Three stooges in Long Hot Summer
Posted on May 5th, 2015

By DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

John Kerry was right, but only half right, when he commended Samaraweera for noting that true sovereignty can only be protected by asserting our multiethnic, multi-religious, multi lingual character. Both Kerry and Samaraweera forgot the flip side, namely that the estimable values of multi-ethnicity, multilingualism, multi-religiosity and pluralist multiculturalism can be successfully defended by those who have the national legitimacy of successfully defending national sovereignty.

The problem isn’t John Kerry. The problem is the Ranil-Mangala-CBK troika: the Three Stooges of the West. Kerry made a substantive, subtly intelligent speech at the Kadirgamar Institute. His remarks at the Ministry of External Affairs were helpful in that he signaled that Sri Lanka would hold parliamentary elections “in the summer”. This confirms the mention in The Economist (London) that elections will be in August this year.

Matters are a little different when we come to Mangala Samaraweera and his ex-boss, Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga.

Welcoming Kerry, Mangala promised a domestic investigatory mechanism with international technical assistance including from the UN. What does this mean other than Western investigatory teams digging up bones all over our North and East, while operating under the cover of a domestic mechanism? The Opposition should move a no-confidence motion on the Government at the first sign of such dangerous subterfuge.

Mangala also revealed an explicit aim of a “fully-fledged parliamentary democracy”. He could have just said ‘democracy’, or ‘pluralist democracy’ or ‘liberal democracy’ but he didn’t. Instead he specified the parliamentary form. What this means is that as earlier indicated by Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, Eran Wickremaratne and Jayampathy Wickremaratne, a UNP Government will be committed to the abolition of the executive presidency and the restoration of the Westminster model.

In turn this clearly means that despite all the time and effort spent on 19A, the UNP does not want to give the resultant reformed Presidency a try for ten or even five years, and intends to embark on a time consuming distraction of a new constitution, scrapping the balanced , classically Gaullist presidential parliamentary synthesis that has just emerged.

The question is “Why”? I believe there are three possible answers or a mix of any or all of them. At the most banal level, the abolition of the executive presidency instead of a long try-out for the newly reformed one, is because the UNP elite, of which CBK is now an honorary member, wishes to block a Sajith Premadasa presidency in 2020. I recall a DUNF top-ranker telling me during the impeachment campaign that “R. Premadasa was OK, but Ranasinghe Premadasa is not”. When I asked him what he meant, he said Prime Minister Premadasa was OK but President Premadasa was not.

President Premadasa’s view was just the opposite. He told me at the time of the impeachment motion: “Dayan, I am able to do all this rapid development work for the people, while uplifting the poorest of the poor, because of Mr. Jayewardene’s Executive Presidency. Do you think my Cabinet colleagues would have allowed me to do any of these programs if I were a PM? I remember how these jealous fellows cut my funds in 1980…”

The second generation UNP elite, firmly restored under Ranil Wickremesinghe, is not going to let Premadasa Jr. pick up in 2020 where Premadasa Sr. left off in 1993.

That however, is the least important of the three possible considerations. The second is that an entirely new Constitution is needed to accommodate the real change that the regime change of January 8th was about. The issue of theabolition of the executive presidency is either a fig leaf or of secondary importance to this real objective. That objective was spelled out as ‘the only durable solution to peace on the island’ by former president Kumaratunga in her SJV Chalvanayakam memorial Oration. She explicitly articulated the term “a federal constitution”. She went on to advocate the “dismantling’of the Sinhala majoritarian governmental structures and laws which had given the majority a monopoly of political, social and economic resources and exclude the minorities. The veteran Indian journalist and Sri Lanka watcher PK Balachandran summed up her speech in the caption of his report in the New Indian Express: “End Sinhala Monopoly says Kumaratunga”.

Thus, the UNP’s need for a “parliamentary democracy” rather than a rebalanced (post-19A) Executive Presidency is really the need for a new constitution, and that need in turn, is to fulfill the objective of a federal constitution, reducing the political power and control of the majority over the island state. Thus a return to a “fully-fledged parliamentary democracy” is a cover story for the introduction of federalism.

There is a third reason or explanation. Taken together, what would a Westminster model combined with a federal system amount to? The classic Westminster model is unitary, and has subsequently evolved to grant a great measure of devolved power—it is not federal. The US Presidential system is federal while the French is unitary. It is a few ex-British colonies that have systems which are both parliamentary and federal: Canada, India, Pakistan, and Malaysia.

In Ceylon/Sri Lanka the national political leadership rejected not only federalism but also devolution, while the system was parliamentary. It was only with a secure executive presidential system that the mature national leaders felt it was safe to devolve power to the provinces, though never to shift to federalism. A combination of a fully-fledged parliamentary system and federalism, as envisaged by the UNP-CBK combine would go way beyond the parameters that successive national leaders established since Independence. It would seriously weaken the Sri Lankan state.

A Government of a “fully-fledged parliamentary democracy” would be controllable by the TNA. Furthermore, a federal constitution would loosen the ties that the island’s North and East have with the rest of the island and its capital while permitting greater ties with its 70 million strong ethnic kin in Tamil Nadu, and through them with the large neighbor looming permanently on the horizon.

Perhaps that is the third objective: a Sri Lankan state that is sufficiently weakened– “dismantled”–so as to mollify Tamil opinion here, in Tamil Nadu, and in the million strong Diaspora? It would also be a state that is sufficiently non-resistant to the political, strategic and economic influence of the patrons of the UNP-CBK dispensation, the West and India. Such a weak state would be a citadel that has lowered its drawbridge, dismantled its battlements and ushered in the Trojan horse of external influence.

In the name of justice, equality and autonomy for the minorities, the majority on the island, the Sinhalese, who are the real minority when you consider the massive geopolitical realities just a few kilometers of ocean away, not to mention in the world as a whole, will find themselves politically displaced, distanced from their real friends in the world, and left naked to their existential enemies.

Our last chance to prevent this peacefully will be the parliamentary election scheduled for later “this summer“. It will be a long, hot summer. If our electoral choice is wrong, if we don’t generate a tsunami of Sinhala votes which will sweep away the local puppets and defend our natural status on this our island home, it will be our last summer as an independent nation, followed by an endless winter as a dependency of the Empire and the regional superpower.

10 Responses to “Three stooges in Long Hot Summer”

  1. mario_perera Says:

    If our electoral choice is wrong, if we don’t generate a tsunami of Sinhala votes which will sweep away the local puppets and defend our natural status on this our island home, it will be our last summer as an independent nation, followed by an endless winter as a dependency of the Empire and the regional superpower. – DJ

    Pray tell us, when was our nation independent within living memory?

    Whatever be the choice of the Sinhala voters, ours will be an endless winter of dependency be it on the Empire and the regional superpower, or whatever other power or powers we must necessarily fix our anchor on.

    The choice between independence and dependence held out to this nation is similar to an offer of a mirage as against an illusion, or between slavery and indentured labour!

    Mario Perera
    Kadawata

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    We the People have some Questions :

    * No one asks Tamil leaders to revoke the Vadukoddai Resolution ?

    * No one asks Tamil leaders to revoke calls to Separatism ?

    * When We the People fight off Terrorism grown by outsiders, we are at fault ?

    * When we turn to helpful friendly countries in the region, we are at fault ?

    * Why does Lanka have the Tamil language as a National/Official language when India is divided into separate states through language ? Are we stupid or what !

  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Usually do not comment anymore but could not help the headlines

    “Long Hot Summer” was partly filmed in my town.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    In the earlier times Tamil folk of Dalit origin believed that merely crossing sea water lost caste (see book “Sri Lanka through American Eyes. Editor : H.A.I Goonetilleke). The yearning is still there to get off the Caste based institutions of Tamil Nadu. There are some 15 Million Tamil Dalit folk in Tamil Nadu. Address the problem at the source,. Lanka is not the sourceof the problem nor is it the solution to the problem.

    If Lanka does not recognise the problems of 15 Million Tamil Nadu Dalits and react accordingly to protect the country and the People, then all in Lanka are indeed headed for a very long hot future.

  5. LANKAPUTHRA Says:

    Mario, whom are you kidding This COW is the emperor like Queen Victoria. John went to a African country and stated the Presidential candidate must abide by their constitution which states that only two terms are allowed per candidate! in Sri Lanka MR got the parliament to give him another term. No one can see how John Kerry got the present into power! By stuffing the ballot boxes! Un less OBAMA game is understood and MR plays this tidiest way, this illegal government cannot be brought down. People must join and block CBK, RANIL and the election office roads. Can this happen? OBAMA WILL NEVER ALLOW THIS. Fran Diaz You are wasting time!

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    L’puthra,

    You must be kidding ! Pres Obama has hefty problems without bothering about human road blocks in Colombo – pls get real.
    Truth is never a waste of time.

  7. Chancy Says:

    Dayan, we have to be vigilant. This new American Ambassador Atul ( of Indian descent) is talking about federalism for Sri Lanka even before he reaches the shores of the country. He has made a speech in which he says only a federal system will work in Sri Lanka. Daya Gamage wrote a piece about it in Asian Tribune. Than you for your wisdom and caring for the country.

  8. Dilrook Says:

    Another very good analysis by Dayan but falls short of proposing an action plan. A tsunami of Sinhala votes will not come for nothing. They need a strong reason, a strong cause to rally around the Mahinda camp. Fear or knowledge of the danger alone cannot overcome it. There should be a way out. The only way out is to abrogate 13A which is the Balkanising tool used by those external actors to divide this country.

    13A must be removed forthwith to stop balkanisation of the island nation. If the Mahinda camp is not taking it up, it will not happen and Mahinda will not win. The reluctance to remove 13A raises the valid question Mario asks. [Quote] Pray tell us, when was our nation independent within living memory? []

    I very much fear the last sentence is prophetic. It will happen as no one wants to remove 13A leaving the country to be divided constitutionally.

    [Quote] distanced from their real friends in the world, and left naked to their existential enemies []

    This is also true. In fact, as Sri Lanka becomes an Indian extention, Sri Lanka’s friends including China and Pakistan will actually turn against it. For them it will be better to have at least a piece of Sri Lanka than lose the entire island to India. Therefore they will also support the division of Sri Lanka as in Sudan.

    It is wise to have a Plan B to save the little left for the Sinhalese after a federal structure. All provinces outside the northern and eastern provinces must be Sinhala only in official and national language, and in land ownership. And it calls for the immediate abrogation of 13A which will be much easier in a divided nation with a 85% Sinhala population. Otherwise the second round of federal demarcation will see the loss of the entire western coastal belt from Mannar through Colombo to Rathmalana, Central Province and even parts of Uva province to ‘Tamil Eelam’.

    Surely avoiding those eventualities is the best outcome. An action plan (none exists), not just fear, will drive voters to Mahinda.

    Violence and anti-democratic means should not be used under any circumstances as these will aggravate the situation. However, violence will have its toll in the event of division of the nation as seen in India/Pakistan and Pakistan/Bangladesh divisions.

  9. Metteyya_Brahmana Says:

    I don’t know about this one, Dr. Jayatilleka,

    You say, “a “parliamentary democracy” rather than a rebalanced (post-19A) Executive Presidency”, but the reality of the 19A that just passed as amended is that Sri Lanka has already moved to the Westminister model. What power does the president really have post 19A?

    The inclusion of the last minute amendment to the 19A that the president “SHALL” accept the advice of the prime minister on cabinet appointments shifts all the power and control of the government from the president to the prime minister, as he who controls the cabinet controls the government.

    The president is also still bound by the “he who has the confidence of Parliament” (i.e., he who can survive a no-confidence majority vote) language in appointing the prime minister, and the reality is that he will not appoint anyone who does not have the support of the party who has a majority of the seats in Parliament or a majority coalition in Parliament. This means, for example, if Mahinda contests as a national candidate of his party and his party wins a majority of the seats in Parliament, Maithripala has no choice but to appoint him as prime minister, as any other person would NOT survive a no-confidence vote in Parliament.

    The only way I see this working out for the minority-rule crowd is if no party wins a majority of the seats, and somehow the TNA, Muslims, Christians, and the UNP have enough votes to form a majority coalition. The demographics do not support this outcome even without the electoral reform of the 20th Amendment, so I do not see a minority-rule government under the current 19A. The only way it worked this time is Maithripala (not Ranil) got enough non-UNP Buddhist votes (because of the corruption issue) to put the ‘UNP + minorities’ over the top in a presidential election, and was therefore able to appoint a UNP prime minister without the UNP having a majority in Parliament thanks to Ranil’s bribery of several SLFP MPs with minor minister positions. If those ministers would have stayed pat, the opposition could have easily mustered a no-confidence vote against Ranil, and the whole minority-rule scheme would have gone up in smoke.

    So the bigger problem in guarding against minority rule is not Parliamentary democracy, but party discipline and keeping in-check MPs who would trade-in their constituency’s interest for a minister job.

    Outlawing crossovers (including the new variety of ‘crossovers’ that allow one to keep their party status while joining a different party’s government that their party has not joined as part of a coalition) until the next election seems to be one way of keeping these MPs in-check so they don’t support minority-rule just to get some minister position. It is still incredible to me that an MP would prefer a minor minister position in a minority-rule government to a major ministership in a majority-rule government, but this is the reality of some of the MPs in Parliament – “get all you can get now, even if you and your party could get a lot more by waiting a few months until the next election.”

  10. ranjit Says:

    Awamangalaya once described MY3 as a useless Gramasevaka who knows nothing and he said he was just a clerk. This dirty mudslinger do not have any respect for human beings. He is just a sucker who kiss the asses of the whites. He maybe planning to immigrate to America if the things go wrong for him in the next elections. This third class liar should be put in jail for discrediting Sri Lanka and supporting Tamil Diaspora for personal benefits.

    There won’t be any division in this country at all as long as true patriots live in this island. Although people have different colors or parties at the end they will unite as one if someone or any group tries to harm our island nation. We have only two major parties in this country and that is S.L.F.P. & UNP and the others were all small parties with no real power. They are there just to disturb the peace or talk about separatism etc. They will never be able to form a Govt alone in 100 years. This is the fact and the people should select the best party who has done service to the people most and to the country without wasting their valuable vote. Most popular and courageous leader we have today is none other than our President for life Mahinda Rajapksa nobody else. It’s the truth and nobody can deny that. He has stamina and a vision for this country to take forward therefore we must back him and bring him back to lead us once again. We don’t have any choice other than that because we all know the past history and what kind of character Ranil is and how many times people rejected him as a leader. We know about his partner CBK who said she was ashamed to be called a Sri Lankan. We already knows about puppet MY3 in 100 days so no point of talking about this useless guy.

    Mahinda should ask him what the heck he is doing as the S.L.F.P. boss while S.L.F.P.er’s been put in jail day after day. Why he don’t bring the former crooks to books? What about Ravi Karunanayaka dubbed as SATHOSA HORA was not investigated? Why Mahendran still at large without going to jail for his great bank robbery? Mahinda should not beg for anything from this useless guy but demand certain things on his own terms. We the people are asking Mahinda to lead us again not Mahinda asking to make him the Prime Minister? We need him more than anytime because too much interference and pressure from western and Indian Mafia to our current leaders who are not capable to solve any problems in the country. Let the stronger one takes the reins again for all of us live in peace.

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