By Afreeha Jawad –
Presidential insistence in upholding democracy at every turn will be short lived if Maithripala chooses to look the other way on vitals. In doing, so he falls short of his concern over people’s sovereignty in some way. At hand are examples that stand out. The right to information and the nefarious Central Bank bond issue spells out the limited scope for effective presidential commitment to good governance. With an outburst of public opinion over these issues, Maithripala should have known better to pull back the reigns, leaving Wickremesinghe to mull over his incessant cry on democratic tradition and peoples sovereignty. Given the meaning of sovereignty as being government with the consent of its people, Wickremesinghe as a politically educated person ought to know better to be more receptive to people’s wishes. Acting contrary to this makes him a twin brother of Rajapaksa. Government is sacred trust _ the sanctity containing people’s wishes and aspirations to be upheld consistently. Consistency calls for greater emotional stability and it leaves no room for human weakness _ the lame excuse readily available at hand to license moral shortfall. Telling the Prime Minister to remove governor Mahendran would not suffice but presidential insistence must become operational if the people’s wishes are to be upheld. This then was Rajapaksa’s downfall. To Rajapaksa and his motley crowd of moral deviants, people’s sovereignity was anathema despite the thunderous claim to ‘ mau bima ‘and ‘rata jathiya‘.
His first round on the rata jaathiya call no doubt was a resounding success, for the fight to eliminate a common enemy-Prabhakaran invited the unstinted support of his over 15 million club membership – the Sinhalese. His successor’s two thirds shortfall in parliament wasn’t a bugbear to this saviour of the Sinhalese. Interestingly, there are varied social views related to his war victory. Responding to this writer’s provocative remark that the country owes a debt of gratitude to Rajapaksa for a triumphant war, some guys retorted,”rata beragatta kiyala sesetama denda kiyanawada? (Are we to write off everything we have for doing something that was his duty? “) Elsewhere I was confronted by others who said, “Look, you mean to say we should give our heart, lung and spleen to him for having done what was his duty? Still others believe that killing Prabhakaran was no passport to corruption. A few even said, “he robbed but did some good work as well whereas others only robbed and did nothing at all.” A sweeping emotional statement yet a point to ponder.
So the going is tough for the former president this time on for his much dreamt of yet unrealizable election victory dream which was why he set the stage to build yet another Sinhala only buffer state. This time the common enemy of the Sinhalese to replace Prabhakaran was to be the Muslims. Burning of mosques, the halal issue, the loudspeakers in mosques and racism of sorts that progressively escalated were all going to be good fodder for the ordinary prior to election victory until the hopper ‘partying ‘ or rather parting that turned the tide. Now, the Bodu Bala Sena has even receded and there’s no communal tension following Maithripala’s deposit in the presidential hot seat. One cannot even say there is a general election in the offing. In the absence of loudspeakers, propaganda vans, posters and cut outs. Maithripala’s enemies could at least grudgingly give a standing ovation for his moral leadership that augurs well for the country. To be remembered also is the elections commissioner
This then is not to deny Rajapaksa all his good work. Omissions and commissions aside, (not to be condoned) the numerous roads, bridges , the super highways the many recreation parks and other governmental hardware if only blended well with software as in ensuring the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, public service and the move towards racial amity, the absence of that mysterious white van , an unmuzzled press, election malpractices the non _ entry of eerie grease men that the Potuvil Muslim women fought hard to keep off , Rajapaksa would still be at the pinnacle of power. Yet none in his outlawed gang including him had the faintest idea of what elegant, noble, cultured and civilized government was.
Thomas Jefferson is said to have told Edmund Radly,” the whole “body of the nation is the sovereign legislative, judiciary and executive power for itself.” In some other instance Jean Jacques Rousseau conceived individual rights as natural rights. “These rights are inalienable and cannot be denied.”
Rousseau in his intellectual masterpiece, the ‘social contract’ pronounced,” the total abandonment of each associate of all his rights to the community as a whole sounds a note of absolutism and totalitarianism.” Rajapaksa went not one but many steps ahead, misusing his executive powers when individuals had to abandon their rights because intense politicization of the judiciary and executive was evident to consolidate one single man in power. Colvin’s ’72 constitution put the lid on the independence of the tripod of governance. The misuse of executive power by state heads except Wijeytunga was prevalent in varying degrees all along _ the former President seemingly an exponent on its intensity .Such politicization of the judiciary and executive gives rise to the denial of human rights. The Buddha was a firm adherent of those rights. Rajapaksa is a distant wail from the rest of post independence state heads, for he constantly chose hallowed ground such as the temple never mind the motive. Yet as a Buddhist, the denial of human rights that follows politicization of government contradicts his claim to being a Buddhist because the Buddha was a great respecter of such rights. What’s more, the element of ‘I’ does not exist which is Buddhism’s glorious moment _ the elimination of the ego. So then how come the existence of ‘rata ‘ and ‘Jatiya’? Widespread today is political Buddhism, Christianity and Islam that is more into conscience robbing and power consolidation than the teachings of those enlightened men.
Not even large doses of French political thinker Montesquieu’s thoughts on good governance could reform Rajapakse and his club membership for their pecuniary craving and power aggrandizement overtook all moral claims to good governance. Belated as it may sound, that realization has dawned and their assurance of a ‘no repeat of past performance ” is a welcome sign left to be taken by the electorate with the much hackneyed cautious optimism, for the oft’ expressed and now gone into oblivion saying goes, “once someone shows his true self, he or she is never to be trusted anymore.” This then is not to license the moral claims of the present rulers going by our bitter experiences of politicians since independence – exceptions akin to a needle in a haystack. To be remembered here and now is Dr. E.W Adikaram fortunately not a politician. The profundity of his thoughts shredded a perverted, corrupt system. No doubt a rare Sri Lankan, social silence over him is stunning for the system does not need such men anymore. If morality is president’s pet topic, calling for the celebration of this intellectual giant is all the more worthwhile so that the presidential team will also move in the direction of morality. Adikaram’s intellectual grandeur understandably is not up Rajapaksa’s pathway for reasons far too obvious and for the former regime to celebrate him is akin to finding gems in Hambantota. This then is not to license the status quo’s moral commitment. Left unchecked the present bunch at the helm can be equal to the task in corruption. Yet public trust in the president rates high and it is up to him to make or break that trust. My kick off point on issues related to the bond scam and right to information are examples that need urgent presidential redress for that trust to build up. .