National-list nominations as vote bait

July 20,2015 (LBO) – By far, the greatest number of professionals have been nominated as national-list MPs by the JVP. Some see this as cause for giving this party serious consideration. But there is evidence that the JVP national list nominations are pure window dressing.

I was listening to the Propaganda Secretary of the JVP on a talk show. He was going on about the population of Sri Lanka increasing to 25 million. He was complaining that no other party was making plans to open more schools for the rapidly increasing population.

According to Sri Lanka’s leading demographer, Professor Indralal de Silva, growth will flatten out before we reach 25 million:

graph1
Source: Professor Indralal de Silva

And will there be a need for new schools to accommodate the increasing numbers entering schools?

graph-2

graph3

Not according to Professor de Silva’s careful projections. Quite contrary to the JVP Propaganda Secretary, science tells us we should plan for decreasing numbers of students entering schools, not the opposite.

More attention must be paid to demographic projections. But not to build schools for which there will be no demand. It is to address the needs of the rapidly increasing numbers of the elderly.

These are well known facts. Professor de Silva has been saying these things for years. The 2011 Census confirmed the trends he has been projecting. One would expect at least one of the 25 professionals nominated by the JVP to know these facts, even if the graduates who make up the majority of the JVP nominees in the districts do not.

So either the JVP does not draw on the professionals they nominated, or their professionals are ignorant. I prefer the former explanation.

The evidence suggests that the nomination of professionals by the JVP is pure theatrics. A disciplined, cadre-based party, they do not easily accommodate outsiders. They may nominate professionals, but it will be a long time before they take their advice or put them up on talk shows to represent the party.

If so, why did they nominate these professionals?

The JVP knows it not likely to win enough votes to entitle them to one or at most two national-list MPs. In 2010, the DNA (then made up of the JVP and General Fonseka’s party) qualified for a total of two national-list seats. Other parties have to worry about who they will actually seat in Parliament. The JVP has the luxury of using its national-list nominations as vote bait for the unthinking.

Let us think.

Rohan Samarajiva heads LirneAsia, a regional think tank. He was also a former telecoms regulator in Sri Lanka. To read previous columns go to LBOs main navigation panel and click on the ‘Choices’ category.

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manoj
manoj
7 years ago

We do need more schools for the increase in population. But after a couple of decades some of them will have to shutdown if these stats are true. Still its no harm developing schools.

Rohan Samarajiva
Rohan Samarajiva
7 years ago
Reply to  manoj

Are you aware that over the last decade or so schools have had to be closed because of a lack of students. Even in Colombo 5, there are schools with only 12 students in the OL class. This sort of thing happened because no attention was paid to data and parents wanted to stuff over 50 students to a class in the so-called popular schools. Even if resources were unlimited (which they are not), it would not make any sense to build new schools. Scarce resources must to spent on the most important things.

rocco
rocco
7 years ago

Why is Sri Lanka so poorly run?
An outsiders questions. How did it become like this? Singapore seems to attract the best and the brightest to run the State like a business. SL seems to have a bloated government, that doesn’t perform and is corrupt [if only 10% of what I read is true]. How can the SL system improve? Does SL take the China model — more state control but freeing up policies and regulations + taxes, to encourage captialism – which is the real seed of growth, not the government sector. Does SL need a strong, dictatorial type of government, as it is an emerging economy – with a twist that encourage capitalism?

Kisho
Kisho
7 years ago

Why only JVP Professor? Why you havent talked about UNP and SLFP or UPFA, where we see a lot of dumb people getting nomination or come to parliament from national list.

Rohan Samarajiva
Rohan Samarajiva
7 years ago
Reply to  Kisho

Even online columns have length limitations. Effective writing says one thing; not three or four things.

I was responding to the silly things being said by JVP on a talk show and the apparent success they have had in projecting their national-list nominations as some great achievement.

We need to change the entire electoral system, and in particular improve the use of the national list. I suggest you present your own criticism.

Kanchana
Kanchana
7 years ago

The JVP is currently working on gut feelings rather than based on statistics…But they are not alone. The ruling UNP and the main opposition UPFA are on the same boat. All talk but no
work…

Do we still have a proper alternative for this popular school issue? Why these policy pundits can’t put forward an effective yet practical solution for this?

Everyone wants a popular school. But it is not possible to accommodate every one. Why can’t we restructure the whole concept of popular schools?

All schools in the country can be converted to the primary education up to O levels. Then those who passed O level will be able to get a school with high resources. So all popular schools will be converted to the advance level schools. No popular schools after that.

Aka
Aka
7 years ago

I would not argue with the statistics. Regarding education, I think we should focus more on quality rather than quantity. Also when I say education, i was not only referring to school education. Agree with the JVP national-list ploy. I think considerable number of Yahapalana votes (young professionals) will go in to JVP because of this. However I don’t think it would increase their MPs greatly.