3 July, 2020

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Development Requires Consistent Application Of Laws 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Already there are incipient signs of disagreement within the government. In his speech inaugurating the first session of parliament after his election, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa recommitted himself to the development of the country. He said, “I, together with my Government, stand committed to honour the trust of the people and implement the programme of developing a prosperous nation that we promised to them.” Along with the safeguarding of national security, the need for fast tracking of the development process would be a primary concern of the general population. Both national security and even development became compromised during the last year of the previous government. The Easter bomb attacks were a shocking indicator how national security had become lax. The devastation of the bomb attacks which made headlines throughout the world was a body blow to the country’s development as tourists and investors alike began to keep away.

Although the first month of the new government has had many positive features to it, these have been mostly at the symbolic level, such as the surprise visits the president has been paying to government institutions to exhort them to perform their duties. But on the ground not much has changed. Prices of essential commodities such as basic vegetable and pulses have been increasing significantly which has caused problems to consumers with less income. The government has also announced that major development projects will need to be put on hold until the latter part of the year due to financial constraints. In view of the governmental shortfall, the private sector which can make the difference between having investments and no investments can pay an important role to boost the development process. But they need to feel confident that the government has a consistent legal and policy framework in place before they sink in large investment funds.

Unfortunately some of the government’s recent actions will not inspire confidence that the government is focused on implementing consistent policies. By its arrests of former government leaders on flimsy charges it is giving the impression that it is tailoring policies to fit a political agenda, most likely the forthcoming general elections that the president has stated can be held as early as April. Indeed, these actions are being denied by ruling party politicians who say it is not them that gave the orders and it is either a conspiracy or the police acting on their own.
To most politicians nothing would be more important than winning their seats at the elections, and also ensuring that their side wins the election with a maximum number of seats. They would therefore tend to engage in actions that have short term gains in mind even at the cost of the country’s long term future. This would be contrary to the vision of President Rajapaksa who has already secured his election and now seeks to transform Sri Lanka’s polity to take it to the next level of development.

Development Disincentives 

There are several negative actions currently taking place that could potentially detract from the positive motivations of the government in seeking to enhance national security and promote development. The first is that when the government is seen to act by targeting its political opponents, it creates an impression that the government is no different from the governments that came before and also targeted their political opponents by bending the laws. If the government is seen to be having a cavalier disregard of the law this will create a disincentive to those who might wish to invest their goodwill and economic resources in promoting Sri Lanka’s development process. The president’s vision of rapid economic development as the solution to the country’s problems, including its ethnic conflict, will become more difficult to achieve under these circumstances.

Although the recent arrests of leading members of the opposition UNP are being justified as law and order measures, they come across as being targeted measures to weaken the main opposition party in the run up to the general elections. The common factor behind the arrests of former Ministers Champika Ranawake, Rajitha Senaratne and Ranjan Ramanayake is that they were in the front line of campaigning for the UNP at the presidential election and are among the best public speakers that the party has. The second common factor is that the charges leveled against them, for which they have been arrested, are relatively small as compared to the alleged crimes of others in both the government and opposition against whom charges are not being pursued with the same degree of interest.

The charge against former minister Ranawake concerns a matter that was dealt with legally and in court over three years ago. It involved a vehicle accident in which a racing motorbike hit his official vehicle from behind on a regular road that such racing motorbikes are banned from traveling on. The charge against former minister Senaratne is that he organized a media conference where two persons testified that they had driven vehicles that abducted and killed people and also engaged illegally with the LTTE. The charge against former minister Ramanayake is the most trivial of all, and is that he had not renewed the license of the firearm provided to him by the government for his protection. During the search of his house, the police had also discovered several tapes of conversations with police officers in regard of corruption issues members of the present government were allegedly involved in when they formed the government prior to 2015.

Partisan Politics

In his speech at the inauguration of the new term of parliament, the president said, “The success of a democracy rests upon the Constitution. The 1978 Constitution, which has since been amended on 19 occasions, has given rise to many problems at the present time because of its inherent ambiguities and confusions…We can solve this problem through constitutional reforms that will establish a strong executive, legislature and an independent judiciary that can ensure the sovereignty of the people.” Unfortunately, the constitutional amendments that have been proposed are only likely to achieve the reverse. One of them seeks to replace the 19th Amendment of 2015 that was explicitly designed to give more independence from political interference to the judiciary, public service and police, among the state institutions.

The second constitutional amendment being proposed is to replace or amend the 15th Amendment of 1988 which reduced the minimum cut-off point for political parties to obtain representation in parliament from 12.5 percent to 5 percent in an electoral district. This reduction in the threshold number of voters that a political party needed to obtain to gain seats in parliament permitted a greater inclusiveness for ethnic, religious and ideologically based minorities. One of the important beneficiaries of this constitutional amendment has been the JVP, which has a strong countrywide presence, but their vote base hovers between 5-10 percent at the district level.

On the other hand, increasing the cut-off point to 12.5 percent will significantly reduce the numbers of ethnic, religious and ideological minorities from gaining access to parliament. It might make the JVP not get a single seat at all. Tamil and Muslim politicians outside of the North and East, and especially the recent Indian-origin Tamil people, might not be able to get seats either. It will increase the representation of the big parties at the expense of the smaller ones. Instead of making their arguments democratically and non-violently in parliament, these minorities will be forced to go outside of parliament, to the streets or underground, which is a recipe for violent contestation.

On the occasion of his inauguration in Anuradhapura, where the earliest battles to preserve the country’s unity were fought, President Rajapaksa made a poignant speech. He said he had won the presidential election on the votes of the Sinhalese majority. He expressed his disappointment that the ethnic and religious minorities had not voted for him to the extent he had hoped. But he promised to be the president of all Sri Lankans, including those who had not voted for him. Due to his election victory in November 2019, the president enjoys a significant moral and political power. It ought to be his destiny to lead Sri Lanka on the right path instead of permitting partisan politics to lead the country astray, as it led his predecessors astray.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    1

    Jehan,
    Your point stated in the tittle is valid in an ideal or near ideal mature democracy. But, SL is far from ideal democracy; as a matter of fact, GoRa’s appetite for executive type presidency clearly shows that unbiased rule of law is not in his mind. Besides, in practical sense, independent unbiased application of law is not a prerequisite for economic progress. By enforcing a selected group of investors favoring policy can produce the same results much faster. It sounds cruel but that is how China rose to power in no time. In China, nepotism & power of capital is the rule of law. That is why investors flock into China. Vietnam is now doing the same thing.

    What is the Guarantee that GoRa would hold Dilith Jayaweera for the same fair legal standard? Dilith is one of the best friend & supporter of GoRa. He is also one of the biggest stock market swindler who worked along with Perpetual & Cabraal, another GoRa adviser. Dilith is aspiring to be the SL Rupert Murdoch. Considering their political & personal relations, can anybody expect GoRa would ever try to stop what Dilith would do? Rather, what would happen is GoRa asking the parliament to pass bills in order to make corrupt business deals legal! Since SLPP politicians need Derana & Hiru (I strongly believe that Ranjan Ramanayake incident is a well planned search operation with the approval of GoRa as a tactic to get Duminda Silva out) to win elections, they will duly comply. This is the lesson Ranil failed to learn. But,GoRa has mastered the lesson from MaRa.

    Besides, it is the corrupt politicians that make the foundation of SLPP. These include ethanol, soil, sand, & rock mining, illicit liquor, pharmaceutical, tobacco, etc. For example, the most immediate actions from the PM were to accommodate mining & arranging back road to ethanol import. Therefore, instead of hoping for strengthening the rule of law, in reality, the opposite would be norm!

    • 0
      0

      This time vote to the least corrupt individual, if the parties do not include respectable candidates and if they nominate the same old thieves. They change sides as they play musical chairs. If you consider that every candidate is corrupt, simply do not vote and keep your for your self. Help the country to get rid of thieves, They are simply Welikada prisoners or Jail birds who were in the Remand Prison. Once the govt changed, they used the system to get acquitted them.

  • 4
    2

    I dont think that I am the only one to feel as below:

    By electing a person who has not the least EXPERIENCE about lanken administrative bodies but millitary and US refugee status.

    Besides, how can a person who lived in the US for a period of 15 years before he was appointed as DEFENCE secretary under his brothers regime, be well aware of the systems down there in SL, properly as any other personalities that stayed and worked hard being in the country ?

    To me, as one former CITIZEN to lanka, but now living in EUROPE, feel, Gotabaya would not be abel to bring NO tangible changes, but his efforts restructuring STATE sector institutions could work to some extent.

    I personally dont commend TV DERANA Sender but I happened to watch a recent program, which they have telecasted regarding how we should go fowrard if we have to rise up as progress nation
    — There one good personality, with his experience added crucial points to the MEDIA institutions.
    –That is people should be informed about positive and successful stories of the people, then viewers will have the courage and strength to follow the other
    -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kla2HUWLX6ohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kla2HUWLX6ohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kla2HUWLX6ohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kla2HUWLX6o

    Except Nalaka Godahewa, all others sound to be good personalities. Nalaka Godahewa is alleged criminal who would do anything to abuse the nation again. I doubt his doctorate.

    • 0
      0

      Yes Leelawathie Jayasinghe. Your points are acceptable, but what is not acceptable for business integrity is the barbaric tribal stance of Sri Lankan politics. Tribalism cannot be curtailed neither by the Constitution nor by an independent Justice system. Both Constitution and the Courts in Sri Lanka depend on the major political Party that comes to power. And you know how it works. Barbarism and tribalism comes handy to win and grab power. Which part of the world will get truly interested to do business in comparison to all the rest of the Countries in the neighborhood?

    • 0
      0

      Mr. Lilage Watte,
      /
      George W. Bush – First Lieutenant
      George H. W. Bush – Lieutenant (junior grade)
      Ronald Reagan – Captain
      Jimmy Carter – Lieutenant
      Gerald Ford – Lieutenant Commander
      Richard Nixon – Commander
      Lyndon B. Johnson – Commander
      John F. Kennedy – Lieutenant
      Dwight D. Eisenhower – Army General during World War I, Supreme Allied Commander in Europe during World War II
      Harry S. Truman – Colonel
      Theodore Roosevelt – Colonel
      William McKinley – Brevet Major
      Benjamin Harrison – Brigadier General
      Chester A. Arthur – Brigadier General
      James Garfield – Major General
      Rutherford B. Hayes – Major General
      Ulysses S. Grant – General of the Army
      Andrew Johnson – Brigadier General
      Abraham Lincoln – Captain
      James Buchanan – Private
      Franklin Pierce – Brigadier General
      Millard Fillmore – Major
      Zachary Taylor – Major General
      James K. Polk – Colonel
      John Tyler – Captain
      William Henry Harrison – Major General
      Andrew Jackson – Major General
      James Monroe – Major
      George Washington – General

      • 0
        0

        What is your point Pasqual?

        These all guys are Modayas who were 7/11 clerk and when American Civil War started, they ran to Lankawe to seek refuge? Or the 7/11 clerk is as patriotic as Gorge Washington who fought against the British mountainous navy? Could you elaborate your point, please, so we can talk on that? Do you remember New King many times compared him to the Chola ferocious Prince Parakramabahu and one time said he was planning to die like Lincoln or Gandhi? What a laughing matter!

        Pasqual why you all always compare all of you with Americans? Because you all such comedian or cheap or both. Start to compare, if like to compare with Americans, with Jay Leno or Letterman…..and that type.

  • 2
    0

    Jehan,well said
    Development of a nation requires many things. Chief among them is a prerequisite for any investor is the confidence, stability and reliability of the government of the day. It seems to have the stability at first glance. Going deeper one suspects a vacuum in that no substance or actions to back the proclamation.
    Unfortunately we have had conflicting and not clear cut and consitant statements from the President. Political vendetta is not the best way to gain confidence of the populace .
    The President has chance in his life time to show the people and the world that he means business for all the citizens.

  • 4
    0

    Parliament is the place to do law reforms. It will only work in the favour of Sri Lanka only if the parliament represent the ideas and hearts of every Sri Lankan.
    ..
    For this to happen, we need to respect diversity and work towards unity. Simply we need to build up from a common ground. Only when we have a communal goal we become one community.
    ..
    Sinhala : Tamil : Muslim = 60:20:20.
    ..
    Just to make it easier for us to understand. It will be only fair if we have 60 percent Sinhalese in the parliament.
    ..
    I believe the system we have has created just the same. If we concentrate only about our ethnic groups then how are we different from wolves.
    ..
    Even wolves love their own kind. It’s not practical to talk about your own interests only, and desire for unity.

    • 4
      0

      But Mr S Gunasekare.

      Never forget this parliament was the very same one, once- not long ago, like 7 months back, was demolished by Rajapkahse led vandalists, chillie throwers, rapists, chain robbers and murderer making us the SRLANKEN population a laughing stock to the world-

      Entire world thought srilankens are buddhist and and adhere to the law and order.

      However this abusive behavoiurs PAINTED a picture about the srilankens, as they are no better to barbarians and their supporters.

      So the HYPOTHESIS of the INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY succeeded, when looking at 6.9 MIO stood by barbarians chasing away the dignified, respectful leaders and people.

      I am very aware, the DELAYS OF Presidential recommendations on the investigations of BOND SCAM 2015 – SOrry SENA deliberately implanted it in his anus as some drug dealers transport lucrative drugs in today s world, just because, SORYSENA together with Deal Mahinda Rajapakshe then on worked togehter for their return.

      Today, very surprisingly, people are silent even if they cant afford 3 meals irrespective of so called phone and other conessions accordingly RAJAKAHSE clan.

  • 1
    1

    Jehan,
    [edited out]
    Look at your first sentence: “Already there are incipient signs of disagreement within the government.” You know well that the new President is trying to change the political and bureaucratic culture of this nation; if you don’t see any disagreement that should be the surprise! As a Yahapalana writer, didn’t you see any ‘disagreement’ within the Y-pala’s government. You did but kept quiet. You never highlighted any issue, but covered them with your dirty pen letting them brew to an evaporating level.
    This one and a half month old presidency of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has done enough for the first 6 weeks; that’s why people do not agitate about the soaring vegetable prices. Sri Lankans are well aware of the facts and reality behind such temporary issues.
    Even opposition UNP says President GR’s work is so far so good! For the sake of objective journalism, just write a few words highlighting the commendable work of his 6 week presidency.
    For you people, everything seems to be money but money is not everything!

  • 0
    0

    Hit and Run is a trivial matter.

    Fixing the Trials of Murder Cases. Interfferering in the Investigations of Criminal cases , and even discussing assasination plots aginst the Opposition Politicians by the previous Government Ministers with the Police Officers are all trivial.

    Arranging Media Briefings using paid criminals to admit to White Van Abductions , Killing and feeding the Corpses to Crocs is trivial.

    Those paid crims telling the Media that they personally delivered Mr Pirahaparans Gold hoarding to Colombo , specially to the Defence Ministers Office is trivial..

    Man. this must be the biggest list of Trivia I have ever seen..

  • 0
    0

    One may say that GR got elected and let us focus on what he does. I prefer to take the big picture. Both the candidates fielded by the major political alliances had something in common. Their pet ideas are supreme. Anything and everything that is different is intolerable to the extent of a terrible blow to the chap who expresses it. Arrests of CR, RS and now RR is in the limelight. One could have expected a sudden and “perfectly appearing normal” demise of any of them instead of the traditional disappearance in a “white van”. (There was an occasion where people planted a Russell Viper in the flower pot in the office of an upright public servant those days and fortunately for her it was detected by her well in time.). Looking into one’s antics is one thing but taking revenge is another. The allegation that was made against the “Yahapalana Government” was that it concentrated on judicially attacking its opponents instead of developing the country. Let it not said of those who are currently holding authority the same allegation they made when they were in opposition.

  • 2
    0

    Jehan

    Development Requires Consistent Application Of Laws

    ***

    In addition to the above and more importantly Development requires Money . Sri Lanka is Bankrupt and Gotha is a Liabilty and that is why all the Major Projects have been put on hold until August and Gotha is asking for help Gotha recently asked EU to look positively. .How can EU be positive when dealing with a man who lacks leadership qualities . Everything about Gotha is Negative

  • 0
    0

    In these comments we repeatedly maintained the need for voter education in Lankawe, though we honestly believe the solution for Tamils is lying with external self-determination.
    Jehan PhD has been taking Sothern Bald Heads to Jaffna in bogus religious reconciliation education, during the Yahapalanaya deceit efforts to keep IC to be mild on Lankawe in UNHRC, on its war criminals. Jehan PhD went to Geneva to help Yahapalanaya protect War Criminals. Now, with the help of bogus NGOs, Yahapalanaya has protected the war criminals and re-staged them as the ruling Royals of Lankawe. So, evaluating Jehan PhD’s chest beating to anything above crocodile tears is regular Lankawe Modayaism. The Royals would drag the election as long as to comming August. That time Parliament will go ended its term limit. The Royal will be using anything in between time to thaw IC and its efforts in UNHRC. After that they will bring in the election to gain the sweeping victory.

    NYT picked up a 2015 report of Daily New to show how the Chinese government has been bribing the Lankawe elections to promote Old King and New King. The Reports of original investigation made by CIDs was destroyed by Yahapalanaya government to save China and Royals. So cunningly, Ranil indicated that by asking prove of election bribes from NYT to investigate it anew. Now CID is getting into private and Parliamentarians’ houses and releasing private matters to media. Interestingly an investigation officer asked Ranjan why he is having double bed. Because Ranjan is a rich actor, I don’t think the answer could be “I have double bed because I didn’t enough money to buy a King size bed”. So I wonder what be the answer. (It is nature of these questions it takes CIDs to hang the victims in 4th floor upside down and set fire underneath to get answer from the arrested ones.)

  • 0
    0

    ” Prices of essential commodities such as basic vegetable and pulses have been increasing significantly which has caused problems to consumers with less income. “ They cultivate only rice in the Moon; so Goti Chitanta Aanduwa cannot import vegetables from Moon. Modayas has to pay the price for the “Sovereignty and Security” they demanded.

    ” The government has also announced that major development projects will need to be put on hold until the latter part of the year due to financial constraints…….”
    Goti Chitanta government promised with a Salary increase, the price & Tax reduction. So now it is shutting down the development projects to transfer the funds. This is generally called “Capital Consumption”. Dr. Wijewardena may want to talk on that too in his essays. But our suspicion from King flying to China is he wants to renegotiate these with a higher commission from China. In Old Royal’s time this is started with Norochcholai contract and ended with Defense ministry computers hacking in 2013. After that all projects were freelance White elephants with 40%.

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