Knights, damsels and polls
Posted on September 21st, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

It was reported a few moons ago that a swashbuckling village ruffian or chandiya, on seeing police come for him, had taken to his heels, got into a nearby house and hidden under a woman’s bed, only to be dragged out by his pursuers and bundled into a waiting paddy wagon. Asked why he had run away and hidden in a boudoir as it were, the chandiya with macho posturing tried to fool the investigators by claiming he had heard a woman cry for help and rushed in that direction. The yahapalana government has done something similar; it has taken cover behind women, unable to face elections.

The reason the government has given for amending the Provincial Council Elections Act, aimed at postponing PC polls, is the need for increasing the number of women on nomination lists up to at least 30 percent of candidates. If the yahapalana leaders had been so concerned about women, it shouldn’t have waited till the 20th Amendment Bill fell through to amend the PC polls laws to increase women’s representation. If the 20-A had passed muster with the apex court, the government would not have given two hoots about women. The yahapalana chandiyas remembered women because they were left with no other way of avoiding polls.

Let it be stressed that women deserve a much better deal. They account for more than one half of the population and, therefore, at least 50 percent of the seats in parliament and other elected bodies must be reserved for them; all political parties and independent groups contesting elections must be made to ensure that they field more women than men. Women must not settle for less; they must fight for their fair share of representation. They must also demand that the voting rights of Sri Lankan women slaving away in West Asia and other expat workers, be respected. Some countries have provided their citizens working overseas with facilities to exercise their franchise.

The government and its apologists boast that 6.2 million people voted for President Maithripala Sirisena and, therefore, they have the backing of more than 50 percent of voters for the yahapalana project. If so, there is no reason for them to fear a referendum; they should have been able to place the 20-A before the people.

Strangely, the international do-gooders worrying about democracy here have chosen to ignore the blatant violation of the people’s franchise. It was only the other day that a foreign dignitary stressed the need for safeguarding the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) rights; no mention was made of the postponement of elections! Do these foreigners think with their brains or some other part of their anatomy! The rights of LGBT persons must be protected; they must be able to live with dignity without any discrimination. But, shouldn’t the ‘global exporters of democracy’ get their priorities right and condemn the violation of the voting rights of Sri Lankans of all sexual orientations?

What the polls-fearing yahapalana grandees who put off electoral contests should realise is that they are making the same mistake as a heart patient who avoids medical tests. Elections must not be either postponed or advanced unnecessarily. The SLFP-led United Front government invited disaster by postponing a general election which was due in 1975 by two years. It faced an ignominious defeat in 1977 and the JRJ government secured a steamroller majority, which it abused in every conceivable manner. President Mahinda Rajapaksa advanced the last presidential election by about two years and had a grand pratfall and caused the collapse of another SLFP-led government. The late President J. R. Jayewardene replaced the 1982 general election with a heavily rigged referendum and paved the way for the second JVP uprising which plunged the country into a bloodbath.

Those who don’t learn from history are said to be doomed to repeat it.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2023 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress