A sad day for democracy
Posted on August 10th, 2017

Editorial Courtesy The Island

Yahapalanaya reminds us of a tale from Greek mythology about a ruthless bandit, named Procrustes, who either lopped off the limbs of his captives or stretched them so as to fit them into an iron bed. The yahapalana leaders are doing to the country’s laws what Procrustes did to his victims; they lay constitutional provisions on the Procrustean bed of expediency. All laws must conform to their political agenda or be amended.

Wednesday was a sad day for Sri Lankan democracy or what remains thereof. The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe regime audaciously gazetted one of the most undemocratic constitutional amendments to postpone provincial council elections until 2019 for fear of losing them. The 20th Amendment is as despicable as the 18th Amendment Mahinda Rajapaksa hurriedly introduced in a bid to secure a third term as President.

Ironically, the yahapalana leaders who vehemently condemned Rajapaksa for the 18th Amendment are trying to stay in power by amending the Constitution to put off elections which they are scared of. They would have us believe that the aim of the proposed amendment is to conduct all provincial council elections simultaneously. But, if they are genuinely desirous of getting rid of the practice of staggering polls, why can’t they amend the Constitution to dissolve all PCs and conduct elections thereto in a few months? If they do so, the question of Parliament being empowered to take over the duties and functions of dissolved provincial councils won’t arise.

We bet our bottom dollar (or rupee) that the yahapalana leaders will never consider that option because of their mortal fear of elections. Now, a wag says the election secretariat can be closed and Polls Chief, Mahinda Deshapriya, sent into a deep sleep like an astronaut on a space journey, until 2019 .

Condemning the 20th Amendment, the Joint Opposition has argued that it will have to be approved by people at a referendum besides being passed by Parliament with a two-thirds majority because it impinges on the franchise of the people. This argument, in our book, holds water; it will be interesting to see what the Supreme Court says.

Prabhakaran used bullets and bombs to deny the people their right to vote and the yahapalana leaders are using gazettes and constitutional amendments to achieve the same objective. While Prabhakaran was alive only some parts of the country were without elections. Today, he is pushing up daisies but the entire country has been without elections thanks to yahapalanaya.

Ravi’s tactical withdrawal

Ravi Karunanayake has resigned as Foreign Minister over the penthouse controversy and some other issues connected to the bond scams. The circumstances that led to his resignation show that the best way to make the present government heed public opinion is to crank up pressure thereon. He would not have resigned but for media pressure which compelled the Joint Opposition (JO) to hand over a no-faith motion against him to the Speaker. The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration has flaunted Karunanayake’s resignation as an act of good governance. It has only made a virtue of necessity. Anyone who really practices good governance must remain above suspicion.

Karunanayake is lucky that he is a prominent member of the ruling coalition. Else, he would have been arrested and remanded like the UPFA dissidents.

The ‘government-appointed’ Opposition proved yesterday once again that it was a mere appendage of the yahapalana regime. Opposition Leader R. Sampanthan, in his speech, stressed the need for respecting the age-old legal tenet of presumption of innocence as regards the allegations against Karunanayake. One can’t but agree with him. Karunanayake should not be prejudged. But, the Opposition, save the JVP and some of the SLFP dissidents, has completely ignored the bond scams. The TNA is a single-issue Opposition party. It is preoccupied with having more powers devolved to the periphery. It, no doubt, has a right to champion causes of its choice democratically, but it must not turn a blind eye to the burning issues that affect the people in all parts of the country. Anyone who soft-pedals the bond rackets has no moral right to campaign against corruption under the previous regime.

The Karunanayake affair is only a sideshow. The spotlight should now be turned on the masterminds of the bond scams. They are trying to make a smokescreen out of the penthouse episode and make good their escape. Their plans must be foiled.

The bond racketeers won’t baulk at anything to cover their tracks. There is a pressing need for the Central Bank (CB) to be brought under the purview of the President pending investigations into the bond scams. It was only recently that we reported an incident where a senior CB official allegedly in league with the bond racketeers removed a whole slew of files from the bank at night.

Meanwhile, what has been the Attorney General’s opinion on the JO’s no-faith motion? The government claimed it was sub judice. Is the AG’s view in consonance with the government’s? People’s right to information must be respected.

7 Responses to “A sad day for democracy”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    People don’t care as much as politicians about PC elections. People never asked for them. They were imposed on them. Mahinda’s over reliance on provincial councillors is detrimental to the country and even to his party. PCs are useless white elephants better removed. People don’t demand PC elections are held even if they are postponed beyond the 2019 presidential election!

    The entire 13A is undemocratic.

  2. Ratanapala Says:

    Dilrook, you are dead right. The entire 13th Amendment that paved the way for Provincial Councils should be abolished for it has so far not done any good for the nation. An island-wide referendum should be held to determine its usefulness and then send the provincial system to the dustbin of history – where it rightly belongs. It has only produced another level of useless VIPs nobody rightly wants.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    REPEAL the 13th Amendment, and DISSOLVE the Provincial Councils to PREVENT separatist regional tendencies,

    STRENGTHEN and RETAIN the EXECUTIVE Presidency for GREATER stability and effectiveness of the Government. ELIMINATE TERM LIMITATIONS on the President and make the Cabinet answerable to the Chief Executive the President.

    INTRODUCE a District Level Administrative System answerabke to the President with APPOINTED and NOT ELECTED DISTRICT Governors to run each District,

    APPOINT a Vice-President who will preside over the Senate, and ELIMINATE the post of PRIME MINISTER while Retaining the post of Speaker of the House of Representatives,

    CREATE a Senate, in addition to the First Chamber the House of Representatives, as the Second Chamber of Parliament with ONE Senator per District to give Districts with low populations more power in Parliament.

    Make the the System of National Law the ONLY LAW within the Nation, ELIMINATING regional/palath sabha laws and community specific laws (Thesawalamai, Kandyan and Mulim/Sharia laws).

    Make SINHALA the ONLY OFFICIAL NATIONAL Language of Sri Lanka with Tamil as a permitted community lan gauge and ENGLISH as a COMPULSORY international LINK and COMMERCIAL language.

    Make BUDDHISM the NATIONAL RELIGION of Sri Lanka with STATE SPONSORSHIP while freedom of worship is guaranteed to all other religions.

    BAN all FOREIGN MISSIONARIES and Religious Non-Governmental Organizations from operating in Sri Lanka.

    ENACT a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT to DECLARE AS ILLEGAL the ALIENATION of Sri Lanka’s land and national assets through sale or long-term leases to Foreign Nations and Foreign Companies. Make majority ownership by Sri Lankan CITIZENS of real estate and financial and commercial institutions COMPULSORY in Sri Lanka.

    DECLARE it ILLEGAL for FOREIGN CITIZENS to become heads of National Government Institutions, or for FOREIGN CITIZENS to become a MEMBER of ANY LEGISLATIVE BODY including the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of Government, including the Security Forces.

    BROADEN, STRENGTHEN and STRICTLY ENFORCE TREASON LAWS of the country, making it HIGH TREASON PUNISHABLE BY DEATH to collaborate with foreign powers against the nation and to invite foreign powers to meddle and intervene in any internal political, financial, administrative, religious, judicial and law enforcement matters of Sri Lanka. No citizen of Sri Lanka may engage in such activity without the expressed written permission of the government.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    MR told me to face he will NEVER scrap 13 amendment in 2014.

    So patriots, don’t have ANY hope.

    IF 13 amendment is SCRAPPED who will give money to SECOND LEVEL politicians??? This is how they make money to do EXPENSIVE PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS.

  5. SA Kumar Says:

    MR told me to face he will NEVER scrap 13 amendment in 2014.- 13A is Indo & Lanka agreement
    MR who won the unwinable war know 13A no one can scrap but he know very well how to BS ( like he promised 13A after war) but he is weak in maths as our Chignkala sakodarayas 13 = 13 +0.000001.

  6. SA Kumar Says:

    *13 Plus = 13 + 0.000001

  7. Fran Diaz Says:

    To briefly recap events re the 13-A:

    The 13-A is an ILLEGAL piece of legislation as it was imposed under Duress by INDIA on the JRJ govt in 1987 which was Cold War times.
    During that time, the JRJ govt ran with the West, and INDIA moved with the then Sov Union.

    It is high time that the 13-A is removed.
    It has now outlived its usefulness to MR during the times of war with the LTTE.

    If there are difficulties with INDIA re removing the 13-A, Lanka Govt should pick up the matter with the UN Security Council, as the 13-A is a hindrance to Communal Harmony and therefore Peace, in Sri Lanka.
    America’s State Dept has made a clear request for Peace in Sri Lanka as Lanka Ports are important to international Trade & Commerce.


    The Ravi K matter :

    Herewith a suggestion to stop or at least mitigate Corruption at Government (mostly Parliament) level :

    Have a Govt Common Fund composed of Commissions (usually around 10%) offered through all external & internal enterprises that enter into government projects.
    Distribute REWARDS from this Common Fund to persons in the Govt who do well by the Country as a whole.
    The REWARDS points, (decided by the Parliament by Vote), should be added to each deserving name, and the corresponding monetary REWARD from the Common Fund, given at New Year time.

    Such a scheme would at least make the ‘money take’ transparent and deserving.
    It would also make our MPs etc move into areas of creative thinking, instead of constant skullduggery to make ‘easy money’.
    ‘Easty money’ takers pay a huge price in losing respect from others, and in the long run self respect too.

    Comments welcome.

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