While the election victory for President Maithripala Sirisena was due to a unique political moment that united minorities and many in the Sinhala electorate to vote out an authoritarian regime, expectations of major change in economic policy need to be tempered. The momentum gained from overthrowing an authoritarian regime should now be channelled into a radical democratic agenda for social justice through mobilisation and struggle in which the leftist forces in Sri Lanka have to play an important role.
On a Sunday four months ago, a vessel pulled unannounced into Sri Lanka’s Colombo harbor: the Chinese Navy submarine Great Wall No. 329, which is designed to carry torpedoes, a cruise missile and a 360-pound warhead.
In a measure of how far Thursday’s presidential election in Sri Lanka has become a knife-edge contest, diplomats here have been checking the rules in case of a dead heat: according to a 1981 act, the rival candidates would draw lots to settle on a winner.
“Rajapaksa has made it clear in public rhetoric and propaganda that China is our best friend,” said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Colombo-based Centre for Policy Alternatives. “There’s a perception that the Chinese are underpinning misgovernance and corruption in the regime.”
In less than a week, President Mahinda Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka will be facing the toughest political battle of his life as the country votes in the presidential elections on January 8. The Sinhala strongman, credited with ending a 30-year war against the separatist Tamil Tigers in 2009 was expected to have a cakewalk until one of his closest colleagues Maithripala Sirisena walked out of the ruling combine and mounted a credible challenge after the fragmented opposition rallied around him.
“in these moments i always feel vulnerable and over cautious about the words i pronounce and the languages i use to do so. there was no more language intimate and foreign enough to communicate with freely without being understood by others. we were suddenly and temporarily visible, audible and understandble. in this moment, one of these rare moments in diaspora, the other was no more us but the outside: the white world that hardly permeats the indian ocean store’s glass door.”
Sirisena accuses the president of allowing his family to capture the country’s economy, wealth and administration.
Many voters agree, said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, executive director of the Center for Policy Alternatives in Colombo. “I think it is the feeling in the country that there has been a fair amount of corruption, that a lot of state resources and financial deals have involved the ruling family with a lack of transparency,” he said. “The cost of living has gone up quite a bit and that has really caused disenchantment.”
What should you do to see that change? Keep Mahinda in power for another eight long years and see nothing change for sure, or transfer it to My3 for 100 days and see how he executes his manifesto?
Mr. Mohan Samaranayake and some University Professors who participated in the election campaign debates on Sirasa TV echoed the President’s claim that he had not privatized a single State Enterprise but instead had taken back to the State the enterprises like the Sugar Corporations which were privatized by previous regimes. All this is said as if the interests of the people were furthered thereby. Since most of these speakers had a Marxist orientation they have to be reminded that the Marxists see the State Enterprises as instruments to accumulate capital which is prior necessity for development. They say such capital accumulation unlike similar capital accumulation by the Capitalists will be invested thereafter in the interests of the people instead of the interests of the Capitalists. But destruction of Capital instead of its accumulation was never contemplated by the Marxists and vitiates the rationale for the State running business enterprises.
Ahilan Kadirgamar: “Sri Lanka is facing a crucial election, possibly its most important since 1956 when the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) came to power. For the first time since S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike split from the United National Party (UNP), the two-party system may be reconfigured as members of the two elite parties come together in an attempt to overthrow the Rajapaksa regime, which has gone too far down the path of authoritarianism.”
The administration’s goal is to make Singapore a land of opportunity, a home loved by all its residents, a community all belong to, and a country which all are proud to call their own. This is for all Singaporeans, the Chinese, Malays and the Tamils unlike Sri Lanka.
“But we either believe in democracy or we not. If we do, then, we must say categorically, without qualification, that no restraint from the any democratic processes, other than by the ordinary law of the land, should be allowed… If you believe in democracy, you must believe in it unconditionally. If you believe that men should be free, then, they should have the right of free association, of free speech, of free publication. Then, no law should permit those democratic processes to be set at nought.” – Lee Kuan Yew
“Those opposing President Mahinda Rajapaksa should stop for a moment and perhaps reflect on a few good things that he has done so far in office.
He no doubt has got more than what it takes to be just another politician and let’s be honest here, he pulled off the 2005 Presidential Elections when the whole country felt that Ranil Wickremesinghe was going to win. The abstention of the Tamil vote was at the end of the day a brilliant stunt he pulled off with the help of Vellupilai Prabhakaran the then Tamil terrorist leader.
Four years later in May of 2009, he got the support of the entire nation behind him and sent everyone into ruptures of delight, lighting fireworks, moreover when announcing that peace is here to stay at last.
This is when he pulled the wool over the eyes of the ‘Tiger Head’ and annihilated him and his entire terrorist army of soldiers in manner, vanquishing any thought of them taking up arms ever again.
Then again in the run up to the next Presidential Elections in 2010, when every mother hen and goose said that they had voted for Sarath Fonseka to be the next President, lo and behold he pulled off another stunner. ‘Computer Jilmart’ or not, he pulled it off and did not relinquish his seat continuing to remain in power.”
“There is now a very wide consensus in Sri Lanka that the victor at the Presidential elections, either Rajapaksa or Sirisena, will barely scrape through, and that the decisive factor would be the minority vote. In other words the economic factor may not weigh all that much. I can think of two possible reasons for this.”
On the morning of December 26, 2004, a 30 meter high wave struck 1000 kilometers of Sri Lankan coastline without warning, devastating hundreds of thousands of lives and livelihoods. The tsunami, which was the most devastating natural disaster in Sri Lanka’s history, resulted in losses of over $1 billion in assets and $330 million in potential output, according to government estimates. Approximately 35,000 people died or went missing. The damage included 110,000 houses, of which 70,000 were completely destroyed. Around 250,000 families lost their means of support.
A leader of Sri Lanka’s opposition said he would scrap a $1.5 billion deal with China Communications Construction Co Ltd (601800.SS) to build a port city if the challenger to President Mahinda Rajapaksa wins next month’s election.