Need to be colour-blind
Posted on January 12th, 2018

Editorial Courtesy The Island

Time was when nobody took local government polls seriously. That’s why they came to be dubbed kaanu-bokku (drain-culvert) elections. But, this time around, they have assumed the same importance as a general election. For, the incumbent government postponed them for more than two years by causing a delimitation review process to drag on as it was wary of facing a midterm electoral contest. The SLFP and UPFA dissidents who have banded together to challenge the government are all out to give it an electoral shock and weaken it as part of its strategy to recapture power. The SLFP and the UNP have had to vie with each other, with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe leading their campaigns respectively while staying together at the same time. This is a political high wire act the two leaders have to perform without a safety net.

Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who leads the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) campaign, has called upon the public to consider the upcoming mini polls a referendum on the performance of the yahapalana government. UNP and SLFP leaders, engaged in a fiercely contested electoral battle, are urging the people to give them a fresh mandate for their joint agenda. The holier-than-thou JVP is vilifying the two main parties in a bid to make inroads into their vote banks. The TNA is using the federal carrot again to garner votes in the North and the East.

Voters are in a dilemma. They know all these political parties for what they really are—dens of thieves. But, people have to keep voting for the mainstream parties, hoping for the best. Madness has been defined as doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. The choice people have is between Tweedledum and Tweedledee where political organisations are concerned. It is not a question of selecting the best out of a bad lot; all are equally bad.

The blame for what has befallen the country owing to bribery and corruption and abuse of power should be apportioned to the people who elect rogues. Those who brawled so shamelessly like a bunch of ruffians, turning Parliament into a fish market of sorts, the other day, are elected representatives. The same goes for the racketeers who have helped themselves to public funds under successive governments. Even notorious drug dealers, killers and robbers have got elected. True, the present Parliament has quite a few defeated candidates appointed on the National List and people cannot be blamed for what they are doing. But, basically, it is the public who elects rogues responsible for bringing political institutions into disrepute. People are said to get the governments they deserve.

The forthcoming local government polls will provide the public with an opportunity to try to make a difference. Political parties have fielded many lawbreakers in most parts of the country as polls monitors say. A cursory look at their nomination lists reveals that there are hosts of such unsavoury elements who deserve to be behind bars. However, the fact remains that not all candidates are crooks. The onus is on the people to handpick the decent men and women in the fray, without being blinded by party loyalties or swayed by other factors such as caste etc.

A prerequisite for cleaning politics is for the public to be blind to party colours and to elect only the good candidates contesting the Feb. 10 election. Sadly, the new electoral system also enables party leaders to appoint unsavoury elements loyal to them, but people can still return good candidates if they really want to do so. The time has come for them to act responsibly.

One Response to “Need to be colour-blind”

  1. L Perera Says:

    This editorial paints a picture that no patriotic Lankan would like to think is true. Both major parties have within their ranks corrupt and unethical individuals who have deceived the voters for too long. At the same time it is not possible for many voters to distinguish between the good and the bad. All sides are guilty of carrying dishonest and unethical individuals in their ranks for too long. This is a national disgrace . The onus is on the leaders to rid their ranks of the corrupt and do so without fear or favour.

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