Cornermen as referees
Posted on November 7th, 2018

Editorial -Courtesy The Island 


The first step in treating a seriously ill patient is diagnosing his or her disease. He or she has to be rushed to hospital and nowhere else. Nothing is stupider than to consult anyone other than a qualified doctor on his or her condition. Likewise, a country’s political ills, caused by constitutional ambiguities, should be identified properly before remedies are adopted; the only institution which is qualified and empowered to handle this task is the apex court.

Unfortunately, where the current crisis situation in this country is concerned, the Supreme Court has been totally ignored. Political leaders including the President, lawyers, the media, civil society groups or foreign diplomats and the Speaker have no authority to interpret the Constitution. They can shout for or against the recent change of government till they are blue in the face, but their views lack legal validity.

The present crisis situation has triggered a flurry of diplomatic activity in Colombo. Foreign envoys, representing powerful nations, are acting as if they thought the clash between the UNP and the SLFP-SLPP alliance could lead to a world war unless nipped in the bud. They are meeting both sides to the conflict, either openly or on the sly, and some of them have gone so far as to make public statements, suggesting solutions. The question is whether such actions will be allowed in other countries which cherish their sovereignty and are even ready to fire nukes to protect it.

If the US happens to experience a constitutional issue, will it allow the Russian ambassador, or any other foreign envoy in Washington for that matter, to run around like a headless chicken, giving his opinion thereon and telling the White House or the Congress what to do? A Sri Lankan military attache had to be recalled from London for making what came to be known as a throat-slitting gesture to a group of LTTE activists, who were protesting near the Sri Lankan High Commission. What would happen if a Sri Lankan diplomat ever tried to tell Prime Minister Theresa May how to handle Brexit or tackle the issue of British MPs refusing to eat halal meat?

Curiously, none of the overly concerned diplomats weeping buckets for Sri Lanka’s democracy have urged the warring parties to invoke the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court over the constitutional issues underlying the current political crisis.

The ongoing crisis management process, where various persons are trying to resolve the present crisis without moving the Supreme Court, is like performing a life-saving surgery without a surgeon. We can only hope that the patient—Sri Lanka’s ailing democracy—will survive the operation. The current political battle is also like a boxing match refereed by cornermen instead of a professional referee.

In an interesting turn of events, two senior parliamentary officials are reported to have said they will abide by the President’s gazette in making arrangements for the reopening of Parliament on Nov. 14. Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has declared that he does not recognise the new government until and unless it proves it has a majority in the House, and, in the meantime he will stick to the pre-Oct. 26 status in the House. Here is a situation where the Speaker refuses to follow a presidential directive, but the parliamentary staff has chosen to do otherwise! What will be the Speaker’s reaction?

Meanwhile, the UNP and the SLFP-SLPP combine should not lose sight of the danger of seeking help from external forces. There is said to be no such thing as a free lunch. Foreign help for the parties embroiled in the ongoing power struggle does not come without strings attached. Whichever side emerges victorious, the country will be the loser in that it will have to divest itself of an airport or a port or a container terminal or another section of its oil tank farm in the East or vast extents of land.

5 Responses to “Cornermen as referees”

  1. Hiranthe Says:

    “Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has declared that he does not recognise the new government until and unless it proves it has a majority in the House, and, in the meantime he will stick to the pre-Oct. 26 status in the House”

    This is the door way for MR’s advantage. Tell My3 to dissolve the parliament quoting this and the risk of violence within the parliament and also quoting a bomb incident organised by JVP during JR’s time.

    This is a special ground for dissolving the parliament quoting the safety of the 225 legislators and the properties within the Parliamentary complex.

    MR and the Pohottuwa can come to power on its own without the rogue SLFP left over members.

    He should realise that My3 did the whole episode for his and his team’s survival, not thinking of the country and its citizens. He is a cunning fellow you should not trust. Now they are going to piggy back on Pohottuwa.

  2. Dilrook Says:

    Dissolving parliament before February 2020 is unconstitutional unless the budget or statement of account is defeated. The president can still do it because he is above the law but that is a violation of the constitution.

    Instead it is better to call for a presidential election now. If the president gets a fresh mandate, parties will honour it and fall in line. If he is replaced, they will rally around the new president. An immediate presidential election will also scuttle American interference in it.

  3. Hiranthe Says:

    I agree with the idea of calling for the Presidential Election. It will solve the issue at hand.

    The problem is My3 will field himself as the representative of the new government. That may be his clever plan. MY3 is a very cunning fellow. He wants to come back to power with the popularity of MR and the backing of Pohottuwa.

    The issue to the ordinary folks is, we cannot get Gota into the driving seat. That is what the whole country is waiting for.

    Other option is Supreme Court attests MR’s appointment as legitimate before the parliament’s next sitting on 14th and then when the parliament is called, UNP defeats MR with a no confident motion. That will pave the way for a Parliamentary election. This is a better option and MR and the Pohottuwa are not under any obligation to My3.

    Then in the Presidential election, Gota can join the race and will easily.

    But for this to happen, someone should seek Supreme Court’s decision on the validity of MR’s appointment. Who will do it is a question?

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    Introduce a POISON PILL everyone would HATE into the BUDGET BILL, and make it FAIL in Parliament. Then the President can DISSOLVE the Parliament and hold NEW PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS at which the New Govt will be RETURNED TO POWER with 2/3 majority!

    Simple Ain’t it?

  5. Christie Says:

    We Sinhalese fight among ourselves.

    ndia and Indians here all over the world are enjoying watching us fighting among ourselves.

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