiscal transparency and public financial management, introducing a stronger anti-corruption legal framework, and conducting an in-depth governance diagnostic, supported by IMF technical assistance.”

It is morally unacceptable even if politically pragmatic that the president is failing to take action against the wrongdoers because he needs their votes in parliament. As a start, the president needs to appoint a credible and independent national procurement committee to ensure that major economic contracts are undertaken without corruption. Second, the president needs to bite the bullet on elections. The country’s burning issues would be better accepted by the country and world at large if they are being dealt with by a statesman than by a dictator. Government that is based on the people’s consent constitutes the sum and substance of democracy. This consent is manifested through free and fair elections that are regularly held. Local government elections have been postponed for a year and are reaching their legal maximum in terms of postponement. These elections need to be held before March next year.

Elections will enable the people to express their views in a democratic manner to elect their representatives for the present. This would provide the government with guidance in terms of the decisions it is being called to take to revive the economy and place the burden in a manner that will be acceptable to the people. The provincial council elections have been postponed since 2018. Democratically elected provincial councils share in the burdens of governance. The devolution of power that took place under the 13th Amendment was meant to promote ethnic harmony in the country. The president who has taken the position that he is for a solution to the ethnic conflict should seriously consider conducting the provincial council elections together with the local government elections to minimize their financial costs. By doing so he will also gain legitimacy as a democratic statesman and not a dictator.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    8

    Yes, Jehan, what we want are the clichetic, “free & fair elections”. Nothing more, nothing less.
    .
    Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela (NIC 483111444V)

  • 14
    0

    Elections in Lanka are just Musical-Chairs ………… elections only decide which crook gets to sit ……. in the chair.

    Wish it was electric.

    • 12
      1

      Dear NF
      .
      You are saying here is the bitter truth.
      .
      This is indeed political musical chairs in action.
      .
      Our priority should be to save Sri Lanka.
      .
      I do not have the slightest regard for Jehan Perera, he is just another Dayan Jayathilaka.
      .
      Jehan Perera with all his journalistic know-how was a blind-staunch Mara supporter in the past. promoted Mara’s Fascist ideology to the hilt, without caring what happened to either his reputation or the country. Mara’s ways not only corrupted the public, but they also ended up leaving Sri Lanka in a pile of debt.
      .
      At the end of the day, they are looking out for their personal interest, kissing ass of the highest bidder. Journalists are a cheap lot. The perfect accomplices, along with yellow pets, for corrupt Politicians.
      .
      They are unprofessional selfish conniving bastards who do not have any scruples, morals, or professionalism. You can buy their conscience/allegiance for a few bucks and they will write anything under the sun to glorify the worst criminal if the price is right.

      • 5
        1

        HT
        You have been rather hard on him.
        The man has no ideology or political vision and has been in the NGO system for long, and it is a matter of survival.
        Journalism today, all over the world, is mostly a junk heap. Most journalists recycle garbage dished out by the establishment. Then there are the mercenaries who creatively target the ‘bad guys’ on behalf of the establishment.
        Try anything honest and serious and there is a lesson in Julian Assange for you.

  • 7
    0

    ranil should give a date for the local government erections sorry elections before march 2023.That will cooldown things a lot. Instead he talks about postponing it until the presidential elections are held.Is he thining that the people have so much patience to suffer and suffer without venting out their feeling s in a election.In a democracy this is the only way they can let out steam and they will get more and more angry when they see their democratic right to vote being taken away.

    • 0
      0

      Shankar
      The problem with this kind of democracy is that people vent their frustration by voting against someone elses rights or happiness.
      Someone who is suffering and frustrated just like you.
      That has been always our problem. Instead of voting for everyone’s progress we always misuse our votes.

  • 4
    1

    Elections Are The Democratic Way To Maintain Political Stability

    Democratic is by the people for the people from the people. The president is by the Parliament for the parliament from the parliament.
    The president is not the way of democratic, he shifted to another track re set and validate to president. On this basis president will tell I am not from the people the election will be kept as per the re set president On a re set date. The president will play with the present weak situation for him to become courage not linked to constitution he will never come again is what makes present to forcibly stay and make his achievement president sweet

    • 6
      0

      Mr RBH59
      Please remember how we got to this position, in the first place.
      Was it not thanks to 6.9 million stupid idiots using their votes wrongly?
      Gota was elected purely on racist/fascist grounds, and you saw how that ended.
      .
      That is what pushed RW to the helm.
      Another election? Who will take the reigns this time?
      AKD perhaps, then what?
      .
      We do not have a clear leader amongst the contenders.
      If AKD has been able to change any ills in our society that has lead us to this situation, I would gladly consider have considered him, but he has just been making lots of noise like a barking dog without making any impact.
      .
      It takes more than bickering to be able to run a country effectively.

      • 4
        1

        HT
        Stupidity is not the preserve of a specific group of voters.
        We rarely see our own folly.
        What option was there before the voter after 4 years of ‘good governance’?
        What options are before them now?
        *
        Did those who voted differently do it out of wisdom?
        See how the key opposition presidential candidate conduct his campaign?
        Had he spent half the time he spent on attacking RW on seriously exposing the main candidate, would not the 6.9 million have shrunk a little?
        Having got the leading candidacy from his party, he did not display the maturity to match.
        *
        The way the cards are stacked, there is no way forward through electoral politics for the foreseeable future.

      • 5
        0

        HT,
        .
        “If AKD has been able to change any ills in our society that has lead us to this situation, I would gladly consider have considered him, but he has just been making lots of noise like a barking dog without making any impact.”

        JVP could introduce better systems to improve rural agriculture if there are new strategies soon.
        However, they failed to do so so far. Years have passed and they have stagnated, unable to polarize in communities.
        They can kill two with one shot; By offering their support to improve their hands, then win over the people.
        Logically and conventionally, any poor family would agree with those who actually support the effort once they are financially strong.
        Voters in Sri Lanka mainly come from rural areas across the country. Therefore, for any leader to be successful, they must satisfy the peasantry of the country. .

        • 2
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          HT, LM. Chinhalese are great at talking because they do not know what they are talking about. LM can be Dr. Jackyl at one moment and Mr. Hide the next. Practice excel Preach. You seem to be ignorant of the Criminal Syndicate or the Mafia that rule this country. They can turn on or off like a battery operated toy; the top officials like judges, top Police Brass, Departmental Heads etc. You cannot be selective in gathering information which destroys the balanced state of mind.

          • 2
            0

            1/
            Hello HP,
            I agree with you that your practical knowledge having lived in Sri Lanka is more mature than those of us living outside the country. You really know that Sri Lanka’s independent judiciary exists only on paper.Nevertheless, I hope your ongoing land issue will be resolved soon.
            However, no one needs to be a scientist as anyone underage can understand why the JVP has been rejected by the people again and again. This is because they have not yet understood the peasant language. Also, they do not reach out to the farming community as expected. Famous stories full of statistics do not open their eyes. Farmers (70% of the island nation – almost 2/3 of the electorate) should be addressed close to their heart.-
            I hope they will strive speedly to win the hearts of the grassroots as an unproven third force.
            tbc

            • 2
              0

              2/
              2
              How can they do that? It is by raising their economic status to some extent. Those poor people who have been in the countryside for so long are now in such a deep state that they will never recover. Take a survey, that will reveal you for sure, that every rural villager can share their home grown fruits (bananas, guavas, mangoes, jackfruits) and vegetables (beans, carrots, beetroots, other green vegetables) their own markets. They should be made to share their own Productivity for daily supplies. SRILANKA is btw an agric country. Look how efficient the folks in southeast Asian countries are. If they do something, they do it right. Those countries are examples to our people.. Neigoburing india (1300 millions) should NOT be a compared with that of ours because we are just a smaller country of 22-million nation. Especially in the country sides of Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan or similar countries, give us better example how we could improve our agric lands. Attitudinal changes are a must.

              tbc

              • 2
                0

                3
                I think you don’t necessarily need to be ruling politicians, if you are real strategists and future politicians, they can give a hand to those rural people to raise their heads. But how? Most of them in rural areas depend on agriculture in our small country. Why can’t the educated JVP give proper knowledge to the people and improve their gardening.
                Productivity in those areas is zero. Most rural people eat and cry only sitting in front of TV dramas. . They waste their precious time. On the whole, Sri Lankans are born lazy people. It must change drastically. Everything is taken care of by the government. Isn’t it a long-term burden? These are not my views but those of my Japanese friend (a professor of agriculture). There is a large amount of untouched land and property across our country. Europeans only grow 1 season a year but with the blessing of tropical weather we can make it 2 seasons.
                The people are lazy as no other country. See how hard people work in Southeast Asian countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Burma, etc.). Vietnam provides examples almost every day. Today, investors compete to establish themselves in Vietnam (200 million people). Our fate is that not a single EU or other investor is ready to work with our people. When will our people be guided?

            • 0
              0

              LM. You are wasting your precious time on empty rhetoric. You must consider spending it more creatively, constructively, and effectively. Srilankans must come out of the frame of mind like Late Mr. Haig said about Mr. Noriega: he is a bastard but he is our bastard. Srilankan thinking is that he IS a thief but he is OUR thief who is generous giving us TOFFEES. It all lies in the core of the mind. Criminals can walk out free. Innocents get canned. Thugs get patted on the back. Protesters against corruption get baton charged. Ombudsman and HRC can take a nap. Courts can turn facts to fiction and fiction to facts. It is high time you wake up.

              • 0
                0

                H, watch what you say.
                “Srilankans must come out of the frame of mind like Late Mr. Haig said about Mr. Noriega: he is a bastard but he is our bastard. “
                Haig was speaking on behalf of US ruling class interests.
                Where does the analogy fit? A big power using a corrupt leader for its gain and a people putting up with a corrupt leader?
                *
                Also, later, to get their bastard ‘fixed’ when he spoke out of turn, they invaded Panama.
                *
                We agree that there is much that is not right here. But what are the options on offer? Cursing some of the thieves gets us nowhere while other thieves are lining up for their turn to steal.
                Piling abuse on the people who voted in a particular way and calling the whole population names are easy answers that take none anywhere.
                *
                People are seriously working on answers outside the system and I hope that they unite and act soon.

            • 0
              0

              BTW I am not talking about a land issue. When two chief justices and the President of the Bar Association of Srilanka can serve themselves as if they are at a buffet table not justly but by violating the rules and practices of a court of law, literally abusing the Blindfolded Lady holding up a Lance in one Hand and a Balance in the other. It must be the greatest mockery of justice in the whole world that should be entered in the Guinness Book of World Records. They also have shackled the Chief Justice, AG, IGP and BASL to add to the bargain which must be considered a Srilankan catastrophe. A tsunami engulfing the whole island.

  • 7
    1

    “He has stated that he does not want to leave this problem to the next generation”. ??
    Has any body said that they’ll leave the problem to the next generation?
    Who left the problem unresolved for three generations. Cheap talk. Very cheap!
    .
    When anti-corruption is a prerequisite to qualify for the IMF bailout, what chances do we have when those who committed acts of corruption and violence in the past are in the ruling party and its cliques. What is Ranil’s answer? Eye-wash. Bloody eye-wash.

  • 7
    0

    1/
    Holding elections in the “myths governing South Asian region” should be linked to new aspirations for a better mandate. Is it so in the current context? Have they made an inch of progress on that front?

    Please study the outcome in 2015, 2019 and 2020 and you will see it with your own eyes.
    :
    Opinion polls confirm that “voting awareness” has not changed much.

    Polls confirm that “voting awareness” has not changed much.
    The Rajapaksas, Aluthgamage, Johnsten ´and the other high criminals still have no reluctance.

    There are women who cling to the Rajapaksas for various reasons. The Tilini Hemamali story, the Oman embassy prostitution racket, the Ghansara-Gotha symbiosis are the best examples.-
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbgIr5MEr8g
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RE-Q4p7ASHs
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBf1tN8HhE8

    Sociologists, psychologists, and other professionals have not undertaken the task of reconstructing society as a result of something new. If done, please let me know, to the best of my knowledge, nothing is being done in that direction.

    tbc

    • 6
      0

      2
      What if the same candidates (Johnston, Aluthgamage, Rohitha, Wimal W, Vasudeva, Namal Baby, Naki Maina, Kaputa, Rambukwella and … ) get re-elected after observing how they did in 2019 and 2020?
      Ideally, 2020 could have given the JVP the chance we all wanted.

      However, Sri Lankan voters voted them out in Parliament by 5 to 3.
      So the failure lies in the hands of the voters and not in the hands of JVP, UNP, SJB, UPFA or others. The point is voters are blind.
      .
      How to become informed voters enough to meet the demands for “real change”…… Please discuss … Leave it to you!

  • 2
    0

    JP, IMF wants anticorruption first and how on earth are we going to provide it without a series of lies to cover up the series of robberies of the Sri Lankan state wealth. Mahinda even said that it was yahapalanaya that robbed. Can you beat it. Have we a mind to believe that.

    • 5
      0

      Davidthegood
      Let me tell you something about the Rajapaksas. They are basically street scum. There is not one properly educated or intellectual, person amongst them.
      How and why on earth did our people convince themselves that they were fit to run a country?
      Running a country needs brains. The best possible brain you can get.
      Politics is not just about internal issues, we have to tackle international issues as well. So how did we expect scum/ cheap illiterate shit like rajapaksas to develop our country.
      They have only street sense. Not presidential material at all.
      Is it not obvious? Only equally dumb or less clever people will fall for Mara and Co’s act.

    • 4
      0

      DTG,
      .
      The most famous “Tompachaya” in Sri Lankan politics is Mahinda. It is also fair to say that the most abusive man in Sri Lankan politics, he himself claimed to have crushed “terror from Sri Lanka”, sold out to the nation dominated by the same Punnaku Kannans. If a lie is repeated, it becomes “public perception”: so no one questions it further. Blatant lies became the “false perceptions” of the nation, with unscrupulous monks being the “icing layer on the Mahinda cake”. “Mahinda Blatant Lies” sent people after witchcraft and astrology to keep the ping-pong ball under water, now the time has come, all at once emerging against the entire Rajapakkshasa. For me, if the gods stand behind the people, then Mahinda should be fully punished before he breathes his last for all the deliberate nonsense done to this nation.

      tbc

      • 5
        0

        cont.
        .
        Not only that, Mahinda Paraih repeatedly attacks that the reason for the bankruptcy of the Gotabhaya government is because of the large loans taken by the Yahapalan government. How could RANIL-MS govt ever have been able to repay RAJAPKSHE-LOANS if they did not ask for loans ? Are we an oil rich nation ? Or could RAJAPKSHE dog have given the sums instead ?
        .
        See, with MEDIA BIAS going forward in favor of Rajapakse criminals, not a single expert is coming forward to hack this bugger’s mouth.

  • 3
    0

    Going for the local council or provincial elections are good for the voters to get some money in their hand at a very hard time like this.WHO EVER FROM ANY PARTY WILL HAVE TO SPEND MONEY TO COLLECT VOTES.MOST PARTY LEADERS AND MEMBERS HAVE LOT OF BLACK MONEY AND THIS WILL HELP THE POOR VOTERS TO HAVE SOME MONEY IN THEIR HANDS.LONG LIFE FOR SRILANAKAN DMO-CRAZY.

  • 4
    1

    M.A.Sumanthiram said: ” The TNA leading party did not vote against the Budget, because President reached out to them stretching out his hand to settle their problem although they are against the Budget”.

    What a hypocritical statement is that. TNA is “AGAINST” the Budget, but decided to desist from voting in order to receive a “FAVOUR”. This is what most MPs do. They bargain and make “Deals” (including monetary and other favors) and surrender their “Honesty”, “Integrity” and “Self Respect” shamelessly and go on bended knees to receive some favor. If some Legislation and more importantly a “BUDGET” is wrong and not acceptable why TNA cannot vote against it? First, say NO to what is wrong and FIGHT to get what is GOOD for the people. I never expected this from Sumanthiram.

    No wonder, it is a “TRADITION” with MPs from North and East started long years back with Late Chelvanayagam signing secretive “Agreements” with Bandaranaykes. Continued unashamedly.

    • 2
      2

      Simon. He sure has got no backbone. I feel pity for the people of the North to be represented by people like him.

      • 5
        2

        hanchopancha: Thank you. I agree totally with your comment. In my opinion, not only North but even in the whole country, our people are genetically driven to “WORSHIP” the “Elite”. It is very difficult to change, but worth the effort.

        • 2
          0

          Dear Simon,

          Genetically no, but they weren’ t that much spineless before 2005. My recent visit proved it, the youth dont think much, but kneel before any adult, if own parents would expect them to do it …… the youth are made so that they cant function by their own.

          Humans tend to become more enslaved, with muscle being prioritized over brains. Who made this? For 15 years, Salumdora ( the door which welcomes everyone regardless of high crime records) opened the door to create criminals among educated men and women. Animal-like SO CALED artists, media fraudsters transported the message adulating their “empty god”. Can Rajapakshes face the very nation today ?

  • 2
    0

    There is no need for any elections of any kind at the present juncture. We need the SYSTEM CHANGE now by making a NEW constitution that is acceptable to all citizens in SL.
    We don’t want the current type of politicians anymore. Let us put the new constitution to public referendum asap. Let’s also find solution to the ETHNIC issues. We do need a Bhikku Council to bring discipline in the clergy as Ranil W has suggested.
    Lack of DISCIPLINE in various PROFESSIONS is the ROOT/KEY cause of failure of SL. The country does not need lots of Provincial Councils to waste Tax Payers money. We only need a federal state for the North and East.

    • 5
      0

      Naman: Please don’t even think of a “BHIKKU COUNCIL” under the patronage of any “Politician” or “Political Government”. There are “Mahanaykas”, “Anu Nayakas” belonging to innumerable “Sects”, divided on the basis mostly of “Caste” and “Ideology (twisting the Great Teaching for benefits) , whom I call “LETHAL” who should decide their own destiny. If you get “Politicians” to get involved in this “Jigsaw-Puzzle”, it would be another “MAN MADE” disaster for the country and the people. Already we have been subjected to this “Lethal” attack and our struggle to counter that attack has become an uphill task.

      Let the “DOGS” fight among themselves and let them survive or perish.

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