21 November, 2018

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19A Minus: A Middle Path

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

There were four main winners in the battle over 19th Amendemnt. Of them, the second biggest winner was President Sirisena who was able to retain much of his power while balancing adroitly between the two contending components of his power base: his ally the UNP and his party the SLFP. The biggest winner however, was not President Sirisena. It was a dead man, President Junius Richard Jayewardene. His 1978 Constitution proved so robust a structure, that it successfully resisted the joint attempt of his distant nephew Ranil Wickremesinghe and his old rival Sirimavo Bandaranaike’s daughter Chandrika Kumaratunga to upend its center-piece, the executive presidency.

The Supreme Court put paid to most of the clauses which attempted to shift power and authority drastically from the Presidency to the Prime Ministership. The Opposition, whose numbers were large enough thanks to JR’s electoral system of proportional representation, put paid to Ranil and Chandrika’s effort to surreptitiously embed unaccountable “civil society” in a crucial role determining role behind the scenes in the Constitutional Council.

The third biggest winner of the battle of 19A was former President Rajapaksa, whose loyalists in the Opposition were able to wage a bitter rearguard action which prevented an SLFP sell-out to the Ranil-CBK program and create a momentum which helped or caused President Sirisena to play a balancing role rather than act as a straightforward ally of his fellow troika members. The Opposition was also able to avoid the error of being seen as a wrecking crew; as spoilers. Instead they played the role of constructive critics and tough negotiating partners. The parliamentary debate saw the SLFP-UPFA drawing together, and resisting Ranil Wickremesinghe while not wrecking 19A. With the seemingly solitary exception of Rajitha Senaratne, the CBK doctrine of the SLFP in collusion with Ranil was eclipsed by the resurfacing of the old contradiction between the UNP and the SLFP/UPFA.

The modest, one might say marginal shift of power and authority to the Prime Ministership resulting from 19A can only benefit Mahinda Rajapaksa, should he become the PM. Indeed the “Premier Stakes” (to borrow the title of a classic of Sri Lankan political writing) assume a greater salience now than at any election since 1977. This cannot but benefit Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The last of the winners was Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, whose original plan was discernible in the draft that he submitted, the sections that were struck down by the Supreme Court and those that were removed by the resistance of the Opposition and the concurrence of President Sirisena. The power shift that has occurred is minimal, falling far short of what Ranil attempted and he was compelled to retreat in his neoliberal Constitutional power grab. However, he has a fairly handsome consolation prize, in that he is able to share credit with President Sirisena for a process of reformist change.

The Biggest Losers were ex-President CBK and the TNA. CBK was the patroness of the cosmopolitan civil society version of the 19th amendment. 19A was the child of CBK’s Constitutional revolution, a ‘born again’ neo-liberal big bang to blow up the Executive presidency. JR Jayewardene’s Constitution has thwarted her over and over again—her Union of Regions package (1995 and 1997) and her draft Constitution. It was her Constitutional Grand Vizier, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne who produced the draft which was gutted by the Supreme Court this time around.

The TNA and the civil society cohort which hoped to manipulate the state by slipping into the Constitutional Council have wound up the least successful. Ranil and Chandrika produced “19A Plus”, which has been downsized to 19A Minus.

The struggle over 19A was a classic of parliamentary negotiation. The outcome is an updating, not an upending of the Second Republican Constitution of 1978. It slims down the executive presidency without disemboweling it as Ranil, Chandrika, the TNA and JVP wished or retaining it in its swollen form as did the Rajapaksa regime. It is a much needed overhaul of the executive presidential System, but by no means an overturning or overthrow. One may regard it either as a drawn game—a stalemate which reflects the actual balance of political forces—or, more optimistically, as a modest corrective, a win-win outcome consonant with the national interest and people’s sovereignty.

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Latest comments

  • 21
    6

    This man DJ seems to have a terrible obsession with Chandrika. Maybe because she never let him get anywhere near her during her presidency. She shunned him like a plague saying he was an “ANDAYA.”

    • 13
      3

      DJ is an interesting character, he is more concerned about his political animosity than actual valid political facts. So wherever RW and CBK stand DJ is far from helpful.

    • 3
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      This man DJ [Edited out]

      Sheeeeeeeeee… shame on DJ.
      [Edited out] – is common parlance being known to many. Nobody would see it right DJ to stand against MY3-RW when introducing good systems to the country’s constitution.

      It is high time to check it out whether the [Edited out]. Not only me but many of the academics across the globe would agree about fielding Mahinda Jarapakshe and his politics. Now with the US and other western allies becoming known that the way the current regime moves forward – on the channels of Good governance – they are ready to dilute the actions being imposed against the lanken state in terms of alleged war crimes.

      • 0
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        it should be – would disagree about fielding MR and his politics.

  • 3
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 9
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    Commiseration DJ.

    What can we expect at this time other than you trying to down play the achievement. You never see what was coming; the president election; neither 19A.

    Looks as if not many smart patriotic in the parliament, except your eloquent speaker Weeraya, veteran Vasu lost the common touch, Dinesh…most of the others thoroughly confused including GLP, perhaps he started realizing people no longer prepared to buy his stories.

  • 2
    2

    Main thing was the NGO clause – having NGO ‘intellectuals’ was nonsense – a CBK/Jehan/LTTE plan. That’s history now.

  • 13
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    Hilarious!!!! This is the same man who predicted a MR victory in the election. Now claiming that MR is the “Second victor” in the 19A. MR and his cohorts did everything possible to stop passage of this, in the hope of one day returning to power. Now all those dreams are dead and gone.

    Every human has to have some sort of Shame in him. Dayan has NONE. Today i realize that not only has Dayan lost all his shame but he has also lost him mind. So he should be treated for who he is – a Shameless, mindless political [Edited out]!!!

  • 4
    13

    DJ had finally written an objective analysis from a neutral point of view. Hope he maintains such objectivity and give the reader an independent observer’s analysis.

    • 4
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      Agreed. This was indeed an objective piece. The amendment has more or less restored the constitution to what was envisaged by JR.It’s a pity that the constitution could not be sufficiently amended to make it more democratic.It will simply ensure that ‘patronage’ politics will continue with majoritarian control in place.

  • 6
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    [Edited out] Dayan seems to have soften his stance a bit as he was at one time very negative about the amendment to the constitution. Thank God once again it has been proven in Sri Lanka that all the parties have worked together to achieve a common goal. This also proves that there is no room for fear mongers like [Edited out] Pundit Dayan.

  • 10
    1

    Dayan is mentally screwed-up. I have never seen anybody positively acknowledge his writings. He is perhaps Sri Lanka’s most disliked man for his racist attitude. He, MR and Wimal must be enlightened that racism is out of fashion in the world today.

  • 10
    1

    DJ would have anticipated that the efforts MR & co, through their goons in the parliament would sabotage the passing of 19A but for his bad luck this did not succeed. Therefore, he changed his torn
    and has written the article still bringing in MR as a winner. All readers know DJ is crony of MR and he need not have to exhibit it again.

    Maithree, as President has excelled in his approach and strategy. Ranil with the success in passing 19A and showing the public the level of corruption at various institutions through investigations, there is every possibility a strong UNP contingent would be returned to the new parliament. Therefore, DJ should not dream of MR’s return and change his course for hus survival. He will never succeed in convincing the new administration.

  • 2
    8

    90% of the comments are against DJ. 48% voted for MR. Apparently the English speaking CT readership is biased. Good to keep in mind.

    • 8
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      Vanguard

      “90% of the comments are against DJ. 48% voted for MR.” “Apparently the English speaking CT readership is biased.”

      You should encourage the 48% to send their comments to CT.

      “Apparently the English speaking CT readership is biased.”

      Yes biased towards good governance

  • 5
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    This is the usual lopsided analysis by this political pundit..
    Clear winners are RW and the democratic minded people of Sri Lanka. MR loyalists fought a losing battle to delay the voting and to deny democratic reforms to the masses.
    Clear loser is MR whose 18A is done with and he can not contest for the 4th time. Even if he becomes the prime minister he will have to address MS as your excellency. (MR has once said that MS has no personality to become the President).
    Other losers are GR & BR who can not contest in parliamentary election as they hold dual citizenship.

  • 7
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    DJ beats about the bush in his usual screwed up style but does not admit that the biggest loser is he himself.

    Gone are the hopes of an MR return which he was surreptitiously plugging for in his copious writings of the past few weeks…….. and gone indeed at least for the next few years any hope of a plum diplomatic posting for the Geneva Weeraya.

    Best get used to the changed situation. Another stint in Singapore perhaps ? (What was it called…. ah the ‘laundrymat of Asia’ in the words of his own father)

    • 7
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      Niran W

      “Gone are the hopes of an MR return which he was surreptitiously plugging for in his copious writings of the past few weeks…….. and gone indeed at least for the next few years any hope of a plum diplomatic posting for the Geneva Weeraya.”

      Dayan put his money on two horses. The first bet was on MR the second being the Bhumi Puttra Sajith Premadasa.

  • 2
    7

    Our national challenge today is to render the existing openness to Indian, US, UK & EU by undermine political and democratic sustainability of balance democracy that undermined by MS,UNP-Ranil W.. and CBK anti- national alliance, that limitation of the broader sovereignty of democratic political goals of our tiny Island.

    I look at current changes into 19 A of The Republic Constitution of Sri lanka a decisive shifting from the Independent state into Depended regime, led by MS, CBK and UNP-Ranil.W.. puppet government that manipulated by foreign power which that alliance with Indian-RAW and US ‘Pivot Asian’ policy, of Global hegemony led by Mohammed Brake Obama administration in White house.

    19A constitutional amends is now bargaining about all national policies space ,that including political offensive of TNA and MC of Separatism access to legeimiticy of Parliamentary democracy back by CBK,UNP and MS ruling regime.
    Such a reorientation of 19 A would benefit to Indian & US of regional power grids and Global hegemony, as well as Federalism, Separatism and Anarchism that advocated by CBK-ally with TNA that form NEW struggle for encourage the Tamil Terrorism.

    Political credential of 19 A expanding policy space to accommodate SPLITTERS activities that surrender domestic objectives and negate 2009 May the Victory over the war of national salvation, against ruthless Tamil Terrorist led by LTTE and ideology back by TNA.

    It is pre-conditions of 19 A political motived of moribund class behind of local party of UNP and CBK led section of SLFP, that power manipulator of MS.

    I consider this act 19 A is political a big set back of Sovereignty and democracy of national capitalist development in
    Sri lanka.

    Indeed we have lost as emerging nation ,free to pursue our own growth economic policies laid down by MR ruling alliance since 2005.

    • 5
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      Don’t write a whole lot of rubbish that only Sinhala modayas can understand. Go to night school and learn how to write proper English. Waste of the C.T. space

  • 7
    1

    This is the end of the political career of Mahinda Rajapakse.

    Dr Dayan Jayathilake had cunningly ensured the end.

    After his historic defeat in the hands of Mathripala, Mahinda had a remote chance of coming back as President under 18 A or as Executive Prime Minister if the 19 A had provision for an Executive Prime Minister.

    But Dayan along with some so called Mahinda loyalists in the SLFP had conspired to ensure that both options are excluded in the revised 19A thereby deprived Mahinda for a historic comeback.

    Now the 19A minus had reconfirmed two term limits for the Executive Presidency and also have created only a lame duck Prime Ministry. In both instances the loser is Mahinda, but Dayan just creates a false impression that Mahinda is a victor in the entire deal.
    Could a charismatic leader like Mahinda,the EX President with colossal powers re enters political field again to fight to win against enormous odds for a devalued Prime ministership again under his own former Minister.

    • 2
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      Quite right. By not keeping to his his promise, MS may have created the best type of government for an immature democracy like Sri Lanka. The diluted (and contradictory – president is head of government, PM is head of executive – what is the difference between government and executive) 19A has produced a circumstance where the president and PM are equally powerful. Now that all power is no longer in the hands of one person, it should prevent another constitutional dictator like Rajapaksa.

  • 1
    0

    Let this be his epitaph

  • 2
    0

    Actually MR is the biggest loser. Now he cannot grab the position of executive president because of the 2-term limit.
    Even if he grabs the PM post, it is not all powerful either.
    Only thing his team managed was a dignified defeat

  • 3
    0

    DJ wants to twist the truth and does not want to admit that MR is the real looser. With the passing of the 19A he lost his chances of becoming the President again. Even the chances of making of a powerful PM was sabotaged by his own party men/women by making amendments to what was originally propsed. Even if MR becomes PM he will have to serve under MS whom he did not care much when in power. With the changes, his own son Namal cannot (debarred to) contest the next Presidential elections. Namal will have to wait until April 2021 to be eligible to contest if he wishes to (I am sure that is what MR’s great wish.) MR’s all powerful brother Gota too are made ineligible to enter the Parliament as an MP unless he surrenders his U.S. citizenship. The irony is that MR’s own son Namal gave his consent by saying “Yes” to all these changes. DJ it is sad that you don’t see MR as a looser with all these he lost.
    The day after the amendment was past MR said that there are good aspect of the changes, like independent commissions, and President being answerable to the Parliament, etc. If he considers those as good why did he changed those when in power. Can DJ have any explanation?

  • 0
    2

    Sarath….. the man lost knowledge of politics ,who is supposed to be running that night school- English class some where in Colombo city.
    May be funded by House of Hanovour.
    The paradox —more apparent than real, is that tighter Sri lanka democracy of peoples sovereignty rules have led to worse nation problems.

    By 19 A is nothing that broken spine of our Nation sovereignty and Democracy. We can and should tell a different story about so-called Authoritizatin of governances by Presendintal powers. In my view it as system that requires a single set of institution or one principle democratic state ,we should accepts, it as a collection of diverse ethnic whose interactions are regulated by a thin layer of simple transparent and common sense of democratic rules.

    This vision of will not construct a path towards a foreign base flat world a borderless national politics. Nothing will. What it will do is enable a healthy, sustainable world political, that leaves enough room for democracies to determine their own future.

    We Sri lanakn lost that an opportunity by 19 A anti- democracy changes back by evil power and their invincible foreign hands.
    19 A undermine that Principle of Democracy.

    • 1
      0

      I don’t understand what this man is writing. Is this English or some other language he only knows. Please don’t publish this garbage in your esteemed paper. I t brings your standards we appreciate down.

  • 0
    3

    Brilliant and balanced analysis by DayanJ that considers the impact of the 19A debate and vote in full perspective and puts a lid on the propagandist messages put out by those who market the voting results as a complete success for the RW/CBK/MS administration with no reference to the changes at Committee stage that had led to a significant dilution of the PM’s powers proffered by 19A and the retention of JRJ Constitution’s powers by the President.
    Lesson – Tinkering with Constitutions should be a cautious process and should not be rushed through.

    • 1
      0

      CountryFirst,

      If you are what your name says then you won’t be praising DJ. This is a sham of an article. He changes his tune when it suits him. Why wasn’t he calling for the curtailing of presidential powers when his boss MR was in power. Why is he finding fault now.?. I bet lot of CT readers would favour presidential powers if it is to be used for good governance.
      MR abused it and behaved as though the country was himself aided and abetted by the likes of DJ. Some of the stooges have changed sides and they are not going to mend their ways anytime sooner. Hope they get exposed and rooted out.

  • 1
    0

    DJ, unfortunately you are not in a position to analyse anything which involves the interest of Mahinda Rajapakse without being biased towards him and his lost regime. Can you remember your own reply to a comment in CT a few weeks back? “I just like this guy (MR)…” and so on. This alone disqualifies you from making your popular analysis about Srilankan politics. Bbecause in your own analytical sense you cannot be neutral anymore and obviously you are not. And also due to your doom day prophecy of MS/RW govt. and the Tamil, Indian, EU; US and the West threat have all proved to be baseless. So dont try to create panic among the citizens and pave the way for a communal violence and a pogrom of the minorities.
    Thirdly, is it moraly right firing the nationalist feelings of the majority against the minorities with baseless doom day threats for your own survival? do you follow any ethics other than to serve your own survival and to please your big ego?
    If you think it is legal to provoke or instigate a communal violence by fueling the nationalistic feelings, which could eventually end up in pogroms of the minorities, then it is also moraly correct to call upon a bounty on the head of a racist and psycopath who take it for granted to kill the minority( you DJ). what do you think about this idea? there will be definitely someone who feels called upon to do his duty, eh?
    I think you need a moral compas to calibrate your political compas. Holding a PhD does not qualify everybody to lead the civilized masses. It is the morale and emotional intelligence which is necessary to rescue the civilized masses from the brim of a political and communal catastrophe. It seems you have utterly failed in your duty to guide the masses, you serve you masters always as a lap dog who protect your interests (ass), and it is not necessarily for the betterment of the Srilankans. get lost DJ.

  • 1
    0

    What was the SLFP doing until Jan 8th? Did they support Maithries Candidature and Election Campaign? Now DJ is talking about Victory from his rear end.

  • 1
    0

    Dayan, you are a diabolic lier. Sometimes I wonder, you may have come through the rear entrance as you are always scheming to use that exit

  • 0
    0

    Colombo Telegrape is web devoted heap of political gossip. This web is good for most ignorant men and women,who are having little knowledge of reality of world.

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