By Nimal Bhareti –
After hectic campaign on both sides and unpleasant incidents like attacks on opposition stages, opposition candidate supporters, and attacks even on young artistes, the election was held without any violence and the election laws were strictly observed. All credit must go to the Elections Commissioner and his staff and to the police who performed their duties without any fear and favour and helped to make it a peaceful and violence free election.
It may be appropriate to analyse the causes for MR’s defeat. The pattern in the final voting shows that except for four provinces, namely the Colombo district in the Western Province, the Northern and Eastern except Digamadulla, and Central Provinces, in all the other provinces the UPFA won quite convincingly in some with large majorities like Amparai with a majority of 30,000 and Kolonne in the Ratnapura district with a majority of 20,000. This has clearly shown that despite the defeat of the LTTE fading away as an election slogan, the rural masses are still with the UPFA.
Why then did the UPFA lose in the other provinces listed above. The reasons are given in my recent article in the Colombo Telegraph under the title “Sri Lankan Presidential Elections 2015: Main Issues“.
The two factors I gave as the two main ones were firstly the breakdown in the rule of law and gross corruption, and secondly the effects of the draconian 18th amendment which gave the President unlimited powers in appointments to high posts.
In respect of the first factor I listed a few examples which included
The abominable and despicable manner which the 43rd CJ was impeached.
Attacks on two TV stations by Government goons where in both cases the perpetrators were identified but no action was taken.
The rape and murder case against the Tangalle Pradeeshiya Chairman where for two years absolutely no action was taken.
The humiliating incident where a Samurdhi office was tried to a tree.
Attacks on hundreds of Churches in all parts of the country.
Involvement of politicians including ministers in drug and ethanol peddling
In all the above cases not one word was said by the President who just allowed the situation to get out of control and failed to take action against any of the police officers who were involved in these incidents..
The repercussions of the draconian 18th amendment were listed below.
The emergence of a completely subservient judiciary with many questionable appointments to the highest courts.
The deterioration and politicization of the once highly respected public service with the appointment of political stooges
The virtual collapse of the once highly respected foreign service with the appointment of political stooges and family siblings
The politicization of the police service where both senior and junior police officers dare not take action through fear of reprisals and punishment transfers.
I quote from my article at the end where I stated as follows.
“All what has been mentioned in this article does not in any way detract from the credit due to the President for the end of the 30 year war and the massive development which has taken place after 2009. Had the government been clean and free of corruption, there is no doubt that MR would have won with hands down not only in the traditional vote base of the rural areas but also in the urban areas.”
What is the way forward for MS. and the other constituent parties? I would categorise them under two categories, namely short term and long term action and programmes.
Under short term and immediate action I would list the following.
- Repeal of the 18th amendment and the restoration of the 17th amendment
- Activation of all the independent commissions under the 17th amendment
- Re-appointment of the legitimate 43rd CJ
- Restoration of Sarath Fonseka”s civic rights and his rightful position as General.
- Recall of all political appointees in the foreign service
- Pending the repeal of the 18th amendment and setting up of independent commissions, removal of all political appointees in Government Boards, corporations, and high ranking posts in the public service and replacing them with persons purely on merit. Under no circumstance should political henchmen or relations be appointed to these high posts and to the foreign service
The main slogan in the NDF election campaign was making a change through a corrupt free government and this change should be visible immediately before the people lose faith. The long term changes , including the 100 days programme should be made collectively by the leaders of all constituent parties and should not be left in the hands of only the new President. In the preparation of this long term plan, assistance should be sought from respected former SLAS officers like Bradman Weerakoon, K.H.J. Wijeyadasa, and Dharmasiri Peiris, just to name a few.
*The writer, a retired SLAS officer, was Director General National Budget in the General Treasury