Doing Politics with the Constitution.
Posted on June 11th, 2013

By Charles.S.Perera

Having  won an election for the last time in 2001, Ranil Wickramasinghe is desperately  pulling all the rabbits he can from his hat hoping something would pop-out  to propel him  onto the Presidential Chair.  All his yes men-Tissa Attanayake, Laksman Kiriella, Ravi Karunanayake, Karu Jayasuriy and the rest follow him wagging their tails yapping in unison,

hoping one day to follow the “magic leader” in to some sort of government  of their own,

while the failed politician Mangala Samaraweera is  praying the western leaders to boycott the CHOGM, as he says he has found  a dictator in Sri Lanka.  What a looney lot ?

In the mean time the Catholic Bishops’ Conference led by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith  has announced the wisdom to have a totally new Constitution, and proposes while waiting ,  to continue to keep the 13 Amendment in tact.  Apparently the Cardinal would like to have his say in a new Constitution to  multiethnic Sri Lanka, providing an equal place to Christianity along side  Buddhism .

A constitution and the writing of it is not the activity of a political party without government responsibility, if it is so there would be numerous Constitutions prepared by different political Parties, -the TNA, SLMC,JVP,  and claiming their constitutions as well be  considered  to be accepted  as the Constitution of Sri Lanka by a referendum- a vogue term now  brandished in respect of the 13Amendment. Therefore, it is a dangerous precedence, and lack of respect to an existing Constitution for UNP to present a draft for  a  new Constitution to Sri Lanka.

Ranil Wickramasinghe may well  have written a Constitution for his own part, but his attempt at writing a Constitution to Sri Lanka is a pathetic sequel to his political failure as an astute politician, despite his being the Prime Minister twice and many years as  the Leader of the Opposition of the Parliament.  He seems to have learnt nothing of politics either as the Prime Minister, or as the Leader of the Opposition.

Writing a Constitution for a Nation cannot be taken lightly although again a UNP Leader had been the  prime mover of the present Constitution of Sri Lanka with its numerous defects, with the inclusion of the 13Amendment as the “icing on the cake”.

The Present Constitution however is the second Republican Constitution of Sri Lanka of the three Constitution she had since her independence.  The first constitution  of 1946 with Dominion status was authored by Sir Ivor Jennings. The second and the First Republican Constitution  of 1972 was authored by Dr. Colvin R.De Silva.

The present Constitution came into effect in 1978 . This Constitution  was created by a political leader who was thrown into the political backyard after the SLFP triumphed  at the General Election of 1970. The SLFP drew up the  new Constitution of 1972 breaking away from the Westminster model and establishing the first Republic of Sri Lanka, with a ceremonial President. The Prime Minster was given  executive Authority.

In the General elections of 1977 the UNP led by  JR Jayawardhana got a landslide victory.  JR Jayawadhane who had been biting his nails for seven years being out of political power had planned a revengeful come back.  He  immediately set about preparing a Constitution  on the basis of the UK and French Constitutions and made himself the all powerful Executive President.

The Executive powers of the President was not questioned at the time and JR used executive power making himself a Dictator.  owHowever when  However when eventually Mahinda Rajapakse was elected President of Sri Lanka, he still retained the  1978 Constitution, but refrained from using the  Executive powers vested in him as the President to the detriment of the people and the country.  He kept strictly within the Democratic norms, whatever his antagonists have to say.

It shows that even the excessive powers vested in the office  of a Dictator or a President may still be used for the betterment of the people and the country dependent mostly on the character  and   a strictly religious, cultural and patriotic essence of the  person holding the office , as it is in the case of Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse.

One cannot deny that in fact the Executive Powers vested in the President under the 1978 Constitution of Sri Lanka had been of benefit to  Sri Lanka in the elimination of the terrorism and keeping at bay those who wanted to prevent the successful military operations against terrorists.  The retaining those powers further is still essential as the terrorism though it has disappeared in the soil of Sri Lanka it  still lingers amoung those Tamils who live in clover in Western Countries.

They  keep alive the fires of  communal hatred amoung the Tamils in the diaspora and those within the country shedding crocodile tears about the suffering of the Tamil people without taking any step to help them.  Instead they are using all means to destabilise and weaken the government to allow the star players from the West to intervene to divide Sri Lanka to allow them to establish a separate Eelam State, to derive political benefits for themselves.

Therefore, UNP’s latest tactic to bring disrepute to the Government of the President Mahinda Rajapakse and remove the government by a possible popular uprising of the people  against it, is seeking  the people’s approval for his Draft Constitution.  It is a  dangerous initiative which had no precedence any where  else in the world.

It is best to have one Constitution for Sri Lanka for ever, without having a new Constitution each time a new political party comes in to power.  The Constitution has only to be amended to remove what is considered offensive, out dated or a danger to the unitary status of Sri Lanka .

In other words a Constitution should be Amended and not rescinded.  The 1978 Constitution with much of its defects had withstood the most critical period of Sri Lanka’s history, and therefore it is worth keeping it as the basic instrument of political Authority and the one and only Constitution of Sri Lanka.

Eventually, Amendments may be brought in to reduce the executive powers of  the President and Committees be set up to study the ways and means to improve the Constitution always without rescinding it, but moving suitable Amendments.

In conclusion, Ranil Wickramasinghe or following him any other Political leader should not be allowed to brandish any document drawn in  any ones back yard as a draft for a New Constitution of Sri Lanka. Such an act should be made a  legally chargeable act of  high treason. 

 We already have a constitution with which we won a war against ruthless terrorists and impeached a not so good Chief Justice, therefore we should respect the Constitution we have  and keep it for generations to come. The future political leaders may continue to use this Same Constitution, amending it when the necessity arises but never rescind it to replace it with another.

7 Responses to “Doing Politics with the Constitution.”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Run-nil plays with his toy train when serious men drive trains!!!

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Shenali is correct … AGAIN!

    There is INDEED a “Bamunu Kulaya” (Wimal Weerawansa’s terminology) hidden deep within Sri Lankan Bureaucracies and in Sri Lankan Society at large, feathering their own nests, but slowly undermining the Patriotic Forces and the Mahinda Chintanaya, and lying in wait hidden low in the grass for the best opportunity to rear up and overturn the Patriotic Forces of Sri Lanka.

    A GOOD EXAMPLE is found in the spectrum of people and organizations now FORCED to COME OUT of the WOODWORK where they have been hiding, JOINING the TNA and expressing their opposition to REPEALING the 13th Amendment and DISSOLVING the Provincial Councils: SLMC, CP, Catholic Bishops, a hitherto unknown group “the Royal Forum” ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

    The official UNP party, led by that Serial TRAITOR Ranil Wickremasinghe, will soon abandon its discussions with the JHU … through which they hope to secure an end to the Presidential System and topple Mahinda Rajapaksa, and propel ITSELF into power. “Who the hell cares how we get there, we get there somehow” …. EVEN by SELLING OUT the Motherland … that has always been Ranil’s theme song.

    Will the JHU be able to get UNP’s support to REPEAL the 13th Amendment WITHOUT paying a stiff UNACCEPTABLE PRICE to overturn the Patriotic Forces of Sri Lanka? There is NO HOPE WHATEVER of that happening with Ranil Wickemasinghe …. who is even now trying to embed a requirement in a new Constitution that would expel MPs who defect from their party from Parliament.

    On the other hand, there are MANY MPs and other members of the UNP, wedded to UNP’s “other principles” who are still PATRIOTS, and WILL SUPPORT the REPEALING of the 13th Amendment; they will DEFY Ranil and VOTE FOR REPEALING at the correct time.

    Rise Up …. O Patriots of Mother Lanka …. Rise Up in your TENS OF MILLIONS … to DEFEND and PROTECT your Mother Land NOW …. as you did to CRUSH the Murderous Tamil Tiger Terrorists during the last WAR of National Liberation.

    You will be VICTORIOUS in this NOBLE PURPOSE of preventing the creation of a Patchwork Quilt of Racist Apartheid Bantustans, FOREVER AT WAR with one another, in Sri Lanka. REPEAL the 13th Amendment and DISSOLVE the Provincial Councils NOW!

    Rise Up ….O Patriots of Mother Lanka …. Rise Up to Create ONE Indivisible Nation, of ONE Inseparable People, sharing ONE Indomitable National Destiny!

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    As in the PAST, the Udayan Newspaper is fomenting civil discord, by publishing UNTRUTHS and HALF TRUTHS designed to EXPEL the Army from the Northern Province.

    This is not “news reporting” but “news fabrication” and “news distortion”. We saw how this kind of sustained propaganda created a support base for the Eelamist terrorism in the past. It is STARTING ALL OVER AGAIN. It must not be allowed to continue with IMPUNITY because the CONSEQUENCES are HUGE!

    The GOSL should INVESTIGATE to collect EVIDENCE, PROSECUTE, CONVICT and SEVERELY PUNISH those who engage in this kind of activity, to demonize and expel the Armed Forces from their theater of operations, only recently cleared of Armed Separatist Terrorists.

    PUNISHMENT should include IMPRISONMENT at HARD LABOR, CONFISCATION of PERSONAL & CORPORATE ASSETS, and the LOSS of CIVIC RIGHTS such as the right to vote, the right to engage in politics, or in any form of employment that requires the public’s trust (eg. publishing, government, education, medicine, legal, notary public, engineering, banking, etc).

    Army committed to protect Hindu places of worship

    By Anushika Ranadewa and Rakshana Sriyantha
    June 11, 2013

    Recently the Udayan newspaper stated that the Army was responsible for looting Hindu Kovils in the Batticaloa District.

    The Udayan paper also stated that the Army was bent on vandalizing and destroying Hindu places of worship.

    Eastern Province Security Forces Commander Major General Lal Perera stated that the Sri Lankan Army is committed to protect religious places and not to destroy them.

    “Even during the war, the Army protected Kovils,” the Major General added. He said the Sri Lanka Army not only protects but also rebuilds the destroyed temples and Kovils. “Therefore the allegations had no basis”.

    “What has the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) done to preserve Hindu Kovils?” questioned Major General Perera. “investigations have revealed the identity of those responsible and the suspects have been arrested in this connection,” the Major General said.

    Investigations revealed that a burglary took place on June 1 at Pillaiyaar Kovil in Vellaveli and it was carried out by burglars from the area.

    one suspect was arrested and the other suspect had fled the village.

    Batticaloa Police are conducting further investigations, he said.

    The Major General stated that the TNA and some media sympathetic to it are trying to place the blame on the Army for incidents which are totally baseless and far from the truth.

    “The main intention of such allegations are to dislodge the Sri Lankan Army from the North and East”.

    The Major General said all communities in the North and East, the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims live together and work in harmony and unity irrespective of caste, creed, religion or ethnicity. “This is such a headache for certain people,” the Major General said.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Ananda USA,

    Thank you for your heartfelt support of Mother Lanka !

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    These are CASTE wars. Two rival Tamil castes claim these kovils. Recently one caste’s claims over the other were upheld by the villagers. Then the other caste people attacked it.

  6. Marco Says:

    President Rajapakse has a dilemma

    There are vociferous people seeking the abolition of the 13th Amendment (which, incidentally he should have done soon after the defeat of the LTTE) like the newly formed “Collective for the abolition of the Provincial Council System”.
    Pres Rajapakse on various occasions has given undertakings and promises to the International Community for the full implementation of the 13th including holding NPC election. The IC just does not mean just India & USA but also includes countries that supported Sri Lanka against the UN Resolution.It was a bargaining tool used by MR to canvas support for SL at 3 UN Conflabs. I believe he even promised India & USA as far back as Mar/Apr 2009 as a quid pro quo for non interference during the last stages of the war and evidence of War Crimes allegations.
    It also suits the President politically to have the Provincial Counselors during Parliamentary and Presidential elections.
    However, the Northern & Eastern province has no advantage to him as he is unlikely to gain a foot hold if free and fair elections are held. The granting of land and police powers to the PC especially to the North is a sticking point for obvious reasons.
    Therefore, i see various Amendments will be introduced to dilute the 13th and give wide ranging powers to the Executive like the 18th Amendment.
    Abolition of the Provincial Councils will severely dilute his grass root voter “muscle” which is not exactly ideal for the President.
    I have yet to read or hear him say he wishes to abolish the 13th (he cant contrary to the undertakings)instead he gets his stooges to make the noises with confusion thrown in to keep the populace guessing.

    India (being the super power in SE Asia and immediate neighbor) has been given the unenviable task by the IC including Countries that supported SL to keep a watching brief on the promises given by Pres Rajapakse and his Govt.

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    Indeed, as Neville Laduahetty says, “Thus the interests of the People are at variance with the interests of the Councillors. ”

    But, we must ALSO ask “Which People”? ALL of the citizens of the whole of Sri Lanka, or ONLY the residents of ONE OR MORE Provinces?

    Therein lies the DANGER. If for example, “the People” of a particular Province, for whatever reason, want to secede from union with Sri Lanka, then will they have, or can they acquire, the Legal Power to do it using the powers devolved under the 13th Amendment? Even if there is no difference in opinion between “the People” of that province and “the Provincial Councillors” of that province, it could very well happen that the People of the Other Provinces, and/or their Provincial Councillors, may disagree with the steps contemplated by the Province in question.

    That is why Sri Lanka should NEVER RECOGNIZE of ANY SUB-NATIONAL GROUP of Sri Lankans, defined on ANY BASIS such as regional, ethnic, religious, or whatever, as having Sovereignty, or the Power to decide on whether to remain a part of Sri Lanka, or to act independently of the Sri Lankan Nation State.

    ONLY the ENTIRE PEOPLE of Sri Lanka, expressing their views through NATIONWIDE ELECTIONS and REFERENDA, should be recognized as being SOVEREIGN, and be RECOGNIZED as having the Legal Power to decide on such matters.

    That is why Land and Police Powers are so critica to maintaining the Sovereignty of ALL PEOPLE of Sri Lankal. Without Land Powers the Nation State has no control over its territory, and without Police Powers it will have no authority or the means to enforce the Land Powers, which more generally can be taken to include immigration/emigration as well.

    Recall that during the period from March 15, 1815 to February 4, 1948, MILLIONS of Indian laborers were imported into Sri Lanka by the British, ignoring the protests of the native people of Sri Lanka, PERMANENTLY AFFECTING their RIGHTS and DISPOSSESSING them. That is the PRICE Sri Lankans paid for having lost our Sovereignty and Control over our country for 150 years. We should LEARN well that LESSON of the CONSEQUENCES of losing Land and Police Powers to foreign powers or internal groups, who have agendas inimical to the continued existence and sovereignty of our nation.

    FORTUNATELY, there is an Internationally Recognized LEGAL PRINCIPLE and a CLEAR LEGAL PRECEDENT for a National Government to claim the Sovereignty of ALL PEOPLE of a country over ALL of its territory, and enforce its authority even over sub-groups of states and people residing in those territories: The United States of America in the US Civil War:

    The Southern (Confederate) States of the USA argued that since they had joined the American Union voluntarily, and since they had reserved States Rights to themselves under the US Constitution at that time, they had every right to SECEDE from the Union if they so decided, WITHOUT REGARD to wishes of THE PEOPLE OF THE NATION AS A WHOLE.

    Not so, argued President Abraham Lincoln and the Union (Federal) States. They maintained that ONLY the ALL of PEOPLE of the Nation were Sovereign, not the States, not the People of a SUB-GROUP of those States.

    The argument was that ALL OF THE PEOPLE of THE United States had ACQUIRED A RIGHT TO ENJOY THE BOUNTY of the ENTIRE TERRITORY OF THE UNITED STATES ACCUMULATED during the Previous 100 Years of Union as ONE NATION STATE. ALL of the People of the US had invested their efforts, their treasure, and their hopes in building that Union of States, argued the Unionists, and no SUB-GROUP of States had the right ANYMORE to DENY them those ACCUMULATED EARNED RIGHTS, which are now INALIENABLE.

    Well, Sri Lanka has certainly existed as a well-recognized Sovereign Nation-State for several thousand years, with brief interruptions due to invasions, and ALL OF ITS PEOPLE, from then until now, have invested their efforts, their treasure, and their hopes in an Undivided Sovereign Sri Lanka. That is a RIGHT EARNED and PASSED ONTO to subsequent generations of Sri Lankan Citizens over several millenia, which TRUMPS the RIGHT EARNED by ALL of the citizens of the United States, over a mere 100 years of existence as one nation from the American Revolution to the American Civil War, to CONTINUED EXISTENCE as a ONE undivided Nation.

    This EXAMPLE of ONLY ALL OFF THE PEOPLE of a Nation State being Sovereign, and that this Sovereignty is EARNED RIGHT BY ALL OF THE PEOPLE to ALL OF THE TERRITORY OF A NATION, is IMPORTANT to Sri Lanka for TWO reasons:

    1. It FORMS a BASIS for asserting that the WILL OF ALL CITIZENS OF Sri Lanka has PRIORITY/PRECEDENCE over the WILL OF ANY SEPARATIST SUB-GROUP of People in Sri Lanka. Therefore, any National Question, such as REPEALING the 13th Amendment and the DISSOLUTION of the Provincial Councils, must be decided in a NATIONWIDE REFERENDUM that queries the wishes of ALL PEOPLE of Sri Lanka. Furthermore, the WILL of ALL of Sri Lanka, thus expressed, is PARAMOUNT, and has precedence over the WILL of its Representatives elected to ANY and ALL branches (the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary) of Government.

    2. This Legal Principle is well established in the United States, forming as it did the very legal basis on which the Civil War against the Separatist Confederates, was fought and won, and the writ of the Union Government was consolidated over the ENTIRE United States, and subsequently extended to new territories that joined, or were annexed, into the United States. Yet, the United States is one of the foremost critics of Sri Lanka that demands Devolution of Power to ACTIVE separatists, who threaten its very existence as a Sovereign Nation, and refuse to abide by its unitary status. That is CLEARLY CONTRARY to the Principles the United States used in the past, and uses today, to assure its own existence as a United Sovereign Nation.

    Therefore, this Principle can be USED to FEND off ALL of the Foreign Critics of Sri Lanka who demand that autonomous power be devolved to former and continuing separatists by pointing out the HYPOCRISY, DOUBLE STANDARDS, ILLEGALITY under their own laws, of their positions on this issue. We can INVOKE the same principle they used to defend and protect thier own countries, to defend and protect Sri Lanka’s Sovereignty over ALL of its territory, and ALL of its people.

    What is GOOD for the American GOOSE, we must INSIST, is GOOD for the Sri Lankan GANDER as well!

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