8th April 2001
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Courts and thick hides

The government from the veryhighest levels has constantly advanced the palpably false contention that save for Wayamba, all other elections held during the tenure of this regime have been substantially above board.This fiction was dismissed with authoritative force by the Supreme Court of this country which delivered an unequivocal judgment on the fundamental rights application, challenging the validity of the Central Provincial Council election of 1999. Ballot rigging, voter intimidation, chasing away of polling agents, in effect the entire gamut of poll rigging tactics had been resorted to at these elections, and the Supreme Court was not in the least ambiguous in stating that the fundamental rights of the petitioners have been violated, with the state having to pay costs as a result. But, this political dispensation works with a thick hide, and the decision by the three judge Bench of the Supreme Court has been taken nonchalantly by this country's untouchable leadership. Untouchable, because this leadership seems to be "untouchable'' by the highest courts, by international watchdogs, or even by the collective opinion of moral opprobrium that is cast on it by the country's voters.

Going to court and being awarded costs, is an academic victory for voters who have been disenfranchised, which is why it is incumbent on any self respecting government to take cognizance of the Court's verdict to dissolve the CP provincial council, which for all intents and purposes is now an illegal body. 

But the coalition would not want to risk that, because in the larger calculation, its membership is also aware that the General elections and the Presidential elections were stolen in a similar fashion in the Central Province. This reality assumes greater significance viewed against the light of the fact that the CP outcome would have tipped the general scales in favour of the opposition in any of these three elections referred to above. The UNP's withdrawal of the election petition was a legal imperative and doesn't concern the citizens of the Central Province who saw with their own eyes what happened at the poll, and are therefore witness to the poll robbery that took place. But, though the Wayamaba election petition was dismissed on grounds of a technicality, now the voter has clear vindication of his position that elections in these times are not won but are stolen. But, government's thus formed go on, and have the gall to do so in the face of the most clear verdicts on flawed elections delivered by the highest courts of the land.

Borella Bamiyan

Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, the Minister is probably being re-ferred to these days with a considerable misnomer. They say he is the Minister of Construction, but in fact he would have been accurately described as the Minister of Destruction. The Urban Development Authority's defence of the demolition of the part of the Bo Maluwa in Colombo's Punchi Borella stealthily one night last week, was worse than the tactless destruction of the Maluwa itself. Even the Taleban didn't seek to say that the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues are "dictated by the fact that there is an opium trade and an illicit arms business going on in the Bamiyan Valley in the shade of the Buddha statues.'' 

The government risked inciting a racial riot by saying that the LTTE was sitting under the Bodhi tree issuing passports. Minister Mangala Samaraweera, seems to bend over backwards to safeguard the minorities against imagined excesses, but is insensitive to sensibilities of Buddhists and Buddhist monks hurt in the destruction of shrines etc.,With this record, Mangala Samaraweera will probably not be the best man for the government to retain as chief negotiator when talks begin with the LTTE in short order. 

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