22 February, 2020

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Sajith’s Inaugural At Galle Face Raises A Few Bitter Questions

By Shyamon Jayasinghe

Shyamon Jayasinghe

“There is no evidence that crowds at meetings translate accurately into votes. If it were, the JVP would have trounced others several times and Mahinda would have won in 2015.”

Testimony

A friend of mine, a businessman and long-known Sajith Premadasa backer for reasons best known to him, sends me the following message through WhatsApp:

“The friend of mine who sent me this drone photo said, ‘In my whole life U have never seen such a mammoth crowd…. Still they are pouring in. I stood at the Galle Face roundabout just 15 minutes ago. I could see the Galle Road up to about Temple trees completely, sea of people….”

From the Galle Road to Temple Trees is about 3 KM. My friend has an extraordinary eyesight!

A undiscerning Sajith supporter naturally would have been up in ecstatic joy at a ‘report’ like this. In my case, I was watching the whole meeting from the comfort of my Melbourne home. Who said I can have no idea of what’s happening in Sri Lanka as I am domesticated in Melbourne? Not so in this digital world and with fast communication technology. I got all the technology and wouldn’t risk going to the island where someone who does not like my political writings would get the bright idea of shooting me down. Despite the progress of Yahapalanaya this can still happen, although Gotabaya Rajapaksa hasn’t climbed to power yet.

Promise

I am admittedly a supporter of the Yahapalanaya system-changing plan and I like to see Ranil Wickremesinghe’s promise to execute that plan under a Sajith Presidency. I can pin hopes on that promise despite Sajith’s well-known equivocation about the abolition of the Executive Presidential system that is the root cause of bringing up arrogant and foolish people to the ruling helm. With such men at the top, terraced flanks of lesser politicians develop as hangers on and  beneficiaries of the corrupt largesse of the dictator. The latter are all keeping a watch on the crime that does on.

And the crime is franchised. We have had enough of this system of politics.

Crowds are a Common Phenomenon

Hence, I like the UNP’s new candidate getting supportive crowds around wherever he goes. If Gotabaya wins, then the match is over for Yahapalanaya and we are back with family rule, with the white vans and the ‘missing’ journalists. Courts would, once again, be the  creation of the almighty ruler. Judges will give the wanted verdicts and still carry through with their regalia. Some men would be more equal than others. And so on.

But I tell Sajith and UNP fans not to get too excited like my friend’s friend with the drone camera. Haven’t we seen ‘massive crowds,’ at Galle Face before? Filling and overfilling the ground? There may be small differences in size that are marginal and of no consequence. Very recently, I watched the JVP crowd at Galle Face. I cannot see the difference. There was a visible difference and that was the discipline of the party with all leaders and attendees in red caps as though the revolution is round the corner, once again since Doric De Souza. Previous to that, I saw Mahinda Rajapaksa’s crowd. There was evidence that many of the attendees got food on the way. Some consumed rotten milk packets. I don’t know about cash been given to the hand. Rakapaksas are moneyed people and, unlike Sajith and the UNP, they could afford to unload some of the money into a crowd of beggars.

True Significance of Crowds

The point I am trying to make is that crowds brought in for a meeting are not necessarily voluntary. There is no evidence that crowds at meetings translate accurately into votes. If it were, the JVP would have trounced others several times and Mahinda would have won in 2015.

Crowds have a demonstrative effect of a show of power especially to the undiscerning. Many of the political rats, who were toying with jumping sides, get back as a wise move. The newspapers said that Sarath Fonseka had crossed over a day of two ago to Gota who was the man who put the General into prison jumpers. Yet, we see the Field Marshall back on stage with Sajith who promised outright that he would grant him the subject of law and order long denied by Sirisena. Champika was also there. 

Many other smaller fry, likewise, got back to fold sensing growing support for Sajith. 

Today, is Elpitiya local elections-day and if Pohottuwa wins that would mean something more serious to look at as it has a demonstrative effect that is more effective since what is counted at Elpitiya are real votes of people.

PM’s Speech Strangely Interrupted

I was taken by surprise to observe how the Prime Minister’s speech at the rally had been rudely interrupted by one of the two narrators. For what? Because Sajith was riding what appeared to be a pony toward the stage from about 300 metres away. PM remained with composure and dignity for about twenty minutes and, then, resumed the speech. The build up of his delivery had been disrupted. In addition, I spotted two idiots behind the PM making laughing gestures apparently aimed at a section of the audience. Knowing the rift between the Sajith faction and Ranil Wickremesinghe these errors stood out as deliberate.

Speeches

UNP Secretary, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, and Revd Dambara Amila spoke out carrying over the attack straight into the enemy camp. It is very important to do that and try and demolish the enemy’s image. That is real politics. Akila borrowing  a title from Dharmasiri Bandaranayake’s popular stage play referred to “Yaksha gamanaya.” [journey of the devil]. Revd Dambara Amila, an academic at Sri Jayawardenapura University, tore Gota and Sirisena to pieces. These two speakers and a few others  had the right pitch to hit the enemy at his weakest point. That was a lesson for Sajith Premadasa who has all along being struggling with a marketing pitch. What impact does, “Ekwa Yamu Idiriyata,” have on audiences? The central slogan of an election campaign must be able to tune into the key needs of the electorate. Only then could the slogan give any sign of a wake-up call. On the other hand, Sajith’s chosen slogan is anaemic and stale. 

Hidden Rift

I am not trying to be a trouble maker but I could, finally, spot a concealed rift between the official UNP line set out by its leader and the populist thrust of Sajith’s camp. Wickremesinghe stressed the point that the party nominated Sajith in order to carry out the yahapalanaya program that lies incomplete. This meant the abolition of the Executive President as a first and urgent measure. On the other hand, Sajith’s rhetoric was that of someone who is to be the Executive President and not a 19A shadow. He spoke as though he is going to make drastic changes all round the wicket although under 19A that is the province of the Prime Minister. Does his faction have a project to oust the leader after winning?

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Latest comments

  • 12
    9

    To Shyamon Jayasinghe the {” Sajith’s Inaugural At Galle Face Raises A Few Bitter Questions”}
    With or without dual citizenship, Presidential candidate Gotabaya’s past is rancid. MR’s negatives as far as turning the other way when his circle get involved in unaccounted for financial dealings is well known.
    MR leads SLPP which is anti-minorities. He has this uncanny knack to crucify opponents through media, fake news and the like. This will start soon.
    GR on the other hand is doing nothing. He created the near 100% Sinhala speaking Armed Services. His demands to go to Singapore for Panadols are met.
    Hairline Cracks are visible in the MR family. The mutual trust is not there any more.
    .
    GR’s win or loss is bad news for us.
    PS: Where the hell is Gnanasara Thero in the jigsaw?

  • 25
    5

    More bitter is the question where Ranil’s leadership has taken the UNP !

    Shymon uncle ,please look at the Elpitiya results from your comfortable seat in Melbourne.

    Don’t waste the time of people suffering in Sri Lanka due to “born to fail” politicians like Ranil

    • 15
      4

      You area miserable looser Shaymon. You have to understand that Ranil lost another chance to loose. If Sajith wins I want Sajith to knock off this incompetent fool ASAP.

    • 0
      0

      [edited out] many who are really living in this country do not want Ranil – ask him to retire – He selected Sajith but will undermine him so that he will never be able to win – because he knows that he will be safer with Gota than with Sajith – and he will be the Leader of Opposition and Sajith’s threat will be gone forever

  • 9
    0

    The “Old Guard” is disappearing. By Old Guard, I mean the Oxbridge or Sorbonne educated leadership. In a few decades, they will be completely gone. We are seeing the emergence of some new trend. Never before have Marxists contested a Sri Lankan presidential election. This is a new phase in Sri Lankan democracy. The UNP is resisting the trend, but they will gradually fold as well.

    • 10
      2

      Very perceptive of you Lester. Sajith too is the first ‘ordinary person’ to lead the UNP. Politics will never be the same again. I hope it will be for the better.

    • 2
      2

      Lester.
      Oxbridge educated is better than Pollonaruwa MV or no education. Legislature full of them. Still better than Royal Boys Club.
      Old guard fades away, anyway. Worrying is the New Guard. AKD Is no Marxist. Che Guevara revolutionary, I believe. Socialist Democracy has professed by NM,Colvin and Peter??? Never worked.
      No Sorbonne or Oxbridge today. LSE is the new thought process. Better than Kottalawala Academy no.

  • 6
    2

    Anybody who knows this country knows that you can see clearly a crowd that extends from Galle Face to Temple Trees. You don’t need to have extra-ordinary eye sight.
    It is possible, but not likely, for you to get shot for voicing contrary political opinions in Yahapalana Sri Lanka, the same as in Melbourne. – The problem is SJ has been too long out of this country to even have a clue as to what actually happens here. It is best that you continue to stay out.

  • 15
    2

    Shyamon, when did you visit SL last? Have you spoken to suffering people in SL.. Have a chat or two with some taxi drivers, market vendors etc.? You will get the message.

    Is writing these stories your hobby in retirement or are you just an armchair pundit?

  • 5
    0

    It seems Mr: Shyamon is jealous about the crowd. He is also wrong about the distance from Galle face to the temple trees. Actual distance is merely a half of a kilometre and anybody could see that length from Galle face.
    [edited out]

  • 8
    1

    Results of Elpitiya election is out. Even though it does not show the results of the presidential election but it shows the how Sinhala votes will be like. We can have a good idea who will be our next president.

  • 0
    0

    [edited out] Ground realities are very much different to you might have seen on your 75″ inch flat screen. It was Dambara Amila Thero’s speech that was was disrupted when Sajith Premadasa came on to the stage through the crowd..not Ranil.. Besides to date no one has questioned about the ability of Gotabaya Rajapaksha to contest this election as the Dual Citizens are prevented from engaging in politics.

  • 3
    0

    This Aussie in Melbourne does not even know it’s LESS than one kilometer from Temple Trees to Galle Face hotel Round About. Bloody expert sycophantic RW man pontificating . Sarath DeAlwis lives in Sri Lanka and has credibility.

  • 1
    4

    The writer has been lashed here by some Sajith backers. They cannot read and understand English. What Shyamon Jayasinghe has done is to show :One that there is no alternative to supporting young Premadasa and the UNP as Gota is the real danger we face. The writer also says very perceptively that there are many negative issues about Premadasa. Former Minister Jurampathy remarked that Sajith was too immature. The utterances this man makes, makes it clear that he is not there where he should be. The writer also states that Sajith has not developed a right sales pitch. He and his campaigners must take the attack to Gota. What is he doing? At this rate he will lose to Gota the blackguard and we Sri Lankans are doomed for ever.

  • 1
    1

    See what the Daily Miror reports about Sajith Premadasa’s bore talk about artificial intelligence. Obviously some idiot has given this ignorant young man the tip and he has uttered nonsense. Here is what the Daily Mirror reports:
    “IT professionals lash out at Sajith for misleading public
    12 October 2019 01:29 am – 26 – 18743
    FacebookTwitterMore3.8K
    A A A
    The Association of Information Technology Professionals said yesterday that it was deeply saddened when it saw UNP presidential candidate, Mr. Sajith Premadasa, trying to mislead the public by showing a dashboard which he referred to as ’’Artificially Intelligent Management Dashboard’’.

    “We are very disappointed that he is trying to mislead the public by merely displaying a video without incorporating any such advanced technologies,” the Secretary of the Association Lasantha Wickramasinghe said.

    He said, “Artificial intelligence is any device that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximise its chance of successfully achieving its goals. Examples include driving a vehicle without a driver, diagnosing a patient and suggesting the treatments by a robot.

    Even what Mr. Premadasa showed us using a video is not artificial intelligence. Just showing data on a coloured dashboard is not artificial intelligence at all. At that time, he was looking for answers to the problem by discussing with an officer via a phone call. It is obvious that the intelligence of Mr. Premadasa and the officer on the other side is not artificial intelligence.

    We still cannot believe that a person seeking the leadership of the country is committing such a degrading act to mislead his voters. We suggest that he should openly apologise to the public for his efforts to mislead the people by this fraudulent act”.

  • 2
    0

    Elpitiya vote is not for Rajapaksa, even before Rajapaksa it was like that..

  • 1
    1

    Even if Shaymon did a power walk on Marine Dr in a fancy pair of Air Cushioned Nike Runners in a Quick Dry Nike running Kit with a Nike Cap , people wouldn’t notice Mr Shaymon to recognize and abduct him.

    Even if they did , it will be for the Nike Kit.

    I know Mr Shaymon may not like it.
    But one has to give an A Plus to Keselwatta Kid for his ability to entertain the suckers.
    I like the way the Kid apologized to the UNP gathering for calling himself Sri Mukaya.. Man with a Holy Mouth..
    And reeled off their excellence in Artificial Intelligence capabilities in his UNP Government.
    -.
    Although the IT Pros in Colombo were pissed off about Keselwatta Kid getting in to their Territory , I don’t think there is any need for them to worry about any Intelligence in that gathering.

    The Slogans they were shouting in those old CTB Buses said it all..

    But then the real UNP Elite , Anglican and Vellala Faction I do not think attended the Rally.
    How could they after their leader and organizer in Colombo rubbished the Kid in Public for not bringing his OL results to Srikotha.-

    Any way whether Keselwatta Kid win or lose , Uncle Shaymon’s Fav Dr Ranil will be a Winner for sure..
    I will leave the UNP Intelligentsia to work it out how the UNP leader can be a winner even if his UNP Candidate is a loser..

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