28 September, 2020

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Date Of The General Election & The Blame Game

By Rusiripala Tennakoon –

Rusiripala Tennakoon

The country is now aware of the contents of recent correspondence the PM has had with the Chairman of the Elections Commission. The main subject is the issue surrounding the fixing of the date for the next General Election. The communication inter alia refers to many other matters quite unrelated to the main subject, {the answer to the question raised by many} the date of the election and the Coronavirus disease, (which of course is in any way the main focus in the country today).

The general feeling and the wish of the people of the country is a little different. Why should the fixing of a date for the election be a matter leading to any controversy ( as it appears) between the body responsible to conduct the election and the care taker government? The country is well and truly committed to the realities of the dilemma of the dreadful disease conditions. Looking at the global situation it will not be difficult to understand the highly unpredictable circumstances they may have to face. They can assess the priorities and reach consensus about the possibilities of the permissible things within control under the prevailing state of affairs. All understand the seriousness of the calamity befallen us at an unexpected moment. 

Added to the sense of disorientation caused due to the public blame game in the higher echelons there are emerging signs of serious disagreements among the members of the Election Commission. Professor S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole who is a member of the commission, has already stirred up a Hornet’s nest passing strong strictures directed towards presumed contemplated actions and decisions about the much awaited fixing of a date for the election. From a public point of view his actions appear to be highly unwarranted in that he has chosen to preempt the decision making process of the commission even before it meets to address the issues. According to his public statements he has taken such a stand based on some unauthentic writings made public by various parties. Being a member of a Commission of such a high esteem constituted under the provisions of the Constitution consisting of persons who have distinguished themselves in special fields and recommended by the Constitutional Council of the country, it is unbecoming of his position to publicly criticize contemplated decision making processes of the Commission  even before the commissioners meet. The worst scenario is he has done so when a meeting has been convened to discuss the very issue scheduled to be held with his participation, on 20th April 2020. I am making these references in Public Interest based on a write up published in his name in the Colombo Telegraph on 18th April. The irony of the matter is he has chosen to castigate the high profile officials expected to be consulted by the Commission at its meeting scheduled for 18th. According to the article he has proceeded to berate some of these individuals citing previous allegations against them and even casting remarks on their professional standings. As members of the Public we stand aghast at this reckless audacity. The constitutional provisions governing the appointment of members of the Election Commission under article 103 (9) states;

“All members of the commission shall be deemed to be public servants within the meaning and for the purpose of Chapter IX of the Penal Code.” 

Is it ethical for one public servant to publicly berate another?

Coming back to the fixing of the date for the election we have a few issues.

The PM in his letter having explained in detail,

* About how the Corona virus pandemic has hit several countries

* The economy of the country between 2015-2019

* Debt burden of the country

* The fact that the majority in parliament before the dissolution did not allow to pass a vote on account even to pay off the previous governments’ debts; describes the only solace left with his government to meet with the current situation. He has referred to Article  150 (3) of the constitution in this regard.

An examination of this article shows that the President derives the power under this to authorize the issue from the consolidated fund and the expenditure of such sums as he may consider necessary for the public services until the expiry of a period of 3 months from the date on which the new parliament is summoned to meet.

The date for the meeting of the new parliament is determined under article 70, where according to section 5(a), the new parliament has to meet on a date not later than three months after the date of the proclamation dissolving the parliament.

Then according to article 70, (5), the date for the first meeting of the parliament by a proclamation may be varied by a subsequent proclamation, provided that the date so fixed by the subsequent proclamation shall be a date not later than three months after the date of the original proclamation.(emphasis ours) 

It follows that the date given in the Original Proclamation becomes the cardinal factor. According to the Proclamation made the date for meeting the new parliament is 2nd June 2020. As long as the proclamation by the President stands all other dates eg. Nominations, elections etc.etc. will have to fall within. Subject to other requirements in the provisions of Act no 1 of 1981 governing the Parliamentary Elections, the Commissioner of elections will have to work within this limited time frame.

The responsibility of the Commissioner of elections with regard to the holding of the election relevant to the issue is Section 24(3) where it states,

(3) Where due to any emergency or unforeseen circumstances the poll for the election in any electoral district cannot be taken on the day specified in the notice relating to the election published under subsection (1), the Commissioner may, by Order published in the Gazette, appoint another day for the taking of such poll, and such other day shall not be earlier than the fourteenth day after the publication of the Order in the Gazette.

This deals with inability caused due to any unforeseen circumstances to hold the poll in any electoral district the commissioner can appoint another date by order in a gazette.

Such date should be at least 14 days from the date of the gazette.

The issue is can the Commissioner of elections fix a date applying this section for the forthcoming election particularly when the conditions suitable for holding an island wide election cannot be decided due to indeterminable factors governing the situation? 

Can the Supreme court give a ruling when there are other options available in the constitution that can be applied?

Will the opposition cooperate with the care taker government to give its approval to fix a date for the election once the conditions in the country become conducive for such a purpose?

Will the opposition take into account that according to the 19th amendment it is not the President who is answerable to a future parliament but a Cabinet only headed by the President?

It is definitely an unprecedented situation. We know that the only way available to break a deadlock within the parliament as it was, between the parliament and the government was dissolution.

Corona virus disease has intervened and  become an external force nullifying everything else.

An enemy has overpowered the humans by declaring a war against humanity. The enemy has been able to put a halt to all normal human activities and virtually immobilized the Globe. In this unusual situation let us come together to do the best for all, sinking all our other parochial interests.

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Latest comments

  • 12
    1

    What does the author mean when he says he stands ” aghast at the reckless audacity” of Pro. Ratnajeevan Hoole, a fearless official? Does he think that the Army commander and other high profile officers are demi gods and are above criticism? Just because they are high ranking public officials , should the other public officers or the public worship and carry out whatever the high profile officers dictate? In the first place is there an official definition as to who these “high profile officers ” are? Now Mr.Rusiripala Tennakoon, you too had been a public official before retirement and going by what you have stated in this article ,we could presume that you never displayed audcity of any kind and had meekly given into the dictates of high profile officers at that time. It does not reflect the quality of independence that is expected from a civil servant during his career. What a shame Mr. Tennakoon, now that you stand exposed in the public eye.

    • 2
      5

      Mr. Con Man,
      /
      Read the article again.
      Whole idea of the article is the answer to the very questions you are asking.

      • 0
        5

        A big thank you for thinking freely beyond the highly communal prejudices
        Rusiri

    • 6
      1

      Dear Rusiripala, when a government is crooked, if an official is a rogue he will join the bandwagon and reap the benefits, if an official is spineless he will turn a blind eye to it continuing to enjoy the perks of his position, while if the official is honest he will stand up against the fraud. Are you saying that Prof Hoole should keep quiet and allow the crooks to dance about, especially when a fellow member of the commission who has collective responsibility is behaving in a dubious manner, discussing things with the crooked gang alone without the knowledge or permission of other members. We need whistle blowers to expose these crooks, and to condemn them saying that as a public servant he should not berate another shows that you want to cover up the crime. Just because you are suffering from a sense of disorientation, does not mean that those who are of high integrity have no clear mind. (CONTD)

      • 4
        1

        Dear Rusiripala, have you heard of something called a preemptive strike, and this is exactly what Prof. Hoole has done. It is obvious to any fair minded person that the meeting on April 20th is just a formality, with both agenda and outcome decided about holding elections on may 25th. You being a Rajapakse lackey want to go along with that and is finding fault with him for exposing this skulduggery. You are saying that you are castigating him in public interest. Sadly for you, one who is concerned about honesty and integrity will label you as a corrupt person. Why should election commission listen to army commander and acting IGP regarding health matters, and quite rightly he stated that they are being brought in to intimidate the members of Election Commission to toe the line. It is now known that DG of health is dancing to the tune of Rajapakses, probably to save his job. What Mahinda has written about the economy is a total misinformation as he is the main person responsible to the current financial state of affairs with bribery and fraud. It is a shame for people like you to defend rogues who want to hijack democracy.

  • 5
    1

    Mr. R. Tennakoon
    There are lots of errors and misinterpretations in your article. There is a constitutional confusion in the part of Election Commission. It is their opinion that this confusion has to be solved and the best place is Supreme Court. You did not give a proper answer to why President cannot request Supreme Court? You blame the brave Prof. Hoole who exposed false propaganda by Mahinda family sponsored media and personal before EC decides a decision on election date and the meeting agenda? So far EC did not respond or open his mouth about who they are going to meet and whether all three members agreed about this meeting. So far, the president or prime minister did not call for a meeting all parties to resolves this problem and many other problems. They should have called support of all political parties to resolve the national problem(world problems) including fixing election date. Today Corona numbers gone up suddenly and it will go up. You are ashamed of yourself for supporting dictatorship.

  • 3
    1

    Rusiri, I am curious why you gave an important title to your essay , then drifted all the way to the end to blame an individual and at the end left readers unanswered of your own conclusions. You could have just given a title “HOOL IS NOT COOL” which is much more catchy. Hool knew well , any thing he says or does on 20th will not make any difference , hence he has chosen to preempt of decision making process. Dude what you call a process is actually a SHAM. As simple as that. Then you go onto talk about the highly distinguished members whom Hool as already mentioned in his article. Hand picked crooks with criminal records who are there to rubber stamp an already concluded decision as official. Rusiri, you need to think outside of box, and come up with new stuff, because lot of us have lived too long in that country to not to understand what you are up to .

  • 3
    1

    Rusiri, you say “an enemy has overpowered the humans by declaring a war against humanity”. But your own officials say every thing is under control, we are out of danger so much so that we can even have elections any time as planned. Few hundreds infected, that too half has recovered and death in single digit. To be honest Lanka should not term this a crisis , which does not meet the criteria even to be called an epidemic, to request financial or any other aide. Why do you need the opposition to cooperate when there is no such emergency ????? You cant have both ways, so please decide which one is it ?????

  • 1
    4

    In this world, my understanding is, you can not discuss any other economic strategy,other than capitalism definitely not socialist ways. Another is so-called democracy. Democracy as I learned is govt of people for people. But how did this democracy work for people in developed countries. That is a disaster. It is the same with political systems. Just like capitalism, no country in the world should go for anything except elections dominated democracy.
    Work force can be fired and hired even though families can go hungry yet we can not change our economic method as we want.
    Elections democracy is a cruel joke and promotes destruction of a country and the society. Why it is not flexible. We gave Ranil and the yahapalana gave five years. They could not make it at least 50 days without controversy.
    Anyway, this time we need elections because sri Lankans are there to sabotage the govt. Then outsiders would move in order to establish the democracy the way they want. We weak and peaceful people and we don’t enjoy or live in conflicts and confrontation.

  • 3
    1

    This Country is in this mess is because of Back boneless Public Serpents as this Rusiripala type who would have bent over backwards to accommodate the dictates of Corrupt Politicians for survival and positions whilst serving.

  • 0
    5

    Mr. Rusiripala Tennakoon,
    /
    Don’t bother about comments from the people who thought Velupillai Prabhakaran was the most democratic leader and Maithripala Sirisena was the best statesman.
    /
    Facts in the article speak for themselves.
    And
    Not a single comment tried to counter basic facts.

    • 1
      5

      My humble thanks to you
      We are all concerned about the impasse we r faced with and how best we could overcome that
      There are many practical options but all those are based on sound political considerations hence I have refrained from mentioning those
      That is why concluded my write up with a few thought provoking questions
      I am not perturbed by the adverse comments which sound insulting but knowing the sectarian bias some of those reflect I care less.
      I am yet to see a politician bringing any concrete constructive proposal

      • 4
        0

        Rusiri the man who covered the BOND bank scam of Rajapakhes on and on pleased that BP Pasqual whose genesis should have been in a test tube for sure.
        :
        You prove your nature, by pleasing Pasqual – we are familiar with the saying – birds of a feather flock together.

        i dont think anyone would respect you the kind of biased guys. Srilanka is in a critical condition, but you guys enjoy your posts…

        Get well Rusiripala.. give us a break. !

        • 2
          0

          Rusiripala, you do not want to mention practical options based on sound political consideration because you are afraid of falling out of favour of Rajapkse gang. These murderous swindlers supported by other murderers and swindlers are trying to impose their will on others. I have no knowledge of political science or constitutional law, but based on pragmatism and prudence, there are two options:
          1. Withdraw the gazette notification dissolving parliament and convene parliament.
          2. Declare emergency due to epidemic causing deaths and summon parliament.
          When these two easy and direct options are available, why are those scoundrels wanting to hold elections.

      • 1
        2

        Mr. Rusiripala Tennakoon,
        /
        Yes….
        ——————————-
        The world is weary of statesmen whom democracy has degraded into politicians.
        – Benjamin Disraeli.
        ——————————-
        We have to move from a politicians first situation to people first position.

  • 5
    0

    Dude it is not to insult you but to expose your hidden agenda.It is you who is trying to insult us, readers. Did you notice, you have given your hidden answers and at the end left the readers with your so called thought provoking questions. As I had mentioned, we Lankans have lived too long in a country, not to understand your hidden agenda. If you really mean what you say, why dont you read today,s article by Prof, Upul Abeyrathne and then try giving your honest opinion.

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