30 September, 2020

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How Constitution-Drafter Jayampathy Tries To Override The SLFP

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

The curtain falls today on the Constitutional Assembly debate on the Interim Report of the Steering Committee. So what happens now?

It doesn’t look good. The curious coincidence that the curtain falls roughly on the centenary of the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia should remind us, especially those Constitution makers of a left background, that what is happening on the street is quite as or even more important than what happens in the chambers. ‘The Street’ is as important or at certain points of time, more important than ‘The Suits’. As anyone who watches TV news knows, the mood on the street is of barely suppressed rage.

For a government that boasts of having won over the whole world, it is pathetic that none of its many friends, near and far, frequent visitors to our ports, have or can be counted upon to rush a tanker filled with good quality fuel, to ease the travails of a friendly administration in a mounting social emergency!

The Street is mad at the preoccupation of the government with Constitution making and focusing on the needs of ‘the Other’—pro-UNP big business and the assertively autonomy demanding, politically ‘pushy’ Tamil minority– rather than on the everyday existential needs (as Anton Balasingham used to put it) of the people; the provision of basic goods and services to the majority of the citizenry.

Anything can set off a riot which can turn rebellious. A push too far in the wrong direction at the wrong time on the controversial Constitution can be the single spark (‘Iskra’). Having a tame, semi-gentrified JVP as quasi-ally on the Constitution won’t help the government or stop a quick slide back to the late 1980s.

Unfortunately, it is clear from the latest statement of the main drafter of the new Constitution that the UNP-led United National Front is going to keep on moving recklessly forward towards the precipice. 

In an iconoclastic and whistle blowing interview on Derana 360, Dr. Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, former Minister of Justice and Buddha Sasana, named Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne and M. A. Sumanthiran as the co-framers/drafters of the new constitution, and assumed full responsibility for his revelation.

The next morning (Nov 7th) a leading daily carried an interview with Jayampathy Wickremaratne in which he displayed a sad and faded caricature of a trait which characterized his old party the LSSP in its heyday. The party’s theoreticians such as Doric de Souza and Hector Abhayavardhana were accused by detractors of “Trotskyist intellectual arrogance”. Jayampathy Wickremaratne displays the arrogance without the intellect. That utterly unwarranted and misplaced insouciant arrogance is dangerous in the current context of social anger, rising majoritarian hyper-nationalism and imminent electoral warfare including within the ruling coalition.

Jayampathy commences his interview graciously granting that he has “no issue” with President Sirisena’s proposed all-parties conclave “so long” as it doesn’t interfere with the Constitutional Assembly process. In other words, the Constitution is being drafted by someone whose support for the President’s political decision-making is overtly conditional!

“Q: You are involved in constitution making through the Steering Committee. Now, President Maithripala Sirisena has proposed to call for an All Party Conference (APC). How do you view this?

A: It’s very important that there is the widest possible discourse on this subject. I will support any initiative taken to discuss the constitution making process, without undermining the process that has been initiated in Parliament. I have no issue as long as it doesn’t undermine the parliamentary process.”

So he, Jayampathy Wickremaratne has “no issue” with the President’s planned move “so long as it doesn’t undermine the parliamentary process”. That’s real big of him. Who on earth does Jayampathy think he is and who does he think is the leader of country– Ranil Wickremesinghe, Chandrika Kumaratunga or Mangala Samaraweera?  Does he think the President doesn’t know enough to make that decision and even if he decides to act in a manner that Jayampathy thinks “undermines the parliamentary process”, what on earth is Jayampathy going to do about it?

He then goes on to pontificate and obfuscate the situation about Swiss federalism.

“Q: There is an argument that Sri Lanka is too small to have a Federal structure. What is your response?

A: That is an old argument. It is probably older than your whole journalistic career. Then, what about Switzerland? In such a small country, you have strong Federal features. Switzerland is much smaller than Sri Lanka…”

As President Rajapaksa said to a spokesperson of the Tamil Diaspora who made the same point as Jayampathy at a meeting in Geneva (at which I was present), Switzerland has 23 communes and Sri Lanka has 23 districts. If the Tamil politicians are willing to have the district as the unit of devolution rather than the province, then we in Sri Lanka too can consider the example of Swiss federalism, but otherwise it is utterly irrelevant to the discussion and should not be brought up as an example.    

What is most significant are his remarks on the Executive Presidency, coming AFTER and NOTWITHSTANDING the detailed statements in the Constitutional Assembly debate by SLFP seniors Nimal Siripala de Silva and Susil Premjayanth, representing the main partners of the UNP in the Yahapalana coalition. Jayampathy pontificates:

A: “…What will happen if the Executive Presidency isn’t abolished? On the Executive Presidency, they will be two power centres- the President and the Prime Minister. There won’t be a problem as long the relationship between the present President and the Prime Minister continues. If that relationship is soured under a new President and a new Prime Minister, there will be clashes between the executive and Parliament. This has to be resolved.”   

Q. How do you view the abolition of the Executive Presidency?

A: People have been discussing it for 40 years. People gave a clear verdict on January 8, 2015. Now, it is up to us to implement that.   

Q But, the party headed by President Sirisena himself is opposed to it. What is your response?

A: It is unfortunate. But, then, I heard Ministers Dilan Perera and Dayasiri Jayasekara saying that the parties shouldn’t ask for the pound of flesh from the stomach. We need to find a formula, a win-win situation. I have no doubt that Maithripala Sirisena is of the same view that the Executive Presidency should be abolished; that there won’t be another presidential election. That is what he said on every platform during the last Presidential Elections. We, in the United Left Front, have proposed. In fact, our party instructed me to go public regarding this. We propose a win-win situation. We pass the Constitution on the basis that the President is elected by Parliament. We, or the parties agreeing on the constitution, should also agree on electing President Sirisena for a second term.”

Jayampathy Wickremaratne doubtless thinks that President Sirisena, the SLFP and the people of the country are fools. 

Firstly, he doesn’t say if the President elected by parliament will be an Executive President, as in South Africa.

Secondly, he forgets that devolving much more power to already semi-autonomous Provinces (as he proposes) while there is an overarching Executive Presidency is quite different—and much safer—than such devolution once the Presidency is downsized and elected by parliament rather than deriving its power and legitimacy from the people of the country as a whole. Let alone a generous replacement, even the present 13th amendment without the overarching Executive Presidency, will be tantamount to federalism, or in our case, a dangerously centrifugal ethno-federalism!

Thirdly, Jayampathy’s abolitionist formula eliminates any political office being elected by the whole of the country and thereby from representing the whole of the country. Instead all we shall have are representatives of parts of the country. The whole will be undermined and atomized.

Fourthly, Jayampathy deliberately overlooks the fact that a President elected by the Parliament will be dependent upon and the captive of the minority parties, especially the Tamil nationalist parties in that Parliament.

Fifthly, his formula undermines economic stability and rapid growth which was JR Jayewardene’s rationale for the introduction of a nationally elected executive Presidency “free from the whims and fancies of the legislature”.   

Sixthly, he ignores the possibility/probability that the UNP and its minority allies in Parliament will double-cross President Sirisena and the SLFP, and pick their own candidate.

We must know where all this dangerous nonsense comes from: the insidious Singapore Principles of 2013. The recent incarnation of the idea of abolishing the executive Presidency does not date back to the Maithripala Sirisena candidacy. His was an utterly ambiguous pledge. The recent revival of the ‘abolitionist’ slogan dates back to a conclave and a document dating from 2013, when Maithripala Sirisena was a loyal Minister of the Rajapaksa administration with no idea of breaking away and running for the country’s top post. The abolition of the Executive Presidency is in actuality, a vital part of an agreement between Mangala Samaraweera, MA Sumanthiran, Jayampathy Wickramaratne and representatives of the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), arrived at in Singapore in 2013. TamilNet (Thursday, 22 January 2015) released the text. The abolition of the Executive Presidency was a top priority, probably because Sumanthiran and the GTF knew that without it, any devolution including the existing 13A, would automatically federalize the country.

“Mangala Samaraweera came as a ‘beggar’ urging Tamil support for regime change and abolition of the executive presidency. It was 2013,” said one of the participants, reflecting on the Singapore meeting.’ revealed the TamilNet report.

The Interim Report as well as the points reiterated by Jayampathy Wickremaratne in his latest newspaper interview clearly reflect the agreed upon 10 point Singapore text, of which I reproduce what is most obviously salient to the Constitutional drafting today:

In describing the nature of the State what is important is the substance; the labels are secondary.

The Constitution shall be based on basic constitutional principles and values including sovereignty of the people, participatory democracy and supremacy of the Constitution which shall form an unalterable basic structure.

Power sharing shall be on the basis of self-rule and shared-rule within an undivided Sri Lanka.

The Executive Presidency shall be abolished and the form of government shall be Parliamentary.

The Republic of Sri Lanka shall be a secular state. The Foremost place to Buddhism and equal status to other religions shall be assured.”

So, is this the philosophy and concepts and are these the objectives of the proposed new Constitution? And is Jayampathy Wickremaratne who holds these national/state-debilitating views, to remain the main drafter after tomorrow’s final session?

What is made crystal clear by the latest Jayampathy interview is that this key drafter of the new Constitution reflects the views of those who regard the main partnership in the reform process, and the direction of the country, as NOT that between the UNP and the SLFP, but that between the UNP and the TNA!

Shouldn’t the drafting exercise from here on in, be handled by the only ‘third/intermediate force’ and therefore ‘balancer’ in the Assembly, the centrist-moderate SLFP-MS, which is also the formation closest to the President? Shouldn’t the drafting be only of a workable modification of the 13th amendment and the existing system of Provincial Councils?

And for the sake of safety, stability and sanity, shouldn’t the actual negotiations and drafting of a revised 13th amendment be handed over from the poseur and adventurist wrecker Jayampathy Wickremaratne, to the most educated and literate man in the Constitutional Assembly, an internationally acknowledged scholar and intellectual who has been closely involved as Gamini Dissanaike’s top official, in intricate negotiations on the ethno-constitutional reform issue since the 1980s: Dr. Sarath Amunugama?

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Latest comments

  • 6
    1

    Game over for Catalonia.
    Game over for Kurdistan.
    Game over for the new constitution!

    • 5
      0

      DJ Get a life! It seem that you would have liked to be the Constitution Drafter, but no one invited you to the present drafting process?!
      Fact is that even the most perfect New constitution would not work with the Culture of Corruption and money politics in Lanka today, where corrupt politicians Divide and Rule the masses (majority and minorities alike), by DISTRACTING them with Hate Speech and ethno-relgious political and numbers games.

      What Lanka needs today are New Politicians, Multicultural education and policies, and a New Political culture with Zero tolerance for Corruption. We do not need yet another new constitution, which is itself a Distraction from the stinking political culture that is the biggest obstacle to and INCLUSIVE and Equitable development for all citizens, regardless of ethnicity or religion.

      A New Constitution now is total waste of time at this stage and the people on the street know this.So why do you want to set up a new constitution drafting committee in the name of the SLFP with deadwood like Sarath Amunugama to give your version of the constitution legitimacy. Get a life DJ!

      • 1
        0

        How about instead of increasing the number of politicians (reember theire responsibility is to take political decisions and not to be the expert in everything) to get rid of at least that grade 10 failed 94 and reduce the parliament 130. When Ranil and MY3 take decisions why do we need 130 in a small country which we can govern with a very small govt.

    • 7
      0

      Game over for your MARA murderers and plunderers. Cabinet approves Special High court for public murderers and plunderers to expedite judicial process. Another Rajapakshe was thrown out especially for this.

      The bud will blossom within the four walls of Welikada, very soon.

      Don’t worry we shall send Bond 007 also there.

    • 2
      0

      Sri lanka is not for educated people or people who can think. It is for Maids earning money in east. for youth earning money in Korea because, politicians need money to spend and politicians. Educated should leave the country for greener pasturers because, there are better countries.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 7
    2

    Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka,

    RE: How Constitution-Drafter Jayampathy Tries To Override The SLFP

    Former President Mahinda Rajpaksa’s stolen public loot hart at work through his cronies, based on the frequency of the cronie’s articles.

    The big question is what is the compensation? Monetary value today, or later on in the form of future postings?

    • 0
      10

      Have you seen Rajapaksha loot money or his croonies? If so, please come forward with evidence. [Edited out]

      • 6
        0

        Dear Shenal,

        “Have you seen Rajapaksha loot money or his croonies?”

        I was not there when they were stealing and doling out to cronies.

        However, there are those who were there killed, and those who wrote about them were killed as well.

        Just take a note of the wealth accumulated by the Rajapaksa’s and cronies, over the years, and ask the question, how did they amass so much wealth.

        Lasntha, Ekliyagoda, Neil Kanthan, etc, and does it ring a bell?

        • 2
          2

          Motta amarasiri: Instead of taking cheap targets, ask why Horapalanaya can not arrest any thief. Even if they arrest, they stay in the hospital and come out. Some thieves, post pone the court case until the next govt comes and after that acquitted or case thrown out because of technicalities. AG’s depart do not go to courts after that. Ranil appointed his Own FCID and now he is thinking whether he should go there eventhough he is the Grand thief alibaba. LAw enforcement can not arrest him. HOw strong law enforcement is. Why they should be there with paid salaries. the whole system is a joke. Name any one. Everyone and everything is the same. LAck of leadership and a broken downsystem.

  • 3
    0

    “The Foremost place to Buddhism and equal status to other religions shall be assured.”
    This is a contradictory statement.
    Foremost Place to Buddhism
    Equal Status to other religions.
    so not as Equal as Buddhism? basically all other religion have equal status…as second class pariah status …except Buddhism which is foremost.
    what an eye wash

    • 0
      7

      So what, when in Sri Lanka one should learn to respect traditional customs. If one cannot, he should leave the country for good.

      • 9
        0

        Shenali

        “So what, when in Sri Lanka one should learn to respect traditional customs. If one cannot, he should leave the country for good.”

        When are you leaving?

        • 0
          4

          Veddha,

          Right after you.

          • 3
            0

            Shenali

            “Right after you”

            There would be an UN official accompanying you back to your ancestral homeland in South India. That would be part of the expatriation deal that would be negotiated in the fullness of time.

            South Indians are nice people, and their culinary is good, you will fit in well with the people, ………

      • 3
        0

        Shenal: HOw can we expect protecting or respecting traditional customs. When the president does not have a one particular religion, when PM (he is a former Catholic) doesnot have one specific religion. Understand, whether MODI, TRUMP, QUEEN go to every church temple in the country because they want votes. On the other hands, there are buddhists monks who want to support any politician if they get some recognition. So, the trainign of monks also has gone down. there are so many paraswayas. why ? did buddha want all these ?

    • 7
      0

      Put another way,

      ‘All religions are equal, Buddhism is more equal’.

      How about:

      The Republic of Sri Lanka shall be a secular state. Full stop.

      Free Buddhism from the grubby attention of scheming devious politicians. I am quite sure that thus freed Buddhism will flourish and regain its inherent dignity.

      • 2
        0

        Spring Koha

        “The Republic of Sri Lanka shall be a secular state. Full stop.”

        RELIGION in The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka shall be a personal choice, as the choice for opium, as RELIGION is the opium of the masses. Full stop.

    • 0
      0

      Is constitution a law. if so, how do they write that kind of crap and go and defend that in a court of law. Rajash think about that ? It is like children wrote it.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 0
    0

    Careful DJ

    ….’the mood on the street is of barely suppressed rage….’

    You couldn’t wait for a moment like this – a godsend. Captain Cool was an accident waiting to happen. The Peter Principle manifest before our very eyes. Evidence if ever needed that most of our ministers are appointed on the basis, not of their competence to get the job done, but for their ability to suck-up to the one who calls the shots. Alas, Captain Not-So-Cool-Now will not suffer – not immediately anyway. Neither will he name the phantom who asked for a bribe (or was it the other way around?).

    • 5
      0

      Spring Koha

      Does a person who has never done a honest day’s work for honest day’s pay understand Peter Principle?

      • 2
        1

        Dear Native Vedda

        I write as I know, then, fingers crossed, my readers will understand.

        Our Sri Lankan ministerial chamber is full of living examples of the Peter Principle. But as we all know, lack of ability or incompetence has never got in the way of appointing a toady.

  • 1
    0

    Basically Dayan go around and around and come back to one point that is the land has to be handed over to most corrupted. ruthless murderous Mahinda Family to completely destroy democracy and establish akingdom for Mahinda Family.

    • 0
      0

      Ajith: It is like you Tamils whio cannot escape the tribal politics and Casteism. Tamils are a tribe which speak a different language. so many old societies are like that. E.g. Africa.

  • 2
    0

    At the SWRD B assassination trial the plot was revealed. Somarama was persuaded by Buddharakirtha to carry it out. Buddharakirtha was to blame a Tamil, set off a riot of the 1958 type and take control of the country. The plan failed by a whisker.

    Dayan is desperate. His off guard remark ~ “……Anything can set off a riot which can turn rebellious…..” implies that he is ready to try this method.
    He even sets the riot rating ~ “….a quick slide back to the late 1980s….”.
    Dayan has traversed all the way from belonging to a Tamil liberation front through to riot-ring master.
    Is this his way of achieving a separate state? Which side is he on? He himself does not know.

  • 5
    0

    Game over for your MARA murderers and plunderers. Cabinet approves Special High court for public murderers and plunderers to expedite judicial process. Another Rajapakshe was thrown out especially for this.

    The bud will blossom within the four walls of Welikada, very soon.

    Don’t worry we shall send Bond 007 also there.

    • 1
      0

      the same yahapalanaya could not arrest either PEnthouse Ravi, Arjun Mahendran, Aloysius or the leader of the gang Ranil. there are many MPS who got houses, money, before that FCID winds up. IT looks if MY# saves them they will save MY3 and his progeny.

  • 0
    0

    Didn’t Dayan at UN override the instructions from the Govt by promising actions which did not have Govt approval and got kicked out?

  • 3
    0

    DJ is not writing the truth. I think, when Ranil selected the same constitution document that CBK got British Firm to write in 1994 and a got US fim to rewrte it in 2017 (to make US happy at the expense of the maids earning money in the middle east). In order to make LTTE rump living overseas happy he chose a Christian Tamil living in colombo and a LSSPer who is looking for a way to earn some wealth in his old age, as Sri lanka is the best country for politicians get fat the way they tried to approve the constituion is completely a fraud. I don’t think MY3 ever talked about a constitution. HE talked about abolishing exe. presidency. Now, he just wasitng time like a egg protecting bird and the parliament elected PM is running HAVOC in the country. Jayampathi Wicramarathne also wants to make the president a PArliament elected. why should people should reduce their power more when the thieves are runing the country and they do not seem to stop it. I can not understand why Sri lankan people are this silent instead of chasing out incomptetant thieves.

  • 3
    0

    As it is many do not believe in Religion. The numbers seem to grow. No matter the Govt trying to foster Buddhism, Religion will be archaic in another 100 yrs or so.

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