28 January, 2023

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A Nation In Distress

By Padmani Mendis –

Dr. Padmani Mendis

I communicate regularly with friends with whom I studied in Birmingham some 58 years ago. On hearing of the election of the new president Gerry wrote to me still with concern because of what she had heard about him. She asked such questions as “Will you have enough food? Will India and the IMF still help you to get out of the situation you are in? Are you worried about Martial Law?” She was listening to BBC to access whatever news she could of my country.

I replied to her: I am worried that our young protestors, continuing their struggle to clean our country of a corrupt political system will be charged with batons, thrashed, tear-gassed, imprisoned and tortured. And I am worried because they will not give up their struggle and continue to suffer in this same way.

I am worried because a new leader who professes democracy may become repressive. He has started already with instructions to the Armed Forces to take any action they thought necessary under Emergency laws. This in spite of the BASL indicating clearly that an Emergency at this time is not supported by the law. With that authoritarianism and the persistence of the protestors who may be joined by Trade Unions, their joint action I fear may well lead to a breakdown of law and order; to a state of anarchy. So your question about Martial Law is a distinct possibility. I am worried that the hopes and dreams we had the evening before this president was elected have gone. Vanished.

I am worried that my country will not be able to get back the many hundreds thousands of dollars of our people’s money that the Rs are alleged to have robbed and have hidden in tax havens and never-to-be-disclosed investments.

I am worried the new president will grant immunity from prosecution to the past president and his R family. I am worried that the past president will be allowed to live in our country and that our scarce resources will be used to give him security and protection for life. I am worried that the new president will protect and foster the popularity of the R son and groom him as a successor. I am worried because the son R is reputed to be the wealthiest of the Rs; shrood enough to have allegedly an enormous investment in crypto currency amongst others that will never be disclosed. I worry what will become of my country should that happen. Because then he has a son also to be groomed to ensure the continuity of the dynasty.

We know that our wealthy neighbour India and the IMF and others will not let our poor people starve for long because it is not in their interest to let them do so. Every time a good “friend” bails us out it is to get something of our beautiful country in return – their pound of flesh as it were. The same goes for international organizations controlled by western countries.

I am worried because our purportedly “People’s Constitution” has let us down badly. As recent events demonstrate, it has protected the few in power, supposedly the incorruptible but in reality the inherently corruptible – members of our “people’s parliament”.

My interest and knowledge on the Constitution is that of an interested citizen. I am not an attorney. But I ask is this a “People’s Constitution?” I answer, “No it is one that that has protected politicians”. I am led to believe this because of events leading to the election of the new president. It is a “Parliamentarians’ Constitution”. And we can expect it to continue as such.

Am I just being cynical? I think not. I have always been a realist; a pragmatist. Both in my personal and professional life. This is me on behalf of my people who I love.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    0

    Dr. Padmani Mendis,
    Your worries and concerns and fears are real and it is the same with all those people who loves this country. We all thought something would change now but it looks that it may not happen in the near future. Unfortunately our political and religious leaders don’t think think the same way but you may get some relief from IMF and India for few months in a form of loan with interest to calm down peoples momentum but the consequences are going to be very high. Thousands of workers have to loose their earnings and youngsters who are going to loiter in the streets is going to be huge. With this election, We have elevated some of our members of parliament from millionaire to billionaire status. We never had people’s constitution or people’s paliament. We may call it democracy where people only have the right to vote but after that people have no right to even to have your own meal.

  • 4
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    …”is this a “People’s Constitution?” I answer, “No it is one that that has protected politicians”.
    No dispute, agree, to the fullest degree; genuinely or properly.
    All these “Constitutions” were thrust upon us by the politicians and for their benefit.
    No peoples participation to protect peoples rights. All amendments pass under the radar to avoid a referendum, so that only politicians make the decisions and pass them, themselves.
    Only time the people were involved was when the Wieyanake Committee canvassed peoples views where, Mr Wijenayake described the process of framing and passing a new Constitution. Mr Viyangoda explained why a citizen needed a Constitution while Mr Warnasuriya described the duties and roles of citizens in implementing the Constitution.
    But that was shortlived – never came to fruition.
    Even the the original proposal for the constitutional council had seven non politicos, and 3 legislators but the Parliament passed it the other way round to keep their power intact.
    Unless the general public is fully involved in the process, leaving no room for the MPs to change clauses at their whim, at Committee stage, it will be déjà vu.
    There was even a case where the Speaker signed a constitutional amendment which was not the one actually passed in the House, alleged Nagananda in a court case..

  • 1
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    Paddy, Do not worry about the “People’s Constitution” which can get as dirty as is possible because of those who promote it, many seen here in the oath taking ceremony as well. Do they know it. We are under a different kingdom constitution where “People” will have to be given a chance to open their eyes to the truth before their final destination, the whole lot burning then and not tea partying. They will not enjoy the company of the devil either, after the national group murders they did several times, of the suppressed youth of this nation. Rev.21,8 forecasts that murderers, sorcerers, idolaters, sexually immoral, and all liars have their part in the lake of fire.

  • 1
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    Yes! Madam!, It is not a people’s constitution, but some people’s constitution, may be as you said it may be the constitution of the Parliamentarian, for the Parliamentarian.
    .
    “System Chang” is the prerogative of the people and unless the revolution is continued to a successful conclusion, the country is doomed.

  • 0
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    Isn’t it funny when Ranil says “I am here to protect/save our constitution”. Of course, if he wants to continue as President, he will have to do that.

  • 0
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    The author seems to have repeated the obvious worries on anyone’s mind these days. Sri Lankans are a strange lot for the most part. Those of us who comment here are a tiny minority that is able to discern realities and debate points without strong biases that unfairly colour judgment. Most Hoi Polloi are emotional, easily led and make rotten decisions at elections time and time again.

  • 1
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    Madam, you have genuinely expressed the views of the majority of Sri Lankans, who are speechless, tired of undergoing all kinds of hardships under Gota Rajapaksa, and are now facing a dictator RANIL as the way he behaves now. MAHINDA has made Ranil’s only ambition of becoming a President with 134 MPP who cannot even go back to their ridings as many of them seems bribed. Ranil’s days are therefore numbered.

  • 1
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    Dear Dr. Padmani Mendis:

    “Will you have enough food? Will India and the IMF still help you to get out of the situation you are in? Are you worried about Martial Law?”

    These are concerns of normal people, but Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs does not apply in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka political needs, or the Political Power is as important as food and fuel apparently. If this applies to the majority of Sri Lankans, then a majority of Sri Lankans are schizophrenic.

    Thank you for highlighting this point.

    Trying to get political power and fuel and food they will end up with shortages of both.

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