| by Helasingha Bandara
Mega development projects
( September 30, 2013, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Addressing a press conference in Nikaweratiya, Johnston Fernando, the Minister of Co-operatives and Internal Trade, has said.
"Those individuals who cannot bear to see the massive development that is taking place in Nikaweratiya are creating conflicts with the politicians of the area and trying to make Johaan and Johnston blameworthy for that” (Ceylon Today-27 Sep 2013)
Some people are fools but not all. Johnston’s lies can still survive because of that percentage of fools. But others have wisely rejected his son Johann Fernando. If Johnston claims that Nikaweratiya has been experiencing mega developments, those developments should be visible and Johnston’s son could have got an overwhelming majority of preferential votes from Nikaweratiya. Instead people have pushed his son down to third place in Nikaweratiya, the constituency for which Johnston has been the organizer for many years. His undue culinary and monitory overtures that he could afford with ill gotten money seem to have been rejected en masse.
Nikeweratiya-Ambanpola main road is still muddy for at least two kilometers. Along one side of the road between Nikaweratiya- Ambanpola road and Anamaduwa- Nawagaththegame road lie hundreds of villages which have no good roads that can allow proper vehicular access. The entire road network to villages such as Ellagammillawa, Meewellewa, Gallkalla, Yakadapotha, Girilla, Hidogama (list is endless) is still earthen. This is the 21st century and Johnson uses his political rhetoric about mega developments and people wonder what they are.
“Speaking to The Nation, the Minister of Co-Operatives and Internal Trade, Johnston Fernando, whose son Johan came second behind Dayasiri Jayasekara in terms of preferential votes in the Kurunegala district, claimed Jayasekara, along with Kurunegala District MPs and Ministers Jayarathne Herath and Salinda Dissanayake, had unleashed a reign of terror on those who supported his son during the elections. (The nation 29 Sep 2013)
While Dayasiri Jayasekara and Salinda Dissanayake were rubbishing his claims, “Campaign for Free and Fair Elections (CaFFE) pointed to a ‘systematic campaign of intimidation and violence’ against Jayasekara’s supporters by supporters of Minister Johnston Fernando in Meewellewa, Nikaweratiya, Heelogama, Hulugalle, Rasnayakepura, Nebadewa, Yakadapotha, Kobeigane, Boraluwewa and Hirigolla areas. The statement urged law enforcement authorities and political party leaders to ‘take steps to prevent the increasing clashes between candidates as intra-party clashes seem to be increasing in the days after the election”
If Ca FFE makes a statement to this effect who can we believe, Johnston or others?
Even if all 40,000 odd voters of Panduwasnuwara voted for Dayasiri it would not make the massive 300,000 odd votes that came in favour of Dayasiri from other electorates of the Kurunegala district. Dayasiri was favoured for a few reasons. He brought in some UNP voters with him. His popularity as a talented singer must have made some people vote for him. Undoubtedly the vast majority was anti Johnston vote.
Since his defection and the appointment as Nikaweratiya organizer he was known to have favoured the old party mates. Long standing SLFP insiders did not like it although they were unable to do anything about it until they could show their resentment through the ballot. The next is the anti-violence vote. Johnston is well known for his violence and other nefarious activities. Finally for the district of Bandas, a corrupt Fernando could have been an eyesore.
Fernando is corrupting an otherwise traditional and peaceful district. He uses his ill gotten money to use violence against his opponents. A certain Malaka, a Pradeshiya Sabha member of Nikaweratiya has lodged a complaint with Nikaweratiya police that he was verbally abused and threatened with physical harm by Johnston. Malaka hails from one of the strongest SLFP families in Nikaweratiya of which members have suffered the most in the name of SLFP. Malaka’s grandfather had contested village councils on the SLFP nomination from 1956. Malaka’s father P. B Nawarathna was one of the initial 11 members who established Vijaya lead Sri Lanka Mahajana Pakshaya. His family had always been loyal to the SLFP whether it was led by Bandaranaikes or Rajapakshas. For that, during the terror era of 89/90 two of Malaka’s uncles were murdered, his grandfather died of a heart attack, his ancestral home was set fire to by UNP marauders. Suddenly a Fernando who pole-vaulted from the UNP in recent times threatening Malaka with physical violence. Will the Rajapakshas allow this absolute opportunist to do that?