6 July, 2022

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Chaos In Parliament & Crisis In Polity: Parliamentary & Presidential Elections Are Necessary

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

The sittings in Parliament during the last two weeks have been symptomatic of a deep crisis in parliamentary democracy, and in the political system in general. These are undoubtedly leader-made, and not at all people-made crises. The culpable key leaders can be identified as Maithripala Sirisena (the President), Ranil Wickremesinghe (dismissed PM), Mahinda Rajapaksa (former President and newly appointed PM) and Karu Jayasuriya (the Speaker).

The situation contrasts considerably, for example, to the last two weeks in France where the ‘Yellow Jacket’ groups broke into the streets, burnt vehicles and property, and had violent confrontations with the police over the issue of high petrol prices. Undoubtedly, the situation in SL Parliament particularly on 16 November was despicable where some UPFA MPs indulged in violence, while the Speaker came with a police force like a ‘paramilitary leader’ to conduct a parliamentary session at his will. All these culprits again do not represent the average citizens of the country where they go on with their day-to-day activities peacefully, although deeply worried about the future.

People and their Representatives

In any democratic country, presidential or parliamentary, there can emerge a considerable gap between the people and their representatives. The same applies to elected Presidents, as in the case of Sri Lanka. Although elected by the people, the representatives can get easily alienated from the people, particularly as the time goes by. In developed democracies there are several ways of ameliorating the situation.

In the US, there are midterm elections for both houses to gauge and rectify the situation. The term of the US President is also for four years and not five or six. In Australia, the term of the House of Representatives (HR) is only three years and not four or five. There are state elections to reflect the intermediary situation and caution any government. The recently held Victorian state election is one example where people friendly progressive Labour policies were overwhelmingly approved, instead of neoliberal trickle down policies of the Liberal commonwealth government.

Although the term of the House of Representatives in Australia and New Zealand is three years, there can be elections before, as required. Another approach to address the people’s grievances is to evolve bipartisan policies on important matters. After the significant political change in January 2015 this possibility was abundantly there in Sri Lanka, but the two parties, the UNP and the SLFP, terribly failed in this endeavour.

Although called the mother country of all parliaments, some of the above devices are not available in the United Kingdom unfortunately. UK is not a proper federal or a devolved system, to gauge people’s thinking from those elections. The term of the House of Commons is five years (not four or three) and now quite artificially fixed (since 2011), and the House of Lords is still a feudal institution. This is one reason why the issues like Brexit are now terribly deadlocked. Therefore, if Sri Lanka is going to take inspirations or examples only from the UK, it is going to be a terrible mistake.

Fixed Term is a Bad Idea  

Sri Lanka is a country in democratic transition. Much more important underlying factor is the economy (its health and prosperity). Considering the high population, ethnic polarity and political diversity, political will of the people could easily shift from one side to the other. In such a context, a fixed term parliament is utterly a bad idea and could create enormous crisis in the political system as evident today. You don’t need a fascist or a similar movement to do that. The structural collapse can easily eventuate such a crisis, while people remaining passive and uninterested in parliamentary gimmicks.

Let us take some examples. Maithripala Sirisena won the presidential election in January 2015 with a 51.28% island wide vote. However when his party, the SLFP, contested the local government elections in February 2018, it was only 12.1%.

At parliamentary elections in August 2015, Ranil Wickremesinghe’s UNP could obtain 45.66% of votes. However, at the local government elections, it came down to 29.42%. These are examples of how people’s choices could shift overtime or from time to time. During these two elections, August 2015 and February 2018, the JVP votes increased from 4.87% to 5.75%, while the TNA votes decreased from 4.62% to 2.73%.

It is noteworthy that the new party of the SLPP, under MR’s leadership, could obtain 40.47% of votes at the February 2018 elections. If the SLFP vote is also counted (12.1%), it might be argued that a SLPP/SLFP candidate even could win a future presidential election. However that is not necessarily the way the people make their election choices. Holding on to power at present, without a clear majority in Parliament, might disillusion the people of Rajapaksa intentions or objectives. The best option would be to resign to allow a new temporary caretaker government.

Mockery of Parliament

Whatever the criticisms one may have on President’s decision to dissolve parliament because of its apparent arbitrary and partisan character, a general election might still be the best option for the country given the above conditions. Even after the much desired change or ‘revolution’ in January 2015, the UNP could not obtain a clear majority in Parliament in August 2015. They could form a stable government only with the support of the President and some sections of the SLFP, although the UNP had implicit conditional support from the TNA (and the SLMC).

There is a long list of events that amounts to the distortion of ‘parliamentary democracy’ from the appointment of Ranil Wickremesinghe as the PM in January 2015 with only 42 MPs, to the recent holding of Parliamentary sessions without Standing Orders and arbitrarily declaring ‘No Government’ by the Speaker, Karu Jayasuirya. The repeated recognition of the TNA leader as the Leader of the Opposition was another distortion that the Speaker had previously committed. Another deviation from democracy was the freezing of elections for local government and then provincial councils. Both the UNP and the SLFP are culpable for this distortion.

It is in this series of distortions that the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the PM took place on 26 October with only 95 members in Parliament, hoping that the number would grow. The result has yet been a badly fractured hung Parliament which might justify the dissolution of Parliament politically.

Other Distortions       

There are other aspects to the distortions in the parliamentary system emerging from largely the electoral system. The abolition of the ward system has been a root cause of such distortions, in addition to the dreadful preferential competitions at elections. Not only that the so-called representatives have got alienated from the constituencies, but also have won elections on the strength of money and physical force. Women were the most disadvantaged. The situation has also created sort of a class distinction within all political parties between ordinary party members/supporters and the rich political elite/groups.

While the ordinary members/supporters are marginalized in the nomination processes, the rich political elite/groups overwhelmingly obtain nominations again and again.  There is no wonder why the age composition of MPs and leaders in general is quite high across political parties. The deteriorated educational standards is also a common predicament. No rational person would argue that there should be legally sanctioned age or educational limitations for MPs. However, those should come naturally, if the system is healthy and democratic.

The freezing out of independent candidates is another major predicament of the present electoral system. If one wants to contest independently, then he or she has to give nominations in a group (with a higher financial deposit) which is the very negation of one’s independence. Sri Lanka in good old days of parliamentary democracy had a good number of independent MPs who could bring sanity into parliamentary debates and political party rivalry. Often the Speaker of Parliament was selected from one of them on a bipartisan basis. This is no longer the case and the recent Speakers have been behaving strongly in partisan manner.

Role of the Speaker?

The most extreme of this pattern is the behaviour of the present Speaker purely for political reasons. Let me add an anecdote or two. When I was in Colombo in August, a ‘leftist’ friend of mine (you can guess), who is very close to political planning unfortunately now on behalf of the UNP told me that they intend to put forward Karu Jayasuriya as the next common candidate and asked my opinion, believing I would still continue to support such an effort. I disagreed and said, ‘if it is a common candidate, the person should be from a nonpartisan basis and preferably a woman.’

Therefore it is no wonder why Karu Jayasuriya is behaving in the manner he does now in Parliament, conducting mock parliamentary sessions and countering the President in all executive matters. His fervent effort appears to get the support of the so-called ‘international community’ aka some Western countries, utilizing their misgivings about the newly appointed Mahinda Rajapaksa as the PM.

It has been my position and understanding, as expressed previously, that the removal of RW and the appointment of MR are constitutional, and also conventional even under a nominal Head of State, when a Parliament falls into a perilous hung situation. However, the MR’s appointment is politically controversial and not sustainable under the given composition of the present Parliament. The prorogation of Parliament has been less controversial constitutionally. I have also given my interpretation on the dissolution of Parliament, right or wrong, and this matter is now before the Supreme Court. There is no doubt that when all three steps or President’s ‘trump cards’ came one after the other, the people or even the so-called experts got confused and divided.

I am not at all a rebel and has never been in sympathy with any insurgency (or violence), North or South, even in my young days. My only deviation could be that I don’t mince my words and often relish in polemics and sarcasm! I am for orderly progress in both the economy and democratic politics. I am also not hesitant to change my overt political or policy positions in advocating progress under given circumstances.

Conclusions   

The dissolution of Parliament is something that the political parties should have tolerated for the reasons given in this article. As the matter has been referred to the Supreme Court, the Speaker and the political parties in Parliament should have waited for its final verdict without having ridiculous sessions, although it may be true that the apparent time taken by the SC is too long for the impatient and acrimonious politicians to tolerate. The most damaging from a democratic and a political stability perspective is the mock sessions conducted by the Speaker in Parliament with the connivance of the UNP, the TNA and the JVP.

It is hoped that the present instability and chaos should end sooner than later, and both parliamentary and presidential elections should be held peacefully one after the other, in that order, to end the stalemate, although even that might not be a complete resolution to the underling crisis. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe’s speech today in Parliament is most welcomed. In agreement with all parties, there can be a new caretaker government, perhaps Lakshman Kiriella or someone like that as the temporary PM before the elections.

There is a strong need for independent candidates and voices to emerge at both elections, with considerable number of women candidates. In terms of the expression of views, on the present situation, ‘critical, independent and objective interpretations’ are most essential, without supporting any of the present leaders.

 

 

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Latest comments

  • 14
    0

    You say: “The prorogation of Parliament has been less controversial constitutionally.”

    You have not responded my comment on your previous article, wherein I point out the mistake you have made in your analysis. I requote below for your reference:

    “70.1 explicitly states the only conditions by which Parliament may be dissolved are: 4.5 years and 2/3rd vote by MPs.

    70.3.(ii) allows dissolving by proclamation if Parliament is prorogued – subject to provisions of the article.

    You say: “It cannot possibly be about 70 (1) and ‘two thirds majority’ because the Parliament is dissolved.” <– I believe you mean 'prorogued', not 'dissolved'.

    70.1 identifies two states of Parliament – before 4.5 years and after 4.5 years.

    Why have you discounted the state of 'after 4.5 years' during which the President may dissolve Parliament at any time?

    It would seem to me that 70.3.(ii) would apply if Parliament is prorogued after 4.5 years. Dissolving can thus be done any time in this state."

    • 0
      13

      Rizwan,
      Yes, I meant ‘prorogued’ and not ‘dissolved.’ Thanks for pointing it out. After 4.5 years, you would agree President can at any time dissolve Parliament, prorogued or otherwise. Therefore, in my opinion/interpretation, 70.3 (ii) applies in general terms. A prorogation normally comes under a special/crisis situation although not stated. Therefore under such circumstances, President has powers to dissolve.

      • 9
        1

        It is sad that this suggestion is coming from a so called expert in political science. Yes not only presidential and parliamentary elections but also provincial and local government elections have to be held. But they should be held at the correct time not before or after. The current situation is nothing but due to greediness of two persons, one wanting to go for a second term and another wanting to come back to power by hook or by crook. Problem between MS and UNP has nothing to do with inefficiency or corruption as what MS is trying to make out. It is because UNP clearly told MS that they will not nominate him for next presidential election on their behalf. From that time he started touting first with Gota and then with MR in order to get them to nominate him. With the tide in the country in favour of MR, naturally all those who are his bigoted followers want an election soon, violating any democratic principle. Correct action is to allow this government to go on till at least four and a half years in office and dissolve parliament to hold fresh election. Current prorogation of parliament is unwarranted as the special or crisis situation was created by the two schemers using undemocratic method, and thus question of dissolving parliament does not arise. When such idiotic people come out with nonsense according to their agenda, what democratic values are they espousing.

      • 5
        0

        To tell you LF,

        country is in chaos thanks to stupid leaders ( Mahinda Jarapakshe and M Sirisena).

        Crisis in polity, is due to their indifference towards the law and order.
        They dont care about anything but pocket filling tactics apart from their political intoxication.

        Just imagine, reason why Mahinda Rajakashe to waste over few hundreds alone for his travel by abusing helicopters is him being a Hernia patient right at the moment.
        Is that fair while millions of poor people stay not having proper water to drink, him the bugge rot abuse the state funds for his luxury life style.
        THis man should be hung by his balls to feel us relieved.

        I BEG ALL GODS TO WORK ON THE BUGGER ET AL DESTROY HIM SOONER THAN LATER: OUR ANGERS SEE NO LIMITS.

        We only expect them to respect LAW AND ORDER and BASIC democractic rights.

        • 1
          0

          “Hernia” preventing travel by vehicle?
          What nonsense.

      • 2
        0

        Dr. Laksiri Fernando,

        You say: “Therefore, in my opinion/interpretation, 70.3 (ii) applies in general terms.”

        How can you say this sir when 70.3 (ii) explicitly states the following:
        “SUBJECT TO PROVISIONS OF THIS ARTICLE, dissolve Parliament. ” (capitalized for emphasis)

        Thus 70.3 (ii) is NOT general as you claim. It is specifically referring to provisions mentioned in article 70 (1).

        Thus the very foundations of this article and last article titled:
        “Constitutionality Of The Dissolution Of Parliament: An Interpretation?” are entirely misconstrued and wrong.

        In light of this I would appreciate it if you would please revise or withdraw your articles. Thanks.

        • 0
          2

          Mr Rizwan,

          The answer to your question or argument is in my article itself, and I quote:

          “There can be a speculation as to what it means by ‘subject to the provisions of this Article? Could it mean 70 (1) where it requires a two thirds approval? Or something else? It cannot possibly be about 70 (1) and ‘two thirds majority’ because the Parliament is [prorogued]. The present dissolution, in other words, is under the circumstances of a prorogation where 70 (1) cannot apply.
          In the Sinhala version, what it says is not ‘subject to the provisions of this Article’ but ‘subject to the provisions of this constitution’ (‘me viyawasthawe vidividana valata yatathwa’). It is a general condition and not specific.” (end of quote).

          I consider your other claims to be just propagandist in the heated circumstances of political debates. Thank you.

    • 13
      1

      Laksir Fernando, we all know that the Constitution of Sri Lanka since the end of the Soulbury Constitution is a document for Sinhala politicians to play with their ambitions. Yo uare no different. You pretend to be independqant but your mindset is the same. MS propelling MR to power is unconscionable, unconstitutional and against the mandate given by those who voted for the government in 2015. It is unpardonable for MS to put MR a poltician repulsive to a vast majority who supported him in 2015 in power even it meant the ousting of unloved RW. You are typical of these pseudo leftists peddling your prejudices but are basically opportunists masquerading as intellectuals

      • 7
        2

        Kuhan,
        You are right. Although Laksiri pretend to be independent or neutral but his argument clearly proves that he is nothing different to Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalists. It is very obvious to every ration thinking human being that it was a well planned coup/crisis created by both Mahinda & Sirisena after agreeing a deal between them. It is true that Ranil Wickremasinghe is not a good leader but Mahinda is the worst ever leader who destoyed the country and the principles of governance, the collapse of law & order & justice sytem. The violation of constitution by Buddhist Sinhala leadership continued throughout the period after independence. The economic crisis of this country is not because of the past 3 years of governance but the impact of continued instability of the country and the corruption of the country by all of our politicians including Mahinda. How can Laksiri justify the crminal activities of Mahinda including deals made for millions to buy MPs. This is the democracy the country needs?

    • 5
      0

      Dr. Laksiri Fernando,

      RE: Chaos In Parliament & Crisis In Polity: Parliamentary & Presidential Elections Are Necessary

      Chaos in Parliament, because we have a fake Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who does not have the majority support of the Parliament, because we have a Traitor, Quisling President Sirisena, who in the middle of the night, unknown to the majority of Parliament appointed the fake PM

      So need to remove:

      1 The Fake PM, Rajapaksa, constitutionally
      2 Remove the Fake Govt Constitutionally
      3 Remove the Traitor, Quisling President Sirisena Institutionally.

      Didn’t they take oaths to uphold the constitution?

      Dr. Laksiri Fernando, what happened to your common sense?

      • 3
        0

        Dr. Laksiri Fernando,

        “3 Remove the Traitor, Quisling President Sirisena Institutionally.”

        Isn’t Angoda Hospital, Bus # 138, an Institution? Can get Sirisen there, after the Constitutional removal, to be housed in that institution for treatment

    • 5
      0

      Rizwan, Do not believe what this Laksiri Fernando guy says. He is a stooge of MARA. He is the lecturer who proposed MARA’s name for a Honorary Doctorate from Colombo University. Laksiri is a hypocrite.

    • 2
      5

      To all commenters,

      Critical comments are welcome. But don’t get angry or desperate. Not good for your mental health, whether you are old or young!

  • 11
    0

    Prof you really have taken a U Turn.Your thinking, perception and writings have taken a dramatic change.(for the worse). Individuals like you keeps me reminding that education and life experience really dosent matter when it comes to personal integrity, honesty and trustworthy. You being a hard core fact finding writer now has turned into a typical Lankan fake,self centered specialist in alternate facts.You started with Lanka and then went on to quote US,Australia,NZ and even Victoria to justify your lies. Let me tell you in simple language Trump lost the mid terms in landslide where almost 40 house seats with majority changed hands. That dosent mean the Dems can force an election right now. None of the examples you quoted are anywhere near to the current Lankan crisis. And then you blame others for what your master MR and goons did in the parliament. You have the audacity to say speaker came with police like a paramilitary leader where your blood thirsty goons were going after his life. You sure has sold your self and profession. Hope you still can see your self in the mirror everyday and feel at comfort. DISGUSTING and so so PATHETIC.

    • 5
      1

      Do not worry. When Rajapakse comes to power but does not appoint him as High Commissioner to Australia, he will do another U turn to attack them. How can this fake who his prepared to throw away his intelligence for the sake of getting a position, step into the shoes of Skandakumar, the present High commissioner in Australia who is a person of high integrity and firm principles and liked by all Sri Lankans there.

      • 0
        2

        Dr Sankaralingam,

        You seem to have an obsession with Ambassador positions yourself. You have posted over a dozen of such laughable comments last couple of months. Don’t judge other people from your own image. Why do you drag Ambassador Skandakumar to this pseudo debate? Have you yourself tried and failed to get a similar position in UK or elsewhere?

      • 0
        0

        Gnana
        How did you come to that conclusion, are you judging others from your standards.
        Interpretation of Sri Lanken constitution is like Japanese play Rashomon

        • 3
          0

          Sisira Weragoda

          How dare you compare Sri Lankan constitution drafted by top legal eagles of this island to Akira Kurosawa the nobody.
          I am ashamed of you.

    • 1
      0

      Chiv don’t waste your time on this arsehole (CT, if your policy does not allow the use of this word please change to ar**ho**). He is a worm whose twisting and turning brings discredit to all academics. Now that the MR ‘government’ is likely be sent home, the perk LF was salivating for by licking Mahinda’s arse is fading away. Hence his U-turn, I know this from good sources- the buggers income in Aus is too small or nil as he is considered 2nd or 3rd rate over there.

  • 10
    1

    Laksiri Fernando

    “Sri Lanka is a country in democratic transition.”

    Well true, from democratic traditions to feudalism and to dark ages with modern comforts.

    • 3
      1

      Native Vedda,

      these men like Laksiri Fernando should work on getting the country democratised in stead of helping his goons its transition to feudalism.

      I think LF has already been infected by DAYAN JAYATHILAKA syndrome.
      There neither education nor life experience play a role at all.

      Once upon a time, it ws just 3 years ago, I happened to rest pect this man Laksiri Fernando, today, for one reason, him to have made an U turn and support to MOST ABUSIVE barbaric leader of the nation, none other than Mahidna Murderous Rajakashe. .. I started hating LF for that… I have no words to express my anger. I am speechless.

  • 10
    0

    Laughable if not for the author’s incorrect understanding or deliberate misinterpretation of the facts. Yes, go for Parliamentary and Presidential elections AFTER restoring the legitimate government and AS PER the current Constitution, NOT under the authority of an illegal, self-appointed government. In the meantime let the perpetrators of this ‘Constitutional Coup’ face the full force of the law for their actions.

    • 12
      0

      “In the meantime let the perpetrators of this ‘Constitutional Coup’ face the full force of the law for their actions.”

      We should have the courage to call it what it really is. A brazen coup to usurp power by force and thuggery a la the customary Rajapakse style/mode.

      Things cant go back to normal as if nothing happened! The culprits/conspirators should be punished and should end up in jail ……….and should lose their civic rights for a number of years.

      It is the duty of the police and the judiciary to step in and mete out justice/punishment. In any other “civilized” country this process would be taking place by already.

      To set an example to many Lankan politicians who are inclined to this type of brazen abuse of power sans consequences, things cant be allowed to go back to what it was as if nothing has happened without the perpetrators facing any form of punishment.

      However one looks at it what transpired was an act of treason.

  • 5
    1

    Part 1
    As the two main Sinhala political parties, the United National Party (UNP) and Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) clash over whose political party captures the Prime Minister’s post and whether the dissolution of Parliament is legal or not, the plight of the Tamil people, who suffered mass atrocities amounting to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, continues to confront a dire future. The international community,which rushed to try to solve the current political crisis, should expand its focus to address the plight of Tamils, to include establishing measures, to prevent future mass atrocities,to bring justice for past international crimes to bear, and to push for a permanent political solution that reflects the political aspirations of the Tamil People.

    After all the hope built up through the promises of the 2015 Good Governance coalition, it is now clear that these promises were nothing more than an effort to deflect pressure for a transformative change and that no Sinhalese-dominated party is willing or able to provide real relief to the Tamils. As happened with Kumaratunge in 1994, with Wickremesinghe during the 2001 ceasefire, and with Rajapaksa in 2009, Sri Lankan governments promise transformation and deliver little. Tamils remember all of these occasions.

    Promises for a constitutionally-guaranteed devolution initiative came to an end with the current crisis, when the two partners in the government split, resulting in the President dismissing the Prime Minister.

  • 5
    1

    Part 2
    Since independence, the Tamil National Question has been treated by the main Sinhala political parties, namely the United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lankan Freedom Party (SLFP), as a political weapon to wield against each other to capture power. When late PM S.W.R.D. Bandaranayke signed a pact in 1957 with the late Tamil leader Mr. S.J.V. Chelvanayagam (Banda-Chelva Pact), the leader of the United National Party (UNP) marched against it. And the Pact was torn up. Similarly, when the UNP’s late Prime Minister Dudley Senanayakaye entered into an agreement in 1965 with Mr. S.J.V. Chelvanayagam (Dudley-Chelva Pact), the SLFP opposed it. And the Pact was torn up.

    The ethnocratic nature of the Sri Lankan state, in which the Sinhalese Buddhists form a majority and vote as a block on issues to do with other communities, facilitated this failure to solve the Tamil National Question. When the new coalition government formed in 2015 between the Sri Lankan Freedom Party and the United National Party, with the promise of “good governance”— was hailed as a panacea to the Tamil National Question, some were skeptical. It was stated that the alliance between the two main parties would secure the two-thirds majority necessary to change the constitution, and also provide support for the required nationwide referendum to bring constitutional changes to address the Tamil National Question.

  • 5
    1

    Part 3
    The government eventually proposed constitutional amendments which fell far short of satisfying Tamil political aspirations. The constitutional amendments were to be submitted to the Parliament on November 7th to embark on the process of their enactment. This issue was reflected in a President’s statement after he removed the Prime Minister. The President stated that he will never allow a Federal Constitution or allow the merger of the Tamil ‘areas of historical habitation’ of the Northern and Eastern provinces as called for in the 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka Accord and in Sri Lanka’s current constitution. “These two will only happen on my dead body”, said the President. Senior SLFP leaders echoed the President by making statements that there was an attempt to split the country.

    This current crisis has permanently shut any possibility of solving the Tamil political question through Constitutional means within the existing Sri Lankan political framework. This follows the pattern of unilaterally abrogating power—sharing agreements between Tamil leaders and the Sri Lankan Government since 1957. The latest development also clearly indicates that,even if the main Sinhala parties come together ostensibly to solve the Tamil political question, the effort will fail.

    Even if Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe is restored as the Prime Minister, with the present acrimony between the UNP and SLFP, there is no way that both parties will work together and maintain a two-thirds majority to address any important issues on the Tamil National Question. Even when India intervened and tried to address the Tamil National Question, taking the Sri Lankan government as a partner in the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord, the effort also failed. There was hope that with outside pressure again starting in 2015, there would be more success, but that has shown to be a false hope.

  • 5
    1

    Part 4
    The above demonstrates that the government of Sri Lanka cannot be a partner in any initiative to resolve the Tamil National Question.

    • The main question is how is the Tamil political question going to be permanently solved?

    • Is it time to consider international mechanisms used to bring peace to other global conflicts, like holding a Referendum to find the wishes of the Tamils through a peaceful and democratic means?

    ACCOUNTABILITY FOR MASS ATROCITIES SUFFERED BY TAMILS AND THE PROTECTION OF TAMILS IS IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY’S HANDS:

    The other victim of this current crisis is the accountability for mass atrocities committed against Tamils by the Sri Lankan Government. According to the UN Internal Review Report on Sri Lanka, around 70 thousand Tamils were killed during the final six months of the war that ended in May 2009 and hundreds of Tamil women were sexually assaulted by Sri Lankan Security Forces. There are around 90 thousand single Tamil women head of household (most are war widows), facing numerous challenges since the war ended in 2009. Sri Lanka has the second highest number of disappearances in the world according to the UN. The fate of thousands who surrendered ten years ago along with their families (including babies and children)is still unknown.

  • 4
    1

    Part 5

    The UN Human Rights Council passed two Resolutions, 30/1 and 34/1,to secure accountability. Sri Lanka co-sponsored Resolution 34/1 in 2016, which gave a two-year extension to fulfil its commitments, especially the establishment of a hybrid court including international judges and prosecutors. The Sri Lankan government not only took no meaningful steps to fulfil its obligations, but also its President and former Prime Minister have repeatedly and clearly stated that they will not fulfill their obligations. There is no need to address the position of the present purported Prime Minister, Mr. Rajapaksa, with respect to the accountability process. Whether Mr. Rajapaksa remains in power or not, the mere fact that President Sirisena has appointed him as Prime Minister clearly shows that the President is not a partner in the accountability process.

    The two year extension given to Sri Lanka to fulfill its commitments under the UN Resolution is coming to an end in March 2019. Sri Lanka is on the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council Session of March 2019. Now that Sri Lanka has not only failed to fulfil its commitment to the UNHRC, but its leaders have clearly stated that they will not fulfil their commitments:

    • What should the UNHRC do in the March 2019 Session?

    • Is it time for the UNHRC to refer Sri Lanka to international criminal mechanisms or to the International Criminal Court (ICC)? Is it time for the General Assembly to establish an international, impartial and independent mechanism to preserve evidence and protect the witnesses?

  • 4
    1

    Part 6
    The international community has a moral obligation to address the Tamil National Question since it acted like an Ostridge during the mass atrocities committed against the Tamils in 2009. The international community has a contractual obligation to assist the Tamils to fashion a permanent political resolution since the Tamils cast their ballots in support of the “good governance” coalition pursuant to the promise/hope given to them by the international community that their political resolution will be met. The credibility and the integrity of the UN System also warrants it.

    The active engagement by the international community to solve the current political crisis should also expand to address solving the Tamil political question, preventing future mass atrocities, and bringing justice those who have committed international crimes against Tamils. Traditional justice as well as transitional justice demand it.

    • 1
      1

      Anpu,

      I consider you have expressed your positions clearly although I cannot (completely) agree with you. On my part, as far as I am concerned, I have tried my best to advocate a reasonable political solution to the ethnic conflict and/or to the Tamil demands in Sri Lanka. However this is among several other values that I stand for in economic and political sphere. At the same time, I am not ready to stand for impractical or unreasonable solutions as some others might do. Those are dead ropes. Tamil question is one why I opposed MR in 2015, however it is my feeling that the Sinhala side as well as the Tamil side have derailed it particularly in the constitutional reform process. I consider your approach of mainly relying on the ‘international community’ is mistaken or even harmful, whatever the past reasons that you may articulate for that situation. In this context, I was rather perplexed by the following paragraph of yours.

      “The international community has a contractual obligation to assist the Tamils to fashion a permanent political resolution since the Tamils cast their ballots in support of the “good governance” coalition pursuant to the promise/hope given to them by the international community that their political resolution will be met.”

      1. Why do you say ‘the international community has a contractual obligation to assist the Tamils…since the Tamils cast their ballots in support of the “good governance” coalition’?

      2. Does this mean that they or some of them asked the Tamil parties to do so?

      The reason to raise this question is that I believe that a resolution to the question should primarily come internally although the international community could help and assist. Too much international meddling also could spoil the situation.

  • 9
    0

    Dr Laksiri Fernando,
    What happened to your interpretations of the Constitution in your previous article?
    You hold a PhD but it is best for an educated person like you not to pretend to be an expert in subjects outside your field. Hope you have now learnt a lesson to leave it to the relevant experts.

    • 5
      0

      Dual Citizen,

      I am telling you, with or without Doctorates lankens so long their genetics remain as inherited, behave unbiased or servile

      1) Best example would be former MINISTER of justice, WIJEDASA Rajakashe who was then sacked not having performed his duties as expected by GOOD GOVERNANCE pledges. There the young ministers stood agianst him provind him to a traitor. Then again, he became minister of higher education for some reasons, however this man has proved to be one of the highly abusive political charators in current day SL. Not to forget this man has double degrees on law and order along with a PhD

      2) Prof. GL Peris who brought documents in the line of federalism being introduced to lanken systems going back to the days of CBK govt, has now been entwined with Rajapakshe men that have obviously been doing any harms to minority folks to be in the good books of sinhala extremists. Even Kandy riots inflicted few months ago were proved to have an acts of Rajakshes. Latter was made clear by President himself few days ago. The audio tape is currently in circulation. That also added all those riots ( including Durga city) and others were acts of Rajakashes. But SIrisena himself endorsed none of the acts under his govt are acts of him, but again they are too from Rajapakshes.
      Althoguh all is clear to Peris, heseem to be GUMMED to Rajakshes rascals on and on. I wonder why lanken high acdemics let them become servile this way. It is the mentality of lankens in general. It is nothing else, SLAVE mentality.

  • 9
    1

    Dear learned Laksiri Fernando,

    OK let’s suppose everybody agrees to parliamentary election and presidential election in the near future.

    What is the guarantee that a similar kind of manipulation by the new president, and a group of politicians without a clear majority disrupting the the parliament from taking place?

    You say this chaos is leaders-led, so will the future leaders be susceptible to.

    Once the constitution and parliamentary procedures are violated with impunity, it will happen. again.

    Remember when riots against Tamils were let loose with impunity in 1958, it happened again and again!

    You cannot expect the “leaders” to be all of a sudden enlightened to respect the constitution and the parliament.

    This is what our “Appeh Aanduwa” has morphed into! The island is condemned to its fate.

    • 0
      2

      Dear Thiru,

      Of course there is no firm guarantee even after elections. I have expressed that, briefly though, in my penultimate paragraph. However, the present stalemate could possibly be ended by elections or otherwise harmful to the economy and people’s day to day living. There can also be a new window of opportunity. Some of the opportunities I have expressed in the last paragraph i.e. independent candidates, independent voices, more and more women candidates. Australia at present has a strong crossbench, mostly women. It is also now a hung Parliament. However, not acrimonious like in Sri Lanka. Of course there are obstacles in the electoral system to produce independent candidates and a strong crossbench in Sri Lanka. We may have to struggle with them. I would even prefer the TNA and the JVP to play a role of a ‘crossbench’ as much as possible, unless of course they directly join a government.

      • 0
        0

        Laksiri
        Your comment above:
        “Of course there is no firm guarantee even after elections. I have expressed that, briefly though, in my penultimate paragraph. However, the present stalemate could possibly be ended by elections or otherwise harmful to the economy and people’s day to day living.”
        If we elect the same or similar bunch of Ranaweeras, Thewarapperumas, Lansas, Mervin Silvas, Johnstons, Dumunda Silvas, Bharatha Laxmans or the next level Weerawansas and Gampilas , present stalemate may end but rouge of present and future will fill the Parliament again. ‘Kehi Geni deela Hotu Geni Gaththa wagey’. The leaders are not interested in fielding Sarath Rajakarunas. (No one followed the principles that they were signatories to the 2015 March paper instigated by Civil Societies.) Let these so-called patriotic leaders commit and put into action the selection of candidates in a civilized manner.
        Before an election, preferences have to be abolished, first past must be re implemented in a meaningful manner, with accountability for malpractices of individual candidates via effective Election Petitions as during 1948-1977.

    • 2
      0

      Thiru

      Is Thiru your original name or pseudonym?

      Some writers/typists believe as a principle they would not respond to comments made by persons using pseudonyms, only when those comments fundamentally challenge writer’s view/hypocrisy/closet racism/blind loyalty/facts/……………

      Their principles could change depending on circumstances.

  • 10
    0

    “In France ‘Yellow Jacket’ groups have broken into the streets! ” How nice? The French are learning from us. In Sri Lanka ‘Yellow Jacket Groups are collecting signatures to justify the installation of a rogue Prime Minister by a President gone bonkers!

    • 1
      3

      Sarath de Alwis,

      Do you want something like yellow jacket violence in Sri Lanka? Your ‘How nice?’ comment indicates that. If the French are importing ‘signature collection campaign’ from Sri Lanka, then it can be listed as an export good! Mangala would have done that to bridge the trade deficit!

      • 4
        0

        Laksiri Fernando

        This is a Sinhala Buddhist country hence we have only peace in this island for 2500 years since its creation.
        We have no knowledge of Saffron violence, Red violence, Blue violence, Green violence, Olive Green violence, Grey violence, Navy Blue violence, Khaki violence, White Aryan Amude violence, Red and Yellow violence, …………………. Marine Green & Gold violence, ………………

  • 4
    1

    Laksiri
    How dare you compare ‘Elephants with cockroaches’ in your article
    You say:
    “Let us take some examples. Maithripala Sirisena won the presidential election in January 2015 with a 51.28% island wide vote. However when his party, the SLFP, contested the local government elections in February 2018, it was only 12.1%”.

    • 3
      1

      Laksiri,
      Do you know former President Mahinda Rajapakse was a member of SLFP until he took
      PM post. So, you mean Mahinda Rajapakse got less than 12.1% vote? Did Mahinda paid a bribe to Sirisena?

    • 0
      2

      Sisira,

      Yes, I humbly admit. More apt comparison may be Elephant and Garden Lizard or Chameleon, like in Kumarathunga Munidasa’s ‘Heen Saraya’ (Surreptitious Move). The fellow has really got into the big Elephant’s trunk! More suggestions are welcome!

  • 4
    0

    Laksiri
    I expect you to be a Political Science professional while I am just a man on street.
    But we can quote many instances of Speakers contesting for Presidency and other political positions.
    RS Palpola Speaker -then Minister of Post in 1964.
    Sanjeewa Reddy Speaker to Presidential candidate in 1969 India

  • 5
    0

    Laksiri I think it is time for some one to expose your lies and deception. 1)FYI The yellow jackets in streets of France has nothing to do with what happened in Lankan Parliament 2) The countries you quoted UK,US,Australia or NZ has never unconstitutionally gate crashed and took over the power based in interim debacles. They have changed party head and there by PM but nothing close to Lankan shit. Mind you RW has proved his majority once before and thrice in last one month.3) You say UK dosent have the right system .When did you realize that , Were you in a alcoholic stupor or blackout to realize until now in your twilight. 4) Just because of Brexit the opposition did not barge into the parliament to hold ransom.That is the beauty of democracy you moron. Theresa is still around , the system is intact and it is business as usual 5) If Brexit as you call is a deadlock, how do you describe 65 year old ethnic issue in Lanka???? ^) When did a mandate given by people became “a fixed term” to you??? MR wanting to be life time president is called “short term ” in your dictionary.

  • 3
    0

    The biggest bitrail of MS after Jan 8 is embracing SLFP within a week of election, kicking away the aspiration of 6.25 million. A real statesman (of the caliber of Felix R D Bandaranayake) would have dissolved Parliament on 9 Jan 2015 (not on 9 Nov 2018) appointed RW as caretaker PM before dissolution, arrested MR, GR, and a few to break the moral of these personalities, implement public security act, not hold elections for many months till all rouges are jailed (JRJ did thing which nobody dreamed) and hold elections.
    Then Laksiri will not cry saying RW was appointed as PM with 41 members,

    After 8 Jan 2015 was there any other way, MS could form a Cabinet, when the head of cabinet that existed on 8 Jan 2015 was defeated and the cabinet of MR had defunct by virtue of the Head of Cabinet had taken the chopper flight to Medamulana. I think Constitution is silent on this situation of the fate of the cabinet when the Sitting President is defeated.

  • 4
    0

    Normally, when a person identified with a “Prefix” of “Dr.” makes a presentation, the readers take a keen interest to “understand” and “learn” some thing that they have not thought about earlier. This is not the “opportunity” we have got from your presentation. Your contention, that the Parliament must not be sitting while there is a case challenging the decision of the President “Dissolving” it, in my opinion is wrong. My questions for further understanding as regards this “Parliament Sittings” and the “Dissolution are (1) The President “Decreed” by a Gazette Notice that the present Parliament would be summoned on Nov. 14, 2018, instead of Nov. 16th he earlier proclaimed. If you say, as there is a case pending in SC, then why President announced to summon the Parliament sittings on advanced date i.e. Nov. 14th? (2) The SC did not at any stage “Prohibit” summoning the Parliament as per Gazetted date of Nov. 14th. So what prevents the Speaker “Resuming” sittings and is it not the Speakers DUTY & RESPONSIBILITY to act according to the date fixed by the President? (3) The SC on receipt of the case merely “Suspended” the “ORDER” of the President until further hearing. Did that not give the Speaker the “Authority” to SUMMON the Parliament on Nov. 14, as per the “Directive” of the President? Would he (Speaker) not liable for not acting in terms of the President’s orders? Depending on your ANSWERS, I will make my decision on your contention that these Parliament Sessions that are being held now “RIDICULOUS” (that is the word you used) or not. If you waited to listen to the speech Mr. Wijedasa Rajapakse – the NEWLY SELECTED Minister of Education , made in Parliament yesterday, your would have re-drafted this article. I invite you to listen to it and also “Read” his “Body Language” in the delivery. To me he looks and sounds “PATHETIC” and “DEFEATED” He (Wijedasa R) also has a “Dr.” like yours. Was he the “REPRESENTATIVE” of that “TEAM” of MPs who “BOYCOTTED” yesterdays sessions, that you say “RIDICULOUS”. Thank you.

    • 1
      2

      Douglas

      I normally don’t answer people who try to insult, directly or indirectly. Yours is a mixture of insult and a subtle complex, the latter I pity about. Let me answer your first question below. That is good enough for you to put forward your questions more precisely next time.
      Answer to Q1: President issued a second gazette to summon Parliament on 14 November (instead of 16 November) before the SC order. However, you can have your own (positive) opinion about Parliamentary sessions held after that which I have called mock sessions given the way those were held. It is of course based on your opinion and values, I possibly cannot change.
      Douglas. Look at the way you and most of the others who support RW government make their comments and the language they use. Don’t you feel something wrong in that?

      Thank you.

      • 2
        0

        Douglas

        “Look at the way you and most of the others who support RW government make their comments and the language they use. Don’t you feel something wrong in that?”

        It was a legitimate government, irrespective of who leads it.
        A government should command a majority and UNF had demonstrated it in several occasions despite the destruction by hooligans the process and Mahinda had no control over them. Whether one likes Ranil or not, Laksiri has not explained what was the compulsion or legitimate reason for appointing a person as the prime minister against whose clan a numerous cases/investigation have been lined up.
        If Mahinda was honest he would have refrained from accepting his appointment.

        We can argue about the judgement of Hopper Sirisena’s judgement until the cows come home however one should question the intentions of Sirisena, Mahinda,
        LaLaksiri, ………………….

        Some believe most of us are from gamay and still wearing konda.

  • 5
    0

    Are you proposing a general election while Mahinda is having the premiership? In another scenario if Ranil gets the majority seat what’s your advice to Sikirisena?

  • 4
    0

    “Chaos In Parliament & Crisis In Polity: Parliamentary & Presidential Elections Are Necessary”

    so when someone wants fresh elections they have to only create chaos in parliament.Thn we the fools get the same old wine in a different bottle.There is no time to infuse fresh blood in politics.

    • 2
      0

      shankar

      I have no idea as to why Laksiri is proposing two elections both are not due yet.
      All Laksiri has to do (if at all he wants to advise) is to tell the Hopper Sirisena to kick the war criminals out of office, if possible out of the country and join them in Seychelles.

  • 4
    0

    UK dosent have the right system but a country which was ruled mainly by 4 families namely Senanayakas, Bandas , JR/RW and Rajapaksas is what you call as democrazy. According to the demented professor “the distortion of parliamentary democracy took place from 2015 ???? You who is talking about distortion, in past was vehemently supporting the opposition position being given to Sampanthan. What you mean by “Implicit conditional support” Is that illegal. There have been governments formed with support of smaller parties in Lanka and in currently in other countries which are healthy and vibrant. India, The scottish , Green parties, Quebec in Canada—-etc.MS is fully exposed to a layman and you the prof say “speaker is not obeying the executive orders”.Who is conducting a mock parliament MR or speaker??? You sure do not mince words you simply lie. I will like to hear from Tissaranee regarding your comments.(of course Sarath has spoken). Your “so called international community” does it include Aussies,(where you comfortably live and dish out alternate facts) did they call and greet your master???? Laksiri you are so pathetic and fully exposed.

  • 7
    0

    This alzheimer patient from down under has been supporting the conspiracy of MARA -SIRA from the day one onwards.
    He even made public statements calling that ” disslolution of parliament by SIRISENA the mad man” without going thorugh any provisions in the constiution.
    If anyone would consider some provisions alone one would feel that it was constitutional, but a senior professor in his late 70ties should not work the way he jumped up and joined the kiribath eating mediocre people IMMEDIATELY after the war against rebells were declared to be over. Once against, we need to remind this guy et al, it was not MAGICAL powers of ballige putha Rajakshe but the power of people consisting of varied groups in the society. When it goes with Rajaksahes, he is nothing beyond a rascal of common nature.
    Alone lanken universitiy to get passed Dr Titles to be awarded to these men were done by LAKISIRI FERNANDO and other uni educated but corrupted UNI dons. Synergy of all these actions not forgetting Jackson anthony s overestimated speech – put BALLIGE putha Rajapakshe in a place above the sky. That put him power intoxicated as nothing could control him anymore.

    Laksiri Fernando, we know that we equally want to get rid of PISSU SIRA, but we want even more to be free from Rajakashes back to their murderous politics. Now I dont think you would ever be able take your last breath, since your recentl articles only promoted the rascals and their come back.

  • 8
    0

    Dr. Laksiri Fernando,

    we don’t trust you any more as an impartial analyst of socio-political affairs. You are no doubt riding in the same wagon with Dayan. J distorting the facts and truths in favour of your personal gains.

  • 3
    0

    LF,

    You wrote many articles articulating the constitutionality of the president’s actions naming dislodging RW and appointing MR as PM, and subsequently dissolving the parliament. If your assessment was sound and constitutional, why worry! The supreme court should decipher the constitution and rule; isn’t this the way to go? Why then you now advocate for fresh elections?

    • 2
      0

      Burning Issue

      ” If your assessment was sound and constitutional, why worry!”

      If the Supreme court’s decision goes against Mahinda’s interest then what?
      It is not Laksiri’s judgment you should be worrying but his intention.

  • 0
    7

    Dr. Laksiri Fernando

    As a matter of fact, the only way out of this impasse is a parliamentary election.

    The cry of some to have presidential election as well is based on hatred & jealousy towards MS for not bowing down to UNP commands.

    It’s a good lesson for RW, the UNP & others interested in joining politics in the future, for canvassing for somebody called common candidate, in their failure to field a charismatic leader to contest the most charismatic contender at the time.

    The main reason for the president & the PM to be @ loggerheads started with the revelation of bond scam & presidents claim is very reasonable to make that demand that he’ll never appoint RW as the PM again.

    Generally a good leader should resign when such serious allegation is made & that’s a proof that RW is not that clean political character.

    Lack of strong constitutional provision for the head of the state in such a situation is unfortunate situation when such an MP is being supported by small parties for their selfish requirements.

    In any election whether presidential or parliamentary or otherwise all the candidates are common so the concept of common candidate is meaningless so elections commission must pay much attention to consider this development.

    Let me finally say against the writer’s (Dr. Laksiri Fernando) view that in politics all are people, not men & women so crying for more female candidates is not meaningful.

  • 5
    0

    The present ‘happenings’ commenced with the infamous RW-sack. In an earlier article in CT, Laksiri Fernando used the words ‘crisis in’ attached to democracy/constitution/parliament and advised RW to start preparations for an election.
    The subsequent developments unravels something ominous and getting ominouser by the hour.
    .
    After a period of silence, Laksiri Fernando titles the present article ~ “Chaos In Parliament & Crisis In Polity………”. Laksiri does not see the dark cloud of ominousness gathering.
    He says ~ “The culpable key leaders can be identified as Maithripala Sirisena (the President), Ranil Wickremesinghe (dismissed PM), Mahinda Rajapaksa (former President and newly appointed PM) and Karu Jayasuriya (the Speaker)”.
    He goes on ~ “Therefore it is no wonder why Karu Jayasuriya is behaving in the manner he does now in Parliament, conducting mock parliamentary sessions and countering the President in all executive matters…..…”. Mock sessions?
    .
    We now know which team Laksiri cheers!
    We do not need the prejudiced Laksiri Fernando advice ~ “……. Parliamentary & Presidential Elections Are Necessary”

  • 5
    0

    LF you seem to have got Sirisena syndrome.

    • 6
      0

      He had long been sick according to own info, but this man is also suffering from a syndrome of rarity. At the time, DJ the most abusive self proclaimed analyst stood against Sirisena-RW, Laksiri sounded very different for some reasons, him to make an U-turn should be connected with some pathological reasons no doubt abou tthat.

      I have no respect towards the kind of elderly scholars that see nothing but to focus on their own selfish gains only. Else, while entire lankens are in pieces not being able to see it beyond, the kind of so called Profs to support Rajapakshes return is beyond all ethics and morals.

      I wish LANKENs would be blessed with unbiased MEDIA cultures, so that masses would be fed with facts and figures of ground realities of its debt trap to China.

  • 6
    0

    Some people are extremely sensitive to weather changes. The medical world is considering naming the condition as “Laksiri Syndrome.”

    • 3
      0

      good one ajay.

  • 4
    0

    Laksiri,
    You are not advocating changes to the political system that was responsible for the current crisis (political Coup) but you are trying to manipulate the existing system to give the power to a family who destroyed this country. We all know how Mahinda manipulated the system to get through 18th amendment to create a family kingdom. If you are a true Srilankan, Can you list few major factors contributed that are barriers to have a nation which is equal to all citizens, to enhance the law and order, independent judiciary and freedom of speech? There were over 25 journalists, human rights activists, parliamentarians were abducted and murdered during the period of 2006-2015. Can you tell us why the government during that period could not find the murderers?

  • 4
    0

    MARA’s stooge Laksiri is proposing a caretaker government, perhaps Lakshman Kiriella or someone like that as the temporary PM before the elections. President who went against the constitution should be punished first and bring back the UNF government into power before talking about elections.

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