Thursday, October 23, 2014

Voting rights to expatriates - a bad idea

Serendipity had put up a post endorsing the call by the BBS to grant voting rights to expatriate Sri Lankans.

I think this is a very bad idea.

Expatriates who live overseas have no stake in affairs here. The do not pay tax, their lives are unaffected by the standard of governance. Their jobs are not impacted by economic policy, the purchasing power of their salaries is impervious to inflation in their homeland.

They do not have to rely on the public services of the country, their liberties and rights are dependent only on the situation in their country of residence.

Doubtless many are Sri Lankan at heart. Granted that they love visiting the 'home' country but when they visit they are little more than tourists, enjoying the sights and sounds. They may speak the language and may have grown up here, have family and friends here, yet they remain only visitors.

Although their roots and attachment may be deeper than an ordinary tourist, they will eventually return to their regular lives overseas.

For me, this is the deciding factor. Their real lives are overseas.

If they have such little stake in affairs here, why should they vote?

Serendipity thinks that they will be less likely to be 'bought'. Possibly, but I fear that many of them view Sri Lanka through the eyes of tourists, rather than residents, as I pointed out here.

In fact, if we stop to reflect, the expats have already voted - with their feet. For whatever reason; economic, political, social, they have left, seeking a better life elsewhere.

No better testament is needed as to their real convictions. If we give expats the vote, we may as well give it to all tourists.


Anonymous said...

Very true.

When even those who vote for the current regime can not understand as to why they do it (repeatedly), how could the rest comprehend the situation within the country? For all that they know, this is a corruption free paradise.

Anonymous said...

Migrant workers and expatriates are being conflated, and for migrant workers they have left our shores to find work to support their families at an adequate level. They are invested by blood in the outcomes of elections and would probably rather work in Lanka if the sufficient opportunity arose. Those workers are sending a billion dollars back into the economy which finds its way into government and local coffers bit by bit. Why should they be disenfranchised just because they are earning money for their family overseas?

Anonymous said...

But there are many 'expats', particularly in the middle east, whose remittances of foreign currency to Sri Lanka are essential to the economy. However they are not able to vote if they are not in Sri Lanka on polling day.

Jack Point said...

Thanks for the comments.

There is a distinction, as the writers have pointed out, between permanent migrants and shorter term migrant workers.

However the fact remains that many have left, reluctantly due to the lack of opportunities at home. (ie due to the poor management of the economy). As they need to return at some point they have a greater stake than those of permanent migrants.

Liberal One said...

Well said. Only a one who doesn't understand what democracy is will ask for voting rights for expatriates. Serendipity is clueless about almost everything so I'm not amazed at all.

Anyone who votes should directly face consequences of his/her decisions.