19 June, 2024


Global Punch; Misfired Counterpunch

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

The Rajapakse government suffered a massive setback, ameliorated by India’s abstention, at the UNHRC on March 27 when a harsh resolution sponsored by the US and the UK was carried 23-12-12. It hoped to recover part of its losses by convincingly winning the Southern Provincial (SPC) and Western Provincial Council (WPC) elections strategically timed for 29 March. The counterpunch failed exposing the UPFA’s soft underbelly. The regime now faces a perilous future because the impact of the UNHRC resolution on the people of the country, not just the Temple Trees Clan and the military brass current and retired (who scares for them?) and the UPFA’s weakening hold on the local electorate add up to a severe double whammy. Let me take this one step at a time.

The operative parts of the UNHRC resolution consist of Clause 2 and Clause 10b which I reproduce below.

Clause 2: Calls upon the Government of Sri Lanka to conduct an independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, as applicable; to hold accountable those responsible for such violations; to end continuing incidents of human rights violations and abuses in Sri Lanka; and to implement the recommendations made in the reports of the Office of the High Commissioner.

Clause 10b: (Requests the Office of the High Commissioner) To undertake a comprehensive investigation into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka during the period covered by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, and to establish the facts and circumstances of such alleged violations and of the crimes perpetrated with a view to avoiding impunity and ensuring accountability, with assistance from relevant experts and special procedures mandate holders.

These two clauses overlap, they appear to duplicate each other; there is ambiguity whether the High Commissioner’s investigation is to be undertaken only in the event that the government of Sri Lanka turns down the call “to conduct an independent and credible investigation”, or only if a local investigation is not independent and credible. The opening sentence of Clause 10 suggests that the ambiguity is deliberate. It reads as follows: Takes note of the recommendations and conclusions of the High Commissioner regarding ongoing human rights violations and the need for an international inquiry mechanism in the absence of a credible national process with tangible results, and requests the Office of the High Commissioner”.

Are we to read this preamble to mean that the High Commissioner’s investigation will be undertaken only “in the absence of a credible national mechanism” or is the underlined passage merely a reference to Ms Pillay’s report which said “National mechanisms have consistently failed to establish the truth and achieve justice”? If we go along with the former reading, the international investigation will take place ONLY if the local one is bunkum; if we prefer the latter interpretation, then the international probe is a separate matter and will go ahead in PARALLEL anyway. I believe this ambiguity is deliberate as it is not possible, after a local enquiry commences, to declare it to be a sham, but it is possible if it is unsatisfactory to commence a probe under 10(b) and say that a parallel probe was always intended. The Commissioner and the West are keeping this card up their sleeves.

The ball is now in the Rajapakses’ court; they can temporarily preserve their skins by feigning to cooperate with the resolution and buying time. In the midst of this there are maladjusted Tamils who say that the UNHRC resolution and the to-and-fro swings in India are irrelevant; nothing useful will come out of either they argue. I guess they are smarting from Delhi’s and Washington’s role in wiping out Prabaharan and the LTTE. In truth, quite to the contrary, Indian and international pressure were imperative in getting the Northern Provincial Council in place, and will be in pushing for a political solution, and ideally, in bringing about regime change. I say this, Delhi’s duplicity in abstaining in the UNHRC vote, not withstanding.

The PC elections

In my column about a week ago I said there were three crucial issues to watch in the SPC and WPC elections whose results were declared on Sunday. The government hoped to whip up post-Geneva xenophobic frenzy, win the PC elections by a landslide and stabilise itself in preparation for Presidential and Parliamentary elections. It could not mobilise its base; there was not enough juice in the works. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and the election results say it all. The three criteria that I proposed were; (a) how much will the UPFA vote decline, (b) what will be the trade off between the UNP and DP (Sarath Fonseka) and, (c) how will the JVP fare. The answers to all three questions have turned out to be most felicitous.

The percentage of votes obtained by parties that obtained at least one provincial council seat in 2009/2014 is as follows. # means the party did not exist in 2009.

Western Province:

UPFA: 65%/53%

UNP: 30%/26%

DP (Sarath Fonseka): #/8%

JVP:  2.4%/6%

SLMC: 2.1%/1.9%

Mano Ganesan: 0.5%/2%

All Ceylon Makkal Congress: #/0.6%

The Southern Province results are even more remarkable.

UPFA: 68%/58%

UNP: 25%/26%

JVP: 6%/9.1%

DP (Sarath Fonseka): #/6.3%

The felicitous features of these numbers is that (a) the UPFA vote in the WP has declined by 12% and, remarkably by 10% even in the SP; (b) the UNP, the historical party of the bourgeoisie has been able to hold off a challenge from the personally dicey and politically chauvinist Sarath Fonseka party, and (c) most pleasant of all, the JVP has increased its vote share by 3 to 3.5%. These trends are crucial because they are the start of a process that will demoralise the rotters in the UPFA, energise the JVP and knock common sense into the Sarath Fonseka party. Where did Sarath Fonseka’s 6 to 8% vote come from? Fairly obviously half came from the UPFA and the other half from the UNP.

The JVP vote in absolute numbers rose remarkably despite the lower numbers voting this time. In the SPC it rose from 72,000 to 109,000 and in WPC from 56,000 to 156,000. Conversely the UPFA vote declined in absolute numbers from 1.5 million in 2009 to 1.4 million in 2014 in the WPC and from 804,000 in 2009 to a remarkably low 699, 000 in 2014 in the SPC. The UNP vote in absolute numbers remained unchanged in the WPC and rose by a small amount in the SPC.

The writing on the wall is pretty clear. This is the first crack in the dam. The Rajapakse goose is cooked; let us expedite its departure.

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Latest comments

  • 6

    The only notable clause in the entire article is, ‘Delhi’s duplicity in abstaining in the UNHRC vote’. The rest has been rehashed over and over.

    Scribes have commented on India abstaining. But, none, so far, has explained India’s stance, – rather non-stance!

    India voted for the Resolutions both in 2012 and in 2013. In 2014, India chose not to favour the Resolution. This seemingly inconsistent behaviour of India is, in fact, very consistent.

    The common thread in India’s pattern of voting is, ‘Hi US, if you wish to reprimand SL I have no issue with that. But, if you wish to take the next step of taking SL to task, I wish, in all honesty, to be left out of the ‘investigation’.

    Does this mean that India is against UN investigating the criminal conduct of SL? No. It simply means that India does not want any investigation on SL to reach its shores.

    Inference: India has a cupboard full of skeletons!

    • 0

      Much interested in other analyses of the PC election results.
      Not seen any yet – “rehashed” you say. Please provide other references.
      Or maybe you have a mental retention problem.

  • 2

    Sri Lanka should de-friend the US, which led the Western lackeys against Sri Lanka. We should however take consolation from the fact that the US suffered a bigger loss in the same forum with even fewer countries voting against ‘the Death by Drone’ resolution brought by Pakistan, Yemen and Switzerland. The arm twisting was less effective, it seems.

  • 5

    “most pleasant of all, the JVP has increased its vote share by 3 to 3.5%”

    One thing amaingly funny about the bullshit this man writes is that his incredible imagination to see opportunity in nothing.

    His effort to promote Maduluwave Sobhita and Wisvalingam as “single issue candidates” and his theories about a “split” between the Rajapakse brothers have all come and gone.

    Now he sees a pleasant sign in the JVP increasing its vote share by 0.5%!

    At this rate, we will still have a Rajapakse government centrally and in the provinces for another 200 years, if my arithmatic is right!

    • 4

      its a waste of time for this fool david to have used his free education .

      He is a power systems engineer but he recommends that the coal power plant be trashed , he thinks the JVP some how is the solution for the countrys problem .

      This dude is a TOTAL idiot .

    • 4

      Idiot, learn grammar.
      Increased BY 3 to 3.5% of the total poll
      (It increased almost 3-fold in the Western province and 50% in the South).
      Can you follow this English or shall I buy you a hodi-potha? (3-fold means if it was 10 before it became 30 now. Get it?)

  • 2

    Prof David, the Tamil Diaspora have very little faith in the Resolution that was passed in Geneva, their whole attention
    Is on India, the election results will be known in about six weeks. There is going to be a radical change there, which may be beneficial to the Tamils.

  • 0

    The provincial council elections show that if mahinda has a presidential election now he will easily get above the 50% mark and be the president till 2020.Only thing that might upset that maybe is if chandrika contests against him and splits the SLFP vote.Neither might get through the first round but in the second mahinda will win.So whether Prof david likes it or not mahinda is going to be the president till 2020.The only thing that can change that is if he dies before 2020.There is a possibility it will happen because his horoscope is not that good and a stab in the back is quite likely,not in the front by the LTTE.

    Now coming to the UNP,kindly ditch ranil please and give the job to sajith.What are you morons going to lose anyway.It can’t go less than 25% under sajith anyway.If this stubborn chap ranil and his cohorts are not shifted then there is a possibility that the UNP would become the third party one day behind the Democratic Party.Fonseka does not have a good party machine backing him but he is a better leader than ranil.

    There is a great inequality in the wealth of the people in the country.Some have a silver spoon in their mouth while others have nothing.In asia only two countries are worse than us in this regard,namely thailand and HK.That is why the UNP keeps on losing.people will not vote for a guy who comes from a family that has always had a silver spoon in its mouth.The elite has to find someone who is not of such background to lead them otherwise forget the votes.

  • 0

    Not all what is said in this article is logical.

  • 0

    The ambiguity in the resolution gives Rajapaksa an opening to initiate a credible inquiry but one he loathes to do. Why should it be so? Surely, for a start, what prevents him from prosecuting those murderers responsible for the killing of 5 students in Trinco and the murder of the RSF employees by firing squad? Not even the armed services will object to prosecution of murderers. Is it a foolish idea such as “my people must be protected at any cost” or is it that he does not truly care? It cannot be that he expects any rebellion from any quarter, for he has the military itself, the judiciary, the parliamentarians and the media in his pocket. Or could it be that he is just a cruel man?

    In my assessment I think the Indian government abstained in consultation with Modi in the opposition. They see an opportunity to influence Sri Lanka on the resolution of the ethnic issue. They also do not see any benefit by a strained relationship both in a bi-lateral and a strategic sense. They recognize that Sri Lankans and Indians share a common heritage and it is most unlikely that Chinese influence can break that link built over two millenia. They also see the US hegemonic interest in the current situation and is wary of US actions elsewhere in the world realizing that the US will move against India in time to come.

    As for the PC elections I do feel that the people are beginning to see through the Rajapaksa buffoonery, particularly the lack of a rule of law, corruption, nepotism, and blatant impunity in every facet of governance. For now, he will be offering poojas to all deities and demons he can find but not even embracing the Sri Maha Bodhi is going to save him from his evil Karma in the form of the UNHRC and OHCHR. He will deserve every thing he gets.

  • 0

    Yet another thought provoking analysis of Prof.AKD.
    For India to go to the extent of combining forces with arch enemy Pakistan and then to eventually abstain in the final vote is something much more than meets the eye.Certainly not to facilitate the ethnic issue.India blowing Hot and blowing Cold is to ensure that they continue in the Srilankan landscape for many more moons.

    • 0

      I,am wondering if India is adopting a strategy in the future for the US to bring stronger and stronger resolutions.India will just abstain and the modayas here will be happy and give back the boats and fishermen.

      They might even be so happy when india abstains against stronger resolutions brought by the US, they might even gift back kachativu.

      What our folks don’t understand about abstaining is when a superior party is attacking a small fry,the big fry who can shield it a bit and try to drag the attacker off says okay go ahead and beat him up,i will just do nothing and stay neutral.That may be the Indo-US strategy in future.India has seen japan adopting it and is copying it.

      This way india can have the cake and eat it too.

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