Ranil’s Indianization project and the new constitution
Posted on April 29th, 2017

BY DR. DAYAN JAYATILLEKA

While the Ramayana narrative makes clear that a land link between India and Lanka was of decisive and devastating strategic consequence for the island of Lanka, the Romans and the British made it clear that the building of roadways was an essential part of annexation and empire building. What is true of imperialismsgone by is true of contemporary regional sub-imperialisms. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has discussed a highway linking India and Sri Lanka, and more accurately Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, in his meeting with Indian Minister of Highways Nitin Gadkari. The PM has also invited India to build highways in Sri Lanka’s North and East, linking Mannar and Vavuniya, and Mannar and Trincomalee.

DS Senayaka used the British connection – and the contentious Citizenship acts–to balance off India and minimize Indian influence on the island. SWRD and Sirimavo Bandaranaike sought to dilute Indian influence by immersing Sri Lankan in Afro-Asianism and the Non Aligned Movement. JR Jayewardene played North India off against Tamil secessionism and Tamil nadu. Premadasa played Tamil secessionism against Indian expansionism/annexationism. Lakshman Kadirgamar and then Mahinda Rajapaksa strove to “Look East”, and use China to balance off India and the US.

What was common to all of Sri Lanka’s leaders was to rightly regard as the worst case scenario, a nexus between India, Tamil nadu and Sri Lanka’s Tamil North. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has overturned all that. He has openly called for Sri Lanka’s economy to be linked with five South Indian states Indian states including Tamil nadu, and he is giving India a large foothold in Trincomalee and the island’s North in general, through highway building and economic projects. He is also hell-bent on signing ETCA which will allow greater penetration of the whole Sri Lankan economy by India.

I have not heard of nor can I think of a worse act of treachery by any Sri Lankan leader nor indeed any leader anywhere in the world today, and possibly during my lifetime (apart from perhaps Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam).

What is vital is to see the connection between this Indianization project and the proposal for a new Constitution.

The jury has been in on the question of the executive presidency as a system, for quite a long time. The evidence in favor is massive and incontrovertible. The question then is who wants us to abolish it and why.

The two most successful countries in the world are the USA and China, so much so that some refer to them as “G-2’, which means group of 2, and is a funny riff on the G-7. Both countries have executive presidential systems.

The most powerful and significant countries in the world are the Five Permanent members of the UN Security Council. Of the five, four have executive presidential systems: US, China, Russia, and France. Only Britain does not.

The fastest growing zone of the world economically is East Asia. Most, though not all countries in that region have executive presidential systems: China (including Taiwan), Vietnam, South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The continent of the Americas, both North and South, is enveloped by executive presidencies from the USA through Cuba to the rest of Latin America. The sole exception is Canada.

Nelson Mandela chose the Presidential system for South Africa.

So, on a world scale, it is obvious that most countries, and certainly the most important ones, have opted for the executive Presidential system whatever the respective ideologies of those societies and governments. Whatever the ideological contrasts and swings between and within societies, these countries have opted for the executive Presidency.

Furthermore, no country which opted for an executive Presidency has opted to reverse that choice and go for a parliamentary system. If at all—as in Turkey- countries opt to move to an executive presidency, and some even to remove term limits– Nicaragua, Venezuela.

All of this attest to the superiority of the executive presidency as system. If the criticism is of the working of the executive presidency in Sri Lanka, then that is quite obviously not evidence of the need to abolish the system. It is evidence of the need for reform, through amendments, of the system and within the system.

Indeed that has been attempted by the 19th amendment, which should be given a chance to work for at least a decade, preferably with different governments.

Let us then examine the evidence with respect to Sri Lanka. When we had a parliamentary system we had low economic growth, Sinhala only in 1956, the first race riots of 1958, the assassination of a Prime Minister, a coup attempt in 1962, a violent insurrection in 1971, the conversion of an ethno regional party to separatism in 1976, the founding of the Tiger movement in 1976 and the commencement of a Thirty Years War in the 1970s.

With the executive presidency we had high growth, maintaining approximately 5% even in wartime. We absorbed a foreign intervention and reversed it, won civil wars in South and North, defeated the world’s most powerful terrorist army, regained our territorial integrity, national sovereignty and territorial unity (borders), retained our multiparty democratic system and had successive elected governments, and had a postwar economic recovery which gave us the highest growth rate in Asia outside of China. By contrast, even the USA, the world sole superpower, has been unable to militarily defeat terrorism in any one of its ongoing wars. The Greater Middle East is a junkyard of wrecked states and societies. Sri Lanka by contrast is not a failed state, it is a successful one, which has passed many tests, each of which other states have failed.

The executive presidential system has been an important factor in our success. It has proven its superiority is ensuring relatively high economic growth and in the crucial matter of decision making in “extreme situations” –of a sort that most societies are faced with in today’s world due to terrorism and economic crisis, and this island would never be free from anyway, given our attractive geopolitical and geostrategic location and attendant vulnerabilities.

As for the nexus between instability, low economic growth and the parliamentary model on the one hand, and stability, high economic growth and the executive Presidency on the other, the case was made in 1966 by JR Jayewardene and proved by the evidence (listed above) of subsequent decades. JR Jayewardene’s thinking was heavily influenced not only by the American model but more so by that of General Charles de Gaulle who introduced the system to France in 1958 as a bulwark against the kind of internal instability and external vulnerability that had made that great country a victim. This is why Emeritus Professorof Political Science, AJ Wilson was correct when he defined the Jayewardene constitution of 1978 as ushering in “The Gaullist system in Asia”. This system has served us well, and France certainly does not want to dispose of it, as we see in the latest elections.

Who then wants to dispose of the executive presidency in Sri Lanka and to what end, with what probable result?

It is Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe who has tried several times to be elected President but has failed and knows his best shot is at a Prime Ministership with executive power; Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga who knows she cannot be reelected President but wants a system where she can play Sonia Gandhi to someone else’s Manmohan Singh; the TNA which prefers a weak centre which cannot control the Northern Provincial Council; and those who want to prevent Gotabhaya Rajapaksa from being elected president in 2019 and proving a worthy successor to the strong, ‘developmentalist-modernizing’ Presidencies of JR Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa and Mahinda Rajapaksa– presidencies which were akin to the East Asian model.

It is now clear what the regime change of January 8th 2015 (or ‘democratic revolution’ as some silly folk would have it) was all about: India, or more correctly, the US-India-Japan axis, securing through a puppet Prime Minister, the strategic prize of Trincomalee as part of its competition with China and Russia in the Asia–Pacific region and especially the Indian Ocean.

This is what the new Constitution and the call for the abolition of the executive Presidency is about:(a) Securing the permanent possession of Trincomalee by empowering the Tamil-majority Northern and Eastern Provinces as a buffer, and rendering the area eminently detachable in a Cyprusization move and (b) strengthening the puppet Prime Minister by transferring executive power to him.

Let’s all vote on it, shall we?

9 Responses to “Ranil’s Indianization project and the new constitution”

  1. DR M D P DISSANAYAKE Says:

    Dear Dr Jayatilleke

    The case for the retention of Executive Presidency is overwhelming. The EP is something like GST ( Goods and Services Tax) in Finance, once it is built in, any attempts to reverse will cause unforeseen consequences.

    If Indonesia is not under an Executive Presidential system, the massive archipelago would have collapsed by now. Formation of East Timor to fulfill the wishes of Westerners is now causing massive social and economic problems.

    Sri Lanka cannot be compared to Indonesia, but Tamils ( like East Timorese hated Suharto) hate Sinhala Leaders. Tamils are aiming to have its own Prime Minister in some corner of Sri Lanka. They already have an Opposition Leader. The Speaker Karu Jayasuriya is not recognizing Joint Opposition because it will then become the second largest parliamentary group and will have to have the Opposition Leader from the JO. Before Election, no body thought Ranil will become PM, because the election was to elect a New President. Similarly before election, nobody thought Tamil Kewattaya Sambandam will become Leader of Opposition.

    There is real danger underpinning the existence of Sinhalese and continuation of Buddhism in this tiny island.

    We must repeal 19 amendment and 13A.

    Malwatte chapter is now against a new Constitution. Many years ago, Late Mr Lee Kwan Yew said: ” Some people as asking why Singapore will not have a new Constitution. I know there is one country in Asia that has changed its Constitution so many times. They first changed the Constitution, because they argued that they cannot do anything until Article 19 of the 1948 Constitution. They wanted to prevent Legal Appeals are made to Privy Council. They wanted the Local Supreme Court, to be Supreme. Now they have changed the Constitution so many time, still going backwards. If I want to do something in Singapore, then I know which page and which Article of my constitution I should refer to”

    No need to vote on a new constitution, instead, JO must do everything at their disposal to bring down this bunch.

  2. Fran Diaz Says:

    Agree again with Dr Dissanayake. Thank you.

    ———

    ALL other countries have looked after themselves through their PATRIOTIC leaders.

    Question: Is the present leadership of the Exec PM PATRIOTIC ?
    The Exec Prime Minister’s post has diminished the Exec Presidency.

    Remove the 19-A.
    Remove the ILLEGAL 13-A.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    Dayan is no expert in Constitutional Law. He is a political science expert.

    Tamils and Muslims have the deciding vote in presidential elections. Separatists had lesser election clout before EP. Now all politicians go after Tamils and Muslims to win the presidential election. Some politicians even spoke in Tamil (Nadu) language in a desperate attempt to woo Tamil voters (but failed).

    Dayan was instrumental in establishing 13A and he will never support discounting or abrogating 13A. EP is essential for the continuation of 13A. Otherwise the parliament on its own initiative can abrogate 13A.

    It must not be forgotten that Sri Lanka passed 13A and the Provincial Council Act in compliance with the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord signed between the Indian PM and the Sri Lankan president. The entire parliament (except Ronnie De Mel) boycotted that treason. Executive president is behind handing over Trincomalee to India, agreeing to hybrid courts, OMP Act, extradition of war crimes accused people, LLRC and PTOMS. No one has facilitated treason than executive presidents. Parliament cannot do any of these without the authority, approval and immunity of the EP.

    On May 23, 2009 the president renewed the commitment to continue with 13A to the UN (after the Indo-Lanka Accord ended by frustration with the end of the war). It is EP that passed and sustains 13A. This is why Dayan want EP retained so that 13A will be safe.

  4. Christie Says:

    Dilrook Sinhalese are still the majority. It was Banda who was sponsored by India and Indian colonial parasites who divided the Sinhalese. Just look what has happened to the Sinhalese. I am happ as Sinhalese are realizing what the Indian Empire is up to.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    Now the Exec Presidency in Lanka is being ursurped by the Exec PM who does not appear to be a PATRIOT !

  6. AnuD Says:

    EP becoming a EPM is temporary. Yahapalanaya does not work. Once it becomes one party, that PM needs powers. then the parliament is also acceptable.

    13A or !3+ is good if the politicians know how to handle it. As India wants it to fool Tamilnadu, no one will abrogate 13A.

    Ranil is working for the what the west needs. That is why he went to Japan and said, that Indian Ocean should be free for everybody. If it has to be free, then all the american ships should go home. I don’t think Japan meant that.

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    NO Rajapaksha will EVER SCRAP 13 amendment. If they do, I cut my small finger as I VOWED in 2014 after MR told me 13 amendment is PART OF LAW and cannot be removed now.

    Dream on fools!

    It will NEVER happen.

    NOT TO WORRY about exec. pres. It will NOT be abolished because ALL GREEDY politicos want it. Right or wrong exec. pres. is here to STAY. Which politician want to RUIN their OWN future?

    Dream on fools!

    It will NEVER happen.

    I support removing exec. pres. BUT NOT NOW. IF we SCRAP exec. pres. NOW, RUN-NIL becomes the man!! NO WAY!

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    IF not a MILITARY-SANGHA rule to save SL, we need SARATH WEERASEKERE to become the president. Until then exec. pres. must be KEPT.

    I know HOW to make someone win presidential elections.

  9. Ananda-USA Says:

    I COMPLETELY AGREE with Dayan Jayatilleke in his DEFENCE of the Executive Presidency as the MOST APPROPRIATE Form of Government for Sri Lanka that is threatened by the local BIG BULLY India, and the Neocolonialist Hypocrites of the West plying their own global agendas.

    In particular, I agree with Dayan’s succinct assessment of PARA-GATHI AGA-MATHI WIKUNANASINGHE when he says

    “I have not heard of nor can I think of a worse act of treachery by any Sri Lankan leader nor indeed any leader anywhere in the world today, and possibly during my lifetime (apart from perhaps Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam).”

    Dayan, however, has been labelled a founding-supporter of the 13th Amendment, which I STRONGLY BELIEVE should be REPEALED COMPLETELY as soon as a PATRIOTIC GOVERNMENT is restored to Sri Lanka.

    The more this PARA-GATHI AGA-MATHI Wickunanasinghe tries to deliver Sri Lanka bound hand and foot as a SERVILE COLONY to India, to be governed by the Indian proxies in the TNA, itself the political arm of Indian military proxy the LTTE, the faster this TRAITOR will dig his own grave.

    When he is OUSTED from power this time, Wikunanasinghe will NEVER AGAIN be able to return to politics in Sri Lanka. He will be consigned to the darkest most shameful chapter of Sri Lanka’s history as an ARCH IRREDEEMABLE VILLAIN without a shred of patriotism!

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