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"Influence" in what sense?

[MISC, Sunday, 17 April 2011 10:18 No Comment]

(April 17, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) By now most Sri Lankans are aware that president Mahinda Rajapakse is among the top 100 of nominees for the most influential people in the world. Here, influence is defined in various ways. Some have influenced through rock music – the top of the list – for instance, some through mass murder like Burma’s dictator, and of course some through scientific innovation, promoting peace, etc.

The description of how president Mahinda Rajapakse has influenced the lives of people under his sphere of influence is: "Since ending Sri Lanka’s 26-year-long war against the Tamil Tigers in 2009, and grabbing control over once independent institutions like commissions on human rights and elections, Mahinda Rajapaksa has come to dominate the institutions of his nation more than any other democratically elected head of state. He challenged the U.S., the European Union and the U.N. to prosecute him for war crimes, confident that Russia, China and India would not support it — the latter two have billions of investment at stake in Sri Lanka."

I was surprised to see some Sri Lankan ambassadors to other countries sending emails requesting us to vote "YES" to confirm this description of influence. I am not sure if this is what blind patriotism can do to one’s brain, or if it is some coup. With this voted confirmation, Mahinda Rajapakse will be documented in the World’s history books as a man who demolished democratic institutes with a confirmation by a vast majority through online voting. However, what was most shocking was to hear the news that president Rajapakse himself had campaigned to vote "YES". I do not want to believe this because he is not such a megalomaniac.

In any case, I request other leaders not to generalize the outcome of this survey to mean that "any form of being influential" is good. Please do not think for a moment that sending your citizens to jail without keeping notes of the trial is a good thing, never think that destroying the institutes of democracy is a good thing, and never ever let your ministers (senators, secretaries) rape young girls and forcing the alleged victims to withdraw the court cases is a good thing, never, ever, let terrorist leaders walk free in your society for secret allegiance or money, and never take this as a positive citation to justify building harbors without ships and burrow at 6% interest rate to finance such projects, for your TAX payers’ sweat is more salty than you may think it is.

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