23 October, 2020

Blog

Authoritarianism Or Democratic Governance?

By Savitri GoonesekereJayantha Dhanapala and G. Usvatte-aratch –

There has been, in recent times, public discussion in regard to whether our country is moving towards an authoritarianism that undermines democratic governance. The President, Ministers and government spokespersons have consistently denied this allegation. They refer in particular to the recent elections in three provinces as indicative of a functional and vibrant democracy responsive to the needs of the people. Infrastructure development that has taken place is also cited. The recently concluded CHOGM hosted by Sri Lanka is considered an indication that Sri Lanka has achieved significant international stature as a country whose governance follows Commonwealth values.  These values as stated in the final CHOGM communiqué refer in particular to democracy, human rights, tolerance, freedom of expression, separation of powers, rule of law, good governance, and sustainable development. The question whether this conforms to reality deserves an objective assessment. Rather than engaging in either assertions or denials of authoritarianism, we as citizens, and the government, should take serious stock of significant current trends in governance, and evaluate whether there is truth in this allegation, and if so, what can be done to arrest it. The Friday Forum wishes to raise selected areas of concern which merit public scrutiny and discussion.

MahindaOur Constitution, international norms and standards, and Presidential power

It is often said in public statements that international bodies exceed their mandate in reviewing the governance situation in Sri Lanka, and that these norms and standards have been determined by western countries and are being used to undermine the sovereignty of our small country. We agree that there is no justification for a highly politicised and selective approach to the enforcement of human rights. While the government may protest such an approach, this is no justification for the government to violate its own obligations under our Constitution and under international law to respect and promote human rights. Our Constitution in Chapter III guarantees and provides for the enforcement of human rights. Sri Lanka is also bound by the norms and commitments of international human rights treaties that the State has ratified.  Article 27(15) requires the Sri Lankan state to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in dealings among nations. Equitable and inclusive development demands that economic growth and development activities do not result in a violation of these obligations under the Constitution and international law. The President, in taking his oath of office, accepts that he will faithfully perform his duties and discharge his functions in accordance with the Constitution and the law (Article 32(1) and the Fourth Schedule to the Constitution). Our Constitution further says that he must do all such acts not being inconsistent with the Constitution or written law, as by international law, custom or usage he is required to do (Article 33 (f)). The popular perception that Presidential power under the Constitution is unlimited is incorrect.

Economic growth and an improvement of infrastructure cannot justify a violation of the obligations of good governance according to our Constitution and international law. “Equitable and inclusive development” requires government to implement the civil and political, and social and economic and cultural, rights of the people. Allocation of financial resources for health and education is as important as resources for strengthening the criminal justice system. The indivisibility and interdependence of all these rights must be recognised in plans and policies on development. People’s participation is critical in setting priorities for social and economic change. There must be informed debate on official policies regarding use of national resources and financial allocations for different sectors.

Breakdown of law and order and political interference in the administration of criminal justice

The breakdown of law and order has been a source of public comment and concern for many months. Placing the Attorney General’s department under the President’s office has eroded public confidence in the impartiality of criminal investigation and prosecutions without political interference. Impunity for violence against media personnel and human rights defenders has been raised nationally and internationally. The cancellation of visas for foreign participants invited by the Bar Association to a meeting on the rule of law and democratic governance during CHOGM reinforces the perception that the government will not tolerate critical comment on issues of public concern or protect those persons seeking to claim their right to freedom of speech and association.

The LLRC recommended significant changes in this sphere including the de-linking of the police from the Ministry of Defence. The recent solution of creating a new Ministry of Law and Order placed under the President, with a Secretary of this Ministry who is an ex military commander, does not follow recommendations of the LLRC, or address the issue of politicisation in enforcing the criminal law. The events in Weliweriya where the Police was replaced by the army and contributed to a violent suppression of a peaceful protest must surely be addressed as undermining the obligations of a government in a democratic state to preserve law and order while protecting its citizens.

The judiciary

The recent proceedings to remove the Chief Justice highlight the need for significant amendments in relevant Constitutional provisions in order to ensure fairness and justice. The failure to make the necessary amendments to ensure a just and fair inquiry in impeachment proceedings against superior court judges undermines public confidence in the government’s commitment to ensure the core values of judicial independence and integrity.

Our country has a solid jurisprudence on human rights created by distinguished judges who served on our Supreme Court, with the contribution of lawyers who were encouraged to litigate on behalf of victims of human rights violations. There are reliable reports from lawyers and litigants that it has now become increasingly difficult for citizens and lawyers to seek remedies in the courts even for alleged infringement of fundamental rights relating to torture and death in prison custody.

Public administration

The Eighteenth Amendment removed the term limit of the Presidency while preserving its immunity from legal action. It also did away with the independent public service commissions.  This Amendment reinforced the concept of an all-powerful Executive Presidency, and has seriously undermined public administration at all levels. There is a popular perception even among bureaucrats that any administrative decision can be made with the approval of the President and the Cabinet, and that the laws of the land do not apply to such decision-making. The perception that Constitutional norms and law and regulations can be disregarded is reflected in non-consultative policy making in key areas. This is seen for example in appointments to senior public service positions, including posts such as government agents in the North, which are filled by persons who are not from the Sri Lanka Administrative Service, but those with a military background. Many key diplomatic posts at all levels have been given to persons outside the service with political connections, thus undermining the concept of a professional public and foreign service selected through a competitive process from among qualified persons.

In areas such as environment and women’s rights, arbitrary decisions have been made with no accountability. An example is the recent regulation of the Ministry of Foreign Employment denying women with children the right to travel overseas for migrant work without proof of the arrangements made for their minor children. The plight of minor children is a tragic consequence of the failure of our economy over a long period of time to provide reasonable livelihood opportunities for low-income men and women. Our Maintenance Act 1999 places a joint and shared parental obligation on both parents for the care of children. This policy decision appears to have been made on a Cabinet directive, which perceives women as the only persons responsible for parenting and childcare in the family.This policy undermines the equality clause (Article 12) in our Constitution, and the legislation on family support. It also undermines Sri Lanka’s commitments under the Women’s Convention (CEDAW), and Goal 3 on the Empowerment of Women in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).Two key policy making bodies, the National Committee on Women and the National Child Protection Authority, have not sat together and sought a consensus on how to ensure effective child care without undermining the livelihood opportunities of women. These two bodies are supposed to have official representation from key line ministries dealing with this subject, but increasingly chairpersons of policy bodies are making statements on policy disregarding the principle of consultative policy making.

There is an atmosphere of public administration in which disregard of regulatory frameworks is considered legitimate because Presidential authorisation or Cabinet approval has been obtained for decisions on key issues which affect public concerns, including service delivery. Consequently, statutory bodies are not performing their responsibilities to the public as required by the law. The decline in public administration is manifested in the behaviour of Cabinet Ministers who have a leadership role in State institutions. They often behave in a manner unbecoming of their public office, and make public statements which are sexist and sometimes obscene, humiliating women as well as officials, including visiting dignitaries. They bring the country and the administration into disrepute, but are never held accountable for their behaviour, which is often trivialised by the government and even the public. This reinforces the culture of impunity for dereliction of duty.

Universities and university governance

The decline in public administration is replicated in the public university system.  Universities are governed by the Universities Act and relevant Ordinances. They are also members of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Sri Lankan Universities are expected to follow the standards and procedures set by statutes and the Constitution of our country, which confer rights on academics and duties on university administrators. The fundamental value enshrined in the legislation and the Constitution is respect for university autonomy, though the State funds these public institutions.

Recent events show a pattern of disregard, by the Government and the University Grants Commission (UGC), for this key constitutional, legal and commonwealth value system on academic autonomy in universities. This disregard includes appointments of Vice Chancellors on the basis of political affiliation rather than academic merit, extension of the services of a Dean in violation of the Universities Act, the imposition of State security services on universities, and interference with freedom of speech and expression. Politicisation of academic appointments, including professorial posts and posts of Heads of Departments, is another feature that is a cause for concern. Post CHOGM reflections in a meeting of academia with the UGC, with the participation of the President and Ministers, indicate that the UGC is now proposing to “uplift the status of Commonwealth universities” by focusing (among other issues) on the theme of democracy, good governance, and the rule of law.  As citizens we must ask whether this public rhetoric conforms to the reality in Sri Lankan universities.

The appalling interference with universities is a manifestation of political authoritarianism in the governance of important public institutions. The totally erroneous perception that disregard of constitutional and legislative procedures is permitted in an all powerful Presidency, and that Ministerial decision-making outside the legal framework is permissible, has contributed to passivity within university bodies which earlier would not have tolerated these intrusions. The decline in leadership in universities at the level of Vice Chancellors, and the undermining of institutional responsibilities of University Councils, Senates and Faculty Boards, has had and will continue to have, a serious impact on the State university system. The politicisation of appointments to University Councils, which is very apparent in recent years, has made the governing bodies of these institutions incapable of giving the advice and guidance necessary for university governance.

Religious intolerance

The growing environment of religious intolerance, and the alarming disregard of religious and cultural diversity and erosion of values of respect for diversity, have not received an effective response from the government. There has been a shocking silence on the part of the government even after the most recent violent attacks on churches in Hikkaduwa. The recent interview on Al Jazeera where the President stated that violent incidents of religious intolerance occurred because of the rape of a girl child, and also that such violence was an inevitable consequence of such acts, is particularly shocking.  This, apart from being inaccurate, is a Presidential justification of persons illegally taking the law into their own hands, and an admission that the government has abdicated its role in maintaining law and order and protecting its citizens. That leading members of the government support some extremist groups undermines the commitments of the government to ensure the safety and security of all communities.

Culture and tradition

Justifications of tradition and culture are used to undermine the human rights of some groups such as women and children.  This is seen in the ineffective responses to sexual violence against women and children in public places. There are reliable reports that the campaign for zero tolerance for domestic violence is undermined because important politicians question the role of the state in preventing such violence. The recent restriction on women’s right to seek employment in overseas migration has already been referred to.

Extremist and chauvinistic cultural arguments have also been used to undermine the reproductive health of women and the family planning programmes of this country.  A recent government regulation has prevented service delivery in this area by non-governmental organisations in a situation where the state cannot possibly cover the needs of the country without such support. We are regressing from our family planning achievement and this has serious health and demographic implications.

Militarisation

The issue of militarisation of public administration has been raised in several statements of the Friday Forum.  There is ample evidence that the military, which in peace time should not perform civilian duties, is being used for that purpose in Sri Lanka. Senior civilian public service positions are now taken by military personnel. The Defence Ministry is forming companies and getting contracts to deliver services in a variety of areas, including the hospitality trade and construction work, bypassing accepted financial procedures with the approval of the Treasury, the Cabinet and the President. Despite the ending of the armed conflict and the lifting of the emergency the President continues, each month, to use his power under the Public Security Ordinance to call out all the armed forces for the maintenance of public order in all 25 administrative districts of the country.

This militarisation is contrary to the norms of democratic governance and also contributes to the erosion of civilian institutions.

Responsibility of the Government and the people

These issues must be seriously examined by the public in forming an opinion as to whether there is an urgent need to reinforce norms and institutions of democratic governance.The issues raised above indicate the debilitating impact of an authoritarian Executive Presidency, acting as if the Constitution and the laws of the land are irrelevant in governance. The government must address these issues rather than make public statements on the vibrant nature of our democracy. Citizens of this country, while they may have different political affiliations, must not legitimise this erosion of democracy. It is true that the President and Government have registered election victories. Whether, and the extent to which, the Government has popular support, is not relevant to the duty citizens have to scrutinise its record. Affirmation, even by silence, of governance that contravenes the Constitution, other laws, and binding international treaty obligations, can only lead to a complete breakdown of democratic values and institutions. As citizens we should not accept government statements on commitments to democratic governance when there is no effort at all to address the above issues. Consenting to this type of governance as a legitimate function of the Presidency when the Constitution and the laws of the land do not confer such powers on the President can only lead to a breakdown of democracy in our land.

Jayantha Dhanapala                         Professor Savitri Goonesekere            Dr. G. Usvatte-aratch

On behalf of Friday Forum,

Mr. Jayantha Dhanapala, Professor Savitri Goonesekere, Dr. G. Usvatte-aratchi, Professor  Camena Guneratne, Ms. Suriya Wickremasinghe, Rt. Reverend Duleep de Chickera, Professor Arjuna Aluwihare, Mr. Ahilan Kadirgamar,  Mr. J.C. Weliamuna, Dr. A. C. Visvalingam,   Ms. Anne Abayasekara,   Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne, Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda, Professor. Gananath Obeyesekere, Mr. Danesh Casie Chetty, Professor Ranjini Obeyesekere, Dr. Deepika Udagama,  Ms. Sithie Tiruchelvam,  Ms, Damaris Wickremesekera, Dr. Selvy Thiruchandran, Mr. Faiz-ur Rahman, Ms. Manouri  Muttettuwegama, Ms. Shanthi Dias, Mr. Javid Yusuf, Mr. Chandra Jayaratne,

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Latest comments

  • 7
    0

    Yet another well intentioned albeit ineffective piece of communication. I suspect many would read just the first paragraph and dump the rest. It would be worthwhile to understand a few improvements that is possible here.

    Its the average voter who has the leverage to change habits of the govt. If you need something done then you need to compel the voter into action. A majority of voters will not understand most of what is written here. In order for this to be effective I suggest the following.

    – Write in the Lingua franca even 14 year old can understand.
    – Those who read will want to know “whats in it for them”. Clearly outline these.
    – Many wont have time to read so much of this. Limit to 500-1000 words.
    – Have a call to action. i.e. call your local Member of Parliament now and let them know ones concerns.
    – Finally, put a time limit on when action needs to be taken. Let them know consequences of not following the recommendations within the time limit.

    Once this is done I can guarantee the time spent here will not be wasted.

    • 3
      0

      Good attempt, but too long winded..

      The short version of this article should be translated and published widely in SINHALA to educate Sinhalaya Modayas as part of a VOTER EDUCATION CAMPAIGN.

      FF you are a bunch of DODOs – just like the Dead left politicians and Ranil Wickramasinghe who ignores and does not communicate with youth and young people because… are you afraid of youth?! Why, envy, fear of loss of positions that have already gone…? This is a Sri Lankan malaise, particularly visible in political culture, govt. and NGOs..
      Get some young people on board if you really want to communicate and do effective messaging including on the internet!

      • 7
        2

        There are three possible leaders I can think of to lead Sri Lanka uniting all the ethnic groups and religions:

        Tisaranee Gunasekara,
        Sharmini Serasinghe, and
        Lakmali Hemachandra.

        These three of them happen to be females, but that does not matter.
        Another possible genuine though left leaning leader is Wickramabahu Karunaratne.

        I have a feeling the Sinhala elite are not too fond of them because the elite are still immersed in Mahavamsa mind set.

        • 0
          0

          You are 100% correct.

          These all, I think , they all knew of it. There is no point in writing and Translating and distributing these to Sri Lankan masses.

          Peoples wants to hear, before they go for voting, is racially charged political propaganda to justify their faith on the Mahavamsa. They Brought Dhayasiri with overwhelming majority after Weliweriya Killings.

          Only way left to change their mind is start at grass root level what Sharmini Serasinghe’s suggestions. There won’t be any immediate response from them for that like the way Jayanhtha Dhanapala is asking; but it is a useful way of doing it.

          • 0
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            Friday Forum guys are anti-lankan NGO mafia men, cannot even communicate effectively, yet think they are masters. ( but of none)

            Just throw damn article to waste paper basket.

      • 4
        1

        I like your comment, Dude!

        • 0
          0

          Hey don’t insult us old birds, dudes.
          And Please give these self appointed “eminent persons” in Jayantha’s UN lingo a break and let them prat on and feel important.
          As long a they can educate uneducated and uncouth Mahinda Rajapaksa family and cronies regime with their pieces let them be (but yes bet to write to MR in Sinhala as his English is very poor) – which is a very important thing to do in this Banana Republic of Sinhala modayas..

      • 2
        0

        I agree with Dude – though I’d use a bit kinder language.

        The senior intellectuals and retired lawyers and professionals that make up the Friday Forum need to either a) start working with younger and more grass-roots activists, to learn from and teach them what they can, and to enable to get their important message out to Sinhalese speakers beyond Colombo 3, 4, 5 and 7. And/or they need to start taking a bit of a risk and start lobbying the dreaded “international community” – e.g., go with the TNA and the handful of Sinhala activists who dare to go to Geneva to lobby the UN Human Rights Council. Or at least start lobbying the Indian and Chinese and Western govts based in Colombo, and the big development banks like the World Bank and ADB who still help prop up the Rajapaksa regime with hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Move from writing statements to actually trying to change the minds of others – either in the international elite or in the larger Sri Lanka, Sinhala-speaking public. Democratic political change in Sri Lanka can only come from a skilful combination of these two forces, however opposed they may seem at some points in time.

        • 0
          0

          Hey guys thanks for the feed back!
          Indeed James Chance you are correct! These Dodos are very one track, only focus on Jarapassas – rather than look at the BIG PICTURE and players.
          They need to open their minds and start asking why the World Bank and ADB are subsidizing the Mahinda Rajapaksa Military Dictatorship? Gota the Goon’s military businesses and BAD GOVERNANCE and SUPERFICIAL bourgeois “city beautification” after displacing poor folk from the city is funded by WB and ADB via the Urban Development Authority (UDA) and goes to Ministry of Defense since “aid” which is really more loans is FUNGIBLE..
          WB, IMF and ADB preach good governance but actually practice the opposite and support dictatorships that lack transparency and accountability and violate human rights..

      • 1
        1

        Dude

        there are so many things that does not hit the Sinhala news papers
        there are so many things glorified in the Sinhala news papers

        The Sinhala modayas are fed what they want to hear or read

        so you are in a losing battle here

    • 1
      0

      This article has raised many topical points that deserve proper consideration. I disagree that it should have been dumbed-down, shortened, or written in language suitable for a 14year-old (I wouldn’t have thought that we have many teenagers reading CT!). Neither is this article copy for a soap advert. The points of view of the Friday Forum needed proper explanation, and that has been done – apologies to those without the stamina to follow the arguments. We must also remember that the Friday Forum, erudite, elitist and influential as they are, has given us only a narrow take on these matters. Out in the wider Sri Lanka is another altogether different view on our presidency and government – and in any election, it is the votes of this other greater Sri Lanka that will count. The uphill task of informing, educating and influencing this majority voter is not one that can be undertaken within the narrow limited reach of CT.

      • 0
        0

        Dude is right! Not much FF says is original but good for Sinhalaya modayas to listen to them and dead leftists..
        Seems FF are a bunch of self-important dodos and frustrated spinsters who do NOT practice democracy they preach.. Same problem all over Lanka!

  • 5
    0

    The need of the hour is not such paper based leaflets. The country needs an alternative leadership who can bring changes to the governance.

  • 3
    0

    It is a welcome survey of areas in which the slide in the country’s governance has fallen into an abyss from which it will find itself difficult to recover.The points are well made and the arguments are clearly stated.

    Yet, a reader must wonder whether the slide, though it accelerated under Rajapakse, was a sudden one. It clearly was not. The malaise had started much earlier and the signatories were passive or active participants in the slide. As the Bishop knows, they also serve who only stand and wait. Perched in high places and pursuing self interest, the members of this group, among them two chairwomen of human rights commissions, stood by and watched, while horrendous things happened to the people. First, there was the killing of 70,000 Sinhalese youth during the JVP uprising which went unaddressed through legal processes. Then there were a succession of killings of Tamils culminating in Mullivaikal about which the statement remains silent. Welweriya is an outgrowth of militarisation and brutalization of an army which had a callous disregard for the lives of citizens. Now, who is to bell the cat? Even the Rajapakses will not be able to do that. Is not the trial of those responsible before an international tribunal the catharsis the country needs to make a fresh beginning? More creative ideas are necessary to recover from this mess.

    International law was killed by Sarath Silva in the Sinharasa Case. Again, an instance of an individual pursuing self-interest burying concepts that provided restraint. The universities were progressively destroyed. Rajapakses were only strangling decaying institutions where plagiarists and the incompetent had been appointed to high places and the able academics driven away to foreign pastures. The present lot profitted by their leaving. The judiciary was truncated long ago. The former chief justice for whom tears are shed was a part of the process of the slide. Did the slide not start when Basnayake was made Chief Justice over the Tamil, Nagalingam?

    There is overmuch concern with the rights of women when the fact is that all are afflicted by the present conditions in the country. Tamil women in the North more so because there is an army of occupation there. The middle class concern for women’s rights is welcome but some women have more to think about than travelling out with their kids. They live in fear or in dire poverty.

    We need a new leadership to arise from among the Sinhalese which can wipe away the control of ethnic and religious chauvinists and restore a government based on human values that transcends caste and creed. It must have the wisdom to give the Tamils greater autonomy for them to pursue their own lives.

    • 10
      0

      Kabaragoya,

      “We need a new leadership to arise from among the Sinhalese……..”

      We have had leadership rising from among the Sinhalese since independence, and see where it has got us?

      What we now need is a new leadership to arise from among the Tamils.

      • 4
        0

        Hela,

        I agree with you totally.

        • 0
          3

          Hela/Fuku What do you smoke usually you stupid racist?
          You cant be nuts because you dont have a brain and again your nuts are twisted.
          Give us a break you are so bloody boring.

      • 8
        0

        .
        In my opinion Tamils are under a good leadership (Sampanthan/Sumanthiran/Vigneswaren) now…. this is the time for Sinhalese to make a deal.

        Sampanthan/Sumanthiran/Vigneswaren – Unlike VP, these 3 guys are against separation and wanted live in united lanka. They never ordered to kill anyone either.

        Need someone of this caliber from Sinhalese……

        :-)

        • 5
          2

          Aratai,

          “Need someone of this caliber from Sinhalese…… “

          Are you kidding?

          You might find it easier to locate a needle in a haystack.

          • 0
            6

            This is not by me . it is by the imposter Jimsofty.

            • 0
              0

              I prefer “impostor Jimsofty” to you. His grammar and spellings are better too.

      • 1
        0

        Did the Tamils not have Prabhakaran? That was new leadership. It is time for a Sinhalese leader to arise and lead the Sinhalese out of their delusions and into a land where all humans of all races and religions are treated equally, the Tamils are given autonomy, independence of the judiciary is assured and true Buddhism is restored. A Tamil leader cannot do as much any more. That is why there is a need for genuine Sinhalese leadership so that even if there is good Tamil leadership, a pact can be made with a strong Sinhalese leader who leads not on the basis of ethnic and religious chauvinism but on the basis of what is in the interest of all people.

    • 0
      0

      This is an excellent comment kabaragoya. I would like to know who you are as this kind of enlightened thinking is necessary.

      Self interest is the key here. tell me, from amongst this group, who dared to put their professional careers on the line when the rot started. many of these signatories have legal training in academia or in the profession. But who spoke out when the Sinharasa decision was given by that dirty rouge Sarath? Did any of these ancients even write a single article criticizing that judgment?

      Let alone not even bothering to read the report issued by Suntharalingam when directed to do so by a Commission of which Radhika C. and Deepika U. was a part. This shows their utter lack of interest. They engage in these statements as a cynical exercise.

      I am ‘appalled’ by these attitudes as much as these ancients are ‘appalled’ by MR!

  • 0
    5

    I refuse read this article because it is also signed by people like J.C.Weliamuna, Radhika Coomaraswamy, and Chandra Jayaratne.

    [Edited out]

  • 4
    1

    Friday Forum

    “Rather than engaging in either assertions or denials of authoritarianism, we as citizens, and the government, should take serious stock of significant current trends in governance, and evaluate whether there is truth in this allegation, and if so, what can be done to arrest it.”

    Are you afraid to say there is widespread corruption and rising authoritarianism. You don’t have to probe anything. Everybody knows already. What is not so well known is the international conspiracy that is brewing to undermine Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. You better focus on that.

    You should perhaps pay attention on the other 6 days of the week also so that you will get the full picture of what is going on in the world.

  • 1
    1

    If Not allowing the so called Foreign expert mates of the Bar Council to lay in to the President on his own turf is a human rights violation , so be it.

    Aren’t these the same old recycled stuff?.

    Have there been any deaths due to Terrorist attacks, Suicide Bombs , or so called White Van abductions of even anti Government Journalists for nearly 5 years now?.

    In contrast How many killings , and terrorist attacks have taken place in the countries that want to make our inhabitants better Human Rights students?.

    Aren’t these frequent communiques from this Friday Forum to give their Western buddies a helping hand to instigate Regime change?.

  • 2
    0

    Without local media freedom this message will not reach the people. Perhaps it will reach a small local audience. It may reach a few members of the International Community who are following the trends in Sri Lanka. However being a more generalised document it lacks the teeth of facts and figures to evoke a substantial response. It may be better to comment on a single issue or incident.

    The Friday Forum composed of emminent leaders of society should review the way it functions to be more effective and have a real impact. I do not know if they are affiliated with other similiar organisations worldwide like ‘The elders’, UNHRC, ICJ or organisations like Causes and Avaaz who publicise and support certain principles. It is indeed difficult to exist in a vacuum of media freedom where the message does not carry and tends to be ignored by those in power.

    Nevertheless it is heartening to know that there are amongst us such learned intellectuals who are prepared to speak on behalf of civil society. What is lacking is the follow through. Perhaps a one to one meeting with the Executive or the offending party to submit this offically, as the case may be, would have a better impact.

  • 5
    0

    Has anyone carried out an island-wide survey to find out how many people are aware of what’s contained in our Constitution, or even the existence of it?

    I bet, even some of our MPs are not aware of what’s in the Constitution.

    • 1
      0

      If any media institution would dare to raise this today or tomorrow, they will have to face the same fate – being physically assaulted, sent missing, murders, plunged into property losses akin to Hikkaduwa church attacks lately.
      The DESTINY of media men of today is similar to ” NO RECOURSE” status of the opposition. This is unfortunately not clear to the masses.

    • 6
      0

      Well said MM (Jnr).

      If you ask an idiot like Mervyn Silva about the Constitution, he might think you are talking about CONSTIPATION.

      • 1
        0

        Great one : )
        This time, YOURs met exactly.

        It is the lack of facts and figure not only to law makers but also predominant masses across the country make the situation much worst to this day.

      • 1
        0

        Wow, Fathima!

      • 1
        0

        Sri Lankan constitution is only worth flushing down the toilet.
        perhaps why Mervyn thinks CONSTIPATION…as he wants to preserve the constitution for obvious reasons

    • 0
      0

      Good question; I will read it. Thx.

  • 0
    0

    Quote: We need a new leadership to arise from among the Sinhalese which can wipe away the control of ethnic and religious chauvinists and restore a government based on human values that transcends caste and creed………

    No. The leadership is there but they must be handled in a proper manner by these so called “friday forum” to do the right thing. There will be no other who will rise from the sinhalese with this much power to put things right. Its wishful thi9nking waiting for a Dutugemunu or a Parakrama Bahu I to emerge. It will never happen. its history.

    Now is the time. This forum want to do some thing for the country, get hold of the Rajapakshes and urge them to do the right thing. Show them the way that is fair to all.

    Nothing can be put to right untill the Rayappus, Savundranayakam jokers attired in courful dresses & dunce caps, Emmanuels and the likes, Sinhala Kotiya Priest Clergy, Religious & Nuns, and the Buddhist priest of this balaya and that balaya & the Senas are caged and all their luxries are withdrawn and told how & what they need to do………..
    The World is corrupt and it was this rich corrupt world that created these NGOs & INGOs to cover their naked corruption & aggresions.
    SRI LANKA DO NOT NEED ANY OF THEM

    You intellectuals need to sit down with the Rajapakshes and throw these papers written to the fire.

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    So happy and be proud as Buddhist no any Buddhist monk sing for this evangelical letter.let them go behind west as they go 500 years. From wellasa to mulliwikkal sinhalise show they never fear this pepper tigers at any cost.

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    Dear Savitri Goonesekere, Jayantha Dhanapala, and G. Usvatte-aratch –
    A very Good article; I enjoyed reading it, but this is not for the general public, but for a Journal written for pompous academicians. Please write shorter articles so that an 8 year old can understand what you are talking about. Or think about your grandmothers who never went to school but read our Bana Poth in our Sinhala language; if your grandmothers or grandchildren cannot understand you, just throw the articles; this why I have stopped writing, but I will comment. I have to learn how to write for the general public. When I am ready, I will write again, probably in my mother tongue: Sinhala. Keep up the good work; I was delighted to see people of your caliber on Colombo Telegraph! Bravo! Thank you, Colombo Telegraph. You are not anti-government or pro UNP. You are Pro Sri Lankans: Sinhalese; Tamils, Muslims, Burghers, Buddhists, Hindus, Christians; even Jews and Zoroastrians.

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      ha ha Jagath Asoka requesting short articles

      “..so that an 8 year old can understand what you are talking about….”

      try reading his artilce….like a beggars vomit…

      then he admits …that is why I have stopped writting…….

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      JA,
      A Writer criticizing, advising & mentoring other writers who are in similar status and caliber.. Ha ha..
      Doesn’t sound correct JA, Lot of readers may laugh at you :-(
      Anura

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      Jagshok,
      Thank god you stopped writing damn articles, admitting you couldn’t,
      Just see how much space you used here to vomit few borrowed English words to show you were an educated/ intellectual ?? & that too against Lanka & Sinhalese & Buddhists ??

      I can’t help laughing , hik !, hik !!

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    Correation: This is why I have stopped writing,

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      Jagath Asoka,

      What a pity.

      Sharmini

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        Hi!

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          Oh i can imagine the blush!!

          Between jagath start writing for normal people when you stop being abnormal.

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    A good article which lays out in detail,what is wrong with our nation today.
    Those in power will not agree,but citizens who beleive in democracy will.
    The monolithic power of the government,further bolstered by the 18th amendment is here to stay for a long time,and only a revolution by/of common people like in many similarly plagued countries,may topple same.

    But we have a powerful chief executive with a two-thirds majority in the legislature and obediant armed forces and police who will nip anything like a ‘peoples’updising’ in the bud.
    I see no solution in the short term.

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    Sri Lanka changed its rulers, MPs, politicians so many times. However, the result is getting worse. Now it is time to change the voter! We should get new voters.Before changing leaders (Sinhala or Tamil) we should really change our voters – so all reformers, lawyers, teachers, preachers focus your efforts at changing the voters to stand for rights, democracy, good governance and accountability!

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    As far as I understand FRIDAY FORUM IS A GROUP OF [Edited out] ON SRI LANKAN PUBLIC.

    They used the Sri Lankan system. They must be the products of the post-colonial education system of Christian Schools.

    Now preach CRAP.

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    Jayantha Dhanapala like people knows very well about the govts around the world and most probably they should know the history of the govts in the world.

    In that perspective they should give us names of some exemplary govts in the world.

    So the readers can visualize what they are talking.

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    Very well analyzed in detail and written. I think everyone should read this article. I have no doubt that eventually MR will have to meet the fate of dictators like Idi Amin, Gadaffi, Mubarack, etc. Sri Lankan have to be vigilant when laws of jungles have been implemented.

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    It is very apparent that people in the FRIDAY FORUM are well educated.

    They should answer the that the SO-CALLED DEMOCRATIC countries in the WORLD are truly Democratic or they are JUST BUREAUCRATIC. Only thing is if the people play the game within that system they can exist. If not they will be sidelined or eliminated by the system. That system always protects the core values of that society.

    You people in the Friday forum Should understand that SRI LANKA IS NATURALLY DEMOCRATIC. Sri lanka allows every one to live. THAT IS WHY Tamils are tamilizing Sri Lanka and are asking for a separate region too. In the same way, Muslims are not islamizing certain regions and they are expanding in their own way. it is matter of time, muslims claim a homeland or A SEPARATE REGION FOR MUSLIMS.

    it is the same thing with many differents SECTS of CHRISTIANITY. they are established and they are expanding. Friday forum is talking BS because Sinhala-buddhists are agaINST YOUR EXPANSIONISM.

    Why don’t you people in the Friday Forum, say that you are asking more territory for Tamils, Muslims and Evangelical Christians to expand.

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    The Friday Forum appears to be an anachronistic group of West-centric anti-deluvians peddling the views of those who ruled the roost in the salubrious hills of Hantane in the late 50s and early 60s.

    Although i am prone to agree with their concerns, they should understand that they cannot reform the negative aspects of governance, education, religion, etc., by letting off steam that only the elitist minority of the English-educated wallahs could understand.

    THe Friday Forum sounds like a social group comprising a bunch of antideluvian troglodytes harking back to good old days. they should think seriously about absorbing more commoners into their fold and changing the name of their group something like Jathika Ekathuwa.

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    Jathika Ekathuwa is elegant Sinhalese for a group that stands for National Get-Together.

    If your Tamil members object to the name, they could re-establish the Friday Forum in their beloved Toronto, Oslo, London or Melbourne.

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    Isn’t this an exorcise is stating the obvious ? With every due respect to the principal author, Madam what do you hope to achieve that is NEW or DIFFERENT by writing such articles ?

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    We are fortunate to have people who are not afraid to say what is right and what is wrong in the area of non-functioning Democracy in SL. When the educated people in SL keep mum on what matters to the people The Friday Forum has the guts to say MR government is erring in many fields? The problem with our academics is that do not write in Sinhala and Tamil to be understood by the majority of Sri Lankans. Thereby keeping people in the dark on most matters that harm them. most of the comments say this and suggest to write in simple understandable language? Thank you. Friday forum for being so outspoken.

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    Hirunika is the best to lead the country because the country can recover only if put into a total mess. She is young, vibrant, mendacious and sexy

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      Aaah sweet Hirunika! The newest star in our firmament. So emotional, so expressive and so pliable. The bendiest doll in the whole wide world; and she looks so virginal in white. To think that if not for that sordid gun-fight in downtown Kolonnawa we would have had to wait several more years for this revelation. Now, we have mother and daughter working hard for the Rajapuksa dollar. Who can write a script like this?

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    Friday Forum is of course right in what they say but this type of analyses though useful will be ineffective since the principles of good governance that are advocated are not fully understood, nor appreciated as essential by the majority of citizens due to their ignorance. Therefore it is essential to highlight the implications/consequences to the country and it’s people if poor governance continues. In other words the people must understand not only what good or bad governance is, but also how it affects us in the short and long term. The Friday Forum must also be forthright in explaining how the present poor state of governance can be changed explaining also the contributory causes for the present condition. If the President is the problem, then he must be removed. The authoritarian amendments to the constitution must be reversed. The Judiciary must have it’s independence and the quality and impartiality of it’s judgements must be ensured.

    The other aspect The Friday Forum must address is to determine what legal recourse is available to ensure compliance with good governance issues and then, take legal action.

    The final decision is to resort to mass scale agitation at the risk of life and limb.

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    “There has been, in recent times, public discussion in regard to whether our country is moving towards an authoritarianism that undermines democratic governance”, where? What discussion and how public? Can it be done in public? I mean discussion?

    Authoritarianism? How did this come about? That comes by assaulting ones own children, right? How about jailing all those mothers who assault their children when their fathers are away at work? What about jailing all those fathers who beat up their kids when they get home in response to the spiel of complaints that their wives vomit out them moment they step through the door?

    And the other thing is Tamil hunting of course? Who opposes that? Not a soul! Anyone serious about democracy must first accept the rights of any tom dick or harry to advocate separatism or anything he or she likes as long as they do not break the law. This means also throwing away stupid laws like anti gay ones and anti separatist ones and rules about what one can wear and all that as well. Until the Sinhalese and Tamil speaking goons are willing to accept this, things will go from bad to worse.

    Besides beaten babes when grown out actually LIKE authoritarianism. This is why Sri Lankans seem to LIKE tough guys who beat them and rape them and kill them and this is why they vote for them. They vote for the very gangsters who violate them.

    So I have no clue what friday fora or all the dudes and chances can do.

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    Has research been done on the capacity or the ability of an average person of any country to understand country’s constitution? Do people understand the difference between Human Rights and Fundamental Rights? Do they know that there is a thing called Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

    My suggestion to Friday Forum is to do this survey and help the people first. People will do the rest.

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    You do not have any right to talk about Universities and university governance. Because you gave full cover-ups for former corruptive VC of Colombo University. He was involved from recruiting sons and daughters and family members as Lecturers to foreign aids stealing to all other ills. But you and Friday Forum silent and helped him to get Emeritus prof position in his family dept. The damage made to Colombo University by this corruptive VC (Actually President Chandrika said him to resigned in his second term but no media gave publicity about this) is very big. At least check how his first son entered to Kalaniya Medical faculty without Sri Lankan A/L with foreign passport and later entered Sri Lankan Medical service. His second son and his friends became Lecturers his own dept while he was in VC position. You gave cover ups all these and now come and preach to governance to MR regime because you were not given any position. That is the bitter truth.

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    Yes Jeyhan you are correct. I know all about this corruptive VC and his family dept all his underhand businesses. Friday Forum members were protecting all the ills while they were in government positions and now preaching Bana to us when they retired.

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