24 April, 2019

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Its Time UNP Takes To Serious Politics In Constitution Drafting

By Kusal Perera

Kusal Perera

The UNP as the main opposition in parliament for almost 19 years for now, except for the 02 plus years when Wickramasinghe was Prime Minister during 2001 December to 2004 April,  slid into more and more factionalism in the party, over electoral defeats. With in-fighting done outside the party, the UNP lost its public image and credibility too. Faced with frustrated revolts, Wickramasinghe used the party constitution to impose heavy strictures on internal party democracy at every turn and came out as an unquestionable, authoritarian leader for 06 years to come.

This political party leadership with all its dictatorial regalia, has now come up with a draft sketch of a proposal for a “democratic” Constitution and boasts, it has space for people’s participation in completing the draft. The Constitution proper would be presented for a referendum it says, IF and WHEN the UNP comes to power. According to party General Secretary Attanayake, how the UNP would come to power at the next general election is by organising people to plead with God Vishnu at every Hindu kovil in the island (in a statement made to Ran FM – 03 June, 2013 morning). The UNP leadership is no doubt at its lowest and most primitive, irrational level of the Sinhala mindset. Followers and not leaders, living with intellectual poverty, they have an equally primitive sketch of a constitution, put out for discussion too.

Why did the UNP come up with such a draft sketch ? Was there any urgency or necessity for such a sketch ? Of course there is a need to revamp the present Constitution, which is now far different to what was actually adopted in 1978 with an Executive Presidency and far worse too. It has unsolvable contradictions between different Amendments brought for different reasons. Some may not even allow, interpretations possible. That necessity therefore for a new Constitution has been met by the APRC Final Report handed over to the President in June 2009, which is no mere sketch. The APRC Final Report is also the only detailed draft for constitutional making since independence 63 years ago that has with it a Sinhala political consensus on abolition of presidency, a compromise on the “unitary State structure”, on devolution and for a new legislature.

Why did not the UNP take it up, if it actually wants a new constitution for democratic change ? Technically one could say, they were not in the APRC process and therefore no party to its Final Report. So was the TNA. The TNA yet can not refuse to sit for any discussion on the APRC Final Report as that has far reaching Constitutional proposals for devolution with a broad political consensus from South and beyond the 13 Amendment proper. So is it for the UNP, if it really wants to answer such political issues within a democratic State structure. But the UNP does not go that way.

This sketch for a draft constitution proves, the UNP leadership is only trying to pre-empt the proposal for the abolition of the Executive Presidency patronised by the Sinhala dissidents of the UNP, with Rev. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera kept at the head of the campaign. Through Sobhitha Thera they had managed to give their “Movement for a Just Society” a fairly independent façade, a few middle class professionals dragged in too. In a political context the Sinhala urban polity shows signs of tiring out with this Rajapaksa regime, Wickramasinghe fears the Sobitha Thera campaign for abolition of presidency may propose a “Common Candidate” for the next presidential hustings, in outfoxing him. This sketch for a draft constitution therefore is a paranoiac reaction.

Any Constitution has to be a social contract for legitimacy. If any section of the society does not accept it, then there would not be any legitimacy for the Constitution to be the “supreme law” of the land. But in most majoritarian societies, when a minority section (the Tamil people) refuses to accept the constitution, the majority (Sinhala and Buddhists by now) takes it as their right to safeguard the constitution though with no social contract for it to be held as legitimate. All three words, “oppression – repression – suppression” then become key words in majority (Sinhala) politics, accepted as the right of the majority to hold on to a “people’s sovereignty” there isn’t any more.

That is where we are, as a fractured nation and that is the main and the most important reason, for a new constitution. To renegotiate a new social contract, for peace and stability as a single, sovereign country. Any draft sketch therefore needs to have credible space for a new social contract with every social segment in Sri Lanka.

Has this draft sketch put out by the UNP, such possibility ? To begin with, it has not even gone through a serious discussion within its own membership. There was no report of the UNP parliamentary group discussing it. Even its leading figures in the Western PC did not know the contents, the day after the launch (29 May). LG councillors are much more ignorant about all these. Wickramasinghe’s definition of party democracy stands as, what ever he proposes or launches is adopted by the Working Committee and that becomes the party. This draft sketch is therefore accepted as the party draft, though most can not defend or discuss it in public. It is strictly a leadership affair, but promises to make it a public constitution.

Far worse is their populist approach and the contradictions and confusions they’ve got entrenched in. While proposing abolition of the Executive Presidency, Wickramasinghe does not accept the Executive Presidency as the main problem. In fact this draft sketch, justifies the Executive Presidency. [quote] The Second Republican Constitution was adopted in 1978 to provide for the economic, political and social development of the country. It achieved the expected objectives including the socio-economic transformation of the country, to a great extent.[The two opening sentences in Preamble-from www.unp.lk official website / unquote].

UNP’s only reason to abolish the Executive Presidency is, [quote] During the last several years under Mahinda Rajapaksa’s regime, the office of Executive President has been completely desecrated, by destroying all the checks and balances that were built into the system. The dignity and the integrity of that office has been reduced to a despicable state………. [ibid / unquote] The problem therefore is Mahinda Rajapaksa and not the Executive Presidency. If that is the only reason, then it is only a matter of replacing Rajapaksa and restoring the lost glory. Why then abolish the Executive Presidency ?  Such is the political stupidity of the UNP leadership.

The rest is no different. Under the heading “Legislature”, its clause 02.5 on cross overs or any who looses the party membership, loosing the elected seat, is again playing into popular sentiments. There is in society a wrong thinking that “cross overs” and “buy overs” from the opposition into the government fold, is one huge folly in the present Constitution. The UNP is trying to capitalise on that social fault. The 1978 Constitution does not allow any cross-overs.  Dr. Colvin R. de Silva, the architect of the first republican constitution of 1972 wrote, [quote] There will be no by-elections: a vacancy will be filled by resorting to the lists put forward at the elections, and it being awarded to the next in order on the list. There can be no cross-over or even changing of parties, because it entails automatic unseating. Membership and party proportions are frozen for the life of a Parliament: the constitutional maximum is six years. [Constitution for Dictatorship – July 1978 / unquote].

Colvin was not wrong. That is what the 1978 Constitution has. But large numbers could still cross over from the UNP and retain their elected seat in parliament. The UNP could not unseat any one who crossed over from Wijayapala Mendis, Nanda Mathew, Dr. Sarath Amunugama and Susil Munasinghe in November 1999 and then Bogollagama who crossed over to Chandrika Kumaratunge‘s government in November, 2004, Karu Jayasuriya and his 17 member entourage that crossed over in 2007 January to Mohan Lal Grero who crossed over to this Rajapaksa government, again in late November, 2011. The fault is in the UNP Constitution that has no democracy and no natural justice in their disciplinary procedure and not in the Republican Constitution. Then CJ Sarath N Silva picked on that deficiency in the party constitution to allow cross overs to stay on. UNP leadership therefore should stop playing for empty public applause and have their party constitution in order that makes Clause 02.5 in their draft sketch irrelevant.

Surprisingly this draft sketch influenced by the fair sex has a special clause for “Women’s Rights”. But this is a clause that could go under a well written Article on Fundamental Rights, which is not there in this draft sketch, a very conspicuous omission. So are provisions for “Right to Information” (R2I). Sri Lanka can not go any further in governance, unless its citizens have the R2I. In India, R2I has become a strong tool with the ordinary people, getting their daily issues moving and challenging local corruption. Very much at Panchayat and LG levels.

The biggest omission, or rather the racist commission in this draft sketch is that when it is developed into a new Constitution it leaves very little or no space for a new social contract with its pre defined nature of the State. It is already said, the State is not going to be secular. The State would accept all religious rights, but would also treat Buddhism with preference. “Buddhism will be given the foremost place……” says Clause 01.2 of this draft sketch. That while also guaranteeing the State would be “Unitary”. Where does this leave the minority, the Tamil and Muslim people ? The Christian and Muslim faiths, who now face Sinhala Buddhist mobs attacking their religious places ? It is this constitutional phrase, “Buddhism will be given the foremost place……” that gives the “upper hand” for Sinhala Buddhist extremism to dictate terms in violating the space for a much needed social contract, for peace, law and order and socio economic stability.

Within such racist guarantees, what relevance, what meaning would vague statements in the UNP draft sketch on Provincial Councils hold ? Experience, not so ancient and not any different says, this is plain “kindergarten bluff”. UNP can not dodge issues, if it really wants to make some headway in electoral politics, where the minority votes also has a say. Before they make the rounds with this contradictory and racially bias sketch of a draft, they would have to take a clear public position on what different leaders in the Rajapaksa regime say on PCs. What will they support, the JHU stand, or the Weerawansa stand on PCs ? Or, what Gotabhaya says ? This Rajapaksa regime has kick started a public dialogue on PCs. UNP can not be out of that debate and without a clear position. That position is what should be in their draft sketch, for others to comment on.

As it is, the UNP is evading such dialogue with their draft sketch, which further erodes credibility. A political leadership that can not say clear and plain what it intends doing, is no political leadership worth a vote, at any election. It is therefore time for the UNP to be serious in politics, if they have any intention of an electoral comeback.

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Latest comments

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    Kusal, Ranil is a loser and a DICTATOR as you know and you are spot on that RW is trying to distract folk from his unprincipled clinging to power and dictatorship in the UNP and hence has brought out a red herring in the form of a so-called new constitution, also because running Scared of Sobitha Thero’s proposals..

    We Lankan citizens must FORGET about Ranil and the UNP and work with Sobitha and the joint opposition to make Chandrika Kumaratunge Bandaranayake the next President of Lanka and – send the corrupt and criminal Rajapassa brothers packing to the Hague..
    Don’t waste you breath writing to Ranil who is morally corrupt and unprincipled..

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      Ahhhh ! Chandrika again ? What a catastrophe!!! Tested and proved a miserable failure. Stop thinking and betting on rusted individuals. Lets talk about a good programme.
      AS

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      Agreed! Ranil is a shameless, unprincipled, corrupt loser! Forget about the UNP and its second generation idiots – particularly the foolish Sajith whose brains are up his ass!

      Kusal, us Colombo citizens need to wake up and protest that our city which is being turned into a Casino-military zone with army camps and now Kerry Packer’s – the Aussi Casino king’s – planned sky scraper which is to be called Crown Colombo!
      What a bloody insult to Colombo – its history, architecture and culture by the rotten rent-seeking and corrupt and uncultured and uneducated Rajapassa brothers and sons!

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        Kusal time to kick off the CBK for President campaign.. now that there is no bar on number of presidential term limits.. It would be a brilliant move to divide the SLFP and unite the opposition. A page out of MR own book..
        Chandrika is the best bet to get rid of the corrupt criminal Rajapassa family – better than Ranil Wickramasinghe the dictator, Sajith the brain dead clown, Sarath Fonseka the other war criminal etc. Chandrika has great charisma and is a superb orator, also will get women voters moving again..

        Chandrika one hopes has learned a lesson from the last time she clung shamelessly to power and will not repeat this time..
        The SLFP will back her and so will the joint opposition as the BEST OF A BAD LOT – in the absence of another viable candidate!

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          Yes, brilliant! Our search for the Common opposition Presidential Candidate with the moral leadership of Sobitha et al. is over!
          I am no Chandrika fan but she does seem the best option to SAVE Lanka and SLFP from the Rajapassa family of corrupt rent seekers and give Ranil the other dictator a kick up the ass!

          Even though CBK made a mess last time around – with the help of the LTTE – which resulted in the Hambantota Rajapassa scum of the earth taking over the party and country she would be better now!

          Now that the LTTE is gone and an older and wiser CBK would be a real option – I’d vote her!

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            Chandrika was not a good WAR PRESIDENT but she will be a great PEACE PRESIDENT for Lanka.. the island will have a new dawn..

            CBK understands the issues and has the intellect, education and knowledge of multiculturalism and liberal pluralism necessary to address the minority issues and RECONCILIATION.. unlike the corrupt and uneducated Rajapassa brothers and sons who like the LTTE can only militarize the country and run corruption rackets..
            CBK also has the charisma and is a superb orator..

            Set a thief to catch a theif. Rajapassa and Prabakaran are both thieves and criminals. this is why one criminal got the other.. Better people do not have such blood on their hands .. the wheel of Samsara is turning..

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              Cool.. the wheel of sansara is turning and churning the 2 dictators of Lanka – MR and RW – but CBK will need to be careful or she will be eliminated by this pair…

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              Chandrika for Prez and Rosy Senanayake for PM!

              An women headed joint opposition to the corrupt and criminal Rajapassa mafia – working with Sobitha and Co!

              Voila the winning team!

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    There is no need for a dialogue on 13 amendment. Just scrap it. It is wise for UNP to keep out of this useless devolution debate. It is not going anywhere.

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    1. Ranil’s dictatorship within the party is better than a democracy from an empty-headed political fashion model.

    2. Ranil doesnt make political lobbyist his friends (ex.Kusal)

    3. Failing to appreciate UNP’s timely reform proposala is a shame.

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    RW who styles himself as a constitutional genius, seems to be the sole author of this draft, none other. Probably he read this to a few of his inner circle who added a few things here and there. Later it was presented to the UNP who seemed to be in the dark about all this.

    I strongly suspect that RW is doing the hatchet job for MR to derail the efforts of the NMSJ. So it is fitting that the Ven Sobitha requested them to discuss this with MR himself. MR is no doubt quite certain of the outcome if RW contests the Presidiential Elections.

    The greatest service RW can do to the nation is to stand down and allow democratic discourse and policy decisions in the UNP. He should stop interfering with the membership. The way he and TA behave is as if they are the lackeys of MR.

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    Constitutions in Sri Lanka have now become bulletins.

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    it doesnt matter sinhalese vote or tamils vote. by hook or by crook the media and every interlectuals in this country must work hard to bring UNP back. journalists in the calibre of kusal perera must support the UNP in every possible ways unconditionally.
    tem mahinda rajapaksas are not equal to one ranil wickramasinghe.
    UNP must be elected to power no matter what. RW has to take a dictator stance because he doesnt want the UNP to fall into the wrong hands.
    this hopeless rouge regime must go fast. every culprits, criminals, murderous, rapists, thives, land grabers, treasure hunters, drug dealers brought must be punished.
    whoever support this regime is an enemy or a traitor.

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      Dream on Dude! The UNP is dead in the water! Ranil has killed it and Sajith buried it!

      CHANDRIKA BANDARANAYAKE KUMARATUNGE is the WOMAN FOR THE JOB OF DEFEATING RAJAPASSA and ROLLIN BACK MILITARIZATION OF THE COUNTRY and restoring democracy and abolishing the corrupt culture of dictatorship that pervades the rotten POLITICAL PARTIES and POLITICAL CULTURE!

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        i dont mind even the Satan, Toots, if he could chase this rogues away. What I said about Ranil was my personal opinion.
        he is the righ tman to lead th4e country but its a hurculean task for him right now to winning an election because of his bad image created by his enemies.
        i personally dont like CBK but against this kekille & co, i love her. the bottom line is chasing this family dictators once and for all, i support anyone for that matter.

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    RANIL is not only dreaming…he’s sleep walking too.

    For a start he should incorporate the principles he has thought out for the COUNTRY ….to the PARTY constitution.

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    Ha..ha..ha..!! What a load of BS is this that this monkey has written? This is the worst criticism I have ever read in my life! It appears this Kusal fool is a paid laundry operator and mudslinger of someone may be of the regime itself.

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    For this imbecilic Kusal Perera and the buffalos who have pro-commented his bullshit post, their one and only problem in the country is Ranil, UNP and what UNP does or not! These bloody bastards are the sole culprits who are dragging this country to the grave yard. These bastards as well as the Madamulana Gankabarayos are on the payroll of the imperialists and LTTE diaspora and their contract is to create the suitable conditions for the IC and UN to make a decision on SL to carve out a separate state for minorities. All these BBS, Ravana, Ravaya, Weerasangili Panikkiyas, Champikaya, Hela Urumeeyo and other bastards are diligently working on these lines. The tampering and amputation of the 13A is the final nail on the coffin of Sinhalese bastards like Kusal and the morons who have commented here on his donkey lines. Wait and see a few more years, this land shall be ruined by IC and UN sanctions and invaded by India, and Chinese fuckers will abandon this after exploiting everything on it! If there is anyone on this country who can reverse this nose dive it is Ranil alone and these bastards are hell-bent on preventing Ranil from saving this country!

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      Darn right Terrance.
      What I could not understand was that all are blaming RW for losing elections for X number of times. How could he win when you dont vote for him, and stopping others too from voting too? Wasnt this same CBK dissolved a legitimately elected govt with the backing of the JVP. How come she is good now? Are they all again trying to paint a picture that Chandrika is an angel as they did when she was a presidential condidate?
      You all voted for this despot. Now you are in deep shit someway or the other, therefore you all want RW to make some magic overnight. He has to fight the rebellion in his own backyard at the same time fight against the regime. He is trying to convince the public but most of you think that RW has no backbone. RW will never do something illegal. thats his weakness. He believes in democratic means.
      What do you want him to do? Win an election without your support?

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    Sinhalese Buddhists are the extreme mentally retards in the world! That is a fact. And what made these buffalos become what they are? It is m [|Edited out] like Kusal Perera, Don Stanley, Dinuk, Dodo, Dude, China Doll, Muditha, Kapila, Safa, Toots, commando695 et al who are writing dog-shit for the consumption of the brainless imbeciles in the country who have made this nation the donkeys they are! Any cockroach who believes the filth this Kusal mutt has written and propped up by the named Gasgembas become brain-dead.

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    [Edited out] True that RW is not playing to the gallery. But should he being a principled leader stoop to that level? Can any one forget the revival of economy during the very short period he was PM from 2001 Dec. Has some one ever heard he has robbed the country? What has been proposed by UNP is not a Constitution, but only a constitutional framework. How can it be RW’s authoritarian piece of work when it clearly mentions that it will be open for public opinion for a reasonable period before a subsequent referendum before adoption? Anti corruption provisions are proposed to be included the private sector as well with retrospective effect. Don’t Kusal and likes see the intention of bringing back the wealth of the nation robbed by those in power with the connivance of their private sector mafia? Why Kusal is so disturbed for giving Buddhism prominence? Buddhism preaches tolerance, respect to others, METHTHA, KARUNA, MIDITHA & UPEKSHA. Buddhism is the religion of the majority, it has to be prominent. Buddhism is not to suppress or destroy other believes. A handful of BALAWEGAYAS running havoc due to lawlessness in the country in the pretext of Buddhism is not a reason to deprive Buddhism its due place. Isn’t the mechanism provided to assure rule of law is commendable, where the method proposed to appoint judges to higher courts including Constitutional Court leaves no room for ruling regime to unduly influence. Lets give RW the opportunity to continue from where he was unethically forced out in 2004. At least we are assured of a leader who has no plans for his kith and kin, who has no record of robbing the public and who is not just a politician but a Statesman.

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    Exactly, Ajantha. When Sajith Premadasa, that nincompoop was peeping into every temple, Hindu kovil and every lavatory in the country under his Sasunana Aruna banana flower, these bastards never uttered a single word against or pro it. But the mere mention by Ranil of Buddhism has squeezed the ‘nut bags’ of these dogs! And now they are barking at Ranil! Now take the example of king Dharmashoka of India. He did not destroy other religions but disseminated Buddhism throughout the countries in the world as a result of which many countries became Buddhist countries! And he did it not by not giving “foremost place for Buddhism”! Therefore it is perfectly correct and logical for Ranil to give foremost place for Buddhism. And who cares except a stupid human being anyway whether the government gives or not gives prominence for his religion because religion is purely a private and spiritual matter which has got everything to do with ones heart and mind, may be some gods, beliefs and rituals etc. and nothing to do with government priorities!

    The most stupid and despicable writer Kusal says: “..Within such racist guarantees, what relevance, what meaning would vague statements in the UNP draft sketch on Provincial Councils hold ? Experience, not so ancient and not any different says, this is plain “kindergarten bluff”. UNP can not dodge issues, if it really wants to make some headway in electoral politics, where the minority votes also has a say. Before they make the rounds with this contradictory and racially bias sketch of a draft, they would have to take a clear public position on what different leaders in the Rajapaksa regime say on PCs. What will they support, the JHU stand, or the Weerawansa stand on PCs ? Or, what Gotabhaya says ? This Rajapaksa regime has kick started a public dialogue on PCs. UNP can not be out of that debate and without a clear position. That position is what should be in their draft sketch, for others to comment on..”

    This Gasgemba thinks Ranil is “racist” (OMG!) when he speaks on Buddhism, and this constitutional sketch “kindergarten stuff”! But for us what this buffalo has written is muck and garbage not worthy of even looked at let alone reading! UNP has put this draft sketch on public domain not for comment by monkeys like Kusal (what an insult to a Buddhist related word!) but for intelligent people who want to liquidate the despotic regime and form a democratic government. (A)Kusal, how you can best serve this country is to get lost and never write anything on public domain!

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