12 December, 2017

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Is It A Crime To Call The President An Ekadhipathiya?

By Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

Basil Fernando

On the 19th October 2014 BBC Sinhala Service broadcast, the United National Party Member of Parliament Ranjan Ramanayake, complained that there was a plan to assassinate him due to his participation in a televised debate. On air, he had provided details of the information he had received regarding the alleged assassination plan. Replying to these allegations, Cabinet Minister of Co-operatives and Internal Trade, Johnston Fernando, said that Ranjan Ramanayake had called the President – who had saved the nation – an ekathipathiya (authoritarian ruler) and that this was the reason for the commotion. Minister Fernando, however, dismissed the allegation of an attempt to assassinate Ramanayake.

The important question is whether it is criminally wrong to have an opinion to the effect that the President is an authoritarian ruler and to express that opinion in public. The impression that Minister Johnston Fernando gave was that to express such an opinion is absolutely wrong and it is not wrong to aggressively retaliate against a person who expresses his or her opinion.

RanjanHowever, there are many others who have held the same opinion and publicly declared their opposition to the authoritarian form of rule that is being implemented in Sri Lanka and called for the need to do everything possible to bring back a democratic way of governance. Most recently, such expressions were expressed at a public meeting held by the “Hela Urumaya” party, which is a party in partnership with the government, and which has attracted large number representatives that hold a wide variety of perspectives within the political spectrum of Sri Lanka. All of those attending the meeting were of the opinion that the present presidential system of government has destroyed Sri Lankan democracy and that this system is kept alive only for the benefit of the person who holds the position of Executive President. They demonstrated their complete opposition to the existing constitutional framework of governance in Sri Lanka by presenting a draft of an amendment to the Constitution, suggesting drastic change to all vital aspects of the Constitution. Strangely enough, President Mahinda Rajapaksa himself did not disagree with the open condemnation of the Constitution; instead, he said that “he, more than any other person, wanted to change this constitution”. He went on to say that he will do so only if, those who are still calling for a separate state will abandon such a claim. Thus, going by his own public claims, the President himself agrees that the Constitution is not compatible with democracy – which, of course, is not a new position. Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaranatunga already promised this in 1994 and President Mahinda Rajapaksa re-affirmed the commitment to abolish it in 2005. There was also the near unanimous opinion of the whole of the Parliament in 2001 when the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was adopted in order to control the damage done by the 1978 Constitution to the democratic structure of the country.

However, what is pertinent to note is not the correctness, or otherwise, of calling the President an ekadhipathiya (authoritarian ruler), but to safeguard the right of any person to have an opinion to that effect and to be able to freely express it. That is all that the opposition Member of Parliament Ranjan Ramanayake has done. And, according the MP, doing so has provoked a situation in which, as per the information he received, there is now a scheme to assassinate him.

It is also important to note that these incidents are taking place on the eve of a possible election. Will this particular incident be an omen of the type of election that is going to be held? Will those who will face this election with the singular cry – for the abolition of the authoritarian style of governance and its replacement with a democratic style of a Constitution – be treated with the same anger and aggression?

Elections are about opinions. Two or more sets of opinions are placed before the people, and the people are expected to consider these alternative opinions in an environment of peace, and then be able to express their opinions without fear. If such an environment of peace and such a possibility of expressing a vote without fear do not exist in Sri Lanka, then there cannot be a free and fair election.

The question that is placed before the people is to decide, through a free and fair election, whether the President and the current system should be rejected in favour of a democratic scheme of governance or if they should remain as they are. If that question cannot be asked, discussed, and decided upon, without resorting to violence, then talking about the elections will become farcical, in a manner similar to what has already happened to so many other vital aspects of Sri Lankan life.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    1

    Don’t worry Basil, you’ve been on the UNP hit list for over 20 years and you’re still alive!

    • 2
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      Still alive to continue to undercut the GOSL.
      He knoweth all. Never wrong.
      The first & only torture claimant to get PR in HK.

      • 1
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        Perhaps this might be a good time for the UNP to refute Fernando’s claims once and for all. After all, he’s made a good living out of them.

  • 6
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    Ranjan Ramanayake needs to be careful . This family is used to killing people. Rajapaksa was hiding in Kshenukas grandfathers house ,after his first murder.
    Johnston Fernando behaved attrociously at the so called talk show. People of Kurunegala are the worst Kind of brainless wonders of Asia. 8th grade unqualified ethanol King Johnston. The biggest rogue in the cabinet behind the Rajapaksa’s of course. He asks for 5 million euros as commission off a project, the investors run!
    This uneducated thug had the odacity to ask for files!!! What a joke that was.
    JONNY JONNY GONG THADIYA THIS IS FOR YOU
    1+1=? If the answe is 2,3,or even 5 it is not good but….. It is a wee bit difficult to point fingers.
    WHEN THE ANSWER BECOMES 500 ! Ha ha ha who needs files Johnny ? Most people can add

  • 4
    1

    Jonniya was not alone, There was the Raththarang Hora too, this type always come in twos, jokers, Horas and street thugs. Any programe on TV you watch, you will see two them, if they can’t have a buddy by their side they won’t come. they have made their bucks, the richest people today in this part of the world,they thrive because of their crude sycophancy to the great Tsunami Horas, so they’ll even kill, That is the adulation they have to the Ekadhipathi.

  • 0
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    That guy looks like another showee with the unbuttoned shirt. Hambantota Mayor Eraj Fernando looked more hansom with that gun and the unbuttoned shirt than this guy. I would vote for him than this guy!

  • 2
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    “The important question is whether it is criminally wrong to have an opinion ….”
    So says basil. Important to whome?

    It is not criminally to wrong to have any opinion, as he very well knows. Think of having opinions against the Pope, or contradicting the church doctrine. You know what happened to Father Tissa Balasuriya. Did any of the human rights NGOs protest?

    So, does Mr. Basil F call the Pope an Ekadhipathiya”?

    It is only IF your actions threaten a powerful man or an institution that the powerful man will act against him. Look at Basil, or thisaranee G. they have been ranting against Rajapaksas but Rajapaksa has not bothered about them. That is because, as far as rajapaksa is concerned, basil or Tisaranee are no bodies.

    But if some powerful person were to move against the rajapaksas, then he will move to check mate that powerful person. If the BBS, or the TNA were to take actions that could threaten him, Rajapaksas will act. They have done it to Fonseka. But they will ignore the nobodies who will go on barking.

    So all these discussions in CT are partly because people like Basil have to write this sort of thing to obey their pay masters, and also for the amusement of its readers, and nothing else.

    • 0
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      Ane apoi bodin. Think before you make statements. If Thisaranee was reachable. Rajapaksa would have put her 6 feet under. I do not know about Basil. I am pretty sure he is not writing for money. Maybe you bark for money. There are people who have respect and love for the country religions etc. There are others who use these slogans to plunder he countries wealth.

  • 0
    1

    What you say is true. However this practise was not originated by this govt. Do you know a person called Wickramabahu Karunaratne or for that matter a person called Late Prof Sucharitha Gamlath. in 1977, if I remember right both were lecturers at the Universities. So was Kumar Rupasinghe. How did they loose their jobs? Gamlath called JRJ not a “dictator, but called him a fool. A very accurate description and what happened he lost his job.So did the other two.How did Colvin R de Silva’s son in law Sarath Muttetuwegama die and why?

    This is what the Executive Presidency with no chance of being brought to book does to Presidents.

    It is unfortunate that the Sinhala Buddhist Modayas vote with these people.Blame the safron robed thugs and Mahanayakes for that.

  • 1
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    Basil states: “However, what is pertinent to note is not the correctness, or otherwise, of calling the President an ekadhipathiya (authoritarian ruler), but to safeguard the right of any person to have an opinion to that effect and to be able to freely express it……..”

    An interesting comment seeing as how he refuses to allow anyone to speak out against the management of his own organisation!

  • 1
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    All this talk about a plan to assassinate RR is for cheap publicity. I do not believe that MR will ever go down to such low levels to kill a Garandiya that is holding a Coconut shell in it’s mouth to show that he is a Cobra. If this threat is real why don’t he make a complain to the Police and call for an inquiry. He is also just like his leader Ranil who will make stories for cheap publicity.

    • 0
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      Don
      In Sri Lanka Opposition MPs are attacked when they go to port, and they are called to give explanation by the Court.

      Do you really think that the Police will take action on a complaint?
      .

  • 0
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    Eka Adhipathi. Period.

  • 1
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    Good point Mr. Fernando. The president should be flattered by being called an “Ekadhipathiya” rather than being called a Horra-Thakkadiya! when there is irrefutable proof than been called by MP. Kabir Hashim and others as TSUNAMI HORA!!!

    • 1
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      Walagemba, It is easy to just pass insults however meaningless. The author is fully aware of this.

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