Here we are at the end of another presidential election, which should never have been called in the first place. This was a colossal waste of money, since there were 2 more years to go. It was a dirty battle and both sides dished out hits that were considered “below the belt”, but those who were in power did so with reckless abandon, and it seems that it has come full circle to bite them in the rear.
The Dirty Game
I generally do not get involved in politics, and I try to stay neutral even though I have a political affiliation. I appreciate the good things that were done by the President, and all due credit should go to him for that. But there were some rather unsavoury things that happened that should have been kept out. Those that throw mud should have borne in mind that the same mud would tarnish them as well.
Things which I saw as standing out among the rest were:
- Tissa crossed over to the Government, and that was his right and there were so many that crossed over to the Opposition. Tissa went one step further, and maybe one step too far by outing a fake agreement. As soon as I read it I knew it was a fake because of the wording that was used in it, and also since it did not look like a legal agreement. But not everyone would look at it like I did, and there would be people that would be fooled.
- SB showed some vulgar behaviour by saying that this is a good chance to strip Chandrika naked and make her run through the streets in madness and shame. You do not talk like that about a lady. He also used the ‘P’ word when describing MS.
- JF, PW, MA behaved poorly when participating in televised debates and tried to use thuggish behaviour to subdue the opposition when they saw that their political debating skills were lagging.
- WW consistently went on stage and slung mud for character assassination of MS and the people started to hate him for it
- Rupavahini and ITN and state newspapers broke most laws with regards to election propaganda and misuse of State resources and were continuously used for election propaganda and mud slinging.
- State employees such as ANC and PBJ did interviews on Rupavahini which turned out to be one sided political programmes where they forgot that they were State employees and not political party representatives
- Day before the election there was a fake SMS supposedly from SP’s phone saying that he wanted UNP supporters to vote for MR, and on the day of the election there was the fake news report that SP had joined the Govt.
- The fake Sirisena from Polonnaruwa was brought to Medamulana dressed in a similar way to MS and was shown on TV standing next to MR. MR made it a point to say on TV that “Sirisena came all the way from Polonnaruwa to support him” – was this not an attempt to mislead voters?
Both sides did bad things when it came to Social Media. There were a lot of edited and doctored photographs such as the one that PCR showed about KP. In his defence, he took this from the Internet and was mislead himself. There was also a doctored photo of HF together with MR, which claimed that he had crossed over to the Govt. Then there were the car photos that were shown by eloquent SS. He should have checked before making those pictures public and should have know that he was being lead along.
Then there were the artists like IW who went beyond decency. Having a political affiliation and sharing a few posts is quite okay, but he went beyond and faced a backlash from his own fans. What he forgot was that his fans were from both sides.
Things to bear in mind
Let’s not make the same mistakes twice.
- Don’t call MS a King. He is a democratically elected leader and he represents the people. He was not born as a King, and he will not leave as a King, as shown by MR.
- MS has to keep in mind that he is President of the entire SL, and not just of the people that voted him in. Show the proper leadership and earn the respect of the 47% that did not vote for you.
- Deliver what you promised. You may not be able to do everything that was promised, within your first 100 days. But, do the best and implement the most, and the people will trust you.
What needs to change?
Looking to the future of our Country, the new President should take immediate steps in these areas:
- The economy is one of the most important areas for consideration. Let the experts handle that. Make sure that the Minister of Finance, Secretary to the Treasury, and the Governor of the Central Bank are all capable people who see eye to eye. Don’t massage the numbers. Ensure that there is real economic growth where the people get the benefits. Let them have a better home economy with more affordability and a better lifestyle. Either bring down the cost of living or enhance their financial situation. One recent cross over to the Govt said that if fuel prices are brought down, people will pump more fuel and waste money on frivolous trips. Don’t give a place in your Government for people like that. Give us our dignity.
- Don’t have development for the sake of development. Instead, ensure that the right project is done in the right place, at the right time. Hambantota saw a lot of development but compared to other regions of the country, the entire voter base there is around 450,000 which is just 3% of the registered voter base in Sri Lanka and a total population of 596,617. Maybe the Sea Port was justified and will be useful in the future, but the Airport was a waste. Decisions about major projects should be taken by appointed committees that have experts in them, and should not be based on populist politics.
- Cancel the 18th Amendment, and bring back the 17th Amendment to the constitution. Make sure that the Police answer to the independent Police Commission and not to politicians. Ensure that state employees are loyal to the State, and not to Ministers. Ensure that there is a independent Bribery Commission with power to act. Have an Independent Media Commission and make the State and Private media answerable to them. Ensure the independence of the Judiciary, and ensure that no one is above the law.
- Remove the names of politicians and their pictures from projects that were funded by the state. State establishments and Ministries should have the picture of the head of state, but should it be there on the buses that operate on the expressways?
- Review all wasteful projects and manage them accordingly. Absorb the assets of Mihin Lanka into Sri Lankan Airlines. Since Mihin Lanka was established with the stated motive of giving budget / affordable services to pilgrims, use some of that money to give subsidised air tickets to those that deserve them. You can do this at less than 1/10th of the cost of running a separate airline.
- Plan for the future, and invest in the younger generation. Invest in their education. Create jobs for them by establishing new industries.
- Take out nepotism and cronyism and get rid of corrupt officials. Let the rule of law prevail.
- Strengthen our foreign service and make sure that we have educated, eloquent, and capable people as High Commissioners and Diplomats, who are able to manage our international relations and demonstrate to the world that we are civilised and capable of managing our own affairs. Show them that international investigations are not required, since we have the ability to manage things ourselves. The UN and others cannot be overcome with intimidation. Instead, we need sharp witted minds to handle them.
- Appoint the right people for the right ministries. Even if the Minister knows nothing about the portfolio, ensure that he or she is a good administrator. Appoint a subject matter expert as the Secretary to the Ministry, and let that person work with the Minister to do what is right.
- Appoint the right people as Advisers to the President and to the Ministries. Get qualified, educated, forward thinking people. Hint hint!
- You do not need to spend mega bucks for mega projects to win the people over. Sometimes it is the smallest thing that garners the admiration of the people. Get your priorities straight, and stick to your principles.
Maybe I’ll add some more later, but I think this is good enough for a start. Let’s work together to build a better, safer country. 30 years of war are over. Let’s now declare war on our economic and social enemies.