Nanda Wanninayaka email@example.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.)
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.
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.
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?