There’s a section of Sri Lanka – call them UNPers, elites, ESE, Ceylonese, whatever – that really really dislike Mahinda Rajapaksa and everything he represents. They’d like to see him thrown out of power at the least and tried as a war criminal at the most. This amorphous population, however, cannot beat him in elections and many don’t even vote. They do have disproportionate international connections so are featured a lot in international coverage of Sri Lanka, but they’re not especially influential within. I generalize because I’m talking broadly about a community I am or moreso was a part of.
Archive for the 'Politics' Category
Every now and then you get a soap opera without turning on the TV. In this case, what seems to be an affair between a government catcher and the wife of a businessman has blown up into 23 transferred police officers, public letters to the papers and the dissolution of the Media Center For National Security (MCNS).
India’s Manomohan Singh and Canada’s Stephen Harper are not attending the CHOGM summit in Sri Lanka. They say because of moral issues, but they act for political reasons – at best a crude approximation of the former. Singh is tired of getting shit from Tamil Nadu and Harper is tired of getting shit from the Tamil diaspora. For both of them disgruntled Tamils are a vote base and they respond to voters. Which is fine, that’s the political side. From that perspective it’s easy to say that these politicians are craven, but that’s missing the point, which is that politics does crudely approximate morality, sometimes, mainly on Thursdays.
I was reading about jail time being seen as a badge of honor in India, for politicians. In India about 30% of lower house members have charges against them and having a criminal record seems to actually double your chances of winning an election (via WSJ). In Sri Lanka I feel like it’s much the same, it’s just that no one files charges. So how did jail and crime become grad school for pols?
I heard this quote yesterday and I couldn’t place it, I actually thought it might be sensible. In context, it’s not. Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa is essentially saying that minorities are drawing majority ire by being insular, that the minorities are to blame for the extremism directed at them. The extremist BBS, of course, welcomes this statement. Logic doesn’t.
Is worth a read. She’s taken a thoughtful look around and despite the government’s allegations that she’s biased, she was, well, not very biased. Even in the face of offensive personal attacks from within the government (Public Relations Minister Mervyn Silva asking to marry her for example, others calling the South African diplomat LTTE) she’s given a pretty straightforward report. Here, to me, is the money quote:
Mahinda has formed a new Ministry of Law and Order which, like when he gave Mervyn Silva the Ministry of Public Relations, may be another joke. The new order is that certain people are above the law. If you have or cite connection to the first family or the defense establishment you have access to your own police, army, etc. As they say about the mob in Goodfellas – “what the organization does is offer protection for people who can’t go to the cops. That’s it. That’s all it is. They’re like the police department for wiseguys.” Now, if you’re connected, you’re above the law.
Manthri.lk is a site being launched this Friday (hence not live yet) which monitors and rates MPs. Broadly, for their productive time in Parliament, measuring how much they speak on topic and how much off. That’s a start and I assume they’re going to do the data collection and analysis. With that as a base there’s a lot of interesting stuff such a portal could do. People right now have little idea what is going on in Parliament and there’s little incentive to actually performing there.
Dharisha Bastians has a good blow-by-blow of the recent defection of Dayasiri Jayasekera to the government. Here’s the money quote. It’s from Jayasekera at a press conference: “Even if he loses in 2014, he will remain leader of the party. If the lampposts within the Working Committee give him another term, he can remain in office for the rest of his life. His leadership is a blessing to the Government.”
The UNP is rapidly turning into a failed state with severe brain drain. Ranil, the leader-for-life, is threatened by anyone with any political talent or following so he sidelines or disciplines them within the party. Ranil also insists on running the party though he can’t win elections (not even running in the last Presidential) so you’re left with a party in permanent opposition. There are just enough perks to keep the few people on the working committee loyal (I’m sure Mahinda ensures enough largesse for this) but no hope of ever being in the actual government and having power. It’s a sad state or perhaps even end for Sri Lanka’s first proper political party.