By C P Thiagarajah –
Dr. Siri Gamage, University of New England, Australia in his election projection from past elections in 2005 and 2010 and recent local polls in Badulla district concludes that the common candidate Maithripala Sirisena will be able to garner a 5-10% increase in the vote percentages in a majority of districts. That will deliver a victory for him and his coalition in the 2015 Presidential election.
Dr Jude Fernando, political analyst states “Even if the election fails to be free and fair, the good news is that, in recent times we have evidence from many parts of the world (e.g. Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Belarus, Egypt) where popular uprisings against election fraud led to the demise of authoritarian rulers or denied authoritarian rulers the democratic legitimacy that they seek. Sri Lanka, given it’s historical resilient as a nation against autocratic rule, certainly could not be an exception here”. Dr Fernando is very far away from reality. The Sri-Lankan electorate had short memories and never punished its political miss-adventurers, bribe takers or revenge takers. See what happened to Sarath Fonseka. Once he was a hero and a Major and now he is an ordinary man, without his army monetary dues and pensions holding the saree tails of Chandrika.
Daya Gamage writing in Asian Tribune (paper allegedly funded by Rajapakse regime) is strictly opposed to the recognition of The Tamil Homeland of North and East; the right of Self-determination for the Tamil People as the Sri-Lankan statute book under the 13 Amendment advised. He says Maitri will facilitate that if elected in the election even though the latter denies this and showed that he is as good a Sinhala Buddhist extremist as Mahinda Rajapakse (MR) in his manifesto.
On 4 January Ceylon Today took part disguise in a political rally held in support of Maithripala Sirisena at Mawathagama to feel the pulse of the people towards presidential candidate. Anuradha Samuel of Ceylon Today had a first-hand experience. She reported that most of those who attended were young Sinhalese and they all wanted a change of dynasty rule of MR. Mr Sirisena was stressing on a main point only after he began his speech amidst a thunderous applause.
“We will definitely send Mahinda Rajapaksa home.” His other policies in his manifesto are the same as that of MR
Samith Madhuranga of Ceylon Today embarked on a participatory evaluation of another political rally of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) in disguise; to sniff the mood of the people towards President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The rally was held in Minuwangoda. He said “ In fact, I had noticed that the majority of the entire crowd was women. It was evident that the President was more popular among women. A young man who appeared to be a Sinhala Buddhist, appeared to say that ‘President Mahinda Rajapaksa needed to be re-elected to safeguard the rights of the Sinhalese’. The President’s speech was sentimental. People listened to him silently”.
MR’s slogan was not to give anything to the minorities even though he undertook to implement the 13 Amendment to the constitution to the UN and India. He moaned “Hakeem asked for a separate Muslim district in the Eastern Province. I said no. I can’t grant federal powers to the North. The TNA tries to chase me out as they cannot get federal powers from me. They work for the needs of foreign countries. They have all joined to sack me. They want to take me to the war crimes tribunal and punish me. I trust that the people of this country will not allow them to take me and the war heroes to the war crimes tribunal.”
This type of pretence appeal to the uneducated rural masses like opium to an addict. The villagers are nose led by this cacophony into a state of Sinhala heroism. They do not realise the truth in this present day that Sri-Lanka cannot live in isolation anymore and that Sri-Lankan have to abide by world order. Transgress these laws and you end up in isolation HR inquiry and economic embargo etc.
As an experienced politician MR has learnt his communal lessons from his predecessors like JR, Premadasa, SWRD Bandaranaike and Chandrika. Chandrika is now against MR because he has turned an iconoclast who wanted to over shadow or obliterate Bandaranaike from the political scene and replace the SLFP with the Rajapakse dynasty. Politicians have their own axes to grind and not the overall welfare of the country and its citizens of all hues. MR wants to be recorded in Mahawamsa, the Sinhala historical chronicle as Dutu Gemunu the II. The rural masses seems to like this ploy.
What these short-sighted politicians want is a Sinhala island for Sinhala people only contrary to present day reality. In this process they are prepared to sanction anything. Now the incumbent is seriously bent on passing the mile post on the counting day on January 9 by whatever means at his disposal. Any politician will resort to even Devil’s scriptures to achieve it. Once they reach the mile post then they can do horse trading and deals and encourage cross overs illegal arrest and do what not.
The contender Mr Maitripala Sirisena is a son of the soil. A colonist farmer’s son having eleven brothers. Ordinary villagers will like to see one of their kind enter the President’s house and give hope to the rural masses that one day a commoner can become president of Sri-Lanka like the African-American Obama ascended the American Presidency through sheer eloquence and capability/efficiency without any riches like most previous president had.
Democracy is at work in Sri-Lanka at least for the Sinhalese. Let us hope it works well so that one day the Sinhalese will wake up to the eternal truth that compassion is what is needed for man to live amicably. This is the essence of all religion and this is what Gautama Buddha gleamed out of his father’s religion Hinduism. Probably Tamils will get their rights one day through this awakening.
Democracy is a form of government that could regulate public affairs better than any other system government so far practiced anywhere in the world. In a democracy a constitution guarantees basic personal and political rights, fair and free elections, and independent courts of law .Abraham Lincoln defined democracy as the government of the people, by the people, for the people. There was separation of powers between the institutions of the state:
Government [Executive Power],
Parliament [Legislative Power] and
Courts of Law [Judicative Power]
Thus under this system of government there was freedom of opinion, speech, press and mass media; religious liberty; general and equal right to vote (one person, one vote) and Good Governance (focus on public interest and absence of corruption). All citizens of Sri-Lanka enjoyed this Westminster system and had apparent peace during the latter part of British colonial rule
No sooner the British left Sri-Lanka for the last time in 1948 after granting independence to Ceylon their colony of nearly 150 years, the largest minority, the Tamils, lost their democratic rights. Since then, Tamils have been struggling to gain back their democratic rights from their new colonialist the Sinhalese the majority race; nearly half a century and a decade. The British left behind all essential framework, establishment and the staff necessary to carry out democratic rule. Their legacy was a written down constitution by the last governor general Lord Soulbury. He specifically included a section 29 to protect the minorities to prevent exploitation of the constitution by the majority race. The constitution guaranteed basic Human Rights to every individual person vis-à-vis the state and its authorities as well as vis-à-vis any social groups (especially religious institutions) and vis-à-vis other persons. All these had been compromised by the majority community for reasons that are not logical. Let us hope that the Sinhalese will be awakened and enlightened by this election.