Rejections and rejects
Posted on December 21st, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island


There has been much brouhaha, for the past few days, over the rejection of some local government polls nominations lists. This is a common occurrence prior to every election. Politicians never learn and elections officials don’t relent. Therefore, the problem remains with no effort being made to solve it once and for all. In fact, it has become part of the electoral process in this country. The newly formed Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), consisting of SLFP/UPFA dissidents, has so far been the worst affected; it is apoplectic with rage at the rejection of several of its nomination lists.

Our position is that most of the nomination lists prepared by the so-called established political parties must be rejected albeit for a different reason; almost all the candidates whose names appear thereon are total misfits and/or have sullied track records. But, putting up with such unsavoury elements besides voting them in alternately, unfortunately, is what representative democracy is all about in this country.

It defies comprehension why the election laws that cause nomination lists to be rejected, in some cases, on flimsy technical grounds without providing for the rectification of minor errors, have not been amended all these years. The rejection of nomination lists, which may be considered the electoral version of an abortion, can lead to unfortunate situations with people being denied their democratic right to vote for a party of their choice. What the people of Colombo experienced due to the rejection of the UNP’s nomination list for the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) in 2006 due to a last minute alteration is a case in point.

The Joint Opposition (JO) big guns, who were in power then, rejoiced at the UNP’s predicament. Out of sheer desperation to prevent its bastion from falling to the SLFP-led UPFA, the UNP backed a group of independent candidates who had a pair of spectacles as their symbol but obviously lacked vision. Those political greenhorns who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to poll more than a few dozen votes, got elected. The problem with political jokes is said to be that they get elected. The spectacle group later switched its allegiance to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, whose government became a powerful vacuum cleaner, sucking in political dregs of all sorts.

Interestingly, after defecting to the SLFP, the Independent group went so far as to change the colour of the fence around the Town Hall from green to blue (the colour of the SLFP)! Due to bad press, the government was compelled to have it painted green again! So much for the calibre of those who got elected to rule the most important local government institution in the country due to the rejection of a nomination list and subsequent political monouevring, machinations and horse trading!

The JO worthies who are making a song and a dance about the rejection of their nomination lists did nothing to amend the ‘bad’ election laws they are currently griping about. Legislation should have been introduced, while they were in power, to make the laws governing nomination process less draconian.

Meanwhile, there is another despicable practice which has had a far more deleterious effect on democracy than the rejection of nominations owing to minor errors. Some unpopular candidates who were rejected by people at the last general elections were appointed to Parliament and even made Cabinet ministers. The incumbent government is full of them. It was reported some time ago that a stock of discarded, putrescent sausages had found its way back into the market. We see hardly any difference between a table laid with rotten bangers among other things and a parliament polluted by the presence of political rejects, retrieved from the political waste dump and made MPs. Strangely, we have heard nothing—not a sausage—from any of the self-appointed champions of good governance in protest against this shameful practice.

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