What is Democracy ? – Who is a Dictator ? –Isn’t 18th Amendment a necessary alternative to 17th Amendment ?
Posted on September 22nd, 2010

by Charles.S.Perera

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Democracy as we had learnt in school is the government of the people, by the people for the people. What we have in Sri LankaƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  is the Parliamentary Democracy introduced to us by the British.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Though it was at the beginning strictly applied to the ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ formation ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ of a government by a Political PartyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  accepted by aƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  majority of the people casting their votes at a Parliamentary election. It is ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ also extended ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ in theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  conduct of organisations, institutions and societies as well.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ There are differences in the democratic system of governance in different countries of the world. There are liberal democracies, direct democracies implemented through Soviets, socialist democracies, participatory democracies etc.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  But lot of the critics of the government of Sri Lanka accepts no other but the sacrosanctƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  British Parliamentary Democracy.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Most of our compatriots in Sri Lanka are in the habit of accepting what ever comes from the West as some thing ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ very special- almost ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ sacred, and follow it to the letter, and become more fervent adopters of these burrowedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  systems than their ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ promoters.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  It is the same with many thing, ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ a little brush with theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  culture of the British makes them feelƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  more British than the British.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  The Sri Lanka Christians ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ are more Christian than the Christians in the West. Hence in democracy too we try to be more democratic than the democrats in theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  West- even if their democracy is mutilated when it comes to be applied in dealings ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ with the developing countries.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ InƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  a democracy, it is the political party that gets the majority of the votes of the people that wins.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  It is that Party that forms the government. And the government lasts until the end of the term specified in the Constitution. Normally the looserƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  should respect the result of the elections and accept the government formed by the elected representatives of the people, and workƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  as the ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ opposition to theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  government.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Being the Opposition in ParliamentƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  is not to start a campaign of discrediting the government from the beginning, boycotting its presentation ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  bills, trying to mobilise the people against the government, tearing of the copies of theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  bills, or burning the effigy of the head of the Government in public. That is not democracy. It is making a travesty of democracy.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The OppositionƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  should not forget that they may form the next government, therefore it should act with responsibility and with respect to the majority that elected the political party and hence the government. The opposition ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ should not act as an enemy of the government,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  but should support the actions of the government, when they are of national interest.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The opposition mayƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  speak against actions of the government which they think are not for the benefit of the people.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  But such actions of ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ agitations of the Opposition against non-beneficial ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ proposals by the government should be made in side the house of Parliament in an environment ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  toleration and compromise, and out side in meetings explaining the reasons for opposition with discipline, not to whip up the emotions of the people against the government.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Taking the ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 18th Amendment as an example, once it has been passed with a majority of the Parliamentarians voting in favour of it, it becomes the law of the land, according to the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-sacrosanctƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ democracy we are following.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  If there are short comings, the opposition may bring in amendments but always respect and accept the verdict of the majority.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  If the opposition comes into power next they could propose an amendment to the amendment , or abrogate it and remove it from the Constitution.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ That is how the democracy works, if barriers are put to stop the elected government from continuingƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  its work in terms of the Laws that have beenƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  passed, theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  democracy goes ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-sourƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚, it becomes anarchy.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  And the opposition in so doing goes against the very people they are accepted to represent in an accepted democratic system of government.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ To know the taste of a cake it has to be eaten, therefore to see whether the 18th ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ AmendmentƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  works to the satisfaction of the people it has to be allowed to be put into practice by the Government that presented it to the Parliament and got it passed with a majority.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Even, the best of law would not help those who are ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ imprisoned in ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…- prejudiceƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ to see the value of it.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  So they will continue to criticise neither withƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  any benefit to themselves, nor to the people who have used their democratic right of voteƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  to elect the government.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ This is how the pretended ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-loversƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ of democracy in Sri Lanka seem to accept the system.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Then there are those who say the President- electedƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  democratically by the people- is a dictator for having presented the 18th Amendment to the Constitution to the Parliament and got it passed with a two third majority. They are democrats against democracy !!

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ A candidate elected at the Presidential election and won the election with a majority of theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  votes of the people, cannot be a Dictator.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Therefore those who say he is a dictator do notƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  know who is a ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ dictator, or they are making a false allegation ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ disrespectful to the people who elected him-the President,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  and also against democracy of which they pretend to be the fervent supporters- but unfortunately do not seem to ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ know how it works. For those who do not know democracy it has already been explained above.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ It remains to explain:ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  who is a Dictator ?

A Dictator is defined as: ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦..a ruler ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚¦.. who assumes sole and absolute power (sometimes but not always with military control)

In modern usage, the term ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-dictatorƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ is generally used to describe a leader who holds and/or abuses an extraordinary amount of personal power, especially the power to make laws without effective restraint by a legislative assembly. Dictatorships are often characterized by some of the following traits: suspension of elections and of civil liberties; proclamation of a state of emergency; rule by decree; repression of political opponents without abiding by rule of law procedures; these include single-party state, and cult of personality.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚(Wikipedia)

If elections haveƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  been stopped. If the Parliament is abolished.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  IfƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  only one political partyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  exists. If the army has been deployed ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ every where taking over the function of the police..ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  All manifestations against the government have been prohibited.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  If the media is taken over all news censured.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  If all political leaders have been arrested and imprisoned.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  If the country is cut off from the rest of the world. Then there isƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  a Dictatorship.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ But has that happened in Sri Lanka with the adoption of the 18th Amendment to the constitution ?ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ If not there is no Dictatorship.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  The antagonists of the government of the President Mahinda Rajapakse may write articlesƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-embellishingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ the news media, websites, and blogs, explaining their idea of ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ democracy, and how the PresidentƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  of Sri Lanka has become a Dictator by passing the 18th Amendment to the Constitution.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

But yet, all that does not make the President a Dictator, because in Sri Lanka there is a healthy Democracy.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ But only ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ those who are blinded by anger, hatred, and jealousy, and living in ignorance will see a dictatorship in Sri Lanka.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Under the 18th Amendment the President is not there for life. But he will have the right as any other citizen to contest the Presidential election every five years, or when ever there is a Presidential election if he wants to,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  and the people may vote for him, or for some one else. He may be elected or some one else may be elected.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The difference this time is that the President has a long term project. If he is not there to continue it after his secondƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  term in office, the next elected President may undo every thing that has been done , ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ and the expected development will not take place. But it is all up to the people to elect the presidentƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  for him ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ to continue his development projects or give it to some one else to change everything.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ When Dr.N.M.Perera became the Minister of FinanceƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  of a coalition government in 1964 a ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ten year Plan of development was proposed, but it could not be carried out as the government changed, and they forged new plans.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Even recently as in 2001 the UNF government ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Ranil Wickramasinghe changed the political face of the country doingƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  much damage to ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Sri Lanka.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Even though theƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  donor community, predicted that Sri Lanka under the UNP regime was well on its way to rapid economic recovery. The Cooperative System was abandoned and many state corporations were sold to the private sector.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  And the country under a CFA was getting enmeshed in a seemingly unending terrorism.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ What is the guarantee it would be different if by any chance the UNP with Ranil Wickramasinghe is to take over the reins of the Government from Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse ?ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ But on the other hand if the President Mahinda Rajapakse has the chance of being elected once again the people ofƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Sri Lanka will be assured of a continued development plan.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Those who discredit the President Mahinda Rajapakse for the 18th Amendment are those who have no interest of the country, they are either paid by the expatriate Tamil Community still hoping for another ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-spateƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ of terrorism or helped by the West who wants to rid the Country of a progressive President to be replaced by one who will follow the whims and fancies of the West.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ There are always people to follow those who want to thwart the progress of developing countries, but few to help the developing countries to rise above their status of underdevelopment.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Sri Lanka after 60 years of Independence is today a country rising fast into development. The country is not following a strong Marxist programme of development , but is following nevertheless a Socialist programme.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  And that is the path of development to be followed.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Democracy as it is suits developed countries , butƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  the developing countries have to change democracy to suit their ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ purposes, fit into their culture, their accepted way of thinking.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ If China had followed the dictates of all those foreign ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-do-goodersƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ the Hunman Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Ban ki Moon of the UN,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  Milibands, Kouchners, Hillary Clingtons, Robert Blakes etc. and allowed them to interfere into its affairs, China would still be only a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-developingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ country depending on the West- that once devastated it with the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-opium warsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Mr;Mahinda Rajapakse should be evaluated from what he has done so far.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ 

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ There are still those ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ who cannot understand progress from regress,ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  cannot ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ evaluate a man from his acts, cannotƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  see in ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Mahinda Rajapakse a man who wants to develop the country, without seeking benefits for himself surrounding himself with people whom he could trust. They cannot see that in Mahinda Rajapakse there is no semblance of a Dictator .

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In any case, can any one point out to any political leader other than Mr.Mahinda Rakjapakse who can lead Sri LankaƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  for progress and development as he had been doing since 2005 ?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The Parliamentary Council under the 18th Amendment is muchƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  more workable than the 17th Amendment. If there would be difficulties it could certainly be corrected as and when difficulties arise.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  That is how progress is made. 18th Amendment is a workable alternative to the 17th Amendment.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  It is also a necessary step towards progress and development and some thing to be emulated by allƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  developing countries, to get away from the West determined to keep the poor countries poor and dependent on the West.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Those who speak about Tamils, ethnic problem, devolution of political power, dictatorship under the Amendments to the Constitution, dynasties, and family and Co, do not love Sri Lanka as their motherland, they are all seeking to feather their own nests.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ For instance what can Mangala Samaraweera, Tilvin Silva, Vijitha Herath, Anura Kumara Dissanayake or Sarath Fonseka contribute to politics in Sri Lanka or to its people other than division, separation, political and social regression ?ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  They are the prophets of doom.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  TheyƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  have nothing to give to the people other than their ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ hatred, jealousy , and hostility.

3 Responses to “What is Democracy ? – Who is a Dictator ? –Isn’t 18th Amendment a necessary alternative to 17th Amendment ?”

  1. Sunil Vijaya Says:

    Supplimentary to the writers observations……18th amendment is construed by some, especially the UNP/supporters/Colombons/some English speaking Christians and Catholics (who in turn mislead the west) as an extension of Mahinda’s term in office. In fact its an amendment to the TERM in office of ANY FUTURE PRESIDENT of Sri Lanka. The fear of slimy, sleezy UNP leader is understandable as so long as he is the leader of this bankrupt party, Mahinda will be in power. What we need at this stage is do away with this British crap we inherited and go on our own. Further I would like to see Mahinda change all references of British names like Victoria (a dreaded blood sucking vampire) in Sri Lanka to Maha Maya or Vihara Mahedevi, to wipe out any trace of British history in Sri Lanka. Those who have read Michael Robert’s research papers, of mentions of few English who did advise the Governors not to superimpose British administration systems in Sri Lanka as there was VERY EFFECTIVE adminsitration systems in Lanka at that time(however primitive) beginning with Vel Vidanes right upto the King, through the Gamasabah Kramaya. The satanic race, never saw this wisdom from bottom to top approach and introduced the ‘central’ adminstration structure through AGENTS (GAs later). The conqueror ruined our paddy cultivation, neglected the tanks and vast irrigation systems and what did they do? Wiped out half a million acres of upcountry forests and jungles and introduced tea. We need a long term plan on a reforestation of the hill country to restore the balance in our ecosystem, beginning with unproductive tea estates, before the hills turn into meadows. Well so long as ‘unscientific’ politicians are in power these long term plans will never materialise. Sorry for the deviation on the main topic under discussion.

  2. dhane Says:

    Under the 18th Amendment Former president Chandrika Kumaratuga also can contest and show her colours if possible as common candidate. Therefore what is wrong with 18 amendment. It was too late to implemented.

  3. Siri Says:

    Very good article. This is a very clear explanation of the 18th. amendment. The success of Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa is due to his disregarding the advice of the western powers and doing what he thought was best for the country. The west is very muddled and biased in their thinking and any advice from them should be disregarded. When I was in Sri Lanka we thought that the west was a great place to be in and that they were better than us, but after living in the USA for thiry years I realize that they are no better or no worse than us. If they are as good as they profess to be, why are they in such a financial mess with no sign of recovery in the near future. If their system of governance is as good as they profess, why has Mr Obama not been able to pass most of his progressive bills he promisd to pass. The US economy is stagnating, while the Sri Lanka economy is forging ahead making up for lost time. Most of the western countries are in the same mess and their economies are stagnating with no sign of recovery. All patriotic Sri Lankans should stand behind the democratically elected government and help them to implement their progrssive policies.

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