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Why the “Swan” Lost: An Open Letter to Sajith Premadasa From Someone Who did Not Vote For Him Outlining the Reasons For Not Doing So


J. M. Jinasena

Dear Mr. Premadasa,

I did not vote for you, nor am I aligned with a political party. My family are a colour pallet of green, blue, red and now the new pink. Nor am I a political pundit or have a degree in political science.

I am writing to you as I find your supporters, the social media and your colleagues, appear to be under the illusion that your failure to win the Presidential elections was due to a single reason and that reason being the RW factor.

I am no friend of RW. In fact I have little respect for the supposed gentleman, considering the manner in which he has hogged the UNP party leadership despite successive defeats, without giving the young blood of the party a chance. His obvious favouritism towards his chronies is akin to MR’s nepotism. It is also undeniable, RW’s “I will continue to be the PM” line on the campaign trail may have adversely impacted your elections campaign. However, none of those are the reasons why I didn’t vote for you.

Mr. Premadasa, I didn’t vote for you because:

a) As far as my memory recalls you had never won your Electoral District in your 26 years of service to the public. Granted you have a seat in the deep South, which is the Rajapaksa territory, but in that case, you should have the foresight and political acumen to switch the seat. Correct me if I am wrong, but RW originally contested from Biyagama and then switched to a sure seat in Colombo and so did Ravi K –from Kotte to Colombo. You cannot be heard to say you were not given a seat of your choice. You were the Deputy Leader of the Party and if you could not convince your leader to give you a sure seat, then what confidence do we have of your negotiation skills and success?

b) You were backed by Maithri Gunaratne and Shrilal Lakthileke, who rebelled and supported you to bring in party reforms. You however didn’t stand by them and sold them down the river for a deal with RW. Mr. Karu J suffered the same fate. Therefore, I didn’t consider you trustworthy or loyal and deserving the Presidency. In all of your speeches on the election trail, the word used was “I” not “us”. Brought back the memories of a dictator, not a man willing to work in co-operation. There were enough squabbles between MS and government. I didn’t want the same to continue.

c) During your 26-year political career, you didn’t take a clear stand on any burning issue in the country. The ceasefire agreement, P TOMS, The war on Terror, persecution of our soldiers, Bond Scam, Easter Bombing, MCC Agreement, Sale of Hambantota Port to the Chinese and many more issues were faced by the country, but you remained silent, whilst most of your colleagues had something to say on each of the issues, though some views most certainly, attracted the wrath of the public or escalated your colleagues’ reputation to joker status. Against this background, I most certainly didn’t believe in your promises – to go to the electric chair on behalf of our soldiers or die for the sake of the country. The pledges came far too late. I didn’t trust you to walk the walk.

d) You did not say a word when your colleagues spared no mercy on the Buddhist monks or the Archbishop. Our country is deeply conservative and all religions are highly respected, and you didn’t see that these remarks were affecting your campaign, which convinced me you had poor political acumen and lacked common sense.

e) I was extremely amused at the fairy tale promises you made about working 24 hours for the good of the people, walking on streets with your voters everyday and worshipping them and taking care of all their needs. I was told by my UNP friends, that you were just playing to the masses with those words. Well the masses showed what they thought of such not-so-intelligent remarks, by overwhelmingly rejecting you. It looks like the fairy tales went down well with Colombo 1-15 though. So, who is the real gullible voter I wonder?

f) You promised to deliver a lot, but never explained the method of delivery. Complicated English words thrown together, does not set out a method or formula and you were caught out many a time. I then excused you as there were doubts about your O/L, but that factor too played a part in my decision not to vote for you. MS at least had O/Ls and even then, see the damage he did!

You were in charge of the Ministry of Housing for four and a half years. I didn’t see anything novel or innovative in the housing schemes you declared open. I visited some of the areas in which you have established these housing schemes, and I find the occupants absolutely disgruntled; not only had they taken personal loans to complete the houses, they also had to provide the labour forsaking their own daily work, in order for you to declare open the housing schemes on time. The houses had been built in a style of your late father’s era, whereas the designs and technology even for budget houses, had improved and modernized over the years. GR’s idea of a solar panel which generated an income for the household, was far more appealing to me.

h) I am a fan of Yala just like you. I go to Yala on weekdays to avoid the weekend crowd. I have seen you at Yala National Park on almost all of those trips, even on days where there were important parliament sittings and cabinet meetings. We used to always wonder, how you could excuse yourself from these important sittings, to spot an elephant and a leopard, which can be spotted easily on another day. Therefore, I didn’t believe you when you said you will work 24/7 for us voters.

i) Your camp says you didn’t have funds to do the campaign properly. You said you lived in a flat and your slippers were worn. But the complex from which you emerge every morning sure doesn’t look ordinary nor your wife’s dress. I frankly didn’t detect any difference in the GR and SP campaigns where finances were concerned. In fact, you spent more I believe, reserving the front page of popular Sunday Newspapers for your advertisement campaigns.

I saw on the television, RW very prominently campaigning in the North and East. You were prominent in the rest of the provinces. It’s the provinces in which you campaigned that didn’t vote for you.

Therefore, I genuinely believe that blaming RW alone for this debacle, is wrong and unfair. I didn’t vote for you not “because of” RW. In the past, I have voted for others in your party “in spite of” RW. I didn’t vote for you as the country couldn’t risk another experiment on the throne. We had enough of Friday Night surprises and Mr. Bean shows, in the past four and a half years.

You conducted yourself in a decent manner after a huge defeat, and resigned from your post in the party with immediate effect. Although you were not known for any sporting prowess, and I had only seen a propaganda clip of you playing street cricket in Jaffna, I must say you were a good sport in defeat and even attended the final conference at the Election Commissioner’s Office. Thus, I took the time to pen this letter, as you seem to be confused why people didn’t vote for you, despite the promise of a heaven on earth for us voters.

All the best for you future! Hope you will do the needful to win our confidence!

J. M. Jinasena

Courtesy:The Island