20 October, 2017

Emerging Common Opposition

By Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

The factors which are forging unity among the opposition political parties and the civil society organizations are the immediate need to change the constitution and to abolish the Executive Presidency. This includes also ending the rule of one corrupt family. We have seen the results of the 18th Amendment to the constitution. How true is Edmund Burke for us today who said, the greater the power, the more dangerous will be the abuses.

Undoubtedly, the preoccupations of the opposition movement reflect some urgent needs of the ordinary people and focusing on them is extremely important.

However it is also important to raise the question – will a mere change in the political leadership and the abolition of the Executive Presidency be a panacea to the real issues that our country is afflicted with, such as the high cost of living, the vast income differences, the national issue, threats inflicted on the natural resources, and so on?  My view is that except those who perceive the current political situation in a very narrow sense, all others would agree that the people’s expectations cannot be realized just by making constitutional changes.

Certainly, such changes will bring about a temporary relief and will allow a free space necessary for short term political engagement, but in the long run such a space does not really matter. The real challenges are centered round the differences of opinion over the national issue and the economic strategy among the opposition political parties.

Maithri UNPThese are difficult questions to solve. If the leadership of the common opposition fails to come to a consensus on the national issue and the economic strategy, a breakdown of the united alliance would be inevitable. The experiences of the last 60 years of the power seeking political parties have failed to agree on a political solution to the national issue. For them the national question was only as a political tool to attract votes.

As regards the economic strategy, the question is whether these political parties in the opposition alliance will come to an understanding as to what their economic strategy for Sri Lanka is going to be.

If they have not agreed on a plan, the only option would be to implement the existing one introduced in different names for expediency, such as “Regaining Sri Lanka” or what was lately known as the “Mahinda Chintanaya” or the “National Physical Plan”.

According to that plan Sri Lanka is to have five centres: Navigation Centre, Aviation Centre, Economic Centre, Knowledge Centre and Energy Centre. It is proposed that the projects include 19 Airports, Mega Cities, Railway and High Ways connected to Asian Network of Roads and Rail Roads and so on. The project is spaced out until year 2030.

If successfully carried out it will make Sri Lanka the ‘Miracle of Asia”. But, there are a few very critical questions that have to be raised and sought answers for.  Is the new regime going to continue this programme.

If yes, at whose expense are they going to implement them? Are they aware of its impact on the peasantry and fishermen, the environment (forests, water ways, flora and fauna) and so on?

In the context of globalization, we know that those projects are primarily meant as infrastructure facilities for the international companies to carry out their businesses in an efficient way and certainly not aimed at helping the local people.

Therefore how can we expect through such mega projects, economic justice for people and also the environment? How would such programmes put an end to corrupt practices of governance? Would they reduce the income differences among different classes? Or are we to expect just the opposite?

We also know that these projects, as happening with the current regime, will create opportunities to enter into businesses as partners of the foreign investors directly or by co-opting the family members.

Further it is certain that those people who enter into politics do so not with the interest of doing welfare to the people but enriching themselves in the shortest possible time. In this climate of globalization, doing politics is a big business venture that can earn a massive income without much investment on your part. Nelson Mandela, affirmed this trend when he said that the rich and powerful now have new means to further enrich and empower themselves at the cost of the poorer and weaker people.

In this back drop, we have no reason to believe that the opposition parties aiming at the reign of power will ever overcome these challenges and transform politics in our country into a means of serving the masses.

I salute those who work to bring about a new regime and constitutional changes, but am surprised to see why these critical issues are kept away from the present debate.

Now the challenge is before the citizens to contribute and build up people’s power or the movement of the poor and the oppressed and to join in a “creative struggle”, to do away with the structural causes of poverty and marginalization and construct a just Society.

The citizens in this country need to rethink their political mission. Is it to work for the empowerment of power seeking politicians or for the poor and weaker masses?

This strategy I believe is a massive task and has its own mission. Most certainly for several reasons it would not attract those who are engaged in party politics but one possible reason is that it does not guarantee personal benefits. There is one more reason why it would not draw the attention of others. If one opts for such a strategy he/she would not be able to move about with the rich and the powerful because the mission is mostly around the poor, the weak and the marginalized. In my opinion, one of the main tasks that this mission entails is freeing such masses of their mythical beliefs related to religion, development and politics.

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  • 7
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    Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda

    RE: Emerging Common Opposition

    and the Common Candidate.

    “The factors which are forging unity among the opposition political parties and the civil society organizations are the immediate need to change the constitution and to abolish the Executive Presidency. This includes also ending the rule of one corrupt family. We have seen the results of the 18th Amendment to the constitution. How true is Edmund Burke for us today who said, the greater the power, the more dangerous will be the abuse”

    First Things First. Get rid of MaRa. He is 69 years old. ask him to retire.

    Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda, and thanks for keeping this issue in the front burner, among your faithful as well as others.

    It will be great if there is Common Sense Pamphlet to go along with the Emerging Common Opposition to be distributed to the People.

    Later, it Should go into the school curriculum.

    Why are the Sri Lankan Writers not taking up the Challenge? Elections are scheduled for January 8, 2015.

    Common Sense (pamphlet)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Sense_%28pamphlet%29

  • 5
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    it is good to see someone daring enough and confident enough to contest the incumbent President. However, to have him promoted by two not so popular senior politicians is to MS’ disadvantage. I hope that they vanish, and MS does not promise to handover reigns of PM to RW. If MS abolishes Exec Presidency in 100-days, what job is he going to do afterwards. It is letting the voters down, wasting their votes, and stealing votes by RW to get himself into power illegally. I hope MS clarifies his strategy and offers a more robust one than what he has so far presented.
    Now about the voters. It is the millions of voters in rural areas that hold the power, and not the handful of writers that blog here, some of whom may not even have a vote in Sri Lanka. MR is still immensely popular amongst these people; they will vote for him as he is the devil known, in preference to the devil not known. Rural folk may be voting from their hearts, but in general they know what is good for them.
    MR also knows how to mobilize his army of thugs that will intimidate people reluctant to vote for him, and to switch ballot boxes on the way to counting centres. Remember during the previous presidential election, votes cast for SF were found in the remains of bon fires and rubbish heaps. The same process would be repeated yet again, no matter what the handful of foreign observers/ monitors would do.

    Thank God I have no vote. If I had, I would have found it difficult to choose between the two. Given such uncertainty, I would have been more likely to go with the devil I know, because he has demonstrated a robust leadership, takes no nonsense from foreign meddlers and gets things done including the most notable achievement of his life and in Sri Lankan history, liquidating the terrorist menace in Sri Lanka. The way MR has been trading in MPs like government bonds suggest to me that he is good wheeler-dealer and knows how to weigh up risks and act smart.

  • 10
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    The existing constitutional powers of the President is not the real issue, but how they are used.

    For example, there is no problem with the tenets of Religion. The issue is how the adherents interpret and practice it, a la` BBS, Al Qaeda and ISIS.

    It is imperative that any proposed new constitution should not unduly fetter the President (or Prime Minister, if the Presidency is abolished) in his/her ability to take independent decisions, if the need arises, for the security and welfare of the country.

    MR’s apparent folly was abusing the Presidential powers for a variety of personal reasons, and therefore some viable checks and balances will be necessary in a new Constitution to prevent such alleged abuse.

    The ordinary voter, in my view, is not substantially interested in constitutional semantics. Therefore, the Presidential vote will by and large be determined by other variable dynamics, and hence the possible result is too early to call.

  • 1
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    The existing constitutional power is the issue and the main issue. To not see this after 24 years of presidential rule and the ever worsening abuse of power culminating in the current monstrosity is quite disingenuous. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Exhibit A (i.e. MR) prooves this resoundingly. It is also quite difficult to have an economic road map in the current global economy. What we have today is a world teetering on the brink on many fronts. These are the consequences of greed and complete mismanagement to benefit a few robber barons who have made every effort to role back the social progress made in the 20th century and bring about a modern version of the original barons of the USA. During that era workers had no unions. The working day consisted 10-12Hours seven days a week a situation similar to the conditions in modern China. The high goals of the chintanya are very inadequate to deal with what looms ahead.

    • 1
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      Mark, you say: “The existing constitutional power is the issue and the main issue”.

      I do agree that for the intelligentsia it may perhaps be the only issue from which all other evils of the current Presidency appears to derive the evil repercussions the country is facing, viz: despotism, corruption, nepotism, unresolved minority issues, cost of living, unemployment, political thuggery, drug menace etc. etc. Such were the variable dynamics I was referring to.

      My humble view is that the ordinary voter (who does not belong to the minority “intelligentsia”) would primarily be looking at these problems which this powerful Presidency is perceived to have created.

      In short, they may not be perceptive enough to see the root cause of our problems, but most certainly do feel the dire effects which would probably drive their voting decision.

      Of course, those who continue to hold MR in the highest esteem for saving our country from the scourge of the Tigers and those have benefited from and continue to enjoy the largesse of the regime would continue to support him come hell or high water!

  • 1
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    Accountability is the main issue with the current executive power system. Executive power system gives all the powers to one person and he is not accountable for even if he completely violates the laws of nation or constitutional duties. We need a system where no one is above the law and whether he/she is president or prime minister or member of parliament all should be accountable if he/she is violates the law. Secondly, corruption is a very serious problem associated with the executive power system. The constitution was amended several times without public mandate. This was done because the politicians have moved from one party to another without public mandate. This regime bought number of parliamentarians after paying large some of public money for the sake of changing the constitution to get the two third majority. Therefore it is necessary that once you are elected from one party you have to resign and get the approval of the people to move to another party.

    Overall, all those elected parliamentarians and all public servants should be accountable for what ever they do in the public service.

  • 1
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    Hear, Hear Fr. Sarath.

    Real issues discussed here. It is not the Executive Presidency but that of Governance. If this Governance means our Tamil Brothers and Sisters can’t mourn their dead while their cousins the JVP can mourn theirs, our society’s fault lines are alive and well.

    Like Ostrich’s we hide our heads in the sand, ignoring real issues.

    Btw, I await our forum member Amarey’s common sense pamphlet. To stir our anesthetized conscience.

  • 7
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    Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda,

    Help your Catholics not to be fooled by MaRa regime of liars and murderers.

    Don’t be fooled by pope. MaRa trying to wash away his sin by the pope himself.

    Even the Lord cannot forgive MaRa’s sins. Bad man.

  • 5
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    Dear Fr.Sarath, thanks. well done, you have put your finger on the real issues of the People before the presidential candidates.Seeking a Regime Change without answering the real questions about the national and the economic. will only prolong the agony of the People. Our politicians lack sincerity and Courage to become statesmen who can face the real issues of the People. They only want a Regime Change to continue the game of politics.

  • 2
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    Good Analysis Fr. Iddamalgoda.
    As I live overseas and getting it difficult to get into Sri Lankan news, can someone here update me the following please.

    A. It shows in this weeks Ravaya that head of State Intel – one DIG Vagista was fired by MaRa as they predicted 59% for .MY3 is this news item is correct.
    if this is correct then there is something gone really bad in GoRas intelligence machinery these days.

    B. There was someone went to the supreme court to petition the PE is invalid and just curious with all signs going for a big defeat for MaRa, is it possible for him to make the corrupt supreme court take a decision that this PE is illegal and let MaRa continue for another 2 years.

    During that time, he can consolidate the MS threat and also get rid of the dissidents etc.. and that will be quite interesting. Anyone good in constitutional law can update me here please?

  • 1
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    The panacea remains with the catholic Clergy like you.

    S.J.Emmanuel the Theology adviser the to the Bishops Conference of South Asia destroyed the very foundation of the Catholic Faith Celebrated at Mass by priest like you (Iddamalgoda). Neither the higherachy of the Catholic Church in Sri Lanka, Priest like YOU nor the Vatican took him to task. Quote: “The Beast”

    You priest now talk about the politicial changes to the Country instead of restoring the faith and de-frocking and taking to task Emmanuel destroying the foundation of catholic faith not in Sri Lanka but in the entire world.

    You rogue priest Iddamalgoda, you have no business to indulge in or speak politics. If you want to (You8 Cheap Skate) leave your robes and then speak. If not beging focus inward and engaged in reparing the irrepairable damage to the Catholic Faith inflicted by Emmanuel & gang of Clergy. Quote; The Beast available at Godage & sons.
    Contents are a disgrace to the Catholic Churh & Clergy but not for bull
    sheet-ers like you who are using the church for a hidden & personal agendas. History of the Catholic Church is nothing new.

    You Priest act like blinkered horses. See everything outside but nothing within.You disgusting priest keep off politics.

    Hope the Pope will come armed with the wooden cross on his visit here to whip rogues like you and for us to see you fleeing with lifted robes.

  • 3
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    “You rogue priest Iddamalgoda, you have no business to indulge in or speak politics. If you want to (You8 Cheap Skate) leave your robes and then speak.”

    Would you say the same to the virulent and reckless Buddhist monks?

  • 0
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    Both the Catholicn Priest Iddamalgoda and the LTTE-priest Emmanuel are for Mahinda Rajapakse

  • 0
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    We have seen how “Yes, We can” soon became “But We won’t” on the other side of the world. We have a Catholic ‘priest’ commenting here who left the insincere politicians to throw in his lot with a mass murderer. I have no doubt that the latter was very sincere in what he proposed and DID.

  • 1
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    I cannot simply under estimate the immense contribution of Mahinda Rajapakshe. If not for his leadership the war would have never won. However corruption, bribery, family monarchism, interference in judiciary and harassing the minorities made him uncomfortable at this juncture.
    The need of the time to form a common opposition and win the presidential election first. Subsequently form a collation government to run the country smoothly. If Mahinda wants to join the cabinet, please welcome him

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