Online election campaigns in Sri Lanka: The way forward

As the presidential race heats up in Srilanka, the sheer volume of content and Ads that burst forth about this election is astonishing. The Internet is now a gateway for millions of ordinary Srilankans to participate in the political process.

Mahinda Rajapakse has made an early splash. But every presidential candidate has a presence of some kind online regardless of how well they actually used it, though none built anything as comprehensive as Mahinda’s. At least not yet.

Growing up in the paradise that is Srilanka, the first political campaign I paid close attention to was in the 90’s, when I was right out of college and still had my Srilankan citizenship. My information sources were limited back then. We didn’t have broadband access. The Internet was a luxury, in fact you could brag about it and be an authority on all things computers if you had ADSL at home. Old media was essentially it for substantive political coverage.

Now? Anyone can check dozens or hundreds of news sources every hour, both formal and informal. Online news portals, advocacy sites like Groundviews (whose views I respect though I may not necessarily agree), blogs, emails, forums, local content aggregators, podcasts and vodcasts bombard us with information to the point that the problem isn’t too little, but too much.

Online campaigning is no longer seen as an optional extra; it is now a crucial political tool. But no candidate is immune. Fake Facebook and Twitter profiles have been created. Election parody blogs provide good entertainment, and more. I am thrilled by the way Srilankan parties are currently approaching new media for I see online organizing and campaigning as a way in which parties can change and renew themselves.

Of course this is obvious, Sri Lanka is progressing. Mahinda is sending the signals that he isn’t the “Goviya’s man” anymore, but rather prepared to take Srilanka forward in this modern age. Despite the online efforts, he keeps stealing the spotlight from the community. Online interactions are about communities. The campaign lacks this critical element.

Fonseka on the other hand has a particular need to convince voters that he is a safe choice, which allows him to convince enough Srilankans (in particular the minorities) that he isn’t a crazed bomb-thrower in a military uniform. In fact it is he who should be speaking to the diaspora. This burden of reassurance is even heavier for someone young in politics.

Other candidates face this problem no less, and many haven’t a clue. But Mahinda seems to have acknowledged the potential of technology to translate the enthusiasm of millions of people into decisive action in the real world.

The Internet can give rise to a new form of machine politics. This model contrasts with Mahinda’s classic Goviya style political machine, which was locally based. Good for him.

But, hang on. Mahinda’s campaign is fundamentally flawed. And I am not even referring to the alleged spam they send. That’s OK. I can put up with it. I love those Presidential New Year wishes as much as I love the juicy scandals in Hollywood. So spam, by all means. Granted, you don’t need my permission.

But the Internet is a different kind of medium. It is back-and-forth rather than broadcast, and the use of such a participatory public space should completely change the political media ecology, opening new dialogue. The Internet is an even better mobilizing tool. It’s a recruiting tool, not just messaging tool.

Mahinda’s online campaign has the technology, not the vision, not because they don’t understand computers, but because they don’t understand how to make technology harness the passion of their supporters. His campaign team is everywhere online, but they don’t mobilize voters and organize communities. They don’t build a consensual database of mobile numbers by promising that in return, supporters would get campaign news before the media.

The web is built on technology that is primarily for communication, and not publishing. That dynamic is the source of its power and, crucially, its intimacy. What social media represents is a direct engagement and communication.

The web should help to inspire and empower a generation that has rejected political apathy. They should use technology to make issues personal and relevant by giving people ownership of the campaign. It isn’t a complicated strategy.

I am yet to see Fonseka’s online strategy. He shouldn’t confine himself to an amateur website and a few Facebook Ads. It shows one’s capacity or the lack of it.

But all of them seem to have forgotten one simple fact, Interactions mattered more than mere technological brilliance. Personally I would like to see better use of the WWW.

  • http://www.esteem.com Justin

    Thomas Jefferson, the founding father of the US constitution and the third US president, once said that resistance is important for Democracy.

    Though, accountability is an important ingredient of democracy, the governments in Sri Lanka(SL), for the past decades, were often unwilling to be accountable for their decisions. Responsibility, honesty and transparency were not valued, and the checks and balances were disappeared.

    Life is precious and serious but not in SL. The lack of transparency and accountability by the state structure was so acute that lives were no longer valued and protected and there was no public resistance against all forms of non accountability and brutality.

    The people became permissive, the Sinhala elite became supportive, and the governments of SL have become abusive and excessive.

    The state exercised a free hand, even to kill citizens, from the years 1971 to 2009. Observing this ugly trend, which climaxed in 2009, the US and the EU asked SL to account for more than 20,000 Tamil civilians killed by the armed forces in May- June last year.

    But, the government of SL, instead of complying, became very angry and defiant against the EU and the US. An unacceptable democratic practice of wilful non accountabilty, violation of the UN conventions and the totalitarianism became evident.

    The most affected and abused people thus far by the non accountability of the lives of its own citizens, by the governments since 1971, were the Sinhalese youth and the Tamils as a community.

    The young Sinhalese and the Tamils must decide to cross boundaries and join together to form a poweful political force, to build true democracy with accountability.

    They must support each other actively to get their democratic rights and freedoms.

  • yapa

    Dear Justin;

    Unlike in the past, this time your post is some what moderate.

    Thanks!

  • sinepgib

    Except you failed to mention that Rajapaksa as the entire state treasure to dispose for his online campaign and the entire countries state IT resources while the other candidates were given less than a month to figure out how to fund theirs…

  • Vishvamitra

    Ranil the “great betrayer” of the Nation behind the war crime charges

    Yesterday, the BBC Channel 4 claimed that Video footage shown some time back by it apparently shows extra-judicial killings by Sri Lankan troops is genuine. Quoting UN special rapporteur Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extra-judicial killings, the Channel 4 asserted that three independent forensic pathologists in forensic video analysis had confirmed the video was authentic, renewing calls for a war crime inquiry against Rajapakse regime.
    It appears that the road is been laid to bring President Rajapakse before the War Crimes Tribunal. In May last year, Steven Key, the QC, who is to be appointed to the war crimes committee advisory board of the international bar association hinted in London about the strong possibility of bringing war crime charges against President Mahinda Rajapakse and the Secretary Defense Gotabaya Rajapakse before the International Criminal Court [ICC] for alleged war crimes committed in the northern war zone. The UK Foreign Secretary, David Millban, who was mocked by President Rajapakse under a tree in Amibilipitya, also indicated the strong possibility of bring in potential war crimes charge over deaths of civilians in the island’s conflict.

    The President Rajapakse should not discount the potential danger and possibly of issuing a warrant against him by the International Criminal Court in Hague, with a UN mandate. Rajapakse may assumes that his regime has declined to sign the Rome Statute [adopted in July 1998 and came into force in July 2007] and hence ICC has no jurisdiction over war crimes committed by Rajapakse regime in Sri Lanka, if any. It may prove fatally wrong and costly if he simply ignores the dangers and the predicament faced by some other nations that are not ratified the Rome Treaty.

    In general, ICC has jurisdiction to inquire into crimes alleged to have been committed by the Nations that ratified the Rome Treaty. Yet it has jurisdiction to inquire into war crime committed by outside nations [not ratified the treaty] if referred to it with a UN mandate. Already the UN has referred the Darfur issue to the ICC and a warrant for President of Sudan has been already issued for war crime charges against humanity.

    Probably the people in Sri Lanka may think Ranil Wickramasinghe, the leader of opposition of the government of Sri Lanka has played no tangible role in this whole affair, which however is not the case. Ranil, according to certain press statements made by S B Dissanayake [before SB joined Mahinda Rajapakse] was the potential candidate chosen by the UNP for the forthcoming election. Then, before he decided to step down for apparent reasons, Ranil knew that unless he adopt certain immoral measures he would not have any chances at the election and he resorted to put together everything in place that he believed would help him to come to power.
    He embarked in a European tour and held talks with the LTTE proxy, TNA Leader R Sampanthan and with Mano Ganeshan prior to the tour. During his European tour he also held talks with former Norwegian Peace Envoy Erick Solheim, a close ally of LTTE in Oslo and made serious allegations from abroad against the Rajapakse regime about human rights abuses and possible war crimes. Norway, particularly unhappy with Rajapakse after forced out, as a peace negotiator, accommodated and used Ranil to discredit Rajapakse regime.
    Apparently, now there is a united front against Rajapakse regime. And it appears that the West, not pleased with Rajapakse, has stepped up their pressure with undivided support of the “great betrayer” of the Nation, Ranil Wickramasinghe. Some evidence was collected with the help of the satellite technology – mostly unverified images of mass murder. Now, the process is gathering pace with the video footage and the betrayer of the nation apparently doing everything within his capacity to deliver the deathblow.
    This is not the first time that the dishonest and despicable action by twofaced coward Ranil was exposed. Evidence of his treacherous action is in abundance in the public domain. The Presidential Commission that inquired into the busting of a key hideout of the Army’s top-secret Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) in 2002 blamed the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, some ministers, and several police officers for the act, which it described as a “great betrayal”. Commissioner, retired Judge D Jayawickreme, fixed direct responsibility on Assistant Superintendent of Police, Kulasiri Udugampola, who, he said, behaved like a “Supreme Commander above the law.” But the Prime Minister, the ministers concerned, and two successive IGPs were also held responsible, albeit indirectly” Judge D Jayawickreme said.
    Then comes the press interview given by the Appeal Court Judge and the Chairman of the Batalanda Commisssion, Dharmasiri Wickramasinghe where the credibility of this person is questioned once again. The Judge found that some important sections in Chapter 9 of the Batalanda Commission Report has been removed from it’s official publication, which mentioned the names of the persons who were directly and indirectly responsible for maintaining a “torture chamber” at a housing scheme in Batalanda, including the name of Ranil Wickramasinghe, then Minister of Industries.
    Intelligent people of mother Lanka are quite capable of identifying the true enemy of the Nation within, the great betrayer of the nation, Ranil Wickramasinghe. This man is least concern about his motherland’s image in the international arena or the plight of it’s people. History won’t lie through it’s teeth and this man would continue follow the same path, He would indulge in any immoral conduct, includes betraying his own nation, as long as his actions would help him to achieve his goal. At this election hour people should made up their mind not let this twofaced dishonest man to cajole them to believe him anymore. Citizens should not allow this man to con them and insult their intelligence. Let this man use his alarming deceptive ploys including the ones that would betray his own motherland and jammed in his own trap at the end.

  • Vishvamitra

    MR & SF: Peoples’ jury demands you to prove that you are not twofaced

    Visvamithra

    Since 1977 motherlanka has been betrayed and her destiny destroyed by too many dishonest, twofaced Machiavellians. The innocent people have suffered enormous hardship in the hand of these two faced self-seeking autocrats who preached morality in public and practiced completely opposite in private. They were so drunk with power and dare to use alarming subterfuge to mislead and cajole the innocent citizens. The need of the hour is to demand the both prospective candidates who stand the forthcoming presidential election to prove their integrity by deeds not by words. They should give a clear undertaking to all citizens that they would strictly honour their oath of allegiance and govern the nation faithfully with utmost respect to the rule of law and not by deception any more.

    Pledge for a government embracing an economic policy based on high degree of discipline and commitment to serve the nation

    In 1960’s when Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, visited Sri Lanka his dream was to emulate the Ceylonese economic model, at a time when Sri Lanka was well ahead of Singapore. Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew followed a system of government based on strict discipline and commitment and with that radical approach he turned Singapore then called “malarial island” into a global financial center and a made the Singapore a developed nation.

    Singapore and Malaysia, role model economies in Asia, are very appropriate if Sri Lanka is to mover forward as a nation. Nobody will disagree that those politicians ruled Sri Lanka since independence are directly responsible for the plight of the country today. They betrayed their motherland with lack of vision, self-seeking attitude coupled with their incompetence and lack of respect to the rule of law.

    MR and SF who appeal to the people for a mandate to the office of the President should stop displaying their ignorance to identify the real issues faced by the people of Sri Lanka. If they have a political will and commitment to serve the Nation they should address the fundamental failures that letdown mother lanka since independence by their predecessors [including MR administration]. At this election campaign people expect them to say [only if they have a genuine commitment and will to deliver] in very clear terms that, in the event elected to the office of the President, they would adopt an disciplined economic policy backed by sheer commitment to steer the nation to economic prosperity.

    The potential candidates should pledge to the people to put a stop to exploitation of the innocent people insulting their intelligence. What people are yearning for is a committed and honest leadership and not for another twofaced incompetent leadership without any vision or direction; a genuine leadership dedicated to deliver what is pledged to the people by the elected members to the Executive and the Legislature.

    Country needs a nation-building plan with the participation of all the parties

    Parties may came or go but there should be a National Action Plan with the participation of all political parties [including the ethnic minority parties] that should stay remain and followed by all governments elected to office.

    It is an undeniable truth that those incompetent and corrupt leaders hitherto ruled the nation were fatally failed to exercise peoples’ Sovereign Power as required by law and lead the country out of misery. At least at a time when the whole nation is experiencing the catastrophic outcome of the fatal failure of former leaders [including MR], the so-called leaders should have audacity to admit unequivocally that they got it completely wrong and the governance they adopted based on deception completely ruined their motherland; that had they had a vision and commitment and adopted a disciplined economic policy to deliver there would never have been a youth uprisings in 1971, 1989 and an extremely costly war [more than 200,000 precious life of youths from both sides] waged by youths in North and East that almost divided the Nation. It is an accepted phenomenon that the youth, as they always are, do refuse to suffer in silence when those who responsible for good governance are at fault and failed to deliver; when leaders are corrupt and mercilessly exploit Nations’ limited resources to serve themselves, their cronies and their families.

    Restore the right political culture

    Sri Lanka is one of the very few countries where politicos are allowed to go unpunished even when found committing wrongs of very serious nature [both criminal and civil offences]. Probably the extent of unfettered immunity they enjoy may not be found anywhere else in the world. This dangerous situation invariably induced the corrupt elements engaged in politics to disregard all ethics and to indulge in all forms of wrongdoing with no regret or remorse.

    One of the urgent needs of the hour is to redesign the political culture of Sri Lanka that leaves no room for criminals and fraudster elements to enter into mainstream politics. Reforms should encourage honest and committed people willing to serve the Nation voluntarily, scarifying their own time and energy to enter into mainstream politics.

    The conduct and behaviour of present-day politicians suggests that they are from a different planet. There are so many criminals and government revenue fraudsters in the mainstream politics. Needless to mention the names but politically active and alert people know them by their name. It is very unfortunate that the incumbent President seems ignorant of the criminal characters closely associate with him whereas wise people know inside out. It is hard to believe that these disruptive elements enjoy absolute immunity from enforcement of the laws of the land; Bribery and Corruption laws, Criminal law, Revenue and Customs laws, Road Traffic law so on and so forth. If Sri Lanka is to succeed, clearly there should be an end to this menace. There is no way that those who appeal for peoples’ mandate to the office of the President cannot turn their back on this issue of national importance. The people expect them to declare in very clear terms that in the event given a mandate to rule the Nation they will commit themselves to put right situation.

    There is no point that punitive measures are in place unless they are effectively enforced against wrongdoers, irrespective of their political affiliations; in other words there should be a genuine political will to punish those who offend the laws of the land with no fear or favour. There is a great sense of responsibility vest in the people and in the media. They should never be divided when there is any threat to good governance by any person in authority and be united in adversity disregarding political differences. When any person in the executive or legislature is found committing a wrong the media should act decisively to alert the people and to build a strong public opinion against such elements, demanding immediate action forcing such elements to resign from holding any public office. Both media and people should recognize that there is an unwritten agreement between the people and the politicos. The politicos are required to exercise the mandate given by the people honestly, faithfully with utmost respect to the rule of law. People should be aware that the focal point of power “SOVEIGNITY” is in the people and hence not dare to demand the politicos to deliver the promises pledged to the people and not to let them to shun their responsibility.

    Those who enter politics do so on their freewill and they are paid for their job. They should behave appropriately and serve the Nation as true servants of the people whom they represent and not as their masters. This is why oath of allegiance is there and it is not there for fun, as some politicos seem to think. When the media is independent and play it part, as the peoples’ watchdog exposing all corrupt elements in politicos with a strong public opinion generated against such elements, no politico would dare to indulge in any wrongdoing. They would of course behave appropriately when there is system in place – a strong none partisan media and politically vigilant civil society.

    Observe how beautifully the system works in the other parts of the world. For instance in the UK, the powerful Home Secretary Jacqui Smith was forced to apologise and resign for a minor wrong committed. She had made a wrong expenses claim of just £ 7 of taxpayers’ money for viewing of two adult movies by her husband. There are so many other MPs like her who were forced to step down for making false expenses claims. For seeking help from the Immigration Directorate, to expedite a visa application by his housemaid cost David Blunkett his job as the Home Secretary. Again in July 2009 the labour party deputy leader, Harriet Harman, MP was charged before the Magistrate Court for using a mobile phone whilst driving. She attended court and paid the fine. There is a lot Sri Lanka can learn from other nations where the democracy works to the letter; where people respect and understand the importance of the concept of equality before the law and act without favour in the public interest.

    Establish and maintain zero tolerance of abuse in any form

    What people of Sri Lanka are urging from those who seek mandate to the highest office of the Executive is nothing more than a system of governance that is committed to respect democratic values. Both SF and MR should express their commitment to bring in proper system of governance that would not leave any room for abuse. People all want them to guarantee that under their administration there won’t be any form for interference with the public institutions or any let off of wrongdoers who commit any immoral acts.

    People want a guarantee that those who abuse the privilege of duty free cars or permits to import cars would be dealt with severe punishments; that the present practice of rent disbursement of Rs.100,000.00 [offered to those politicos in the executive] would be discontinued; that allocations of public funds to MPs under decentralized budget would be discontinued; that the practice of closed-door government tender awarding process that is open to abuse for ill-gotten money would be discontinued and replaced with a totally transparent process, guaranteeing freedom to access to all government tenders to media on request so on and so forth. The candidates should make known their governance strategy to public right now. People of this country had enough under two many twofaced Machiavellian politicos, hence they demand your commitment by deeds not just by words; a clear pledge that under the new leadership the person who would elected to be the Executive President would ensure zero tolerance of any form of wrongdoing and committed to uphold the rule of law.

    Should the President allows people to call him “Athigaru Uthumanan Wahanse”

    This is something infused in Sri Lankan politics by insincere politicos, which clearly undermines the self-esteem of the fellow citizens. No one can justify as to why citizen should be made to call politicos, “thuma” “uthuman wahanse” or “athigaru uthumanan wahanse.” It is the President, elected to exercise people’s executive power, who should put right this bad practice. Even in US, or UK where the executive power of the head of the government is superior, the head is not addressed with such titles. In the US the President is addressed Mr President and in the UK the Prime Minister is addressed Mr Prime Minister, whereas in Sri Lanka the President is addressed “athigaru uthuman wahansa”, an expression that clearly demeans the self-esteem of fellow citizens. In Sri Lanka, the Executive President is the head of the state elected by the people and not a monarch. It is the duty of the President to put this bad practices right. He should not encourage or undermine the dignity and self esteem of the people and should make a statement in public that nobody should call him with the insulting title of “athigaru uthumanan wahanse”

    The President and other politicos should be made to realize that represent people that they merely exercise the sovereign power of the people; that they only perform a job of work in the Legislature or in the Executive and that they are not above the fellow citizens but servants of the people. There is no point that the norm “every person is equal” is out of use and just a meaningless clause incorporated to the Constitution. What people yearning for is equality in real sense; that every citizen is treated with respect regardless of his or her vocation or social standing. Due respect and honour should be conferred only on those who dedicated to bring a real difference to the quality of life of the people.

    Introduce the necessary reforms to establish democracy in the political parties

    Since independence, Sri Lanka suffered heavily without visionary leaders that caused serious economic downturn, whilst the other nations in the region, like Singapore and Malaysia who were well behind us in 1960s’, have achieved tremendous economic development and growth.

    For Sri Lanka to achieve true potential of the people and economic prosperity there are certain fundamental chances are required to be introduced to the working of political party system. The absence of a democratic and transparent in the party leader selection process is very serious shortcoming. Sri Lanka is theoretically a democracy, however surely not in practice; not a single political party in this country [including the JVP] follows a democratic and transparent process in the party leadership selection process. This issue should be addressed head on by all political parties if Sri Lanka is to produce dynamic political leaders. If parties follow appropriate process that followed in other leading democracies, like the UK, that would undoubtedly clear the path for deserving people to enter politics and to lead the Nation.

    In the UK, the political party leadership selection process is absolutely transparent and democratic. In the even a vote of no confidence against the incumbent leader is upheld, a leadership election is called and the incumbent leader should be barred from standing in it. Any elected MP, who believes that he has the required qualities, a clear vision and character to command the nation is allowed to enter the leadership selection process.

    If two or more candidates stand, then all elected MPs in the partly hold a series of ballots. On each round, the candidate with the fewest number of votes is eliminated. The series of ballots by MPs is continued until there are only two candidates remaining at which point ballot of all registered members of the party commences. To be eligible to vote and prevent abuse, an individual should have been a paid-up member of the party for at least three months. The candidate who tops the poll is declared the leader.

    This is the right process, a truly democratic process, which only allows most deserving person to be the party leader. When such a system is place the person who demonstrates true leadership qualities, dynamism and commitment to serve the nation will naturally become the leader. In the public interest, the two candidates who take part in this presidential election campaign should declare they would bring in necessary reforms in the leadership selection process in their respective political party. When one party comply and introduce necessary reforms that would automatically compel the other parties to follow.

    In Sri Lanka had there been a proper democratic and transparent policy in the party leader selection process in place, probably MR would not have been the leader of SLFP. Surely RW, a proven product of incompetence [whose behaviour suggests that the UNP is a private property he inherited from his father] would never have been the leader in the UNP. In the JVP, on the other hand, Somawansa Amarasinghe would not have been the leader. There are more committed popular people in the party with proven character like Anura Kumara Dissanayake who would have realistic chances of becoming the leader by a clear mandate by the general membership.

    Pledge to people to bring following changes to the character of all from of elections in the event you are elected to the office of the President

    (a) To bring in necessary legislation with provisions to declare all forms of funding to the political parties mandatory with unfettered powers to the Auditor General to inquire into funding

    (b) To bring in necessary changes to the election laws to make it binding for every person stand in any election to declare assets before or at the nominations [remove any room for abuse by allowing late submissions]. All asset declarations should be made available for public inspection on a request made to the Election Commissioner by any media institution or member of public.

    (c) To ban public rallies, cut outs, banners, posters etc altogether in future elections. Valuable time, energy and money wasted for such purposes could be use for a productive purpose. Currant process only provides a partial campaign in favour of the party in power it also leads to unnecessary violence between the supporters of parties taking part in the campaign.

    (d) To make electronic media the only mode to address the people with a fair time allocated to all candidates.

    (e) To invite all party leaders to agree to go for head-to-head electronic media series of debates.

    (f) To bring necessary changes to restrict public meeting for political party members and party conventions only

    (g) To hold all elections [parliamentary, presidential and local council] on a given date avoiding unnecessary waste of public funds. In the public interest all politicos stand elections should understand Sri Lanka could not afford endless elections. It is estimated staggering cost of two billion rupees for the forthcoming presidential polls. This is reportedly the highest cost ever to be spent on one election in the history of Sri Lanka. The Commissioner of Elections, Dayananda Dissanayake has already directed his officials to cut down costs as much as possible.

    MR is fully aware that his term of office is due to end only in 2011, although he used the constitutional provision for his personal advantage to call for an election after four years in office. Had he been a true patriot and not a two faced man there is no chance for him to call for an early election when he was fully aware that Parliamentary election is also due in three months time.

    Remove all forms of undue inducements offered to politicos
    Make politics attract only worthy people not criminal elements

    In Sri Lanka politicos enjoy luxurious life with all kinds of perks and privileges whereas the quality of life of greater percentage of the fellow citizen is pathetic, some eats only one meal a day. There is no question that Sri Lanka cannot afford a jumbo Cabinet of over 50 people maintained at taxpayers’ money. Probably Sri Lanka may be the only country where Cabinet posts are offered to entice cronies who please the President.

    It is an accepted norm that the size and the privileges offered to Cabinet should reflect the living standard of the people. In Sri Lanka, a poor country with 20 million people there are 51 Cabinet Ministers with excessive privileges, whereas in the UK, a developed nation with 60 million people, there is only 17 Cabinet Ministers with lesser privileges.

    MR clearly knows he has got it wrong but seems ignorant about the pledge given to the people. If he wants people to see him as a man who feel the pulse of people he represents, then he should not hesitate to admit that he got it wrong and that he would reduce the number to bare minimum and stop extravagant expenditures of taxpayers’ money.

    If MR and also SF failed to address this important issue head-on, and continued to utter rubbish that would only expose their lack of vision or direction and they are twofaced. The right person would unreservedly pledge to the people that in the event he is elected he would bring down the size of the Cabinet to bare minimum of 15 members [the appropriate size], proportionate to the population and the size of the country. He would also undertake to cut down the extravagant privileges to bear minimum.

    Pledge to stop other privileges that only encourage abuse

    (a) To remove the privilege of a duty free permit issued to all politicos once in five year to import a luxury car. The government incur colossal loss of revenue due to abuse of this privilege by fraudster politicos who unlawfully sell their permits to organised revenue fraudsters.

    A study conducted on this matter reveals that the average CIF value of luxury vehicle usually imported on these permits such as Mercedes bens [s class], Toyota Land Cruiser BMW X5 etc, is over 10 million rupees. The rate of customs duty and other levies chargeable on these (diesel driven) vehicles is 524% of the CIF value and for each vehicle imported the government incurs over 52 million rupees of revenue loss. If the fraudster politico gets his share of 20% of the government revenue defrauded he gets over 10 million rupees just for doing nothing and then “legitimise” these ill-gotten gains through various kinds of money laundering activities.

    In 2007 a large number of brand new vehicles were imported on these duty free permits issued to parliamentarians, provincial counselors, local government members and other privileged officials. According to the Central Bank Finance Policy Report 2007, Government revenue collection has been affected due to the motor vehicle imported under duty free permit scheme.

    “In 2007 government expected 28 billion rupees on motor vehicle imports but only collected 15 billion rupees because customs duty waivers on 2007 was staggering 14 billion. For the year 2008 revenue collection target on motor vehicle was 35 billion rupees and if the situation continues the government may not be able to collect 40% of the target” – A press release by The Director General of Customs.

    These are the real issues that MR and SF should address without beating round the bush. They must make a statement clarifying their stand and tell people whether they would continue with this abuse or will put it right immediately preventing a colossal loss of revenue.

    (b) To stop rent disbursement of Rs 100,000.00 offered to politicos to rent a house in Colombo. This is another absurd arrangement open for abuse. Those politicos live in Colombo suburbs conveniently made use of this privilege to cheat taxpayers’ money. For instance, people like Susil Premajayath and Bandula Gunawardena vacated their own houses in Nugegoda and moved further in. Surely there are so many others who did the suite. People would like to here from both MR and SF, where do they stand on this issue.

    (c) To remove the unnecessary back up security provided to politicos, a nuisance in the eyes of the fellow citizens. Surely, every citizen would agree that the way the so-called politicos behave on the highways is a disgrace. They seem to think that the Highway Code is applicable for other citizens only and violate the traffic rules at will whilst the police turn a blind eye. This is really insult to the people who yearn for law and order in the country that should be applied equally to all citizens irrespective of their status or authority. People see no valid reason for police inaction, if not for a directive from above. Absolutely there is no apparent reason (except exaggerated security concerns created by their own security people who would loose the perks they enjoy in the event the unnecessary security is withdrawn) for the continuance of back up security to politicos involving a large number of security personal and vehicles, another unnecessary burden to the already ailing economy.

    (d) To remove pension rights to politicos and demonstrate your commitment to the principle of equality before law real sense [like any other public servant no politico should be allowed pension right unless served in the legislature for a minimum period of 20 years of continuous service]

    (e) To stop the annual budget allocation to MPs to be used for “development work” under their own supervision. This is just another scandalous affair open to abuse.

    (f) To hold all MPs accountable for their actions. There should be no special or unequal treatment for those holding any public office. Any MP or a Member in the Cabinet found committing any wrongdoing should be dealt with severely with automatic dismissal from the office held.

    (g) To abolish provincial council system, which provides no value for money spent on them. The provincial councils have been introduced only to accommodate politico cronies of second layer at the taxpayers’ expense. Originally this system was proposed by India as a power sharing arrangement with people in the North but the people of north refused the system and finally it ended up in the other parts of the country. Clearly, this system is nothing more than a white elephant maintained at taxpayers money. If the presidential candidates truly focused they should pledge to the people to abolish the provincial council system altogether. They should not hesitate to those parasites who live a luxury life on taxpayers’ money to find an alternate way of living without being a curse to the already bleeding economy.

    (h) To stop all for illegal commission taking opportunities by abusing government tender process open to abuse – Solicitation and acceptance of Commissions and bribes is another major concern that is rampant in the government business causing colossal losses of public funds. There should be a system in place to ensure total transparency of all dealing of government bodies with freedom guaranteed to the people and media [both electronic and print] to obtain information of such dealings/transactions. All dealings of government projects and tender process should be made absolutely transparent and published in the “gazette” before awarding any tender or project to any prospective bidder with an adequate window guaranteed to public or media institutions to intervene if any evidence of wrongdoing is surfaced.

    (i) To remove the immunity guaranteed to the office of the president under the Constitution because president is not a ceremonial figure but is the person who exercises the executive power of the people. The person elected to the office is responsible for performance of peoples’ executive power. Hence the president should be held accountable for all executive actions.

    Evidence of abuse of power by the president is in abundance that cost country dearly. The past presidents abused the constitutional immunity with no fear or whatsoever to serve their cronies who were found guilty for defrauding government revenue.

    (j) To strengthen the powers of the Auditor General with unfettered powers to combat corruption in every public institution. This is mandatory if proper system of democratic government to be assured. The Auditor General is the peoples’ watchdog created to ensure proper accounting for all forms of expenses of public funds. Therefore, to ensure effective functioning of all executive and legislative bodies that exercise peoples’ sovereign power the office of the Auditor General should be absolutely independent from any form of political interference.

    Restore people’s confidence in the judiciary

    In Sri Lanka judiciary lacks both direction and commitment that is required to uphold the peoples’ executive power exercised by the executive president and the cabinet of ministers. However, due to undue political interference by the president, the Judiciary in Sri Lanka has lost it independence and effectiveness.

    The most glaring act of interference with judiciary is the fast track option to the Office of the Chief Justice, retained by the president. In Sri Lanka this process is being used to appoint “subservient junior judges” to the office of the Chief Justice through the “back door entry policy” – first to the office of the AG and then fast tracked to the office of the CJ.

    This unethical practice and abuse of authority by the president has denied Sri Lanka the services of most respected and independent judges in the calibre of Justice Mark Fernando, who was deliberately denied his logical expectation to the office of the CJ by executive intervention. He was indisputably a firm and impartial judge who would have firmly upheld the independence of the Judiciary and due performance of peoples’ executive power by the Executive President as required by the Constitution. He was denied his logical expectations to the highest office of the judiciary, because he was not anther “yes man.” The president CBK first indirectly interfered with the independence of the judiciary by appointing Justice Sarath Silva, a judge in the Court of Appeal, to the office of the AG and then she directly interfered by appointing the same judge to the office of the CJ by “fast track process”, bypassing the outstanding judges in the Supreme Court of their expectations to the highest post in the Judiciary.

    Abuse of power by the President and interference with the independence with the Judiciary never came to an end after CBK. This unethical practice is still being continued under MR administration. Appointing of Mohan Peiris [a lawyer and legal advisor to the government from the private bar] is a similar ploy adopted by MR administration. Mohan Peiris is not a person with an unblemished character either. There were serious complaints against him, allegedly exposing his unbecoming character as a lawyer. For instance, in 2001, the Director General of Customs, WDL Perera, reported him to the Supreme Court against Mohan Peiris’s conduct in a significant government revenue fraud inquiry, where the value of the subject matter was worth over 50 million rupees. The DGC’s complaint was never inquired into. And now Mohan Peiris has been appointed to the office of the Attorney General. The sinister motive behind this appointment is patently clear because MR administration has had enough from the former Chief Justice Sarath N Silva and therefore president MR has cleared the path to install his “obedient man” to the office of the CJ.

    The immoral actions by president CBK and president MR clearly undermine the independence of the Judiciary and President’s action discreetly conveys a message to the most senior Judges in the Supreme Court with logical expectation to the highest office of the Judiciary i.e. unless they are willing to be abide by the president they can simply forget about their high expectation to the office of the CJ. The president’s action not merely a direct interference with the judiciary but it is an act of insult directed at the Judiciary. On the other hand, from the public interest point of view this wrongful action is extremely damaging for the following reasons.

    Under the constitution there is a great sense responsibility vested in the Judiciary. It is a creation by the supreme law of the land to defend peoples’ executive power and their legislative power. Whenever there is any likelihood of threat of abuse of peoples’ executive power by the president, the cabinet of ministers or by the elected members to the legislature who exercise peoples’ legislative power the Judiciary is required by law to defend strenuously sovereign power of the people. If put it in plain language the Judiciary is the peoples’ watchdog created to ensure that peoples’ executive power and their legislative power is appropriately exercised by the president, cabinet of ministers and the legislature.

    When the Judiciary is headed by a person who is partial, prejudiced and obedient to the president, the purpose of creation of the judiciary is completely lost as it’s effective functioning is held back by undue interference by the executive President. Those who wonder as to why no person holding high office in Sri Lanka was ever brought to justice should now realise the reason behind it. It is depressing that the judiciary in Sri Lanka is dysfunctional against big “sharks”, whereas the judiciary in the same region in Asia had never hesitate to defend the peoples’ judicial power and to deal with fraudster politicos with no mercy, including the heads of the state for abuse of office and corruption charges.

    The people of Sri Lanka would like to hear from the main two candidates of their stand on this matter.

    Question 1 to MR – Will you make a clear statement to the people and concede that you got it wrong.

    Question 2 to MR – Will you undertake not take any further action that undermine the judiciary and would abstain from appointing Mohan Peiris to the office of the CJ after Justice Asoka de Silva?

    Question 3 to SF – Will you make a statement condemning the unethical practice by president MR, interference of the independence of Judiciary by him and give a clear undertaking to the people that you will staunchly uphold the independence of the Judiciary and ensure proper functioning of all three institutions [executive, legislative and judiciary] under your government in the event you are given a mandate?

    People yearning for moral standards return to politics

    People reject the political notion “Ballo marala hari salli hoyapalla” pioneered by JRJ in 1977 and followed since then. Sri Lanka has suffered enough due to JRJ’s Machiavelli political idealism, which encouraged all sorts of criminal and fraudster elements to enter into politics, who were allowed to accumulate wealth by any means by indulging all sorts of immoral acts whilst infusing a kind of horror feeling in the people. This Machiavelli approach is still being followed in Sri Lanka under MR administration to meet the aspiration of MR administration.

    Machiavelli political idealism encourages the leader to speak morality in public and to act amorally in private. The criminal, Mervin Silva’s covert role is the best living example of practising twofaced Machiavelli political ideology by MR administration.

    Cases of this nature under previous administration are in abundance. People should be aware and mindful of the immoral behaviour of the so-called “peoples’ leaders” and should not allow those who exercise peoples’ executive power to insult their intelligence anymore.

    Machiavellians ruled Sri Lanka since 1978 onwards

    1. J R Jayawardena [1978 – 1988]

    Probably JRJ is the smartest Machiavellian ever produced in Lankan politics. First, JRJ used his crafty approach to sideline Dudley Senanayake, perhaps the last gentleman leader in the UNP.

    JRJ, when serve in the opposition was a committed campaigner for democracy. He talked passionately about morality in politics, failure of government instructions to uphold the law and order, breach of fundamental rights of the citizens and so on so forth.

    What he practiced after came became the head of the state was completely opposite to what he was preaching. He was the man responsible for opening floodgates for all fraudster and criminal elements to enter politics. Under his administration he encouraged wrongdoing and then blackmailed the wrongdoers to have a firm grim on them. People of this country are well conversant of the style of governance practiced by Machiavelli JRJ. He obtained signed resignation letters from all the MPs of his party and used the signed letters to be used as and when he deemed fit. JRJ he was the main architect who ruined the morality in Sri Lankan politics altogether. Under his administration, politicos were provided excessive perks and privileges that never found in the Lanka politics before. State pension, duty permits for cars, a pay that is completely disproportionate to the average pay of a fellow citizen was offered to politicos under his regime.

    He created a fortress for his own defence. Under the monstrous constitution, his own creation, he was the focal point of all powers. He retained all executive powers under his command. He was the Head of the State, Head of the Executive, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The stronghold created for the protection of the President was so impregnable he incorporated a special provision in the constitution [Article 35] and enjoyed absolute immunity from any criminal or civil proceedings against anything done by him in his official capacity or private capacity.

    The man, who talked extensively about the human rights when he was in the opposition, denied the right to life to fellow citizens [a most important fundamental right recognised in the UN charter and also in constitution of our neighbour, India] under fundamental rights chapter in his Constitution.

    JRJ, under his constitution, also retained the control of the legislature with absolute power to summon and dissolve the parliament as he may deem fit. Power retained by him to undermine the legislature under his command was such that he retained the power to dissolve the parliament was such that he could do so simply after one year the citizens elected their representative to the legislature.

    Control over Judiciary under him was so rigid that powers retained in him devalued the country’s Judiciary and it’s independence. He retained all appointments to the Supreme Court, including the Chief Justice and judges to the Court of Appeal by a warrant under his hand. And he was first person who is responsible for bring in outsiders from the private bar to the apex post in the Judiciary. His appointment of his own lawyer, Neville Samarakoon to the office of the CJ was the beginning of direct political interference with independence of the Judiciary in Sri Lanka. Having Neville Samarakoondone as the CJ, JRJ surreptitiously hoped for an obliging CJ to do his bidding, although after the said appointment his desire never succeeded, as CJ Neville Samarakoon was a strong and independent Judge who never flinched from his duty of maintaining judicial independence.

    Under his democratic constitution JRJ also allowed multinational companies to setup their bases in Sri Lanka and to exploit country’s resources including the work force as they please with no interference whatsoever from the domestic laws. The protection provided extended to include any other form of interference by any executive or administrative action.

    JRJ, the man who talked morality, “righteous society” under his administration in public discreetly used his power to eliminate those who refused to suffer in silence under his oppressive rule. He sensed that youths, who were agitating against his autocratic rule that destroyed all democratic institutions with extensive abuse of power, were embracing Rohana Wijeweera. JRJ, master Machiavellian, practiced the theology he believed to the letter. He clandestinely prohibited Wijeeweera’s political party, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna for no valid reason whatsoever and forced the party members to underground and then used state and state sponsored terror to eliminate thousands of youths who were killed in coldblood.

    JRJ also was not afraid to abuse his office as President and interfere with the duties of the government revenue agencies to protect his cronies. In one such case, where his own Secretary Manikdevala was involved, JRJ had the audacity to order the immediate removal of the officer who was responsible for enforcement of law against his Secretary Mankidevela. In another case where a luxury car imported by Nawaloka, defrauding the government revenue of over 1.8 million rupees, was ceased and confiscated [Case No POM/167/1985], JRJ abused his authority and summoned the Head of Customs and ordered him to release the car, which was by the then advertised in print media for sale by public auction.

    His respect to the rule of law and to the fundamental rights of the people was such that when policemen were found guilty for violation of human rights of the citizens and ordered to pay compensation to victims, JRJ came forward to defend the policemen who violated the human rights of the citizens. JRJ authorised such payments ordered agains the rights violators from taxpayers’ money, which was considered a tacit approval of human rights violations by the Head of the Executive. The tyrannical rule under JRJ also encouraged criminals and their accomplices. In one such case well known reconvicted criminal serving a long prison sentence [such as Gonawala Sunil] was pardoned and released on his orders.

    2. R Premadasa [1989 – 1993]

    When this name is mentioned the immediate imagery produced in the minds of the people would be a man holding a basketful of “saman pitchcha” flowers over head high worshipping Lord Buddha. But in reality he was a twofaced criminal. On his orders all JVP polibureau members who were arrested, including the leader Rohana Wijeweera, were tortured and killed in cold blood. President Premadasa did not carried out that inhuman and degrading act on his own. It was carried out that with the tacit approval of the then Attorney General Sunil Silva.

    After “finished them off” Premadasa had the audacity to allow a video clip shown on Rupawahini in which Rohana Wijeweera was addressing his comrades and pleading them to surrender. The impression given to the public by that video clip was that Wijeweera was alive and being treated well in the government custody. After killing them in cold blood President Premadasa deliberately insulted the intelligence of the people with utter falsehood. The state controlled media informed the people that the polibureau members of the JVP had serious differences between them and betrayed each other. Whilst they were taken in a security convoy to show one of their hideouts confessed to security forces some of the JVPers in the hideout who saw them coming opened fired at them killing all of them.

    Premadasa was such a crafty Machiavellian autocrat and an expert spin-doctor. Day in and day out he preached morality to people while practice completely opposite in his private life. There are serious allegations that he abused his office to eliminate not only JVpers but the other forces as well that he considered a threat to his survival. His period in office in Sri Lanka is considered a dark period in history rule by terror.

    3. Ranil Wickramasinghe (RW) [May 1993 - August 1994]

    This is another twofaced “peoples’ politico” who closely associated with the serious criminals. His alleged association with the SSP Douglas Peiris, who was accused for murdering hundreds of youths in cold blood, is a known fact and information in this regard is in abundance in the public domain. RW was also accused for his personal knowledge for some brutal murders carried out in his own backyard, Batalanda torture chamber.

    How he got his man [Gonawala Sunil], a reconvicted criminal serving a long jail sentence, is another illustration of his association with criminals. Once Gonawal Sunil was released from the prison RW was his ally in crimes in RW’s private life. Gonawala Sunil was not only a well-known criminal he also was a powerful figure in the ring of smugglers who were concerned in the importation of goods by illegal means defrauding the government revenue. In one such case, even after failed a smuggling attempt, thanks to the intervention of his ally RW, Gonawal Sunil was successful in snatching 1.8 million rupees from the Customs Department by deceitful means.

    RW’s association with the other government revenue fraudsters in general was also unparallel. When he was the Prime Minister, in September 1993, Customs launched stern action against those who imported duty free cars on duty permits issued to politicos and sold such vehicles unlawfully in the open market. As a result of strict enforcement of law some cars were seized and confiscated amidst strong political pressure. However, soon after the initiation of action in the first such case, further action was stopped as a result of direct interference by the then RW who came forward to defend “his men”. RW had no respect whatsoever to the law of the land and had the audacity to order release of all vehicles confiscated by the Customs. RW was a man with such a despicable character. RW had the audacity, having ordered release of all confiscated vehicles, to direct the Customs with his strict orders abandon any further operations against revenue fraudsters involved in the said fraud.

    RW was an excellent Machiavellian who followed Machiavelli’s theology to the letter. Having served his men with his fraudulent action [unknown to public], RW had audacity deceive the public with a press statement that carried only utter falsehood. He informed the public that on his orders stern action was being taken against those who abused duty free permits and those who illegally sold permit cars in the open market, incurring over 2 billion revenue loss [Silumina 5th September 1993]. Today this passionate Machiavellian once again preaches people about the importance of honestly and integrity in politics.

    4. D B Wijetunga [1993 -1994]

    What is the kind of person figure out in average citizen’s mind when the name of DBW is remembered? Probably a picture of a very innocent and harmless person may come to ones mind. Yet, this was another very successful Machiavellian who left no room for the average citizen to know his inner or discrete conduct. The powerful fraudsters used this man to get the maximum out of DBW and for some he was a fatherly figure. Some very successful fraudsters knew DBW’s limited abilities very well and they used him for their advantage by offering his family by certain ways, which DBW considered a gesture of their faithfulness and appreciation of his “contributions” made towards them by way of nullifying forfeiture orders and penalties imposed on fraudsters by government revenue agencies. Some of his obedient and intimate “buddys” treated DBW with offering his family’s monthly shopping list personally delivered to his home in Kanay.

    DBW used his diplomacy very effectively to support his men, the powerful government revenue fraudsters. However, this calm fatherly figure became vicious when offended, particularly when failed to get things done the way he wanted. Very few only knows that he was a man directly responsible for persecuting some upright officers in the government revenue agencies who refused to compromise with his unlawful orders. Some officers who refused to carry out his illegal orders were persecuted to such an extent that on his orders they lost their jobs and some were placed under interdiction under his rule. However, his immoral conduct was came to light when one such officer challenged his unlawful dismissal on the orders of the President in the Supreme Court. In this case the head of the Customs Administration, in an affidavit made to the Supreme Court he admitted that the President DBW summoned him and ordered him to dismiss the said officer from public service. More information about DBW’s deceptive character was highlighted in the Counterpoint magazine [February 1994] for a complete exposure of DBW’s deceptive character and connivance with fraudster mafia.

    5.Chandrika Bandaranayake Kuramatunga (CBK) [1994 - 2005]

    The people gave CBK an overwhelming mandate because she pledged to the people to be a strictly disciplined leader and to clear corruption and abuse of power rampant in the government business. She was extremely firm, uncompromising and committed during her election campaign to power and promised people to restore law and order, to eliminate abuse of power and for a lasting peace under her “able leadership” which would not tolerate any form of wrongdoing.

    By far from those idealised hopes, the political leadership under her reflected only a common or garden-variety leadership, autocratic and unenlightened. What she practiced in private was totally different to what she preached to the people during her election campaign. She was just another Machiavellian and the government under her rule was a total disaster. She betrayed the people who had placed a great faith and trust in her and simply became an easy pray of the powerful fraudster and criminal mafia that effectively control the economy. Not only did she tolerated all sorts of wrongdoing she also encouraged those who swindled the government revenue with her tacit approval. She was utterly undisturbed and unconcerned when the media exposed her abuses and she continued her practice of interfering with the operation of government revenue agencies to protect the interests of her cronies, the government revenue suckers. The enormous loss of revenue the government incurred as a result of nullifying forfeitures and penalties imposed on the fraudsters ran into hundreds of millions of rupees. Under CBK’s regime life of some upright officers who refused to compromise with her undue interference with their enforcement duties were always at risk as the fraudster mafia were very powerful under her regime. Under these circumstances some committed senior law enforcement officers in the government revenue agencies who were disgusted with her attitude towards honest officers who refused to compromise with CBK’s unlawful orders left the country for good. The extent of her blindness and drunkenness with power was such that in some cases she was bold enough to dictate her unlawful orders directed at the heads of government revenue agencies with her own handwriting.

    Despite her endless interference with law enforcement duties against government revenue fraudsters, there were some upright officers in the government revenue agencies courageous enough to blow the whistle and expose her abuses through the media. However, this arrogant autocrat was so stubborn against such officers. She launched direct attack on these officers; used her intelligence to identify the officers who exposed her twofaced character in the media. The persecution directed at those officers were such that they were arrested, remanded, charged with manifestly unfounded allegations and finally dismissed from the public service. Now, this twofaced tyrant once again preaches about the importance of honestly, integrity and visionary leadership in politics, which she claims not found in the MR administration.

    Need of the hour and obligations of SF and MR

    You may pledge to deliver different things to the people that you normally deceive at this Presidential election campaign. Please in the name of justice stop this immoral, senseless and illusionary politics, an act of insult to the intelligence of the people. What people with correct political judgement demand is to prove your character and genuine will to be a firm and honest leader commitment to deliver. Political history of Sri Lanka demonstrates that up until now, so many dishonest politicos, who ruled the country by deception, had betrayed the people of this country. They were two faced and had no integrity or commitment to serve the nation. They took the innocent people for ride who have undergone immense economic hardship for no fault of them. People now demand you to prove your character and worth by your own conduct; by deeds not just by words that you are not another two faced Machiavelli.

    People demand you to display your respect towards your opponent. Indulgence in disgraceful acts such as use of force and terror towards your opponent only shows that you’re a below average character. Such acts expose the absence of any vision, direction or magnanimity in you, an essential characteristic of a good leader. Politically intelligent people of this country expect you to respect the political judgement of the people, most of whom are not partisans of any particular political party or candidate but clever observers, the decisive force who would decide your destiny.

    Advise to SF

    People will never forget your contributions towards safety and comfort of fellow citizens; your dedicated service as a truly committed military commander. You proved to the whole world that what you have achieved during your tenor as the military commander is simply unparalleled to what others have done. You almost sacrificed your life on your march to free the Nation from terror. Surely every decent citizen of this country, who enjoys freedom from strife, would pay his or her utmost respect for what you have achieved under your command. Therefore, just turn your back on some disparaging remarks made by certain criminal elements enjoy immunity under MR, who it seems yet to understand how costly his association with these criminals would be.

    General, now you are promoted to contest the Presidential election by the United National Party under the grip of [RW] and by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramauna headed by Somawansa two proven impotent leaders who lacks either vision or direction. Why they promote you? Is that because they love you to be the President of this country? Remember, these two are politically bankrupt and decomposed and not worth a penny. They are fully aware that people have no trust or confidence in them. And that is why they pleaded you to be their proxy candidate. They are trying to have a piggyback on someone like you, a renowned figure who has won the hearts and minds of people. These people who has no confidence in them are now trying to get into power through the back door.

    General, people know that you have signed a MOU with these people contents of which are hidden from the citizens yet. People also know that the MOU you signed would impose very serious limitations and moral obligations on you. If the citizens of this country were to consider your candidacy in the forthcoming elections, in the first place, you should place the MOU you signed with UNP and JVP before the people. They have a right to know what you have conceded to RW and Somawansa in the event you are elected to the office of the President. Therefore, people of this country have their reservations about your candidacy at the elections. The reason is clear. In the event you are elected to the office of the President, people of this country require you to discharge the duties of the President strictly in accordance with the oath of allegiance you would take under the constitution i.e. to be faithful to the laws of the land and to the people of Sri Lanka who would assign their executive power to you for due execution. And for whatever the reasons people do not want you to be directed and dictated by a MOU you signed with RW & Co. It is very unlikely that the politically knowledgeable people in this country would let RW to take them for a ride anymore.

    You should bear in mind that as long as you go along with RW and Somawansa in the election campaign you will destroy your chances. You know the popular saying “when you sleep with dogs you will have ticks in you.” People have no confidence in these people and as long as you go with RW and Somawansa people will have no confidence in you as well. That would be the most likely the verdict of the people. As at present, in the eyes of public you are nothing more than a puppet remotely control by these rotten, disintegrated politicos. People know your capacity is severely curtailed for reasons beyond your control but still believe you have some options open for you provided you act swiftly.

    Remember, if RW and whatever the executive committee of the UNP are confident that you are the right person to contest the under UNP ticket, then surely you naturally become the most appropriate person to be installed as the party leader. You should not hesitate to use this opportunity to your advantage. People want you to use your intelligence and to become the party leader in the UNP by a popular mandate by the general membership. This is not a bad ploy at all, particularly at a time when there is a steady disintegration is observed in the UNP. You can see in front of your own eyes that senior in the party are deserting RW providing you the best opportunity.

    Having become the party leader, you can have your the executive committee appointed by popular vote, the only process that allows people with integrity to take key position in the party. In fact, you should have done this at the very initial stages of this campaign but still it is not too late. There is no doubt, providing you become the party leader and seek peoples’ mandate to be the chief executive of the country with a right team [your shadow cabinet] with no barriers, people will definitely consider that you are the right person with proven character to be the President in this Country.

    General, your destiny is in your hands. Act fast, meet the plausible challenge if you need peoples’ mandate come before the people free from any impediments. People don’t want some elements that are already rejected to dictate terms on you; prove your character by meeting the challenge head on with a integrity to lead the Nation

    Word of advice to MR

    Dear President, before your own eyes you can simply see the plight of those who followed the Machiavelli’s political ideology and got burned to ashes. Best example is the decomposed CBK, your predecessor; the one who shamelessly abused the great faith and confidence placed in her by the people of this country. Probably she was one of the best who was given an overwhelming mandate to put things rights. Yet, it is very unfortunate that peoples’ judgement on her was proved wrong. She was a monumental failure. CBK was just another common and unenlightened autocrat. Look back and see her sorry plight today. Nobody bother pay a shit of respect towards her. She got everything wrong and got what she rightly deserved.

    Do you want to follow the same footstep and fall into the same trap or you want to be the “peoples leader forever”? Choice is in your hands. If you want to be just another Machiavellian like JRJ, RW, R Premadasa, and CBK and rule the country by deception your destiny in the history would be the same; another addition to the names of “great betrayers of the Nation” list.

    Remember, you have full potential to be the Mahathir Mohamed, or Lee Kwan You of Sri Lanka. You have already proved some characteristics of a good leader. You were stand firm against the western pressure, stood firm and refused to betray your people and won the hearts and minds of the people. If Ranil or CBK had been the President there is no question that they would have kneeled down before the western pleasure. People love your good qualities. You are known for your modesty and people naturally compare you with bigheaded CBK. Yet, please be aware, people also know about your bad character, lack of integrity; that why this sincere word of advice, because people are willing to pardon, after all you are a human; providing however, you shun all bad qualities and become a true leader with firm commitment to deliver.

    For you there is so many thinks to gain. Simply be honest and committed. Reject rule by deception, which will only bring your downfall. Be brave enough to redesign your policies based on strictly disciplined economic policy “dasaraja dharma” and zero tolerance of any form of wrongdoing. In the name of your motherland, give up all forms of wrongdoing; reject all habit of pleasing cronies and other bad practices that only help ruining your chances be a successful leader. Get rid of all criminal elements around you. Reject Mervin Silva criminal gang. Renounce egoism that only tarnishes your name and don’t promote or tolerate elements that promote egoism. Be courageous to select and rely on a team of committed people [your cabinet] with proven character to deliver. Reject wholeheartedly the ones whose prime concern is to embezzle public funds by improper means.

    MR, people want you to displays that you are a changed person with right characteristics. If you want to win the hearts and minds of the people you must prove your character before the election that you are not a Machiavellian anymore or a ruler govern by deception but a man with an integrity and commitment to fulfil all objectives set by the supreme law of the land

    People want actions not words. Prove your character to the people right now with the implementation of the following

    • Get rid of all criminal elements you associate right now. Prove your adherence by removal of Mervin Silva criminal gang forthwith

    • Display your magnanimity with due respect to your opponent. Deal severely with those who disrupt his political campaign

    • Make a voluntary declaration of your assets and all contributions made to your election campaign

    • Stop extravagant expenditure of taxpayers money including “dansala”s to induce people

    • Withdraw all backup security provided to all MPs and Ministers with immediate effect. This is just another nuisance; unproductive waster of taxpayers money. There is no logic in continuation of this practice. Security backups provided when in power is withdrawn when moved to opposition. If they can live without such security when in opposition, there is no logic to provide such security when they moved to government. In the eyes of public this is purely an abuse.

    Give a clear undertaking to the people to meet the following in the event you are given a fresh mandate to be the President

    • To remove all elements that have blood in their hands from the office of the Cabinet of Ministers and from the legislature – [Lokuge, Susantha Punchinilame, Mahinda Ratnathilake and other such elements whose names are not included

    • Pledge people to strengthen the fundamental rights of the citizens with right to life guaranteed in the Constitution

    • Pledge to strengthen the independence of judiciary with no interference whatsoever. Give an open undertaking to the public that Mohan Peries appointed to the office of the AG will not be “fast tracked” to the office of the CJ through the back door. This unethical practice clearly undermines the independence of Judiciary and implicitly warns the Judges to be partial towards the government when it is a party to a case or when any bill is challenged before the Supreme Court.

    • Pledge to stop the bad practice of paying compensation awarded against police officers who violated fundamental rights of citizens from taxpayers’ money. There is no logic in this practice and clearly this act amounts to tacit approval of violation of citizens’ rights by state officers. Those who found fault at fault should be made to pay on their own funds and should be removed from office forthwith.

    • Pledge to remove the pension rights given to MPs unless one complete a minimum of 20 years continues service in the legislature

    • Pledge to remove the privilege of a duty free permit issued to all politicos once in five year to import a luxury car. The government incur colossal loss of revenue due to abuse of this privilege by fraudster politicos who unlawfully sell their permits to organised revenue fraudsters. Instead allow permit only once in 10 years however, no individual should be allowed to profit from the privilege afforded to a public office. If any vehicle imported under any duty free permit scheme is to be disposed of then the permit holder should made to sell it direct to the government store at the depreciated value the base value for which should be the cost of the vehicle at the time of importation. Any unlawful disposal of either a permit itself or a vehicle imported under a permit should lead to automatic removal of the MP concerned who abused the privilege plus automatic confiscation of the vehicle.

    • Pledge to abolish provincial council system, which provides no value for money spent on them.

    • Stop rent disbursement of Rs 100,000.00 offered to politicos to rent a house in Colombo. This is just another opening to abuse taxpayers’ money by politicos

    • Pledge to remove the immunity guaranteed to the office of the president under the Constitution. Office of the President is not a ceremonial head but it is the office that exercises peoples’ executive power. The person elected to the office is responsible for due performance of peoples’ executive power. Hence the president should be held accountable for all executive actions.

    • Pledge to strengthen the powers of the Auditor General with unfettered powers to combat corruption in every public institution. This is mandatory if proper system of democratic government to be assured. The Auditor General is the peoples’ watchdog created to ensure proper accounting for all forms of expen

  • Wijeya

    “And I am not even referring to the alleged spam they send. That’s OK. I can put up with it. I love those Presidential New Year wishes as much as I love the juicy scandals in Hollywood. So spam, by all means. Granted, you don’t need my permission”.

    LMAO ! Hope atleast now M R will stop spamming.

  • http://yahoo faizal

    vishvamitra is a real dhobi of the govt/mr clan. his blog is just a long sickening long harangue about nothing, especially since he seems to be very good at beating the deer hide. he has some grouse against rw when rw is not even an entity in the present context. he should be writing articles in the govt. newspapers rather than blogging with mundane, uninteresting blogs.
    mr had all the opportunities to do what you have asked both the contenders to implement. but what did he do other than the poplitical leadership he gave for the war effort? he not only disregarded the constituttion without any compunction but also were very brazen about it, which really are the action of despots and morons. he did not set an example in good governance but set a precedent in bad governance by encouraging and entertaining thugs and crooks in his jumbo cabinet. he did not work for the prosperity of the nation but for the prosperity of his extended family.
    therefore, he may be everything for vishvamithra, but as far as we simple folks are concerened, enough is enough, we need a change.

  • http://Nil Justitia

    In short,all presidents up to now were unfit to hold office.All never delivered all what they promised during their election campaigns.JRJ entrenched and thrust a diabolical constitution on the nation which made the holder of the office of president, a virtual dictater.Only a person of high moral standards could resist the temptation of using the powers conferred on him by the constitution,for personal benefit & that of his coterie of relatives,friends and sycophants.
    Recent elimination of LTTE was done with tens of thousands of avoidable civilian deaths.The government said that “not a single civilian was harmed”. There has never been war with zero civilian casualties.Human rights violations continue and are daily revealed by the media.
    I hope that Sarath Fonseka, if elected, will have the will and determination to abolish the dictatorial powers of the presidency.
    Mahina Rajapakse will never do this.

  • Lankensforever

    I could not read all what Vishwamitra wrote in his texts. But he is rather trying to change the person MR. This he may can get done through genetists from the states. So long MR is MR, nothing like associating thugs, continue abusing state properties all will remain as any right thinking lanken can be seen today. Just now I happened to read that police is trying to search the sundayl leaderin her office, there will be no place for free media journalists so long this african style leader is going to be there. I very much hope the general public will use their golden vote to elect the right person on the 26 th.

  • Vishvamitra

    Will people pardon Ranil for denying a decent candidate and for lost opportunity?
    Vishvamithra
    Why Ranil Wickramasinghe refused to field himself for the forthcoming Presidential election and agreed to support General Sarath Fonseka instead? More than anybody else Ranil knows the answer. An impotent person with blood in his hands and a man lacks either vision or direction and a person politically bankrupt and rejected by the people for more than 15 occasions. He knows that he has completely lost his credibility and that people have no trust in him. He cannot inspire the people and hence now use a scapegoat with a hope to enter the governance through back door.
    All requests directed at Ranil Wickramasinghe to step down and to call for a leadership contest has been fell on deaf ears. It seems that Ranil Wickramasinghe thinks that the United National Party is a private property inherited from his family. Ranil Wickramasinghe so drunk for power continue to entice the people with distressing deception and refuses to call for leadership contest giving the party members an opportunity to elect a fit and proper person, possibly a young dynamic leader with a proven character and a one with no blood in hands, to the party leadership. Due to an irrational decision taken by one individual, the United National Party, a formidable political party since independence, and the Nation for the fist time in the Sri Lankan political history, has lost an opportunity to field a potential candidate from the UNP to compete against Mahinda Rajapakse.
    The UNP possesses relatively young and dynamic people, with proven character, some of who have already reached the pinnacle of their respective of field of discipline. For instance Srinath Perera, the former Solicitor General, a man with a Masters degree in Law from the University of London and more than anything else a man with high degree of honestly and integrity and no blood in his hands.
    Those who are familiar with the role he played in the AG Department will always remember this man’s sheer commitment to stand for justice. In one such case when the then Prime Minister, Mrs Bandaranayake [under CBK's regime] was misled by certain interested party for an irrational order to compensate 600 million US Dollars from government coffers to a multinational company, Srinath Perera singlehandedly fought against the attempted fraudulent payment. He went out of the way to stop the illegal payment that was about to be sanctioned by the Prime Minister. The company had demanded the said payment for a shipment of rocket mortars undeclared to Customs hence confiscated and released to the security forces. Srinath Perera who was fully confident that the forfeiture was well within the law resorted to visit Mrs Bandaranayake personally at her Rosmead place residence and to convince her to abstain from authorizing the illegal payment. If not for his sheer commitment a massive 600 million US dollars would have been paid out from government coffers that would have been shared amongst certain elements and the company concerned. Srinath Perera is just one such person with proven track record who deserved to be the leader of the UNP. Surely there are more such potential people for leadership with proven integrity and commitment to stand for leadership contest.
    Sadly, one individual has denied the services of these worthy people to the betterment of the Nation. Ranil Wickramasinghe has completely shut the door for these people who has all attributes to inspire the Nation. These people have been forced to remain silence by Ranil Wickramasinghe who enjoys absolute power centered in him under the current undemocratic party constitution. It is clearly detrimental not only to the progression of the party but also for the installing of democracy proper in Sri Lanka.
    This is the time for the general party membership to come forward, breaking the ranks, to be heard and if they have any sense of urgency to give back to the old party its lost prestige. This is the right time for them to reject Ranil Wickramasinghe’s uninspiring and failed leadership altogether. They should demand him to step down and rewrite the party constitution that should pave way for a democratic and transparent leadership selection process giving all potential candidates an equal opportunity to contest the party leadership election process.
    It is in this backdrop general Fonseka becomes a scapegoat to cover up the political blunder of Ranil Wickramsinghe. Now the poor general is under tremendous pressure to lead the election campaign, which he should have refused in the first place. Ranil Wickramasinghe is the man who condemned the very general when engaged in a decisive battle against the separatist forces. He is the man who, condemned the general that he is not fit even to lead the Salvation Army and as a man only capable of liberating Pamankada not Alimankada. In the best interest of the country the general Fonseka should have keep his good name in our history rather than becoming a scapegoat for the twofaced and failed Ranil Wickramasinghe, whose main concern is to protect the economic & political interests of the West.
    Now the General has played into hands of deceptive elements headed by Ranil Wickramasinghe. Obviously, he would take some votes that would otherwise gone to Mahinda Rajapakse’s way. But then, could the General become the President? My humble opinion is no! Being embarrassed, General Sarath Fonseka finally would be compelled to end up in utter disgrace.
    Will people pardon Ranil for denying a decent candidate and for lost opportunity? He may be pardoned for ruining for his own political career. Yet, it is very unlikely that he would be spared for the crime he committed by denying the people, a golden opportunity to field a formidable candidate to challenge President Rajapakse and for denying the party a realistic chance to change the course of the Nation.