17 October, 2017

Tamil Vote: Is it 2005, Again?

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“We are totally unconcerned about the outcome of this election.” – SP Tamilchelvan, LTTE Political Head (on 2005 Presidential election)[i]

The Opposition needs Tamils. Tamils need the Opposition.

Mahinda Nomination 2014The Opposition cannot win without Tamil votes. Tamils will be stuck with Rajapaksa rule, if the Opposition fails to win.

The Rajapaksas do not need Tamil votes to win. They just need Tamils to abstain from voting.

The Rajapaksas understood this in 2005. That is why they did a deal with the LTTE to impose an election-boycott on Tamils.

So the Rajapaksa camp raising hell, about a rumoured alliance between the Opposition and the TNA, is logical and comprehensible. Typical of this frenzied reaction is an article by an organisation called ‘Sri Lankans Against Terrorism’ (and verbosely titled, ‘Shame on you CBK! Shame on your ancestors! Determined to fracture the nation!!! You belong in Paris!’), which castigates the former president for ‘wheeling and dealing’ with the TNA and the SLMC[ii].

But it is not only the Rajapaksas (and their Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist allies) who are terrified at the prospect of an Opposition-TNA alliance. A segment of Tamil polity is equally opposed to such an agreement. For instance, the Tamil Net, in an article titled, ‘Sampanthan suspected of a clandestine deal’, accuses the TNA leader of forming an alliance with the Opposition and argues, “The debated question within the TNA is whether it should support any of the presidential contesters of the genocidal state or to keep quiet leaving the choice of the next government to the conscience of the Sinhala nation…”[iii]

That was what the LTTE did in 2005, possibly after receiving a substantial bribe from the Rajapaksas – left the ‘choice of the next government to the conscience of the Sinhala nation’. And as M. Karunanidhi pointed out in 2009, Mahinda Rajapaksa won by 181,000 votes because the LTTE-imposed ban prevented 700,000 Tamils from voting. “What is the outcome today of that hasty decision?”[iv]

Self-Disenfranchisement

Tamils, by abstaining en masse, can allow Sinhalese (and Muslims) to choose the next president. But that President will then make decisions which affect the day-to-day lives and the future of every single Lankan Tamil living in Sri Lanka. Abstaining – or even spoiling the vote – will therefore become an act of self-disenfranchisement.

Tamils can stay away from the election. But they cannot prevent the election – and its outcome – from profoundly affecting their lives. Grand rhetoric apart, the real choice confronting Tamils is no different from the real choice confronting Sinhalese or Muslims – do they want a continuation of the status quo or do they want a change? Do they want to live under the Rajapaksas or not?

If Tamils want to help the Rajapaksas to gain a third term, they can either abstain from voting or spoil their vote. If they do not want the Rajapaksas to gain a third term, they can vote for any candidate other than Mahinda Rajapaksa or his proxies.

If Tamils boycott the elections, they will be doing in 2015 what they were forced by the LTTE to do in 2005 – help Mahinda Rajapaksa win.

Maithripala Sirisena is not very forthcoming about the ethnic problem and other Tamil issues. The country does not know, as yet, what sort of policies he will implement vis-à-vis the minorities.

But there is no doubt about what the Rajapaksas will do to the minorities, especially Tamils, if they win. They will continue to implement – faster, more comprehensively and with greater vigour – the policies they implemented in the last five years.

The de facto occupation of the North and the East will continue. The expropriation of private lands by security forces will continue. The militarization of the economy will continue. The building of Buddhist temples in areas without a single civilian Buddhist will continue. Demographic reengineering will continue. The building of cantonments will continue. The use of the PTA to crack down on dissent will continue. The prioritisation of massive physical infrastructure projects and the de-prioritisation of income and employment generation will continue. The disembowelling of the 13th Amendment will continue. Sabotaging the Northern Provincial Council will continue.

Is that what the Tamil hardliners who are advocating an election boycott want?

The current situation of the North is both alarming and pathetic. Poverty is extremely high – according to the Headcount Index, it is 28.8% in Vanni, 12.7% in Killinochchi, 20.1% in Mannar and 8.3% in Jaffna. Only Vavuniya. at 3.4%, has a poverty-ratio lower than the national average of 6.7%[v]. Unemployment is high as well. As Amantha Perera reports, “Economists blame a lopsided policy framework that has poured millions into large infrastructure development without paying adequate attention to revitalising local income generation….”[vi]

Brewing social issues compound the economic malaise. Drug addiction, especially amongst youth, including school children, is becoming a major problem. “….The young generation in Jaffna society is being addicted to drugs…. A cross section of the fishermen interviewed by the Sunday Times said gold is being smuggled out of Jaffna in exchange for cannabis from Kerala. The exchange is carried out mid-ocean.”[vii] Another problem with long-term consequences is addiction to alcohol. “More than 15,000 litres of alcohol are being consumed daily…. Drinking patterns in the province had totally changed: heavy drinking had become a trend among youth….”[viii]

This in a province, with a heavy military presence and a Navy-ringed coastline. One does not have to subscribe to conspiracy theories to surmise that the Rajapaksas will not mind a new generation too-stoned or too-drunk to worry about social, political and economic issues, be it in the North or the South.

The Rajapaksas are consciously and methodically emulating the Israeli practice of using state power to alter facts on the ground. If they win this election, their plan to change Northern (and Eastern) demographics will be speeded up, until the existing ethnic contiguity in the North is totally destroyed and devolution becomes a democratic impossibility. Who is to stop them, once they win, especially if they win without de-legitimising levels of violence and rigging thanks to a Tamil election-boycott? It will give the Diaspora hardliners something to yell about but the real price will have to be paid by ordinary Tamils who have to live in a Rajapaksa run Sri Lanka.

As the International Crisis Group pointed out, “With the northern and eastern provinces still under tight military control, security forces could, as in last year’s provincial election, be used to restrict campaigning by opposition parties and intimidate Tamil and Muslims voters to reduce turnout.”[ix] Ensuring a low voter-turnout in the North and the East will be a key Rajapaksa aim. Therefore a Tamil election-boycott will be a dream-come-true for the Siblings.

The Opposition, despite the prominent presence of the JHU, has so far managed to avoid the racist-trap. But non-racism will not suffice to persuade Tamils to brave Rajapaksa-terror and vote. They too must be given a real stake in the Opposition-project. Like in 2005, this time too, the Rajapaksas and Tamil maximalists are working in tandem to persuade Tamils to disenfranchise themselves. The combined effect of the regime’s terror-tactics and Tamil maximalists’ siren-songs can be countervailed only by making ordinary Tamils stakeholders of the Maithripala-project.


[vi] Ibid

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Latest comments

  • 3
    6

    Tisaranee is totally mistaken. This is not the Opposition you had in 2005. UNP understood that they lost their colossal vote bank by leaning towards Tamils and things have changed since then withing the UNP. Just look at Uva provincial results. Gov made only a marginal win even with total support from upcountry Tamil leaders. UNP gained support of Sinhalese Buddhists in recent elections and more importantly, the Opposition candidate is very popular among Sinhalese.

    • 7
      1

      Roshan

      “UNP gained support of Sinhalese Buddhists in recent elections and more importantly, the Opposition candidate is very popular among Sinhalese.”

      I take it that this is a Sinhala/Buddhist elections for the office of Sinhala/Buddhist president in a Sinhala/Buddhist country where Sinhala/Buddhist votes matter and non Sinhala/Buddhists votes don’t count.

      If it is the case why doesn’t the state conduct a Tamil/Saivaite elections for the office of Tamil/Saivaite president in a Tamil/Saivaite Tamil Eelam where Tamil/Saivaite votes should matter and non Tamil/Saivaite votes shouldn’t count?

    • 4
      3

      what kot-toruva the rohana’s like roshne la.

      Gallegedara Opium,

      Ala bathala manioca

      This is Walking Owl where are you going to Roshan??

      Which dog pond??

  • 1
    1

    At this juncture one can only hope and wait that the North and East of the island will vote despite all obstacles and vote will be based on their personal experience and emotions.

    Rest is all left for speculations including the immediate aftermath of the elections and transfer of power if MY3 is the winning candidate.

    Only certainty is UNHRC inquiry report in March 2015.

  • 1
    3

    Prove your claim about the 2005 deal with the Tigers/TNA. If not stop writing rubbish!

    • 4
      1

      Senaratne

      “Prove your claim about the 2005 deal with the Tigers/TNA. If not stop writing rubbish!”

      It has been reported in several media including you tube. It is for you to look for it. Tiran Alles gave a detailed account about the deal. Perhaps you were mesmerized into deep deep sleep.

      When did you wake up? After watching these youtube clips go back to sleep don’t wake for another 9 years.

      Mahinda Rajapaksa gave money to LTTE – Tiran – P1
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DQ64bDD3Yk

      Mahinda Rajapaksa gave money to LTTE – Tiran – P2
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3aRMnBP_8E

      Would you now stop demanding proof and most importantly stop writing your own rubbish.

    • 0
      0

      YOU READ u/TUBE VEDIO RE tIRAN aLLES cONFESSION WHICH SAYS bASIL rAJAPAKSE GAVE dLRS 180m TO eMIL kANTHAN And he says, his this confession, he confirmed to CID by a syayement when he was taken to custody under PTA Tiran Alles is a M.P. who is supporting Mahinda Rajapakse now.

  • 1
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 5
    3

    TG:

    With all due respect I disagree with your analysis.

    1) The Opposition cannot win without Tamil votes. Tamils will be stuck with Rajapaksa rule, if the Opposition fails to win.

    *** If the opposition cannot win without the Tamils votes then it will be Political suicide if Mr.Srisena refuses to spell it out what he intends to do about the Tamil Grievances. By flatly refusing to include his vision for the country he is playing the Race Card like all his predecessors which is nothing new and goes to show that Sri Lanka is a RACIST country.

    2) The Rajapaksas do not need Tamil votes to win. They just need Tamils to abstain from voting.

    *** What choice do the Tamils have to vote on or not to vote a) Under MR colonisation and de facto occupation will continue and buoyed by a win MR will accelerate the pace of Ethnic Cleansing. b) Colonisation and de facto occupation will not stop under Mr.Srisena.

    3) Is that what the Tamil hardliners who are advocating an election boycott want.

    *** If you say asking for our GOD given right amounts to taking a Hard Line then so be it.

    4) If Tamils boycott the elections, they will be doing in 2015 what they were forced by the LTTE to do in 2005 – help Mahinda Rajapaksa win.

    *** Unlike in 2005 helping MR will help our course as the Sinhala Nation will send out a clear message to the World that when it comes to Tamil Rights it is business as usual. After UNHCR report sanctions will be imposed to punish Sinhala Lanka and Britain has already served notice and things are taking shape. The Russian economy is crippled and Sri Lankas Tea export to the Bankrupt Nation is going to take a Nose Dive. The so called BOOM under MR with money from China will turn in to BUST and all the Limousines will grind to a halt and the Rickshawallahs will be doing brisk business taking people to collect the daily ration.
    5) Maithripala Sirisena is not very forthcoming about the ethnic problem and other Tamil issues. The country does not know, as yet, what sort of policies he will implement vis-à-vis the minorities.

    *** You said it and if Maithri were to do something which was in the manifesto and grant Tamils their rights history will repeat itself and we will have RIOTS on the street and Tamil Blood will be spilt.

    Tamils have no choice but to abstain and let the 20 Million RACISTs dig their own GRAVE.

  • 1
    4

    “The Opposition cannot win without Tamil votes. Tamils will be stuck with Rajapaksa rule, if the Opposition fails to win.”

    Spot on tissaranee.I did an analysis of the 2010 presidential election and came out with the same verdict as you.Here it is

    http://www.infolanka.com/news/election2010.htm

    Let us forcast an attainable scenario for the opposition based on the results of the 2010 election.

    1.Assume that 125000 voters decide to switch from mahinda to maithripala in the colombo district,then maithri will win colombo by a majority of 165000 votes.

    2.If 100000 voters switch from mahinda to maithri in the gampaha district Maithri will yet lose the district by 85000 votes.

    3.So the net effect after the cumulative results of colombo and gampaha is maithri leading by 80000 votes.

    4.Now take the other big district of kurunegala.If 75000 voters switch from mahinda to maithri,mahinda will still win that district by 105000.

    5.So after these three big districts are polled mahinda will be leading by 25000 votes.

    6.Now take kandy district.If 75000 voters decide to switch from mahinda to maithri then maithri will win kandy by 75000 votes.

    7.So after the results in colombo,gampaha,kurunegala and kandy districts is added up,maithri will be leading by 50000 votes with Mahinda winning the gampaha and kurunegala districts and maithri winning colombo and kandy.

    8.now take kalutara,galle and ratnapura which are medium size districts and assume a switch of 50000 voters from mahinda to maithri in each district then mahinda will still win kalutara by 80000,galle by 75000 and ratnapura by 75000 votes,making a total of approx 225000 votes.

    9.So after the seven largest districts colombo,gampaha,kurunegala,kandy and kalutara,galle,ratnapura counting is over mahinda would be leading with 175000 votes with maithri only winning colombo and kandy.

    10.Now take the small medium districts like kegalle,matara,anuradhapura and badulla and assuming a switch of 40000 votes from mahinda to maitri,then kegalle,matara and anurathapura will be won by mahinda by 40000,70000 and 75000 votes while maithri will win badulla by 40000,giving a net total majority to mahinda from these 4 districts of approximately 150000 votes.

    11.So after the largest 11 districts are counted mahinda will be leading by 325000 votes with maithri winning colombo,kandy and badulla.

    12.The balance 11 districts are small ones with some smaller than the others.If we take the largest of them puttalam,hambantota,nuwaraeliya and digamadulla and assume a switch of 25000 from mahinda to maithri,then mahinda will win puttalam by about 15000,hambantota by 70000 while maithri will win nuwara eliya by 80000 and digamadulla by 55000 and giving him a net effect of 50000 from these 4 districts.

    13.If you substract this 50000 votes for maithri from the cumulative 325000 votes for mahinda so far as in point 11, mahinda will be leading maithri by 275000 votes after 15 districts of the 22 are counted,with maithri winning only colombo,kandy,badulla,nuwar eliya and digamadulla.

    14.Now let us take matale and moneragala.Assuming a switch of 20000 votes,mahinda would yet win matale by 20000 and moneragala by 50000.

    15.So the grand total at this stage for mahinda after the count of 17 out of 22 districts would be 350000 majority.

    16.now to pollonnaruwa where maithri comes from.Will the home crowd vote for the local fella or mahinda?I probably would think the local.

    17.normally i would have given a swing of 15000 votes from mahinda to maithri,but because this is the local fella probably it would double to 30000,but yet mahinda should win by a majority of 10000.Too difficult to call any way and i put my hands in the air and say ?

    18.Now coming to the balance 4 districts which are tamil majority batticaloa,trinco,jaffna and vanni.Can they give 400000 votes to maithri more than mahinda to clinch the election for him by 50000.

  • 2
    0

    When Karuna split from LTTE, it was the beginning of the end of LTTE. My3 splitting from Rajapakse should be the beginning of the end of Rajapakse and his family of thieves.

    After the end of the war, Rajapakse had a great opportunity to unite the country and take it forward like a statesman but he chose to play cheap racist politics and worked only for the benefit of his family. He hijacked the party and made it look like the party formed by his father. He was a very good actor (pretending to be a nationalist/patriot) and the Sinhala-Buddhists believed every rubbish he said/did (these days he is kissing the small kids). There is no media freedom, no law and order, no independent judiciary, everything is under the control of Rajapakse and his family and now he has started using the entire state machine for his campaign. It won’t be that easy to beat him. Let’s see if my3 wins, he has another opportunity to unite the country and take it forward. Has he got the vision, let’s hope he will turn into a good statesman.

    It is difficult to understand the mentality of the Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka, they can be easily fooled by these cunning leaders as they have a very short memory. In the metropolitan areas, MR has already lost in the hearts of many people but however it is not the same in rural Sinhala areas. The opposition should concentrate more on the rural areas.

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