When Milinda Moragoda contested the 2001 general elections, he was to the Colombo middle class what Hazare is for the Indian middle class, an incorrupt intellectual who could represent the fussy, yet, educated folks. His campaign seemed flawless, not a single poster was stuck and he won comprehensively. But, once in office we didn’t see or hear him do much, nothing groundbreaking. Contrary to the ‘I am different’ image portrayed during his campaign, he looked everything but different after being elected. To put it in simple words, Milinda was just another politician.
The man contested another election under the UNP and won once again. He magically possesses a charm during election seasons and that’s something the UNP voter just couldn’t resist. The UPFA voter, however, couldn’t be lured using the same technique and Milinda was sent home after the last general election. Just when everyone forgot about him, the man is making a comeback.
His campaign is once again innovative and ground-breaking. The best website ever created by a Sri Lankan politician is backed by a strong social network presence. His policies are even better. You could be forgiven if you, for a moment, mistook his website for that of a western politician. Anyway, before you cast your vote to this man, who is a no match to his rival Muzammil, think again.
Campaign is far from transparent
Unfortunately, in life things are not as smooth and nice as they seem to be, generally. Moragoda too talks of a transparent and clean administration, free from corruption. But, the cycle of corruption, for a politician, at the very latest, starts during an election campaign. Politicians are donated millions for their campaigns by businessmen and corporations which are never fully disclosed. Once elected, they pay back their benefactors in various ways, commonly offering a tender or a contract that would cost us, the taxpayers extra. If someone really wants to be clean in office, they will have a clean and transparent campaign. Can Moragoda release a full financial report with a complete list of donations and expenses audited by a reputed audit form? If he can’t do that ‘clean’ & ‘transparency’ will always be a dream.
History and the Gotabaya factor
Moragoda also has a bad track record on keeping his promises. He is a great listener (and speaker too), but can he do what he says? History certainly doesn’t favour him. Let’s not forget Gotabaya Rajapakse at this point. He is a man of action, but listens to nobody. Given the fact that Gotabaya is already in control of Colombo it will be naive to think that Moragoda will be able to flex his muscles and take bold steps like implementing the right to information.
So is there an alternative for Colombo, there isn’t anyone I can think of. I also fear this time the CMC vote will be divided on ethnic lines with Mano Ganesan and Muzammil bagging the Tamil and Muslim votes. Moragoda will obviously need the educated middle class green voters to have any chance of winning. Will he refresh or renew the CMC if he wins? Absolutely not. Will things get better? Yes, they will. Whoever comes to power will be better than the chauffeur in Korea who was our mayor.
It should be noted that Milinda Moragoda’s campaign is scrutinised more not only because it’s more visible to us, the tech savvy Sri Lankans, but also because his campaign is speaking our language. If you speak the language of democracy, transparency & fairness, you better really mean it. We don’t need more Paul Kagames & Moussa Ibrahims in Sri Lanka.
I’m also writing this in a hurry so couldn’t reference. I apologise. So many deadlines!