In a vein similar to its neighbours, Sri Lankan politics revolves around personalities rather than policies. Votes are cast out of loyalty, for either familial or personal reasons – it’s a known fact that corruption, with it’s financial and protective privileges, will seep through to the party that wins, so politicians are required to work a different angle to make sure the license to import luxury foreign cars on a tax-exemption is theirs and theirs only!
The greatest privilege at stake, is the ability to live luxuriously and travel the world at the country’s expense – who better to do this than the Executive President?
The role of Executive President has been tended to by a select group of people – those of upcountry, high-caste origin, who have attended select schools and had the old nepotism working in their favour! Take the infamous Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, one of the most courageous female leaders of our times. Her penchant for French toyboys and weekly trips to London aside, she hails from the distinctive position of having both parents as Prime Ministers. Her mother, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, was the world’s first female Prime Minister, back in 1961.
Her opposition and presidential loser, Ranil Wickramasinghe, comes from an equally privileged background, having had his uncle J.R. Jayawardene rule as the President of Sri Lanka from 1977-1988. The Sri Lankan cabinet is no better, being comprised almost exclusively of ex-public school boys with little experience in their respective portfolios. Daddy was an MP and ‘putha’ will be the same, acquiring the same band of thugs to leech off his favour and protect their own little interests.
Incidentally, Ranil has acquired Chandrika’s brainless brother as his side-kick. Anura Bandaranaike, of zero O’Level shame, would have been Prime Minister this morning, had voters not got off their feet to let a modest gentleman born outside this ring of privilege have a crack as top dog. The country placed their confidence in self-styled ‘man of the people’, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse, in an election fraught with tension and excitement.
The issues at hand – the north-east and the Norwegians, according to the Lanka Academic:
It is understood that the plight of the Tamil community held the key to Presidential power, with the race pitting the nationalistic Rajapakse against the flamboyant Wickremesinghe, whose softer line on peace talks with the rebels won him wide support among the Tamils, a largely Hindu minority.
Rajapakse, who turns 60 today, has pledged to review the stalled peace process and not share political power or tsunami aid with the Tigers. He insists his hard line can lead to peace – a tough stand that has won him wide support among Sri Lanka – ‘s Sinhalese majority.
No polling stations were set up in Tiger strongholds due to security concerns, but the government set up special voting booths on the edge of insurgent territory to accommodate the more than 200,000 voters who live behind rebel lines. Postal ballotting was organised for voters in these regions, although roadblocks and intimidation kept most from making it out of rebel territory to vote.
Turnout was less than 1 percent in and around the northern Tamil city of Jaffna the lowest ever in any of the Indian Ocean country’s 22 districts.
Election Commissioner Danyananda Dissanayake said the overall vote was “largely peaceful and incident-free” compared with past balloting. Turnout was 75 percent of the 13.3 million registered voters.
The positivity radiating from Sri Lanka after stalled peace talks and the Boxing Day tsunami is uplifting to many. Congratulations to Mr Mahinda Rajapakse. May he lead us to a new beginning in this era of hope and prosperity.
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Filed in: Current affairs,Party politics,South Asia