By Kumar David –
After Sirisena: Task is to reverse decay in public-life and end moral corrosion – Constitutionless-governmentless anarchy
Corrosion of public morals started well before Sirisena though his drollness gave it comical colour. The last six weeks may have outraged some; others may have split their sides in mirth. Corruption is not new – in an interview posted on Facebook and YouTube Sirisena blurted out that the going rate for the purchase of MP’s had risen to Rs 500 million! This time however there is a crucial difference; never before has the Constitution been so barefacedly dishonoured. Previous leaders were no angels but never would DS, Dudley, SWRD, Mrs B, JR, Premadasa, DBW or Chandrika have clung to office after not one but six consecutive defeats in parliament. Do we need seven judges of the Supreme Court to tell us that a dunce is abusing the Gazette, or a two judges Appeal Court bench to conclude that a would-be autocrat and this comical coot of a crackpot have conspired to plant a fake government?
Paksa, greedy for power and frantic to avoid prosecution of kith and kin, sought to manipulate the coot. But can a whole goddamn “Cabinet” be filled with wretches? Has anyone seen anything so bizarre anyplace, any time, in the history of parliamentary politics? This is not a rhetorical question, I ask in earnest. Vasudeva, Wimal, SB, Amunugama, Johnston, Thonda, Gammanpila, Lokuge and Bandula can hardly be called men of moral worth or integrity, but the whole freaking 29 of them! We need a name list of this motley crew for when the country reawakens we must recount these freakish tales to our grandchildren. And it’s time a gifted dramatist did a musical comedy. With 23 state and deputy-ministers the mob totals 52 outnumbering the Ali Baba pack by 12. Of the 90 who desecrated parliament 52 were brawling to protect profits looted from the public purse.
The loot is as follows. Salary: Ministers and State Ministers draw Rs.140,000 a month (increased from 65,000 in January), while deputy ministers draw Rs.135,000 (up from 63,500 in January). All, as parliamentarians draw corresponding allowances and benefits as well. Residence and office: Ministers get an official residence, an office and personal staff. Travel: Ministers get three vehicles, including an official vehicle and security vehicles provided and maintained by the state; domestic air travel – Air Force helicopters. Security: Provided by the police; military units during emergencies. So, you see, it’s not for nothing that these rats scream obscenities and overturn parliamentary furniture.
This carnival of deceit and sleaze is not the worst of it. More lasting is the damage to institutions of parliamentary democracy and to constitutional propriety. Whatever one’s partisan view vis-a-vis Ranil and Mahinda or UNP and SLFP-PP, it is to repairing this damage that we must first set our minds. What can we do to prevent a disgrace of this magnitude turning our country into a theatre of the comic again? First comes resolve; determination “Never again!” Intervention by political party grassroots will be useful; who are these crappy “leaders” without us? Party cadres must shame thug MPs; people at large must step in and give every slime-ball a bloody nose at the elections. These are obligations that go beyond party loyalty – we can return to party politics later but let’s get the job of banishing dishonourable MP’s and reversing corrosion in public morals first. We will have time enough later to press forward our favourite economic policies and social programmes. This opportunity must not be foregone.
But let us not be simpletons; Court Orders, parliamentary defeats, public outrage, admonition from overseas, collapse of the rupee and economic ruin have never stopped fascists on the march. MR has challenged an Appeal Court order in the Supreme Court not because he cares two brass farthings for the courts but to buy time to plan the next move in his power-grab. Sirisena asserts “Even if all 225 MPs vote for Ranil as PM, I will not appoint him”. Remarkable! Not the Japanese Emperor, Queen of England or President of India has such powers! Possessed, or in cahoots with Rajapaksa who sought to exploit what he thought was simpleton naivety to find an albatross round his neck? Thakshila Lakmali Jayawardena has filed a petition in the Court of Appeal seeking a Writ of Mandamus to inquire into the state of mind of Maithripala Sirisena under the Mental Diseases Ordinance. It’s very timely.
Fascism has to be smashed, it has to be uprooted root and branch; the lesson of history is that there is no other way to eradicate the scourge. I have shouted myself hoarse begging people to learn from the genesis of fascism elsewhere. Proto-fascism (proto means emergent or early) grabs power by foul means or fair and grips it like a limpet. It will not loosen its grip come what may. If forced to step back for a moment it will claw at every institution (legislative, judicial or executive) till it has recovered its grip. This is what is going before our eyes. The limpet fastens its grip at each stage and inches forward. The last resort of SLFP-PP proto-fascists and the MS-MR rogue-regime will be to incite violence (loot Muslim shops, “reveal” hidden Tiger cells) as a pretext to declare a state of emergency. But beware M&S! This is a daring game; who may eventually be strung-up from a lamppost is not foreseeable!
Parliamentary elections will have to be held in 2020 at the latest. The crucial question is whether before or after presidential elections. If presidential elections come first, Ranil (or Karu or Sajith) has better than even odds not because he is a much loved but for two other reasons. First the SLFP-PP has no credible candidate; second the havoc the Rajapaksa gang created in recent weeks has devastated its standing. Who are its likely presidential candidates? Mythree cannot poll ten percent, Mahinda cannot run and Gota has lost his shine but not yet his American passport. If presidential elections are held before parliamentary elections and before the bitter taste of recent events is forgotten, Ranil is a lucky bugger with improved chances of winning thanks to the Mahinda -Sirisena suicide pact.
Parliamentary elections are harder to predict if they come first because the “big candidate” issue is absent, UNP economic policy has been a flop, racism is more easily swallowed on small canvases, and rigging and violence are more likely. This is the calculation motivating the SLPP’s frantic campaign for parliamentary elections. The thuggery on display in parliament may work against some MPs but we are on new ground in such matters. How is the electorate responding, Lanka is not known for its political maturity? The UNP if it forms a strong alliance may still do well; we have to wait and see, etc. etc.
Trends in the last 10 days have moved against S&M practices and both, in my view, are in contempt of parliament and the former is indictable for treason. The government, in whatever form it is reconstituted after the Court rulings, will be subordinate to parliament which can now flex its muscles over Prime Minister and Cabinet. In theory it’s good because, in principle, in Lanka as in UK and India, parliament is supreme over government and executive. Let us rephrase NM’s question to JR: Say he had asked: “What if a string of madmen one after the other ascend to the executive presidency?” The realistic answer is ‘Abolish the prevailing presidency and replace it by a ceremonial alternative’. People have now arrived at that understanding thanks to the postures and positions of S&M.
I have asserted many times in this column that proto-fascism with a rogue-regime under its control is a mortal danger to democracy, the body politic and even the corporal body of some of us as the conflict intensifies. Though there has been a push back thanks to rising public anger from which the Courts have taken courage I don’t want to leave you with the idea that danger is past. Though the unconstitutional Gazette has been stayed, the illegal administration unpacked and no significant foreign countries except China have given the fake-government a nod, the game is not over. At this time of writing the Supreme Court and Appeal Court judgements are still pending but the rational part of my mind conjectures that the judgements are unlikely to go well for Sirisena and Mahinda. Even if that be the case it will give only temporary respite from multipronged attack that has been launched on democracy by proto-fascism and the rogue-state. There are slew of court cases initiated by the Rajapaksa side with the motive of pure harassment, the Daily Mirror reports that Sirisena is instigating Wimal and Vasudeva to campaign for referendum demanding immediate parliamentary (not presidential of course) elections and the atmosphere is one of constitutional anarchy. To clear the air the people must mobilise and wipe the Lanka’s political clean of this neo-Mussolini threat.