By Ameer Ali –
The Supreme Court has given its unanimous judicial verdict (only verdict that counts) on the unconstitutionality of President Sirisena’s move to sack an elected Prime Minister and dissolve the parliament before its constitutionally allowed term of office. The fact that he is still not willing to concede defeat and even contemplating, according to some sources, on a possible referendum to call for general elections, not only shows his egoistic arrogance, but also indirectly, contempt of court. There is every ground for his impeachment by the legislature but we hope that Buddhist compassion will ultimately prevail and pardon his stupidity if he quietly withdraws and remains virtually a ceremonious head for the rest of his term.
However, there is one group of politicians who deserve to be congratulated for their principled stand in this disgraceful political saga, in spite of all financial, ministerial and other temptations, as admitted by the President himself in an interview, offered at least to some of them by SLFP and SLPP. Of this group, those belong to the JVP, TNA, SLMC and ACMC deserve to be congratulated even though the last two of the four are notoriously known for switching sides in return for the right price. TNA on the other hand, is staunchly committed for the welfare of the Tamil community, and so far its members have not sold themselves out for ministerial positions and personal benefits. JVP is totally of a different category, a political party, progressive in policies, exemplarily patriotic, moulded from a revolutionary background and is beyond ethnic parochialism. At this crucial point of time, when Sri Lanka was on the brink of losing its democratic heritage, these four stuck together and prevented that from happening. Had one or two of them opted to side with MR and MS the game would have been over long ago.
Reactions to the judicial verdict ranges from jubilation to disappointment and anger. Already one can hear frustrated voices crying that TNA has agreed on a pact with UNP for federalism and division of the country. Obviously, these voices are another malicious and dangerous campaign to turn the current turmoil into another ethnic convulsion. The writings of certain comprador intellectuals and journalists are full of this malice and poison. Right from mid-1950s, the country’s political history is replete with such inter-ethnic eruptions whenever political parties were driven to a corner. It is the patriotic duty of Sri Lanka’s civil society and peace lovers to repulse this trend through counter campaign.
Once again, the two minority groups, Tamils and Muslims, must have realised by now, at least from the events leading to the judicial verdict that their community’s future in this country is inextricably tied with the progressive elements from the Sinhalese majority. I have maintained this position throughout my writings. Although the UNP should be thankful for the support it received from the four groups, the party should not misread that support as permanent. Even the MR-MS opposition for that matter, if it is prepared to relinquish its ethno-chauvinism, clannish structure and cronyism and become genuinely patriotic and a-ethnic – a big ask – minority support including that of JVP should be forthcoming.
The country is caught in a terrific dilemma, whether to go on with this game of political sea saw, sacrifice its economic stability and peoples’ wellbeing while becoming a laughing stock in the international arena or come back to sense, accept the verdict of the judiciary, allow the elected government to complete its constitutionally permitted term of office and then go for an electoral choice. This is not an endorsement of what the RW government has done so far but just a vent for political sanity.