19 August, 2018

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Are We A Democracy? May Be?

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Counting Votes is just one Aspect of Democracy

On the face of it, we exercise our franchise, vote and often turn out governments. We have retired public servants working as election staff. By all accounts they are very honest poll workers and the result is inexorably the will of the electorate.

However, there is a lot more to democracy than taking a good record of the will of the electorate. There are related issues: are people whom we would really choose as our representatives able to contest? Here the answer is often no, because of the cost and dangers of campaigning; and whom we choose are our second choice.

No Democracy without the Rule of Law

Do we operate under the rule of law? No! The Seventeenth Amendment was enacted and became the the law. It provided for a Constitutional Council to appoint an Election Commission, and other independent Commissions.

However, both Chandrika Kumarantunge and Mahinda Rajapakse failed to implement the law. Nothing happened. Neither broke the law. They only defied the spirit of the law, and indirectly broke the law. This is our Sri Lanka, Kandy,n style of breaking laws – not to do what it expects of us. No law said the President had to appoint the Constitutional Council. Similarly, when war criminals and thieving politicians are protected, there is a failure to do what the law expects.

The Law and Election Officials

Does the law protect those who conduct elections? We have Assistant Commissioners who were assaulted by politicians years ago without due prosecution. Only one man stood up and used a private plaint. Last I heard he was still spending his money on it. When officials are not protected, they cannot do their work. This is Namal, presently our Deputy Commissioner, Kandy, who has the gumption we so badly need.

As an election official, I came across a complaint that an election campaign was launched from a temple. The KKS police when pressed by the complainant (a rival politician) filed charges before the Mallakam magistrate against the priest and not the politicians. Usually a priest would bless anything given to him – here the manifesto notices – so he was discharged. When the Commission pressed the police, they charged just one of the politicians leaving out the big guns who were at the temple. There were photographs of the event. The politicians themselves had boasted of the release of the manifesto from the “famous temple” in their Facebook pages. Articles appeared in newspapers. The police had all of these. However, they merely placed these in the file but the B-report to the magistrate did not mention this.

Angry at the Commission, although I was not the complainant, summons were supposedly served on me and untruthfully reported as such to the Magistrate by the OIC. An attack was launched on me in court as having run away in fear despite the summons. The Magistrate thought that a Christian should not be involved when the offence involved a Hindu Temple! The one politician charged was discharged after the magistrate had launched his own diatribe on me.

The one man charged threatened me: “Until 10 Feb. 2018 you do your attacks. On the 11thattacks on you will begin. You be ready to face them. We are saying this pleasingly with responsibility. If you pull us into dirty work, we too will not let it/you be.”

The TNPF issued a press release giving the speech, and photos. TNPF Lawyer K. Guruparan stated malicious untruths about me. I was fearful. I complained to SSP/Jaffna who said it was not an Election Offence and he could act only if it was. So he asked for 2 weeks to consult the AG.

As a senior policemen, he should have known it was a criminal offence under Section 186 of the Penal Code: threatening a public officer and preventing him from doing his duty. I felt shame because of the alleged Christian bias I had been accused of in many newspapers. I stayed indoors to avoid meeting people and could not do my work.

Two weeks passed. Nothing. With elections round the corner as 10.02.2018 approached, I left the peninsula in fear, doing limited work from our Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Trincomalee offices. I could not avoid Election Day. So I came to Jaffna Central College, the Elections Centre. I was shocked to see this man who threatened me entering the office where I was and glowering at me. That evening, I was seated next to GA/Jaffna, the Returning Officer. The area was prohibited to that man because he was a candidate but he was walking up and down looking at me. The GA noticed this and had him removed.

Mallakam Tricks again using the Police?

Next, I was invited by one Nandalal to the CID Special investigations Unit – 1 in the Fort to record a statement. I went to Colombo for our appointment at 2:00 pm, 25.04.2018. After I had reached Colombo I was told by Nanadalal that he could not record my statement in Tamil so I should go to one Mohammed in Jaffna who knew “very good Tamil.” In Jaffna I was informed by Mohammed that he spoke good Tamil but cannot write. I reached back to CID HQ in Colombo and I was told that there is no need for a statement, that the case B/R 201/2018 will be called on 11 June and I would be notified.

Today, 07.06.2018, no word yet. The Jaffna Police say they have informed the Commission. The Commission has received nothing. The Commission has written two reminders to the relevant DIG. No reply. The Commission sent our Jaffna’s Deputy Commissioner to ask court for the papers. He was told that the case has not been heard and we should wait. He asked the police and he was told to ask Colombo.

The Commission is unable to brief our lawyers. We do not even know if we are respondents. The hearing is on Monday. I do not trust our law enforcement. They are moved only by bribes or influence. We can see how those who took bribes in the bond scam are protected. At a smaller level, we have a house in Colombo which is occupied by a doctor who refuses to leave and pays no rent. A case initiated last year has not been heard even once. Why? The Fiscal says he cannot find the man who runs a busy practice from our home. I am told that the usual court practice is simply to paste the notice on the door and that suffices. However, the judge then asked for service through the Grama Niladari. That also did not work. When my lawyers approached the Fiscal and the Niladari separately, they both said “We will serve papers but look after us.” It is a game of who looks after them best. Anyway, how can a Fiscal be blamed when the big guys are raking money in by the millions.

Coming back to Monday next, it seems that all the tricks that worked in Mallakam are at play here. Against legal advice, I have written to the Jaffna magistrate to ensure my views are heard.

Post Elections

Usually Election Observers come for Elections and are gone in two weeks after giving their ++ reports. What is not seen is what happens to election complaints. It takes 2 years to see what happens to them. There are thousands of complaints. Things like putting up illegal posters are quickly resolved through minor punishments and are harped on. There are, however, some complaints against major players. I see no action. It is these that tell us if we are a democracy or not – whether the only people allowed to break election laws are those in power as when the UNP “treated” in defiance of election laws by offering millions for Buddhist temples during the LG elections. Immunity for some, breaks us as a democracy.

Meddling Close to Elections

Let me finish by quoting from the Commonwealth Secretariat’s, Election Management: A Compendium of Commonwealth Good Practices, 2016:

“During the run-up to polling, it is therefore important to be wary of attempts on the part of the executive […] to amend the legislative framework or regulations.”

Our failures are because of what officialdom failed to do what was expected of it, rather than in breaking the law. The last local government elections were not held and our franchise robbed by undertaking changes to the law when elections were due, and then using the Supreme Court to block elections.  It was a case of using the law to thwart the law, while dissembling great respect for the law.

Now we have the Provincial System laws meddled with again to delay elections – saying the mixed system the government bull-dozed through, ignoring standing orders, needs change again. The delimitation for these Councils though done, has not been approved by Parliament. So the Commission cannot implement the law for PCs without electorates.

Paraphrasing the Commonwealth, “Democracy involves the use of clear, predictble processes with uncertain outcomes. In a non-democracy, the electoral process is characterized by unclear and uncertain processes but with predictable outcomes.”

Our process is uncertain because we do not know when our government will approve the delimitation. The predictable outcome is that we will have no provincial government until the government thinks it is ready to face the electorate.

We are no democracy.

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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/

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      Prof Hoole, Sri Lanka is a Fake Democracy where Fake Buddhism flourishes!

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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/

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      Hahahahaha Jimba, thanks for keeping it brief.

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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/

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        Dumb KAllathoni Dalit from the Frozen North: Caste Based Political parties and Caste based politics, Language specific Ethinicity which lives just 16 KMs away and demanding languaage specific democracy. Now Protstsants fighting to override the influence of Hindus. Democracy my foot. IT is all because sinhala buddhists are laid back and patient. Sinhala Protestants are bending to Tamil protestants. Otheriwse, where is the elelction commission. IS he workig there only in tamil. when he comes to Muladuwa, he forget his sinhala and mistreats the police Officer. Is that language based discrimination from a DSc engineering who is working inthe EC. Forget Yapanaya what about the Batticaloa university ?

  • 9
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    We have half-baked democracy without an efficient administration / public administration, sign of weak government creating a poor country – that is what we are. Remarkably, we have the largest state-sector which is merely a job-bank and used as vote-base too.

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      As long as we have inefficient Public Administration, and elect devious, semi-literate crooks to parliament, we will forever remain a poor and corrupt country. Bugger twothousandfiveyears of ‘civilisation’.

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    Jeevan,

    I think this is just the unconsolable “cry baby” in you again!

    Although you start grandiosely feigning to fight for the ideal of democracy, it soon degrades falling far, far short as has become your trade mark — making a mountain of a molehill, with “me”, “mine” and “I” the fulcrum on which all your whining pivots!

    I also recognize, there are others who would, in contrast, want to “stand up and clap”!

    So be it – takes all kinds to make this world.

  • 6
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    Dr. Hoole

    I agree, we are definitely not a democracy without the rule of law. In Sri Lanka, there is no impartial justice. ‘Politicians in power and people who can bribe officials – all the way from cabinet ministers to judges and lawyers to school principals, bankers to nurses, doctors and school teachers, not to mention clergy and on and on to the office clerk and tea-boy.

    Once the relevant official’s been adequately satiated by a bribe, impartiality disappears from our legal system. In such a system, there is no meritocracy. One’s lineage becomes more important than one’s skills, academics and professionalism. Mediocre workers become heads of departments, and the cycle repeats; with each repeat we fall further and further in to mediocrity.

    Those with merit who either cannot or won’r bribe, don’t have the said lineages, often emigrate to places where merit is held more important than connections. The president has been lamenting this fact – perhaps he should talk to such emigres and find out why they leave, and then turn around and clean his house of thugs, liars and racists and then turn his attention to similar individuals in ALL political parties in Sri Lanka!

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      Well said, Sinhalese Buddhist. All of the above, and when it comes to voting for those who will govern us, cast their vote for the quality of the candidate and not for their race, religion, caste, old-school, or whether they are the local thug likely to terrorise the neighbourhood.

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    This is the Hoole that was constantly campaigning against the legitimate fight by the Tamil militants for the rights of the Tamil people. The Hooles contributed to the demise of the militants, and now complaining about the CIDs and talking about Democracy, and the rights of the Tamils. Really ?

  • 8
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    democratic electoral process of to fool the international community……behind the democratic veil we the country is autocratic…..

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      That’s what you people wanted isn’t it? VP’s autocratic rule? Enjoy!

  • 6
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    What to you expect in a failed state led by a failed president and a failed prime minister?

    • 2
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      you mean failed presidents and failed prime ministers….?

  • 8
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    S Ratnajeevan H Hoole posed the question ~ “Are We A Democracy? May Be?”
    No we are not. Not even “May be”
    In a democratic country all citizens are equal. The state must protect all her citizens. The state must not condone human rights violations.
    SL does not meet these basic criteria.

  • 7
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    Also, both CBK and MR did not break any rule when they named Hoole as VC, UoJ.
    In what spirit I wonder they acted?

    • 0
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      In better spirit than when SJ (Prof. Sivasegaram) found Hoole unqualified to be Senior Lecturer in Jaffna and robbed the poor students of Hoole’s services.

      In fact in better spirit than when Sivasegaram was reappointed by the UGC to the Jaffna Council desite VC Vigneswaran begging the UGC not to reappoint him because he shouts and disrupts Council meetings.

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        FC: If that were true about shouting and disrupting, then VC Vigneswaran, as chair of Council, should ask the unruly member to leave the room. That is the kind of competence required to serve in that job, in my view.

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    Are you joking …
    Sri LANKA is most courrpt nation in the world..
    Kiling field.
    Looting.
    And fraud…
    You name it more..

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    In Sri lanka elelctions is a very challenging job. where I am living amatures are trained just one hour before the election. They conduct the elelction and at the same location where the votes were cast, they count and telephone the final numbers right away. Party officials are watching the process. No one is trying to fool the voting process. Why in Srilanka it is a very challenging and it needed to be discussed.

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    I wrote in CT. IT hid the comment. YOur complain is that YOu were not allowed in a HIndu Temple. that is common to HIndu Temple.So, you say demcoracy becauswe HIndus tried to respect their rituals. Would you allow Muslims to prey their Creator inside your church. You complain against Ministers offering cash donations to the buddhist temple. Temples are getting money only by donations. Church is not like that. firstly they are from rich countries like UK (anglican) and EVANGELIST ( USA). Even the Catholci church has more assets than what Sri lankana govt has. so, you say offer moey to the protestant church too. first by UN convention govt is required to respect only the Caholics and protestants which are breakway groups. YOu know there are more than 41,000 denominations. where does the govt stop. YOu Tamils’ income is Vegetables and tobacco. that is what you pay taxes on if attl you pay any money. You provincial elections. Now you have home made political solution based on castes in which each caste can function independant of the high caste oppression. YOu live din the USA. NEW YORK has only two federal politicians except the municiapal and URban councils. who is bearing all the costs. Why TNA is hiding. did they receive too much money both from the bond Scam and from the NCM. I heard eventhe drivers of Tamil politicians got money. Tamils are unbelievably shameless and selfish lot. first say, even with DSC in elelctricity why did you come back to Sri lanka to be an election commission offcial who works on a volunteer basis. to destroy the country or something else ?

  • 0
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    Dr Jeevan Hoole,
    .
    When I started to read about the “tractor case” I thought that you had been the target. Today you have provided more information that shows that you clearly are a potential target. As a Commissioner, complainant, witness and victim you should at least be given a 24/7 phone number to be able to call for help in an emergency.
    .
    Has the Tamil SSP been transferred?
    .
    I do not believe that Muslim and Tamil women want to join the police. For the Tamil men willing to join the requirements are often too high like a pass in Math. Very few Tamils wish to join after university all though I seem to remember that they would after a short training become ASPs.

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    Damila Singalam all same. corrupt, greedy, and power hungry bastards. Shiva lingam or no. Hindoo or Christian. You are a rare ethical man because you come from a very good family, well bred and upper class. You also got your values living in the West. These local Demilas are goons, thugs and ones who were used to the gun under SunGod Velupillai the fisher caste from VVT who excelled at smuggling.

    Sir, you are fighting a battle you CANNOT win. Let those Hindoos and Booodhist Demilas and Singalams fuck each other up. Go back to the west. Canada awaits you.

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      thangamma: HE is not Canadian. HE is from that Most democratic country which respects Human rigths to the best. He gave up that and his education is worth there than in Sri lanka. I do not know what he si doing here.

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    Of course Christians have better morals and standards. DO NOT ever apologize for your classy upbringing.

  • 0
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    Dear Mr Hools, A very good article captures a broken down society at all levels. This pathetic state did not arise overnight. The situation you have described has been on the making since Independence. Started with Ceylon Congress splitting up the moment the responsibilities of governing ourselves were thrust upon us to date with several parties at official level and the rest of the “wannabe’s”created whatever they can muster within the vaccum. Hence the “abusers” and the “abused” is what we have today. An average law abiding man can only jump from “frying pan into the fire” hence we have lost few hundred thousand of our children arms/limbs and lives since then for this audacious crime from North to South and East to the West…. Then we all have “remembrance day” for the deceased at all the segreagated levels too mentioned above sums up the state of affairs “even the dead are haunted” then what are the chances for the living??. We need to recreate “Ceylon Congress” one party status to match the “Communist Party of China” and man up the top end of the party with all the technocrats/political experts/engineers/economists and hold no election for per se for another 10+ years. In this time we come up with an unshakable master planning + execution for her future. Nothing else will work as they will always stay as mere “fire fighting” events which you have kindly described above. After loosing many life’s for Tsunami and the respective revolutions/wars/mutinies + specially 10 years after war we are still discussing Constitutional issues must make this change a natural process?. We owe our children this as a minimum after all the blunder we have created/allowed to fester as parents???

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