23 October, 2017

Democracy Or Dictatorship?

By R.M.B Senanayake

R.M.B. Senanayake

The President has said he is no dictator since he is holding so many elections. But elections alone even if they are free and fair (which they are not when State resources are used to garner votes and there is no level playing field for the Opposition) do not mean the system is a liberal democracy.Elections have also ceased to be meaningful since those elected from the Opposition are inveigled to join the ranks of the ruling party. Do these MPs have a mandate from their voters to cross over to the ruling party.Whom do they represent after they cross over?

Democracy originally meant direct decision making by the people assembled together as in Athens City State. But even there the people did not include women and slaves. The modern version of democracy is what prevails in the USA, UK and Western Europe. In the Soviet Union and the former Communist countries there were regular elections but nobody considered them democracies except the Communist parties of those countries? But Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany via a free election. So democracy can be manipulated to a dictatorship as Hitler did. Mugabe holds elections but governs autocratically. So are the other dictators in the world. They hold rigged elections to claim legitimacy for their rule.

Pope Pius XII lived during the 1930s when the Nazis held power in Germany and waged the Second World War. He wrote “With the Corruption of Democracy, Liberty Becomes Tyranny and Equality Degenerates into Mechanical Leveling. “Against this picture of the democratic ideal of liberty and equality in a people’s government by honest and far-seeing men, what a spectacle is that of a democratic state left to the whims of the masses! This is a degenerate form of democracy where liberty has no place and there is only rule in their name by their elected representatives of the people who are pursuing their selfish interests rather than the interests of the people. They seek to perpetuate themselves in power and brook no opposition from the people or any other group in society. Authoritarian and  sectarian policies are pursued ruthlessly ousting or outmaneuvering rivals and using underhand methods to impose the rulers will over all segments of society”.

So the people are defined as those belonging to one religion or community and brother is set against brother while the government becomes increasingly sectarian as in Syria or Iraq today.  The only way to make the people obey the State is to acknowledge that it is a just and fair body. This is done through the Rule of Law implemented through an independent Judiciary. Remove these and the state is no longer a democracy.

Many people even among the educated think that democracy means majority rule.  Democracy is valued in the West not because decisions are taken by majority vote but because it ensures freedoms such as the freedom of expression, of association etc and also the practice of the rule of law. This bundle of freedoms has nothing intrinsically to do with democracy and the two have not always gone together. Hitler was elected by a majority of Germans but he went on to suppress freedoms.

Navi Pillay warned that we are heading for authoritarianism where a dictator acts arbitrarily. Just as Democracy cannot be equated to elections nor can it be equate to the will of the ruler- be he a President or a King. The arbitrary rule of those who exercise power must be subject to checks and balances and the Rule of Law if an elected government is to be considered a democracy. We were considered as a flawed democracy in the Economist Index of democracy. I think it now considers that we are not a democracy at all. It was flawed because the checks and balances were removed by the 18th Amendment.  It is not even a democracy now for there is no Rule of Law but instead the arbitrary exercise of power by the President. There is no better example of such arbitrary exercise of power than the impeachment of the former Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayke. The Queen in Alice in Wonderland used to say” off with his head” when somebody displeased her.

Democracy in its rudimentary form began in England when King John was forced by the barons to give up the exercise of arbitrary power and rule according to the law. We have seen a reverse from the Rule of Law to the rule of an all powerful person or persons. Those who displeased the ruler in a dictatorship disappeared as under Stalin or Hitler. So has Ekneligoda.  Some like Lasantha Wickrematunge have paid with their lives.

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    None of the dictators call themselves as a dictator in the history and MR is not an exception from this

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      we have a republican constitution and JR said that this is “5 star” democracy. he ruled the country for 12 years and also amended the constitution 15 times. one amendment was amended by the next and made it completely a nullity. We must read DR N M Perera’s book ” Analytical Criticism of the 1978 Constitution” He foresaw every thing. MR is not violating the provisions of the constitution.these are the powers vested in him.

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    Sri Lanka is closely following in the footsteps of Zimbabwe, with the military and police slowly but surely taking control not only of civil administration but also of foreign diplomatic postings.

    Add to this equation the forays of the clandestine intelligence services and white-van disappearances, and voila` fear-psychosis pervades the nation.

    When fear comes through the door Democracy flies out of the window!

    SL, like Zimbabwe also holds elections, and Robert Mugabe continues to win, by hook or by crook. And both countries claim that elections are the ultimate reflection of Democracy in action. No doubt, Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi also held elections in their democracies!

    As a passing, but intriguing observation, is it just a coincidence that the intials MR of the SL leader is the obverse of RM the leader of Zimbabwe!!

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      BREAKING NEWS:

      Tony Abbotts Liberal-National coalition sweeps to a decisive victory defeating PM Kevin Rudds Labor party at Australias general election held today.

      Former PM Rudd blames the defeat on a computer jilmart and claimed there was an international conspiracy to tarnish his image and that of his party.
      He told his supporters that he and his party would always protect the rata, jaathiya and aagama of all Australians who were the only nation on earth to have a 7,500 year old culture. He also promised to secure the rights of the ahinsaka duppath Australian janathaawa from international forces who were jealous of his parties achievements.

      New PM Tony Abbot told the nation that henceforth there will be only two kinds of people in Australia. Those who loved the country and those who didn’t love the country. When a section of his supporters started to shout Tony Abbott maha rajathuma ta jayawaywaa, he told them, “I am not your king, I am only the caretaker of Australia!”

      Sporadic election violence was reported during the run up to the elections, but in general it was free and fair said elections commissioner Michael Deshapriya.

      Long live the Australian janathaawa. You have shown the world how a true democracy functions.

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    Read the Write up by Shyamon Jayasinghe as well

    “The President has said he is no dictator since he is holding so many elections.”

    Dictators hold elections too. So, it is not a real test.

    Read the Write up by Shyamon Jayasinghe as well

    1. “I read with interest some opinions expressed in the Island newspaper over the issue as to whether Sri Lanka can now call itself a democracy or dictatorship.”

    Actually, this is like asking is the Sun going around the Earth or the Earth going around the Sun. According to the powerful Church, it was the Sun going around the Earth. According to the data, it was the Earth going around the Sun.

    Similarly, according to the recent data, Sri Lanka is a dictatorship, not a democracy. Your points, summarized below, supports this statement.

    2.”The campaigns are defined by decency and by the conduct and strict maintenance of the Rule of Law”

    3. “The campaigns here have been running peacefully: No murders; no kidnappings; no political bribery; no priests or monks; no pirith nool; No religious ceremonies; no astrologers; no loudspeakers blaring and slandering and disturbing peace-loving residents. No Public Meetings.”

    4. “Unfortunately, the great tradition that was being built was destroyed in stages thereafter. The reason is simple: leaders who succeeded (most dramatically the present one) put themselves before the welfare of the country; their egos were/are high. ”

    DeJa Vu…

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    Thanks for moving the pictures to the right so it is easy to highlight the text on paste it on Facebook for friends who cannot get the CT… It is hard to do it with the news stories because when you go to copy the text the picture gets highlighted to….

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    Mr. R. M. B. Senanayake:

    Kings were DICTATORs. But, do you know how fair and just they were.

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      In the early societies the Individuals who were appointed as a King was a Benevolent, understanding, a balanced view person with Compassion. However when we read History, there appears to have had Tyrants as Kings who were ruthless. How did this come about? Simple, the obvious reason is the cross breeding that occurred due to infidelity. To illustrate the point, King Solomon riding on horse back touring the country to see his subjects, notices a commoner who resembles the king. He beckons the commoner and questions him whether his mother was in his Father’s Court? To which the Commoner replies, ‘No Sire, but my Father was’.

      Unfortunately there was no DNA tests then to confirm the Royal offspring, as such the oats sown by the staff in the Palace succeeded as Kings, who were Tyrants, while the Kings were busy sowing their oats elsewhere, who rose up from the Commoners to wage Revolutions to overthrow Monarchies.

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      Jim you IDIOT & a FOOL

      You are mad to Compare MR thr Thug to a King. In any case all the Kings have been dethroned and the ones who are still enjoying the perks are under the control of Civilised elected Governments. Not like a dictator who is ruling Sinhala Lanka.

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      oh yes ,
      Your F king also, very very Fair and Just,
      that is why we had a UN investigation and People of this country, are the most happiest in the world.

      Do you Have two Testis and a Male thing?????????,

      I don’t think So.

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    Definitely we are not a democracy in the true sense. However the majority of people in the country will not accept this as the govt panders to their whims and fancies. Realisation will dawn only when we become a failed state.

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    Executive Presidency is another word for dictatorship in Sri Lanka, You talk more.. ! then pay with your life…!

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    100% correct…but try explaining this to our 3 brain celled majority who only care for rata, jaathiya, aagama and their stomachs and Dont give a damn about democracy, equality or other freedoms that citizens in free countries enjoy.

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    There is an exception. It is Belarus’ President Alekandr Lukashenko. He calls himself “Last dictator of Europe.”

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    Upstairs of Temple Trees is akin to the famous 4th floor.Now we do not hear much about the 4th Floor.All is taken care of inside the W.Van or upstairs at TT.After preliminary punches and kick treatment not much left but to stagger to the next halt- Belarus as Ambassador.
    We have heard the same story – I am not a Dictator.

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    Mr.Senanayake,

    Democracy:

    A democracy is a System where the people choose their represntatives at a ballot box. The way they elect their leaders varies depending on the system each country has. Presidential Style or Electing a Prime Minister.

    But once elected the elected leader is suject to certain Standard and Governs by consensus. This is what one expects in a Civilised Country.

    Dictatorship:

    When you have dictatorship the rulers dont respect Rule of Law and in Sri Lanka what we have is a Dictatorship and the follwing is the results.

    1) Arbitary arrests of any one who dared to criticise the Government and some are killed.
    2) Extra Judicial Killing with impuniy.
    3) A four star general jailed for standing up to the Thugs
    4) C J Impeached for carrying out her duties. .
    5) Judiciary attacked.

    When MR lamemts how can people call him a dictator when he has stood before the people in a General Election and he has called election for the Northern Assembly he is talking rubbish.
    The only reason why he called elections for the Northern Assemble is because he was ordered to by outside forces not because he is a Democrat. If he wasnt forced to call the elections the army rule would continue so he should stop this charade and get on with what he knows best and that is flout the Law and rule using thugs.

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    Election will be recoginzed as a free and fair election and a winner is a supporter of west.
    After the election in Palastine as the winner was not favourable to west, they didnt recognise them.
    See what has happenned in Egypt.
    The list goes on and on.

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    MR may be thinking that he is one of the few democratic leaders this world is left with. That seems the way he understands democracy or for that matter anything else. Yes he championed democracy before he became the President. Since then with attaching powers that does not even exist day by day he is turning to a dictator. This is the very same man who went to Geneva to voice human rights violations by the then government. This behavior could be a result of mortal fear he has developed with becoming the president and unable to lose the power, benefits, wealth amassed in the position. He has cleverly induced fear psychosis into the whole country by silencing all critics, media or any other democratic institution. Except a few parliamentarians of the opposition all the others are made to tow his line for fear & self centered benefits. Elections at all levels are rigged in numerous ways and cannot expect him to lose them anymore. Cancer made at the top will spread all across the society where all people will only care about there survival at whatever the cost & not of any other. When the leader comes to a state of mind where he does not see what is right & wrong nor feels shame nor fear the situation to follow for a country could be extremely dangerous. It happened in Germany with Hitler, with Mussolini in Italy, with Marcos in Philippine, with Mugabe in Zimbabwe and with MR now in Sri Lanka!

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    Mr.SEnanayake,

    Just to add a further point:

    Sinhala Lanka shares its values with only one other Democracy which is on equal par with her and that is Zimbabwe.

    Zimbabwe is a Democracy in all but name. Mugabe gets elected despite the dire Econimic State the Countrty is in partly through popular appaeal and partly through rigging. He rules with an iron hand usung the Security services and the Economy is subsidised by South Africa because the Black Rulers of South Africa identify themselves with him through long years of freedom strugle from white rule.

    Sri Lanka is also a Democracy in all but name and MR gets elected despite being a Dictator because of the Racial angle.
    In Sinhala Lanka any one who says kill or maime a Tamil or attack a Muslim will get elected hands down as the vast majority of Sinhalese are inherently racist.
    But for Tamils at least ” vidivu Kalam ” is just round the corner after the elections to the Northern Assembly and a change at the top in India is the icing on the cake.
    I know many Sinhalse Die Hearts dont see it that way , but they only have to see how MR and his clan were forced to back down. The story in the Sinhalese News Paper Davinia reads very well. The paper reports that RAW were shadowing Mrs.Pillai and any Sinhalese must take this very seriously as India can act at will to keep a Check on activities in Sinhala Lanka.
    But for the Muslims I am afraid they have to fight it out with the Majority and what chance have they got with politicians like Hakeem who will sell them for power annd money.

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      So at last Sri Lanka has a dictatorship. The signs are that it will become worse.

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