28 May, 2022


Constitutional Crisis: A Claymore For Mr. Sirisena To Avoid

By Dayan jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

“The correctness or incorrectness of the political line decides everything”– Mao (1971)

As a former student of Mao Ze Dong thought, the genial Maithripala Sirisena may recall Mao’s point that “the correctness or incorrectness of the political line decides everything”. He must also hope that Mao was wrong, because the Sirisena campaign has so far, not got its political line correct, to put it mildly. This may sound like the quibble of a political scientist from the Marxian traition, but it isn’t. The incorrectness of Mr. Sirisena’s political line or rather, the political line drawn up for Mr. Sirisena which he has adopted,  can provide a dangerous opening for the Establishment –‘The Brotherhood’—to launch a counterreformation which can choke off the valuable political space which has opened up with Maithripala’s courageous rebellion, and roll-back its potential.

The most strategically serious of the errors of the Opposition candidate’s political line is the promise of the fast track abolition of the executive presidency. There are two ways to reform or abolish a constitution. One is the constitutional way and the other is extra-constitutional. Maithripala’s hundred day project is outside the framework of the Constitutional process for constitutional change. It is extra-constitutional; indeed unconstitutional. The constitutional path for the abolition of the executive presidency requires a two thirds majority in the legislature, the consent of the Supreme Court and a Referendum. Any attempt to move against the existing Constitution in unconstitutional ways can trigger a challenge in the Supreme Court, orchestrated street demonstrations a la Pakistan, culminating in a call for the military to intervene in “defense of the Constitution”.  Even the meanest intellect can identify the potential Caesar figure, or more accurately, Sisi figure in the Sri Lankan state—and it sure isn’t one of our current or former Service chiefs.

It may appear that Dr. Colvin R de Silva successfully made the case for radical discontinuity– a ‘rupture’– rather than Constitutional change in terms of a pre-existing Constitution. But that argument was wholly different from the one being made by the current joint opposition. Dr. de Silva placed his argument on the basis of a re-founding moment. While debatable, his argument was a fairly solid one. The Soulbury Constitution was not the product of a wholly national process, but a colonial (if consultative and transitional) construct and therefore ‘alien’. Therefore, it was legitimate to break with it and found an ‘autochthonous’ constitution, which moreover, would be a republic. That was sound argumentation.

Mr. Sirisena’s hundred day abolitionist promise is nowhere as sound. It is a somersault in the air, without a trapeze partner at the other end and a safety-net beneath. It does not propose a fundamental shift to a republic (which has already been accomplished) and it is not a rebellion against an externally imposed Constitution. The Jayewardene Constitution was far more rooted and legitimate than the Soulbury Constitution. Therefore the joint opposition’s fast-track abolition of the executive presidency would be ultra vires the Constitution. With a less than robustly independent Supreme Court—which was recomposed by means of the impeachment of the Chief Justice for precisely such contingencies—this constitutional adventurism  could get Common Candidate No 2 into the same ghastly confines that the war hero Gen. Sarath Fonseka found himself in for quite a while. The real architect of the abortive “constitutional Revolution” will, in the meanwhile, be back safely in London or in that picturesque place way outside of Paris.

The hair-brained 100 day abolitionist plan and Mr. Sirisena’s political platform clearly appear to be designed by Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and her zany pseudo-intellectual cronies. What Colombo’s chattering classes do not realize is that Chandrika and Ranil, singly or together, are no great shakes as shrewd political minds, in comparison with their opponents, the ruling Brotherhood. How did Chandrika become the President? Firstly she wrested the party founded by her father, from her aged, wheel-chair bound mother. How difficult is that? Secondly and more importantly, her main opponent in the race for the presidency at the time, Gamini Dissanayake, was blown up by a Tiger suicide bomber. CBK would never have won the presidency had the formidable Gamini Dissanayake remained in the race. Instead Prabhakaran’s suicide bomber intervened and CBK faced Gamini’s widow Srima, a non-political lawyer, who was not even a member of the UNP when pressed into service as candidate. As president, CBK lasted two terms because the UNP was reeling from the wave of assassinations that had de-capitated it and was led by Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe.

As for Mr. Wickremesinghe, he didn’t become the UNP and opposition leader because of the usual rise in the ranks and inner-party struggle, as did Mahinda Rajapaksa. He too owes his present and long standing political post to the serial assassinations by Velupillai Prabhakaran of the UNP leadership—Premadasa, Gamini, Lalith, Ranjan.

By contrast, Mahinda Rajapaksa did the hard yards needed to make it to the top, and once there, his achievement of defeating a hugely formidable and ferocious foe dwarfed that of these two accidental leaders from the old Colombo elite. Mahinda Rajapaksa understands and speaks to the psyche of the people. He reads the contours of the public psyche. He still succeeds in striking the right chords. Maithripala Sirisena could have done the same. He still can. At least he can commence that Long March. But he must not be tripped up and stumble into a legal-constitutional minefield, due to the follies, greed and eccentricities of a failed ex-President and ex-PM. It is these two vastly overrated politicians who have crafted the strategy and political platform for Mr. Maithripala Sirisena. Mr. Sirisena, a son of the soil and a rare man of integrity, reminds me of yet another Maithripala from the North Central Province, Maithripala Senanayake, a fine, moderately progressive Prime Minister or President that Sri Lanka never had, thanks entirely to the Bandaranaikes.

I belong to the ’68 generation of the Prague Spring and I do not want Mr. Sirisena to end up another Alexander Dubcek—or his Chinese equivalent two decades later, former Prime Minister, Zhao Zhiyang. Mr. Sirisena must not be sacrificed.

Maithripala must re-strategize, re-position, re-orient and re-configure, before Nomination Day, December 8th. He must tap into his own roots; be true to himself; speak in his own authentic voice. Chandrika facilitated his entry into Opposition politics and candidacy, but he must now leave the feudal midwife behind and walk his own path; be manifestly his own man. A man of the people, Maithripala Sirisena must offer a new Sri Lanka of the people, by the people and for the people.

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Latest comments

  • 5

    Well, the need of the hour is to save M3P. He is very decent chap left in an unfortunate position. He can still win but a new strategy is needed.

    As far as the Executive position is concerned, he can switch to supporting the currently active PSC process. There is no other way to get 2/3. As DJ said there was never a 2/3 anyway.

    • 12

      Pala should be foolish to take Mahinda’s man DJ’s advice!

      Do the opposite to what DJ says.

      • 0

        Dayan you are partly correct.

        The simple solution would be for Sirisena to dissolve Parliament and have a General Election, and meanwhile chip away at the Dictator’s constitutions via the 19th Amendment that restores the independent commissions and reimposes term limits and stops CROSS OVERS.

        But, Why did the opposition leave it so late to make their move? There is only one month left of the election and STILL it seems today that ONLY the illegal candidate Mahinda Jarapassa is the ONLY candidate – as far as we ordinary voters are concerned.
        Although the Sinhala and minority voters need to get to know the joint opposition candidate, he is busy running circles around Buddhist monks and the divided UNP. This is a HUGE WASTE of Time.

        Voters STILL don’t have a clue about the joint opposition candidate’s POLICIES on the REAL ECONOMY. This is what we care about.

        Sirisena is WASTING TIME about Ranil’s role in the joint opposition rather than having a clear STRATEGY and addressing the VOTERS. Meanwhile Mahinda Jarapassa’s posters are all over!
        Ranil Wickramasinghe was and still is a HUGE STUMBLING BLOCK in the joint opposition campaign. He has no right to be PM because he is so unpopular and cannot win an election and the Jarapassa brothers will use this. There is a HUGE LOGICAL FLAW in saying that Ranil will be made PM and the opposition should have ironed all out a long time ago..

        The JVP is the only sensible party – which is carrying out a voter education campaign, rather than hobnobbing with corrupt politicians in the UNP and trying to buy votes…

    • 1

      If someone asks you to compare Mervyn Silva family and Sirisena family to decide which family is more thuggish which family you choose?
      Having lot of contacts with residents of Polonnaruwa I would say Sirisena family is lot more thuggish and corrupt.

  • 16

    DJ, I am sure MY3 do not need your advice at all and just go after shamelessly after the Medamulana rogues and though you were called a NGO animal, havnt seen any defend of that dubious remark from you.

    The way things are moving against the rogue Medamulana types, you can go after the rogues and get at least something to chew for a while.

  • 20

    I didn’t know who Maithree Sirisena was till now,Dayan do you think he is more corrupt than yourself, I don’t think so…
    Kudos Sirisena for giving up your portfolio for the sake of getting rid of mara corruption. Jayawewa!

    • 8

      I know his blood is boiling now. He couldn’t absorb the exit of Maithri Srisena and others from his master of murderer Gotapaya. He is an opportunistic, racist, fundamentalist.

  • 2

    DJ offers the Hobsen’s choice to poor misguided MS.

    • 3

      Observing the type of participants and what they said at his first meeting with the press even an apathetic could see that Maithree’s is a lost case from the day one.

      • 6

        Why don’t you look after the loose screws you suffer from instead of writing nonsense to CT?
        I don’t know what your bosses are paying you for this, but it is TOO MUCH!

  • 11


    Have you noticed war monger has sought refuge in Mao?

    Instances of name dropping compiled for the serene joy of avoiding it:

    student of Mao Ze Dong

    a political scientist from the Marxian traition


    defense of the Constitution

    meanest intellect

    Dr. Colvin R de Silva,

    a re-founding moment



    ultra vires

    “constitutional Revolution”

    zany pseudo-intellectual cronies

    Colombo’s chattering classes

    Maithripala Senanayake, a fine, moderately progressive Prime Minister or President that Sri Lanka never had

    Prague Spring

    Alexander Dubcek

    Zhao Zhiyang

    re-strategize, re-position, re-orient and re-configure

    In between he positions himself between MS and MR hoping to get the best out of either of the victors. What is best for the war monger is best for the rulers/country.

    • 10


      “The correctness or incorrectness of the political line decides everything”

      I have said similar things and no body noticed it.

      This DJ never quote anything from Buddha

  • 3

    The latest is that the Ex Prez is trying to stitch up the Vellala leader of the TNA.,to support CC Sira.. according to the Diaspora rag Tamilnet.

    Sambanadan has been promised 13 A Plus by Chandrika ,, It is with East and North joined back together with TNA Police and Full Land Rights.

    But on the condition that Sambandan can’t ask any more…

    Tamilnet is not happy at all. , And stops short of calling the Vellala a traitor.

    Chandrika is doing a fantastic job, despite Dayan’s underestimation of her talents.

    Will she pull it off?

    Will Sira bring an amendment to appoint CBK as the PM, before abdicating..

    And we can have a bloody good idea whether Chandrika is as smart as Ranil thinks .

    If Ladbrooks in Diaspora London frames a market on the Election.

    Followers of Suren Surendran and the UNP Branch members will rush in with their Pounds to get the best odds at the start.

    • 1

      it seems that K A Sumanasekeras latest crush is that fellow Surendran who athal Sumane reverantly calls as Senator Surendran (senator in assembly huh Athal Sumane)

      Earlier K A Sumanasekeras crush used to be Sambandan of TNA……..chee what a dirty fellow in our midst!

  • 9

    Hard to say which is more stupid Dayan de Silva’s endless rubbish or his buddy Sumanaskera’s bubbling babble!
    Like the man said, “Both the same like got.”

  • 1

    Hi DJ , Glad to have you DJ ing again.And as usual your music is out if tune.Why csll a devcendant of a kallathoni “Son of a Soil?” Different from the Demallus and Marakadays who fell from the sky.
    You are gloating over native apeal. Undress my friend.Wear the loin cloth and claim to a decendent of Lion.

    That way you will get the attention you wish to have with the new horse in town.

  • 9

    Mahinda got 57% in 2010 at the peak of his popularity.

    Has his popularity gone up or down?

    My belief is his popularity had gone down at least by 2% before Maithri’s split from him.

    If Maithri manages to get 6% of the votes that went to Mahinda in 2010 Maithi will be the next President.

    My conviction is Maithri will get more than 20% SLFP votes.

    Can anybody prove I am wrong?

  • 1

    The woman is selling the rice mother brought from the moon. There is a good chance of Sampanthan too buying a measure of it. But Nothing of these can change the path. If things go wrong princess will be in London. Even if only tiny bit of the things can go normal after the election, King will be the president for two more years. Unless Aththanagala princess has somebody in the army to work with her, Sirisena’s fate is sealed.

    Now its is very clear the counting on anti-government votes are only illusion-ary talk. Opposition does not have real star candidate to stand against King. Quality never shined Sinhala Intellectual dominated south.

    After reading the Colombo street vendor’s marketing hypes last few days, I could not wait to see the result of the Budget voting, (How these buffoons can criticize Rajpal?. Isn’t he appears to be a man of knowledge within the Colombo buffoons predicted government change with the budget voting? Dayan and Rajpal seems to be the real pair, not Dayan and Rajiva) When I woke up see the news, even after adding 4-5 spoons of sugar more than usual to the tea without minding the blood sugar level, it was bitter. Other than Dayan and Rajpal everybody in the Colombo media is absolute idiots. Long live you man!

    The other bull that has been pulling the cart with Dayan is now crushed when the cart capsized this week. (Those who noticed the carts in the north and south might have noticed the difference in the way bulls give their neck under yoke. Northern style is, if the if the cart capsize, the bull will not held under the be overturned cart. Even the yoke will separate from the cart when the pin holds its with the cart fall off from the cart, which is now upside down – like a pilot ejecting mechanism in the modern war planes. In the south, where the roads are not flat, uphill and down hill, to avoid the bulls get easily separate from the cart, they tightly tie them to the cart. But in the event of capsize, they perish.) Like the bulls in the north, after this week capsize, Dayan standing high. He did know to give the neck under the yoke properly, but the other one still left to self – bragging for survival. He gave his neck under the yoke like the southern bull. Dayan has a hope, if the defection ooze more and create vacancy for more dedicated slaves.

    Hakeem an others did not over induce Sirisena to defect and test the waters. It appears Sirisena did not have another path. He is in much more serious trouble than Hakeem DMJ and others. Like in the Northern boys situation after 1970s standardization, the situation of Sirisena appears to be whether fight or not death is is for sure. So, like those boys who selected fight before the death, Sirisena too has selected to fight. Blaming the Princess is only half the story told.

  • 10

    Why worry about a theoretical constitutional crisis. Just wait patiently until 9th January. The problem will get solved smoothly with the end of the current regime!

    Sengodan. M

  • 7

    Dayan why don’t you keep quite. You are desperate to get on to the lap of President Rajapakse, why so? Who is paying you to write nonsense?

  • 6

    DJ should be punished for aiding and abetting genocide.

  • 5

    Dayan is quoting from Mao aggain which means that his behind is twitching to say something offensive…

    Anything to get the PUBLIC by which he means the Sinhala Only public notice him sucking up to the Fascists among the ruling class…

    If Mao or Marx was alive he will be rolling in his grave with anger at this two bit of a fellow quoting him for his fascist views…

  • 6

    DJ should realize by now that MS will take the conventional constitutional route to remove the executive presidency. There are more than 40-60 Government MPs are now ready to switch to the opposition but forced to stay with the Govt through intimidation.

    As soon as MS wins the presidential election majority of them will support the bill to remove the executive powers of the President to achieve the required 2/3 majority. A referendum will be easily approved by the people who elect MS.

    DJ should not worry too much about what MS will do after winning the presidential election. The strategy has been already mapped out by the opposition. MS has to execute it when he becomes the new President. he was selected for the job to gather 10 -15% of votes from his SLFP loyalists. By doing so he will be remembered as the one who saved the country from authoritarian and familial rule in the future and he can also enjoy as a ceremonial president for the rest of the period of his presidential term.

  • 0

    Mathirepala Sirisena has that class of origin that goes to roots of Frames form Poloanourwa area where JVP had been widely spared during the before and after same area since 1971.
    MS had link with radical farmers roots and JVP social basis.

    The mostly politics of SLFP are based on rural poor and farmers, in fact MS was wonderful member of SLFP. Petty bouegesios rural roots has gradually developed as National Burgiosise class with weak capital basis to certain extent to an opposed Imperialism and UNP comprador bourgeoisie in cities.

    MS now has change line of politics class and party has turn upside down, betray own interest join and backing power of Hegemonies’ power led by US camp and its local party of UNP.

    Defined the line of politics express by CBK and MS no longer remain with National Bourgeoisies; instead of that its politics, economic and social policies in favor of US capital. Created alliance that under the leadership of UNP which MS and CBK has betray SLFP vital interest National of Capitalism and its development.

    CBK and MS have no simple realization of financial crisis that US financial sectors now held $36 trillion worth of debt, a twelvefold increased over three decades. Actually the federal government was also in the red; the unfunded Bush tax cut, WARS Iraq and Afgantain had turned the Clinton budget surplus into larger budget deficit since 2001….. The forces behind CBK and MS has no knowledge of global politics as well as local political-economic line at all.

    DJ has too, poor performance on present change of political line in Globally that peacefully rise of China and Emerging New Powers as well.

    How can MS and CBK realized present Development and current world and local political situation?

  • 4

    DJ probably different agenda when you follow all
    his recent articles. MPS and others
    may have their own strategies to
    reach their target/so and DJ has to wait patiently
    until mid January, perhaps he can watch
    his popular films and TV serials to kill
    his idle time

  • 0

    Ranil is done the same thing by backing away as he did to the Sarath Fonseka. So Mr. Sirisena,s Fate is sealed.

  • 1

    Oh the spin and the wishful thinking of the buffoons who keep pontificating about the impending doom of the poor common candidate. All I can do is laugh at your stupidity. MR had pushed his own party into rebellion. A rebellion he did not see coming with all his resources. The opposition however, with scant resources under a constant barrage of undermining and mud slinging pulled off the biggest blow to this regime. What happens next is written loud and clear wish full thinking aside.

  • 1

    [Edited out] advice is to ensure that there is a Rajapaksha victory. [Edited out]. Any thing he says is being planned and executed through him by temple trees. He ran out of favour with Gota, but still clings on to MR so that he can win another diplomatic posting. [Edited out]

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