The Sunday Leader

A Five Star Democratic Farce

Election campaigns for the provincial councils of the Western and Southern Province kicked off even before the nomination lists were officially released thus making it the first violation of the Elections Law. Other violations followed soon with an Opposition candidates car being fired on in Sri Lanka’s Wild South and a worthy dressed in military uniform intimidating hapless policemen who know better than try to enforce the law on future law makers.

These are some of the harbingers reported in the first week and there will undoubtedly be more to come. Sri Lanka has many other levels of local government bodies such as pradeshiya sabhas, municipal councils and on top of these bodies is the parliament and right on top is the executive president. Elections to these bodies held periodically cost millions if not billions of rupees. And all these expenses are for the purpose of maintaining Sri Lanka’s ‘Five Star Democracy’

Of course it’s the poor people’s money that go to maintain this Five Star Democracy because a great proportion of state revenue is from indirectly taxing the poor: Its essential commodities – fuel, rice, sugar and other essentials for survival. Thus although the humble voters do not realise it, these grandiose democratic exercises are held at their expense.

Sri Lankans are political animals and would not mind the expenditure if it leads to fair, non corrupt democratic administrations. But do these elections lead to that objective? The contempt the people have for politicians of all hues indicate that what is being enacted is not a Five Star Democracy but a Five Star Farce.

By far the most farcical of elected bodies are the provincial councils where the councillors are elected on a preferential system of voting. They compete with not only rival party candidates but their own from the day of the issue of nomination lists. They fight for each available lamp post and available space on walls of residents and finally end up stealing their fellow party candidate’s preferential votes while the votes are being counted! At times if they can’t settle it in that way, even a shoot out on a high street is possible!
There are enough and more laws to discipline conduct of candidates but none to enforce them.

The police are supposed to be the law enforcers but experience has taught them that discretion is the better part of valour particularly when it comes to disciplining ruling party candidates. The art of puppetry is their strategy for survival in the police service. Loud mouthed politicians bawl out at policepersons to ‘carry out their duties fairly and squarely and act without fear’ but the very fact they can be ordered about by these gentlemen indicate that they are puppets. If the policemen are truly independent to carry out their duties in accordance with the law, they will tell these seemingly well intentioned politicians to go to hell.

So who can discipline the political thugs? In a true democracy the ultimate power lies with the people. However our advice to voters is not to indulge in this bravado if they value their lives, their families and homes. The idea should not be to keep away from the polling booth and let the worst scoundrel win, but to look around and select a law abiding candidate and vote for him regardless of the party he belongs to. But such candidates are hard to find.

We are of course assuming that the voters are honest and only politicians are vile. That is not so because a substantial proportion of voters are vile. If not how could such corrupt politicians be elected to office?

The solution to all these long festering issues cannot be found before March 29. Decent people should involve in the political process and compel party bosses to nominate decent citizens at the next elections. For too long honest decent people have kept out of politics and let thugs, dope peddlers, bootleggers, brothel managers, casino operators rule the roost. Thus the Grand Five Star Democratic Farce we are living with was inevitable.

It is no use sitting in a corner and lamenting that the ‘country has gone to the dogs’. Democracy demands active participation of honest, decent and intelligent people.

Our final request: Consider what you are voting for. In the media we hear little else but Geneva, Geneva and Geneva. Does not the state of your province and the living conditions of the people need improvement? Can your vote for a provincial council candidate influence the outcome in Geneva?

3 Comments for “A Five Star Democratic Farce”

  1. sunil

    Results of the forthcoming PC election election will also confirm (or rather re-confirm !) that the majority of our voters are BLIND, DEAF & DUMB !! just wait and see!!!

  2. Malin

    Too many elections at all levels. Of, course, it’s genuine 5 star democracy at a cost.That’s why we should do way with the 13A and find a home grown solution.

  3. Acts of this government hailed Geneva, not merely a bunch of PC candidates who are playing for another election. Election system and the value of the votes have gone to crazy dogs.

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