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Monday, 12 April 2010

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Government Gazette

Doing away with PR system

The brutal attack on former UNP Parliamentarian Palitha Range Bandara by a fellow UNP candidate at the General Election over the manapey has once again brought into focus the evil spawned by the Preferential voting system. The former Puttalam District Parliamentarian is now in hospital with grievous injuries. His is not the only ordeal in the manapey battle that is still raging even after the conclusion of the poll.

Television showed several scenes where supporters of candidates of the same party lying in hospital swathed in bandages - the result of the manapey war. Elections today has become a blood sport in Sri Lanka and immediate measures are called for before this trend begins to spiral beyond the control of the authorities.

We say this because the rancour and bitterness during electioneering is likely to leave a lasting scar that would affect the social fabric of this country. New divisions are bound to be created in the aftermath of elections among people of the same community as the aftertaste of the manapey battle. This has now assumed such dangerous proportions, so much so, that politicians who are considered mature and intelligent too do not fight shy of rough tactics in staking their claim.

A weekend newspaper reported how fisticuffs broke out between supporters of four former Ministers (considered suave and educated) in the Colombo District counting Centre over who received the most preferences, in their battle to secure the final slot in the winners' list. The election campaign itself saw how internecine battles raged for the manapeywith candidates fighting in the open even in the presence of the President. This shows the extent to which the rivalry has developed over the manapey. It has transformed into a no holds barred battle with all decencies and niceties thrown to the winds. What example are we showing the younger generation?

Besides the manapey battle is also likely to cause bad blood among fellow MPs from the same party. We saw how strident the manapey battle became between two prominent ex-Ministers vying for the top slot in a particular district. The fall out of such battles could well result in non-cooperation between Cabinet colleagues to the detriment of the country.

All this calls for an urgent need to do away with the PR system, that has only infused rancour and bitterness into the country's electioneering set up. The PR system was introduced by J R Jayewardene to keep the UNP in perpetual power not visualizing the evil genie that was to be released. This has now assumed serious proportions leading to a fractured polity. It has not just alienated candidates of the same political party but has also divided their supporters within the same constituency. Nay it has fractured entire communities.

This is hardly the recipe for the unity that is needed among all to take the country forward in this post war era. The manapey battle has now seeped through to divide to cause divisions not just on party lines but also spawning personal animosities which is a threat to peaceful co-existence of the community at large not to mention the social fabric as a whole.

Time was when elections were peaceful affairs where the voter had only a single choice to make. All political parties pulled in one direction to get their party elected. There were no sideshows such as the manapey race.

At present while candidates strive to make the party victorious they also go for each other's jugular for the manapey. This has not only caused ill will all round but also gives a bad name to the leaders of political parties not to mention the image of the country portrayed to the outside world.

Even today there is a mad scramble of candidates to top the manapey lists on the basis that this will bring them Ministerial posts in the next Cabinet. It is therefore appropriate that President Rajapaksa had forewarned his candidates that high preferences would mean nothing.

Now one of his foremost priorities should be to introduce election reforms that would bring in the old first past the post system or a mix with the PR in order to arrest the growing trend of violence during electioneering leading to a fractured polity. The Opposition too which has become a victim of the manapey war should lend all support to change the system.

Tamils have rejected politics of suppression

Former North East Province Chief Minister Varadaraja Perumal and one of the key Leaders of the EPRLF in an interview with the Daily News expresses his views on a number of issues including the recently concluded elections, the dawn of peace and hope in the North and East, influence of the Tamil Diasphora and his controversial days in the office of Chief Minister, North East Province (1988 - 1990).

Full Story

The Morning Inspection

The legislature must pull its weight for a change

Just before the election I wrote in this newspaper about the kinds of consolation prizes that losers would get. I forgot one thing: absenteeism.

Full Story

UPFA gets 120 of 180 seats declared :

A formidable victory

President Mahinda Rajapaksa-led ruling alliance in Sri Lanka, the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA), has recorded an emphatic victory in the Parliamentary Elections held on Thursday. Of the results of 180 seats declared so far, the alliance has won in 120 constituencies.

Full Story

 

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