Friday, September 30, 2011

Colombo Election

I can almost hear all the Sri Lankans out there sighing with disgust at the mention of the word “election”. But why don’t we like them? Is it because they are more frequent in Sri Lanka than the chances of garbage collecting man turning up? Or perhaps there are more candidates than the number of bees in a bee-hive? Or even maybe because none of the candidates come up with a proper election manifesto? Not to forget the likelihood of selected candidate swapping sides soon after the result,… I am sure you get my point here.

But to me, this election is slightly different. At least I see it in a different perspective - mainly because I got some insights into some of the candidates. It made it a wee bit interesting.

  • For one thing, most candidates seem to be online these days. They promote their campaigns on facebook, twitter and through their own websites and blogs. Perhaps the election laws prohibiting the usual “election poster” has resulted in this exodus to the internet.
  • Banning the election poster is one thing, but enforcing it is another. Although the posters are being taken down by police, more new ones get pasted at the same places by the next morning. I reckon what you need is the ability to financially penalize or even disqualify a candidate instead of merely tearing down their poster.
  • Then there are these crafty ways to get around the advertising ban. Y’see, apparently the ban is on advertising “Vote for this number”. So some candidates advertise websites that include their number and the “cross” (sign for voting). There are also candidates who organize events (like musical shows) on the day that match their number (ie. someone with number 20 would organize a musical show on the 20th of the month). And advertise in bold letter the organizer’s name (which happens to be the candidate) and the date of the event (which is their number). Too bad if your number is greater than 31.
  • Just got to know about a certain candidate who had come out with a poster indicating that he was rubbing shoulders with the president at a certain prestigious international event. But the truth of the matter seems to be that he was neither with the president nor at this event – it was a hoax with a bit of photoshop involved.
  • Out of all the people, the “mudalali” at my local grocery shop is also a candidate this time. It takes him a considerable amount of time to figure out the change when I purchase anything from that shop. So he is not the brightest I have met. But then again, level of intellect or qualifications doesn’t seem to be a prerequisite for this job.

Few days back the postman delivered my voting documents together with a large sheet of paper. The paper listed out all the candidates. There were 11 groups and 26 candidates in every group. Making it 286 candidates in total. Last time I checked, population of Colombo city was less than 650,000. That is one candidate for every 2,200. To put it in perspective, my school (which had 5,000 students) would have produced 2 election candidates.

All this may be interesting but doesn’t encourage me to get off the sofa and go to the polling booth. After all there will be two interesting world cup (rugby) matches on the 8th.


Patta Pal said...

It is important to register your vote, or even go and spoil it if you are not happy with the choices before you. Then again you may even have to vote tactically for the lesser of evils as otherwise you will not honestly be able to criticize the actions of anyone who does something you did not like.

That is not to say that none of the candidates holds the same viewpoint as you do, but I really think you should vote, by making your evaluation based on the facts available to you.

Anonymous said...

What can I say, we spend too much money and efforts in elections than developing the country. Even though majority of the population is Buddhist the greed for power is most likely to the be the highest among any Asian nation. I am hoping at least the so called educated population will one day stand-up.

Bimal said...

PP, I took your advice and voted for the lesser evil. But I feel bad about it now - what happens if that person turns out to be the greater evil?

Anonymous, I wouldn't say highest in Asia - I've witnessed some horrific acts of greed and power elsewhere, but we certainly do seem to be in the top 5 at least. I hope things will improve over time.