The End of a Dynasty – Sri Lankan Election Results


by SajiniW
18th November, 2005 at 9:42 am    

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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  1. Global Voices Online

    [...] Pickled Politics states the election result as the end of a dynasty in Sri Lankan politics. 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! [...]


  2. Adelle

    RT @JustMureithi: The Dance With Angels: She danced through the wings of angels Letting her long black hair slap … http://bit.ly/e9vpq




  1. blue mountain — on 18th November, 2005 at 12:59 pm  

    Sri lanka will never see peace untill Prabhakaran is killed. Only India has the capacity to kill prabhakaran but it is not interested.

    SajiniW tell why Sinhala is the official and national language and Tamil is only a national language. If South Africa and UN can have 6 official languages why can’t Sri lanka? Is this sort of discrimination alienated Tamils ?

  2. blue mountain — on 18th November, 2005 at 1:02 pm  

    SajiniW plz tell why

  3. Sameen — on 18th November, 2005 at 1:35 pm  

    nice article. i heard about roadblocks being set-up too. There were roads with burning tires to prevent voters from attending to vote at elections.

  4. Sunny — on 18th November, 2005 at 1:53 pm  

    I don’t see how a hardline can lead to peace… it only alienates the Tamils, who will then keep supporting the Tamil militants.

    By the way, I didn’t realise the hierarchy there was so incestuous! Wow….

  5. SajiniW — on 18th November, 2005 at 1:58 pm  

    Blue Mountain – Sinhala, Tamil and English are the official languages and have been for a decade or two.

  6. SajiniW — on 18th November, 2005 at 2:04 pm  

    Sunny – the Tigers have ethnically cleansed the NE of both the Sinhalese and their own people. 60% of the Colombo population is Tamil, with the rest of the Tamils leaving SL. That’s why the LTTE didn’t want the NE to take part in the last census, since the proportion of Tamils in the country has decreased over the last 20 years from 18% to 4%. Muslims are now the largest minority, at 8%. This reduction means less substantiation for their demands for a separate state.

    The majority of Tamils in SL are comfortable – they live in peace among the Sinhalese and Muslims, and progress through universities and work in the way the majority would. There are more Tamils on the competitive courses at university there than other ethnic groups. That’s hardly the sign of an ethnic group being held back?

    Any non-participation in the political arena can be put down to one thing. The LTTE have killed any opposition/competition from Tamil people in order to represent themselves as the voice of the Tamil people.

  7. blue mountain — on 18th November, 2005 at 2:39 pm  

    THE CONSTITUTION OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA

    CHAPTER IV – LANGUAGE

    Official Language.

    18. 3[(1)] The Official Language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala.

    4[(2) Tamil shall also be an official language.(Added by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution Sec. 2 (b) )

    (3) English shall be the link language.

    (4) Parliament shall by law provide for the implementation of the provisions of this Chapter.

    Hmmm…..Tamil shall also be an official language

  8. blue mountain — on 18th November, 2005 at 2:41 pm  

    But why did they need to insert a new sub-section in stead of entering just two more words Sinhala and Tamil

  9. Sunny — on 18th November, 2005 at 2:56 pm  

    I was quite disappointed when arguments broke out between the govt and the Tamil Tigers after the Tsunami over distribution of aid…

  10. Vikrant — on 18th November, 2005 at 7:01 pm  

    Sunny they are terrorists not militants, they by karge wrote the book on modern terrorism…
    No need being PC even when it comes to our own people.

  11. StrangelyPsychedelique — on 18th November, 2005 at 8:57 pm  

    The Tigers blow up a train full of office workers, they get called “militants/rebels/guerillas”.
    Some dipdunks blow up the train in the UK and they get called “terrorists”.

    The hypocrisy is like, just SO awesome man….

    But technicalities aside Im all for the peace process – we failed to fight them when we had the chance, now we have to eat humble pie and negotiate.
    The new president isnt really a hardliner the way most people think, the JVP will tow a hard line but heck they know plenty about insurgencies themselves :P

    Mr Rajapakse aint so bad really…almost everyone (save for the arms dealers) want peace – its just how much you give and take.
    Most people talk about the peace process in glowing terms. They fail to realise that it involves a sizeable chunk of a country that isnt particularily big.
    You dont just split nations up.

    Having just watched ‘Song of Ceylon’ I can only imagine that things wont change very much – for better or for worse…the wheels in SL will just keep turning as theyve always done.

  12. coruja — on 19th November, 2005 at 2:16 am  

    Sajini, the link in you post is a bit dubious, did you mean to link to http://www.theacademic.org ?

  13. Sunny — on 20th November, 2005 at 1:24 pm  

    Ok ok, Tamil Terrorists, not militants. I wasn’t trying to downplay their atrocities, just used it out of habit.

    Bluey – I don’t see how recognising a language alone is going to make all the difference. Those are superficial changes that politicians love but don’t really effect the ordinary people.

  14. blue mountain — on 20th November, 2005 at 1:44 pm  

    Bluey – I don’t see how recognising a language alone is going to make all the difference. Those are superficial changes that politicians love but don’t really effect the ordinary people

    You must be joking !! Remember how East Pakistan went up in flames over Urdu Vs. Bengali debate.

  15. blue mountain — on 20th November, 2005 at 2:02 pm  

    I agree that recognising a language alone could never make all the difference.

    Now in Pakistan there is another crisis looming with Mohajirs demanding more recognition for Urdu in Sindh and the Sindh Government’s constant refusal. Mohajirs allege discrimination and Sindhis blame Punjabis for relocating Mohajirs to Sindh during partition instead of the much larger state Punjab.

  16. Sunny — on 21st November, 2005 at 12:31 am  

    Typical of South Asians. Forget about the underlying problems or causes – concentrate on the big superficial moves instead. A bit like the Khushboo/Sania controversy.

  17. gallukolla — on 21st November, 2005 at 8:53 am  

    As long as I can remember, the three languages used in Sri Lanka have been on every type of nationally-circulated item including postage stamps and road signs. Which country on earth has got the language of a 18% (now 4%) minority on a postage stamp?.The tiger fight is not for the language or the tamil people. It is for a few megalomaniacs to terrorise the poor tamil people and get both sadistic pleasure and wealth out of the crisis. The JVP tried this in the south and the singhalese people put it down with vengence.

    I would call upon the peace-loving, hard-working tamil brothers and sisters to rise up and send these murderers down the same route the JVP murderers went.There will then be peace in the north. I cannot see how one million tamils can live peacefully next to the others in the south, given the discrimination and daily harrassment the LTTE claim they experience.

    I am proud to tell the Tigers that their people will be happier to live in the south than living under Pol Pot’s regime. I hope with the new president we elected that in the near future, I will be able to come with my Tamil friends to have crab curry and thosai on the kilinochi beach.

  18. coruja — on 21st November, 2005 at 10:40 am  

    gallukolla,

    I agree, the only people who can get rid of the LTTE are the tamil people themselves, sooner than later they will get fed up of being bullied around, donating their property and their young children to the cause &etc. After quarter of a century of fighting I wonder if the LTTE are really willing to negotiate any sort of agreement or do they just intend to keep on fighting as that’s the only thing they know; by demanding a situation that will never be accepted by the majority they ensure that will be the case.

    I have met quite a few sinhalese here in Britain who fuel this war for their nationalist nostalgia at absolutely no physical and emotional cost to themselves. How grimly delighted they were sitting in living rooms of Catford, Romford and Croydon when the tsunami claimed more than a proportional share of tamil Sri Lankan lives. I have also met succesful, educated and thoroughly British (born & raised in the suburbs of Greater London, & some never been to SL) young tamil men at weddings and parties who claim how things were so much better for ‘them’ under the British. This is what 25 years of war does – makes us all bigots and racists, less human.

  19. Mirax — on 21st November, 2005 at 12:24 pm  

    “I have also met succesful, educated and thoroughly British (born & raised in the suburbs of Greater London, & some never been to SL) young tamil men at weddings and parties who claim how things were so much better for ‘them’ under the British.”

    Hmmn, having met members of the Srilankan tamil diaspora in Australia, Canada,the UK and Singapore, this rings so true!

    Sajini, the Tamil ‘revolt’ did not come about as a result of being a minority that was economically or socially disenfranchised. Jaffna tamils were a privileged minority in terms of educational and economic attainments from colonial times (as opposed to the poor Indian tamils toiling away in the tea plantations, many of whom were/are stateless).It was deliberately divisive ‘singhalisation’ policy in the 60′s/70′s rather than the marginalisation of Tamil (and English) which led to protests initially by the middle-class Tamils.

    SL Tamils of the jaffna variety are a prickly lot when it comes to self identity. They have always held themselves aloof from other Tamil migrants from India in Malaysia/Singapore despite being nearly identical culturally, racially, linguistically etc Their superior attitude towards others made them rather easy targets for ridicule.

    Another thing about the SL Tamil diaspora- they tend to be the biggest supporters of the LTTE. A lot of the LTTE funds come from them middle-class types overseas, and given that the LTTE has ruthlessly murdered off all moderate Tamil opponents in Srilanka itself, the chances of the remnants of the Tamil population rising up successfully against the Tigers is next to zero. They know they don’t stand a chance and for what ideal should they annihilate themselves?

  20. blue mountain — on 22nd November, 2005 at 6:12 am  

    It was deliberately divisive ’singhalisation’ policy in the 60’s/70’s rather than the marginalisation of Tamil (and English) which led to protests initially by the middle-class Tamils.

    I agree wholeheatedly. During that period Sri Lankan Tamils had to hide thier Tamil sounding surnames in order to avoid discrimination and glare.

  21. Ananthan — on 23rd November, 2005 at 4:21 pm  

    “the proportion of Tamils in the country has decreased over the last 20 years from 18% to 4%”

    And if that isnt ethnic cleansing (of an entire nation), i dont know what is.

  22. SajiniW — on 23rd November, 2005 at 6:01 pm  

    Ananthan – there are more SL Tamils outside SL than within. Most of the Tamils in SL live OUTSIDE the LTTE areas.

    Go figure.

  23. Mirax — on 23rd November, 2005 at 6:20 pm  

    Sajini, an exodus of SL tamils out of the country as refugees also counts as ‘ethnic cleansing’ if there was a deliberate intent to drive them out. A civil war and a population decline of a minority on the scale you yourself quote over just 2 decades is something to think about, wouldn’t you say?
    Why dismiss this out of hand so summarily?

  24. Ananthan — on 23rd November, 2005 at 7:21 pm  

    I was trying to make the point that Mirax made, I guess this war wouldn’t be considered an intractable failure amongst certain parts of the population in Sri Lanka – they’ve almost achieved their goal.

  25. SajiniW — on 24th November, 2005 at 9:33 am  

    What would MIrax and Ananthan say to the Tamils in the upcountry and non-conflict areas in SL? They’ve not left or been killed, have they? I’m sure some of them are in SL out of choice.

    I also remember the LTTE blocking the census from taking in parts of the NE, fearing that the decline in population would detract from their bid for a separate state. If you find the data, I’m sure it’ll be incomplete. That’s why I don’t believe the proportion has dropped quite so much.

  26. Mirax — on 24th November, 2005 at 12:41 pm  

    Sajini,
    There’s no need to take this personally; I certainly do not.

    What would MIrax and Ananthan say to the Tamils in the upcountry and non-conflict areas in SL? They’ve not left or been killed, have they? I’m sure some of them are in SL out of choice.

    I have nothing of note to say to any SL Tamil, so this rhetorical device is wasted on me. I am pretty sure that some Tamils are in the country out of choice but that does not negate the fact that MANY left or were forced to leave(figures of up to 900 000). Even today the UNHCR is still struggling to settle about half the 800 000 internally displaced persons (IDP) it was originally entrusted with. It is stretching credibility to suggest both the refugee flow out of the country and the internal displacement is the work primarily of the LTTE.

    I also remember the LTTE blocking the census from taking in parts of the NE, fearing that the decline in population would detract from their bid for a separate state. If you find the data, I’m sure it’ll be incomplete. That’s why I don’t believe the proportion has dropped quite so much.

    You are shifting ground here , I am afraid.
    1. You first presented these figures with no qualifications at all to buttress your argument that the LTTE was destined to lose any electoral contest on the basis of these numbers and indeed actively sought to prevent any electoral resolution.

    2.Now you turn around and say the numbers themselves are unreliable due to the interference of the LTTE in taking a reliable census, because the LTTE do not want you to discover there are so few tamils left (when in actual fact, you now imply, there are more tamils than anyone knows).

    I hold no brief for the LTTE, but your argument and your turnarounds suck.

  27. Ananthan — on 24th November, 2005 at 2:55 pm  

    “What would MIrax and Ananthan say to the Tamils in the upcountry and non-conflict areas in SL? They’ve not left or been killed, have they? I’m sure some of them are in SL out of choice.”

    What point are you arguing now? I’m really not following.

    I’m sure the Tamils who lived in the north and east would have loved to have the choice to stay, but they didn’t.

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