Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part X – ORATORY SKILLS


Nanda Wanninayaka nanda.wanninayaka@gmail.com   

Jokers (and jerks – including Mr. Anura Dissanayaka) apart, there are two mainstream candidates in the run-up to the presidential election on November 16, 2019. Well, whether you like it or not, it is Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (GR) and Mr. Sajith Premadasa (SP) who are the frontrunners for the contest and the others are just vote spoilers.

In my last 9 marathon articles, I was comparing and contrasting the two main presidential candidates’ strengths and weaknesses in 9 areas of concerns in alphabetical order. This 10th and the final post deals with how ORATORY SKILLS of the duo would influence the voter. Read Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part IX – NEPOTISM for the previous post. 

ORATORY SKILLS

I am glad that I just managed to compile the last of this series of posts a few hours before the election campaigns come to an end by midnight. Not that this little post of mine is going to make any difference in the voter’s choice but I am happy that I could accomplish my task.  

When it comes to oratory skills of presidential candidates, I am totally disappointed with the way they go about it in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan politicians have repeatedly shown how low they can go in throwing mud at the opposite candidates rather than targeting his or her policies. Hardly anyone even reads policies of the candidates. Putting a document of policies forward has become just a formality over here whereas in the West, the policies play a major role in gauging a candidate or his party’s direction for the next few years.

The next big drawback is the endless undeliverable promises the candidates make during the election campaigns. Unfortunately, even though the voter has been fooled many a time since the Westminster style democracy came into the picture, nobody learns it seems. Sri Lankan voter has been fooled by the prime ministerial and the presidential candidates with promises ranging from “rice from the moon” to “8 pounds of grains” to “a loaf of bread at 3.50 LKR” to “free Wi-Fi access” to the masses. The voter knows what happened with those promises yet for all, the voter still is gullible to similar ridiculous promises.

Gota

Gota never was a career politician. He was an officer in the army, an IT professional and a secretary to a ministry who doesn’t necessarily need the ability to make lengthy speeches. So, he never was comfortable in addressing large gatherings, taking questions from the media, taking part in debates. He was more of a presenter in small scale meetings. He knew it and so did the voter. But he tried to show something he was not by trying to become a big orator. Instead, he should have openly expressed at the very beginning of the campaign that he has no interest or the capacity in making speeches to give gallery a go and stuck with his way of communicating he proved he was good at. Besides, Sri Lanka has had leaders who were great orators such as Mr. S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, Mr. J. R. Jayawardene, Mr. R. Premadasa but whether they achieved much for the nation remains a big question. So, Gota’s inability to talk eloquently has become a plus point as the voter has been listening to useless lengthy speeches for ages. Gota is a doer, not much of a talker

Sajith

Sajith, on the other hand, can speak literally till the cows come home, just like his late father used to be. I won’t call him a great orator as most of what he talks directly goes down as some of the most idiotic speeches made during a presidential campaign. In addition to that, he has the same shrill voice his dad had which is irritating to the listener. For me, Sajith’s voice is as irritating as that of the Hollywood villain Joe Pesci. Feel sorry to draw parallels here as one cannot expect every politician to have a deep booming voice like the former US president Mr. Barrack Obama had but at least Sajith’s advisors should have advised him to use less screaming and let the sound systems do the rest. But Sajith has the ability to attract people for his speeches especially from the villages and they might vote for him with the kind of promises he made during his campaign. This is a country where throwing mud, undeliverable promises and jokes of bad taste decide winners in politics. So, let’s hope for the best.

Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part IX – NEPOTISM


Nanda Wanninayaka nanda.wanninayaka@gmail.com   

Jokers (and jerks – including Mr. Anura Dissanayaka) apart, there are two mainstream candidates in the run-up to the presidential election on November 16, 2019. Well, whether you like it or not, it is Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (GR) and Mr. Sajith Premadasa (SP) who are the frontrunners for the contest and the others are just vote spoilers.

In these few articles, I am comparing and contrasting the two persons in question in 10 areas of concerns in alphabetical order. This penultimate post deals with how NEPOTISM would affect the rest of the country with one of these two ascending into power. Read Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part VIII – NATIONAL SECURITY for the previous post.  The next and the final post would be dealt with the ORATORY SKILLS of the two candidates. You can read it in the post Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part X – ORATORY SKILLS.

NEPOTISM

The origin of the term nepotism dates back to the 17th century. (From French népotisme, from Italian nepotismo, from nipote ‘nephew’ (with reference to privileges bestowed on the “nephews” of popes, who were in many cases their illegitimate sons. – https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/nepotism) Well, contrary to the popular belief, the nepotism these days also means favoring both family and friends, not only the family anymore.

Gota

Gota has the disadvantage of being at the receiving end as far as nepotism is concerned due to the long line of Rajapaksas that held high offices between 2005 and 2015, both as elected politicians and recruited officials in various government institutions. I don’t think the public complains much for Gota holding the post of the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense & Urban Development because he has accomplished the unimaginable in that capacity. But it is the other Rajapaksas – maybe except for Mr. Chamal Rajapaksa, the moderate member of the Rajapaksa dynasty – get most of the blame, not to mention the three sons of the former president Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa (jokingly referred as the Three Idiots.) People have reasonable fears that the same will keep happening if Gota becomes the president and you can’t rule out such a possibility given Rajapaksas’ past behavior, can you? This doesn’t mean that fear of nepotism should deny Gota a presidential term with his past achievements as a strict disciplinarian and successful execution of precise work. There is a big portion of the population that believes the country should run under a dictatorship to make things right and they think Gota is the one.

Sajith

Well, the Premadasa clan does not have a lengthy political dynasty that runs for several generations but the previous United National Party (UNP) regimes have repeatedly shown the other form of nepotism, giving undue and unfair advantage for the friends of the leader. This was proved right with the late presidents J. R. Jayawardene and R. Premadasa and the present Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremesighe went berserk by favoring his friends whenever he became the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. So, with this type of past of the UNP, there are reasons to believe that Sajith also would give in to nepotism. I personally don’t believe who Sajith is trying to show he is as I can very well remember how humble his father R. Premadasa showed he was during his presidential campaign. Immediately after rising to power, his true color was shown by becoming the most ruthless leader of the country since Independence. So, there is a big possibility of history repeating itself.

Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part VIII – NATIONAL SECURITY


Nanda Wanninayaka nanda.wanninayaka@gmail.com   

Jokers (and jerks – including Mr. Anura Dissanayaka) apart, there are two mainstream candidates in the run-up to the presidential election on November 16, 2019. Well, whether you like it or not, it is Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (GR) and Mr. Sajith Premadasa (SP) who are the frontrunners for the contest and the others are just vote spoilers.

In these few articles, I am comparing and contrasting the two persons in question in 10 areas of concerns in alphabetical order. This post deals with how the two candidates might impress the citizenry in the sensitive issue of NATIONAL SECURITY. Read Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part VII – MINORITY SUPPORT for the previous post.  The next area, NEPOTISM, would be dealt with the post Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part IX – NEPOTISM.)

NATIONAL SECURITY

Everyone was complacent that Sri Lanka gained durable peace with the annihilation of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorists by mid-May, 2009. Nobody anticipated peace to come for good that soon with the end of a bloody war that lasted for almost three decades. In most parts of the world where wars ended in the recent past, for instance, in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, etc. even though so-called “dictators” and jihadists were wiped out, still suicide bombers, car bombs, surprise attacks, prevailed big time. And they continue to this day whereas in Sri Lanka, from the day the terrorist leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed and his bloody terrorist organization declared that “the guns were silenced,” not a single suicide attack or bomb was blasted. So, I used to describe this situation among my foreign friends who asked if Sri Lanka was safe to travel, “Yes, buddy. Sri Lanka is perfectly safe. No bombs explode anywhere in Sri Lanka now. If anything explodes over here, it would be popcorns,” with great pride. Alas! Cowardly attacks on Catholics and Christians on Easter Sunday this April by Muslim terrorists changed the whole complex of the social fabric of Sri Lanka. The peace achieved after much sacrifice done by literally the whole nation shattered into pieces within a course of a few hours in a single day.

  • Gota

Gota is considered as the most successful official in the whole history of the war against Tamil Tigers. Nobody expected him to win the war in just three years which had already dragged for more than 25 years. Everyone (well, at least except Professor Nalin De Silva and I) thought the war was unwinnable and we won’t see peace coming during our lifetimes or that of our kids. But Gota got everything under control and hence the whole credit for him. But the 4/21 Jihadist attack on devotees showed how fragile the national security had been and how easily the security establishments took things for granted so much so that even the clear warnings issued by local and foreign intelligence services were grossly ignored resulting mass scale casualties. Everyone shared the sentiment that if Gota was in power, this wouldn’t have happened. So, peace-loving Sri Lankans, which I guess a heavy majority of the citizenry, would want to give Gota another go, even with his flawed track record of alleged human right violations, corruption and unleashing terror on media personnel and media institutions. So, he has a big chance of winning the presidential election this November beating his younger counterpart. having said that, one must remember that in politics, 1+1 does not always give the mathematical total of 2. So, it is better to expect the unexpected on November 17th, just in case.

  • Sajith

The public opinion is that whenever a UNP government came into power since the Tamil Tiger terrorism started in 1983, national security was at stake and it even worsened during the periods where Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe became the Prime Minister. The gross killing of members of the intelligent units and informants was the norm of the UNP led governments. Betraying the very people who risked everything for the motherland by exposing them in public was something that cannot be expected during even peacetime, let alone during a bloody war. Yet for all, frankly speaking, to secure the support of the ethnic minorities, the UNP found appeasing terrorists and separatist elements more useful than the national security of the bellowed motherland. Sajith cannot escape saying that he was not party to this. He was very much a member of the ruling party every time this happened and his late father, Mr. Ranasinghe Premadasa has earned the bad name as the first Sri Lankan president to reward the Tamil Tigers with a large number of weapons, cement and an undisclosed amount of monies. Even worse, it was him who ordered some 600 plus policemen to surrender to the Tamil Tigers ultimately resulting in them being killed in cold blood. So, when it comes to national security, Sajith is way below Gota. But with the way the curious case of ethnic minorities manipulates Sri Lankan politics, Sajith is way ahead of Gota in terms of garnering voted from ethnic minorities as he has been able to win the support of extremist elements of both the Muslim and Tamil alliances. Especially the Muslim leaders who are dead scared of the ordeals they will have to go through due to their alleged links to the Muslim terrorists who were involved in the Easter Sunday attacks will do their best to convince their constituents to vote for Sajith so that they won’t be prosecuted, or disturbed. This is why I mentioned above that the logic of 1+1 does not always give the result 2 in politics.

Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part VII – MINORITY SUPPORT


Nanda Wanninayaka nanda.wanninayaka@gmail.com   

Jokers (and jerks – including Mr. Anura Dissanayaka) apart, there are two mainstream candidates in the run-up to the presidential election on November 16, 2019. Well, whether you like it or not, it is Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (GR) and Mr. Sajith Premadasa (SP) who are the frontrunners for the contest and the others are just vote spoilers.

In these few articles, I am comparing and contrasting the two persons in question in 10 areas of concerns in alphabetical order. This post deals with the MINORITY SUPPORT for the two candidates. Read Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part VI – LEGACY for the previous post.  The next area, the NATIONAL SECURITY, would be dealt with the post Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part VIII – NATIONAL SECURITY.)

MINORITY SUPPORT

Sri Lanka being a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and a multicultural society, minority support plays a key role in a presidential election. This was well displayed during the 2015 presidential election to a great deal. So, if you want to become the president of Sri Lanka, you have to woo the ethnic minorities to you. Unfortunately, what keeps happening is the main two parties promise the things they cannot deliver and once a party wins, the minorities feel they are cheated because the winning party won’t be able to keep the promises due to the objection of the opposition, religious establishments and pressure groups. Fair enough, but why don’t the minorities also learn not to ask these two parties the things that they cannot do? No one learns.

  • Gota

If Gota loses this presidential election, it will mainly be due to the minority votes. Most of the Tamils in the North and the Tamils and the Muslims in the East won’t vote for Gota for obvious reasons. Radical Tamils think it was Gota who wrecked the LTTE and killed its supreme leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, the “Sun God” of the ethnic Tamils. In the case of the Eastern Muslims, the recent Easter Sunday Attacks created an anti-Muslim sentimentality among the general public of all faiths. They expressed the view that if Gota was the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense this type of a heinous attack wouldn’t have happened. And the Muslims at large believe that a future Gota administration would not be easy for the Muslims as Gota would go an extra mile to eliminate the radical Muslim elements in the country and that would mean even the moderate Muslims will have a hard time. This feeling is kind of reasonable with the way the present government acted in the wake of the April massacre. Their lukewarm attitude to a carnage of such magnitude might make such attacks possible in future too. If Gota comes to power terrorists would find it very difficult but the Muslims will have to pay a price (of being searched and their cultural sensitivities compromised.)

If Gota doesn’t get the minority support, which I don’t think he would, he will have to get an amazingly big majority from the Sinhalese voters. Gota has been able to get the support of Mr. Arumugam Thondaman and his Ceylon Workers’ Congress but Thonda doesn’t enjoy the sole power in the Hills as some breakaway groups have left him and formed new parties or alliances. Besides, you can’t trust Thonda as well since he has kept changing camps as a habit, mostly by ending up with the winning side. So, Gota has to work hard to retain Thonda and also try his best to woo the minority votes from the North and the East before it is too late. With my experiences being in the North most of the last year and the East this year, I find the moderate Tamils and Muslims are of the view that a return of Gota will ensure stability which will result in economic development in the two provinces. Having said that, it is too early to predict if this sentiment of the Northern and Eastern people will convert to votes for Gota.

  • Sajith

This is where Sajith has the upper hand. Traditionally, the UNP has been accommodating the ethnic minorities in Sri Lanka even before the Independence. Minorities have held high positions within the party hierarchy and also in the UNP cabinets whenever they were in power. The SLFP being a late comer to politics as a breakaway fraction from the UNP and the former’s slogan being the controversial “Sinhala Only Act” alienated the Tamils and the Muslims from the party I guess. Sajith will go to any extent to get the minority support, which he has already successfully done to ensure his chances in the final battle. He already has been able to secure some fractions of the Estate Tamil powerhouse by ironing out political deals with them. But he can’t be complacent about their support as some political surprises that could come out of the blue might upset his apple cart at a crucial time. It happened during 2005 edition of the presidential race, didn’t it? Who can say such a maneuvering won’t happen in two weeks’ time?

Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part VI – LEGACY


Nanda Wanninayaka nanda.wanninayaka@gmail.com   

Jokers (and jerks – including Mr. Anura Dissanayaka) apart, there are two mainstream candidates in the run-up to the presidential election on November 16, 2019. Well, whether you like it or not, it is Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (GR) and Mr. Sajith Premadasa (SP) who are the frontrunners for the contest and the others are just vote spoilers.

In these few articles, I am comparing and contrasting the two persons in question in 10 areas of concerns in alphabetical order. This post deals with the LEGACY of the two candidates. Read Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part V – EXPERIENCE for the previous post.  The next area, MINORITY SUPPORT the of the two candidates, would be dealt with in the Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part VII)

LEGACY

Well, a presidential hopeful’s legacy is going to play a vital role not only in Sri Lankan politics but in most of the countries in the subcontinent as well. Bandaranaike’s, Senanayake’s and Rajapaksas in Sri Lanka, Gandhis in India and Bhuttos in Pakistan, are good examples of this. Political dynasties have played a role elsewhere, even in the developed world as well. The Bushes in the USA and the Pitts in the UK are a few to mention.

Gota

Gota comes from a very affluent political dynasty in the Down South of Sri Lanka which has a long history by producing MPs, a Speaker of the House, ministers, a prime minister and an executive president (Mahinda Rajapaksa) as well. The family is far from the Colombo elite but has been enjoying enough power and the public support and amassed wealth to fight any challenge in the political sphere. And the main thing is Rajapaksa family is a very united family and will go to any length to save if and when someone in the clan is in trouble.

Sajith

Being a late president’s son is the only legacy Sajith has been left with. Being just a father’s son won’t take him much longer if he doesn’t believe in himself rather than his father who was assassinated some 25 years ago. The present-day generation hardly knows about Premadasa Senior and even if some of them do, it is mostly for the wrong reasons. The late President Ranasinghe Premadasa (RP) had started as a member of the Colombo Municipal Council and, with a lot of resistance from his own party, just managed to end up being the second executive president of Sri Lanka. But the Premadasas is by no means a long political dynasty as yet. It is difficult to believe they would have one in the future too.

Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part V – EXPERIENCE


Nanda Wanninayaka nanda.wanninayaka@gmail.com   

Jokers (and jerks – including Mr. Anura Dissanayaka) apart, there are two mainstream candidates in the run-up to the presidential election on November 16, 2019. Well, whether you like it or not, it is Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (GR) and Mr. Sajith Premadasa (SP) who are the front-runners for the contest and the others are just vote spoilers.

In these few articles, I am comparing and contrasting the two persons in question in 10 areas of concern in alphabetical order. This post deals with the EXPERIENCE of the two candidates. Read Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part IV – ELECTION CAMPAIGN for the previous post.  The next area, LEGACY of the two candidates, would be dealt with in Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part VI – LEGACY.)

EXPERIENCE

Almost all the former presidents concerned, except for Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga, came to the high post with a wealth of experiences in active politics. According to many this experience will have the upper hand in the election process as well.

Gota

As far as experiences concerned, Gota is not what you call a career politician. He has only 10 years’ experience as an administrator in the capacity of the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense and Urban Development. Whatever said and done about the ways he carried out affairs in that position, none can contradict that he was a highly effective administrator as he won the war against Tamil Tiger terrorists and made the country, especially Colombo, clean and orderly, two tasks that many of his predecessors or not even the leaders of the country could boast of. And the people have a natural fear of him turning out to be a dictator with his experiences as a former army officer, a justifiable fear of many concerned citizens. Even if Gota is inexperienced in politics, he has the inevitable support of the former president Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa (MR) and the rest of the Rajapaksa clan which is a very strong outfit at any challenge.

Sajith

In addition to Sajith’s experiences as an MP, a deputy minister and a minister in local politics, he has interned in the US Foreign Relations Committee under Senator Larry Pressler. Wikipedia says Sajith has met many other influential senators, including the former presidential candidate late Mr John McCain and the former Secretary of State Mr. John Kerry. This will be an added qualification to Sajith if he or his election campaigners make use of those areas to silence his critics who say Sajith doesn’t have much exposure with the rest of the world. It is questionable how he carried out with those high-level friends though. Sajith keeps ranting he has a lot of links with the developed world and will be able to get foreign aid to develop Sri Lanka. But with the economic model he suggests which is full of freebies, one starts to doubt if much difference can be done with charitable handouts without increasing the productivity as a nation. Unfortunately, his election campaign is focused on petty issues and thousand and one undeliverable election promises which won’t help much these days as the masses already know these promises cannot be delivered. But, the voters in this country have been so gullible to promises such as 8 pounds of grain to rice from the moon to bread at 3.50 LKR to free Wi-Fi, haven’t they?

Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part IV – ELECTION CAMPAIGN


Nanda Wanninayaka nanda.wanninayaka@gmail.com    

Jokers (and jerks – including Mr Anura Dissanayaka) apart, there are two mainstream candidates in the run-up to the presidential election scheduled to be held on November 16, 2019. Well, whether you like it or not, it is Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (GR) and Mr Sajith Premadasa (SP) who are the frontrunners for the contest and the others are just vote spoilers. After the election day, they will end up as also-rans.

In these few articles, I concentrate on the strengths and the weeknesses of the two candidates by comparing and contrasting 10 areas of concern in alphabetical order. This post deals with the ELECTION CAMPAIGN of the duo. Read Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part III –EDUCATION for the previous post. The next area, the EXPERIENCE of the two candidates, will be discussed in the Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part IV – EXPERIENCE.)

ELECTION CAMPAIGN

I am sure the election campaigns must have played a key role ever since the democratic elections were introduced in modern representative democracy which came into play since the 17th century. In Sri Lankan context, elections had been rather peaceful till that scoundrel of a politician, the late Mr J. R. Jayawardene became the Prime Minister in 1977 and then declared himself as the executive President of Sri Lanka without having a separate presidential election. Though he gained an unassailable 5/6th power in the parliament through a democratically held election, he ensured peaceful elections will not happen again not only within his political lifespan, but also through the next President Mr Ranasinghe Premadasa era which abruptly ended in the hands of a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber in 1993. Then parachuted Ms Chandrika Kumaratunga into Sri Lanka’s political void in 1994, first as the Prime Minister, then the President the very same year through rather violent elections as she had to fight against the then UNP government. The country had seen enough election violence between 1977 to 1994 and by then and was fed up with the rigged elections which came with a “bonus” of election violence with scores being killed and injured by the state-sponsored violence. So, now politicians have to execute their election campaigns with fair play with creative methods than unleashing violence.

Gota

Even though Gota comes from a family which produced many a national-level politician to the country, is not a typical politician as he was a serviceman in the army, then a computer professional in the USA and then the Secretary to the Ministry of Defense & Urban Development in Sri Lanka. So, he is a better administrator than a career politician. So, his campaign is obviously weaker than that of his rival Sajith. Having understood this, Gota has allowed his supporters, mainly comprise of many professionals from a myriad of areas to steer the campaign for him. His campaign uses a lot of technology and social media and the internet at its best. This is where Gota has the upper hand over Sajith. Rather than unrealistic election promises, Gota’s camp addresses the prevalent challenges the country faces and the voters might go for him if they are convinced of his prowess. As per the traditional style campaign is concerned, Gota’s elder brother Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa who is a career politician throughout his adult life, takes great care of that part of the battle I guess.

Sajith

When you look at the number of new Facebook accounts, FB groups, newly started news websites, etc., that support Sajith, it is crystal clear that a Putin-style campaign is in action to promote Sajith, just like it happened with Mr Donald J. Trump‘s election campaign to support the latter’s White House bid. Gotabaya’s campaign is nowhere near, not even close to counter Sajith’s. To me, his traditional style campaign also is stronger than that of Gota’s. Sajith fought against all odds and “grabbed” the opportunity to get the candidacy to represent UNP-led camp, just like his late father did in 1988 and to everyone’s surprise, has been able to garner almost all the support from his party (maybe barring Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe.)  If not for the unrealistic promises the former keeps giving the public and the stupid remarks he does at election rallies, I am sure he will be able to secure an unexpected win this November, just like Trump did in his trails to the White House in 2016. 

Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part III – EDUCATION


Nanda Wanninayaka nanda.wanninayaka@gmail.com    

Jokers (and jerks – including Mr Anura Dissanayaka) apart, there are two mainstream candidates in the run-up to the presidential election on November 16, 2019. Well, whether you like it or not, it is Mr Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (GR) and Mr Sajith Premadasa (SP) who are the frontrunners for the contest and the others are just vote spoilers. After the election day, they will be also-rans for sure.

In these few articles, I will take the trouble of comparing and contrasting the two persons in question in 10 areas of concern in alphabetical order. This post deals with the EDUCATION of the two candidates. The previous post about AGE of the two candidate, read Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part II. The next area, the EXPERIENCE of the two candidates, will be discussed in the Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part IV)

EDUCATION

The presidential candidate’s education has been a concern in politics but most politicians in the country have a little to offer the country where their brain departments are concerned as the majority of them is poorly educated. Even those who were well-educated haven’t done justice to their education or the country by taking sensible policy decisions.

Gota

In Gota’s case, he obtained his primary and secondary education at Ananda College, Colombo, and a Postgraduate Degree in Information Technology from the University of Colombo in 1992, which is impeccable as a futuristic leadership even though his opponent has the edge over the former in terms of youthful energy. There are no known records about his academic achievements when he was a schoolboy. His post-graduate degree in IT must have been obtained after retiring from the military I guess. Unlike his counterpart, Gota was in the military and he must have gone through much military training as it was his profession. Usually, people who join the military do so as soon as they finish their Ordinary Level (OL) or Advanced Level (AL.) So, comparing them with a civilian’s educational qualifications won’t be reasonable I guess. 

Sajith

On the contrary, Sajith attended the S. Thomas’ Preparatory School, Mount Lavinia, and the Royal College, Colombo two prestigious local schools and Mill Hill School, England and thereafter London School of Economics (LSE) of the University of London graduating with a BSc in Economics, Politics and International Relations. (I am not sure if he was graduated from those two institutions though. Some speculate he did not.) Thereafter, he attended the University of Maryland, Washington, USA to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Management. (People have the same doubt for this also. I think Sajith himself has to come up with the truth. In the past, former president Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga also was questioned about her true educational qualifications.)  Anyway, if those two claims are true, Sajith has the edge over his opponent academically. But I don’t understand as to why his camp doesn’t answer the allegations, especially from his own party strongman Mr Ravi Karunanayake, that Sajith hasn’t passed GCE Ordinary Level (OL.) I don’t understand the meaning of this harsh allegation against Sajith. He was studying in England during that age group and we know well there are equivalent or even higher exams than just local OL. The nomenclature of exams changes from country to country and in some countries there are no national exams like in Sri Lanka, but there are grades given on a student’s track record like SAT, etc. With the educational qualifications Sajith possesses, it is absurd that he or his campaign doesn’t capitalize on those. Like his opponent, Sajith’s academic track record as a schoolboy is not known but he is a decent, yet amateur singer and a musician who can play guitar, piano, and drums to my knowledge. I think these talents must have come from his father who also was a half-baked artist himself.

Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part II – AGE


Nanda Wanninayaka nanda.wanninayaka@gmail.com  

Jokers (and jerks – including Mr. Anura Dissanayaka) apart, there are two mainstream candidates in the run-up to the presidential election on November 16, 2019. Well, whether you like it or not, it is Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (GR) and Mr. Sajith Premadasa (SP) who are the front-runners for the contest and the others are just vote spoilers.

In these few articles, I will be comparing and contrasting the two persons in question in 10 areas of concern in alphabetical order. This post deals with the AGE factor of the two candidates. In my previous post, I discussed the ACHIEVEMENTS of the duo. Read it at Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part I. In my next post, EDUCATION of the two candidates will be discussed. Await the next post, Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part III.

AGE

One’s age will be another factor but this is always tricky. If you are too young to contest at a presidential election, he/she will be considered inexperienced and if he/she is too old, he/she will be considered both mentally and physically unsound for the job at the helm of the country to lead it forward. It is the way you present yourself that matters more than the real age at the election I guess.

Gota

Gota is exactly 70 years old by now, the same age in which the late President Mr.  J. R. Jayawardene became the prime minister of Sri Lanka. There is this universal argument that the leader of a country should be a young or middle-aged person rather than a person who is closer to the next world than this. The world is evolving faster with technology, new frontiers of economics, and emerging markets are the main concerns to develop a country. The leader of a country should be young and open-minded enough to welcome such changes. If Gota is elected for two consecutive presidential terms, he would be 80 by the time he leaves the office which doesn’t look good for the country or himself. Then again, a legendary leader like Dr. Mahathir Mohamad happened to come out of his retirement and he was voted in by the public as they believed the former still can lead the nation at the age of 93. So, Gota being an effective president cannot be ruled out even though he is 18 years older than his comparatively younger opponent. This is something I won’t predict at this stage as a lot can happen in 5 years if not 10.

Sajith

Sajith is just 52 and will be the second-youngest president after Ms. Chandrika Kumaratunga who became the president at the age of 49. Sajith says he is energetic and dynamic but he has to prove it beyond just words. The downside of his comparatively young presidential candidacy is that he hasn’t been able to prove that he is mature enough for a 52-yer-old by his speech, action or behavior. I wonder whether he has enough time left to change the voters’ perception as we are only three weeks away from the big day. Besides, him telling the voters that he would work 20X7X365 has only earned him a sarcastic reaction by the public than doing any good for him. What Sajith has to understand is that what his father did (in going to bed very late and waking up very early) won’t excite the present-day voters as everyone understands that a human being needs sufficient rest and decent sleep. Working 20X7X365 means you are not organized. I think it is the high time Sajih stopped talking about working-20-hours-a-day drivel. I am not sure if there is any advisor to tell him to stop bunkum or maybe he just ignores the advice, just like his father used to and keep talking gobbledygook like this.

Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part I – ACHIEVEMENTS


Nanda Wanninayaka nanda.wanninayaka@gmail.com   

In these 10 blog posts, I will take the trouble of comparing and contrasting the two main presidential candidates in question in 10 areas of concern in alphabetical order. I am sure this essay won’t make much of a difference in changing your mind as to who you vote or support at this election but at least I can take this off my chest for the heck of it once this is published.  This post deals with the ACHIEVEMENTS of the two candidates. The next area, the AGE, will be discussed in the post, Gota or Sajith? – The Agony of Choice – Part II) AGE

ACHIEVEMENTS

Well, apart from the undeliverable election promises, the achievements of a presidential candidate are going to be vital at the elections. This is going to be Gota’s and Sajith’s track record on one selected area, ACHIEVEMENTS.

Gota

Gota’s contribution to the country as an army officer during the Sri Lankan Civil War is highly debatable. One school of thought says that he achieved a lot in the battlefield and earned RWP (Rana Wickrama Padakkama – Combat Gallantry Medal –  රණ වික්‍රම පදක්කම) and RSP (Rana Sura Padakkama – Combat Excellence Medal – රණ ශූර පදක්කම) as a mark of appreciation to his impeccable service to the country. I am sure he must have been conferred those two coveted medals during the United National Party (UNP) governments – his present-day rivals – was running the country. Gota’s military service spans from 1971 to 1992 and there is no chance of him being given those medals before 1977. He has served during both the JVP rebellion and the Tamil Tiger rebellions as an active serviceman. Given the fact that Gota is related to a highly political family from the Sri Lanka Freedom Party SLFP, if he wasn’t truly a great serviceman we can hardly believe that he would have been conferred those honors. The other school of thought says that Gota retired early citing ill-health and left Sri Lanka during the height of the war and became an American citizen. Still, I am not too sure if he contributed “significantly” or not to the country as a serviceman.

Sajith

Sajith entered the parliament from the Hambantota district in the 2000 general election. He initiated some poverty alleviation programs in Hambantota and helped places of worship which didn’t show much of an impact in the broader sense. He was appointed as the Deputy Minister of Health in 2001 and held that position till 2004 but any significant contribution to health sector was a lot to be desired. He was appointed Minister of Housing and Samurdhi (Prosperity) in the new cabinet formed in January 2015. He is credited with building small houses for low-income families with soft loans and increasing Samurdhi payments but it has done hardly any contribution to the country as a whole rather than making himself popular among the rural folks on the island. If he has done – or rather planned to accomplish anything – that would be the hypothetical “Shelter for All 2025” program. His father, the late Mr. Ranasinghe Premadasa (RP,) the then president of Sri Lanka also had a similar ambition to accomplish by the year 2000 and he didn’t live long enough to ensure it happens. And both the father and the son’s numbers in state-funded houses are highly exaggerated according to the reliable statistics.