Wednesday, January 07, 2015

reasons why mahinda should win

yesterday i wrote a post predicting that based on facts and rational calculations, mahinda will win by a significant margin. a prediction i am sure will be fulfilled,as my past ones here have been. this post in contrast is an opinion piece giving my reasons as to why, we, sri lankans, should elect mahinda instead of maithree, those 2 being the only credible choices available.  

i started then by saying,

"the main failing of a representative democracy like sri lanka is that voter cannot decide on each policy individually, one by one. we have to decide between individuals who make promises to act according to a package of policies."

(while the outcome of this election, will certainly be the same as last time, a victory for mahinda rajapaksa, as i said last time, "certainty of outcome should not be a sufficient reason to favor it").

question, then and now, is how to evaluate the package of polices and the trustworthiness of the individual to carry it out.

evaluating polices 
like last time, the packages offered are not ideologically consistent. only the leftist fringe candidates are offering anything like coherent policy packages. not even a fringe candidate is offering what can be termed libertarian policies that this blog adhere to. as such selection based on ideology is out of the question, unless you are a leftist who wants to post an ineffective protest vote.  

of policies offered by 2 main candidates, mahinda's is more coherent and pragmatic than one offered by maithripala sirisena.  

but let us examine each of the main policy issues.

mahinda is basically offering continuation of same polices that were in operation last 5 years. these policies involved,
  • unprecedented infrastructure development,
  • creating conditions for expansion of service economy, and service exports, along with continuation of export of goods.
  • reduction of growth in import expenditure; through reduction of imports of oil for electricity generation, sugar, milk powder, etc.   
  • creating conditions for unprecedented expansion of tourism.
  • consistently lower inflation than in past. consistent reduction in budget deficit, and national debt as a percentage of gdp. increase in foreign reserves to stabilize the currency. 
  • expansion of government service and apparent subsidies(though in fact. subsides as a whole have been reduced).
all these in combination has delivered around 7% real gdp growth on average. well in excess of world and regional average.  

except for the expansion of government service (and claims of increase in subsides), i have no great objections to any of this. and since sri lanka as a whole is far from being libertarian, most sri lankans would approve, rather than object to even that. though government's visible hand in reduction of certain imports, and its direct hand in infrastructure development, are violations of free market principles, these are in fact not free markets to begin with. in any case mahinda has never been a free market capitalist.

mahinda has delivered what he promised in past. and there is no reason to believe he will fail in future.

his success in economy is such that maithree has lost all coherence in his, and his handlers, attempts to advance an alternative economic policy. they have been more or less reduced to acknowledge mahinda's success with economy. instead of criticizing mahinda's policy, they are criticizing implementation methods and details. and doing so using blatant falsehoods.

sirisena supporters say country is burdened with debt. in fact national debt as a percentage of gdp has been in steady decline. in 2004 it was 105% of gdp. now it is about 70%. absolute nominal debt figure has gone up, but because economy is growing fast (both in real terms and nominal terms, second being the relevant one here) debt as a percentage of gdp comes down.    

they also say that some of the infrastructure projects are useless. however their main targets mathala airport and hambantota port are in fact operating successfully. their half hearted attempts to depict newly developed and improved roads as useless to common man, shows an unbelievable lack of connection with common people. they are silent or contradictory when pressed to declare whether they are going to stop these projects.

maithree also promises to increase on mahinda's promises on government subsidies and service. i think sri lankans can recognize fake empty promises.

maithree also resurrects a promise to increase government spending on education to 6% of gdp. this is the sort of ignorant impractical idiocy that confirm maithree camp has lost all hope of winning the election.  sri lankan government barely collects 10% of gdp in revenue and spends less than15% of gdp in total. as such without drastic tax increases, and/or massive cuts in every other sort of public spending from health, defense, agriculture, debt service, pensions, salaries of public servants, etc, this is impossible.

in sum, maithree has been content to hurl variety of criticisms (more than tinged with absurd falsifications of facts)  at mahinda's implementations, instead of offering a pragmatic coherent policy on economy. he himself has no track record on economy and politicians that surround and control him, both from unp and slfp, have track records of failure.

corruption & good governance 
an issue related to economy is corruption, which the maithree camp has tried to turn into a major issue. it isn't. of course economy has grown, so no doubt corruption has kept pace with growth. but present government is no more corrupt than previous ones, and any future ones. changing one set of governing politicians with another set (esp a set that were corrupt last time they were in power) wont change a thing. as i have maintained from start of this blog, only way to reduce corruption is to reduce the size of government, thus power of politicians and bureaucrats to control public funds and regulations. but maithree is not advocating that, as such his promise to fight corruption are false. 

nepotism is another charge against mahinda. he certainly has used and given power to his brothers. but whether that is bad or not, depends on their competence. a competent bother is preferable to an incompetent outsider. his brothers that matter, gotabaya and basil, are competent at their jobs, with solid achievements. in contrast, politicians in maithree camp, chandrika and ranil, among others, also rose through nepotism, and more importantly, were and are incompetent. maithree's own brothers are far from admirable. 

executive presidency
this is another non issue that opposition has tried to raise to a major issue. no sri lankan with any sense will want to do away with  executive presidency. it was that institution that allowed the steady leadership needed to defeat tamil terrorist pussies. similar stability is needed between elections to create a stable environment for development. under this constitution, if electorate wants, it can provide a needed check to presidency through parliament. as happened in early last decade. 

given the political make up of country with lot of small parties, and proportional electoral system, doing away with executive presidency will create an unstable wavering extremely weak governments dependent on whims of those fringe parties

fact that maithree, dependent on those fringe parties, promises this, is a solid reason for defeating him.

national security
sri lankans who wish to live in a free democratic country must keep their eyes open for any revival of tamil racist terrorism. while they are defeated in sri lanka , they are visibly active (and in some cases openly pandered to) in west. and their racist ideology and goals are is still the ideology and goals of racist party, tna, their one time faithful political arm. 

until tna unconditionally condemns ltte and its big pussy mass murderer prabhakaran, and participate in democratic processes, like the parliamentary select committee, to find solutions to grievances of all communities in north and east provinces, they should be treated with suspicion. that is why their extension of support to maithree should make voters for maithree hesitate a lot before marking their vote. 

maithree supporters counter this by saying many former tamil terrorists, like karuna, are supporting mahinda. difference is that these individuals contributed to condemnation and defeat of tigers, while tna and ilks, did not. nor is mahinda dependent on them, while maithree is lost without tna support. 

a weak president or prime minister, dependent on fringe parties, including racist parties like tna and slmc, is bad for national security and stability and must not be elected

those are the main policy issues, and with regard to all of them, mahinda is the better choice.

judging individual trustworthiness 
we also have to judge whether these candidates can be trusted enough to carry out their duties and promises.

last time i said, based on his track record, "we can generally expect rajapaksa to govern from a pragmatic center left position." he has done exactly that. he has displayed strong stable leadership needed to develop sri lanka and keep it strong. in fact there is no need to change him even if alternative was a similar individual.

maithree on the other hand, is a colorless mediocre cipher. he has no notable achievements. he is harmless enough as a bureaucrat and lower functionary. but not a person from whom resolute leadership can be expected. his political position as a dependent of others in past and now, makes it worse. he wont be able to stand up to corrupt opportunists, racists, foreign interferers, or terrorists.   

by all criteria for evaluating candidates, mahinda is far superior to other possible alternative, sirisena. so let us contribute to inevitable mahinda victory by voting for him.  

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a no-brainer. All including Chandrika, Champika, TNA and Ranil wants to elect Sirisena the puppet and control him.

It would be a lovely comedy to watch but not healthy to the country at all.