4 December, 2020

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This Is Not An Easy Game Plan To Counter

By Kumar David

 

Prof. Kumar David

The Lankan government quite suddenly and quite unnecessarily dissolved three provincial councils a few days ago. Were you to search for a logical explanation you would find none, but seek for crafty motives and a game plan surfaces. The political climate is hotting up and the regime needs to distract the populace; what better than the drama of the hustings? But this is not explanation enough. The Rajapakse government is panning out, probing options, searching for a survival strategy. You can’t say the Rajapakses don’t plan ahead with assiduous care, but they have to. By all accounts, and now it seems in their own estimation as well, things are getting tougher by the day, so move before it gets too bad!

And there is a more lethal concern; this government cannot relinquish power and quit office because it will be the jailhouse for some, the hangman’s noose for others and investigation by the corruption watchdog for all. This is precarious for society, the government of the day is like a cornered wild animal, it cannot countenance downfall for that will be curtains, kaput literally. But a dictatorial grab for power is the royal road to uprising, carnage and revolution. As in Egypt and Syria there is no way out. In both it is not that the dictators do not wish to renounce power. They cannot! A vast empire of privilege, wealth and positions in the hands of the military are at stake in Egypt, and that’s not counting the necks of the mighty, vide Mubarak. If ever Syria’s Assad and his murderous henchmen fall into the hands of the mobs, it will be a lynching. Remember Mussolini, they hanged him from a lamppost. Notwithstanding its bungling and bumbling, Indians should be thankful that the rudiments of democratic muddling-through are secure in their country.

 The game plan

The terms of the North Central and Sabaragamuwa Provincial Councils (PC) expire in September 2013, and the Eastern PC in March. There is no disturbance of the peace, no disruption of law and order, and no anticipated event signalling the fall of any of any the three Administrations. There is no rhyme or reason or breakdown; the dissolution is comes out of the blue. The game plan is that if Rajapakse’s UPFA alliance wins, then parliament will be dissolved in early 2013. The three PC elections are a dry run for the real thing, parliamentary elections.  What’s the logic for early parliamentary elections in 2013 since the term of the current parliament does not end till 2016? Political speculators suggest that the government knows economic conditions are spiralling down, so it thinks “better hold elections early before everything hits rock bottom. An added benefit is that when the big prize, presidential elections, fall due (January 2016 is the cut-off date) it will be beneficial to have a pliant parliament in situ.

However, there is also a school of thought in Colombo which says the reason for calling early PC elections is that the international community’s pressure on war crimes, human rights, reconciliation and devolution has become hard to bear. If the government wins the three provincial elections it will thumb its nose at the rest of the world and say: “The people are with us, we have a mandate to do as we like. Go stuff your UNHRC Geneva resolution! ” Although the West is unlikely to fall for this given the degree of intimidation and rigging that has now become routine in Sri Lanka, the Indians, since they are not that  intelligent, will fall for the bluff. Shivshankar Menon’s pleasure trip to Colombo is the umpteenth such ludicrous jaunt; nothing useful will come of Delhi’s policy on Lanka till Manhoman Singh’s government packs up, and probably the next lot will be no better.

 Risk factors

The Eastern Province PC election is a particularly important gamble by the government since the population of this province is roughly 40% Tamil, 35% Muslim and 25% Sinhalese. If the government wins the EP it will crow that not merely the Sinhalese but also the minorities are behind it. There is a risk involved that losing the EP would enable its critics to make counter charges that it has lost minority support. The Tamils and Muslims (essentially the TNA and the SLMC) would be wise to forge alliances of their own, with opposition support, and emerge as a force that is not dependent on Rajapakse hand-outs and subterfuges.

The UPFA will win Sabaragamuwa, it’s a foregone conclusion. But if it does not it will be the end of the road for the Rajapakse regime; so that’s wishful thinking as yet. However the North Central province could be a fight. Farmers are angry about prices and absence of relief during a drought and a resolution expressing no-confidence in the Provincial Agriculture Minister is due to be tabled in the PC at the end of June. Again, in holding PC elections in the North Central province the government is taking a calculated risk. That it is prepared to take such risks in the Eastern and North Central provinces is an indication that the regime is extremely pessimistic about the economic scenario for the next two or three years and/or it is very unsettled by international pressures.

The elephant in the room is the provincial council election that is not being held; the Northern Province, the country’s only Tamil majority province. Although the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, the Indo-Lanka Accord and the whole concept of provincial councils were advanced for the purpose of devolving a modicum of power to the Tamils, the irony is that this Tamil majority province is the only one in Sri Lanka that has never enjoyed devolution or elected a provincial council. The absurdity of Lanka’s political landscape could not be more profound!

The TNA as well as Lanka’s joint opposition consisting of the UNP, Mano Ganesan’s party and two left parties (USP and NSSP) have demanded Northern Province PC elections immediately and prior to the three farcical PC elections proferred up by the regime for its own tactical purposes. The Rajapakses will not hold Northern PC elections because they know they will be routed and international criticsm of the regime for war crimes and rights violations will be strengthened.  Hence Sri Lanka stumbles from crisis to crisis.

Electoral abuses, intimidation and vote rigging

Foreign readers are unlikely to comprehend the scale and nature of electoral malpractice after Rajapakse assumed power. Of course people living in an Asian democracy take a certain amount of ballot stuffing, street violence and beating up of each other’s election workers, in their stride; that’s life. What I am impressing on the reader is that electoral abuse in Sri Lanka took a leap in the direction of hell on earth starting the latter part of President Mahinda Rajapakse’s first term.

Some examples of what goes on are: Use of state premises, government vehicles and government servants in electoral work, partiality on a scale never before seen in Sri Lanka of police and military, beatings of opposition workers with impunity, abuse of privileges by Ministers, display of posters in violation of electoral laws by the government side only without the police raising a finger, and impunity of UPFA offenders from arrest or prosecution for all such acts. The Sri Lankan public has become so inured that it is no longer news at home, this paragraph is only for the information of overseas readers who may still cherish fond illusions about the state of wellbeing of democracy in this once blessed isle.

This is not an easy game plan to counter. No one who values democracy can refuse to accept an electoral challenge. And who has patience with those who say an election is good but it is going to be rigged? The Carter Centre and folks like that are too naïve to handle our kind of native cunning. It’s only when people take their fate into their own hands that fake democracy is exposed. 

South Asia Analysis Group

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Latest comments

  • 0
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    Superb piece of analysis – please translate into Sinhala and disseminate widely. Time has come for the Sri Lanka Spring to emerge and the joint opposition to come together and coalesce into a full blown movement to kick out the barbarous Rajapakse brothers and sons whose only achievement is winning elections through rigging aside from defeating the equally barbarous LTTE!

    • 0
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      WHAT Superb piece of analysis – ? …. 
      Any kindergarten boy could do this kind of analysis….. Does anywhere on the earth, any politician go for a election where he/she is at disadvantage? Is that a one piece of superb analysis by this learned professor?

      Yes! Gara Yaka, Spring has come to Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Afghanistan etc and it is around the corner for Syria, Iran …. 
      If that is the ‘spring’  you and Kumar David talking about, Sri Lanka should definitely avoid the SPRING forever at whatever cost!

      Kumar D, as usual in these days, try to form a grand coalition to do ultimate goal … REGIME CHANGE … For what? To deny the rightful place for the Sinhalese Buddhists of this country called Sri Lanka. To do that, he does not mind  twisting facts, telling half baked truths, asking foreign interference …

      This hater of the west, because of Marxist ideology, has not got any reservation when asking the west to interfere in SRI LANKA … Look at how much respect he has for the west by saying “…Although the West is unlikely to fall for this given the degree of intimidation and rigging that has now become routine in Sri Lanka, the Indians, since they are not that  intelligent, will fall for the bluff. ….”

      He talks about “Electoral abuses, intimidation and vote rigging” and wanted to portray the elections in the country NOW is the worst in vote rigging and abuses..  Could you remember the past elections where UNP, JVP and the much loved General of yours had not taken any action regarding ‘COMPUTER GILMARTS’ and other abuses rather than talking in meetings? I never say that our elections are not abused … What I’m saying is that it is now no more worse than other times.  Infact, many unbiased who live in SL say that they have known many many bad times under UNP and former SLFP administrations … Of course,  SL is not a 5 star democracy and it has long long way to go in that direction. But, the country is not so bad as these separatists want to portray by twisting facts …

      The country Ofcourse needs a powerful popular Srilankan friendly opposition …. Look how bankrupt the opposition is when Kumar David says “….The Sri Lankan public has become so inured that it is no longer news at home, this paragraph is only for the information of overseas readers who may still cherish fond illusions about the state of wellbeing of democracy in this once blessed isle.”…
      What a pathetic state of these bankrupt minds … No receivers in the country and hence go for foreigners to educate them … That is a easy task, professor, mainly because you could say any bs and lies to prove your case ….

    • 0
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      Garaya is right – superb analysis. The uneducated and corrupt to the core Rajapkase brothers and sons think that they are entitled to loot Lanka and turn it into a barbaric banana republic because they defeated the LTTE – a small terror group in a tiny country. They are also destroying and distorting Buddhism by cultivating a violent public religion to justify their crimes. Gota the goon and his brothers like to exaggerate and make huge claims in a small county about a great feat because they have big egos! In fact defeating the LTTE in Sri Lanka which is a very small country with a tiny land mass is not a big deal or feat! This Rajapakse dictatorship should be sent packing and clearly running scared – shutting down web sites and trying to silence critical voices! But people are now speaking up against the corruption and nepotism of this foul and stinking regiem.

  • 0
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    The UNP and TNA should field a joint candidate, preferably Tamil, in the Eastern Province.

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      Dinuk

      “The UNP and TNA should field a joint candidate, preferably Tamil, in the Eastern Province”.

      Not to worry UNP and TNA are natural allies. The more the UNP kick them in their teeth the closer TNA becomes.

      Fonseka is a alleged war criminal yet TNA supported his presidential candidacy in the last election as did the UNP. TNA supported Fonseka not out of love for him but for its long time love affair with UNP.

  • 0
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    Professors analysis without any ‘isms overshadowing his intelliegence and thoughts. We need more of his articles of this type but they should be translated into Sinhala and distributed across teh country. I wish he was here so that he could have safeguarded the reputation of LSSP which has lost all its glory with the leadership of people like Tissa Vitharana.

  • 0
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    Excellent exposition of the government’s predicament.The first paragraph is a beauty when it tells us what awaits this robber band should it lose power.

  • 0
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    Under no circumstances will the Regime lose a so-called democratic
    electionand that is why it acts with impunity.

    One way of upsetting the rigging can be people-oriented. Those who
    will get on this track helping the Regime should be warned ahead
    by anonymous letters and their homes should be attaked should
    rigging take place. An equally frightening situation should be
    created to the culprits who carry out the Regimes illegal activites
    at future elections.

    • 0
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      Punchinilame

      You are amazing man.

      You say:

      ” An equally frightening situation should be created to the culprits who carry out the Regimes illegal activites at future elections.”

      Eye for an eye let the whole world go blind.

      Fear for fear let the whole island being cow down by the political thugs.

      What sort of beginning is that for the other party which would rule the country after MR regime’s collapse?

      More of the same for the people isn’t it?

      You must be a either Tamil or Sinhalese. Only they could come up with so stupid an idea.

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        Native, I agree with you that violence should not be adopted as a means to oust violence. The reason is that afterwards, one has to put up with the ones who helped to secure power and if they are not appeased, no honest job of work could be done. It is for this reason that Ranil Wickremasinghe believes that in the long run a change should be effected with the majority support and not to resort to underhand tactics as mentioned above where otherwise the leadership will be obliged to various demands that makes governance impossible. It was all too clear when RW made public how the Maharajas were demanding for two Cabinet portfolios after their financial support to the UNP and when refused they were backing Sajth and continued to attack RW as a weak leader to oust him. It is not only Maharajas that back horses at hustings but there are many other vociferous critiques of RW who do the same. They do so with the expectation that in the event the candidate they backed wins, undue demands are made over others in society who have no such access to the system. This is something that RW always tries to maintain and establish a system that has no special obligation to any, friend or relation, but a system for the society according to merit. I believe it would be difficult to have a hundred percent success, but a larger segment of achievement is possible, where one need not have connections to the system politically or otherwise for the services to be met to society what is rightfully due.

        Here I would like to mention that recently there was a wealthy businessman who met RW and offered a big financial donation to the UNP. RW had requested the donation to be handed to the Treasurer and to obtain a receipt. No, the donor had wanted to hand over the cash to RW personally and for Photographs to be taken with him. RW had declined and the donor had departed taking the donation with him scolding RW and since then he is working with the UNP reformists to oust RW from the UNP leadership. This is Ranil Wickremasinghe. Many who knows, blame him for lack of PR. I personally do not blame him, knowing our social ladder climbers, the arm chair critiques of his, who are worse than tree climbers, who berates him every turn unfairly, merely because none can influence him. Therefore if we are to see a change to the present corrupt regime of MR, it should be according to what RW intends establishing and not another MR system as the country would be worse off than now, when the new lot set about denuding the balance remaining. If therefore the majority can not understand this prevailing situation and give shoulder to change, instead bashing RW all the time, we are certainly cutting our own graves. In the end, it is not RW who is the loser, but us the people of this country.

    • 0
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      Punchinilame

      What you need is for these thugs to be better educated on issues such as those addressed in this article. It is a great visual to see someone like Mussolini, once such a powerful man, hanging. We have had similar images of Saddam Hussain, Gadaffi, and even our own countryman Mr. Prabhakaran of late. Once so powerful, but not anymore…

      Thugs need to be shown that living by the sword is not sustainable, and that many who live by the sword, do end up dying by the sword. To that extent I can see where you are coming form. But that is not to say we need to use a sword against them. Rather we can try using high quality mechanisms of education, such as journalism, to counter the corrupt forces, and educate the braindead followers who support these corrupt forces to understand that violence is not a sustainable mechanism of living, and that they too deserve better than what they have already got!

      • 0
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        gamini & Navin Weeraratne

        Punchinilame wants to concur fear by becoming fear himself.

        Good logic only a Tamil or Sinhalese can come up with.

        Whatever we do our actions must lead to empowerment of the masses and not undermining them.

  • 0
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    Still TNA not in National politics,there are working out-of democratic frame work.They must Enter into the public and natinoal politics in South as well as North; then become part and parcel of main democractic process.Confined to ONLY TAMIL OF NORTH mean, still working on Myth of so-called HOMELAND policy of SJV;indeed TNA has not proved real intention country soveriginity has been respected.
    We not IN socilaist system, we are heading for CAPITALIST PATH OF DEVELOPEMNT.We( Sinhales and Tamils and Muslimas) have to trust and confideance on Capitalist modes and its tools.While TNA has join to with Sinhalese areas to similar system.
    Ours decision makers are who holding ballots,but NOT BULLET.
    Since 1931 major policies are decided by the elected resprestative of ballot; ,they should consider Sihalese votes are equaly an important to make policy decision from past lessons of Terrorism since in South and North since 1965 May of Founded of JVP anarchis-terrorist politics.
    You cannot change policies and FUNDAMANTAL SOVERGINIITY OF PEOPLE OF ISLAND by bullet, should be respected not in words but indees;not from only outside forces,real democary come into being power of BALLOT.
    That is PEOPLE POWER OF SOVERGINITY AND DEMOCRACY OF SRI LANKA.
    That is why Tamil terrorism defeted welcome by all section of people incuding Majority Tamils who are living in Sri Lanka.
    Ongoing Provincal election are wasting tax payers money.Are power hungery decision,needless to say is MR governmeant short-sight decision.who are in power cannot see the dark side of democracy.

  • 0
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    Haaa haaaa, This is what they said when GOSL took on LTTE saying that they will neaver to be defeated etc. This kalu sudda;s with their western (christian) bias will be the curse of this country.Actully the day these people are “eliminated: ll the reces can live in peace.

  • 0
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    God, what hateful comments are these. Do we realise that we have become a nation of murderers and haters?

  • 0
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    sanjeeva laughs:

    “Haaa haaaa, This is what they said when GOSL took on LTTE saying that they will neaver to be defeated etc.”

    Until the kalu suddas Indians and sudhu Suddas western countries (mostly christians) decided to eliminate the island was cursed with LTTE. LTTE was laughing Haaa haaaa.

    You say:

    “.Actully the day these people are “eliminated: ll the reces can live in peace.”

    Its a good idea. Since I am opposed to killing there is a simple alternative way to deal with these kalu suddas.

    Why don’t you take your brothers and sisters (both Sinhalese and Tamils) back to India whence your ancestors came.

    That is the only way my people can live in peace after 2,500 years.

    How soon can you leave?

  • 0
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    In 2009 a cricket match was held and the winning captain said:I won the match so I wan’t the feild,I want to own it.

    And isn’t that what Rajapakse has done? OR thinks he can do.

    Compare today with RW loosing few years ago and the man packed his bags and moved out.This kind of positives is what the sleeping giant should market to win an election..and there are many positives.
    No family members to hang on and suck economy dry
    Real experience what we need,It’s the economy,economy,economy NOT huge projects that serve no purpose with MR name all over
    WYSWYG
    SOOO many!

  • 0
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    @cardinal sin, please do not postulate MR and RW as the ideal opposites. Both are bad, one is worse than the other.

    Where we are at fault is not demanding a better performnace from both of them!

    • 0
      0

      Like trying to compare chalk and cheese. How pathetic?

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