30 May, 2024


There Are No Lesser Evils & Backing ‘Known Devils’ Is Endorsement Of Devilry 

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

The major political parties are poor. Their poverty is clearly indicated by the fact that all of them, without exception, are using the language of default option. We hear sentences beginning with ‘at least,’ as in ‘at least now there are no white van abductions,’ or ‘at least then we had development’. We hear tired pleas such as ‘vote for the known devil,’ ‘support the party,’ ‘we may not be the best, but we are better than those other people,’ and of course the ever-popular default, ‘the lesser evil.’

The logic is simple and simplistic: since there are no saints, we might as well opt for the best of the bad lot.  That’s one way of seeing it. Here’s another: there are no competent parties or candidates so let’s pick the less incompetent one. And this: all these fellows are rogues, so let’s choose the pickpocket instead of the big time swindlers.  

The parties are poor, then. Is the voter poverty-stricken too, though? What is the value that the voter places on his or her vote? Does it come with a lesser-evil tag or one that says ‘known devil’ where ‘known’ is taken to be proxy for loyalty? Is that what responsible citizenship has come down to?  What then of self-respect, dignity and honor?  

Let’s survey the field.  Let’s begin with the United National Party. Let’s leave aside the jokes about google balloons, free wifi and Volkswagen factories. Let’s forget the good-governance lie. All lesser-evil notions were effectively dismissed by the Central Bank Bond issue scam. That’s what counts.  The crooks were aided and abetted. They were defended, protected and rewarded by the UNP leadership.  We don’t have to even talk about ‘lesser crimes’ such as nepotism, abuse of state resources and patronage-politics, the choice is simple: do you want to endorse, taint your vote and compromise your self-respect?

The Sri Lanka Freedom Party went along with all this. Even with reduced powers courtesy the 19th Amendment, President Maithripala Sirisena could have acted. He twiddled his thumbs so to speak.  Nepotism, abuse of state resources, insulting the voter by taking into Parliament through the National List those rejected by the voters, ridiculous statements, rank incompetence on multiple counts outweigh last minute ‘action,’ clearly politically motivated, to bring to book wrongdoers.  Again, a simple question: do you want to endorse, taint your vote and compromise your self-respect? 

Together, these two parties have not only betrayed the trust placed on them by the majority of the voters to put things right. Indeed they have by crimes of commission and omission turned ‘good governance’ into a cuss word. They are unabashedly corrupt, utterly incompetent and absolutely clueless about governance, forget the ‘good’ version of it.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna has used these developments to its advantage. They have been afforded the out of dismissing charges against them.‘Those who robbed the Central Bank don’t have the right to talk about our wrongs!’ True, but the voter has the right to talk about wrongs done by all parties, now as well as then. That the yahapalanists took chapters out of the previous regime’s book is not a cause for celebration by the SLPP nor a justification of all the wrongs they are guilty of. There was theft, padding the bank accounts of the near and dear, gross abuse of power, tinkering with the constitution for personal gain and other crimes which deny the leadership the right to cry foul over the misdeeds of the UNP and SLFP. There has been no remorse whatsoever about any of these things.  A simple question, then: do you want to endorse, taint your vote and compromise your self-respect?

There’s the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna. This party has shamelessly buttressed all the above political formations at one time or another. They too have blood on their hands. They still use strong-arm tactics on political foes in universities and other places where they enjoy power. They have endorsed and backed the corrupt and incompetent. That’s it. Do you want to endorse, taint your vote and compromise your self-respect?

What then? Who, then? There’s a neat answer that all these parties use: vote for the individual, forget the party.  The individual, ladies and gentlemen, is in the pocket of the party. The local government body is in the pocket of the particular party leader. And we know how obnoxious party leaders and parties are.  

An independent? Well, you could try that, but my hunch is that independents who win will be purchased and fast immediately after the election.

Where does that leave us?  Quite alone I’m afraid come to think of it. Bottom line: we can’t trust any of these parties. We don’t have the luxury of playing relative merits. ‘Lesser evil’ is not an option, let’s not fool ourselves.  If we vote for ‘the known devil’ then we are essentially saying ‘I am fine with devilry!’  Is that who we are or who we want to be?

Ideally, the ballot paper should have a default option: ‘None of the above!’ Unfortunately it does not.  

I can’t speak for others.  I value my self-respect. I will stay home. 

*Malinda Seneviratne is a freelance writer. malindasenevi@gmail.com. www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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Latest comments

  • 4

    You stay at home, I will vote for the party that has so far not been accused of robbing public funds.

    • 0

      This Government is setting itself up for defeat in the 2020 Elections and the return of the Rajapaksas due to its failure to take any meaningful action against the Rajapaksas Criminal Network…

      On the other hand they have also opened the doors for a new coalition government that is willing to take action against the Rajapaksas.

  • 3

    So what? Why cling on to the known devils! Go for the unknown one. J.V.P!

  • 8

    You can stay at home Malinda. I will vote for the UNP. Not because I have any love for them but because if my vote is against the SLPP and the rajapaksa clan.

    The UNP is the only othet party that has the political backing to be in power whivh will help keep the white vans away while we wait for a new, bettet generation of politicians to come into power.

    • 3

      Bassa agree with your comments.

      Only choice is UNP at least we can have some democracy and rule of law..

    • 1

      Political backing from America and India yes I see it now.

      Excellent article Malinda.

  • 4

    Property bubble a miscalculation of government and real estate companies

    The same old game but with a different twist , minority game ,this time none violent strategy.
    Real estate companies have come up with a strategy that has created a property bubble & may blow up anytime .
    Artificial prices have driven high the market & the majority is the bait ,large financial loans ,mortgages ,leases are granted over the counter with least regulations to borrow from a already bankrupt treasury , while real estate companies and the government both are hoping that the new change in permitting foreign ownership of lands will encourage foreigners to invest ,thus creating the bubble ,A certain shrewd business minority is making hay while sun shines ,they are even selling off ancestry properties in prime areas for prices that are absurdly warped, &the majority is voting the bait not the foreigner.

    Realtime real estate investors know exactly what is a bubble and the bait the bait game ,they won’t bite it , the bait is already bitten by the majority since last regime .

    Guys don’t borrow above your capacity ,not just Properties ,even Vehicles ,Household furniture to everything is borrowed money from an empty treasury
    If it crash you won’t survive , don’t bite the bait….

    Sell if you can fast ,but don’t buy an inch until 2020.

  • 3

    A super analysis and full of truth. But staying home and not voting is not the answer .

    You need to pick ,choose & usher in the best individuals and get rid of the rotten.

    If you Pick the deserving UPFA & UNP there will still be some balance in stability in the country as a whole .

    If You vote in the SLPP .in majority ,then next Presidential election ,most probably Chamal Rajapakshe or Dinesh will secure The President victory ,which will obviously be followed by Mahinda as Prime Minister ,he is an expert in building the government membership into a majority with ease ,next step will be changing the constitution into a Executive Prime Minister ,a lifetime rule well secured and that can be easily passed down to family .

    Somehow The President’s reluctance to grab the last moment opportunity to secure the same for himself seems a huge risk he had decided,

    Meanwhile JVP as usual want only more opposition power to undermine development ,there is no comfort greater as being in opposition and pointing fingers. .
    They did have an opportunity when once they were part of a government to serve the people ,but they did not and its not in their interest to ever do so ,their comfort zone is blame everyone else except themselves.

    Use your franchise wisely or weep ,for We don’t know for how many more decades

  • 2

    in your narrative you have missed out on TNA, Tamil Congress, TULF and the bunch of Independents,Muslim Congress etc.perhaps you have not considered them to be important despite the fact that they were responsible as a whole for the present Government. Of course Tamils and terribly disappointed not only with the government but also with the TNA .. Not because adequate efforts have not been made by the government to solve the political problems,but because no tangible progress has been made to release the Political prisoners, giving back the land taken over, reduce the number of armed forces in Jaffna. All the government has done is to colonize the Tamil areas with Sinhalese, build vihares ,not building adequate houses for the displaced, allowing the Cultivation by army the areas belonging. to the villagers and so forth. Contradictory scornful statements. Hence TNA has become a spent force and a silent observer.. Tamil Congress, TULF and other Independents may be considered a better bet despite their past conduct, hoping against hope, they may have turned over a new leaf with enough punch?
    Unlike the the Sinhalese Tamils have much more to do than attending the Talking shop.

  • 0

    No worries , The President is a calm and very collective person ,he still has
    a few cards up his sleeves , don’t underestimate him ,he is well seasoned.

    He can wait comfortably for a year with no rush ,no matter what the local election results may turnout to be.

    No need to go to any gobbe palas and get advice for early election ,he can pull the string by options after the local gov. elections . .

    Meantime he has some other important matters to be taken care off ,which he will for sure ,starting with the complete reshuffle of the cabinet of portfolios .

    You just wait woody wood pecker ..

    • 0

      Net Head’
      ‘The President is a calm and collective person’. Yes he has been collecting more brick-Bats than Bouquets. His policies are hollow and opportunistic to maintain his power- but his ‘POWER”lacks luster and honesty.

  • 0

    I am more than confident if The President is reelected , he will abolish the executive presidency as soon as he takes office ,he is tye only elected perdon to office who have so far proven it ,by curtailing his powers and making changes ,you can’t expect the man to commit suicide by abolishing it in his first term ,he is a seasoned politician and not what some people have summed him up ,and I believe it would be a close to westminister PM ,but guess a more homegrown system ,but The President will never opt to toss the other side of the coin of executive Presidency , to Executive PM as its more powerful and destructive ,it will be like repeating JR in a more ruthless manner . It is impossible for our Politicians to hold such power and keep their heads without loosing it.
    If he wanted it could have done it without just curtailing his ex..powers ,He is a careful and a good thinker .

  • 0

    When you understand what is not right and can articulate it too,staying home should not be the option. Don’t feel you are alone too. Start networking with like minded others and firming a meeting point by using modern technology like Skype,face book, viber, email. As I stated elsewhere,many voters now understand what is wrong with the system? Criticism alone is not sufficient,though we are good at it. What’s the strategy? One of my university colleagues who specialised about leadership in education told me the importance of strategy to resolve any problem we have. I found that is a very useful suggestion. Why don’t we all who can recognise the problem, understand who causes it, and why they cause it to be this way, start developing a future strategy to get out of the pit? Why don’t we pool many good ideas that have been expressed through CT etc and develop a futuristic strategy. Or at least(sorry for using the expression which Is Politicised), start a discourse on strategy? It can be short, medium,and long term. Conceptualise elements of each phase,then see if a network of likeminded people across political,racial,gender, class, linguistic,and religious divides can be developed . start small. All good ideas and movements start small,then spread to others.recruitment of otters should be part of the strategy. What methods to use for recruitment is also part of it. Principles governing the network are also important to guide actions.

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