21 July, 2018

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LG Result Will Set Course For Two Years

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

Political parties in both South and North are testing the waters; LG result will set course for 2-years

Local Government elections should, primarily, be about local affairs and local welfare, national political skulduggery should be secondary. Pradeep Kariyawasam in a piece on LG elections and Colombo’s health problems (Sunday Island, 24 December) calls attention to one such issue. But Sri Lanka is over-politicised, stricken with the ailments but few of the benefits of democracy. The potential fallout from next month’s LG elections has taken attention away from choosing competent councillors and addressing issues at grassroots. The UNP and SLFP in Yahapalana, the Poropaya (or Porotuwa or whatever) and the JVP are testing the waters in the South and the TNA is anxious about the North; all with an eye on the 2020 general election. February will not only be a weathervane for 2020 but will also set the mood for political chicanery and horse-trading in the next two years.

I will try to discuss the LG scene without letting my prejudices intrude too much – tough! Despite frequent ‘breaking news’ flashes from the Rajapaksa Joint Opposition (JO-Pak), and notwithstanding the media (Sinhala and English) unearthing the impending doom for the UNP-SLFP alliance, the Sirisena-Ranil duo seems to hang together comfortably. I wouldn’t know about acrimony in private, but in public both display proper protocol and at this time, prior to LG elections, this apex relationship seems amicable. At the next lower level there is much backbiting between UNP, JO-Pak and Sirisena cohorts, but cynic that I am, I attribute this simply to pre-election opportunism.

President Sirisena and his Ministers and MPs are searching, it seems searching desperately, for options and possibilities; the number of Deputy Ministers is swelling. Team-Sirisena will not give up on its relationship with the UNP, especially if it comes third (or fourth behind the JVP), neither has it ruled out a post-election deal with JO-Pak. It depends on how the chips fall. If, lubricated by cross-over opportunists, Team-Sirisena does well enough not to need to kowtow before Rajapaksa, rapprochement with JO-Pak is possible. If the price of reunification is kneeling before Paksa, then it will prefer to stay with the UNP and think about what to do at leisure. That is, the Sirisena-SLFP will, logically, prefer the status quo to genuflection before Rajapaksa’s throne.

The JVP is, as usual, shooting in the dark without torchlight or searchlight. It eschews an alliance with the left, including the CP, smaller parties like the ULF (LSSP Majority Group) and the NSSP, and like Don Quixote, tilts at windmills. Most people say it will secure more seats than before, but for sure it will fall short of its potential had it spearheaded a left alliance. Daft, self-destructive, self-centred egotism; but that’s an occupational hazard of the JVP.

The UNP is battling to defend the Ashes and will be grateful if it does better than the English touring team in Australia. The UNP-Front will be satisfied if it can retain the same proportion of total votes as in the 2015 parliamentary elections and come first in the Moratuwa to Negombo costal belt, the Central Province, parts of Uva and pockets in the NWP and EP. The UNP and its buddy Mano Ganesan will carry all the geographical constituencies in Colombo City and most of the proportional seats. However, there is visible dissatisfaction on economic issues, the inability to bring bigtime Paksa era crooks to book, the bond scam, and permitting thieving, conniving, fornicating relatives of the Paksa household to get away scot free after running Sri Lankan Airlines to the ground and foisting a $702 million write off on the state (you and me). Enough, normally, to destroy an incumbent regime.

The crucial enigma

The big unknown for the UNP is the effect of the racist campaign mounted by JO-Pak with the support of clergy and media (Sinhala and English). I expect the SLPP (poropaya) to do well in Ratnapura and Kurunegala Districts and the Southern Province. If the UNP creeps in as a close second in this Sinhala heartland (it cannot possibly come first), it spells curtains for the JO-Pak bandwagon.

The performance of JO-Pak, alias SLPP, alias poropaya is an enigma. The course of politics in the next two years will be decided by this more than any other result. If it does well, we are in for another spell where the politics of race and religion will dominate. If so, the primary culprit is not any political entity, not even JO-Pak, fundamentally; it is the people. If the Sinhala-Buddhist mass will not permit devolution of administration to the Ceylon Tamils, then what? What the Tamils will do remains to be seen, but the groundwork for Parbaharan Mark II would have been laid. I mean it, if Tamils and Muslims are not allowed to run their affairs in their principal areas of domicile, do you, dear reader, have any better predictions about the long term?

The Sirisena-Ranil government has cut and run on the proposed constitution. Unless the UNP scores a resounding LG victory, which is unlikely, we can kiss the new constitution goodbye. Then the TNA, Tamils, the liberals, the left and this correspondent can all go lick their wounds. If it turns out to be a big victory for poropaya in the Sinhala-Buddhist heartland, it will signal a return to the bad old SWRD-JR era. If you disdain what I say, let’s go our separate ways for now and catch up after more blood has flowed. I see this election as a referendum on Sinhala-Buddhist ethics, limits and hegemonic aspirations; it is more than a storm in a local government teacup.

If (once) the constitution goes belly-up, Eelamists and Tamil nationalists will eviscerate Sampanthan, Sumandiran, the TNA and its principal constituent the ITAK. The critique will be: “You led us up the gum tree again. B-C Pact, Dudley-Chelva Accord, JR’s half-baked 13A, the lessons are obvious. The Sinhala majority will never give us reasonable space; but you compromisers, have hoodwinked the Tamils and made asses of yourselves – again!” The obvious TNA defence that it tried hard and was cheated will not cut any ice with the Tamils.

I have consistently maintained that Gota cannot win a presidential election. No one can do better than Mahinda did in 2015 if all the minorities – Muslims, Ceylon and Upcountry Tamils and Catholics – band together in a rock-hard obstacle. In that case Gota will be defeated by more than 10 points – worse than 45:55. However, parliamentary, provincial and local polls are different because minority votes are locked away in their own regions. Gota losing a presidential election and the UNP and Team-Sirisena losing local and provincial polls in the Sinhalese areas, are not inconsistent.

The opposition has built its campaign against this government from day-one with sustained non-cooperation, by engineering strikes, disruptions and sometimes sabotage. Yahapalana’s response has been capitulation (SAITM), flummoxed confusion (student boycotts and trade union actions), or popularity contests (Sagla, Kiriella, Rajitha, Mangala versus Team-Sirisena). Bourgeois-democracy bares its bottom widest at election time.

The point has been made that it is reductionist to attribute an extensive strike wave to JO-Pak machinations alone. That’s true; yes, when the opposition’s instigation sowed the seed, it fell on fertile ground. Worker disillusionment is in part due to a non-performing economy and in part the ‘tragedy of the traditional working-class’. As technology advances the mode of production breaks new ground alienating the old working-class. This motivated a surge of white worker support for Trump in “rust belt” states. Many state/corporate institutions in Lanka are crumbling; railways, ports, buses, government hospital, postal and sectors are ramshackle, but modernisation will endanger jobs. This is why modernisation, improvement and efficiency enhancement are often opposed by trade unions. The traditional or old working-class all over the world is being marginalised and the capitalist order has no solution to this social debacle.

The GMOA is a different story. Doctors are conspiring to defend a closed shop and sabotage private medical education so as to eradicate competition. Talk of patient welfare and standards is hogwash. Professor ANI Ekanayaka (“Peace . . . at any Cost”, Island 1 Jan 2018) is ferocious and forthright in taking a scalpel to the throat of humbug doctors, hoodlum undergraduates and spineless leaders. The voter sees a President, a PM and a subject Minister, all blathering babes in wet nappies, too yellow livered to confront and break the sabotage of public health services or oust brutish students. Tough decisions are evaded, consequently, the old war-winning team shines in forceful contrast. This time I make no electoral predictions; wonky predictions are the bane of every political columnist.

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Latest comments

  • 3
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    Although you make no predictions, I’m sure that you wish disaster for Rajapaksas SLPP.

    That, I think is how it is with most intelligent people who have had the time to study the scene. Unfortunately such people are few.

    I have deliberately kept the criteria for those agreeing with Prof. David simple and uncontroversial.

    • 1
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      Sinhala Man’s take on KD is correct. In fact, I am even more worried than either SM or KD about the consequences of SLPP/Rajapaksa scoring big in the Sinhala “heartland”. It will be chaotic and racist.

      Agreed Sirisena and Ranil have been big disappointments, agreed the JVP cannot come first or second . . . so what then?

      Why is Sri Lanka such an unlucky country?

      • 0
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        “Why is Sri Lanka such an unlucky country?”
        Surprised ?, someone mentioned this some 2600 years ago. The Islanders who lived accordingly and spread his teachings to South Asia , has become ‘Dammao Wikunana Dammachaareens’. Luck has nothing to do with the fate of this racist nation, but ‘Karma’ ( negative actions of the mind & body)

  • 1
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    Sri lankan educated discuss which group of thieves to be elected. So, what is the out come ?. discuss another chain of thefts by a new group. We know the expenses for the diyawanna oya. I heard Provincial councils need Rs 600 billion for year. But, what do they contribute for each rupee the country spends. Now, another 9000 politicians to take political decisions. If they hire 9000 professionals we can imagine they would do something. What will 9000 do. they ask for powers for the each local council.

  • 0
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    It is unfair to blame Mahinda Rajapakse to be worse than the Horapalanaya. Because of the bond scam, many corruptions, wastages and thefts occuring inside the Yahapalanaya by politicians, as well as bureaucrats are not discussed.right now, both the PM and President are using govt resources as Political rewards to rural people. All those are corruptions.NExt general elections come in the middle of 2019. by that time, forgetful voters forget everything law maker thieves did and how they escaped because they are the law makers.

  • 1
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    Entire article deals with Lankawe politics only. This is not where my comments have capability to sustain or have capacity to show appropriateness. Yet they are just comments………………….
    It is only piece of cake to grasp the Heading’s prediction”LG Result Will Set Course for Two Years”. The election was avoided maximum all three parties (UNP, SLFP, SLPP). Now it has been turned into as a testing the water. Especially on the side of New King, He just wants to see how much he had lost. When results comes, he will decide whether hang around with Ranil or capture him and throw in the prison, and then hang around with New King, will be dominant question in his head. He started to worry about his popularity id after Kegalle Jeyamanne’s death. He, that time, openly blamed that SLFPyears were being investigated and UNPyers were being saved. Last on that is he gave prominence to PCoI report and put in the back burner, the PRECIFAC(I have no idea what the acronym means) report. These are telling he is too worried about his acceptability.

  • 1
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    Ranil may want to know how he is doing. But he is not the person to adjust himself because others are thinking something of him. He is not so far a successful politician. Still he was not empty headed, nincompoop like New King, but had some ideas when he was coming in. He wanted to build economy and trade with minimal the Chinese influence. But as the world had already lost hope on Lankawe, he was not willing to get along with West, fix the image, get help and rectify the problems. So now Chinese had overrun him. He is now on Mega Projects that are being forced by Chinese. Almost all will turn out to be white elephants in another five years. He too knows about it. Another one is he wanted to have the constitution changed. EP clause has been a nightmare issue for him. From the time EP leadership showed up there, the Tamils had a say on that candidates, for better or worse. In 2015, Sampanthar said if Ranil is on the ballot paper, he would not support. So he wants to get rid of that urgently. It is mainly for this Ranil fostered a Unity deal with SLFP. Now that is lost. When Sobitha Thero was there New King was half-heartedly agreeing. But now he is dead against abolishing the EP. (He may change his stand after LGE, if he sees for sure he cannot win). Ranil even offered him to be installed up to 2025 him as the EP in the changed constitution. But he wants to be an independent, full-fledged EP. So nothing Ranil looked forward has worked so far. So he is not enthusiastic to get his term report from the people now.

  • 1
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    On the other side LGE will not be the UNP’s report card. LG is not UNPs strength. That is one of the reason JR brought EP. UNP areas are limited, with Colombo & other minority areas. 310 LGs are spread all over the countries. So the total SLFP factions will be doing more than expected, on that.
    On that third section, the Joint Comedy Club is still not ready to stand for an election. Old Royals don’t want to taint their name and spoiled in the LGE until the General or EP election, where, by that time, they hope they can have the SLFP brought under their control. We do not know if the breath of “Slap” party can be dragged to that extent of until 2020. It has been a headless chicken without a leader. It is alive only in the election commissioner’s folders. Old King won’t lead; neither will he allow any of his family members to lead it. LGE result may decide its fate, soon.

    I have consistently maintained that Gota cannot win a presidential election. The issue here is not “Old Brother Prince would win the election” (Provided his family allows for him to be in that), but it is that Ranil cannot win and no longer has the a gut for that also. If UNP is not standing against SLFP, then there is no EP election.

  • 2
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    “LG result will set course for two years”
    A step earlier. The issues at the LG election hustings will decide the election.
    If somehow the language/religion-divide is resurrected then we will have a repeat of the past seventy years.

  • 4
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    Dear Golding,

    Are you the schoolmaster who wrote “Lord of the Flies”. If so, you will know how much evil resides in human beings. But even little boys – that’s what he was trying to say.

    I suggest you look at all that I have said in comments on this article in Colombo Telegraph – where you can add something even today:

    “I will use the sword as and when necessary – Sirisena”

    Racism seems to be everywhere. Forget other issues: let’s fight corruption and racism.

  • 1
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    let analyze the 2015 presidential election results from maitrees 6.2 million votes closer to 900,000 votes are floating votes from sinhalese. Then we will consider this 62-9= 53 lacks. Among this 53 lacks jvp vote base of 600,000 , tna vote base of 600,000 , muslim congress vote base of 500,000 ,hela urumaya and srisena factiin of slfp (specialy 30,000 votes in polanaruwa) has brought 200,000 votes and rishad badudeen, digambaram (the solid vote base of 300,000) and manoganeshan and all other tamil parties has brought 500,000 votes minimum. So the unp vote base is only 28 lacks in srilanka. But mahindas modern slfp has the solid vote base of 5.8 million to 6 million votes. This is 220% higer than the unp vote base. Mahinda can lead in all sinhala electrates in colombo, gampaha, kalutara, ratnapura, kegalle kurunagela, puttalam, anuradhapura, polanaruwa, matale, galle, matara, hambanthota, monaragela, all sinhala electrates in kandy as yatinuwara, ududumbara, galagedara etc and all sinelectelectrates in badulla like mahiyangana wiyaluwa, uvaparanagama etc. Unp vobadbase is very low whn comparing with mahidas modern slfp vote base. Unp always depends on floating votes and if the digambaram and muslim congress contest with them they can add 800,000 votes to unp peramuna. In gotabayas election with mahinda solid vote base of 5.8 million there is a new fresh voters of 1.3 milllion are going to be registed .from this vote base 90% are sinhalese votes so there is a defineate possibility that gotabaya can get 800,000 from this votes. So his vote base will become 6.6 million. The government candidate will lose 500,000 votes from their floating vote base from that 900,000 which they got in 2015 due to the poor economic mangement of unp. Then they will start with 5.7 million with jvp vote base 600,000.with this 5.7 million votes the if 500,000 fresh voters voted for government candidate they can maxmum get 6.2 million votes.

  • 0
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    Add to my previous comment if gota got that 500 000 floting votes which votes have casted last time to maithree then gota will get 6.6 million with 500,000 then it will come 7.1 million vote base for gota. Then it will come as 54% of total vote cast. In an scenario if unp contested alone the jvp will not join unp then they will lost 600,000 jvp votes and then gota will win with the majority of 1.5 million votes.

    • 0
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      If Thero talks about real Physical projects like, Trinco Harbor, ETCA …all were opened up by Old King and closed down by Yahapalanaya, one after other recently. It seems to be Old Royal capable of opening Commission projects any time anywhere. Old King took all the help, even the satellite tracing of LTTE ships from American Military. America offered free, unlike China throw in everything with a loan paper attached to it.
      Beyond that Old Royals opened up much larger projects called UN SG Expert Panel Investigation & OISL report, which has accused the Old and the New with war crimes. Thero tried to discount the first one as Darusman report, but it did not vanish into thin air of UN building in NYC. Ranil tried dodging the OISL bullet with cosigning and putting it to rest for ever. UNHRC Resolution 30/1 . The boomerang turned back as resolution 34/1. Ranil’s hope is, after he signed the Hangbangtota sale deal, Resolution 34/1 is over. EU’s GSP+ was lost by Old, though he kept begging but never got it back. Ranil fooled EU and got it back. Ranil went out of mood and kick on the back of US ambassador when he went to explain American reason to move their embassy from Tel Aviv. Now America is not renewing its GSP+ for any of its countries. From the time (May 2009) when the Dow John crashed below 6000, with in ten years, now it is above 25,000 and four times higher. This is going to get support for Trump administration to hold on GSP+ and not to waste American taxpayer’s money on corky countries like Lankawe. Harsha and Rishard right away declared they would not beg for GSP+ . They would like Chinese loans, where they get their portion, unlike the economic agreements like ETCA, GSP+. So it is yet to be seen how Tilak plan to get back US GSP+

  • 0
    0

    When Hitler threatened to wring Britain’s neck like that of a chicken, Churchill growled: “some chicken! Some neck!”

    Prof Kumar David calls the Pohottuwa, a Poropaya ( doubtless he means Poroppaya or cork) or Porotuwa ( I wonder what that is).

    Well, going by the visual evidence which came into our drawing rooms on prime time TV news, that’s some Poropaya and seems perfectly capable of putting a cork in the Indo-US-Ranil-CBK-civil society-TNA project!

  • 0
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    The writer’s political prejudices are all too evident. 2015 when YAHAPALANAYA first descended on the country, it carried with it an electorate blinded by false propaganda cooked up by the UNP together with the LTTE rump and the NGO lobby.
    The country deluded into believing that yahalapana can work wonders voted them in , and now 3 years later have found out for themselves that the country has been taken on a long ride to disaster. The first test of yahalapalanaperformance is about to take place, and no amount of pseudo rationalisation can conceal the political calamity awaiting the yahapalana mob whose corruption, greed, and political thuggery has left many of its supporters speechless.!

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