Saturday, January 28, 2012

EXCLUSIVE – Not reported anywhere –Incidents at the Election on Saturday for the boards of the Multipurpose Cooperative Societies in the Biyagama DS

Only when you see it with your own eyes can you sometimes get a handle on how deep rooted ‘abuse of power’ is even at the local level by the Governing Coalition

We were at a polling booth right outside Bollagala Maha Vidyalaya, a 30 minute drive across the Kelani River to the Sri Lanka Parliament, at 12.45pm. A gang of about 60 hired thugs arrived in 10 vehicles with the Chairman of the Biyagama Pradeshiya Sabha, Ganepola, who had previously left the UNP to join the UPFA seeing the pecuniary advantage in so doing. There was another turncoat, Saman another PS member in the gang, and some in the rabble were known to us. Their aim was to intimidate the election officials, and stuff the ballot boxes with votes. They would not dare do so in the presence of the local MP who was also known to them, so after a while they left, only to return after we left, beat up some of the UNP elderly voters and candidates and attempt to stuff votes.

They had already stuffed votes in Makola. That poll was subsequently cancelled after protests by the UNP candidates. When a voter comes to the booth he gives his name and membership number and if the ID card tallies with the membership name, is given a ballot paper to cast a vote. The thugs, armed with the membership register, give a name and number, some may be of deceased members, and demand that an ID is not necessary and cast a vote for a name on the list. The election officials in fear of their jobs or other pressure give in and permit this free for all. In some cases when the aggrieved party complains, then he is threatened and some of the violence was as a result of that. In fact at the Makola polling station, we arrived minutes after the ballot stuffing had taken place, without any shame, and we transported an injured person to the Kiribathgoda hospital for first aid, as he was hurt trying to protect his father and took the blow meant for the father.

On this first hand experiences of what happened in a minor poll, one gets an indication of the level to which this administration would go to prevent losing. It was apparent that the UNP would win, so this was the process to stop it. All the elections yesterday where there was no ballot stuffing and intimidation, the UNP won! That in itself is an indication of how difficult it is to instill Democracy in the mindset of an autocratic regime, hell bent on ruling forever using whatever means at their disposal.

The MP who I was accompanying promptly wrote a letter of protest to the relevant election official to cancel the poll, with copies to the President. Let us see the result

For more detail on the reason for the Poll; Yesterday, Saturday, 28th January 2012 were the elections at a number of the local coop societies (they run the coop city stores and low interest loan schemes) in the Biyagama divisional secretariat area. They were held after a lapse of many years and the Governing party wanted to do this on the QT without due process, but the UNP got wind of it and demanded that the Elections be held under the rules. Nominations were on Saturday 21st January, by 10am and in some of these the nomination papers were grabbed by the goons of the Chairman of the Biyagama Pradeshiya Sabha and in those areas, the Governing party nominees (9 on the Board) were elected unopposed.

The Co-Ops are vestiges of old socialist (now almost defunct) ideals of local people joining a cooperative to help each other in purchasing essentials at low cost and obtaining emergency loans when in need. The voting is by the members only, and the membership is essentially elderly people, as few young people have joined these societies in the recent past. Many on the membership roster are now dead, and the roster has not been updated to remove them! In essence the 40 or so Co-Ops have between 500 and 1500 members, and each elects 9 to the Board and these elected officials then elect the main Co-Op office bearers for the Divisional Secretariat Division. As these are local organizations, they really should not get too political, except that people vote on political lines but it should be restricted to the local level, meaning the few streets in the area that comprise the coop for that area.

The intervention of gangs hired by the local Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman is in itself an embarrassment for the local people who live in homes that have different political affiliations. If an elder of the UNP candidate list is beat up by the gang, how can his UPFA neighbor with whom he has very cordial relations, explain this embarrassing event over which he took no part nor agrees with. The UNP wanted an impartial ballot with the membership free to vote for whoever they wanted. The ruling party Elected Politicians fearing they would lose, affecting status, used intimidatory tactics to put fear not just on their opponents but also the election officials who were sent by the Department of Elections, and the Police who were also sent to the polling booth to ensure order.

The incumbent President MUST take full responsibility for the culture of impunity with which his nominees elected and appointed act under his Administration. The example has been set from the top in condoning acts of violence and intimidation. Even the PS Chairman implicated in the murder of the British tourist was permitted to Chair the meeting of his PS, in the President’s own home town. The “Buck” really stops with him to preserve Democracy, not further his ‘Dictatorship’!


Anonymous said...

so the UNP now wants to govern Marxist institutions, and does democracy mean elections that only the UNP wins?

notwithstanding these local incidents, it is very clear that an overwhelming majority of people support the UPFA and the president, so your over the top rhetoric about 'dicatorship' make you appear less credible as a fair and balanced source of information. why would you cc: a letter to the president if you thought it was a concerted effort on his part to suppress popular will?

Rajaratarala said...

Anon I believe you are way off base and disclose your prejudices unflatteringly.

After all the Co-Op elections have been won many times over by the UNP groupings and there is nothing new in that despite how they originally came into being decades ago. What ever ideology brought them into being it is now a fabric of Sri Lankan life throughout.

I am not denying that there is support for the exisiting Dictatorship in Sri Lanka, but that is more out of ignorance of the consequences as pointed out. After all there was overwhelming support for Hitler's right wing dictatorship in Germany too.

The cc to the President was merely to let him know the writer is fully aware of what is going on under his administration, and has to notify and request action as the first step in a democratic act, before taking it further is there is no action against this sort of thuggery which you obviously condone.

There is a word called 'morally right', and it is our moral duty as humans to point out unprovoked and unwarranted acts of violence against unarmed innocents in a civilized society. You obviously seem to want the country to descend in to lawlessness.

I never pretend to offer a fair and balanced source of information. It is just for the reader to make his opinion based on the facts and opinions presented.

In fact there is no such thing as fair and balanced information, hence my emphasis on my blog for the reader to use his or her sense of rational reasoning to make their own conclusions on the information presented.

Anonymous said...

Anon you are obviously a supporter of the UPFA so you do not see the threat against those who do not support him After all this is supposed to be a democracy, but is it?

Today there are few freedoms in this country. Only those who agree with Mahinda do not realize it as they are not a threat. Many who oppose are followed, phones tapped, STF goes to homes and threaten the families of anti government agitators, journalists are killed and NOT ONE white van that has abducted people has been apprehended.

No Rajapakse acolyte has an answer to this unpatriotic act of a traitorous regime against its own people, citizens of Sri Lanka.

The fact that the mass of the electorate who have voted for Mahinda is no excuse as they are unable to accept the facts as stated here. Only when they realize the Frankenstein’s Monster that they have created is even beyond their control will they react.

I have no answer as to when that will be. I can only hope that more people can see the sense of it, and that we desperately need JUSTICE in Sri Lanka for all its races. This is not a Sinhala, Tamil issue or English speaking non English speaking issue, this is simply a matter of being able to live free of fear, and be able to express our opinions without being victimized anywhere in this country. It is only when we achieve that can we truly call ourselves civilized. I am optimistic it will happen and the ruthless rape of this country for personal gain will stop but until then we have to suffer, die and face enormous hardships as a nation.

When we stop caring too much about our personal greed and look out for the greater good of humanity, this will happen automatically.

One day anon you may see the sense in this view, and let us hope it will be sooner rather than later

Anonymous said...

I have had many discussions with people like anon above.

I have come to the conclusion that it is pointless arguing with them.

It is like trying to talk sense to a drunk person.

There are some things that are non-negotiable.
Acts of violence against unarmed innocents is one of them.

People like Anon is why some wars have to be fought. It is a tragic flaw of humanity.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. The fact that this was not reported elsewhere tells you the state of the media.

Anonymous said...

yes, sri lanka must be the worst place in the world to live and the people should be freed from their oppression by some outside powers (sarcasm)

Rajaratarala said...

Sri Lanka certainly does not need outside powers to remove the state of lawlessness. We can find a solution from within. It just takes a little time for people to understand reality, often only when they are personally affected will they agitate for change.

Anonymous said...

From The Island editorial of 4 February 2012:

"We also need a potent opposition instead of the apology for one we are cursed with today. It is only a vigorous opposition that can keep a powerful government in line and the UNP for which a formidable proportion of the electorate voted is anything but that. A lot of our travails today can be attributed to that."

Anonymous said...

The person who wrote and can envision like this is quite good and can be a great leader :

“I have no answer as to when that will be. I can only hope that more people can see the sense of it, and that we desperately need JUSTICE in Sri Lanka for all its races. This is not a Sinhala, Tamil issue or English speaking non English speaking issue, this is simply a matter of being able to live free of fear, and be able to express our opinions without being victimized anywhere in this country. It is only when we achieve that can we truly call ourselves civilized. I am optimistic it will happen and the ruthless rape of this country for personal gain will stop but until then we have to suffer, die and face enormous hardships as a nation”.

You can achieve that just by looking around the world. What you said above is quite alive well in many countries in the world today. Namely USA. Copy the implement USA’s constitution in your country! You don’t need to be Harvard educated or strong to do that. All you need is the ability to copy which might I say ‘Sri Lankans don’t even have that’ or at least have not demonstrated it yet.

Freedom is never free. It is very costly to prevail, protect and enforce. That is why Freedom is very valuable of an asset to have. Once you have it , keeping it just as hard as achieving it but well worth the effort or should I say that is when you will be civilized or considered as a civilized nation.

Fire your supreme court completely and allow only the ones who have extensive higher education from abroad – make that a mandatory requirement in order to become a candidate.

We here in USA have jails for each 3000-5000 people. (That is roughly the ratio.) Now , psychologically and realistically speaking, if a civilized nation has that type of ratio in low enforcement facilities to keep their nation rehabilitated at all times, then imagine what the ratio aught to be in a totally uncivilized , bottom of the pot nation ???

You need to understand the difference between a homogenic society and a heterogenic society. The reason you cannot establish law and order in Sri Lanka is because the guy in the police station, the lawyer, the judge , all are related! And throw in your vastly negativity and wrong karma preaching monks into the curry pot and now you got something that is not at all pretty. You all must understand it is never ever is bad karma in any way to stop a criminal by force. If you can end that criminal doing harm that is good karma don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise because it is and it will be wrong in any other way. You all were given birth to this world to make this world a better place. And getting rid of scum is a major part of that job. With your monks who do not have no higher education of any kind most of the time run your society ??? Common, now you should be able too see well why you have a nation which is mostly retarded. Educate those monks! Do not let them become a monk unless they have a degree – establish something like that and then you will be your way to progress at least very slowly.

If you want fast progress , then you need to copy exactly as I said , the US constitution in your country and establish it, follow it, protect it and you will probably achieve good civil status probably in the next 2-3 decades, otherwise it will be more than 5-6 decades.