Presidential Election 2019

Saturday, 28 September 2019 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Vimal Fernando

The country is looking forward to elect the eighth executive president on 16 November.

The last Government which was formed in 2015 as a combination of the UNP and the SLFP in the form of a Unity Government under President Sirisena was a major failure, shattering the hopes of majority of people who voted them into power.

There were few achievements and more failures. They got themselves elected by telling the people about various weaknesses and irregularities under the Rajapaksa regime. Except for further strengthening democracy and establishing Independent Commissions nothing much has been achieved as regards the abolishment of the executive presidency, finding a permanent solution for the ethnic problem, strengthening the economy, reducing the cost of living and attending to various other promises made during the elections to the masses.

One should keep in mind that the country was not run by a dictator like in many other countries. The charismatic MR who was the President of the country for two terms is a branded democratic leader who is the most popular person born in this country in the 20th century. His popularity remains intact for finishing the brutal terrorist war, the completion of major development projects and creating an atmosphere where the people were having decent livelihood. Above all he who was at the helm had the luck which was sadly non-existent for the Yahapalana leaders. If you look at the leaders of the corporate world who are performing above expectations, year after year they are working in one direction towards the corporate goals irrespective of their personal differences. The two leaders of the failed Unity Government were setting a bad example to the whole country especially the children when they were seated in the same stage by looking in two different directions with somewhat unpleasant faces, thereby displaying their differences to the whole world. The Joint Opposition which emerged victorious at the PC Election in 2018 has announced Gotabaya Rajapaksa as their presidential candidate. He is highly respected not only by MR loyalists but by the large majority of voters in the other parties as well for finishing the war and developing and beautifying the City of Colombo and several other areas in the greater Colombo area.

He further built a number of walking paths for the benefit of the common citizens of this country which is patronised by a good number of health-conscious people. The garbage problem too was resolved, making Colombo as a great city which was highly appreciated by everyone including the Sri Lankans who were returning home from all parts of the world.

He is a man of few words who worked tirelessly for the masses only as the Secretary to the Urban Development Authority and the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. His overall contribution to the nation is considered far superior in comparison to the contributions made by a number of ministers. Hence, he has become a strong candidate for Pohottuwa. 

He is expected to make use of a good number of service personnel, who have made a positive contribution to the nation in the warfront. In a highly undisciplined country and where there is an inefficient Public Sector except for a few institutions, he could inculcate discipline and make them productive by engaging the service personnel at appropriate positions in various ministries and departments.

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He does not belong to any party and he is coming forward as a common candidate representing all people irrespective of their political affiliations, caste, creed, religion and ethnicity.

It is reported several independent candidates including the JVP wish to contest the presidency and they are expected to mobilise a noteworthy number of votes this time. The PA is yet undecided as to what they are going to do and if at all they decide to contest on their own the results will be disastrous.

The UNP is yet to announce their presidential candidate. There is internal bickering even at the time of writing this. A large majority of the Parliamentary group is said to be backing Sajith Premadasa. Those who were staunch supporters of the PM are now with SP. Maybe everyone wants to be in the good books of the emerging leader for their own personal benefit. They have shown the whole country that they are another undisciplined lot. 

All of them are acting as if people have no other choice other than electing them and it appears that they take people for granted despite their total failure as a Government. All of them are responsible for the Easter Sunday carnage in addition to all other problems discussed earlier. Had they told the nation in advance about their intention to abolish the executive presidency and find a reasonable answer to the ethnic problem it would have been advantageous to them. Whoever is nominated for the presidency, it is not going to be an easy task for the UNF to emerge victorious.

It appears that too much of democracy is too bad for countries such as ours. Democracy is working beautifully in advanced, disciplined countries where voters are intelligent. They only look at the manifestos of the political parties and their results. If they fail to deliver they are forced to retire from politics.

Unfortunately here it is the other way around. Both major parties have a significant block vote and whether they deliver or not, the leaders and the parties could remain in politics forever due to the foolishness of the voters, in a country where the literacy rate is high. Hence, the politicians are not at the mercy of the voters but the voters are at the mercy of the politicians.

Despite these weaknesses in our system whoever who is elected is expected to be a disciplinarian and a firm decision maker who is honest and truly loves the people, majority of whom are not enjoying comfortable living standards.

The people, especially the young voters and the educated, are expected to study the manifestos put forward by the main parties and elect a president who could deliver what he promises by taking timely decisions without any fear or favour towards building a prosperous nation as the eighth president of Sri Lanka.