By W. Vishnu Gupta –
There could be a time in the life of a nation when a historical episode changes the course of history for good; The Supreme Court decision on June 2nd 2020 may have done that for our beloved Republic of Sri Lanka; The rejection to proceed with the Fundamental Rights petitions filed by certain individuals challenging the date set by the Elections commissions for the general elections and the related gazette notifications; dissolution of parliament and the time frame for electing members to the new parliament.
According to the national news reports “The Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya stated that the initial objections raised by the respondent party regarding the petitions have been rejected by the majority of the five-member judge bench”. The people ought to celebrate this day with traditional “milk-rice” sweets.
Detractors of democratic path chosen by the people and those who continue to challenge our sovereignty may be disturbed by the decision but clearly the supreme court of the country has upheld the inalienable right of the people of Sri Lanka which is asserted in the third clause of the constitution;
“In the Republic of Sri Lanka sovereignty is in the People and is inalienable. Sovereignty includes the powers of government, fundamental rights and the franchise”
The decision rendered by the highest court of the land has sent a message to the vile politicians and their corrupt supporters that “sovereignty of Sri Lanka is in the people”; it is sacrosanct and should not be interpreted according to political expediency.
The challenges and attack engineered by a group of loosely amalgamated former parliamentarians and a prominent NGO to our institutions of democracy were found to be hollow and speculative at best. Many alleged that they were supported by a dysfunctional election commission of the nation. Deshapriya and Hoole are the reasons of uncertainty; their adoring adulation of democracy and disgust and debunking were always done publicly to gain cheap media publicity and to undermine our sovereignty. Saving the voter-rights has never been high on their leadership skills. Supporting the status-quo by shifting the responsibility to political leaders or to the lack of necessary infrastructure and supporting resources were their modus of operandi. But with the Supreme Court Decision , one should not be surprised if the election commissioners attempt to be the darling of voters.
I must congratulate Colombo Telegraph for being the first media organization to publish the article titled “Elected President vs. Dead Parliament” on April 28th 2020. With regard to the definition of “Dead Parliament” it said:
“With the declaration of the “END DATE” of the 8th parliament (or the 8th Project of Peoples sovereignty) is defunct or DEAD. Obviously, the vile corrupt politicians and their cohorts will argue that start date of the next parliament is not valid and illegal. Yet it must be understood, that the start date is applicable only to a “NEW” parliament. Until a new parliament is elected by the people, “Start” date is hypothetical and people have better affairs to concentrate on and priority must be given to fight against the spread of Covid-19 virus”
On May 20th 2020, highly respected Counsel Romesh De Silva PC in his submission countering the arguments of the petitioners before the Supreme Court also told the five-judge Supreme Court bench that the People’s sovereignty could be violated if the old Parliament was re-summoned. “A dead Parliament will not come alive”.
Thank you Colombo Telegraph for publishing the above undeniable truth about the “Dead Parliament” without any reservations.
Yet no one must assume that the detractors of democratic institutions of the country are defeated due to the verdict of the Supreme Court until the general elections are held to elect the new members to the parliament. They have already started fear mongering tactics based on Covid-19 pandemic to scuttle and derail the planned elections. The masters of deceits will be very active once again taking cover behind Covid-19. Data do not lie but the politicians fearing the outcome will exaggerate the situation in the country painting a doom and gloom scenario. Let’s be rational and look at some comparable data before making any conclusion that plays into the hands of the political parties opposing the general election and promoting the resurrection of the dead parliament.
Despite very limited medical assets and comparatively negligible financial resources our country has done a remarkably a good job in controlling the spread of Covid-19 virus. WHO and several nations have commended the exemplary strategy with military precision adopted so far by health authorities, medical professionals and the military forces of the country.
WHO representative for Sri Lanka made the following comment recently about controlling measures that have taken place in the country “Sri Lanka historically had a very strong disease surveillance system? It had controlled and eliminated many communicable diseases in the past. This experience provided a foundation for Sri Lanka to prepare and control COVID-19, WHO Representative to Sri Lanka Dr. Razia Pendse said.
According to Dr. Pendse, the Sri Lankan Government and the Health Ministry took steps to control COVID-19 even before the very first COVID-19 patient was reported from the country. We commend President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for his brave approach to defeat the disease,” Moreover she said “when the number of COVID-19 patients increased in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka reviewed, reassessed and re-calibrated its response along the way”.
Similar accolades have been made by other world leaders including that of China, Japan and India.
Covid-19 patients confirmed per one million of the country’s population and total deaths in the country should open the eyes and minds of those vile politicians engaged in a negative campaign to deny or postpone the general elections in the country. Let’s compare WHO data published as of June 2nd 2020, it shows only 77 cases per one million of people has been recorded in Sri Lanka compared to 5663 cases in the USA, 4184 in the UK, 6283 in Singapore, 2,433 in Canada, 2601 in Saudi Arabia. Likewise only 10 deaths are reported in Sri Lanka compared to mind-numbing numbers of death reported in other countries, for example in the G7 countries that represent 58% of the global net wealth estimated at $317 trillion in 2018; the number of deaths recorded respectively in the USA:107,506, UK:39,369, Germany:8,673, Italy:33,530, France:28,940, Japan:14,650, Canada:7,395.
The selected data of table below shows our country of 22 Million people has been incredibly successful so far, compared to most countries in the world, some are rich and powerful, in the fight against Covid-19. The scary figures of death and infection rates recorded in the other parts of the globe are not seen in Sri Lanka due to the timely actions taken by the government of President Gotabya Rajapaksa.
Confirmed covid-19 cases of 1683, 10 deaths and 77 cases per one million people in a country of population of 22 million living in an area of 25,330 Sq miles are figures to arouse excitement. It should baffle the unbiased reader and question why there are no glowing headlines applauding the success of this island nation.
Researchers of political economy are of the opinion that those who won an election are more satisfied with how democracy works than those who lost. Sri Lankan politicians and their supporters are no different. UNP and the breakaway party SJB, JVP and other religion and language based parties of politics have endured colossal defeats in two elections; Local Government (Pradeshiya Sabah) and Presidential election. Hence the winners of SLFP and the breakaway party SLPP are immensely satisfied with every democratic process of the country and very keen on holding the general election as soon as possible. Those who lost the above two elections will make every attempt relentlessly to scuttle every democratic process to ensure to avoid another colossal defeat. Hence they sought the intervention of the Supreme Court and failed.
Next attempt will be based on possible health threat to the voters based on global pandemic of Covid-19.There is no vaccine to control or eliminate this virus and the scientists believe it will take at least another year or two to develop an effective vaccine, therefore in reality COVID-19 is going to be with us for a relatively long time. Moreover, it appears that covid-19 threat to the population of Sri Lanka is negligible mainly due to the effective control measures adopted by the government of Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The intention of UNP, SJB, JVP,TNA, SLMC and ACMC is obvious. The tactics of delaying the general election and hoping for some miracle to better their chances of winning may backfire on them because the voters measure satisfaction with democracy differently from that of the utility adopted by the politicians. For them (voters) all represent a bunch of crooks driven by greed and not by patriotism. Therefore it is time for the politicians and their cohorts to stop trying to pull wool over the eyes of voters and focus on electing a new parliament in the country.