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Monday, 5 October 2009

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Government Gazette

Getting tough with polls law violaters

So the Police have at last launched a crack-down against polls law violaters in the Southern Province. It is better late than never as they say. Hopefully this will continue in all the elections to come. Today elections have descended to virtual dog fights with election laws thrown to the winds by all in the fray. There is no knowing where things will end if the present trend continues, particularly if matters are allowed to get out of hand.

According to our main story yesterday, a meeting had been held at the Galle Secretariat between the Police top brass in the Southern Province and the candidates where the law enforcement authorities announced their decision to get tough with violators of election laws. The directive had been made by the IGP acting on the orders of the President himself which shows that the Head of State is not amused by what is going on in his own constituency.

Accordingly all posters, cut-outs, giant hoardings with party symbols,candidates’ numbers and photographs displayed at public places contravening election laws will be removed by the Police. All unauthorized election offices too will be removed and no candidate will be allowed to display his picture on vehicles or exhibit party symbols or candidates’ numbers in front of election offices.

Hopefully the police will be able to get their act together this time around knowing the President is with them in their mission to clean up the mess. There is no reason for them to be intimidated by any potty local politician who may try to flex his muscles. The Commissioner of Elections too has issued his own guidelines and it is left for the Police to act.

Polls violations are not a recent phenomenon. Even in the past elections there have been infringements of election laws. The most notable being the transport of voters to the polling booths and the distribution of snacks and soft drinks to voters to induce them to vote for a particular party or candidate. But never has violations of the election laws assumed such monstrous proportions since the introduction of the PR system and the manapey.

This took electioneering to a new dimension with candidates having to vie with not only his/her rival from the opposition but also to contend with fellow candidates from the same party. This forced them to throw caution to the wind campaigning degenerating into a free-for-all as can be seen by what is unfolding in the South.

Time was when elections were quiet affairs with voters almost religiously exercising their franchise. There were no giant cut-outs of candidates as displayed today nor a profusion of election party offices. All this came into being with the hitherto limited turf of candidates expanding to encompass an entire district. This also necessitated massive amounts of money invested in the election campaign and with large number of actors in the fray it was only natural that tempers flared and candidates crossing the boundaries of election laws.

Also intimidation of voters were rare and when they did occur, the police were quick to move to bring the situation under control. However, regrettable today the Police are not acting with the same zeal to bring election law offenders to book.

There is no denying that the police are by and large intimidated to tangle with ruling party politicians. This is nothing new and was the norm even during the first PC elections in 1988. One recalls how a ruling party candidate from Colombo West at that time got the indelible ink removed from the fingers of voters by getting them to dip them inside a pineapple. All this happened while the Police looked on.

The police may also be in a quandary when ruling party candidates go for each other’s jugular and wary against taking action for fear of repercussions. But they now have the backing of the President to act without fear or favour.

Hopefully this would be a new beginning for violent free, incident free elections in the future. It is incumbent on the Government to give the Police a free hand dealing with those who flout election laws. It is also time that the culture of electioneering undergo a transformation in keeping with the changed climate ushered in with the ending of the war.

Sathosa on new track

Sathosa is to be turned into the biggest supermarket chain in Sri Lanka according to a news report. The old CWE as we all know catered to the common masses enabling them to purchase their provisions at concessionary rates. This was eclipsed by the new fangled supermarket chains that entered the market virtually obliterating the entity. It also underwent many vicissitudes under the open economy all contributing to its diminished stature. Therefore it is gratifying to note that Sathosa will be back with a bang once again very soon giving the rest a run for their money while catering primarily to the ordinary masses.

Reversing the truth: a response

I write with reference to the article which appeared on September 1, in the Opinion Page of your newspaper titled “Terrorists or tomorrow’s allies?” by Bruce Haigh. I wish to address you on two major concerns contained in this article i.e. the distortion of the national flag of Sri Lanka and facts presented by Haigh on Sri Lanka.

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Reflections on ‘The Ponting Principle’

The Morning Inspection - Malinda

Australian cricket captain, Ricky Ponting, is unarguably one of the best batsmen the world has ever seen. His career statistics in all forms of the game makes awe-inspiring reading: total of 11,435 runs in Tests (average: 55.88) and 12,043 in ODIs (average: 43.32). He has scored 38 Test centuries and 28 in ODIs.

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Education Forum

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