7 December, 2019

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The Potential For The Final Disappearance Of Democracy In Sri Lanka

By Emil van der Poorten

Emil van der Poorten

While surveying the current political landscape of Sri Lanka one cannot but have a sense of déjà vu relative to what occurred with the advent of Rajapaksa control of everything in this country.

At the outset of its ascent to power, the Rajapaksa juggernaut made Chandrika Bandaranaike’s less-than-democratic actions pale into insignificance.

The campaign leading up to Mahinda’s ascent to the throne was a no-holds-barred one. With the UNP lot throwing Sarath Fonseka, seen as a piqued political prima donna at the time, into the sacrificial fire, few political cognoscenti saw him as likely to end up as President irrespective of whether or not he got more votes than his opponent.

For those of short memory, it is necessary at this point to regurgitate the events immediately after the closing of the polls.

Let me remind you, dear reader, that the ballots in Colombo, always a United National Party stronghold, were not taken directly to the office of the Elections Commissioner for the final count and the announcement of the result thereof, something required by law.

They were, on the direct instructions of the reputed strategist of the Mahinda Rajapaksa campaign, taken to another set of premises BEFORE they arrived at what was supposed to be their final and only destination.

There is good reason to suspect that some strange fate befell these ballot boxes because no less a person than the Elections Commissioner of the time appeared before the television news cameras to remark on this fact. To describe his condition at the time as “distraught” would be to understate the case. As that old saying has it, he appeared to be “beside himself” and displayed the fact in unmistakable terms!

Some other information that might be relevant to the events of that night are the fact that, no sooner the “official” results of the election were declared by the authorities, Sarath Fonseka was forcibly removed from his election office in a prominent Colombo hotel, trussed up like a rooster ready for the barbecue and with his staff who were stripped down to their underwear, left exposed in the open space outside the hotel in which their campaign office had been located.

A Kangaroo Court sentenced to jail, without so much as a bed to sleep on, the man who, until he fell out with the other two parts of the triumvirate, had been featured country-wide on enormous “cutouts”, one-third of a leadership credited with destroying the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Many of those seen as not being acolytes of the government that established itself then, bolted to places such as Australia.  One of those who did so, Mahesh Senanayake, returned after the Yahapalanaya government was established, was appointed as head of the Sri Lankan army on the basis of his skills and seniority and, in a really strange turn of fate, is a candidate in the 2019 Presidential election!

What occurred at the time that the Rajapaksas first came to power wasn’t some conflict governed by rules set down by the Marques of Queensbury and, given what is at stake now, promises to be even less so.

If there was a need for additional fuel for the 2019 Presidential Election fire, Sajith Premadasa has added it by naming Sarath Fonseka as having responsibility for “national security” in any Cabinet that he establishes. This is the only person he has nominated to any position in a Cabinet he proposes to establish after victory.

That said, let me suggest that you, dear reader, juxtapose the upcoming scenario against the time that the Rajapaksa junta emerged, without so much as a “boo” from the proverbial “goose.”

May I suggest that we could be on the cusp of a situation unprecedented in the history of this nation with the additional factor that Sri Lanka seems to increasingly take political violence almost for granted?

Is the fate of this nation to be dictated by a bunch of fat-cat businessmen ensconced in their air-conditioned abodes in Colombo, looking for ever-greater profits or are we going to make sure that the greater good of the greater number of us takes precedence and that democratic practice prevails? 

Given the current predicament of Sri Lanka, the cost of any inaction at this truly perilous time is, literally, incalculable.

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Latest comments

  • 11
    1

    The eastern votes on the Batticaloa district too were bused into the National Paper Mill premises in Valaichenai where boxes were swapped during Mahinda’s time.

    • 14
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      Ravi Parana:
      The large question is, “Why was this permitted by the opposition” who did not do anything of substance to combat this most serious of attacks on basic democratic process?

      • 5
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        Emil,
        Perhaps you can help me here:
        Was there a news item from a Swedish Lady reporter that Gota was seen coming out of the Election Commissioners office on the night of the 2011 election? I do not remember if she said ” with a gun in hand”

        • 1
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          Thomas:
          Sorry, I can’t help with this. Perhaps, someone with better internet Googling skill can.

          • 1
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            May be you can recall that Newspaper ad in the Obituary Columns about the
            Death of D.E,M.O’cracy?
            Do you think some one will have to re post it after Nov. 16?

      • 3
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        Emil,

        Were the opposition too threatened, and let Sarath Fonseka be the sacrificial lamb?

        Thanks for your article.

        Let us hope that Sajith is the savior, and the populace, even though the mean IQ is 79, will use common sense to select Sajith Premadasa.

  • 14
    1

    The King of Liars who promised 13A Plus at one time has now adopted an antithetical position regarding the devolution of powers! You can’t trust any members of the Rajapaksa clan for even 5 cents!

  • 15
    2

    Not too many would have predicted MR’s defeat in 2015. After 4.5 years of MS/RW rule, the scenario is totally different. For starters, they don’t control the levers of Government Machinery. Nevertheless, the Government needs to take all the necessary precautions as MR&Co are capable of the unthinkable. They are so desperate for power to save their skins. They are killers, murderers, thugs, criminals, hooligans and hoodlums. They deserve to be confined to cells at the Welikada Prison!

    It appears MS & this Government are not interested in fulfilling its promises in this respect.

    • 1
      7

      “They are killers, murderers, thugs, criminals, hooligans and hoodlums. They deserve to be confined to cells at the Welikada Prison!”
      You lazy man didn’t tell this to the people untill now.
      Too late.

      Soma

      • 1
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        somass

        “You lazy man didn’t tell this to the people untill now.
        Too late.”

        Sorry I have been boringly repeating it for many moons until cows come home.

    • 2
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      ‘They are killers, murderers, thugs, criminals, hooligans and hoodlums. They deserve to be confined to cells at the Welikada Prison!’

      So why didn’t your beloved Ranil & Sirisena do that?

      • 2
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        EA
        At this stage, we can only hope that either AKD or Sajith will deal with that question about the names you have mentioned after 16th November 2019.

  • 11
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    *MAJOR SIGNS OF STRESS AND TENSION IN GOTA MAHINDA CAMP.* Few days ago at a meeting at alawwa mahinda abruptly stopped his speech due to a supporter cheering.
    This incident is shocking for a past president and politician with a history of over 40yrs. In normal confident situations, he would have laughed it off and continued his speech. Psychologists who have now studied this video are of unanimous opinion that he is in a very irritable and stressful mindset which has prompted this behaviour. As sajith is on a electoral campaign trail addressing the masses with their local problems and winning the heart and minds of the rural masses through his pro poor policies this had set the cat amoung the pigeons in the GR/MR camp. They know that they cannot make up the numbers and are pressing the panic buttons . With Chandrika and welgama and many grassroot SLPERs joining sajith on his campaign stages and the current political configuration in the sajith camp the writing is on the wall for GR. More developments in the coming days favourable to the sajith camp will make the situation worse in the opposite camp.

    • 1
      10

      Sunil,

      May be that is why Mangala and Ranil rushed to MCC agreement out of the way before the polls?

  • 7
    1

    Emil, right now people of Hong Kong are fighting tooth and nail, because of their reasonable fears of loosing democracy to a country which has had no such values in their whole political history. The might of China, threats made by their president to crush the protest, using the police force against their own people, hunting down protesters and fake propaganda by the Chinese controlled media has not dented the protest in anyway and if at all made them more determined , so much so China had to withdraw their suppressing laws which triggered the protest in the first place. Though it is now, going to be months since the protest began there has been no let down in resistance because people believe country like China will return with similar measures in future. This shows the value of democracy and the willingness ,determination and resistance, to preserve at any cost. Though it is a battle of David vs Goliath , The Hong Kong people could not be easily intimidated, subjugated or neither willing to be forced into helpless/hopeless/worthless situation. Do Lankans value their democracy like others ??? If yes are they willing to preserve at any cost ??? Will race and religion take priority over democracy ???? Rajapaksa game plan is to exploit the “war victory” by causing further hatred, in a already divided (race/religion) nation. This will suppress the minority who is concerned of their well being and the majority is fully diverted from realizing the final disappearance of a slowly dying democracy.

    • 7
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      chiv:
      You make some very important points. The large question is whether our people will make the right decision while they are faced with the current bunch of crooks and incompetents and look to the long-term future of our nation.
      At the moment, it seems like the day-to-day challenges of existence are looming over our future.

    • 0
      0

      Chiv, Hong Kong people are not “fighting” for anything. They are waving American flags asking Trump to come and help them. They go to work in the morning and “protest” in the evening. These are the funniest “protests” I’ve seen. Do you know that the movement was started by some 30 somethings via Facebook? Btw, Hong Kong belongs to China…China is merely exercising it’s territorial sovereignty. The British forcefully took HK away from China for 99 years, after the 2nd Opium War. This was in addition to other penalties forcefully imposed on China, including forcing China to imports massive amounts of opium, which caused millions of Chinese to become helpless addicts and paying massive amounts of silver to China and France as reparations.

  • 0
    0

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  • 0
    0

    EvdP has given us a timely reminder of the next instalment in our own homegrown democracy. My first instinct was to recall the words of that sweet young adventurous (and inquisitive) girl of my childhood reads “curious and curiouser”.

    As Grandma said “live long and see the strangest things come to pass”.

    • 1
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      Spring Koha

      “As Grandma said “live long and see the strangest things come to pass”.

      In your case your Grandma was right how about after 16 November 2019?

  • 3
    1

    Do you have democracy now. This govt broke the most important part of democracy – elections.

  • 1
    0

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  • 1
    8

    The wonderful yahapalanaya of which Sajith P is a very senior member has destroyed the country’s economy (as per all macro and micro measures), rule of law (as attested by the Bribery Commissioner, Dilrukshi Dias – “the kalakanni deshapalanaya”, Deputy Solicitor General, Suhada Gamlath, FCID Chief, Ravi Vidyalankara and Minister, Wijedasa Rajapaksa), safety of the people (Easter massacre), and democratic governance (fake unity govt to bribe MPs, it’s own formal opposition-TNA/JVP, and no elections). Sajith P plans to grab power with undeliverable promises of freebees and betraying country’s territorial integrity to separatists. This may be nirvana to Emil but not to the masses.

    • 6
      1

      Hela

      Sajith may have destroyed the Economy which is bound to get worse under Gotha . But for your information Gotha has destroyed your Sovereignty which cant be reclaimed without you becoming a terrorist.

    • 1
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      Hela:
      Deliberately misinterpreting what I have always said hardly amount to rebuttal. However, given your demonstrated IQ, I suppose no one should be surprised.

  • 7
    1

    Emil

    The Potential For The Final Disappearance Of Democracy In Sri Lanka:

    *** That is ominous under Gotha but even more Ominous is the prospect of Sovereignty being eroded further. Let us look at the evidence.
    First of all Gotha doesnt understand tbe meaning of Sovereignty which means being able to pursue a foreign policy without being dictated to by another Country and Sri Lankas limitations were vividly demonstrated recently.
    Gothas Presidency is all but assured but what would that mean for the Nation. Frankly disaster
    1) Mangala has called Gotha to prove that US has sanctioned his application to renounce American Citizenship which hasn’t happened.
    2) As soon as he is elected President US can exert pressure by threatening to release details that he is still an American Citizen ( which he is ) and force him to sign deals.
    3) Trump has made many promises and he want able to keep any of them and about to be impeached.
    4) Sri Lanka will go through the same phase and that will plunge the Nation into isolation and investment will dry up.
    5) But Gotha and those who voted for him will say who cares as long we can drive in Bullet Proof Cars and force Judges to make decisions in our favour.

    Maldivian were well informed an educated and voted to avid an Indian Intervention and let us see whether the Majority of the Majority are smart or Fools and I will say sadly the latter as they will vote with their Heats and Heads

  • 4
    0

    Correction
    I should have said With their Hearts and not Heads.

  • 0
    4

    What Answer Bond Scam Ranil and Penthouse Ravi have for this pathetic situation by resuscitating the Rajapkshe Tyranny? Arjun Mahendran should have been their nominee of choice for the Presidency.

    • 2
      1

      Emil. It is easy to predict what will happen if GR wins. What will happen is Sajith wins? Will the Rajapaksas walk away into the Sunset?

  • 0
    1

    They were, on the direct instructions of the reputed strategist of the Mahinda Rajapaksa campaign, taken to another set of premises BEFORE they arrived at what was supposed to be their final and only destination.
    In a civilized country, people are not accused of unproven and unsubstantiated crimes; in civilized countries, the electoral process is not put into doubt except by
    vile mindividuasls with a wish to undermine the democratic process.

    It is unfortunates that these so called “educated people” of the van der Poort… type continue to disseminate unfounded and unsubstantiated hog wash and conspiracy theories, or that the electron was a “jilmart” (a word coined y the JVP,), or that the election commissionar was kidnapped for a while before the resulst were announced etc.

    The “yahapalanaya” govt supported by the van der Poort types was in power for 5 years. Tey made many claims, dug up dead bodies, and private grounds of even people like SLFP MP Welgama (who is now supporting sajith !), looking for Lambrohini’s and buried, illegal Rajapaksa wealth.

    How come they did not move their CID and other instruments, or the Supreme Court to take action against these alleged election illegalities? The NGOs and their puppets had filed cases even in regard to allegedly false passports of wives of the opposition.
    So, why did they sit tight against such claimed grave irregularities in the election, as alleged by this van der Poorten. May be they set of from the wrong Port?

    • 2
      1

      Edward J:
      What I have stated is a matter of fact, probably still available on the internet – the apoplectic fit of the then-Elections Commissioner etc. You might also check out another comment appearing on this page where it is alleged that the same tactic was employed at the Batticaloa Kachcheri after the same election! Leveling accusations of dishonesty to cover up the sins of ones buddies is an old (but always discredited) tactic! You can pull that one when/if your patrons come to power.

  • 2
    0

    Even Sarath Fonseka had gone on record as having said that victory was his [After all the bulk of the Tamil and Muslim votes went to him] if not for the drama enacted by the MaRa group as highlighted in this essay.
    This time the MaRa group is more desperate than in 2010 and even though they are not in Govt: they are still capable of enacting another version of the Jilmart!

  • 0
    2

    Wonder what this DeJaVu is?..

    Is it Ponseka’s promise in 2010, when Ponseka vowed to hang the Rajapakasas in Galle Face, while Dr Ranil was sitting in the front row?.

    This time Dr Ranil is still in the front row while Ponseka promises to hang the Rajapalakas lock ,stock and barrel, one on each window at the Carlton House..

    But these hard hitting Vote winner catch phrases of Dr Ranil’s best mate, and the best orator in the UNP camp tend to obscure the greatest List of Freebees , the UNP is offering to our Dalits who are the great inhabitant majority.

    These offers are game changers unlike Dr Ranil’s VW assembly jobs to Dalits and Tax Free Nanos to the Hip set in Colombo..
    -.
    The latest is not one but three IT Parks to go with three IT Schools just in Akuressa alone.

    I didn’t know Akuressa had so many kids who have AI potential after 4 years of Yahapalanaya, because Akuressa was a bit similar to Mr Poorten’s turf ,where our Dalits in the South worked for the Tea Barons in the hillside

    I just costed some of Dr Ranil’s UNP offers which young Preme is delivering to our Dalits in Bucket loads.
    Sanitary Pads alone is going to cost 6 Billion Bux.

    Two Uniforms and a Free Midday Meal for 40 Lakhs may be at least 20 Billion..
    In fact I don’t know enough Maths to even work it out.

    Now these IT Parks and IT Schools.
    Does anyone tell me what this IT Schools curriculum is. so I can tell the kid in our Charity Program , what they can expect after the 17th from their PM Uncle Ranil and President Uncle Preme..

    • 1
      0

      Sumaney:
      Can’t really guarantee that a “poroppey” will work against verbal diarrhea emissions from the southern orifice, but you could try that.

      • 1
        1

        Emil Aiyya,

        I know your mate, Sarath told you to tick JVP Prince as no 1 and Keselwatta Kid as no 2 .. Right?…
        But you wouldn’t do that would you?

        I mean JVP and Democracy do not rhyme Right….Don’t you think?..

        • 3
          1

          Sumaney:
          One thing’s for sure, I’m no “aiyya” to lower forms of life like you.

          • 0
            1

            Anyone lower than you??

            Soma

            • 0
              0

              somass

              “Anyone lower than you??”

              Does the hat fit you well?

  • 1
    0

    Reading your item and these comments it appears you are stirring up sentiments of the undecided and sometimes confused lot whether inadvertently or not as the pre- polls statistics seem to indicate an overwhelming win for the former Defence Minister where his opponent, a relative greenhorn to politics albeit articulate as much as any of his counterparts at Westminster ( by virtue of the time he spent in the UK) appears to be floundering in deep water which he does nor seem to be able to swim in.
    Also perplexing is the Rajapaksa phobia for a group that has done more good than harm to the Nation as opposed to the brigands of the Ranil Wickremasinghe entourage that has virtually robbed the Nation blind and at times has been indicating a willingness to betray her to her adversaries.

    • 1
      0

      Sunil Perera makes a brave attempt to explain the dilemma we face. In a perfect world most of the seventeen ‘hopefuls’ would not be even allowed submit their nominations. But this is SL where anything goes. The truth is that our own political firmament has been lacking any real candidate who could offer the voters an impartial promise to do what is needed to take our country forward without the baggage of the last fifty years that will drag them down. Both Gota and Sajith are shackled to the devious and determined arm of the Sangha that will dictate the inevitable future slide into perdition of our unlucky paradise. The ‘minorities’ are once again left to choose the lesser of two evils.

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