Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The race for the mayoralty

I had not taken much interest in the municipal election, its not particularly important and I was quite disgusted with how things turned out the last time around.

To recollect what happened; the UNP could not gets its candidate approved in time and it then went on to ask voters to vote for a proxy party. The voters gave the proxy an overwhelming majority, but the proxy then proceeded to renege on the agreement with the UNP and we had the spectacle of a trishaw driver in the mayor's office. I had resolved not to vote this time around until I became aware of Milinda Moragoda's campaign.

I don't think Milinda Moragoda is a bad character, he is not thug and has reasonable ability, on his own he would be a good candidate for mayor. The question is, how far will he be allowed to follow his instincts? Will Moragoda end up playing the role that Medvadev plays in Moscow? The velvet glove on the mailed fist?

Tisaranee Gunasekara, whose analysis is usually prescient, seems to think so and Harsha De Silva, a UNP MP seems to have a similar opinion.

Would the voters be best served by voting for some opposition candidate? There is no guarantee that the office of the mayor will not be reduced a ceremonial one in the event that the opposition wins, especially if the plan for the Colombo Metropolitan City Corporation comes to pass. As it stands the UDA seems to be overriding much of the authority of the CMC.

Nevertheless it would seem better to vote for some opposition candidate, who may provide some trivial resistance, in the event that unpopular measures are being contemplated. Better that than a yes man.

Who do we have in the opposition? I don't even know, I have been told there are hundreds of candidates, someone shoved a few pictures under the door the other day, god only knows who he is. I'm still confused as to what to do; vote for an opposition which may be marginalised by the UDA and a CMCC or for a government candidate who will execute what he asked to do?


Patta Pal said...

It is sad that no one has actually mentioned that 56% of the people living in the Colombo MC area do not have title to the property they live in. That is it is either rented or they are long term squatters who have no legitimate title even though they have tenure, electricity and water and also a vote.

Further I was also appalled to read that a full 20% have no private toilet facilities, only shared with neighbors. So it makes Colombo truly a very poor city as far as the majority of those who live here. I do not have the facts on the Wattes and the possibilities of their removal, but whilst the affluent of Colombo would like to see all of them demolished and shifted out, so that their area would become gentrified especially if they live close to a WATTE. I however believe the opposition is less likely to evict them. Whether they can provide adequate lodgings is a different issue as our slum dwellers just cannot live in highrises even at 4 floors. They just are not disciplined to live cleanly in such and the existing flats in many areas bear testimony to that fact.

It is a tough issue as if the govt. resettles them in Avissawella, they will just rent their homes and come back to Colombo and create a slum somewhere else, not actually solving anything.

Have you not noticed people really do like to live where they are comfortable even though some of the living conditions to you and me appear horrendous. I was just in a slummy area just behind the spare parts shops in Panchikawatte and found the people quite content, except for street lights that need bulbs, and some cleaning of the drains and sewage that overflows in times of heavy rain.

I think the MC should concentrate on the immediate issues facing the residents rather than grandiose schemes of beautification that can be left to the UDA.

Dont forget the Revenue the MC earns is massive and can actually do a lot for the city if it is well managed and not wasted.

In my book the UNP whoever the individuals are the better alternative this time round.

Don't forget Namal said he would evict all slumdwellers if they vote the UNP in!!

Jack Point said...

Thank you for that detailed comment Patta Pal.

The problem with squatters is real but there needs to be some proper plan for either legalising them, where ownership of the land is in doubt or eviction where it is. Anything that is done needs to be

1. Within the law
2. Transparent

Laws may need to be changed if required, but due process needs to be followed at all times.

To some extent it is existing laws which make it difficult to evict tenants that have caused the problem in the first place.