Bahubootha Vivasthava: a reply to Mr. Karu Jayasuriya
Posted on November 2nd, 2009

C. Wijeyawickrema

Mr. Karu Jayasuriya’s (KJ) letter in the Island newspaper (11/01/2009) reminded me two truths uttered by two politicians in Sri Lanka in the past. JRJ once said that people elected a school girl as their president meaning one cannot expect wisdom and maturity from such person. CBK on the other hand said that JRJ created a bahubootha constitution meaning whatever she wanted to mean by it. In this context KJ’s letter is nothing but desperate politics reminiscent of an ostrich hiding its head in the sand! KJ may perhaps not know that JRJ was preaching for this kind of presidency for decades and only MahindaR was able to do what JRJ perhaps wanted to do. Mahinda R used the bahobootha system to bring UNP to death by elections! In the democratic world the craving is for any election of any kind, in Sri Lanka the opposition hates elections!

Those who study political developments in Sri Lanka since the 1930s saw a group of Colombo families destroying the country with the help of an elite civil service crowd paying lip service to democracy, village development etc. Since the 1960s these families of the UNP and SLFP (with the support of English-speaking Colombo Marxists) removed one by one democracy given in the 1947 Constitution. Both the Donoughmore and Soulbury Commissions warned these Colombo families about the dangers of Tamil separatism and the need to develop the remote areas where the poor Tamils, Muslims and the Sinhalese were living. By 1948 there were two Ceylons: (1) English-speaking, west-worshiping Colombo-centered Ceylon and (2) Sinhala and Tamil-speaking village Ceylon. Even after the 1971 youth rebellion these ruling families did not learn a lesson. Instead they politicalized everything and destroyed the structural democracy in Ceylon. For example, after packing party henchmen to the Senate, they later abolished it as useless! The 1947 Constitution which was based on the 1944 Ministers’ Draft had everything the country needed to become a prosperous country. A policy of “discrimination with reason” could have nullified the restrictions placed on the parliament by the Section 29(2). This was what India did covering 50% of its people known as scheduled tribes and castes and later backward classes. Malaysia did it in vigorously since 1971.

The 1972 Constitution was a bad document (read A. T Ariyaratne’s book on power pyramid the Dhamma Cycle) in representative democracy and the 1978 one was a death-trap when considered along with the ugly amendments and the changes to the election laws. In addition to the death of structural democracy (rule of law, independent public service and the judiciary etc.) that took place prior to 1978, JRJ documents killed the territorial democracy in Sri Lanka. So when KJ speaks of a parliament he should know that it is mostly a collection of thugs, criminals, corrupt-bribe takers etc. sitting inside what he calls “the highest democratic institution.” No decent local man or woman can pass the job interview the party leaders in Colombo now conduct to select the list of candidates. District-level elections is an investment opportunity for crooks with money so that once their agent is elected they can expect a return on their investment.

The destruction of electorate and ward-level selection of representatives was an unpardonable crime. Then came the India-imposed PC white elephant (13-A). This tiny island does not need and cannot afford this colossal wastage of money which has become Montessori schools for local politicians’ kith and kin.

One aspect clear in SL politics is that selfish party politicians in power abuse and create systems for their benefit not realizing that the opponents would use the same system to abuse power when they get their chance! This was what had happened with JRJ. He never thought that tables will turn within 10 years making him a prisoner to his own set up. All those Colombo educated crowd (JRJ, Laltih Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake, CBK, AnuraB and even R Premadasa who had a Colombo life) never knew the ability of the first village man who became the president of Sri Lanka in November 2005. He turned the bahubootha death-trap system of JRJ and Co. into an Aladdin’s lamp and used it so effectively to save the country from a 30-year old beggar’s wound. He could do this because of what JRJ created. To a great extent he could even overcome the electoral system designed by purpose of by accident to make the Sinhala majority a weak majority government, a demand made first the mid-1920s.

Yes, there are so many defects in the Mahinda R administration. We all expect that he will, after the next election start a war against corruption, nepotism and criminalization of the country etc. But for KJ to ask the abolition of Presidency is silly because the entire bahubootha system with 13-A must be thrown out and a new constitution must be developed with people participation. KJ and JVP must realize that people in Sri Lanka are not going to buy their sour grape stories and their new-born interest in preserving democracy. Where were they when JRJ and RP and CBK played havoc?

A simple answer by Mahinda R (1) that he used the powers of the presidency to end the war and (2) that he expects a mandate from people to develop an entirely new constitution with ward and electorate-base local and parliamentary elections and (3) an empowerment of people at the village council level is the devolution of power envisaged will be the end of this new political strategy of KJ.

The plague in Sri Lanka is the dirty politics of self-survival with kith and kin behind. People know that it is now time to throw out the bath water with the baby!

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