13 December, 2019

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Executive Presidency The Root Of All Evil: Are They Preparing To Lynch The CJ?

By Kumar David

Prof. Kumar David

A fortnight ago several senior Ministers were told to hold a pres conference and con the public that the government was not after the blood of the CJ. In Lanka, in these times, people know this means they are planning to do exactly the opposite of what they say! They told us they would abolish the Executive Presidency, but they enacted the 18-th Amendment which aims to impose it in perpetuity; they told us they would not privatise state assets, but they alienated every inch of prime property in Colombo and the best along the seafront to foreign capital; they promised reconciliation, but they won’t let the Tamils have the Northern Provincial Council. For these reasons I think an e-mail that is doing the rounds saying the President has decided to impeach the CJ and install Mohan Peiris in her place is very believable. We will soon see, maybe before the year is out; furthermore, impeachment is not the only way of getting rid of someone in these days of carrots and sticks.

The attack on the Judicial Services Commission Secretary does not make sense unless it’s part of a bigger game plan and that cannot be to take on the whole judiciary and bar. The limited lethal plan that makes sense is that they have decided to go after the CJ only; mounting pressure that elicits an abject capitulation or removal by intimidation or by impeachment. No arrests have been made for the Thilekaratne attack, why? Because I think the attackers have disappeared into the usual encampments into which Lasantha’s killers, the grease yakkas, abductors of journalists and Frontline Socialists, and for a long time Tamil youth suspected of LTTE connections, all vanished. That’s evidence enough of who the black hand behind the attacks is.

Ok if you are sceptical of my hypothesis, just grant for arguments sake that the regime does intend to impeach or otherwise remove the CJ. What is the presumed larger game plan and what consequences follow from this? Let me dwell on this theory.

The big battle ahead

I have said in several pieces since the beginning of this year that serious economic difficulties lie over the horizon. The twin forks of a pincer movement that is strangling the economy are foreign trade deficit and government fiscal deficit (better known among us laymen as the budget deficit). Every indication is that both deficits will deteriorate further in 2013-15 – it is difficult to see farther. There is no sign that exports can improve much, it is not possible to curb imports greatly and I cannot see the government increasing revenue except modestly. Fiscal expenditure cannot be cut without provoking resentment and the device of deferring 2012 expenditure to 2013 will snowball. With these twin hands chocking its throat the government faces social unrest and mounting debt.

By the end of 2012 the government’s foreign debt will stand at about $ 27 billion (Rs 3.5 trillion) and domestic debt will also be about the same amount, Rs 3.5 trillion. It is simply not true that the Central Bank’s foreign reserves are healthy. My estimate is that at the end of year 2012 government (official) reserves will be about $ 7.5 billion and commercial bank foreign holdings and financial market (portfolio) related holdings about another $1.5 billion. A simple analogy will be a lady working in the Middle East who has $7.5 thousand in her NRFC account, much of it short term loans from friends, and is safe-keeping another $1.5 thousand for other parties; however, she is indebted to big lenders in Dubai to the tune of $27 thousand, and that hole is getting deeper. Add to this that she owes another Rs3.5 million to local money lenders at home.

Honestly I cannot see how the Rajapakse government can wiggle out of an economic crisis unless it abandons its policy framework, which it won’t do. It seems clear as daylight, and therefore must be frighteningly obvious to policy wonks, that big showdowns with an angry public are on the agenda for 2013-15. The method in the village-bumpkin madness of this regime, I believe, is timely preparation to groom its forces for these eventualities. An independent judiciary, political obstacles to the regimes drive towards a Corporatist State, its crazy obsession with militarising schools are, if seen in this light, Kafkaesque; not the insanity of a loony lurching in the streets, but the cunning of a Hannibal Lecter.

A judiciary that displays a modicum of constitutional independence just will not do. Defence Secretary Gothabahaya, technically a public servant (sic) though in truth more powerful than brother Mahinda, has called for the immediate repeal of the 13-th Amendment (front page Sunday Island, 14 October) because devolution is an obstacle to Divinaguma. More properly put, devolution and the agenda of a Corporatist State are in headlong conflict. Without concentrating power in the hands of the siblings, without wresting all autonomous political power from the Tamil people and regions, and in the context of this essay without bringing the judiciary to heel, the Corporatist State project is doomed. This is why it is doubly important for the citizenry of Lanka at large to resist with all the power at its command the regime’s attacks on the judiciary, its efforts to strangle Tamil autonomy and thwart provincial council elections in the North, and the creeping excesses of sibling grip on power. At the root of all this however lies the Executive Presidency.

Abolish the Executive Presidency

Impending economic crisis will drive the regime into a conflict with the people. To face the challenge this regime knows only one way and that is concentrating power in its own hands. This is apart from the Rajapakses’ natural proclivity to get drunk on power anyway. These tendencies coalesce smoothly into the Executive Presidency. The Executive Presidency is not only at the root of all the current abuses of power, that is the superficial side, it is not only the tool at hand to secure the Corporatist State, that is the statecraft side, it is also the organising principle that is fashioning the repressive apparatuses that the regime needs for its survival in conflict with the people in the next medium term period.

Abolishing the Executive Presidency is the absolute political priority of the moment. Ranil is unwilling to join such a campaign since, either he has some cryptic deal with Rajapakse, or he suffers from the folly of utmost delusions that he will make it there one day. Many are now catching and climbing on to the bandwagon of a crucial concept that I floated a month ago: A Single Issue Challenge to rally a rainbow coalition and abolish the Executive Presidency! There are numerous ambitious creeps around now hoping to cash in on the opportunity. They will all need to be swept aside and a genuine candidate identified. Let’s leave candidates aside for now and focus on the Single Issue campaign.

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Latest comments

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    I think Kumar David is in the group who wants to make Sri Lanka a State like KERALA where the Hindu majority is don’t speak, because they will be labelled as racists or extremists, silent and powerless and the Christian and Muslim minorities are running the State affairs and take decisions for the state. they call it socialism.

    In Kumar David’s vocabulary there is no such terms as dwindling status of the Sinhala – buddhist majority because Kumar David is not in that category. Therefore, he is writing to make Sri Lanka another KERALA south of India.

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    Kerala is a part of secular India.
    Sri Lanka will never become secular as the buddhists will not consent.
    But,buddhism does permit equality,freedom from want,and,a government of the people which will benefit all people and not only some of them.

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      Buddhism and Sinhala – buddhist civilization are two different things.

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    Kumar, I do not disagree with much of what you have eloquently stated, although I would like (in all friendliness) take issue with the idea that a “single issue” movement with the objective of eliminating the executive presidency will usher in the kind of social milieu that you anticipate. You will recall that Kumaratunga’s campaign for the presidency came very close to a single-issue campaign of abolishing the EP — one that also led to her agreement with the JVP, in exchange for its support, to do so within six months. In other words, I will view with extreme suspicion the promise of any candidate that s/he will abolish the EP once elected to power. The second point I wish to make relates to the EP itself, which we have blamed for most of our ills. Indeed, there is much truth to this assertion, but do recall that Sirimavo Bandaranaike as prime minister with the support of a 2/3rds majority in parliament, appropriated executive powers invoking emergency laws. Moreover, if government institutions are continually subverted so that advancement is dependent upon one’s capacity to unquestioningly support the subversion of justice insofar as it is done by those under the protection of the powers-that-be, it matters not whether we have an EP, or a PM ruling with emergency powers.

    I do not think abolishing the EP is a bad idea. But I also think we need to critically and reflexively examine our almost fixated desire (generated over several decades now) of abolishing the EP, as if that would be the panacae for all ills, when it might not be. This is because the roots of the rot that have set in precede the establishment of the EP, and that power can be deployed in many insidious ways whether or not it is done so by a person in the capacity of an EP, PM or any other system that would appear to be egalitarian.

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    It is look like Mahinda Rajapakse is looking to make Sri Lanka as another Kerala.Beacause MR doesn’t care Buddhism, Sinhalism or Hindu, Cristians or Muslims.But he has becomes a bogus Sinhala Buddhist self appointed, to attract the attention majority Sinhala Buddhist for his own benefits. Still his roots go beyond Sri Lanka borders. His late uncle Lakhsman Rajapakse was married to a Kerala Lady. So much so with some of MR’s late uncles and also MR’s roots.

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      Yes, he is playing the game. Because, he is connected to every party by this way or that way. He has relatives from every side.

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      Rajapaksas were Gambarayo. That means they looked after the lands as caretakers for their masters who owned the land. The landed gentry in the South will vouch for this. How old Banda met DA Rajapaksa realising his connection to the subjects who worked in the lands appointed him candidate and he was returned. Old DAR has had a MeeKiri joint on the road to Kataragama where he met both the Urban elite who travelled down South and the connection to the villagers as gambarayo. Today the Rajapaksas hail as the Richest in this land, is it by hard dint of labour?

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    The root causeof Executive Presidency has evil in its base by a neo-liberlism of ecomnoy-political-social system our country.
    Is this Execuative President need reform?If it extend or its refom.
    It change constituationl structure of the democratic society since 1978 under UNP-JRJ ruling clique.Indeed a lot it is support by UNP of conservaties forces inside and outside of our country.
    Change of Presedintal system does not break very simply or sharply on what Dr Diavid call, mostaly meaninglessly,a right-wing or left-wing spectrum.Needless to say these are things that respond by people’s needs and concerns.The abolished of cases right near here where similar options were possible.I think those are directions are not yet ripe.A lot of democrtic changes and struggle are to be invigorated by things like the masses of democratic reform movement.
    We have very immediate concern,like quesation of what will be power of dictacorship or military regime assume by Mahind Rajapakas ruling party and alliance?
    Will it be replace by Fassist forces based in slums and Lumpans of Cities locations?
    What about place of secular democracy minded and liberial forces that ones who actually initiated by 2004 Natioanl anti-terrsorsit movement and democratic forces find in this system.
    The Presendiatl system are concern all very problems that they have to deal with.Dr David you cannot just say some thing as resposbiale person on this issue and make alligation against Mahinda Rajapakas without deal of differant concert problems.
    Here is many class issues and ethanice conflicts of the social compositon of the uneven politiacl developement and political lerdership also change over time.
    Withing thses yeras incresainly active participation of busniess,tradres farmers and other raceses of groupe in politics and adminisartion did you take into account.Indeed upcoming NEW CAPITALIST and POLITICAL ORGINIZATION are flourished.
    And leave old political shcool of thought and political parties , social trnasformation since 1977, and inreasing accpectability of idelogy of marketplace and privite owenership and political culture become more market-friendly more capatilist-orinted.
    President system has been challange by discretionary power and powers intervention last 30 -35 yeras.
    Dr David resent developent in society.has been visible by NEW ENTERENURES belonging as they sometimes do to the families of bureaucarts,army officres,and members of professional classes, sharing ties through education in ELTIE engerring and busniess shcools have forged news links between the political class,bureaureacy and state and privite capital.Thsi is new social compostion of class forces in our present political-economy-social order.
    Dr Kuamr David you have to take all theses facts into consideration of moveing for Dicatorship of our nation by ongoing regime.Other wise your theses will become illogic.

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    Professor your party started teh rot by the 1972 Consititution, why cry now from Hongkong

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    Hannibal Lecter, in “the innocence of the lambs” was a memorable role in a horror movie… that the writer refers to this character needs some reflection..

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      I mean “the silence of the lambs”, with Anthony Hopkins…

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    YES THE EXECUTIVE PRESIDENCY WHICH THE UPFA SWORE TO DO AWAY WITH IS WHAT THE MAN THRIVES ON. IT IS INDEED THE ROUTE CAUSE OF EVERY EVEIL IN THIS COUNTRY WITH THE INCUMBANT RESPOSIBLE

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