The Sunday Leader

Mahinda Marketing

logo_arti-14If Sarath is the talk of the town, Mahinda is the face. His image blankets the walls, towers above Horton Place and even lines your pockets. As the election season begins Mahinda is the first and the widest out of the gate. There’s only one piece of printed matter that matters, however, and that’s the ballot. Whether he gets enough of those remains to be seen. All the waste and self-promotion won’t get mine.

three Mahindas looking in different directions like watching parallel universes intersect

three Mahindas looking in different directions like watching parallel universes intersect

Mahinda Posters

Postering, at least in Colombo, is the currency of elections. On that front Mahinda has literally painted the town red and white. It is not possible to go 10 meters without seeing his face, either smiling or arms raised in victory. When Mahinda posters a wall he literally posters the whole wall. One exception is that posters for a play called ‘The Dictator’ have also sprung up on some walls. So Mahinda’s image sometimes appears next to Adolf Hitler. This is surely not intentional, but it at least breaks the monotony.

Mahinda Monster

Driving down Horton Place you’re struck not by the walls but the clouds. Mahinda has erected a three story hoarding of himself, striding across Colombo and pointing to the new Chinese Performing Arts Centre like ‘I made this’. The first time you see the thing it’s honestly scary, like seeing Godzilla or King Kong. The other statue is standing there at 10 feet tall just looking bemused.

Mahinda Hoardings

Then there are the usual hoardings. This time, however, they seem to have not one Mahinda but two, three, even five or six. Often there is one action shot and another of him smiling. Sometimes there are three Mahindas looking in different directions like watching parallel universes intersect.

Mahinda Money

The hoardings and posters may have been done with campaign money, I don’t know. Mahinda’s image on the commemorative 1000 Rupee note, however, actual legal tender.

This is not ostensibly a campaign image, instead it marks the end of the war. It carries Mahinda’s image on the front and the usual SLFP swoop.

The note is a bit hacked together. The back has a strange Iwo Jima image, re-enacting an American scene from World War II, except with Sri Lankan forces who look vaguely Mongoloid. There’s a ship floating inexplicably in the air, below Thoppigala.

What’s also strange is that it seems to lack a lot of the security features of the other notes, the fine detail and wide hologram strip. The usual 1000 Rupee note has ‘Thomas De La Rue’ in small print on the back, identifying the high end British company that usually prints our currency. There’s no such mark on the new 1000 Rupee notes. I don’t know who printed this note, but it looks awfully easy to counterfeit.

The Image

What’s being printed is Mahinda’s face, but that’s not necessarily what’s being communicated. The campaign obviously shows power, but it also show arrogance, and waste. All the posters, hoardings and cutouts cost money. Printing money costs money. I filed my taxes last week and some of that money is mine.

One of the things that appeals to me about Sarath Fonseka is his pledge (or implied intention) to clean up the corruption and waste in government. Mahinda’s electioneering may not be waste, it may not use public funds at all. But it looks like waste.

By now I already know what Mahinda looks like. I know that he’s powerful and I’ve seen what he’s done. I appreciate a lot of the stuff, but not the inefficiency, waste and personal aggrandizement. To me, the campaign so far communicates everything that’s wrong with Mahinda’s government. Sarath’s absence from the walls is, by contrast, refreshing.

25 Comments for “Mahinda Marketing”

  1. Dr. K Kaluarachchi

    Dear Indi
    a very well written article.

    Dr. K. Kaluarachchi
    Parkville, Australia.

  2. Randy Mathew

    Are the voters in SL going to be taken for another ride by voting for these scumbags again ? Enough is enough. I hope that they use their votes wisely this time and vote for the alliance. All SLFP led governments have proven to be a curse to SL.

  3. chinthaka

    Ha ha… Evey action has a cost. Why this writer want Mahinda to do his campaign according to Mahinda has right to do his campain as he wish and same as fonseka. It is the same people who was telling lalith athulathmudalu ” Mahapola HORA” , “WARAYA GILLA”. President premadasa did the same but he made all those as a tool to create big image about him while doing the work and propagands. You can go to office without a shirt to save money and get good feed back like loosing the job.People like you have short memories and for those it is very important to remind what is done. Sri lanka marketing has many faces. People of this country and people like writer have certain interest about hoardings rather than discussing policies.

    • Mahinda can campaign for all we care..BUT not using the state and Government funds to do so..We all know that he and his family are corrupt leaders and he will go to extent to get re-elected.
      If MR can publicly say that he is not corrupt and not usung Givt or state funds for these campaigns, then we have no issue.
      Question is..Can MR make this statement??
      I rest my case as we all have our own opinions by now about who and what ticks in the present President and Govt,

      • chinthaka

        It will be great if you can publish details of state funds use for hoarding or campaign. That is what i want. Some real facts. I have found something that they have use some gov employees for campaigns. i really regret that but they say they are party supporters and they want to help party. then i found the problem of policies. it is the government recruitment policy. the worse policy ever in the world. it is not to get the best. recruit worse and a problem. free education – go to tuition – free medical- channeling . something wrong.. can you find a answer?. who will give best solution.Construction will not be the only development indications.big roads or big buildings are not indicators of development.

    • Das

      Chinthaka, remember the days are numbered for this Rajapakasa family.You seem to be a follower.good luck.But posters and hoardings are not going to get the votes.He is sure Looser.

      Unless he users his ‘Thuggery’.

      • chinthaka

        Same way you can say company spending for billboards is not worthy. But still companies do it. why? :). All my point is do not cross the line of others. When you make allegation. do the investigation. Fact finding. ” Corrupt” word can be use in many ways. How many times you have been paying government servants to get something done.You are corrupt. Today you can find many media and websites publishing catchy news to get popularity. No of hits help them to earn money. Some times truth is not marketable and so they find something they can sell and get the highest hits. My argument is non of the writers or people ready to discuss a policies. health care , education, foreign policy etc. What i mean is i don’t mind if any one has a good plan,policy to develop country getting popularity with what ever the way.and on the other hand you have to still believe that there are people who do voting with blind eye. also there are people who are voting to a man because their ancestors are party stalwarts( like religion) . Country is not simple as such. Peoples thinking is different. we have to respect it. forum like this should talk about much valuable things rather than hoardings. As example all 3 commanders going to get 90million land each. and each MP who ever died get 5million. how much for the fallen hero’s and disabled. This policy should changed. They did the job and if they are getting something out of the line we should talk.Country It Policy seems going right direction and health care insurance education need lot of changes. this is the time to demand better policies. Which policy is write or wrong. what is good for the country. those arguments and debates help to educate politicians as well as people. Today i can see some journalist are talking about cast system attaching to voting. How good that is to publish. adding fuel to create a problem. Is it good journalism. all my life i never check my friends cast or religion. still not interested finding out as it docent make any sense for me. But open your eyes and see what is actually happening. What is media doing today. State or non state. Both are in the same boat.

    • of short memories; why does one want to hold onto to bitter memories of wrongs from the past? is it not the buddhist principle to forgive and move on?

      looking back only wastes time on your journey forward. when you are looking back, you are running away from something. when you are living life looking forward yuo are running towards something

  4. ana

    why don’t you do some serious analysis of this situation and ask questions. Here we have a president who is sacrificing 2 years of his first term to try and get an additional 5….in other words he only wants 3 years more.
    At the moment he has two more years in which he could have easilly pulled the country out of this mess. Specially since the war is over. Instead he calls for a presdential election ahead of time….why?

    Obviously he feels and knows that he does not have the brains or ability to govern. So decides, panics rather, and calls on this election.
    Instead of splashing mud you newpapers must educate the masses of this type of thing. Our people are intelligent enough to undrstand if explained to them

  5. Leonard S

    Mahinda is on the wall. SF is in the hearts of Sri Lankan.
    Mahinda aiyata mokatada mehema thankawak

  6. Gama

    People know very well the deadly difference between true Mahinda and Mahinda in the poster (or cut out) I do not think that we should see his face again as our president. Now we certainly need a strong change. I believe General Sarath Fonseka is the best. I further believe he is the “Dakunen Bihiuna Weeraya” to unite the country.
    Let us see.

  7. lakpuwath

    Irony as it may seem I can’t help laughing at the Hitler poster in the midst of Mahinda posters. I guess his “henchaiyas” made it seem deliberate :)

  8. Muthu

    Only dead people are honoured by printing their pictures on the stamp, currency notes and coins – It’s an indication MR Mama’s final days are numbered and on his way to the land of no return

    Bye Bye MR Mama

  9. Chamal S

    If an insignificant former Fisheries minister bereft of any tangible contribution or achievement to his credit can become commander of chief, what does this indicate? Our rich democracy? My foot. The issues at stake are too numerous to state in a small article like this. It’s a book in itself. Am I being less charitable to the man under whose stewardship the scourge of war was annihilated! The answer is an emphatic no. The world and more significantly the region was not ready before. This is the simple answer. Considering the magnitude it’s inconceivable we would have triumphed this war sans any strategic succor from friendly countries. Of course the chivalry and the heroism of our valiant soldiers will remain in our hearts and history books for many years to come. In fact I see the contribution of our soldiers and the military leadership as the single most worthy aspect of reckoning in the whole episode.
    Now the war is over and the arduous task of empowering the people economically, politically and socially needs to be addressed immediately. We have no time to waste. Who has the best credentials to deliver the goods? As General Sarath Fonseka in his recent media briefing stated , the UNP always had an upper hand when it came to the economy. All sensible citizens of Mother Lanka, All Patriotic forces desirous of a new and prosperous country should concur with him and elect him as our new President. Lets banish the corrupt and stench filled Rajapakse government permanently. Lets create an economic powerhouse in our little island.


    If u expect something miraculous from MR, SF, Ranil ..etc ; i really feel sorry for u.
    if they are not corrupt, then they will be…. by the system running in this country from 1980′s they won’t stand a chance of staying free from dirt.
    when u r playing with dirt, u r getting dirty.
    corruption and theft of government funds became a trade mark of sri lanka after 1980′s JR’s tenure.
    i blame UNP for sri lanka’s downfall. short sighted, power obsessed maniacs created the present havoc.
    SLFP,UPA or UPFA just play their part.
    i believe if someone really wants to change da system (barring guys with their personal agendas and vendettas) he has to think about the country first….. sadly i can’t see anyone. even though if there’s someone, think about da risk of losing him to da current system.
    use ur brains, and don’t expect impossible.

  11. Thank you Lankapthra for your comments. It also opened my thoughts to share the followng:
    All indiviiduals think of what they like to be or do when they grow up.
    It is right to therefore see all politicians as those who think of themslves.
    But, as individuals in any other profession or calling, each one brings with them a store of values, beliefs and convictions which is shaped by their experiences and upbringing, and depending on this, some would ask themselves how they’d serve the country, and there will be those who ask how they can benefit in the process, and you’ll fnd a whole variety of choices in between. This is the same anywhere.

    The more important criterion for the average citizen and voter is to see how the majority of the leaders in any group fair in this index of record of performance.

    If you look at General SF or the leader of the UNP, and leaders of other parties making up the UNF and the JVP. there will be many whose record of performance is far better than most others. It would be most unfair to say they had not served the country with honour.

    On the other hand, we are informed by articles like the ‘Ultimate Swindlers’ List,’ and ‘The Rise and Fall of a King,’ how badly the public trust has been betrayed by the incumbent administration. [‘king’/;

    But seeing these dispassionately and, charitably, in many cases, and deciding where the most potential to regain the good name and policies and political practices and democratic values lie is the key to making sound decisions about who can be entrusted with the future political management of our peoples.

    And whether, the party system as we knew it so far should not be overhauled by a novel approach like the what the UNF offers can also help.

    May all be safe and well, and be blessed with just and fair rule!

  12. Dan

    Srilankans are over 90% literate for our credit in South Asia. I trust they will wake up from their slumber. It is time to leave all the cheap politics and look for the betterment of the country. All these while we were blaming the LTTE and the war for the failure to develop the country. Even if you give credit to MR for the vctory over the war, it is time to promote the one who can promote economy of the country. We need to think differently. Not to hold on to traditions but look for new ideas and new people to work out thge ideas. Let us take a progressive step.

  13. Randy Mathew

    As past experience has shown, a SLFP government is not capable of doing well on the economy and it is time to bring in the UNP. If the SL voters want stability, peace and progress, it can only be done under a UNP government.

  14. Randy Mathew

    The Rajapakse brothers have proven to be the curse of SL and they must be kicked out of power. We can see how a bunch of village godayas are behaving.

  15. S. Karunaratne

    MR government did the war brilliantly. But nothing rather than that. Now we have to change this government urgenty. All the ministers are enjoying our money and doing nothing. Quikly we have to take the decision to change this. (Eg – Swine flue is being spreaded all over country. But so far nothing is done. People die. still enjoy telling nonesense)

    • Nilmini Herath

      It is easy to wipe out innocents who ask for freedom and call it a brilliant strategy.. What goes around comes around..!!! Enjoy another 100 years of Mahindas..!

  16. Nilmini Herath

    One thing non of the idiots do not realize is that there is never in the history of SL there has ever been a clear and fair election. No matter who’s poster is anywhere, who ever has the most thugs and can rig the votes will win for sure.. So this is not a democratic process. This is a fight between who is the bad evil.. The worst one will come victorious.. God bless the poor Lankans.

  17. I’ve learned a lot from your blog here, Keep on going, I will keep an eye on it,One more thing, plz visit my live cameras websites:inurl /view/index.shtml

  18. It’s not appropriate campaigning when your sole tactic is rhetorical overload in everyone’s face, such as the situation with Mahinda. At least Sarath’s is not of this nature.

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