28 September, 2020

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2013: The Titanic Year?

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“We were on the Titanic and everyone knew it was hitting the iceberg” Eric Hobsbawm (Interesting Times)

In 2013,Sri Lanka will continue to be blessed with a President who is intent on life-long rule and dynastic succession, at whatever cost; and a Leader of Opposition who unfailingly lends that President a helping hand, at crucial junctures.

The regime’s decision to boycott theAppeal Courthearing is understandable. Having conducted the most indefensible ‘trial’ in living memory, without even the barest show of impartiality or justice, the regime would not want to deal with questions it cannot answer and explanations it cannot provide. Since the impeachment was a witch-trial, the Rajapaksas have no choice but to hug the cloak of impunity ever closer and defy the courts.

The decision by Ranil Wickremesinghe, and it is indeed his decision to ignore the summons of theAppeal Court, is not so logical. It is in the interests of the UNP to assist the courts to uncover and expose the shenanigans of the impeachment. So what made Ranil Wickremesinghe make a decision which will hurt his party, the country and eventually himself (a subjugated court can be used against him, if the Rajapaksas decide that it is in their interests to promote an even more reliable tool as the leader of the UNP)?

The argument about parliamentary sovereignty does not hold water, because in today’s Sri Lanka it is the Rajapaksas who are sovereign. In Rajapaksa Sri Lanka parliamentary sovereignty is as much of a lie, as democracy, human rights, media freedom or a political solution to the ethnic problem. The subjugated UPFA majority in parliament has turned the legislature into a Rajapaksa-doormat. Just last month, the parliament, in violation of a Supreme Court ruling (by a bench headed by Justice Shiranee Thilakawardane), assented to a Bill which seriously eroded parliamentary control over finances, one of the few preserves the 1978 Constitution left under sole legislative aegis. In reality, parliamentary sovereignty is as dead as a dodo. It is one thing to embrace the restoration of parliamentary sovereignty as a desirable goal; it is quite another thing to elevate its corpse and strengthen the asphyxiating hand of the executive still further.

Today, both within and outside the impeachment process, the real conflict is between the executive and the judiciary, the Rajapaksas and the courts. The conflict between the legislature and the judiciary is a myth concocted by the Rajapaksas to hide their dynastic purpose; plus provide their puppets in the UPFA – and in the UNP – with a lofty-sounding excuse to do the inexcusable.

Ranil Wickremesinghe is too clever not to know this. His is a political decision, taken not in honest ignorance, but in conscious duplicity. In fact this is not the first time Mr. Wickremesinghe made a decision which brought him some very short-term and extremely ephemeral gains while harming his interests in the medium to long term. And he will persist in committing such small acts of hara-kiri, especially if the Rajapaksas continue to stir the UNP-leadership pot using their other tool, Sajith Premadasa. With the leader and the alternate leader of the main opposition party in thrall to them, the Rajapaksas are in an unassailable position, or will be once they have subjugated the judiciary.

The Consolidation of Rajapaksa Rule

The impeachment, nakedly unfair and glaringly unjust, is the most grievous blow the Rajapaksas have inflicted on Sri Lanka. It will push Sri Lanka beyond the threshold of liveability.

Once the impeachment is through, the Rajapaksas are likely to move ahead with lightening speed to appoint a more amenable chief justice and a more reliable prime minister. Both choices are of seminal importance to the Rajapaksa project. The Shirani Bandaranayake saga would have demonstrated to the Rajapaksas the danger of placing non-family members in positions of power. After all, the Siblings showered the husband of the CJ with undeserving honours, and believed that that would be a sufficient guarantee of her eternal obedience. But Shirani Bandaranayake did thwart the Rajapaksas-purpose, just five months after she became the CJ. In November 2011, a bench headed by Shirani Bandaranayake effectively killed the Town and Country Planning (Amendment) Act (the so called ‘Sacred Areas’ act, which sought to empower the regime to expropriate any piece of land by the simple expedient of fixing a certain label on it). The Supreme Court decreed that this Act cannot be presented in parliament without the consent of all the provincial councils; the regime was compelled to withdraw it. Perhaps that was the day the Rajapaksas decided that Dr. Bandaranayake must either be broken or evicted.

Given this experience, the Siblings would want to ensure that the next CJ and the next PM are totally committed to the Rajapaksa power-project, out of choice or necessity. And they will not hesitate to pick candidates who are appallingly unsuitable. Once the impeachment travesty succeeds, the Rajapaksas will not feel the need to bother about maintaining appearances (except internationally, until the Hambantota Commonwealth Summit is successfully concluded). After all, if the UPFA and the country can digest this impeachment, they can imbibe any abomination, without even a twinge of indigestion or nausea.

2013 is thus likely to be a fortuitous year for the Rajapaksas, however unlucky it may turn out to be for ordinary Lankans. The SLFP’s back is truly broken, as is evident from the grovelling conduct of senior and junior SLFPers throughout the impeachment process. The leasers of the SLMC, the CWC, the EPDP and other minority parties might make occasional noises, but will eventually knuckle down, placing their own powerless positions above their parties and their peoples.

And there is nothing substantial or worthwhile left of the UPFA left.

So 2013 is likely to be a year in which the Rajapaksas consolidate old gains and make new ones: “…the government was planning to make wide-ranging changes to the powers vested with the provincial councils…. Accordingly changes are to be made to laws pertaining to Police powers vested in Councils together with amendments to the law which states that in the event an Act regarding the subjects of provincial councils is to be tabled in parliament it should be passed by all nine provincial councils” (Daily Mirror – 1.1.2013). Once the impeachment is successful and the judiciary subjugated, the regime will be able to bring in any law it likes, including ones which violate constitutional provisions and/or the norms of natural justice. Bad laws will be passed by the subjugated parliament, and implemented to the letter by subjugated courts, rendering insecure the lives of most Lankans.

When Mahinda Rajapaksa won the presidency in November 2005, if someone foretold that this moment will arrive in just seven short years, would we have believed it?

2012 was bad; 2013 cannot but be worse, barring a miracle.

Referring to America’s critical failure to address the issue of gun control, massacre after massacre, Jon Lee Anderson asked, “Where is our threshold for self-awareness? What is our national threshold for shame?” (The New Yorker – 16.12.2012). It is a question we should do well to ask ourselves, as 2013 advances, the Rajapaksas progress and the country regresses.

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Latest comments

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    I sincerely beleived that Ranil Wickramasinghe was the genuine article i.e that his integrity and honesty were unquestionable. However this is a sad day for all of us who placed tour faith in Wickramasinghe in spite of the various rumours accusing him of being MR’s pawn.After his unwise decision in not heeding to the summons of the appeal court I have no option but to beleive that Wickramasinghe is playing a double game. I cry for you Sri Lanka!

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      Ranil is our Cunning Fox Jr., so what we are witnessing is the imminent downfall of the UNP. Its pathetic. I don’t think people would be convinced by his statement on non response to Court of Appeal notice of PSC members. If JVP and TNA can attend Court, why cant the UNP follow suit ? Ranil should not insult the intelligence of the people. Ranil’s collusion with the Rajapakse government is very clear now.

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      It is time for the overseas UNP related associations not to financially or morally support UNP until Ranil and Premadasa are members of the party leadership. These are two traitors. Funds to UNP has to be cut out. I think a new political party has to be formed by the educated, emancipated Sri Lankans. Time is right for the truly literate to rise up. There will be no other opportunity like this ever again.

  • 0
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    Excellent analysis as usual Thisaranee and as always , brilliant usage of the Queen’s language. But what ‘s the point – you are singing to a deaf and mute nation comprising of rice eating bulls.

    • 0
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      Articles of this nature should be translated into Sinhala and tamil languages and be published in newspapers.

      Leela

  • 0
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    Well written article by Tisaranee,as usual

  • 0
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    The decision of RW to place parliment and the UNP above the law has to be condemned. Parliment is nothing but the elected representatives of the people. When ordinary people obey and abide by the law shouldnot their elected representatives do the same. Is this parliment an exclusive club of law breakers.

    • 0
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      In addition to being elected officials we must not forget that they are grade 8 qualified or thambi li pickers. So a bunch of idiots are supreme?

  • 0
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    I think we are running to fast conclusions
    This was not a summons but a mere notice issued by court. What could the UNP have done in court by attending? What did the JVP in fact do in court today? just observers.

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      Responding to a Court Notice is a gesture of respecting the Judiciary, which meets out justice. If there is no respect for justice will not law of the jungle prevail.

    • 0
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      Tilak, if the Learned Judges wanted they could have questioned JVP -PSC member to narrate what transpired at the PSC under oath. That would have proved that the minutes of PSC submitted to the Parliament is a doctored document. UNP was worried about it, as Ranil is the one, as per the President, who wanted an inquiry against the CJ. So Ranil who is a “yes” man to the President blocked the two UNP members who originally indicated that they were attending the courts. The beauty of all this is the Learned Judges have one again proven beyond any doubt they are true professionals and not bias and do not want to follow the path of the Rajapaksas (unfortunately the President is also a lawyer, so his son, and we all know how the son got a pass mark at the law exam).

  • 0
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    Another clever piece of logic. Tisaranee I usually wait for you articles shedding light on the current political situation.
    Ranil thinks he is clever but he has done a blunder. Uncle JR addressed to a set of diehard UNPers of yesteryear. Ranil is unlucky in this. He has to address youth with access ideas of people like you, internet, email…etc. He has done the worst blunder of century and his petty mind is exposed. JVP and TNA are run by politically sensible. I think 90 percent of people silently support CJ but the problem is around one percent has the gut to support in public. This is pathetic. CJ can go home with a dignity. But its shame for undignified boorish political leader Ranil.

  • 0
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    Dear Tisaranee ,
    Why do you continue to use ” When Mahinda Rajapaksa won the presidency in November 2005 ” to describe the day light robbery ? let me ask you again , did MR win or taken away the rightful victory from RW ? can you stop insulting our intelligence pleeaaase !

    PS, one must thank mangala S, Sripathi S, Tiran A and Emil Kanthan

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      Yes, Srilal we all remember the deal with the tiger terrorists by the shameless Rajapakses who are nothing but another bunch of village terrorists from the south. It has been very sad times for Sri Lankans since this cursed and wicked family came to power by foul means. They are a disgrace to Buddhism and humanity.

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    Iwas screeming over my head from the day this Bastard Ranil was born, dont trust him, dont trust him , he is uncle’s nephew. This son of a gun is under the pay of MaRa, he is well looked after by MaRa, he don’t care 2 hoots for the party, as long as his needs are met , he is satisfied, he must be taken to Pedrudalagala mountain top & kicked from there , he will not survive but at least UNP will.

  • 0
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    Is Ms Thisaranee throwing the towel?,

    Perhaps she has decided that the Diaspra, TNA,and the NGO backed latest anti Govt campaign on the back of our CJ and her Hultsdorph mob is a “fizzer”

    May be she took cue from our own Opposition Leader.

    It is a win win situation for the Opposition leader and the great majority of the inhabitant population.

    • 0
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      Still waters run deep modaya

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