Daily Archives: May 23, 2006
UPFA Mayoral candidate for Colombo Vasudeva Nanayakkara has come under fire from the Saffron quarters. The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) has inveighed against him for the defeat of the ruling party ‘due to the peddling of his own agenda’ (Vasu Chinthanaya?) at the expense of Mahinda Chinthanaya, during the election campaign. It also blames the UPFA leaders who picked him as the mayoral candidate. Does this mean that had the UPFA fielded anyone else, it could have bagged the premier council? Anyone who thinks so, doesn’t know the nature of the UNP vote bank.
The UNP support base consists of the rich, the upper stratum of the middle class and the urban poor benefiting from the informal economy which is said to flourish under a UNP regime. They are the majority in the city of Colombo. Hence, the UNP’s impressive electoral performance therein at almost every election. Although the UNP was not in the fray in the recently concluded local polls, its loyalists voted for its proxies. The UPFA had its work cut out from the very beginning and Vasu could do very little about it.
True, most city dwellers belong to ethnic minorities. Over fifty per cent of the people of Colombo live in substandard houses-slums and shanties. And those who picked Vasu must have thought of reaching out to those sections through him. Had he been able to muster their support, being the mayor would have been a cakewalk for him. Why didn’t it happen? We made the following observation in these columns (A red-hot promise on March 20): But will the minorities and the poorer sections of the city population be so enamoured of his pro minority and pro people policies as to vote for him en masse? If experience is anything to go by, then it doesn’t necessarily happen so. For example, at the 1982 Presidential Election Dr. Colvin R. De Silva in spite of his one-language-two-countries-two-languages-one-country policy besides the LSSP’s unwavering pro minority stand, polled only 3,376 votes in the predominantly Tamil Jaffna while JRJ (UNP) and Hector Kobbekaduwa (SLFP) got 44,780 and 77,300 respectively. There is more to Sri Lankan politics than principles, we pointed out.
The Jumbos are dancing in the streets and boasting of a comeback. Yes, they certainly have something to crow about. But is there really a comeback? Look at the sobering statistics: In 2002, the UNP secured 32 seats in the CMC and the number has come down to 23 (won by its proxies) this time round and the PA had 8 seats in 2002 and it has got 14. Vasu may claim that he has delivered six more seats! (Trotskyites are quite adept at debating, never mind delivery on the ground.)
Be that as it may, the failure of the SLFP/UPFA to overrun the UNP bastion is attributable not to the failure of any particular individual as such but to the party’s outlook. The UNP has the same problem in the suburban and rural areas where the SLFP-led coalitions have a firm hold. So, radical changes will have to be effected to the UPFA and the UNP ideologies if they are to cut into each other’s vote bases. Such a course of action is not without risks; it may lead to the alienation of some sections of their existing support bases.
Meanwhile, the victorious Jumbos are in the same predicament as that hungry fox that caught a tortoise but found its teeth not strong enough to proceed further. It is a troublesome victory. The ‘Independents’ who are going places thanks to the UNP backing have said they would resign for Mr. Sirisena Cooray and his team to enter the CMC. They threaten to resort to legal action if there are objections to their decision. If everything else fails, they have said, they will run the council in collaboration with the UNP. They are contemplating a very complicated course of action against tremendous odds. The inevitable outcome will be a long drawn legal battle, which is not going to help the public in anyway.
Vasu has never been at the levers of power. He has, true to form, remained a backseat driver right throughout. Whether he would have made a good mayor, if the UPFA had won, is a hypothetical question that one may not be able to answer. But he is certainly a seasoned Opposition activist capable of giving anyone in authority sleepless nights. We hope he will live up to his reputation as the CMC, like any other democratic institution, needs a strong Opposition, whoever becomes the next Mayor. -IOL-Editorial
Amid the battle for the control of the Colombo City, a euphoric UNP yesterday challenged the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration to go for a fresh poll if it was determined to prevent a UNP administration in the Colombo Municipal Council.
UNP deputy leader Karu Jayasuriya told a news conference that despite using the entire government machinery and the bureaucracy the UPFA was unable to break Colombo’s strong UNP vote base.
Though the UNP’s nomination list was rejected it campaigned through an Independent group with the spectacle symbol and this group won the majority of seats. The UNP claims the independent group members will resign to make way for UNP members but the Elections Commissioner has challenged the legality of this process.
On behalf of the party and its leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, Mr. Jayasuriya expressed his gratitude to the people who stood by the UNP and voted for it at the mini polls.
"We scored a great victory at the election. We accept this victory with humility and a sense of responsibility. At the election, the government misused state power, property and the media in a vain effort to win the CMC," he charged.
Once again the UNP voiced its concern over the arbitrary appointment of members to the Independent Commissions saying it had posed a grave threat to democracy.
"Time is ripe for the government to think about the future of this country rather than concentrate on retaining power for the next five years," Mr. Jayasuriya said.
UNP assistant general secretary Tissa Attanayake said the government should respect the people’s verdict at the election without resorting to ploys to undermine it.
Commenting on the Appeal Court judgment preventing anyone outside the lists of contestants being appointed to local bodies, Mr. Attanayake said the party could now go to the Supreme Court to get a ruling on the matter. He said the UPFA would also face similar problems in appointing members to the Udapalatha and Bentara-Elpitiya Pradheshiya Sabhas as it too had fielded candidates through other parties.
"We challenge President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the government to go for a re-polling if they are unwilling to allow a UNP administration in the CMC council honouring the mandate of the people," he said.
Mr. Attanayake said no one should oppose the will of the Colombo electorate.
"If they cannot accept the people’s verdict, they should go to the Supreme Court to obtain a ruling on the matter. Otherwise, they can take an initiative to pass a Bill in Parliament to overcome the supposed legal snag," he said. -Daily Mirror-By Kelum Bandara and Ruvini Jayasinghe
“The overwhelming support enjoyed by the LTTE amongst Tamil people”… permits killing of Tamil children
Tamil National Alliance (TNA) issuing a statement to Pro LTTE media has suddenly shown a great interest in long suffering Tamil people. TNA in their statement, begs the European Union and the rest of the International community to not to take any action against LTTE since such action may cast too much blame on "innocent" LTTE leadership, that he may not be able to bear up such pain. Or may be the honorable Parliamentary members of TNA have already received the letter of execution by the "broken-hearted" terror leadership.
Whilst the TNA is striving hard to convince the International community that the LTTE is enjoying "an overwhelming support" among Tamil people and it is still the "sole representative" of Tamil speaking people; the terror leadership goes on killing children in the East. It is apparent that LTTE has implemented the ‘join or die" policy for children of Eastern Tamils, whom it had been using as the human baits in the good old days (before Colonel Karuna estranged). 12 year old S. Sthyam (see photos) was assassinated by the LTTE terrorists on 20th, just to teach a lesson to other Tamil children in the area, of the consequence of disobeying the "sole representative". The Lanka teachers union denouncing the brutal killing recalled how the teachers and school principals too, were killed when opposed to child conscription.
Meanwhile in another tragedy in Mannar, an elderly civilian was killed as the weapon of a LTTE child soldier accidentally discharged yesterday (21st). The child soldier, who was playing with his weapon which he had taken home after training, killed his grandfather by accidentally firing his weapon.
Thus, how can TNA remain silent any longer? It certainly has sincere concerns over long sufferings of Tamil speaking people !
Source: Ministry of Defence – Sri Lanka
The embassy of United States of America Colombo condemned the recent LTTE attack on three INGOs in MUTTUR saying that such attack on humanitarian organizations are deplorable. The complete press release is as follows:
The United States condemns the grenade attacks committed Sunday, May 21, against three international non-governmental organizations (INGO’s) in Muttur. The unprovoked attacks against Inter SOS, ZOA and the Non-Violent Peace Force resulted in injuries to several people, including an expatriate NGO worker. These INGO’s are working in Sri Lanka to meet humanitarian needs and bring people together in the search for a lasting peace in the country. Violent attacks against such organizations are deplorable and undercut efforts to lay the groundwork for a resumption of talks leading to a final settlement. -Ministry of Defence – Sri Lanka
by K. Godage
What does Karunanidhi’s victory mean for Sri Lanka has been the question on the lips of many in this country. The Chief Minister is now 83 and rather feeble but not of mind. He has in his political lifetime learned many lessons but the most important of them was as a result of his support of the LTTE. It would be recalled that he paid a huge political price for this in the 1991 State elections when the voters of Tamil Nadu delivered their verdict on his close ties with the LTTE. The DMK which held 151 seats in the Assembly were reduced to two seats in the election of 1991, a historical defeat which the man himself and his Party will never forget. Jayalalitha who succeeded him wanted him arrested and he escaped arrest only because the CBI did not have evidence to do so. But that chastened Kaunanidhi and when he returned to power in 1995 he put much distance between him and the LTTE.
It has been reported that "the established social equations and geographical patterns of Tamil Nadu politics seem to be undergoing a significant churning".
The Parties that have been vociferous in their support for the LTTE have been the small caste based parties of Vaiko leader of the MDMK and Dr. Ramdoss leader of the Pattali Makkal Katchi or the PMK. They have lost some political ground in this election. Though Vaiko campaigned with Jayalalitha against Karunanidhi he has now pledged support to Karunanidhi but Karunanidhi knows the man for what he is; Vaiko once called for the assassination of CBK stating, "She needs to be lucky every time but we need to be lucky only once"; (Vaiko made this statement in Geneva after the LTTE failed to assassinate President Kumaratunge immediately before the previous Presidential election). Vaiko incidentally is said to be funded by the LTTE; As for Ramdoss he represents the Vanniyar community. This time around another LTTE supporter Nedumaran who has no political base as such has not contested. These LTTE’s supporters are countered in the coalition government in the State by the presence of the Congress with 34 seats and the two Communist together with 15 seats. They are wholly opposed to the LTTE. Sri Lanka itself was not a campaign issue in this election. In any case the support the LTTE enjoyed in Tamil Nadu ended with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
There is however one issue on which all the political parties are united; it is in their support for what they describe as the ‘Tamil cause’. Their opposition to the Defence Cooperation Agreement with Sri Lanka stems not from any sympathy towards the LTTE but from the fact that any such agreement is perceived as a show of support for the "Sinhala Buddhist state which is opposed to the granting of equal rights to the Tamil people". This is a perception which we should seek to correct because we need the support of the political parties of Tamil Nadu to resolve our problem. Another important aspect which we need to factor in is that whilst the DMK plays a vital role at the center it is dependent on the Congress and its 34 seats to remain in power in the State.
The government needs to ensure that Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka and fishermen from Tamil Nadu are not targeted by the security forces. There would then be a strong reaction in Tamil Nadu which we must avoid at all cost
It is indeed time that Sri Lanka reached out to Tamil Nadu and the political leaders there and sought their assistance to settle this problem of ours. There is no doubt that they have supported the so-called ‘Tamil struggle for equal rights’ (but for Ramdoss and Vaiko, not the LTTE) as they view it out there, but it must be remembered that this country has had the closest of relations with the States and Principalities of South India before the British took over this country; in fact our last King was a Nayakkar from South India whose queen was also from there. Three of the Kandyan Chiefs who signed the Treaty with the British are said to have signed in Tamil. We are only 22 miles apart but how much of each other do we know?" Yes today we have only hostility instead of friendship and that has had a most adverse impact on our country. It is indeed in our interest to get to know more about South India and the politics of Tamil Nadu and seriously cultivate the political leaders in Tamil Nadu.
Karunanidhi at 83 has not many years more before him (perhaps his son Stalin may succeed to the leadership as has become the practice in our part of the world, we should get to know him too) and we must seek to use his connection to the Congress leadership to reach out to him without delay. It would have been ideal if he could have visited this country as a State guest and then got to know our leaders; he could also have visited the North and met Prabhakaran but considering his state of health it may perhaps not be feasible. In the alternative may I suggest that our PM and a delegation which would include Ms. Anandasanagaree, Douglas Devananda, Sithaheran and Karu Jayasuriya visit him in Chennai. Preparations for such a visit should include the formulation of a framework proposal for presentation to the Chief Minister defining what the President has stated would be a devolution of power to the furthest extent and in line with India’s oft quoted position on the Sri Lanka problem which I set out below:
"India supports the process of seeking a negotiated settlement acceptable to all sections of Sri Lanka society within the framework of a united Sri Lanka and consistent with democracy, pluralism, and respect for individual rights`85 India maintains an abiding interest in the security of Sri Lanka and remains committed to its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity". -IOL