25 June, 2022


Offering Material Inducements Without Policy Change To Win Vote

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The government is sparing no effort to ensure victory for itself at the forthcoming presidential election. The opposition alliance accuses it of offering their members large sums of money to cross over. This is rejected by those who have been accused of this practice, which leaves the electorate in a state of disquiet and uncertainty, not wishing to believe the worst in those who ought to be champions of the national interest. Those who join the government do not seem to be negotiating any policy changes. Similarly, the situation where it concerns the various groups who are being provided with tangible benefits would be calculated to make them feel grateful and obligated to cast their vote to their benefactors. So far at least the government appears to be focused only on providing short term material benefits to induce those who join it and the electorate in general.

The problem of ensuring free and fair elections in these circumstances has grown to be so challenging in these circumstances that election monitoring organisations, in an unprecedented manner, have issued a joint statement on this matter. They said that “As election observers, whose primary objective is to ensure a free and fair environment for elections, we are concerned about the prevailing conditions. The sovereignty of the people is foremost in a democracy and the legitimacy of the elected leadership arises from the free vote of a country’s constituency.” The main point that the Sri Lankan election monitors seem to be making is that elections should always yield in an outcome that truly reflects the will of the people.

HirunikaThe election monitors have made a serious charge against the manner in which the election campaign has been unfolding and the inability of state institutions to conform to the basic norms of a democracy. “It is a right of the people to be able to choose a candidate of their choice within the framework of a free and fair contest. Having observed events in the run up to the election, we note the following: There is unfettered use of state resources for election campaign purposes. There is unfettered use of publicity material including hoardings and posters in clear violation of election laws. The Police is not sufficiently active in dealing with election related violations, and violence which is in contravention of the regular laws of the country.“

Bought Off

The politicians who have crossed over to the government from the ranks of the opposition do not appear to have negotiated for the policy changes they advocated in the opposition. This raises the question whether they were motivated by conviction or by the desire for power and wealth. The government appears to believe that it can offer people material inducements, without the promise of policy change, and yet get their support.  But there has been at least one recent crossover that has been based on another motivation. The relevance of Hirunika Premachandra’s crossover is not only in the number of votes she can bring to the opposition. It also throws some light as to how a section of the people who are being wooed for their vote might behave.

Hirunika Premachandra has been in the limelight ever since her father was shot dead in a clash that took place during the run up to another election. The accused gunman was a government MP. Her father was a presidential advisor and former government MP. In the aftermath of her father’s murder she demanded justice. When the government did not show much interest in pursuing the case, she protested publicly. Then in a surprising turn of events she joined the government and gave thanks to the President. The magic of the President’s personality, and his readiness to dole out patronage, seemed to have worked on her too. She contested the Western Provincial Council elections on behalf of the government and obtained the highest number of votes in the country’s richest and most educated province.

Hirunika Premachandra’s cross over to the opposition shows the tenuous nature of commitment based on material inducement. In an interview with the media she said, “It is difficult to stay in the same party with the people who were responsible for my father’s death. Three years have passed and justice has not yet been done.” She could not stay with a government that did not do justice by her late father. She could not work side by side with those who had participated in the killing and the cover up that led to the obstruction of justice. She had joined the government and enjoyed the benefits it offered. But this was not sufficient to win her loyalty. When the opportunity came for her to work for a more lasting policy change, she chose to leave and oppose the government.

Northern Campaign

As the election campaign heightens in intensity the government has begun to release large stocks of gold and jewellery that is in its possession which was taken by the LTTE from the people of the North. The government has begun to distribute these back to their owners. The timing of the release of these assets that belong to the people suggests a political motivation of obtaining their votes. The question is whether this action of the government at this time will actually translate into votes for the government. The war-affected people are likely to wonder why the government held on to their assets for five years, instead of returning it to them shortly after the war ended. Indeed, they are also asking why the government is holding on to their land, which it has appropriated to build army camps and hotels.

The quest for justice that Hirunika Premachandra has within her for what happened to her late father, and which has influenced her decision to leave the government, would throw light on the likely pattern of voting of those war survivors in the North.  Their quest for justice is even more painful and long lasting because most of them have not given up the hope that those who are missing are still alive. The government has appointed a variety of bodies to ask them for details of their loved ones, but has not yet provided them with the answers as to what happened. It is good that the government is giving back to the people their lost gold and jewellery. But it would be much better for both the government and the war survivors if the government would give them closure with regard to their missing loved ones, by finding out what happened to them to the best of its ability rather than delaying ascertaining the truth of the matter. To paraphrase Hirunika Premachandra, five years have passed but justice has not yet been done.

The government appears to believe it can still obtain a fair share of ethnic and religious minority vote. The major ethnic minority parties, the TNA and SLMC have still to take formal decisions as to which side they will support. After the end of the war, the economy in the North and East has made significant gains due to government spending on infrastructure and other material developments. The government is also offering a continuation of the political stability that the country has enjoyed and contrasts it with the potential instability of the opposition alliance which, while promising all round change, has yet to evolve its own election manifesto. Although the government has done little over the past decade in terms of making policy changes that would ensure better protection of ethnic minority rights, it continues to be hopeful that the material and short term benefits it offers can sway their votes in its favour.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    Has Dr Jehan got some wisdom..

    Dr Jehan may be an NGO . but he is an educated Srialnkan Christian who is engaged in community work to improve the stock of his fellow Christians who are the rural poor in the main.

    And it is the main source for future and further development of the e Church in Srilanka.

    He obviously seem to realize that this unholy alliance is nothing but a gang of crooks who have come together to fulfil their, greed, avarice, revenge and make money.

    As President said yesterday , It was the UNP and the JVP who stirred shit about the Sira brothers pilfering our natural resources using the Brother’s Power and Influence and ripping off the farmers to make their millions in to Billions.

    Now Rice Sira is on stage with Asath Sally to cheer for the UNP.. And the JVP is in the background shouting Hear ,, Hear..

    Surely intelligent people who care about the country and its majority, can’t be oblivious to these pathetic attempts to exploit and mislead the Electorate by these bankrupt and written off politicians..

    And even to put the much awaited Visit of the Holy See in jeopardy.

  • 1

    Hirunika is one of many who still wait for some resolution into the investigations (if there are any) that go on after the loss of a loved one. We all know that there will never be justice, because those who pretend to investigate are complicit in these murders. It is obvious that she was bribed into accepting Mahinda mama’s kind offers, and it was surprising she was able to overlook their role in her father’s death and the protection of the murderer, but politicians work in strange ways.

    The people are getting tired of the games, and hopefully will be able to see through the sudden drop in prices for basic necessities, and the sudden concern for the people, and vote these scoundrels out of office, the entire family. They can sit on their piles of ill gotten gains, and feel sorry for themselves.

  • 4

    Dear all Lankans.
    This time when you vote think twice before you cast your vote
    This time you are voting to decide the destiny of our nation
    Your decision will decend this country into dictatorship or family rule for ever
    Your vote will be make or bread for our cultural heritage of democracy
    Your vote will will decide future of this nation
    If you love this country please make a wise decision
    If you love people of this country please make a right choice
    Think twice what MR and family have given you
    Your country is run on money borrowed from many country
    Your country is sold to China
    Your country is run my mafia today
    Your country is run by most corrupted family elites
    Your country’s economy has been destroyed by one family
    If you like to hand over your country to sons of MR then decide what you want
    It is up to you either way
    It’s your choice
    Do not we need a political reform?
    Do not we need a real change
    Do not we need a good team of MPs in parliament
    Do not we need to send old guys home
    Do not we need to punish thieves of public money
    Then decide what is good for your country

  • 1

    No inducement required. He is just giving it up. The King is going back to his village.

    Read on people A speech delivered by President Mahinda Rajapaksa over the weekend was cut-short following continous disruptions by the crowd. Rajapaksa, who was addressing a crowd in Dambulla, was forced to abandon his speech as members of the audience continued to disrupt him. According to eye-witnesses the President was forced to stop several times until the crowd grew silent before he continued. Finally Rajapaksa grew annoyed and announced that he could no longer continue his speech and that he would give way for them (the noisy audience members) to use the podium, he bid farewell to the crowd and left along with the rest of the contingent on the platform. Sources within the government denied that the President was forced to cut his speech short, but instead he finished early as he had another meeting to attend. Several weeks ago over 500 farmers from Dambulla protested along the main A9 road in Dambulla over the government’s decision to import big onions from India. According to P. R. Senajayakody, a local farmer, members of the government buying agencies had instructed them not to sell their produce as prices were expected to fall. However, when they went to sell their produce in the market they were told the government had imported onions and there was a surplus and so they would not be able to buy the locally grown onions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-xTpr2bpCg

  • 3

    Jehan Perera writes:

    Northern Campaign

    “The government appears to believe it can still obtain a fair share of ethnic and religious minority vote.”

    Here is what the overtly racist bigot Champika Ranawaka says about Tamils vote bank:

    Sinister move to get Tamils boycott poll: Champika


    There was a sinister move by some local and international forces to change the mindset of the Tamil community in order to get them boycott the January Presidential election, Former Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka charged today.

    Mr. Ranawaka charged that this was to be done by a campaign aimed at making the Tamil community understand that this election was not relevant to them as it would not bring solutions to the issues faced by them.


    He wants the minorities to vote in the elections which many of them consider to be irrelevant as these elections are meant to keep the status quo as it has been in the past 66 years and do not in anyway address their grievances. Yet Champika the racist now wants Tamils to vote in order to kick the minorities around for another six years.

    While he retains a racist Sinhala/Buddhists agenda irrespective of whichever party he supports he now wants the Tamils to vote.

    There were more than 600,000 up country hardworking people who were disfranchised by his ancestors until Hindians kicked the hell out of JR to restore their citizenship as part of the Indo-Lanka accord which Champika opposed.

    Now he demands their precious votes.

    Hypocrisy has lost its meaning.

    As part of Lord Kitchener’s recruitment drive for the armed forces in 1914 a poster read

    “Britons: Lord Kitchener Wants You. Join Your Country’s Army! God save the King.”

    Now this hypocrite should also follow him with a poster campaign.

    Sinhala/Buddhist Champika wants Tamil Votes, Vote in this elections,to save the country from sinister Move, will continue to kick you in your b**ls, 24/7/52.

  • 1

    Pope is coming. Still you are not happy?

    Are you on a ood acting assignment for MR, because he is bringing the Pope to please citizens of Rome like you!

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