Getting tough with polls law
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
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
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
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