Dawn of a new era
Posted on November 10th, 2018

By Lakshman I. Keerthisinghe

A king with a depleted treasury eats into the very vitality of the citizens and the country. In the happiness of his subjects lies the king’s happiness; in their welfare his welfare. He shall not consider as good only that which pleases him but treat as beneficial to him whatever pleases his subjects.Kautilya – The Arthashastra – Penguin Classics

With the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister, a new era has dawned on Sri Lanka’s political landscape. A nation oppressed with the heavy burden of taxation in various forms, large scale virtual sale of national assets on the basis of 99 year leases without any long-term substantial benefits to the nation, wasteful expenditure and an administration beset with mismanagement, was awaiting relief eagerly. As Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa addressing the Finance Ministry officials on assuming the role of Finance Minster quoting an ancient saying stated Taxes should be levied on the people as a bee extracts nectar without crushing the flower.” As that great ancient philosopher Kautilya stated and quoted at the outset, ‘a ruler’s happiness is in the happiness and welfare of the people’. Kautilya further stated: ‘The king shall be ever active in management of the economy. Root of wealth is economic activity and lack of it brings material distress. In the absence of fruitful economic activity, both current prosperity and future growth will be destroyed. A king can achieve the desired objective and abundance of riches by undertaking productive economic activity.’ People all over our motherland are celebrating the political change with heartfelt relief with the advent of the new administration under the well experienced and time tested leader Mahinda Rakapaksa, who now faces the challenge of extracting the nation from the economic crisis it is currently facing.

Several remedial measures such as reducing the price of fuel and many essential consumer goods have already been taken to grant relief to the consumers.

The Prorogation of Parliament is at the sole discretion of the President for which power has been granted to the President by Article 70 of the Constitution  as time is required to prepare the Vote on Account of the new Government. It is unfortunate that foreign intervention has been sought to resolve the conflict of opinion as to the removal of the former Prime Minister. It must be noted that Sri Lanka is an independent sovereign country no more under colonial rule. The Supreme Court of Sri Lanka is the proper forum to resolve such conflicts of opinion as the Supreme Court is the sole authority empowered by the Constitution to determine the interpretation of legality of the Constitutional provisions relating to any such conflicts. Arbitrary statements made by politicians about the legitimacy of the removal of the former Prime Minister and the appointment of the new Prime Minister are not acceptable under the law.

Regarding foreign intervention it is most unfortunate that the US-led resolution co-signed by the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe Government appears to encourage such unilateral intervention. The new Prime Minster has stated that steps would be taken to neutralize this resolution as Sri Lanka’s sovereignty-its supremacy in domestic policy and its independence in foreign policy are jeopardized under the said resolution.

As Tamara Kunanayakam a former Ambassador/Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the UN at Geneva very correctly points out ‘Sri Lanka is fast losing its economic sovereignty. People and nation have become dispensable commodities; their labour, wealth, natural resources, economic activities are on auction with foreign bidders determining their worth.’

It is relevant to note that addressing the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, President Maithripala Sirisena called on the international community to allow Sri Lankan people to solve their problems on their own,” and said, as an independent country we do not want any foreign power to exert influence on us.” He also said Sri Lanka is taking action to consolidate peace and forge ahead to develop the economy, and such a nation deserves the support and understanding of the international community, and said I urge the international community to allow Sri Lankan people to solve their problems on their own.” It is obvious that the President was acting in taking steps to achieve the said objective when he removed the former Prime Minister and appointed the new Prime Minister in his place, which was done in the national interest as stated by the President.

In conclusion, civil society leaders including the clergy as well as the great majority of Sri Lankans have welcomed the recent appointment of the new Prime Minister and Sri Lankans have already commenced to enjoy the several relief measures proposed by the new Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. Sri Lanka now looks forward to a new era of happiness, peace and tranquillity.

(The writer is an Attorney-at-Law with LLB, LLM,MPhil.(Colombo) [email protected]

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