5 April, 2020

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Democracy Or Dictatorship: Choice For Sri Lankans

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

If the Supreme Court fails to overrule the president’s unconstitutional and premature dissolution of the parliament and if general elections are be held, then, there is only one issue and no other on which Sri Lankan voters have to go to the polls: democracy or dictatorship. No other election in the history of this country since independence ever presented a critical choice like this. Sri Lanka’s reputation in the civilized world as a democratic country and its future survival as a cultured nation with economic prosperity solely depends on this choice. In a sense, the voters should thank President Maithripala Sirisena for forcing them to make this choice once and for all. One cannot emphasise the importance of the choice any further.  

How did the nation come to this point? The story has to start with JR’s all powerful presidential constitution, which, according to its creator, could do anything under the sun except changing physiologically the gender of an individual. Had the minority communities at that time who were destined to suffer under JR’s cunning but monstrous political scheme joined hands with the progressive and democratic elements within the majority Sinhalese that constitution would not have become a reality. They missed that opportunity and the rest is history.

Every president elected since Ranasinghe Premadasa assumed office with the solemn promise to abolish the executive presidency. However, power is like a drug and once you get addicted getting rid of it demands extreme will power and determination. None of the presidents who tasted the joy of executive powers did not have that determination and therefore failed to keep to their promises.  History repeated until Maithripala Sirisena took office promising to remain there only for four years. Joy of power was so alluring to him he wanted to extend his stay for another two years. That was where the trouble started. 

In the meantime there was a side show in the form of the infamous 19th amendment. From whatever angle one interprets that amendment and the events that followed till the premature dissolution of the parliament that amendment was only tinkering the powers of the president only at the margin. The real problem lies with the fundamental assumptions of the constitution. Years ago Dr. N. M. Perera of LSSP with great sense of perspicacity warned the nation of the hidden dangers of this all powerful presidency.  His warnings have become reality in the hands of a capricious Sirisena.  A total dictatorship in the guise of an executive president is only a small step away. 

The preponed election if eventuates offers another opportunity to Sri Lankan voters to elect a coalition of progressive and democratic forces with a solitary mandate to get rid of the executive presidency and re-establish democracy. The onus of realising this falls very heavily on shoulders of the two minority communities. Over the last few weeks one was able to witness elected and nominated parliamentarians from all communities crossing sides in return for money, ministerial positions and other privileges. In doing so they have unashamedly exhibited their selfish motive of accumulating wealth through parliamentary positions and privileges.  Some of these turncoats do not even have the necessary credentials to compete in the employment market outside the parliament. They deserve to be punished by their respective communities at the forthcoming election. The solidarity of the minorities with the progressive and democratic forces from the majority will decide the future destiny of this paradise island.  

In the meantime, it is heartening to see the Mahanayake of Malwatta Chapter, Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thera, openly demonstrating his disgust at the unconstitutional acts of the current president. This is an exemplary illustration of an enlightened leadership, which should be followed by leaders of other religions in the country.    

The forthcoming election is unique in the history of Sri Lanka, and in it lies the unity, tranquillity and prosperity of the country. It is a contest between democracy and dictatorship, between freedom and slavery and between civility and barbarity.                 

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Latest comments

  • 15
    3

    We have already buried one of main political parties in Sri Lanka. we have already written an obituary on the death of SFLP.. Now, democracy is a joke in Sri Lanka. As soon as Mahinda comes back every thing will go back to Dictatorship

    • 14
      2

      critique – “As soon as Mahinda comes back everything will go back to dictatorship” and Gandasara and Kudu Duminda will ride again!

    • 7
      0

      Ameer Ali

      “Democracy Or Dictatorship: Choice For Sri Lankans”

      Simple, it is an elected dictatorship, even prior to 1978.
      A party with 50% + 1 vote which unilaterally determined and enforced policies without consulting the masses nor without the consent of 50%-1 members of parliament.
      Weeping Widow’s 1972 constitution, 1956 Language policy, …. 1978 constitution, …. to name a few.
      And we pride ourself being the earliest democracy in South Asia. It is really fun to listen to the glorious achievements of Lankies.

      In Sri Lanka the lumpen unsophisticated political establishment finds no difference among, tyranny of majority/minority and democracy. It masks it and gloss it over with trendy words such as socialism, democracy, dharmista, good governance, …

      • 0
        0

        N V.
        Spot on.
        It’s all politics and podi-tricks and the gullible people.

    • 3
      3

      MY3 gives a capital punishment to SLFP, but Ranil has been punishing UNP with a life-sentence. SLPP?

  • 9
    3

    “Sri Lanka’s reputation in the civilized world as a democratic country and its future survival as a cultured nation with economic prosperity solely depends on this choice”
    .
    Sri Lanka is the oldest democracy in Asia, how shame to think that we are going to start from the scratch

    • 0
      0

      F.
      “oldest democracy in Asia” my foot.

  • 16
    1

    We are being ruled by a mad man who is prepared to hand over the fate of our country to the Rajapaksa Mafia in exchange for one more term as the President. This is what our 100-year history of democracy has come to ….. ….. ……

    • 3
      0

      The country has three minorities which need to be knit together by the threat of assault to extinction. Tamils drawn together by ethnic affinity. Muslims knit strongly through religious sentiment. Third the virtuous found in all sections including the South. Robespierre the French intellectual with the appellation ‘Incorruptible’ said “virtue is always in a minority”. Never to forget that there are those who desert ranks.

      Need of the hour is solidity brought together by fear of extinction. Sustained effort is required, discarding cynicism and despair.

      • 1
        0

        Bharathan
        “Sustained effort is required,discarding cynicism and despair”. True
        The third minority matters much.
        The fact even Robespierre ultimately was carted over the cobbled streets of Paris in a tumbril to lie down for the guillotine to fall on the back of his neck may have been because that third majority suddenly got cold feet at the last moment. The third section in the South is just a damp squib not to be relied on.

        • 2
          0

          Uthungan
          One who develops into an incorruptible personage or leader inevitably becomes intemperate. So it was with R and many were the falls on other people’s necks. Finally retributive justice had its day. As you may know his face was bloodied like that of Gaddaafi before his end.

  • 7
    0

    “The forthcoming election is unique in the history of Sri Lanka, and in it lies the unity, tranquillity and prosperity of the country. It is a contest between democracy and dictatorship, between freedom and slavery and between civility and barbarity”

    What choices do the voter have – democracy Vs dictatorship ? After seventy years of independence this is what the country has come to. Where did it go wrong and who is responsible ? The average Sri Lankan would not care whether it is democracy or dictatorship, all they want is a better future for themselves and generations to come. The Sri Lankan voter can be bought for a toffee and there is a lot of Tsunami money around. So hold your breath folks.

    • 7
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      You are absolutely correct Steve. Voters don’t care about democracy or dictatorship. Each ethnic group will vote to their respective clans depending on how much each pay. This is the time voters are worshiped and given money and arrack. If they miss this opportunity they have to wait until the next election. So my dear voters you know very well the people who contests are rouges and cheats and no honest descent people will enter into politics, hence think big and accept a big santhosam. Don’t miss it !!

  • 2
    7

    So how should the MUSLIMS respond to this? Isn’t that your priority Hambaya?

  • 5
    2

    Simple black and white propaganda topics for the coming election.
    1. Choice between democracy and dictatorship.
    2. Choice between conntuation of the Sinhala nation or the end of it.
    3. Choice between equal rights for Minorities or total subjugation.
    4. Choice between retaining mother Lanka or total sellout.
    5. Choice between Batalanda Bheeshanaya or human rights
    6. Choice between Rajapaksa white vans or human rights.
    7.Choice between LTTE rasing head again or total peace.
    8. Choice between unitary or federal.
    Shake up your imagination a bit and you will come up with many more.

    Soma

    • 3
      2

      somass

      1. Like Hitler use democracy to capture power and then
      abolish, put an end to, do away with, get rid of, scrap, end, stop, terminate, eradicate, eliminate, exterminate, destroy, annihilate, stamp out, obliterate, wipe out, extinguish, quash, expunge, extirpate; annul, cancel, invalidate, nullify, void, dissolve, erase, delete; rescind, repeal, revoke, overturn; discontinue, remove, withdraw, retract, countermand, excise, drop, jettison, vitiate, abrogate; informalaxe, ditch, junk, scrub, dump, chop, …………..
      all democratic processes, practices, institutions, ………………….. laws ….

      2. End of it, instead establish multiple nations within one country, and create one more nation for mutant Sinhala/Buddhist fascist homeland for the racists,……… like you ……………….and others.

      3. Being clever you are trying to entice the minorities to support your leaders of mutant fascists then adopt point 1.

      4. You do not have a choice, Hindians believe and treat this island as if it is one of their state. Peacefully rising China believes this island is another of its Autonomous region. It is Hindian issue let Hindia do the worrying. Make sure your stupid Sinhalese and their equally stupid Tamil brethren stay away from Indo China relation. I know you are itching to do the most stupid thing regarding foreign relation. Remember:

      Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere quoted an African proverb to the Commonwealth conference Thursday:

      ‘When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.’

      Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew quipped:

      ‘When elephants make love, the grass suffers, too.’

      5. All human rights violations be recorded, missing persons accounted for, apologise where apology is warranted, …………………… Truth and Reconciliation Commission should deal with every violation, war crime, etc that had been committed between 5th April 1971 and to date.

      6. We know you will be unemployed if Gota does not become the next National Hangman once again. I am told Dr Go has already started cleaning his fleet.

  • 4
    0

    The day the language-divide was invented, we have had ‘Dictatorship of the majority”. The majority on the right side of the divide “Had it all. The minorities were second class”. The divide changed to language/religion-divide, temporarily to Tamil-divide (Muslims accorded ‘honorary status).
    .
    We now have the Elites/Others-divide. The Elites are from the Sinhala speaking community with some afforded ‘honorary’ status. Two teams have evolved. The only leftover of ‘Democracy’ is elections, in which two teams compete for the rein. There were surprises but the inevitable horse-trading and/or self-auction by MPs negates the elections.
    .
    Yes, the Mahanayake of Malwatha Chapter has disapproved the dissolution of the Parliament but was silent on the RW sack and the MR appointment.
    Long before the RW sack, the Anunayaka of the Asgiriya Chapter, Ven Vedaruvey Upali Thero advised the former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to even resort to becoming a Hitler and run a military rule.
    .
    There are silver linings. Violence has not spilled on to the streets. Our community leaders are waking up.
    We will get there one day, Ameer!

  • 5
    2

    No disrespect you Dr Ali. I enjoy reading your op-eds. Next to the word “Dictatorship”, in parenthesis should be spelled (D*ck tastor’s ship)? This is what lures many academics in the country like GL, Dr. DJ, Rajiva’s, NalinS and other modaya’s in large t numbers. After all this is expected from the land of the MODAYA!

  • 2
    1

    Dr Ameer Ali, please identify me a honest truthfull trustworthy person out of the current politicians to enable me to cast my vote.

  • 1
    1

    Election may be different, but the voters are 70 years antique Sinhala Chauvinist Modayas. More importantly candidates are still the 1910’s Don Stephens, who betrayed Ramanathan and disenfranchised the democratic voting right of Tamils. After this election, the slogan “Best is yet to come” will also remain same.

    It is in CT. We wrote it here in 2014 & Start of 2015. We recommended, noticing CV’s dedication to the Sep 2013 election pledge internal self-determination, even after the manifesto writer Sumanthiran and his party TNA had abandoned it, to make CV as the CC. If that had happened, the EP title of Lankawe would have been history in April 2015. Because everybody was knowingly hiding their honest hearts and refusing to think of CV, in April 2015,the parliament was dissolved to hide the Central Bank looting.

    Still everybody calling Kandy Ayatollahs to change this government is only asking to bring another New King, instead of looking for a CV to be honest on the promises.
    ” Joy of power was so alluring to him he wanted to extend his stay for another two years. “ There is no sincerity in this talk, Yes power corrupts a person, but in January 2015, it was the voters seated a criminal to save him and his colleagues from War Crime. Now he is not doing anything less or what the people asked in that election. That is why, after coming back from his last trip to UN, he is doing all what he can do to save his mates, the Old Royals.

    • 1
      0

      The choice is not between dictatorship and democracy but between good governance and anarchy. Without the Cromwellian phase, England might not have settled down to ordered government and subsequently adopted their Bill of Rights. No Germany without the iron hand of Bismarck. No economic miracle of Hitler up to 1939. Had he died that year, who will not praise him and his economist for their performance?

      Asia was no different. Patel the Bismarck of India, integrated 570 states into the Indian union without fanfare. Hydrabad was among his greatest achievements achieved the strong way. Nehru and his cabinet wanted Goa to be integrated the democratic way. Patel declared he needed only 24 hours. Rajaji said “We must conquer Goa by love”. Patel thought he was born into the wrong country. Krisna Menon did the work after 14 years, Patel way, not the democratic way. Kashmir handled by Nehru is yet an ulcer.

      Non democratic countries decades back have settled down to ordered government. Taiwan, South Korea and some of the far eastern countries preferred strong rule. Years after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japan embarked on constitution making and sent 4 teams to US, UK, France and Germany. The most dynamic was persuasive enough to make Japan opt for German constitution. What followed was Japanese miracle and Russia’s debacle in 1905. The most remarkable is China, a marvel to the world and a miracle in history.

      What Sri Lanka needs is not molly coddling miscalled democracy but strong governance also miscalled dictatorship.

      • 0
        1

        Barathan,

        I get your point; you are telling if one light a firecracker and it goes accidently on the hand, then the pain will there for permanent suffering. Your suggestion for that problem is firing dynamite, so no pain to endure if it blast off in hand.

        You know the Tamil saying “Pillayar Pidikka Kuranga Mudinjadhu”. Somebody struggled to make a beautiful Ganapathi from 1948, but now, at the end, in 2018, it looks like a monkey. So you are saying the solution is to make a monkey; in 70 years the Lord Ganapathi may be starting to look like that Statue. Problem solved! Idea Thamai man! We could give try!

        When you elected Yahapalanaya, it has become Hitler’s Nazi regime. Go for Hitler, then at least his pity, on seeing your brain’s analytical power, may convert him as Gandhi.

  • 1
    0

    Dear readers please don’t miss Face the nation of TV1, of mtv, its really a grand show, with zero bias, I am really happy with the main anchor Rasool, he is very neutral and very candid, very judicious.

    This is the best TV show on politics.

    The worse is OMG of Faras I think it’s news line, it sucks, the guy is so so prejudiced, but Rasool is fantastic.

  • 0
    0

    Nadeem is a daring journalist, super duo.

    Love this program, I wonder what happen to Sonali, she is so so important, because she is the balance in between.

    Please readers do not jump. Into wrong conclusions about MTV, Any day they are the best. I just love them.
    So far no other Media can come close to them.

    I salute them., they ate a truly peoples media am. quite angry about the harassing of the MTV journalist, however as usual. Gentlemen Dr. Harsha De’Silva did not shy away to apologize, I feel sad people like Harsha, Sajith, Eran, Navin and Hirunika are neglected.

    They are my. Best choice

  • 0
    0

    Never trust Sri Lankan politicians they a ‘re in deed big cheats..
    They do not about about the country ; people and welfare of all.
    They want to accumulate wealth ..
    Many of them are rich now with public money ..

  • 0
    0

    dear sir, since you are not living in SL for a long period of time you may not come across the mood of some SL people. they are not much worried about white van, human rights,, fraudulant activities by senior politicians etc. scant regard for them. when it come to politics . they behave like half baked adoloscents like south indian film fans-very irrational and mad. they make very superficilous inferences about politics. pl. note inspite of all blatant violations of consti. provisions there was no spontanious civil agitation.
    even this has to be organized by UNP/JVPor affected parties. well said sir. i wish all 65 lacks voters who voted for MS must ignore at the next presidential elections.
    -dayal

  • 1
    2

    This is pure nonsense.

    Sri Lankan President made the right call. The Parliament no longer represents the will of the people.

    MR will win and win with two thirds of the parliamentary seats.

    A fresh parliament is necessary to reflect the present thinking in the country. Legal arguments are meaningless with a parliament that is totally out of touch with the people.

    Where was Mr Ali when the government postponed Provincial Elections and eventually never held such elections. Is Ranil democratic?
    He is an unmitigated disaster for Sri Lanka.

    Remember JR. He sought a mandate NOT to hold elections to keep the five sixth majority.
    Where were you then Mr Ali?

    UNP has been the most undemocratic party ever.

    The West (absolutely hypocritical approach now – Sri Lanka should never forget this) will never support a free Sri Lanka. Economic slavery is what they are after and total control. It is very convenient for Ranil to sell the country and totally change the landscape.

    Remember this clearly when you vote.
    We need a change in direction – No question about it.

    It is best have elections every three years – like in Australia. This will keep MPs on their toes.

  • 1
    0

    The BOND SCAM should have been investigated and the culprits ( both Politicians and State Officials )
    Should be in prison by now. why and who are RESPONSIBLE for this?
    The voters have been taken for a ride so far. Therefore an ELECTION in early next year, is the RIGHT thing to do and is the LOGICAL right of the People.

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