In 2010, during the last Presidential Election campaign in Sri Lanka, Groundviews visualised the manifestos of Sarath Fonseka and Mahinda Rajapaksa. Using the visualisations, we were able to draw interesting differences between the manifestos of the two leading candidates at the time.

We did this for Maithripala Sirisena after he released his manifesto last week (download the manifesto in English here).


With the release of the English version a day or two ago, we can also now do this for Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 2015 manifesto.

MR 2015

The ‘country’ weighs heavily in the manifestos of both candidates, but more so in Sirisena’s. For the incumbent, there’s a lot of emphasis on ‘providing’ as well as ‘establishing’ various things and benefits. For the Presidential hopeful, there’s an emphasis on various ‘programmes’ for the ‘people’. ‘Programmes’ also feature a lot in the Rajapaksa manifesto. A key difference is the emphasis on ‘education’, which features prominently in Sirisena’s manifesto, perhaps mirrored in the emphasis on ‘children’ in Rajapaksa’s manifesto. In Sirisena’s manifesto, there is repeated mention of ‘political’ in the context of the culture he wants to establish and constituent parties in country’s polity. Found on 53 of Rajapaksa’s 109 page manifesto, the word ‘national’ features prominently in the context of security, development and industry.

The visualisations are interesting for not only what’s featured and prominent, but also for what’s missing and silent in the manifestos of both candidates.

What do you think of both manifestos?

  • Metteyya Brahmana

    Maithripala cannot point to ONE significant achievement that has helped the Sri Lanka people in his three decades in government. His only attempted achievement – health warnings on cigarette packages – was poorly conceived and completely misplaced, as most Sri Lankans cannot afford a package of cigarettes and therefore buy single cigarettes. If Maithripala spent more time going to the corner grocery stores where most cigarettes are bought as singles rather than whizzing around to upscale parties in BMW limousines, he would have known that package warnings would not work in Sri Lanka.

    In another failed policy initiative as heath minister, Maithripala had a Thailand firm provide saline as a ‘single bidder’ in an effort to eradicate dengue fever. The saline turned out to be substandard and over 1,000 Sri Lankans died as a result. We later learned that a representative from the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended this Thailand contractor to Maithripala, and is the same WHO representative who later recommended Maithripala for an unearned health award at Harvard. On Maithripala’s watch as health minister, dengue fever has gone up, cancer has gone up, heart disease has gone up, liver disease has gone up, lung and respiratory disease have gone up, HIV has gone up, and smoking, alcoholism and drug abuse have gone up. Every health metric in Sri Lanka has worsened under Maithripala’s leadership as health minister.

    This highlights the disconnect between Maithripala’s rhetoric (words) and his actions and capacity. For example, he famously told hospital staff attending to a man who was brutally assaulted by his son that “I am not like other ministers who would abuse power to intervene with the police to help out my son” and then moments later in a flurry of phone calls to the justice minister and police brass he gets his son released and the charges dropped. And this is the man who SAYS he is going to rein in corruption and bring good governance to Sri Lanka. Yeah, right.

    Perhaps more disturbing, Maithripala says he is going to immediately appoint Ranil Wickramasinghe as his Prime Minister if he is elected as a condition of Ranil making him the opposition candidate with UNP party support. But the last time Ranil was Prime Minister in Sri Lanka, he was a favorite lapdog of the American right wing Neocons, and made Sri Lanka airports available to assist with the US CIA rendition and torture of US terror suspects. Ranil also pushed the divisive 13th Amendment to the Sri Lanka Constitution favored by the Tamil Tiger terrorists, that would essentially setup an autonomous Tamil controlled territory in the North and East on the small island of Sri Lanka, which could then be used as a stepping stone for a separate Tamil country in the future. We need only look at the Pakistan-Kashmir situation in India to know that this sort of separatism leads to decades of conflict down the road, and keeps Sri Lanka divided when the focus should be on unifying the country. In fact, the permanent solution is massive integration and redevelopment (using the Curitiba, Brazil low-cost redevelopment model) of the North and East with Sinhalese Buddhists to completely remove the threat of separatism emerging in the future.

    And, finally, Maithripala and his opposition coalition partners claim they are concerned with “China expansionism”, when China is the ONLY country in the world that is putting up the multi-BILLION dollar investments in Sri Lanka to develop the country. These large scale investments come with no “internal meddling” strings attached like you typically find with US or EU development dollars, and dwarf by a wide margin the entire sum of US-EU development dollars allocated to Sri Lanka since independence in 1948. The US China Containment Policy is a FAILED policy, in that China just surpassed the United States recently as the largest economy in the world. The US is concerned that China may be able to safeguard its trade routes if it is able to port its naval and submarine vessels in Sri Lanka, and therefore want to roll back China’s influence in Sri Lanka. To think that Maithripala is more interested in supporting such an illegal effort by the United States to interfere with Chinese trade around the world rather than have Sri Lanka rise WITH China as a key partner and investor to bankroll further economic development is beyond ignorance and simply betrays the people of Sri Lanka.

    In short, Maithripala is the dream candidate of neo-colonists who want to employ the same divide-and-conquer tactic that was so successful during the days when Sri Lanka was a British colony. He doesn’t have a clue on how to further develop the Sri Lanka economy, lift people out of poverty, or manage the delicate international relationships for the long-term benefit of ONE Sri Lanka.

    • Jay

      If most sri Lankans cannot effort to buy full package of cigarette then what has Rajapakse government archived governing?

      As long as he’s his going to bring good governance and get rid of nepotism,violance,corruption,change of constitution we will vote for that ……..

  • puniselva

    ”Maithripala is the dream candidate of neo-colonists who want to employ the same divide-and-conquer tactic that was so successful during the days when Sri Lanka was a British colony”?

    What has been happening to the ethnic minorities since 1948? Those who cannot remember anything of the past must look at what many Sinhalese retired civil servants, lawyers and Professors told LLRC that the ethnic minorities have been oppressed politically, economically and socio-culturally from 1948 till today.

    So successive governments have been neocolonists.?

    Here is the answer:
    ”The North needs a movement joint to settle differentially, while preserving national integrity” –

  • Eyepopper

    Some of the comparisons cant get any lamer. For one thing, corruption is prominent in all nations across the world. Having lived in both USA and Europe, i can clearly say that its all there but its in fact a matter of window dressing it which the west is always good at doing. Voting for a man like MS who has clearly no precedence in achieving any formidable change, even as a minister is like going to war with an unproven rifle. And if people are stupid enough to believe that anyone can eradicate corruption they are better off sitting in their own utopian state. Corruption, violence, bribery etc are not new phenomena. If most of you have forgotten, even during the medieval days with monarchical governance, corruption and violence were still present. It is always there, and the greed for money and power can change almost any man, not just the rajapaksas. Its just human nature, unless of course we’re appointing a saint as the president.

    DONT forget that its always better to have a thief who gives something back to the county than a thief who does nothing and makes excuses for betterment in future. And in light of that, anyone who has lived in Sri Lanka over the past 5 years can directly say that there has been substantial development going on which was not present over the last 3 decades. MS is just a mere puppet being held on tight strings by Ranil and Chandrika, [edited out] with little reverence for significance of national sovereignty. If by chance, MS wins, it will be Chandrika getting the PM strong hold, and controlling him,…. yet again the reign of [edited out]. And on the other end, we can be confident that the majority of MR’s family spending on luxurious vehicles and other commodities have already been done, where as if MS comes, who’s to say he wont attempt to match the living standards of the predecessor?… that his own son wouldnt want to compete in acquiring the same luxury that the former first children had? lol… blatantly believing MS’s vow for no corruption is like not expecting a lion to eat you cos you are kind to it. If it’s hungry, it will eat whatever it wants, end of story.

    One thing our Sri Lankans have forgotten is that you cannot assess a situation by looking only at the present. History often holds important lessons and clues as to the likely possibilities of what MAY and what MAYBE happening in the real sense. The West and International Communities have never intervened in to the affairs of a country for the sake of love for other nations or genuine concern of social welfare for others. Even throughout the last 5 centuries, the West always intervened into countries which had abundance in Natural resources like Oil, Gold, Minerals and other items of value which they could use for their industrial prowess. At least during the time of Alexander and Genghis Khan, empires were acquired through war…which was a more direct way of entering a country. But as of the 1500s, it was a power struggle between the economies of Europe as to how to enter other resource rich nations like Africa, India and China through the ‘banner’ of ‘business, fair trade and industrial management for nations’. They slowly crept into other countries by promising business expansion, trade opportunities and ultimately succeeded in creating disputes between local communities so that the de-stabilization of a country can be used as a weapon to take over the rule. This is what was called Imperialism … the indirect colonization of a country by another.

    Even the Queen at that time – Queen Victoria, noted in one of her famous speeches, just before the launch of the British Empire expansion, that the only way to break a strong nation is by making it stand ‘divided’. Her clear words were that ‘it is always easier to break a community that stands divided, than a community that stands united’… What she hinted was the creation of disparities and conflicts in foreign lands… and thats JUST WHAT THEY DID…. and what they are doing even now. Both US and European Countries and their International organizations for transnational governance are following the same hidden agenda. Most people in Sri Lanka are not knowledgable enough to make an informed judgement due to this because all they believe is what the media tells them.

    So if you really want some change…… at least vote for something you already have tasted and aware of. Than going for something entirely new, which is unproven, and BACKED by a bunch of unstable groups jumping here and there with no clear conscience and a vision as to which leader (MS, Ranil or Chandrika out of MY3’s group) to follow.