16 November, 2018

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Evolving Disaster: Agree To Call For Election Might Be The Best

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

The ‘dismissal debate’ has now turned into a ‘prorogation debate.’ The latest statement by liberal/left academics and professionals demands to revoke the President’s prorogation and call the Speaker to reconvene Parliament forthwith. The controversy over the appointment of a new PM has become quite stale perhaps, although some ‘experts’ still bat on.

The Speaker has agreed to allocate the Prime Minister’s seat (Agamathi Putuwa) to Mahinda Rajapaksa when he met the President on 31 October. This is a ‘de facto’admission of the constitutional position that the dismissal of Ranil Wickremesighe and the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa are legally valid or ‘recte valet.’

This dilemma about the PM’s chair probably is one reason why the Parliament was prorogued until 16 November, but obviously not the most important reason. The others reasons could be: (1) To buy time for the necessary crossovers. (2) To appoint a new Cabinet. (3) To announce and implement popular concessions to the people. (4) To formulate a new Budget or a Vote on Account. (5) To exhaust and drain the opposition with their arguments, protest and emotional anger.

Musical Chairs

In the Sri Lankan culture, including the political culture, one’s status or power is determined by the Chair one occupies! It is not easy to give this important seat in Parliament to two persons like what was done to the Kalawana seat under JR Jayewardene’s hegemony in 1981. Of course unless the constitution is amended like in the Second Amendment! That was one landmark of our constitutional reform process.

When the Speaker met the President, he has agreed to consider (salaka balanna) in reconvening Parliament before 16 November, although no firm promise was given. ‘Salaka balannam’ in Sinhala usage is a very vague statement. It is like waving the head both ways without committing oneself. This President is also a ‘cunning fox’ like JRJ, who was branded in that name by A. J. Wilson.

It is possible that the Speaker also conveyed to the President that the whole international community wants to see the Parliament is reconvened as soon as possible. That is a valid concern on the part of Western countries although they themselves prorogue Parliaments under similar circumstances. They have not clearly objected to the removal of Ranil Wickremesinghe or the appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as the new Prime Minister, although they have not yet greeted the new PM. The circumstances are understandable.

Fake News?

There are so much of fake news, miss communication or blatant ‘dead ropes’ given to the opponents. When the new PM was meeting with NUTA (not FUTA), there was a telephone call apparently from the Presidential Secretariat and when the PM came back to the meeting he commented that the Parliament may be convened on 5 November. However, this was not even technically possible as there needs to be three working days between the necessary gazette notification and the commencement day.

He probably was giving ‘fake hopes,’ not to that audience, but to the media. Because those university teachers were not at all interested in convening the Parliament.

Then again when a group of MPs met with the Speaker, it was announced that the President has agreed to convene the Parliament on 7 November. But that news became denied by the SLFP sources, while the President keeping mum. It has become extremely difficult to know who is telling the truth. Counting numbers also has become extremely difficult for the politicians. Apart from counting the required number in Parliament, counting the people who goes for a meeting or endorsing a resolution also has become difficult (118 or 109).

Mahinda Rajapaksa is famous for sarcastic or misleading comments. On the day the Prime Minister was changed, he has asked former Minister Harsha de Silva at lunch time in Parliament whether he would join him, saying that he is going to form a new government. Harsha has thought it was a joke, but became a reality by the same evening. Harsha’s father probably knows better of MR, as they were working in the same building, Sri Sumangala, upstairs and downstairs, at Vidyodaya in late 1960s. Former at Archives and the latter at the university library.

Understandable Anger

Some people were disturbed and angered when I said last Monday “Ranil Wickremesinghe holding on to power is unconstitutional and undemocratic.” I even received threatening and insulting emails. One sender was Kumar David, pretend to disbelieve I was the author.

However, when Reeza Hameed wrote “President is powerless to remove Prime Minister” (Colombo Telegraph, 13 April 2018), I argued to the contrary. My main points were the following.

[1] Interpretation of the constitution based on the ‘objectives’ of the drafters is subjective. [2] Whatever the ‘objectives,’ those cannot contradict the main thrust of the 1978 constitution i.e. the Presidential system without a referendum.

I also asked the following questions: If the absence of ‘removal clause’ in 42 (4) is deliberate, why it is present in Articles 47 (2), 47 (3) and 48 (1)? Do you think that the constitutional drafters must have thought the absence or not inclusion of ‘removal clause’ in 42 (4) is sufficient, whatever present in other articles? Do you admit that 19A is a messy and a bad piece of constitutional amendment?

Of course Reeza Hameed gave some answers. On his part, he has been fairly consistent. My point here is not about I was correct or he was wrong, but I have maintained this position at least since April, well before the present crisis that the President can remove the PM under certain circumstances.

Not the First Time  

Since January 2015, the President of Sri Lanka has used his powers three times in appointing the Prime Minister, one may say when it was required under the constitution, based on Article 42 (4). In all these instances, it was not clear whether the appointed PM would hold a majority in Parliament at the outset. The last two instances were after the 19thAmendment and therefore it is difficult to argue that amendment made much difference in President’s powers in this respect.

However, there were political differences between these three instances. The first was after a presidential election without any change to the political composition of Parliament, nevertheless given the dramatic change of the election, there was no much political controversy. The second one was after a parliamentary election and the appointed PM was the same as before and again, there was no much political controversy.

However, this time it was not after any popular election, presidential or parliamentary, and therefore there is much confusion and controversy, although it was after the collapse of the National Government. This is something not very familiar to the country although it is defined in the constitution after the 19thAmendment. When a National Gvernment collapses, the Cabinet becomes dissolved, including the PM and the President is empowered to appoint a new PM and a new Cabinet.

An Example from Australia

The controversy is because of the unexpected and the dramatic nature that it had happened apart from its secretive or ‘conspiratorial’ nature. Such dramatic changes have not been uncommon in Westminster model democracies as well. Among many examples, the dismissal of the sitting Prime Minister, with even a majority in Parliament, was enacted in 1975 in Australia. For easy reference I am quoting from Wikipedia. However there are many books written on the subject.

On 11 November 1975, [Prime Minister Gough] Whitlam intended to call a half-Senate election in an attempt to break the deadlock. When he went to seek [Governor-General Sir John] Kerr’s approval of the election, Kerr instead dismissed him as Prime Minister and shortly thereafter installed [Malcolm] Fraser in his place.”

That was also called a constitutional crisis. Jenny Hocking (‘The Dismissal Dossier,’ 2015) in her award winning biography of Gough Whitlam, reveals the astonishing secret story of the planning, the people and the collusion behind the removal of the sitting Prime Minister, Whitlam.

However, Whitlam did not resist, did not claim he is the Prime Minister or did not refuse to leave the official residence. Within a month, the election was held and Fraser returned with a massive majority. The Parliament was not prorogued but dissolved! Now our constitutional pundits claim that the President even cannot dissolved Parliament and it requires a two-thirds majority. People may have to very carefully look at the anarchist 19thAmendment and look for alternatives.

Story of Ranil

Although I supported the January 2015 change with much hope, I did not support the UNFGG at the August 2015 parliamentary elections, because of the bond scam in between. After the first bond scam, I was extremely critical of Ranil Wickremesinghe. Those were expressed in my articles, although I am not usually a person to refer to my past articles or claim I said so. Therefore, no one needs to get upset about my last article about Ranil and his adamance in holding on to power which can create much harm to the country.

In August last year (2017) I wrote “Remove Ravi and Investigate Ranil” after the Bond Commission Report. In November I wrote “It’s Time to Go Ranil.” These are clear enough reasons for my positions on the evolving scenario. I have always expressed my opinions as an independent person without aligning with any group or clique, let alone a political party.

Once Asanga Welikala (CPA) invited me to be part of an email network of left minded people to see how the Left Movement could be rejuvenated! I declined the invitation and was most surprised to see why and how Asanga was initiating it! I could respect for his views but not as a left minded person.

I still strongly maintain that Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP are planning a major disaster to the country. According to the ‘Economy Next’ website (3 November), he has said “We will be calling on our people not to resort to violence. But you don’t know what arises in a situation like this. A few desperate people can start off a bloodbath.”

I leave the readers to figure out what he was saying. He was referring to his own people.

Call for General Election

Yes, there is a risk of violence, a major disaster and clashes. The best measure to avoid such a situation is for the five main leaders, Maithripala Sirisena, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Ranil Wickremesinghe, R. Sampanthan and Anura Kumara Dissanayake to come to the table and, in my view, to agree for a general election to be held as soon as possible, probably early December.

The Parliament could be convened to approve a Vote on Account before 16 November, but then dissolved. Ranil Wickremesinghe can reside at Temple Trees.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    4

    General election is the best. People must completely get rid of rouges, uneducated, jumpers and those who sleep in parliament.

    • 11
      0

      Dr. Laksiri is apparently going back to his old ways, which included fawning on MR and offering him a Doctorate.
      The problem here is not about elections, though MR himself says he wants an election. 6.2 million people voted to give Ranil and his government a 5-year term. How can this supposedly educated Professor justify calling elections simply because a corrupt former president thinks Ranil is unpopular? Parliament MUST be summoned immediately . Those who carried out and collaborated in this coup. must be severely punished. Those who crossed over must have their assets investigated. There is no other way.The law must prevail.
      May God save this nation from “intellectuals” like Laksiri Fernando.

      • 6
        0

        To arrive at the best solution the following factors have to be taken into account:
        1. MS wants to go for a second term
        2. RW wants to become President at least for one term
        3. MR wants to come back to power to continue to loot the country.

        Re 1 – MS has proved that he is unsuitable for the post. Leaving him any further in post will be disastrous to the country. Therefore impeach MS and throw him out.
        Re 2 – RW is unpopular and will never be elected President in a contest. He missed his chance in 2005 cruelly denied by LTTE preventing Tamils to vote. To satisfy his dream, you could elect him as President for the remaining 14 months. He should be told he has to work with MR. At least he could die in peace.
        Re 3 – Give PM post to MR, as he is likely to be elected as PM in any future election. He must be told he has to work with RW and to give up going for a third term.

        This is a win-win situation to the people and particularly for democracy.

        • 2
          0

          re3-also MR has to occasionally give his arse to RW.

          “This is a win-win situation to the people”

          so it will not happen and only a wishful thinking because politics in sri lanka is always a win-win for the politicians only.Dream on.

      • 5
        0

        OC,

        You did us all proud!

        Democracy has/is a process ……….. elections can’t be called just because someone wants them.

        There is a very simple criterion to check ones impartiality ………… just imagine the boot is on the other foot ……… would one call for fresh elections or tacitly supported the putsch …….. if Ranil/UNP did this? ……. There’s your answer

        In a cold night ………when I couldn’t afford to pay for heating ………. I burned my PhD for some warmth ………. a magical transformation took place ……….. my mind was freed

        I was so much older then ……… I’m younger than that now ……… somehow

      • 4
        0

        OC
        Dishonest intellectuals are worse than other dishonest breeds, not only in political matters.
        *
        All rules have games and the dishonest seek to bypass them. The intellectually dishonest are so cunning that they can make excuses for every act of cheating.

        • 0
          0

          SJ
          “All rules have games and the dishonest seek to bypass them”.
          Brilliant.
          That takes the silly season cake baked by Hora PM MR.

      • 0
        0

        Prof.Laksiri must be now in tango with his old friend our Ambassador in Moscow DayanJ

    • 6
      0

      Ad ,

      With a NEW General election the People must completely REPLACE the rouges, uneducated, jumpers and those who sleep in parliament with a NEW SET, fully bribed by MaRa and SiRa and any others.

      New General election is not the solution. Must follow the constitutional process, . and Sirisena should be taken to task, and if needed, impeached for his unconstitutional actions.

    • 5
      0

      Laksiri,
      You have mentioned about musical chairs. When I thought of your u-turn in this issue it is apporopriate to you as well. For me it is not about Ranil or Mahinda. The issue is Sirisena and his moral behaviour. Whether it is constitutionally right or wrong it is morally not acceptable to a truly educated professional to call for an election. Election of parliament, Election of President or Election of Supreme court judge. First of all we have to justify to our conscience that Sirisena did is morally acceptable? MY answer is No. What is your answer? Do you morally support bribing of MPs by powerful Politicians? I don’t support bribing. What is your answer?

  • 14
    1

    Laksiri Fernando
    Your views are no longer taken seriously by discerning readers because of your sudden 180 reversals depending on the changing fortunes of your political handlers. Your attempt at damage control shows you’ve been caught with your pants down. You try to cover up by resorting to non sequiturs and obfuscation typical of Sri Lankan mediocre and double-dealing academics.

    • 6
      0

      Dr. Laksiri Fernando,

      RE: Evolving Disaster: Agree To Call For Election Might Be The Best

      Evolving Disaster: for whom? Sirisena, the Traitor and Mahinda , the opportunist, and their cronies, because the constitution and democracy would prevail?

      General election is part of democracy, but the culprits Sirisena needs to be convicted and punished by the democratic parliament.

      PS. When will you write the Common Sense Pamphlet. so that you can get some common senses, and share it with others who need it.

  • 10
    0

    Dear Laksiri. F. ..
    people could create a lot of arguments around the interpretation of the constitution. If you are MR and MS supporter you could interpret it in your way to support MR and MS. If you are Ranil Supporter you could interpret other way around…
    leave alone all sort of interpretation and tell me how did all go about. Why do we have a parliament? why did 6;2 vote for MS? Speak to your consciousness do you think that MS will get that much of votes with UNP supports. ?
    All these drama went for more than 4 months. It is very much clear a deal has been done between MR and MS…
    Enemy become friend for politics and power. MS is not a man of policy and principles. Both MR and MS greed to win power at any cost..
    Do not read the merely letters of the constitution as Wahabi. Al_Qaeda read the text of the Qura’n read the inner dimensions and rationale of the constitutions.
    It is very much clear that 19 amendment was introduced to limit the executive power of the president.
    I think that 80% of Sri Lankan academics, monks, priests, all professionals go with Ranil in this case…
    If we had election now… UNP will win with the majority for the fact, MR and MS are trying to cheat the system to capture power from back door,
    You an academic person speak in support of these crooks?

    • 3
      0

      Being an “Academic “does not necessarily means being Intelligent as well.GL is an classic example.It is also quite easy for most of these “Academics ” to dispense their so called considered opnions on matters relating to Sri Lanka specially when are domiciled overseas knowing very well whatever happens here will not affect them

  • 0
    3

    A similar situation arose in Nicaragua. USA used even the brother or ORTEGA to advice HIs elder brother. Yet he reamined silent. UN (USA ) send a UN Panel to study the violence in Nicaragua. Govt stayed silent. about 300 died. On the day, Panel released their report, the violence stopped. In a Real world RANIL should be arrested. I heard he was responsible for sending money all over the world. There are lot of corruptions going on. West is also aware

  • 0
    2

    WEst and their allies in Sri lanka screamed saying we need constitution changes. when the need was restructuring the parliamentary component of the constitution, Ranil got into changing it federalize the country. Now the constitution they talk is 19th amendment which ruined the constitution. The govt should use this opportunity null and vooid the 19th amendment and to establish a 20th amendment. elections are not required. IT is just recycling of the same 225.

  • 6
    0

    Dr. Laksiri Fernando,

    RE: Evolving Disaster: Agree To Call For Election Might Be The Best

    Disaster for SiRa and MaRa, but Election is NOT the best at this time. Are you demoralized? Why? You will lose the opportunity to award a Doctorate to Sirisena, the Traitor, Sevalaya, Mala-Perethaya, Patholaya and Pachaya?

    MARA –SIRA junta ditched and demolished! 121 members oppose the synthetic P.M.’s appointment in parliament – JVP,TNA and UNF act in unison !!

    – 03.Nov.2018, The party leaders and MPs who met at the parliamentary complex yesterday at the invitation of the speaker defeated the anti- state traitorous conspiracy of MARA –SIRA as not official , thereby confirming the MARA –SIRA junta cannot come even close to their much sought 113 members.

    125 members in writing handed over letters to the speaker stating that the appointment of Mahinda Rajapakse as Prime minister by the president is unconstitutional and illegal . 121 members personally arrived in parliament to express their opposition openly and directly to safeguard Democracy , and oppose the appointment of the synthetic prime minister .

    Party Leaders of TNA , JVP and UNF were among the 121 members who participated .

  • 10
    0

    Laksri Fernando is writing a load of rubbish. The bond scam was blown out of proportion. In any case, Wickremesinghe has no direct involvement in the scam. He only wanted the whole process to be open and transparent. His trust in Mahendran proved misplaced. Fernando a self-styled leftist is asking for the moon when he suggests that the country should go in for general election. Why should if Ranil has a majority in the parliament? Dissolution is not the solution. The mandate is for 5 years and that stays.

  • 0
    2

    This fear that the people will vote for the opposite side is the very antithesis of Democracy.

    Soma

    • 4
      0

      somass

      Please tell me every single time MR and you feel some sort of movement inside your sarong do you need an election. If that is the case you might on average need a minimum of 4 elections a day.

      You still think MR and yourself are too clever.
      Actually clever dicks.
      If you have problem go to the toilet.

    • 2
      0

      Soma,
      The people will vote for whoever they like when the time comes. It may well be Mahinda. But why this almighty hurry to grab power?
      This is nothing but a coup to scuttle the special courts. It is clear that it was Sirisena who stalled investigations all this time.

      • 4
        0

        old codger

        somass is losing crumbs while Dr Mahinda is out of office.
        somass is also losing patience because
        he is unable to throw his weight around,
        unable to illegally fix things,
        cannot bear the thought that people are relatively free and going about their own business,
        less intimidation,
        less abduction,
        media is relatively free,
        addicted to carrying Mahinda’s b***s

        ….
        Now he/she/it is worried as he/she/it might not be able to build his/her/its cherished exclusive Sinhala/Buddhist ghetto mutant homeland.

  • 0
    1

    Its a forlorn hope that commentators will make objective, constructive and non personal contributions and contribute to raising the standard of debate and discussion on CT. Instead we witness personalised putrid being thrown around as informed debate. Dr Laksiri has been consistent in his writings and whenever he felt political leaders were close to his beliefs and ideals, he has spoken/written in support of them. In this article he has argued that the best way to resolve this impasse is to have a general election. All those who are trumpeting for democracy should agree to this as that is the only avenue to allow the people of the country to give their verdict on the impasse. Surely democracy is about what people want isn’t it and not about what MS or RW or MR want?

    • 2
      0

      Outsider,
      “Surely democracy is about what people want isn’t it and not about what MS or RW or MR want?”
      What people want can be found by holding elections, yes. But it is dishonest and illegal to remove the incumbents in secret without even notifying them. To cap it all, this is done by a president sworn to uphold the Constitution and the beneficiary is the man he once accused of planning to kill him!
      There are ways to go about these things That is what is known as the rule of law. It must apply to everyone equally, whether it is Sirisena or some alleged criminal who is “accidentally” bumped off on the way to the police station.

  • 0
    0

    This is the usual opportunistic essay.
    We will look at maximum three points only. Those will take care of the rest.
    ” The controversy over the appointment of a new PM has become quite stale perhaps………… The Speaker has agreed to allocate the Prime Minister’s seat …….. Speaker also conveyed to the President that the whole international community wants to see the Parliament is reconvened ”

    The planning took place to unseat Ranil for four months. Foreign Countries did know for at least one month. There are many indications Ranil too did know about this. All Indian media keep claiming that this was negotiated through India. Mavai said TNA was not told yet by India to who to vote on the day parliament sits. Karu asked foreign government to back off and he wanted to allow Old King to have the Chair. Ranil declared to NDTV that there will not be any cases against New King in appointing New PM first and latter firing Old PM. This is a coup where Ranil and Karu are a party in that. Only opposing people are Hirunika, Ajith Perera. Palitha Ranga…. Even the 2nd level leaders like Vaalaiththodam Jr, Mangala, and Rajitha all have become traitors. Here what is happening is they all are united to keep out UN and Western countries out this, because they think this crime would become an opening gate to UNHRC on War Crime investigation. Now almost 2/3 of the UNP wants New King be saved from any criminal law suit internally or externally. This is similar to owner setting fire to his store to take insurance claim, or Husband killing wife to take insurance claim. So, now the opportunistic professor is trying to say that appointment is not a criminal activity. But one can read recent TNA’s statement that they still insist that dismissing was crime. Sampanthar was first one to ask to convene the parliament to make a decision on this.

  • 0
    0

    “There are so much of fake news, miss communication or blatant ‘dead ropes’ given to the opponents. ………………………. He probably was giving ‘fake hopes,’ not to that audience, but to the media………….. But that news became denied by the SLFP sources, while the President keeping mum. …………….Speaker also conveyed to the President that the whole international community wants to see the Parliament is reconvened Again the learned professor is cheating everybody with his convoluted theories. This fooling was done only aiming at International Community. It was the latest master, Karu’s games announcing the new dates and allocating the PM Chair to Old King. Internally nobody believed this date fixing. Any internal person was referring the earlier dates, only with “if”.

  • 1
    0

    When a National Gvernment collapses, the Cabinet becomes dissolved, including the PM and the President is empowered to appoint a new PM and a new Cabinet. The learned professor doesn’t make any invention himself, but only borrow from master technicians like GLP. Sadly GLP never did know the 4 months planning and the Oct 26th Constitutional coup. So far he has not said anywhere that he was aware of these any time earlier. But he was first to invent that cabinet went dismissed when one party pulled out of National Unity government. There is one whole encyclopedia is available in Colombo Media on all the legal experts’ explanation of why that was wrong. Because the learned professor had limited capacity to understand what is legal, we will stay out of repeating those legal explanations.
    1). Planning of firing PM was done for 4 months, while Ranil had many clues and indication of what was brewing.
    2). New PM was appointed before Old PM was Informed of dismissal. The dismissal letter without any ambiguity, said Ranil was being dismissed the say he was appointed. There was no reference of Unity Government’s collapse, Cabinet losing validity and be dissolved, and thus PM losing his position. Imbecile GLP just created a story without head or Tail. Now learned is wearing it the Circus Clown costume. He is hoping his costume will get along with GLP’s corpse witchh lacks head or tail.
    3). Ministers were not informed of the status of the cabinet. Champika is still working in his ministry. Rajitha may start at any time. Mangala will not be allowed to go near any building called ministry.
    4). Long after all these dramas only ministries were informed that their masters will be new.
    These indicated that they never intended to claim the “Cabinet went Dissolved” even long after GLP invented that story.

  • 2
    0

    Laksiri Fernando,

    This is Blackmail
    Ransom is the General Election
    The weapon is the unconstitutional act of sacking and appointing.
    Are you on the side of blackmailers or on the side of democracy?
    Should we compromise with the gangsters merely because they are powerful or we have some inherent sympathy with the gangster?

  • 1
    0

    Laksiri Fernando suggests that to avoid an “Evolving Disaster” we must “Agree To Call For Election” as this “Might Be The Best”.
    Surely the disgusting side of horse-trading is taking our international reputation to the cleaners.
    .
    Laksiri: This is a coup – fortunately bloodless. This will be etched in our history. We must treat it as a coup. We must not let down the next generation.

  • 1
    0

    A good piece by Mallaiyuran. The deal is Sirisena will be fielded as the next presidential candidate since Sirisena knows he does not have a ghost of a chance of re-elected if he contests on the UPFA/SLFP platform. Sirisena has proclaimed that federalism and amalgamation of North and East are possible only over his dead body. This is an unprovocative declaration. Who is asking for federalism? That word is not found in the draft constitution. As for amalgamation of North and East that too is not on the table, at least for now. Sirisena is suffering from acute paranoia. He needs psychiatric help urgently,

  • 1
    0

    Laksiri Fernando tries best to justify the switching support, through this article;
    Democracy evolves best at its esteem when ethically followed with (and for) decency, for the sake of differences of interpretations, – Power Mongers’ behaviours cannot be included in; what has happened here is The Residuals of 1971, and 1989 ruthless cruel violence have Purged out heavily on the 26th of October, at the expense of political decency, and the claim of Evolving Disaster is a virtual threat.
    Dudley Senanayake’s Prophecy “Birds of the same feather flog together” proven right!!

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