22 September, 2020

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Ghost Voters

By Sinnathamby Sivanandan

Sinnathamby Sivanandan

Sinnathamby Sivanandan

Politics have no relation to morals” -Niccolo Machiavelli

Vote rigging and the rig-marole in ballots, and bullets playing an important role in the election and selection of main actors to win “Dinaganna” and to go to “Diyawanna” are not something new to Sri Lanka.

As everyone knows, in the recent past the de facto state of the North and East was controlled by the Tigers, the voters were muzzled at bayonet point from exercising their sovereign franchise. In the Presidential elections this became a huge plus to the majority party to which the “Tiger Supremo” was aligned and a minus point to the other opposition candidate to ascend to the throne.

I do not want to touch the + ve and  –ve sides of the terminal as it may spark controversies which may not be palatable to some. That is the fate of the paradise isle now, once with a vibrant democracy when we were young, before the youth revolutions and unrest which followed. The “Host International Monitors” who come to monitor elections are not much aware of this breed of “Ghost Voters”. Unless an effective mechanism is put in place, plugging loopholes the indelible ink in the little finger alone will not work!

Maithripala RanilThe candidates who polled a meager less than 100 votes in the northern peninsula entered the portals of Diyawanna to represent the Jaffna constituency which was earlier represented by the renowned doctor from the medical fraternity Dr. E.M.V. Naganathan known as “Iron Man” with a will of steel who faced the “Galle Face” Satyagraha and then the one in front of “Jaffna Kachcheri” when my good friend the 2CLI Captain Janakan’s dad Mylvaganam Srikhanta, the elite Civil Servant from the CCS breed was the GA Jaffna. The legal luminary G.G. Ponnambalam and the retired Supreme Court Judge C.X. Martin from the salubrious climes of Colombo7 also represented the Jaffna Constituency with their limited fluency in Tamil Language. That was the time Yakkas and Nagas (Senanayake/Bandaranaike) were ruling the country. S. J. V. Chelvanayakam with his fragile constitution was leading the Federal Party.

Present Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran also wore the silk and wig and like King Solomon dispensed justice during his period on bench. He by virtue of the marriage of his child has now become a kinsman of the strong and staunch leftist politician Vasudeva Nanayakkara, now centre left. I am afraid whether I am right or wrong, even if regional autonomy is denied, it is a step towards union of regions and religions!

In our country there had been instances where “Ghost Pensioners” had drawn their pension together with Cost Of Living allowance. They are resuscitated and given a new lease of life by the immediate kith and kin with the connivance of errant officials. Likewise the “Ghost Voters” occasionally during election time are resurrected and after casting their votes into the ballot boxes, withdrawing into their sealed boxes within tombstones is also a common occurrence. These are the “Remembrance Days” of some dead voters, still vibrant enough to prove democracy is alive and not buried wholesale. That again is the ingenuity common in our community.

But hang on! Amongst the Ghost Voters here are three types: those who cast their postal votes in advance before the polls and die before the actual polling date; the middle east workers and those who work in other countries on short term basis and the ones who are permanently settled in foreign climes relinquishing their ties with the mother land; and the ‘floating’ type whose names appear in one or more electoral registers in the country.

The 1999 the historic Vayamba Provincial Council elections marked the emergence of the vote rigging cult or culture. The politicisation of the police and the state propaganda machinery by virtue of the power of the party ruling the country were the core factors for the corrupt practices to thrive. A lot of water and blood has flowed under the bridge since then. Lots of cross pollination, character assassination, inter marriages, marriages of conveniences, divorces, temporary co-habitation has taken place. No doubt politics makes strange bed fellows, except for the legalisation of gay marriage among the political actors and the clans.

“Sugar coated bitter pill” who was the organiser of the Vayamba PC election campaign who never wanted to hang up his spikes after his sprints behind the speed queen has switched his allegiance in-between the major parties many a time. Another Vayamba politician who made a big hue and cry over the ballot rigging is now bogged in a quagmire after his chameleon tactics. The most noticeable of all is the unholy alliance between the Batalanda and Vayamba, who have become “Amba Yahaluwo” bosom friends, fighting against the common, the B keeper who kept the bees in the correct place. The B keeper even sent the crown prince of the B dynasty creating a new portfolio, ousting him from Tourism to King Kasyapa’s domain to protect the frescos from vandals in the company of wasps, a special assignment.

After reading yesterday’s article written by Dr A.C. Visvalingan, President of the Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance, in the “Sunday Island” titled “President Maithripala Sirisena and some election issues”, I came to my senses based on the revelation of the Census & Statistics Department as pointed out by Mr. Mohamed in the Financial Times of 4th June, 2015 that the population is 14,206,305, whereas the numbers in the electoral registers total 15,044,490. The excess of 4.3% is alarmingly larger than the slender 3.7% margin by which the current President was elected, and even more seriously larger than the margin of around 1.9% by which the previous parliamentary elections were decided.

This factor has to be given sufficient thought by the Commissioner of Election and the citizens of the country as a whole. This fraudulent inflation of voters will cause significant irregularity in the manner in which elections are conducted, which will underscore the righteousness of the prevalent democracy, if unchecked, provided the statistics on which these calculations are based are correct.

The current development is about the nomination of the past President who is omnipresent in Sri Lanka, currency denominations in the wallets and purses, and in the pockets of those who do not carry purses. He gave a handsome bonanza to pensioners and government servants to cushion the impacts of the high cost of living. One factor that should be borne in mind is that he is a formidable force to be reckoned with and though he is somewhat a devalued currency after his loss to his party-mate, he is not dud yet. Thanks to the inflation caused by extravaganzas of the past and the interim regimes, he is in everybody’s pocket.

There is a wide spread circulation about the nomination paper signed by the Party Secretary. The Secretary is in turmoil as he was the Energy minister who burnt his midnight oil to refine the crude. Obviously the legality of the letter and the power of the Secretary and under what circumstances the letter was signed are keeping the rumor mongering machines active with their guesses and gossips and various types of conspiracy theories. With the queen bee also flexing her wings, the drones are in disarray droning and workers carrying out their normal tasks at Darley Road Headquarters, which is a hive of activity with tension escalating.

The silence of the Present President is also deafening. He is a leader who had been selected more than being elected. Already there are allegations from some sections of his impatient supporters that he had let them down. Some say he is backboneless and has undergone a spine surgery on him. “Mister Clean” the present H.E. is clever and courageous and is tight lipped as silence is gold. When the time is opportune he will take appropriate steps to avert any calamity. He is in the process of eliminating the cutouts, cutthroats and cardboard-sandos from his clan. What he has achieved within the short frame of time, though it exceeded a little bit, is indeed very commendable, taking into consideration the pressure groups he had to confront within his own party, the alliance and the opposition forces.

Having said that, after the amendments and dilution of his powers, has he and the Caretaker PM together with the FM tailored and sewn an outfit to suit his predecessor (it seams)?

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Latest comments

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    1. Ghost voters: another blotch in the Rajapaksa regime | Daily … DL Mohamed
    http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=features/ghost-voters-another-blotch-rajapaksa...
    o
    Jun 5, 2015 – This phenomenon of ‘ghost-voters’ was pointed out soon after the 2015 Elections by Dr. Laksiri Fernando (Colombo Telegraph, January 15, …

    Article on ghost voters by Laksiri Fernando and by Mohamed appeared in the Colombo telegraph. Ihave give the reference above. In fact prof Laksir Fernando pointed out as early as Jan 15 and Mohamed wrote in early June. But it appears no action has been taken by the affected parties such as the UNP or by the Commissioner of Elections. It is a simple task to get the party organisers to check in each village and tally it with the voters list.
    Over to the Gen Secretaries of old parties.

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    Sorry

    Over to the General Secretaries of all parties

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    Census does not count persons living temporarily outside the country (over 650,000). But the voter role is likely to contain the bulk of these persons. This may explain the discrepancy the Census figure and the Election Registration figure. Iagree that the Census Dept and the Elections Dept should look into this.

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