Mahinda and child
I was down south over the holidays, and the streets were covered with Mahinda posters and hoardings. This is in violation of the Elections Commissioner’s order that these be taken down. I also got an SMS from the PRESIDENT wishing us a happy New Year, literally from the guy who freed us. The campaign is powerful, but also illegal, wasteful, and noxious to both eye and mind.
Mahinda’s son Namal is now being promoted by the campaign
Mahinda has, of course, been using state funds for self-promotion since he became President. Over time the logos of state owned companies like Mihin Lanka (airlines) have become the logo of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. This would be like Obama starting Democrat Airlines, branded with the Donkey. Or Congress taking over Kingfisher. The Mobitel cellular Upahara program has also been branded with the same party logo.
Mahinda’s street teams
During the election, however, things have gotten out of control. We couldn’t go 10 seconds down the coastal road without seeing a Mahinda poster or hoarding. Many were sponsored by government institutions, like the ICTA. There were also tens of government SLTB buses with Mahinda posters, presumably busing people down for some event.
At the Galle Navy Dockyards there were hundreds of people lined up to board the former LTTE arms ship Christina, which was really just a cargo ship and probably quite boring. The night before there was a big tamasha there with Colombo small-shots terrorizing the Galle Road.
Thankfully, Transparency International has collected some of these violations and given them to the (impotent and weak) elections commissioner. I’m going through the full report now. The things getting the most outraged buzz (online at least) is the SMS message. This seems to have been given free by the phone companies and is probably in violation of elections law and telecom law. Things really are getting out of control, and it’s setting a precedent of shamelessness beyond anything that came before.