15 October, 2019

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Moderate Karu – The Best Choice For The UNP & The Country 

By Rasika Jayakody –

Rasika Jayakody

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, the most respected senior statesman in the UNP, announced this afternoon that he was ready to run for the presidency, with the expressed intention of abolishing the Executive Presidency within a limited period. 

The abolition of the Executive Presidency has been one of the most notable campaign promises in Sri Lanka since 1998. Most ironically, every candidate that has promised to abolish the Executive Presidency has emerged winner at every Presidential election since 1994. 

Despite these repeated promises to abolish the Executive Presidency— an office introduced by JR Jayewardene in 1978— it continues to hold appeal with successive leaders.

And while it is true that the 19th Amendment to the Constitution placed some checks and balances on the Executive Presidency, the amendment fell short of fully neutralizing the negative impact of the office, which has had a catastrophic effect on Sri Lankan politics since 1978. The Executive Presidency created an all-powerful President who operated above the country’s normal law, enjoying unhindered control over every aspect of the government and emasculating the Cabinet of Ministers and Parliament.

The Constitutional Crisis, which unfolded late last year, and the President’s recent move to place the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC) under the Ministry of Defence are but recent demonstrations of the need for a permanent remedy to the Executive Presidency. Although the 19th Amendment to the Constitution reduced the number of ministries that could be kept under the President, it placed no restrictions on the President’s ability to allocate subjects among them at his sole discretion. As a result, the SLRC, which has no relation to the functions of the Ministry of Defence by any stretch of the imagination, is currently controlled by the President in his capacity as the Defence Minister. 

Jayasuriya is the latest in a long list of Presidential aspirants to promise the total abolition of the Executive Presidency. However, his greatest challenge will be to convince the public that he has a genuine intention to keep this promise, unlike the last three Presidents who reneged on their mandates

To his credit, Jayasuriya is considered a man of strong moral character. His name is not tainted by corruption or criminal allegations and his forthright conduct as Speaker in the face of sustained adversity during the Constitutional Crisis was commended by right-thinking people across the world. His proven record, therefore, reignites the hopes of those advocating for the total abolition of the Executive Presidency and other reforms broadening the democratic space. 

Jayasuriya is also able to bring together minority parties and civil society groups inclined to support the UNP at the Presidential election. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the largest Tamil political group in the North, does not share a cordial relationship with Premadasa who remains vague and evasive on critical matters relating to reconciliation, post-war accountability and devolution of power. 

When asked about his views on the abolition of Executive Presidency, Sajith Premadasa, at a press conference on Tuesday morning, dodged the question by saying there had been no “scientific survey” on the matter.  In comparison to Premadasa, Jayasuriya had the gumption to say in no uncertain terms that he will only run for the Presidency, if the party accepts as the central theme of its election campaign the abolition of Executive Presidency. 

Civil society groups that operate in sync with the political campaign of the UNP also find a strong ally in Jayasuriya. When a delegation from the Civil Society and Trade Union Collective (CSTUC) met Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at Temple Trees on Saturday, they expressed positive sentiments about Jayasuriya. Several members of the group told this writer that they would unequivocally support Jayasuriya’s reformist agenda, as the latter seemed the best choice for candidacy of all the current aspirants. 

The support Jayasuriya has with minorities and civil society groups does not come at the expense of his credentials with the majority Sinhala-Buddhists. He is man who is capable of taking the presidential battle to the Rajapaksa bastion by posing a strong competition to Gotabaya Rajapaksa in his own strongholds. The Speaker also shares strong relations with leading Buddhist monks who will otherwise throw their weight behind Rajapaksa’s ultra-nationalist campaign. 

His moderate views, temperament and credentials as a former military officer, diplomat and a business leader can earn the support of fence-sitters who will decide their vote based on the ‘political mood’ of the country at the time of the election. As I’ve pointed out in one of my previous articles, the number of bloc voters in both camps have dwindled considerably over the past 15-20 years with many people — particularly the educated urban and suburban middle class — gravitating towards the middle. Against this backdrop, the winner of the upcoming Presidential election should cut an appealing figure to the majority of the swing voters. 

Most importantly, Jayasuriya is the only candidate within the UNP who can offer a viable alternative to former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has been anointed the SLPP Presidential candidate.  In the public eye, Rajapaksa’s campaign is associated with the appeal of a ‘strongman leadership’ and deep affiliation with Sinhala Buddhist ultra-nationalism, which exclude ethnic and religious minorities. 

Only a candidate who stands for a more democratic and inclusive leadership with a pluralist value system can counter this. In Jayasuriya, voters will see a strong alternative to Gotabaya Rajapaksa. A candidate attempting to ride a wave of cheap populism coupled with a sliver of the Rajapaksa–style ultra nationalism will not provide the same alternative to voters.  

This doesn’t mean that the support Sajith Premadasa has gathered at the grassroots level of the UNP should be discounted. But Jayasuriya has greater ability to unify diverse groups within the United National Front-led alliance and other affiliate groups. It is only Jayasuriya’s candidacy that can ensure that both Wickremesinghe and Premadasa share the same stage, with ample support from constituent parties, minority groups and civil society organizations.

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Latest comments

  • 16
    2

    If K.J. gets the candidacy he will have to fight an uphill battle with many parliament brutes specially with the BUD savages and Killi Sajith combo. Sri Lanka was cursed by legendary Kuweni. If that curse is broken by the elections, we will have a patriotic leader like K.J. who will work for the betterment of the poor innocent people. If not, we will have a traitor to govern the country, like someone who murdered a National Treasure like Dr. Amith Munindradasa.

    • 5
      4

      Rasika, Sri Lanka belongs to its youth and younger generation, so get lost with doddering creep Karu! Saith or JVPs AKD are the choice of the people, young and old!

      Karu epitomizes CORRUPT, morally and intellectually bankrupt sleezy UNP-SLFPT party hopping unprincipled politics, that is gamed by the USA who has been using fake “advisors” like Prasad Kariyawasm to run the bi-partisan UNP-SLFP corruption racket in the Cesspit Parliament under the guise of “reconciliation”, while using TNA and SLMC as cats paws.
      All this is to pass legislation like the MCC Land grab bill, to turn Lanka into a massive American-Saudi military base with help of US puppet Bondscam Ranil and the 2 US citizen Jarapassa brothers – Gota and Basil.
      So we shall vote for either JVP’s AKD or Sajith!

      • 5
        1

        US puppets Bond Ranil and Karu, and the Rajapaksa siblings and all over the age of 60 should be banned from contesting.
        Their generation has rotted Lanka with corruption, LIES, and racism and they should GET OUT and share the same prison cell for corruption, moral turpitude, failed leadership and allowing the US and its Saudi buddy to stage the Easter carnage and then pretend that they do not know that the US and Washington Consensus is behind the Economic terrorism and hybrid maritime warfare that was unleashed against Sri Lanka since 2009.

        • 2
          1

          Dinuk, absolutely right. No oldies please. How old is KJ???? Nearly 80. Govt.servants and Private Sector employees retire at 55. Third rate politicians go on Untill they drop dead.
          Ridiculous.

  • 14
    9

    One would have to resurrect Ranasinghe Premadasa to deal with this goon Gota. Karu is a gentleman, this lowlife Gota will eat him alive. If Gota sent a white van for Premadasa, Premadasa will take the same van and pick up Gota. That’s what we need to deal with this war criminal.

  • 1
    2

    Wait a minute. In order to abolish Executive Presidency agreement of the existing President is a constitutional requirement or the Parliament can do it anyway with 2/3 followed by a referendum irrespective of existing President’s consent? If 2/3 followed by a referendum is an absolute must what is the sigficance of a pre election promise of a particular candidate? What difference does it make whether Sajith or even Gotabhaya is there for this abolishion project?
    Can someone please help?

    Soma

    • 2
      0

      Soma,
      This is a rare place I can agree with you. I raised the same point against the most recent editorial by the TC. I agree 100% with the conclusion that KJ is a true gentleman politician. As a matter of fact, I did support his efforts to take over party leadership. What is happening is re[peat of the same leadership struggle under Sajith.

      However, I’m reluctant accept KJ’s candidacy at this stage of SL politics for three main reasons: 1. I doubt whether KJ can generate an enthusiasm at the grass-root level strong enough to overcome the opposition. He will do well among liberals but that voting block will be broken by the NPPM (Laksiri Fernando is correct).
      2. I doubt very strongly whether the abolition of the Exc presidency will be a critical issue in this election. I think that the argument turned on head by the resurgent perception after the Easter Bombing and frequents protests that country needs a strongman (wrong argument but it is a perception nonetheless).
      3. KJ’s name is not his own request but a casual toss by the same team who is determined to block Sajith by any mean possible.

      It is too late for this type of cynical ad hoc games now. If the idea is the democracy, what they should have done was to accept application and go for vote. The original conspiracy was to offer the ticket to a member of the alliance and to keep the power of the party in the hands of the elites. failing the original plan, they are now proposing other ideas in order to block Sajith by any mean possible.

      • 1
        0

        My dear D.P.
        My query is technical with regard to our Constitution. Basically I am confused as to whether agreement of the existing President is a constitutional requirement for the abolishion or Parliament can do it anyway with 2/3 followed by a referendum whether he likes it or not.

        Soma

        • 1
          0

          Soma,
          Technically no.

          • 0
            0

            D.P.
            Forgive me, ‘no’ means what?

            Soma

  • 3
    11

    are we going to vote for an old dodderer just because he wants to abolish the executive presidency while others have reservations?
    both he and heart patient gota may not last out their campaigns

  • 16
    2

    Karu is very much better than Sajith. There are crooks surrounded Sajith. Sajith should know, not to accompany these gang.

  • 9
    1

    If he runs against Gotler than both are bypass survivors nothing to disparage there. He also has a scientific survey done by a professor at the University of Peradeniya which proves that he and only he will win against Gotler. If Sajith ran he would loose. That was the outcome of the survey. The many reasons why the executive presidency has to be abolished to avoid the naked power grabs and corruption that has beset this country needs no mention. The venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha thero made the most convincing and compelling case for getting rid of it. Karu is the best man who can be trusted to do it. There seems to be a lot of people in the media these days who seem to have forgotten all about the need to at least limit the powers of the executive presidency. Selective amnesia.

  • 1
    7

    pushing karu forward is another of ranils red herrings
    egged on by his wife who took him to goddess meenambikais kovil he is determined to contest hoping to end his dubious political career on a high
    just wait and see what the not so old fox is up to hoping that gota will not be able to contest

  • 0
    2

    Precisely what we need to take this country forward – a lame duck octogenarian as President.
    He should be spending the rest of his days enjoying the company of his grand children. Wake up Sri Lankans !!

  • 4
    2

    Hats off! Karu is the suitable person.But he has another tough job next to Abolishing the Ex.Presidency, that is to cleance
    the UNP and get rid of RW. Can he do the second job?

  • 4
    0

    Do you guys feel Ranil and Gota have come to some clandestine agreement to help each other? The way Ranil is sabotaging the UNP its evident that something is brewing behind the scenes. Lets face it, Ranil is no idiot. He knows that he has no chance in hell of winning a presidential election against Gota. On the other hand he has been very soft on Gota and coy about accusing him of any wrong doings. Gota on the other hand knows that his own Rajapakse clan is toxic and the only way to redeem himself is to align with a lesser evil (the UNP). May be they are staging this election so that Gota becomes president by default and Ranil remains PM – which is what Ranil really wants. May be all of us are being taken for a ride. You cannot trust any of these scoundrels. This might seem like a crazy outlandish theory but I would appreciate some feedback. May be I’m totally wrong.

    • 2
      0

      Yonag,
      My guess is that you are partly correct! Ranil never had any plan to run for the presidency. The plan was to offer ticket to one of the party within the alliance. But, the bitter experience with MY 3, back benchers of the UNP stood against it. They wanted Sajith instead. That is where things turned sour b’cos the power holding “elites” of UNP correctly suspected that they would lose the grip of the party if Sajith win.

      If look carefully, it is clear that the group behind Sajith is composed of very talented individuals with clean names. They know that the current system in the party is not much different from the hold of power of Ra..kse s in SLPP meaning they can never rise to the top.

      The fundamental reason for this kind of crisis is the lack of a proper system to select candidates. This situation can lead to three bad situation that is detrimental to progress of the nation as well: 1. The threat of parties breaking into pieces. 2. Creating room for high level corruption due to the tendency to protect each other – common problem but without any solutions b’cos of back-door deals. It is worse if it is within a family 3. The talented and honest young politicians always leaving behind – the worst of all b’cos the nation keep losing talented leaders while corrupt & inefficient politicians keep ruining the nation.

      I strongly believe that it is time for the public to put pressure on party leaders to democratize the selection system.

      • 1
        0

        D.P. may be you have a point mate. As you say there are forces within the UNP that existed then and now which are hell bent on preserving the hierarchy. Point # 101 is Ranil wants to be UNP’s leader for life.

        There is a brilliant clip on YouTube that explains why some countries are rich and some remain poor. Its done in a graphical format.

        Please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9-4V3HR696k
        I hope the admins permit this link. It explains everything about 3rd world countries. Its actually a snapshot of Sri Lanka.

  • 0
    5

    even ranil can get more votes than karu.Sajit will beat both of them easily.However he can’t beat gota in the first round.he may be able to beat him in the second round when nobody gets more than 50%.

  • 0
    7

    Looks like Dr Ranil is going to get a Foot Stool ,unlike last time….

    • 1
      0

      Sumane, Last time he got a real scum with the lowest possible qualities even a pig will not have , eh! It looks like he is now your good friend.

      • 0
        0

        Somapala, Don’t insults Pigs which is the tastiest source of Protein for Chinese and our Sinhala Buddhists who do not eat Beef.

        Our great majority have to give Sira some credit for saving Lankawe Economy Religion and Land Mass from total destruction by Dr Ranil and his Crooked Cabinet..

  • 3
    0

    Even though Karu is an out and out gentleman, he will not be able to win unless the whole UNP back him fully with the support of the minority parties. Karu doesn’t have the grass-root level support. For Karu to win, all the citizens who want the executive presidency to get abolished, should rally around him. But the question is how many genuinely want to get it abolished without being selfish.

  • 2
    0

    The deal between Sajith Premadasa and President Sirisena. President Sirisena will contest as the SLFP candidate and obtain about 1 1/2 million votes depriving Gota of valuable votes. If Sajith contests on UNP ticket he will get a sizeable chunk of votes over Gota. The General Elections will follow a few months later . Ranil will be thrown out if Sajith becomes President. Sirisena will contest Polonnaruwa and emerge victor. He will be made Prime Minister by Sajith. SLFP UNP once again will be in Power. Sirisena will have more power as executive PM.. The only solution is for Karu to contest Presidency.

  • 0
    1

    Who ever that UNP Presidential Candidature for Elections ,gang of UNP leaders including MS of New UNP fellow and CBK of SLFP Federalist were an undermined Sovereignty and its democracy of ours nation last 4 years and several months since 2015 Jan 8th .IT was that puppet regime installed by Western consensus led by USA-UK combinations.
    At last that UNP regime of Wickrasinghe of R wanted to be build USA Military Base in Island by an open so-called “Economic corridor” by the name “development of Nation Economy” . !
    All these are UNP logic of justified that USA Military presence in Lanka! By that $$$$.
    Nation has come to the point of bankruptcy in every sphere of life-line of citizens of Islanders at impending catastrophe whole nation .
    Crux of matter is not that so-called chauvinism of” Sinhalese-Buddhist” is wrong or negative an approach of writer line of thinking.
    His views are belongs to Neoliberlaism of that set of policies were advocated by current UNP leadership, MS and CBK of SLFP of that Tamil Federalist .
    In fact eventually that TNA, JVP, Muslim Congress and other all 16 members of Muslim MP of Parliment and Up country Tamils Parties has given blessing to survival of UNP regime in power by that very narrow margin of that Majority of House.
    All in all that anti-Establishment political parties of several ethnic elements
    an anarchist of JVP backgrounds , other LTTE political terrorist and Islam terrorist were came around unholy alliances lead by UNP regime ,since 2015 Jan 8th .Current governance is most corrupted has to be exit from power of politics in Sri lanka.

    • 0
      0

      Yatawara Sir,

      Why not your write down your sermon in simple Sinhala, where at least most of of us will understand.

  • 0
    1

    Rasika,
    Your are wrong; ‘Moderate’ Karu! Give me a break!
    He has misused his high office to issue a political statement. Look at the letter head and read Dr. Laksiri Fernanado’s article.

  • 1
    1

    it does not matter who the UNP nominates they will lose

  • 0
    0

    Karu Jayasuriya is no doubt a thorough gentleman par excellence. As an octogenarian after becoming the president he won’t be able to face the onslaught unleashed by his own party men and the opposition and not mention the other responsibilities. Therefore he should know that after becoming the president it is not going to be the bed of roses. There two critical factors. It is very unlikely that UNP can muster 2/3 majority which is mandatory to abolish presidency and his age. UNP during their tenure miserably failed to govern the country diligently hence failed to gain the support of the people. They did blunders after blunder, got into too many controversies from which they won’t be able to get away.

  • 0
    0

    People have already decided 1st choice.

    Gota 1st but below 50%

    So parties should canvass for 2nd choice; victory lies on that.

  • 0
    0

    Forget about KJ, he is not a Buddhist and govigama. Do you think the rural sinhala masses will accept him, I dont think so.

  • 0
    0

    Karu is a man who went with 17 U N P M P s to work with Rajapakshas
    to support the war with Mahinda ! There are many difficult questions
    he will have to explain to the traditional U N P loyalists and to the
    anti-Rajapaksha Tamis ! This is now question and answer time and
    anything else will only come second ! Voters will be into many groups
    than ever and only a negligible amount of votes are concerned about
    the role of executive presidency right at the moment because nobody
    trust anyone on this issue anymore . People are going to vote because
    they have an election and not because there’s great enthusiasm like
    once they had during the seventies where Sirimavo led alliance
    received two third in 1970 and JR received five sixth in 1977. What we
    have now is shattered bits and pieces of all parties that are struggling
    with unmarketable slogans among which most attractive is Racism
    based ones ! Everyone knows this and there are genuine and deceitful
    strategies that are flying for the catch . U N P is so far exhibiting an
    ugly and so very foolish behaviour by keeping the public guessing
    about their choice and them believing it a very smart move ! Bunch of
    fools I suppose !

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