Sunday, November 27, 2005

More Bullshit

Has anyone heard the story that the lone voter from Kilinochchi had his hands chopped off? Ivap posted the link to the Asian Tribune story on this.

Both the Island and the Daily News have run this story over the past few days, but they have both taken the story from the Asian Tribue website and have not done any investigating on their own. It's a simple copy paste job.

Ivap asked, is this true. Well, to the best of my knowledge this story is not true. I met someone who just returned from Kilinochchi, and they said that on the day when this alleged chopping off was supposed to have happened, they did not notice anything of the sort in the town. I am certain that is something like this had happened, there would have been a bit of a commotion about Kilinochchi considering the fact that it is a really really small town. People who have never been there would not understand what I'm talking about.

What I can confirm is that two days after the elections a poster came up in Jaffna town, in Tamil, big bold red letters, saying 'What shall we do to those who voted?'. I have seen a copy of this poster because someone who was coming to Colombo took one off a wall and brought it with them. This is a very clear warning to all those people in the Jaffna peninsula who voted, but the LTTE, or whoever put up the poster, has not taken any action to this regard. It's increasingly clear that the poster was a threat, and that there was no serious intention to follow up and deliver. However, considering the tense situation in the Peninsula and other regions in the North and East, I would assume that a poster like that would have the desired effect of keeping even more people away from a future poll if the LTTE were to call for a boycott. This raises real questions about if the LTTE is capable of showing any committment to democracy.

Going back to the hand chopping story, as I have written about on many occasions prior ot this, stories like this are attributed to unidentified sources, and their credibility is seriously questionable. The LTTE Dress Code for Jaffna story was very similar to this. It too first appeared in a foreign source (The Dawn, Pakistan). It was only after it appeared in The Dawn that both the Island and the Daily News picked it up. The Dawn Correspondent in Sri Lanka did not follow up on that story and see if the people in Jaffna actually obeyed the dress code. In this case too the Asian Tribune is only interested in saying that the man had his hands chopped off and does not investigate the outcome.

Here's a random sampling of Sri Lankan news on Asian Tribune.
  • Prabhakaran set to reject Mahinda's road map to peace in tomorrow's annual speech
  • New road map to peace outlined by President Mahinda Rajapakse
  • LTTE killed journalist Sivaram, Kumar Ponnambalam and Kadirgamar -- Col. Karuna reveals in an exclusive to "Asian Tribune"
  • LTTE‘s olive branch due on November 27 will have more grenades than olives --- Douglas Devananda
  • We place the country first and not the portfolios - Somawansa Amarasinghe
  • So far 17,903 LTTE cadres have died
The very first article is written by H L D Mahindapala, a warmonger claiming to be a journalist. I would really question his ability comment on Sri Lanka issues as he does not live here. Perhaps he could write general commentry, but to go so far as to think that he can gauge the LTTE leaders intentions based on a few interviews is rather silly. And to give prominence to such speculation-based removed-from-reality article clearly shows which way the Asian Tribune leans. You can judge for yourself whether you want to believe their 'sources'.

As for the Island and the Daily News;

The Island takes a very clera pro-Sinhala pro-Unitary state stance and they spin their news to match their agenda. The Daily News is the Government mouthpiece and will sya whatever the Government at that moment want them to say. The word 'independent' is not in their vocabulary.

And as long as these people and these papers and 'news' sources exist, we're going to hear stories like this.

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Monday, November 21, 2005

Mangala 'Goebbels' Samaraweera


Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945) the father of propaganda and Mangala Samaraweera

What makes Mangala Samaraweera, a.k.a. Mangy the most dangerous person in the UPFA government?

Remember Sudu Nelum (White Lotus)? 1995?
President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge, at the inauguration ceremony for the Sudu Nelum movement. (08/07/95)

Let us resolve to work with determination to keep the Sudu Nelum Movement that blooms today, without fading for a long time to come. If the people of all of our communities - Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher and of all religions join hands with a sense of brotherhood, "White Lotuses" of peace will bloom in tens of thousands in their hearts. Peace is the prerequisite for our prosperity. Our fervent appeal to the people on this occasion is to come together bound by a deep sense of brotherhood and create a durable peace which is the foundation for our development and prosperity.
Wasn't it Mangy who designed and ran the Sudu Nelum campaign all those years? He let Nimal Siripala De Silva run it for some time, but everyone knew that the Sudu Nelum campaign was Mangy's baby.

The Sudu Nelum campaign at that point (even with all it's flaws and inherent corruption) was at that point the most progressive move in the country towards mainstreaming multiculturalism and pluralism. With several Non-Governmental Organisations supporting their effort the Sudu Nelum movement was able to do a fair bit of work. It is responsible to a great extent for raising rural people's understanding of the complexities of multiculturalism, and life in a multiethnic society. The level at which the PA Government coordinated with civil society groups and sought their support to reach the masses was astounding. They had a very clear understanding that in order to achieve peace, everyone had to be on board.

Unfortunately at that time the UNP openly sabotaged Chadrika's peace plans and the LTTE played along and broke the ceasefire and ensured a return to war.

Through the movement the Chadrika Government sought to use the massive mandate they had received to take peace to the people, to mainstream multiculturalism. Even when there was a war going on in the North and East, the Government insisted on keeping the Sudu Nelum movement and the Thavalama Peace Caravans and the National Integration Policy Unit funded.

Mangala Samaraweera, formerly a fashion designer, who went to to design school with Boy George and Sade, worked with Buddhi Keerthisena (Snr) on the Buddhi Batiks line of clothing, then Minister of Information and Media, used his understanding of the importance of symbols and icons to design a campaign that really made an impact. A lot of people thought he was working for peace because he had a genuine belief in making it work.

But over the past few years what we have seen is that Mangala has no committment to peace. He has no committment to anyone or anything.

By moving from working closely with civil society groups to stating at a press conference that even if the Free Media Movement and Sunanda Deshapriya stood on their heads the Government would not care, Mangala Samaraweera did not degenarate. He merely shifted his position to the stance that would most benefit him, and then engineered the environment.


Goebbels with Hitler, Mangala with Mahinda

Mangy was one of the main players in the engineering of the allaince between the PA and the JVP to form the UPFA two years ago

What was the logo of the Mahinda for President campaign? A white lotus. And was not the Mahinda campaign run on symbols and icons? It was amazing how the UPFA used the same icons and themes for the Mahinda campaign that they used in 1995. To go back to the same flower, and the words that they had spun for pro-peace propaganda, and to use them 10 years later to spin for a pro-Sinhala nationalist Presidential campaign is in my opinion, terrifying.


Goebbels at a Nazi rally. Mangala at a Sinhala Chauvinist Patrotic National Movement rally.

The UNP too has some skilled spindoctors, and they have more of them, but what is apparent is that none of them is as tuned into what will sell an idea to the people as Mangala is. He is a salesman of ideology. He has none of his own, but if you have one you want to sell, he's the man you want. And he sold Mahinda to the people well. He took the JVP's ultra Sinhala natonalist ideology, and the JHU's Sinhala Buddhist primacy ideology, and meshed it in with the followings of the SLFP/PA. Something that many people thought could not be done. To date he remains the most skilled spindoctor Sri Lanka has ever seen.

So here's to Mangala 'Goebbels' Samaraweera.

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Pseudo-Academic

I bet everyone who comes to this blog at one point or the other have been the site of The Lanka Academic.

Even thought LAcnet has been running for quite some time and has gained a reputation as a fairly decent news site, I think there are serious flaws in the way they work.

Recently they started a forum where people are allowed to discuss things. If you go there you will notice the moderators coming down rather hard on people who are critical of the right-wing fundamentalists in Sri Lanka. A majority of the commentors in the forum are very clearly Sinhala chauvinists living abroad, and they have little tolerance for anything even remotely LTTE-friendly or peace-process friendly. Overall there is little space for anyone, Tamil or otherwise, to say anything about the LTTE without calling the terrorists.

When the Sinhala chauvinist commentors trash the others the moderators remain silent and when one of the others decides to retaliate with trash (not more spiteful than that which was aimed at them) the moderators shut them down. Several of my friends who have tried to have intelligent discussions on a TLA forum have quit out of exasperation because the moderators have made it very clear as to their stand on things.

I do not know if this is the policy of TLA. Perhaps the people who are moderating their forum have started to push their individual political agendas without the knowledge of the TLA people, but that is highly unlikely. Even when people have complained to the TLA admin, they have been asked to respect the rules set down by the moderator and shut up.

But increasingly they have also begun to openly express their right wing pro-war stance through reports in news, such as the one I reproduce below.

LTTE begins aggressive fund raising in Europe. Demands large
Special Correspondent in London, Mon Oct 31 14:58:58 EST 2005

During the last few weeks, LTTE operatives in major European cities have commenced an aggressive fund raising campaign demanding large sums of money from the Tamil expatriate community. In London, LTTE operatives are reported to be demanding 5000 pounds from individuals and 50 thousand pounds from businessmen. Despite the fact that the LTTE is a banned terrorist group and contributing or collecting money for the group is a punishable offense in the UK LTTE operatives are openly visiting business premises and demanding large sums from the shop owners. The operatives visiting Tamil residents at their homes are reported to be saying that 'After the elections, we are going for the war. This is the final and decisive attack to get our homeland. We need large sums of money urgently. We will return the money with interest in 3 years".

This article has the potential to be a huge story and TLA knows that. But there is no reporter credited with the story, and the details are very very vague. Special Correspondent in London? My ass. TLA doesn't have paid reporters anywhere. One of their friends probably called them up and told them this story.

I do not deny that this story is probably true. I have heard stories from people in Australia and Canada about the LTTE engaging in similar activities over there after the election. But the reason TLA put this story out is not because it wants to tell the truth, but because it wants to further it's own agenda (or the agenda of those who run it). They've become just another one of those groups who are always looking out for a big stick with which to beat the LTTE.

It's sad that these people call themselves academics, do little but steal news stories from other sources and republish them. They do no reporting of their own, and only publish rumors they have heard when it suits their need or is in keeping with their agenda.

But then, Sri Lankans are used to people like this calling themselves 'academics'.

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Wickramaniac

So, that cattle thief (harak hora) is our PM again. Yes, that's what he's called in Horana, which is his constituency.


The accidental president and the cattle thief (on the right)

By appointing Rathnasiri Wickramanayake as the Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapakse has made a very clear indication as to where he wants to take this country. First, back to war, then with the help of that and with help from his friends, back to the stone age.

For those of you who don't know who the harak hora really is, here's a tiny bit of background.

He's a petty thug from Horana (to the South East of Colombo) who fought his way to the top. He was Prime Minister for a little while at the turn of the century, replacing old lady B. Chadrika replaced her mother with this guy.

For starters, he's the one who tried to bring in the anti-conversion bill last year. He was the Minister of Buddha Sasana who was hand in glove with the right-wing extremist Buddhist groups. So we know that's going to be brought back into the Parliament soon. Halleluja!




Once upon a time he used to be the Minister of Public Administration. Made a royal mess of things back then. Got shifted around. Never stuck with one ministry. Why? Because he was never any good as a minister of anything! And now he's the Prime Minister. Well, at least that'll keep him away from the ministries.

Though the newspapers have all called him a staunch Chandrika loyalist, he's never been too happy being under her thumb. He always felt that he should have been given a more prominent role in the party. But he stuck around, and now Mahinda's given him what he wants. Now he can steal all the cattle in the world!

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Sunday, November 20, 2005

What Our Trolls Teach Us

Let's start talking about non-election-related things.

This is something I've been wondering about for quite some time now. Sittingnut (I think) brought this up during one of his ceaseless arguments with one of the trolls (Just give it up man! No point wasting your time going down to their level. That goes for you too Ashanthi).

A lot of the trolls we here have gotten used to like our ol' pal Dextr, j5, Jini and now Kesbewa and T4011, are most probably Sri Lankans who live abroad. Most of them I would assume to be Sinhala and also probably Buddhist considering the kind of things they say here. Taking the places where Sri Lankans generally move to, they probably live in Australia, England, Canada or the US. We know Dextr lives in Australia.

Any Sinhala Buddhist living in a foreign country would be a part of the minority community there. Sinhala Buddhists in Sri Lanka have come to take for granted the fact that they are a majority and do not even bother to think of what it would feel like to be a minority community. But for the large numbers of Sinhalese living abraod I would assume the realities of being a minority community, and being treated as one, would have sunk in.

And we know how minority communities are treated in those countries. Perhaps they are not openly discriminated againt like we find in Sri Lanka, but there's just a thin veil of tolerance covering deep rooted anti-immigrant sentiment.

I can't even pretend to know what it feels like to be a minority as I have never been one so I will not attempt to articulate what it feels like to be one. But what I say about Sinhalese learning about the other side of the story comes from many conversations with friends who have lived abroad for many years.

From my interactions with them, particularly a few members of my family, it is very clear that even though they do not face any direct discrimination, they have very understood what it feels like to be a minortiy in someone else's country. Upon their return to Sri Lanka many of them have begun to put themselves into the shoes of a Tamil person who belongs to a minority community in their own country. But it's only possible if the person who is living abroad is open actively investigating the dynamics of minority mentality. I'm not saying write an academic paper on it. Just sit back and think about what it feels like to be a minority.

As we have found with our trolls and with groups like SPUR, many of these people are not even aware of the fact that they are minorities living amidst a people who don't really like them too much. They don't see their minority status as an opportunity to (to a certain degree) put themselves in the shoes of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

Dextr for one is unable to grasp his situation. He is living the life of a beggar in a country that doesn't really like immigrants when he could live a good life here in Sri Lanka. I would expect him to explore the socio-political dynamics that have made him a beggar in Australia, but apparently like many Sinhalese living abroad, he fails to come to terms with his minority status. In this particular case perhaps he just lacks the analytical skills to explore his context.

A Sinhalese living Australia, or England, or the US, or in Canada or anywhere should be able to identify what it means to be completely powerless politically, what it means to accept the fact that a person from your community will never have significant political power, what it means to be treated like you're a disease, what it feels like to be pulled over all the time, what it feels like to be an utomatic suspect whenever something goes wrong, to be tolerated and left alone yet never really liked and accepted.

I would expect these people to have some kind of sympathy for the life that the Tamil people of Sri Lanka have been subjected to for the past 49 years, (Yes it's 50 years since 1956 next year) but the sad truth is many of them don't. They remain minority-hating, Sinhala racist bigots. Though they move thousands of miles away, and change their socio-econo-political context completely, the I'm-a-majortiy-so-f***-you mentality never leaves them.

The Sri Lankan diaspora have such potential to be a part of the solution, instead they insist on making themselves a part of the problem.

Sad.

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Taking A Page From The GOP Book

Has anyone noticed how Mahinda has become President in pretty much the same way George W Bush won his first term? Here's the George W Bush DIY Guide to Winning A Presidential Election:

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Step One: Disenfranchisement
Bush Jnr. used his brother in Florida to take people off the voter lists. They systematically removed people who would vote Democrat. In Colombo and in many urban regions in the South the UPFA Government has done the same thing. In Colombo alone there are over a 20,000 people who were taken of the voter registration lists. The UPFA knows that Colombo always votes UNP, and that there was a afir chance that by taking all these people off the lists they would put a serious dent in the number of votes the UNP would get in the capital city.

While ballot box stuffing, impersonation and rigging are the most common polls violations in Sri Lanka, this time systematic disenfranchisement may have played a bigger role. Several observers say that even though not too many people were taken off the lists in each electorate, throughout the country this figure adds up. While all the other forms of election fraud and election related violence are monitored by several independent monitoring groups to a large extent, no one really keeps an eye on the voter lists.

The elections commissioner Dayananda Dishanayake admitted that many people all over the island had not received their polling cards but that they could go to the polling centre with their ID and cast their vote. This move was suspicious from the beggining but no one really questioned it because it has happened before. The postal deparment in Sri Lanka which has the responsibility of distributing the polling cards isn't really dependable. But what no one noticed was that this time it happened on a massive scale and affected all parts of the island.

Step Two: Making The Other Guy Believe He Lost.
By declaring himself the fifth President of Sri Lanka even when the results of 35 electorates were to be announced was a very cold and calculated move by the Mahinda camp. By shouting about their victory early they prepared the UNP to accept defeat, even before they had really lost. With Bush's first term we saw how the GOP began to party hard before the Florida results came in.

If they believe they have won, and if they believe in loud enough and strong enough then the other guys are going to believe they have lost. This was the biggest mistake made by the Democrats back then and now by the UNP here.

The UPFA took maximum advantage of the fact that there were people within the UNP who expected Ranil to lose and knew that power struggles would begin within the party the moment they figured they lost. Feeding this fear they orchestrated a massive mixup within the UNP and they could not get their act together to demand for a repoll in the North and East, in pretty much the same way the Democrats couldn't get their act together to ask for a repoll in Florida.


**********

Perhaps this is a sign of the way Mahinda plans to rule this country for the next 6 years. The sad thing is that going by how Sri Lankans vote he's probably going to be President for the next 12 years. Two terms is the standard. Premadasa had only one term, but then he didn't really lose a re-election campaign did he?

So, is Mahinda also going to read the George W DIY Guide Books on Invading Other Countries, The Theory of the Pre-emptive Strike, Lying To The Whole World etc?

Maybe we could invade the Maldives. I don't like Gayoom. I don't think Mahinda likes him either (Does Mahinda know who Gayoom is?). And they are Islamic State. And Gayoom is a ruthless dictator. And we know they have secret underwater nuclear facilities with warheads pointed at the Peradeniya Gardens, Sinharaja, Yala, Wilpattu and Uda Walawe (they envy our biodiversity, they have only coconut trees). And not many people would care too much.

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What The F*** Do They Want?

One of the LTTE's main complaints against the Government(s) in the South have been that there's been no political stability, and that there's no point in them negotiating with a Government that has a slim hold of the Parliament and might not even be there in a few months. All the past few Governments have had this problem and even now we have a UPFA Government that does not have a clear majority in Parliament.

Thamilchelvam himself on many occasions has raised many concerns about the political stability in the South. The LTTE have a very valid point there. If I were them I would not want to negotiate with the Government in the South that does not have a very stable future. Even if it were not for the LTTE pointing this out, it clear to everyone that there cannot under any circumstance be a permanent solution to the peace process without a Parliament in Colombo that can make it happen and back it. With the debates on the LTTE's ISGA demand and the establishment of P-TOMS it was very clear that no one leader (or group) in the South could do anything lasting as long as the Parliament remained divided and shaky.

But the entire country knew that if Ranil won a lot would have changed. He would have dissolved the Parliament and called for a General Election that the UNP would have won with a big majortiy. Going by voter patterns over the past decades this is assured. With the UNP controlling the Parliament and Ranil as the President we could have hoped for a level of political stability in the South that we have not seen for many many years. This was possible.

This would have given the LTTE a stable partner with whom to negotiate, and perhaps if Ranil had been president we would have seen a lasting solution to the conflict reached within his first term. But by ensuring Mahinda's victory the LTTE has taken political instability in the country to a whole new level. Now we have an accidental President who barely scraped through, and in the Parliament the UPFA is still on thin ice. Mahinda cannot go for a General Election because he knows that as it stands the UNP could really beat them soundly at it and gain control of the Parliament. If that was to happen then they would easily be able to manipulate the votes needed to push through a bill to take away the executive powers of the President and essentially cut Mahinda's balls off. He will not risk that so he will not go for a General Election till they are absolutely sure they can win it with even a mini landslide.

The entire country knew what would happen if Mahinda won with a slim majortiy. The LTTE knew it too, which is what makes me wonder what drove them to engineer this result. What interest do they have in keeping the Government in the South weak and unstable? What gain do they have in ensuring that the JVP and the Sinhala Buddhist extremists are able to control and shape Government policy?

The very fact that the UPFA is on thin ice in the Parliament makes them more dependent on the JVP and the JHU for their votes in the house. I do not dislike Mahinda as a person and believe that he would have been a good leader if he had not allowed the JVP control him like they now do. But now he is completely dependent on them to keep his party in control of the Parliament. And with the power they now hold over him they will manipulate him like they manipulated the UPFA Government till they quit it. Back then they had Chandrika to go up against and she was never comfortable with allying with them. But now they have her out of the way and they have a President who is more open to being manipulated by them. Mahinda will give them key ministries (I predict the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture for starters) which they will use to further establish their power in the country and slowly eat at the SLFP from within.

But the problem is, if they do not want a stable Government in the South, what does the LTTE want? Do they not want to negotiate any further? Do they want to go back to war? To me it seems like their main intention is to install a unstable Governemt in the South and keep it unstable so they can show the rest of the world what a bunch of f***-ups the Sri Lankan Government is.

What happens to all the people in the South who believed in peace and believed that the LTTE would show some kind of committment to a lasting solution?

Is the LTTE no longer comitted to trying to find a lasting solution to the conflict?

What the f*** do they want?

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Saturday, November 19, 2005

Will Ranil Resign?

The gossip about Sirikotha is that Ranil is going to hand in his papers on Monday. What remains to be seen is if the UNP accepts his resignation. Plans are being made for a press conference on Monday by the office of the Opposition Leader.

Though a lot of people have said that Ranil should quit as the leader of the UNP now that he has lost two consecutive Presidential elections, the main problem is that there is no clear person within the UNP who could replace Ranil as the leader of the party. If the UNP does decide to accept Ranil's resignation then there is going to be a serious power struggle as to who is going to lead the party.

While many believe that Karu Jayasuriya should be the one to lead the party, Karu has shown no clear intention of taking the party into his hands. KAru Jayasuriya is generally seen as one of the most expemplery leaders of the UNP having won elections in Colombo consecutively without ever having resorted to violence, or even massive poster campaigns. I'm not saying that the UNP is thug-free. They do have their fair share of people who believe wholeheartedly in ballot stuffing and opponent beating, but Karu, so far, has not been one of them.


1. Karu and Ranil at a rally
2. Karu as Mayor of Colombo


But if not Karu then who is it going to be?

Both Naveen Dissanayake and Sajith Premadasa, thought bright young leaders with relatively clean records (particularly Sajith, who ran a very clean campaign against Mahinda's thugs in Hambantota) but they are both too young and inexperienced to give leadership to a party like the UNP.

Ravi Karunanayake, Bandula Gunawardene, Tissa Attanayake and several others also perhaps harbor hopes of becoming the next leader of the UNP, but I don't think any one of them are going to get it. But maybe the UNP does decide to do something stupid. The UNP is known to do stupid push-the-self-destruct-button kinda things.

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Friday, November 18, 2005

Free and Fair Election?

This is for our new resident troll Kesbewa and anyone else who believes that Mahinda won the South fair and square.

Despite whatever PAFFREL and CMEV says he did not. We all know why PAFFREL's been saying that the election was free and fair. Let's see if PAFFREL is one of those NGO groups that the JVP comes down on. I bet not. Why? Because the leadership of PAFFREL has always been pro-SLFP/PA/UPFA and it's been a good tool for the blues to use whenever an election comes around. All you have to do is look at PAFFREL statements over the past few elections to see which way they lean in the political spectrum.

Mahinda did win the South. There's no question about that. But just how much did vote rigging effect the result? Well, not much really. But then, the margin between the two candidates is not much either is it? So did the vote rigging in the South have an impact on the result of the election?

I think it did.

So what evidence do I have? I personally witnessed large scale impersonation and ballot box stuffing in several areas in the Beliatta electorate. Particularly in the Aranwela MV polling booth. This was carried out by Southern Provincial Council member D V Upul and his gang. This same gang were responsible for beating up an independent monitor near Beliatta junction later. A few miles from Beliatta, in Getamanna too large scale impersonation and intimidation of voters was taking place in both the polling centers in the area. The UPFA supporters all gathered outside the Getamanna Vijaya MV.

In Tangalle vehicles without license plates bearing stickers of Mahinda were crusing around. There were many reports of polling booths in Tangalle town and in the interior having their ballot boxes stuffed. Mahinda Rajapakse's son Namal who had earlier brought his gang to Tangalle for the election was primarily responsible for this. Namal is only 19 years old, but is already turning out to be quite a thug. We saw that when he gathered thugs from Mt Lavinia in the vicinity of his school St Thomas' College. He's already got his own crew and no longer needs daddy's bodyguards. So much for everyone who says Mahinda's boys are nice guys.

There were similar reports sent in by election observers from Kalmunai, from Hanguranketha, from Kuliyapitiya. There are several reports that have been put out by the various groups that were monitoring the elections and if you compile all of them you can get a good idea of exactly how the UPFA engaged in election violence and ballot box stuffing. The violence and intimidation perpetrated by the PA+JVP+Allies was widespread, and was seen in all parts of the island.

If the margin between the two candidates had been larger by maybe another two or three hundred thousand then maybe all this rigging would not really have changed anything because Mahinda would have won anyway. But the margin is only 186,000 votes. And even if they stuffed a few ballots into each ballot box they could make that figure. And I believe that if this election had been truely free and fair, even if we don't count the votes in the Jaffna, Vanni, Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts, Ranil would still have won.

So think again before you claim that Mahinda won fair and square.

Go on, bark and say he won. Yes he did win, and you may shout that out from the rooftops. But don't claim he won fair and square, because he did not. But know who you are electing into power. He is a man who blatantly encourages election violence in his own electorate. His own son has been seen stuffing ballot boxes there. Election monitors get beaten up there.

This is a man who has shown no committment to democracy or democratic principles. This is a man who over the past few months has shown that he is willing to sacrifice anything to become the president of this country. This is a man whose personality now reeks of a powerhungry dictator.

If this is the guy you're going to trust to run your country then there's something seriously wrong with you, and maybe you deserve a leader like that.

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Mahinda Wins, But Sri Lanka Loses

Morquendi officially recognizes Mahinda Rajapakse as the President of the Sinhala people of Sri Lanka.

He defeated the other candidate Ranil Wickramasinghe by a huge majority in the South (where it mattered) and for the first time we have a president elected solely trough the vote of the Sinhala Buddhist masses. He didn't even bother to campaign for the votes of the Tamil people. He did do a meeting in Vavuniya, but that only for the Sinhala people who live in the Vavuniya area and not for the Tamil people. Mahinda's campaign was driven by the extremist JVP who spoke on each one of his campaign platforms and have shown a committment to returning to war.

Now that he knows that he can become president even without the support of the Tamil people of the North and East he no longer needs them. And the Tamil people of the North and East have every right to not look upon Mahinda Rajapakse as their President. They didn't really vote him in did they?

And the LTTE too no longer needs to take him seriously because he is very clearly not a leader elected with the help of the Tamil people.

While this has been a huge victory for Mahinda, it has dealt a crushing blow to the notion that a united, not unitary, Sri Lanka is possible. We now have a President in the South elected solely by voters from the South and we have the LTTE led by Prabhakaran. The LTTE wants it's Eelam and the orange robed cronies who haunt Mahinda want their Dhramarajya, or Helabima or whatever they chose to call is.

With both the JVP and the JHU being against Norwegian mediation, it doesn't look like Mahinda is going to be able to talk to the LTTE even if he wants to. By bringing back onto the table demands that were there in the mid 80s Mahina has taken the peace process back almost 20 years. Asking the LTTE to completely disarm, etc were ideas that were abandoned after Thimpu. But now the JVP and the JHU want them back on the table, and it's very very clear that peace talks are not going to happen for the next few years.

So, Mahinda Rajapakse is very clearly not the President of Sri Lanka, but the President of the Sinhala people. He did not need any Tamil votes to get there, and he does not owe the Tamil people anything. As far as he is concerned, he is not their president. And to him, the Tamil people of Sri Lanka do not exist, their problems do not exist. The only thing that exists is a pest seperatist group in the North who wants to carve a little bit out of his Helabima and call it something else.

Aah... Sri Lanka, it was a nice idea while it lasted. Too bad we're going to have to forget about it.

And you thought Chandrika was bad?

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Swearing In

CONFIRMED
Mahinda is swearing in as the new president today at 6.

Let's see if the UNP can stop it so they can ask for their repoll.

CHANGE: Because of a shift in the nekatha (auspicious time) Mahinda's swearing in has been scheduled for tomorrow (19th November 2005)

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More Complications. A Repoll? or a Hurried Swearing In?

So here’s the gossip.

The UNP is having a meeting at Sirikotha right now. According to what we have heard they are trying to ask for a repoll in the North and the East because the LTTE hampered polling in the region. This was a region where the UNP was planning on getting a solid block vote. But all their plans were foiled when when the LTTE said they would not support anyone, and did their best to stop people from going to the polling stations there.

Before the election the Commissioner of Elections Dayananda Dishanayake had stated that he would repoll any electorates where election related violence was reported. But we saw that he did not repoll Hanguranketha, Weligama and Beliatta where serious incidents of election related violence were reported.

If he has to keep to his word then he has to repoll many areas in the East. The UNP would have a very valid point to ask for a repoll over there, and they know that if they swing it properly they can push Mahinda off the map. All they need right now is 186,238 more votes in the North and East and they know they have a free ride to the presidency.

But here’s where things get complicated.

The UPFA camp knows this, and they are trying to figure out a way to stop the UNP from pulling this last stunt. So, Mahinda is right now talking to the President to see if she will hand over power to him today, so that even before the UNP can officially ask for a repoll, and way before the Elections Commissioner can think about a repoll, Mahinda has been sworn in as the President and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it.

But even if the Elections Commissioner does call for a repoll and stops Mahinda from swearing in, will the LTTE actually play along with the UNP now? If they didn't play along with them and support them all this while who in the UNP can change their minds? Is it going to work? Or is the UNP just going to lose again?

Oh what tangled webs we weave...

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Mahinda Wins

The final tally is out. Mahinda Rajapakse has beaten Ranil Wickramasinghe by 186,327 votes. A percentage of 50.33.

This makes him the fifth President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

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Four Questions

So let's say Mahinda becomes the next President. That seems to be the sad truth that many of us have to deal with right now.

There is mosr definetely going to be another general election because Mahinda is going to want to consolidate his power in the Parliament.

Four questions.

What happens to Ranil? Who's going to lead the party if he steps down (like we have heard he will) from the party leadership.

If the UPFA and Mahinda manage to scrape through at the Presidential election then are they going to stand a chance at a general election? isn't the UNP much better set to deal with a general election than a presidential one?

But let's say the UPFA does manage to consolidate power in the parliament. Who's going to be the Prime Minister? Who's going to Mahinda's right hand guy? Will it be Wimal? Or might it even be Anura?

And what if the UNP wins the new Parliament? Then what happens to Mahinda? Do we go back to how things were with Ranil and Chandrika? What a royal mess that was! But who's it going to be on the UNP side this time? Is there anyone?

NOTE: To our new resident troll Kesbewa. Say what you want man. You have the space for that. But don't expect people here to respond to your inane questions. We have better things to talk about, and not enough time to waste on people like you.

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Who Said WHAT?

After all the bullshit and the rantings here's some real news.

The UNP has not officially conceded defeat. This is from the UNP office. They have not yet conceded defeat.

So where did Mahinda's campaign secretary Dulles Alahapperuma get the balls to make that statement announcing that Mahinda Rajapakse is going to be the fifth President of Sri Lanka? I don't know. All we know is that he did make that statement. The statement said that Mahinda had beaten Ranil by over 125,000 votes. All the other people that we have spoken to over the past few minutes have also told me that Mahinda has won, but it seems to be by a margin of about 60,000 to 70,000 votes.

So right now all we know is that the office of the PM and his campaign secretary Dulles made that statement without knowing what they were doing. This is the first time that a presidential candidate has declared themselves president before over 20 electorates are yet to be declared.

So we all have to sit around and wait and watch.

I don't think Ranil is going to win. But it's damn strange what the Mahinda camp is trying to do. Are they actually afraid of losing? So much so that they want to pull this trick now and hope no one counts the last bit of the votes? Are they trying to do a Bush?

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So What?

Mahinda won.

But doesn't it really stink that the PM's office should release a statement saying that they are pleased to announce that the fifth president of the country is going to be Mahinda? Maybe they should have noted that thet only reason they could make such a statement is because Ranil conceded defeat. Ranil's not perfect, but at least he was nice enough to concede defeat. But it was really nasty of the PM and the PM's office to make a statement saying they won, without saying that the only reason they could say they won was that the other guy had thrown in the towel.

But heck, we're going to have to get used to a lot more of this shit if this guy is going to be in power for another 6 years. And the worst thing is he is going to be even worse than Chandrika. Much much worse. We're going to be missing Chadrika when she's gone and this guy is in her place.

Well, I don't have a problem with Mahinda himself, but the fact that he signed those pacts with the JVP and the JHU are really scary. I was actually quite amazed to see him stoop to that level. But he did stoop. And the only thing he proved by doing that was that winning was more important to him than his principles.

But then, like a lot of people have been asking, did he ever have any principles at all? Well, we'll have to hang around and find out.

And yup, if the JVP have it their way we're going back to war. Bloody good if you ask me. Some of the morons out there have just forgotten what it was like. Teach them a bloody lesson to vote a bunch of racist warmongers like this. They get what they voted for. As for me, and as for Nittewa, at least now that this bloody election is over we can go back to talking about real issues.

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Why Prabha Likes The PA

It looks like I was wrong. Mahinda is going to win by maybe 50,000. So sue me.

But if Mahinda wins this time it's going to be because Prabhakarn screwed Ranil over. If the LTTE had allowed the people of the North and east to vote peacefully then there is little doubt that Ranil would have got most of those votes that were not polled. So if Ranil loses then it's going to be Prabhakaran's fault.

But hasn't the LTTE always helped the SLFP/PA/UPFA win?

Way back in the Premadasa days they got rid of him so Chandrika could come to power. Then they killed Gamini so she could become President. Then during her re-election campaign they killed some people at her rally and gave her a bad eye to win her second term on the sympathy vote. And now the LTTE's screwed Ranil and given the win to Mahinda.

So, instead of going to the temple to worship some stupid monks who did nothing to make him win, he should take a trip over to Kilinochchi and fall on his knees before Prabhakaran. It's a fact that the LTTE did more to make Mahinda win that either the JVP or the JHU could have ever done. He owes his win to them.

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And the winner is...

I hate to do this, but Ranil is going to win. Not that it's a problem. I'd rather have him win than Mahinda.

It's dawn and there's no clear winner. Sri Lankans are not used to shit. We vote, then we stay up all night glued to the TV or the radio trying to see if the horse we backed is going to win and we usually know that before dawn. Not all the results have always come in, but things are pretty clear. By dawn we know if we should be grinning or crying. And then we go to sleep with no intention of going to work the next day. So much the better if the next day is a holiday anyway.

But not this time. It looks like a real tight race. But nothing from Kurunegala or Kegalle or Nuwara Eliya Districts have been announced yet. And when these results are released, there's little chance of them going any way but Ranil's.

The first clue came when the election commissioner was delaying results without any reason. At about 1.45 SL time he held a press conference and gave a lame reason for the delay but promised that things would be up to speed soon. What I think is that by that time much of the counting was already underway and the Government knew that they were in trouble. Not like they could really mess with the elections commissioner, but maybe they were trying to think up something creative.

But the moment the commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake started stalling for time it was very clear that Ranil was going to win. And about an hour ago the UNP agents in the counting centers confirmed that there were confident of a win.

But the results keep trickling out, and there's still no clear winner. But I think Ranil's going to win.

But here's a funny story. Out of some 83'000 registered voters in Kilinochchi, only one person voted. That one person voted for Ranil. So Ranil won Kilinochchi 100%. But that's not even remotely funny. What's really funny is that it took them till 5.13 a.m. to count it. I wonder how many people they had to count that one vote.

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Election Day Media Communique No. 1

Here is the Election Day Media Communique No. 1 released by the Center for Monitoring Elction Violence. You can find it on their website along with some other useful material too, but I'm reproducing the entire thing here:

Media Communiqué on Election-related Violence
Presidential Election - 2005

17th November 2005 - Election Day Media Communique No. 1

CMEV has received an initial set of 122 reports of incidents of election violence today, polling day 17th November 2005. The bulk of the major incidents including murder and causing grievous hurt were recorded in the North and East. The general environment and context that prevailed in these areas was one of intimidation, tension and violence. This is directly attributable to the LTTE call for a boycott of the presidential election by the Tamil people which translated into negligible polling by the people in the areas directly under their control, negligible polling in the north and low polling amongst the Tamil community in the east.

The LTTE as a political actor has the right to call for a boycott of the election. In its statement to this effect it also pledged that it would not prevent or obstruct the exercise of the franchise by those who chose to vote. The reports received by CMEV clearly indicate the contrary. The actions of front organizations of the LTTE ranging from the burning of tyres, barring access to polling stations and the intimidatory presence of LTTErs including their surveillance of voters clearly indicate that the call for a boycott apart, the LTTE actively engaged in preventing and obstructing people from voting. In addition the grenade attacks on EPDP offices in Jaffna and on polling stations in the Batticaloa District alleged to have been perpetrated by the LTTE on November 16th, the day before polling, and on November 17, election day.

The CMEV unequivocally condemns the actions of the LTTE in this respect. The exercise of the franchise is the basic mechanism of choice and change in a democracy and the choice of the chief executive of the country has clear implications for a process of democratic political change that will enable a just and sustainable peace in Sri Lanka. The use of violence and intimidation in the context of the presidential election is the most recent measure of the LTTE’s commitment to a negotiated political settlement of the ethnic conflict and of its willingness and ability to participate in a democratic process. This in turn compounds the challenge to all processes of democratic transformation throughout Sri Lanka.

Following is a summary of major incidents that have been reported to CMEV as of 8 p.m. 17th November 2005.

Weligama: Weligama Polling Division – No. 48 & 49 Welipitiya Zahira Collage
04 JVP supporters including JVP MP Premasiri Maannage were assaulted by supporters of UNP MP Mahinda Wijesekera, in the vicinity of the polling center at around 1400hrs. Following the assault, a complaint has been lodged with the Weligama Police. A double cab [reg. no.51-4913] belonging to Premasiri Maannage has also been damaged by the UNP supporters.

Weligama: Weligama Polling Division
UNP MP Mahinda Wijesekera and a group of his supporters have damaged a van [reg. no. 60-4252] approximately at 1345hrs in the vicinity of Galbokka junction in Weligama. It is also alleged that the said UNP MP had been traveling around the Weligama polling division in a convoy of 15 vehicles. Furthermore, MP Mahinda Wijesekera had threatened officers of the Weligama Police subsequent to which, police officers in the area have refrained from taking any action against the activities of MP Mahinda Wijesekera.

Digamadulla: Kalmunai Polling Division – No. 52 Pandirippu Nawalar Vidyalaya
Two youth were killed in Pandirippu following a bomb blast inside a bakery approximately at 1330hrs, close to the No. 52 Pandirippu Nawalar Vidyalaya polling centre. 05 other occupants sustained injuries and were admitted to hospital. When contacted by CMEV, the Kalmunai Police stated that the bomb blast may have been an accident due to the victims mishandling an explosive device, and ruled out the possibility of an outside attack.

Digamadulla: Kalmunai Polling Division - No.24/25/26 Kalmunai Al-Bahiriya Vidyalaya
Tensions has prevailed through out polling time due to UPFA and UNP supporters congregating outside No.24/25/26 Kalmunaikudi Al-Bahiriya Vidyalaya hall no. 1,2,3 from approximately 1100hrs to close of polling. Both groups were actively involved in distributing propaganda material.

Digamadulla: Kalmunai Polling Division
Mr.Falleel, the Moulavi of Al Hamiya Madarasa was shot at around 1130hrs by a group of unidentified persons. Mr.Falleel sustained gunshot wounds and was later admitted to Kalmunai Hospital.

Digamadulla: Sammanturai Polling Division - No. 16 ST/Darul-uloom Vidyalam
There was an attempted impersonation by a UPFA supporter at No.16 ST/Darul-uloom Vidyalam in Sammanthurai, which was foiled due to the intervention of the UNP polling agent resulting with the arrest of the impersonator. Subsequent to this incident, UPFA Deputy Minister Anwer Ismail, along with his armed bodyguards had entered the polling center and assaulted the UNP polling agent, forcing a 30 minute temporary closure of the polling center.

Batticaloa: Batticaloa Polling Division - No. 117 Kattankudi Maha Vidyalaya
Police petrol has come under fire following an attempt by the Police to disperse a group of approximately 100 people who was congregating in front of No.117, Kattankudi Maha Vidyalaya Hall 01. SI Sivanathan, a Police officer attached to Kattankudi Police has sustained gun shot injuries following this incident.

Batticoloa: Kalkuda Polling Division - No. 01 & 02 Chenkaladi Maha Vidyalaya
CMEV monitors report that a hand grenade was lobbed by unidentified persons who came on a motorcycle, resulting in two police officers and three voters sustaining injuries and being admitted to the Eravur Hospital. This incident took place in front of the No.01/02 Chenkaladi Maha Vidyalaya, at approximately 1210hrs.

Badulla: Hali-Ela Polling Division - No. 25 Kirinda Vidyalaya
Polling centre No.25, Kirinda Vidyalaya was forced to close for approximately 2 hours subsequent to armed UPFA supporters entering and chasing away UNP polling agents.

Kegalle: Dedigama Polling Division - No. 12 & 13, Mangedara Primary School
Systematic impersonation has been reported from No. 12/13, Maagedara Primary School Hall 02. CMEV monitor from the Dedigama electorate has observed approximately 15 – 20 voters being provided with forged ballot papers for voting.

Nuwara Eliya: Hanguranketha Polling Division
UPFA Central Provincial Council Minister Jayarathne Dissanayake was assaulted by a group of UNP supporters at approximately 1340hrs in the vicinity of the Hewaheta town, Rathungoda junction. CMEV monitors report that Mr. Jayarathne Dissanayake, who was traveling towards Hanguranketha along with a group of his supporters, encountered a group of UNP supporters led by Mr. Jayalath Dissanayake and Mr.Ranjith Dissanayake when the skirmish took place.

Kurunegala: Kuliyapitiya Polling Division – No. 40 Ennoruwa Maha Vidyalaya
UPFA Chief Minister for North Western Province, Athula Wijesinghe, had threatened and assaulted a UNP supporter in the vicinity of No. 40 Annoruwa Vidyalaya using a handgun. This incident took place approximately at 1200hrs

Dr. P. Saravanamuttu Co-Convenor
Sunila Abeysekera Co-Convenor
Seetha Ranjani Co-Convenor

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Sunday, November 13, 2005

Effects of LTTE's Unofficial Boycott

though i am part of the nittewa 'team', i realized i have not posted anything here except comments. so here goes.

there can be no doubt about it, ltte has concluded that a victory for mahinda is in their best interest and are promoting an unofficial boycott of the election in order to achieve that. how did ltte arrive at this seemingly illogical and definitely stupid conclusion?

are they counting on mahinda when elected on back of sinhala buddhist chauvinists, to start a war and thus inadvertently allow ltte to strengthen it's loosening grip on the tamil population? or failing that (government is more less broke so can't start a war even if it wanted to) to thrive on the resulting political uncertainty and economic collapse in the south? are they on either case expecting to get the sympathy of the international community back towards them? they are certainly gambling the future of tamils on rather dicey outcomes in any case.

in the first place it is not certain that mahinda will win, even with a boycott. i have posted some election result scenarios in my own blog. from them i am confident that ranil will stay ahead even with only 25% of tamils voting. if minority votes are to affect the outcome, all the minorities must be united and all are more or less behind ranil this time. whether north east tamils will join the others will only have a marginal effect on the final result. more significant is the expected swing of sinhala buddhists from upfa to unp. even a 2.5% swing from 2004 result there will give ranil the victory.

so one effect of the boycott will be to reduce the north east tamils ability to influence any future administration. it will also dent the confidence politicians will place on northeast votes in future elections. thondamans and hakeems are powerful because they deliver the votes in return for getting what they want, by this boycott north east tamils failed to deliver.

another effect will be the loss of sympathy from the peace camp in the south. by this action ltte has shown that it prefers war and it's own power than the welfare of the tamils. already the ngo types are expressing a panicky disappointment with the ltte. nobody will be fooled by the unofficial nature of the boycott and everybody will be more skeptical of the ltte's motives in the future.

nor will the international community be fooled. however stupid and obnoxious a jvp backed mahinda government will be, international community will prefer it to ltte terrorists in the present climate of worldwide war against terrorism. so expect the ltte fronts in the diaspora to get it in the face if it comes to war. and in case of a ranil administration ltte will definitely be in a very weak position when the negotiations start.

there are serious doubt about the ltte's military strength in any case after the karuna's defection. are they willing to lose east completely if it comes to war?

let us hope that ordinary tamils have more sense than the ltte and vote (emulating the ppl in the south in 1988 election who voted in spite of jvp threats to kill those who voted first) .

if not, they have only themselves to blame for whatever crappy deal they will get, whoever gets elected.

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Friday, November 11, 2005

Transparency International - PPPR - Report 02

The report released by the PPPR of Transparency International Sri Lanka on the 10th of November 2005. You can download the pdf here.


REPORT –NO 2

The Programme for Protection of Public Resources (PPPR) monitoring
and investigating misuse of public resources in the Presidential election 2005, held its first press briefing on 3rd November 2005.

Report No 1 of PPPR was released on this occasion. When politicians elected by the people for good governance, and State officials entrusted with safe custody of State resources continue to betray that trust and misuse these resources for private advantages in the election, quite apart from the massive loss to the State, the election ceases to be free and fair and thereby distorts the result of the election. It is ironical that while on the one hand the State spends over 900 million in order to ensure a free and fair election, on the other hand that very purpose is defeated by politicians and State officials who misuse State resources for private advantages. It has to be borne in mind that in such a scenario the cost of the election too is rendered a loss.

General observations:

With the tempo of the election campaign mounting, it is gratifying to note that the public outcry to desist from misusing State resources is also mounting. The media is reflecting this mood quite appropriately. The misuse however continues and a trend is observed where many politicians and State officials are using subterfuges to conceal the losses to the State.

State resources continue to be misused at Temple Trees, inter alia, for treating participants attending political propaganda meetings.

Specific Abuses:

We give below some of the typical abuses verified and confirmed by our investigators since our last report.

01) Official Residence of Leader of the Opposition

State owned building at No. 30 Sir Marcus Fernando Mawatha, which is allocated to the leader of the opposition for his residence, is being used exclusively for his election propaganda work- Media meetings etc promoting his election are held in this building using all facilities such as electricity, and Police security, all at State cost, although the election campaign is a private matter.

02) Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA)
PPPR has reliable information about the hiring of 10 vehicles for the use in the Presidential Election campaign of the P.A Candidate. This information is supported with documentary evidence.

Confidential inquiries made by PPPR investigators have revealed the following facts:

A quotation has been called and a decision taken to hire 10 vehicles on monthly basis with fuel and drivers from M/S Wiranga Travels and Tours at the rate of Rs 70,000/- per month for 3000 km and Rs 20/- for every additional k.m and to release the advance of 50% (Rs 350,000/-). All this has taken place on 21-10-2005 and a cheque drawn in favor of Wiranga Travels & Tours also on the same day pending SLPA Board approval, on
the orders of the newly appointed Chairman SLPA through a Management Committee appointed by him. As there was no current account in the name of Wiranga Travels & Tours, a cheque has been drawn in favor of its proprietor MASC Ranaweera on 24-10-2005.

Although the payment is for the hire of ten vehicles on a monthly rental basis, confidential inquiries made by PPPR revealed that the 10 vehicles in fact have not been supplied by Mr Ranaweera to the SLPA. High secrecy is maintained in connection with this transaction for no bona fide reasons, giving credence to the information that this is an exercise to utilize State Resources for the PA election campaign by devious means

03) Prime Minister’s Media Unit.
Vehicle NoWP GE-3621 hired for official use of the Prime Minister’s media unit was being used for the election campaign of the P.A. candidate. On the night of 03-11-2005, on its way to an election propaganda meeting at Nawelepitiya scheduled for the next day, this vehicle went off the road and rolled into an ravine at Ruwanwella with about 08 persons of the Media Unit and a Police constable attached to the Prime Minister’s security division. The vehicle is extensively damaged and the occupants seriously injured.

The vehicle was found to contain stocks of campaign materials (Mahinda Chintanaya in Tamil) and a stock of large photographs of the PA candidate promoting his election.

04) Mathugama Crematorium
The Crematorium belonging to the U.C. Mathugama is being used by UNP supporters for their election campaign. Printing machines, welding plants etc are stealthily brought in to this place by night and posters, cutouts etc promoting the election of the UNP candidate, and mud slinging posters against the PA candidate have been printed, prepared at this place using its facilities including electricity.

05) Social Services Ministry
Vehicle No 65-2675 belonging to the Social Services Dept. is being extensively used by Mr S.M. Chandrasena, MP for Anuradhapura District Deputy Minister Social Services and his Supporters for the election campaign of the PA candidate and to intimidate and threaten supporters of the UNP candidate.

06) MILCO
Vehicles bearing nos. WP-GU-5003 and WP-GU-5005 belonging to the Milco have been seen used for the election campaign in Nildandahinna in Walapone electorate.

07)
(a)Gampaha Municipal Council
On 02.11.2005 the Prime Minister who is the PA candidate in the Presidential election, attended a function at Yakkela to declare open a Water Scheme. Elaborate arrangements were made for this ceremonial opening which was given an official status. But the function turned out to be a political propaganda meeting.

Fire brigade vehicle No 227-0959 belonging to the Gampaha Municipal Council, with the crew of fire fighters, was in attendance at the venue of this meeting. No payments have been made to the Municipality.

(b) C.T.B. Depot Gampaha
C.T.B breakdown vehicle No 22 Sri 9659 was also in attendance at the venue of the above mentioned function.

(c)Road Construction and Development Authority (Maga Naguma) Truck No 26 Sri 8664 belonging to the RCDA Ratmalana was used to transport material for the stage and seating accommodation at this meeting.

08) Department of Agriculture
Vehicle No 58-3694 belonging to the Department of Agriculture Peradeniya was used to transport organizers to an election propaganda meeting of the PA in Kandy Town on 31-10-2005.

09) Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau
Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau building at No. 234 Denzil Kobbakadu Mawath Koswatta, Battaramulla, had been in existence and third occupied since 17 January 2005. On 3 November 2005 there was a much publicized function at State expense where the Prime Minister ceremonially declared open this same building. As it turned out to be, this function was really another front for the election campaign of the PA
candidate at State expense.

10) Gampaha Police Division
Police truck No 42 Sri 9591 belonging to the Gampaha police Division was used to transport components of the platform for the election propaganda meeting of the PA at Teldeniya on 05-11-2005.

11) Advertisment Suppliment of Lake House Newspapers
A special supplement which was published in the Daily News on Monday the O7th November 2005 carried wishes for the success of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse in the Presidential election. 08 Public Cooperation’s have advertised in this supplement.

1. Development Lotteries Board
2. Sri Lanka Export Credit Insurance Corporation
3. State Pharmaceuticals Corporation of Sri Lanka
4. Urban Development Authority
5. “Maga Naguma”
6. Ceylon Shipping Corporation Limited
7. National Equipment and Machinery Organization
8. STC General Trading Company Limited

PPPR inquiries revealed that the advertisements were paid for by the relevant advertisers costing approximately Rs 947,600/-. These Corporations are funded partly by Government and partly by their own business ventures. Therefore it is clear that these Institutions have used Public funds to promote the election of the PA candidate, to the detritus of Public Resources.

Conclusions:
PPPR is greatly encouraged by the Public response and media support.It is now appropriate to canvas the appointment of a Commission of Inquiry to identify the patterns of misuse of State Resources and to assess the extent and also quantify the losses

Acknowledgments:
We acknowledge the benevolent gesture of the Canadian International Development Agency in supporting the efforts of the PPPR. This illustrates Canada’s commitment to the promotion of good governance and democracy in Sri Lanka.

We also acknowledge the support of MTV, SIRASA, and Shakthi.

Sgd/Tassie Senviratne
Director of Investigation

C.S. Jayadeva
Spokesman

10th November 2005

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Transparency International - PPPR - Report 01

Here is the report put together by Transparency International Sri Lanka on the misuse of state resources during campaigning for the presidential elections, 2005. This first report came out on the 3rd of November 2005.

I earlier posted a link to the downloadable pdf of this report. For those of you who want to read it online I have reporoduced the complete document here. You can still download the pdf too.

REPORT –NO 1

Introduction

Although Article 28(d) of the Constitution of Sri Lanka states that “it is the duty of every person in Sri Lanka to preserve and protect public property, and combat misuse and wastage of public property”. Sri Lankan elections have always been marred by the abuse of public resources. No one can individually discharge one’s constitutional duty of protecting public resources. In fact, the public should make a concerted effort in this direction as it is not only a right but also the duty of civil society to monitor the abuse of State Resources during elections.

The Programme for Protection of Public Resources was designed and implemented by civil society organizations with the objective of protecting Public Resources from the various types of abuse, and invoking legal mechanisms action against public officials responsible for such abuse.

PPPR, which is now a special project under the Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), commenced the monitoring of state resources with the date of nomination. It has already written to the candidates and The Secretaries of the Ministries to take appropriate steps to protect public resources during the forthcoming elections. TISL has also made representations to the Commission to Investigate Bribery and Corruption (Bribery Commission) seeking their
intervention within their mandate to curb the abuses that fall within the definition of “corruption”. PPPR has independently deployed a strong contingent of detectives throughout the country to investigate the information received from various sources.


The Common Observations on abuses

(a) Credit facilities are given for election propaganda work to the People’s Alliance by state media institutions, without any security or indemnity and there is a likelihood of the debts not being recovered, causing severe losses to Public resources.

(b) There is a trend of vehicles being temporarily procured on lease/rent basis for election propaganda work with a view to conceal state ownership.

(c) State buildings and facilities (e.g. Temple Trees & Helicopter facilities) are utilized by the P.A. candidate but there doesn’t seem to be a clearly laid out method to recover the losses/expenditure incurred by the State.

(d) There are also positive trends such as the Bribery Commission and Auditor General’s Department taking positive action to curb misuse of state resources.

(e) The Election Commissioner has issued guidelines to prohibit abuse of State Resources and the Inspector General of Police has also passed down specific instructions to give effect to the Election Commissioner’s guidelines.

(f) The media too is playing an important role in condemning and bringing to light the abuses of state resources, with a view to minimizing them.

(g) There is now a positive build up for some of the senior state officials not to release state assets for political activities.

Specific Abuses

We give below some of the main abuses detected by PPPR to date.

01. Temple Trees
“Temple Trees” is being utilized for political meetings. If the selection of this venue is for High Security reasons considering the official status of the candidate, then the expenditure (inclusive of the cost of the facilities and the space) should be fully paid by the candidate. It appears that no such payments are being made to cover the expenditure incurred by the State.


02. Sri Lanka Air Force
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse is indulging in extensive use of Air Force helicopters in his election campaign resulting in a massive cost to the State. His use of these helicopters for security reasons is understandable, but his election campaign being a private matter, he should make full payment of the cost to the State. But the atrocious fact is that he and his entourage are taking these flights free, under the cover of Air Force “operations”.

Apart from the enormous cost to the State, the other candidates are severely handicapped as they do not have the same facility.

02. Gramodaya Center
State owned Building at No. 152, Galle Road, Colombo 03 known as the “Gramodaya Center” is being exclusively used to stock and distribute election propaganda material promoting the election of the PA Candidate. A senior state official is full time in charge of the distribution operation. Vehicles belonging to the state are being used to transport the propaganda material. These abuses of State Resources are carried on with State facilities including High Security as provided for the Prime Minister.

03. Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Ltd. (CPSTL)
CPSTL is a public company which comes under the purview of the Ministry of Power and Energy.

CPSTL branch of the “Nidahas Sevaka Sangamaya” has taken away two collapsible stages/platforms on wheels, from the CPSTL without due payments and is using same for political campaign supporting the PA Candidate. A decision had been taken to sell this stage to the said Union for Rs. 217,000/-, but prior to making any payment the stage has been taken away and used.

Although the Board of Directors by decision dated 22-09-2005 prohibits personnel from the CPSTL from engaging in activities outside the purview of the CPSTL, 23 employees have been released for work connected with transporting, assembling and dismantling the stage. These employees are engaged exclusively on work connected to the PA election campaign.

Vehicles 47-0580 & 47-0361 belonging to Road Development Authority are being used to transport the stage and chairs etc that go with it.

Removal of the stage/ platform, the release of the personnel and the use of State vehicles, as stated above, are gross abuses of Public Resources.

04. Rupavahini Corporation
Chief Election Coordinator of the People’s Alliance election campaign, a Senior Minister, has requested SLRC to provide advertisements on credit offering a relatively small advance of only Rs. 500,000.

The SLRC has clearly stated on its’ Rate Card that all payments must be done on cash basis in advance. The terms and conditions do not provide for part payment by political parties for advertisements without indemnity. Notwithstanding this condition, the Chairman SLRC has by order dated 26/10/2005 granted credit facilities to the P.A. for advertisements.

It is also revealed that the Minister has used the facility of his official letterhead as the Minister of Ports & Aviation, for election propaganda work.

05. Health Department
Vehicle No- 43-0343 belonging to the Health Department is being used for the transportation and decoration with election propaganda material in Hangurankatha area in support of the P.A. candidate.

06. Municipal Council- Kurunegala
a) A fire engine and a water bowser belonging to the Kurunegala Municipality, with Municipal staff in attendance, is taken to all P.A. election propaganda meetings attended by the P.A. candidate in Kurunegala area without payments to the Municipality. So far it has been taken to about 10 such meetings in N.W.P – Vehicle numbers are GC-8437 and 43-7051. The release of these vehicles and staff is authorized by the Mayor, the Municipal Commissioner and the Municipal Engineer, as demanded by Senior Police Officers.

Heavy losses are incurred by the Municipality on account of these election propaganda meetings.

b) 10-15 Municipal Council workers are engaged for the purpose of decorations etc at P.A. election meeting venues in Kurunegala area during working hours. The release of these workers for election propaganda work is authorized by the Mayor, the Municipal Commissioner and the Municipal Engineer.

07. Ministry of State Plantations
Vehicle No 58-2186 belonging to the State Plantations Ministry, and issued to it’s Legal Officer Mr. R. Harischandra, was used for P.A. election propaganda work in the Weligama area (pasting posters with photograph of P.A. candidate and announcing through loudspeakers calling on voters to vote for the P.A. candidate).

08. Ministry of Vocational Training
Vehicle No 23-1586 belonging to the Vocational Training Ministry was used for the election campaign of the P.A. candidate in Neluwa Town. This Vehicle exhibiting photograph of PA candidate was used to announce through loudspeakers calling on voters to vote for the P.A. candidate.

09. MILCO
Vehicle No 32-2558 belonging to MILCO, a Public Company, is being used by members of the National Association of Artistes in their campaign promoting the election of the P.A. candidate. The Prime Minister’s Media Unit is also participating in these campaign meetings using State vehicles.


Urgent Request of the PPPR

(a) Public to cooperate with Bribery Commission, Auditor General’s Department, Police and PPPR by giving detailed information of abuses immediately.

(b) Media to popularize the complaint mechanism so that people will cooperate with the authorities by making accurate complaints of abuses.

(c) Public sector employees not to allow public assets to be utilized for political activities, directly or indirectly.

(d) Commissioner of Elections, Auditor General, Bribery Commission and Police to act together to curb the abuses of state resources during the elections by prohibiting, investigating and prosecuting those who are responsible for the abuses, without delay.


Tassie Seneviratne
Director Investigations (PPPR)

Joel Fernando
Spokesman (PPPR)

3rd November 2005

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A Few Resources

I haven't been blogging about the elections because it's bloody frustrating. The way I see it we get screwed either way. This is how I see it. It's really this f**king simple.

If Ranil's the new President he's going to liberalize his ass, screw the poor people and turn this into a police state like Singapore. If Mahinda's the one we vote in then the JVP and the JHU are going to be in power and we're going to return to war and become a Buddhist fundamentalist state.

Sad innit?

But there are a lot of resources available online. Much of them are quite partisan, but there are a few sources that have a genuine interest in trying to speak about democracy (or the lack thereof). Here are two of them:


slelections.info

Speaking of election related violence here's a good resource: slelections.info. It's being run by infoshare. The information seems to get updated daily. 321 incidents of election related violence by yesterday (9/11/2005). 146 incidents of violence allegedly perpetrated by the UPFA and 104 by the UNP.


Transparency International Sri Lanka

Another good site I found a few days ago (because of a certain report I was Googling for) was Transparency International Sri Lanka (www.tisrilanka.org). It has the report of the Programme for Protection of Public Resources (PPPR). A detailed and comprehensive look at how state resources have been misused during this campaign.

Did you know that the UNP has been using the Mathugama Crematorium for as their base of operations in the area? Did you know that Mahinda hasn't been paying a cent for the helicopter rides he's been taking around the country to appear at different meetings every day? Just a few of the rather intersting things i found in the PPPR reports :)

You can go to their site but I'll give you direct links too:

TISL Report 01 (03rd November 2005)

TISL Report 02 (10th November 2005)

That's all for now. When I find anything more I will post links here.

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Does it Matter?

A lot of people are saying that this election campaign has so far been a lot less violent than a lot of people would have expected it to be. There have already been a few deaths this election season, but it’s been relatively peaceful. But do people believe that things are going to stay this way? I don’t think so. Everyone always says ‘so far’ when they talk about the lack of violence.

Let’s face it. We’re all expecting the number of violent incidents to rise drastically as the polling day draws closer. (Post election violence of course depends on who wins.) We’re used to our politicians being very very violent when it comes to elections. We take it for granted that they are going to stuff ballot boxes on polling day. And we take it for granted that supporters from either side are going to kill each other when they run into each other on the streets.

In areas where one political party is stronger than the other, the stronger party stuffs ballot boxes unchallenged. Whichever party has control of the center breaks election laws with utter impunity because they know the police will do nothing against them. They own the police dammit! How could the police ever do anything to hurt their campaign? And it’s also damn handy to have a few khaki clad baboons in hand to make some trouble for the opposition.

Oh hell, it gives us an excuse to stay at home on the day of the election. We take a walk to the polling station in the morning and cast our ballot and then go home and sit tight to wait for the results to come overnight. It’s a bloody good holiday. And since in all probability your boss is also doing the same you’re not going to get into trouble for skipping a day.

And then when person X wins over person Y because person X and his goons managed to a) stuff more ballot boxes than Y b) beat the shit out of Y’s supporters c) threatened more people than Y, we applaud our democracy.

‘ip ‘ip ‘ooray assholes, you have your new elected official, just as corrupt and undemocratic as the one you got rid of. Now suffer.

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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Where do we stand?

I know this is going to open the floor for everyone to kill each other again, but that's alright - what do you (personally) think is going to happen in the upcoming Presidential Election? This a question I've been asking everyone for the past month or so, and nobody really seems to have an answer.

Guess correctly and walk away with twinkies courtesy of Nittewa.*

Note : I'm not asking you who you would like to see in power. I'm just asking you to analyze the current political situation and predict who will come to power. Is the election really too close to call?

*Offer valid while stocks last.

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Father Figure

The campaing for Mahinda has never moved very far beyond mudslinging. They chose not to win votes from the people through their promises, but to make Ranil so hated that people would vote for Mahinda as the alternative. The Mahinda campaign, I believe has been focusing a bit too much on the fact that the UNP candidate Ranil has no children. Their rhetoric behind this has progressed and evolved quite a bit in the past few months. Certain mistakes made by the UNP have helped the UPFA further capitalise on this but the way in which this campaign has appropriated and spun parenthood for their political purposes remains disgusting.

It started way back about a month before the nominations. The UPFA put up a series of hoardings all around the country carrying pictures of Mahinda with kids saying things like 'Daru Senehasa Mata Dene' and other inane shit like that. There were literally hunderds of these all over the place. Of course they came down on the day the nominations were handed over because hoardings are not allowed during election camaigning, but by that time it had become very clear what the Mahinda campaign was going to be about. Since Mahinda cannot really attack Ranil on this directly they have been using their righteous brigade, the JHU, to bring this up during TV and radio debates and keep it fresh in the minds of the people. At least the UPFA and the JVP have the political maturity to understand that making this attack less subtle than it is might just backfire. Wimal occasionally calling Ranil a 'ponnaya' is more than enough for them.

Initially the campaign focused on the idea that Ranil was impotent, which is why he did not have any children, and the idea that an impotent person would not make a good leader. Then the focus began to shift to the idea that since Ranil had no children, he did not understand what it was like to love a child and to want to provide for their future. Therefore he did not make a good leader because he did not care about the future.

Now thise whole argument has sprung up to a whole new level with the film director Inoka Sathyangani being reported to the National Child Protection Authority.

Here's the story: There's a TV spot which is a part of the Ranil campaign which shows a child crying because the mother has no milk in the house. It's in sepia all this while. The mother goes out and buys a little bit of powdered milk from the shop and brings it back home and makes some milk for the kid, and then it cuts to color, and there's a child drinking a full glass of milk smiling and all that. This is about that insane Ranil promise to give free milk to children below the age of 5.

God knows what the the UPFA goons did, or how they pressurised the mother of the child, but she has now come forward and stated that the director said the child was going to be used to a powdered milk advertisement and not a political ad and that the child was mistreated and tortured to make him cry for the shots. Abusing a child for any reason is wrong, and if Inoka Sathyanganee did abuse the child she needs to be severely punished for it. But why do I find this story a little hard to believe?

Inoka did not make this ad on her own. She would at least have had a crew of 20. And I don't think I could find 20 people in a crew who would stand around and watch a child being tortured to make it cry. And why hurt the child to make it cry when you can just use some glycerine to fake the tears? That's what everyone in the industry does. Duh! It would be a serious crime indeed if Inoka did lie to the mother of the child and say that it was going to be for a powdered milk commercial, but I doubt it. One of the main reasons I say this is because if the mother had been on the set then she would have known exactly hat was being shot and she would not have allowed her child to be abused.

So anyways, whether Inoka tortured this child during the production of the ad is not the issue, how it is being played out in the media is. A leading Sinhala daily ran an editorial on this a few days ago. They referred back to an old interview with Inoka where she had said she has no time to be a parent because of her career and that's why she doesn't have children. They're nailing her to the wall with this and calling her a heartless child-hating bitch.

The only conclusion that I can come to is that in all probability the mother of the child has been forced to make these allegations against Inoka Sathyanganee and the UNP by UPFA goons who see this as a good way to elaborate and sharpen an argument they've been using against Ranil for quite some time. I believe that the UPFA's use of the child as a political tool is as disgusting as what the UNP is supposed to have done.

But what they're really hoping is that some of this image will rub off on Ranil. They're actulally trying to take the rhetoric from 'he doesn't love children' to 'he hates children'. He hates political dissent and is willing to use force to crush it. He hates people who ask too many questions about his past.But I don't think he hates children.

Sad innit? How we all get distracted from the issues?



Read the Inoka story on the Daily News (A state owned newspaper that has a very clear pro-Mahinda stand).


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