28 September, 2020

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More Representation & Deliberation In Governance Required In The Absence Of Parliament 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The Supreme Court’s decision to deny leave to proceed in the eight cases filed before it regarding the dissolution of parliament and the date of the general election places a great responsibility in the hands of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The Supreme Court’s decision means that he remains the sole national repository of the people’s mandate until such time as the general elections are held and a new parliament is elected. Although speculation centres around a date in August for those elections, the vicissitudes of the coronavirus, and the possibility of a second wave of infections even as the country opens up, make it possible that dates decided at this time may have to be disposed of at a later time. In the meantime, Sri Lanka would remain in a limbo without a functioning parliament with the present order continuing indefinitely. One of the important functions of parliament, to act as an oversight body and be a check and balance on the executive, will be in abeyance. The responsibility for governance is on the executive at present.

The constitutional framers, acknowledging the central role of parliament in the democratic system, gave only a maximum of three months for the country to be governed without a functioning parliament. However, this is a matter that government strategists may be discounting as part of a new world order in which the East is ascendant and the West is on the decline. Admiral Professor Jayanath Colombage in a pioneering article titled “Post-Covid 19 international Order: Will a new world emerge?” has written in favour arguing, “A case in point is, once again in Sri Lanka, where, even without an elected sitting parliament, the President, Prime Minister and a small group of cabinet ministers have been running the campaign to contain and combat Covid-19 very efficiently with the support of technocrats, officials, scientists and the military.”

The deeper significance of parliament stems from the fact that its 225 members in the case of Sri Lanka are meant to represent the interests and loyalties of the 16 million voters who cast their votes and select those who will best represent them. These votes are drawn from diverse backgrounds, rich and poor, salaried and daily paid, urban and rural, belonging to different ethnicities and professing different religions. President Rajapaksa was mindful of this reality when he delivered his inaugural speech after being elected as president. He addressed the nation from the Ruvanvelisaya in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, which is of immense historical and religious significance to the Sinhala Buddhist section of the population. In his speech he noted that his victory was due to the votes of the ethnic and religious majority, but he would represent all Sri Lankans as president. The president could also have highlighted the historical fact that the king built a monument for Elara and decreed that he should be honoured even in defeat which would also have been a symbolic affirmation of his desire to bring the political losers on board.

Diversity’s Challenge 

The challenge to anyone of representing the diversity of Sri Lanka’s population is formidable. Sri Lanka is a country that experienced three decades of internal war in which the chief protagonists came from different ethnicities and religions. This protracted war lay waste to parts of the country, stunted its developmental potential and caused immense human suffering. It was preceded by three decades of political conflict between the leaders of the different communities which continues to this day. Following the welcome end of the war the country has become increasingly susceptible to inter-religious conflict. The country now has to face up to the challenge of the Covid virus and the economic changes worldwide which also impact on Sri Lanka.

The diversity of Sri Lanka that has led to violent conflict and to large scale loss of life is not only the result of ethnic and religious strife but also due to social and economic conflict. This was seen twice in Sri Lanka’s post-independence history, first in the early 1970s and again in the late 1980s two left-inspired insurrections brought the country to a virtual standstill at times and caused tens of thousands of deaths. The absence of violence and appearance of peacefulness in Sri Lanka today must not beguile anyone to think that these problems are over for all time. If sections of the people feel that they are not being included in decision making, and that decisions being made exclude them, there can grow an alienation of heart and mind that cannot be stopped by more security measures and more intelligence gathering alone.

The ongoing riots, mass mobilization and political unrest in the United States shows that ethnic and race-based conflicts that have economic roots as well, need constant attention if they are to be kept peaceful. The growing gap between the rich and the poor in that country, where in some corporations the highest paid gets more than 300 times the salary of the lowest paid, deep seated inter-ethnic and racial prejudice, reduced levels of trust in government institutions, and the deliberate manipulation of all the above for political advantage are being used there to sow discord and move the US to greater instability and discord. One of the more noteworthy features of the crisis in the US is that President Donald Trump has been rebuffed even by the present and past leaders of the armed forces for seeking to exploit this situation.

Represent Diversity

An analysis by former senior US government conflict experts who issued a call for immediate action to address significantly worsening conflict dynamics in the United States makes the following observations: The US today is home to a range of significant including rising economic elitism, political exclusion and social marginalization. The economic reality for most Americans is that income has not kept up with the cost of living where essentials including health care and education are being denuded and privatized. Laws regulating institutions and tax rules drives wealth to a smaller and smaller percentage of Americans leaving the majority in the country with stagnating salaries especially among the non-white population. They influence long standing prejudices by stoking so-called “white vulnerability” which argues that whites are losing out to other groups. We need to be mindful of what is happening in the United States and not permit the seeds of alienation to grow in our country. We also need to take inspiration from the United States and see how its society, at every level, including its military, have been rising to uphold minority rights.

Unlike in the US where President Trump’s popularity appears to be on the wane, President Rajapaksa’s popularity in Sri Lanka has been on the ascendant. His track record of providing leadership to the war victory over the seemingly invincible LTTE in 2009 has given him credibility with the majority of the people. Much is expected of him and the government, especially after the experience with the last government which promised much but soon became too disunited to deliver on their promises. In this context, there appears to be popular support for the president’s unorthodox appointments of military personnel to high positions of authority. The president has been appointing both retired and serving military officers to a host of powerful positions including to ministries, state institutions and to presidential task forces. It is important, however, that the civilian services do not feel disempowered and downgraded as a result.

Many if not most Sri Lankans are convinced that president Gotabaya Rajapaksa is efficient, effective and wants the best for the country and in that context his out-of-the-box appointments may be viewed favourably. However, the fact that these appointments of retired and serving military personnel who are almost all from one ethnic and religious community can become a matter for concern in the context of the absence of parliament. A functioning parliament could have represented the ethnic, religious, social and economic diversity of the country’s people and their needs and aspirations. In its absence there is need for the president to ensure that a special effort is taken to consult with those who give leadership to the minority communities and non-mainstream social and economic interest groups. Pluralism in governance will be needed to reduce the gap and pave the way to a better future. There needs to be due deliberation with all sections of opinion for the best truth to emerge.

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Latest comments

  • 12
    6

    Dear Mr Perera,
    thank you for your article.
    .
    All is now in making to build up a dictatorship. What happened to the Pinguththarayas that were voval in presidential campaign ?
    .
    So what is transparent today. Why people stay as if they are hallozinated ?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOkrYIKu55k
    .
    JVP MPs make it very clear what was said to have passed by the presdient as ” 1500 billions of rps for the next 3 months” is against the prevailing CONSTITUTIONAL paragraphs, but GR s advisers intrepret is as if a new parliament is imminent – but how ? from June 01 – August 31 – 3 months.
    Date for the new election is not yet known ? How would the constitutional experts interpret this – constitutional breach ?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srHgz7fg1EI

    • 9
      6

      Jehan Perera why people like you are not starting demonstrations like in USA, Europe and Australia against racism where majority are whites raising their protest against white racism. Daily Mirror editorial mentions about it, going to town about murder and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Rwanda but it is silent about murder and ethnic cleansing of Tamils carried out by Sri Lanka. I am sure that except for a handful of Sinhalese the rest will never support any agitation against racism being unleashed on Tamils. In Sri Lanka the more a Sinhala politician harms Tamils, the more popular he will get, and Gota is no exception to that. Difference is that racism among Whites is skin deep while racism among Sinhalese is soul deep.

  • 12
    5

    Mardhanaya/State persecution/ has returned to the reality, and normalsy.. thanks to bps.

    Are u happy now ? I think IT IS HIGHT TIME TO OFFER PUNNAKU to those 6.9 mio of voters… taking away their rice portions for the cattle.
    :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIfXVMwhl00

    Police violence have become RAJAPKASHES chinthanaya. This kind of violence were not at all the case prior to Nov 2019, but moodayas cut their neck by their own.
    :

    • 2
      2

      leelagemalli,
      “Are u happy now ?”

      Yes, Sinhalayo who voted for President Gotabhaya Rajapakshe are very happy about their choice. Give that ‘Punnakku’ to two legged gon nuu who voted for ‘Padman’. They deserve that treat.

      • 1
        1

        Eagle,

        I have no doubt if you move free, anyone would hate you inthe first glance.
        :
        I dont disrespect HOMO SAPIENS, but I have to change my principles when reading your thoughts.

        You the kind of subhumans are a curse not only to this COUNTRY; BUT ALSO entire world.

        Watch out !
        Sajith Premadasa is thousand time human than the ones in power. Just imagine, if your daughters were among them yesterday got hurt by the police under the command of ballige puthas and their heads, what would you do, would you still go licking the backsides of the Rajakshes…
        YOUR EVASIVE ANWER WOULD BE “OH YES”, Because you are sick person – very pathetic to see your way.
        All we can say is – GET WELL SOON !

  • 4
    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

  • 8
    4

    Mr Jehan Perera,
    do you ever think in your wildest dreams that the rajapuka’s including the kallathoni of a president will ever play ball to give the people of this sad sorry suffering nation a fair go.?
    I boldly say in capitals a big NO.
    =
    them the rajapuka’s so powers greedy that if they have to sell their mothers along with their sisters to achieve what they very badly desire in their petty-minded greediness to show off to the world that they are the kingpins of the globe.
    =
    even though the author writes glowing tributes about the popularity of the present kallathoni of a president who with the help of the racist one-way street going Buddhist monks along with the modaya nearly 7 million voters for him and the false promises made by the criminal corrupt defunct SLPP he was able to win the clean poll with a comfortable majority.
    =
    not even 7 months have passed by his popularity has hit a new low as he whilst being seated on the regale commode does not know whether he’s a comer of a doer or a goner.?
    I have diligently followed his circus acts so far think that he is a goner a born loser who is an ignorant coolie.?

    • 3
      5

      The Coolie Toilet cleaners hopes and prays and brays

      • 1
        2

        a14455 ,
        can you please clarify as to what you meant by your thesis.?
        =
        in the aged care that I abode in, there are 3 Sinhala youth who hold the fort as toilet cleaners and there’s not a single Ceylonese Tamil even working as a carer to the residents.
        =
        think carefully before you type garbage.?

      • 2
        4

        Sinhala coolie toilet cleaners and road sweepers in Europe, middle east and south east are hoping, praying and braying to be deported back to their smelly and dirty land.

        • 2
          2

          GS
          I beg your pardon.
          When did you last visit this land?
          This country is much sought after by tourists from all over.
          Perhaps the smell is from an un-flushed toilet nearby.
          *
          Derisive comments about toilet cleaners come from sick minds– I mean the lot that made such comments.
          A dedicated toilet cleaner stands head and shoulders above people with contempt for manual labour, because the toilet cleaner makes an honest living.

    • 1
      2

      This guy is suffering from ‘Rajapuka’ phobia. Could be that Rajapuka abused this guys poo kaa.

  • 11
    3

    “Many if not most Sri Lankans are convinced that president Gotabaya Rajapaksa is efficient, effective and wants the best for the country and in that context his out-of-the-box appointments may be viewed favourably”

    Many of the Srilankans are Buddhist Sinhala who are against to minorities (Tamils, Muslims and Christians). I don’t think Gotabaya is an efficient, effective leader. Over the six months, his only productive contribution was towards racism, militarisation. He could not win a single percent of minority support within the past six months. A war victory after massacre of over 50000 innocents is not an efficient victory.

    • 3
      4

      Ajith,
      “A war victory after massacre of over 50000 innocents is not an efficient victory.”

      We did not know inflation affects the number of ‘INNOCENTS’ killed in the military operation against LTTE Tamil terrorists. ‘Para’ Demalu are very clever in picking up numbers from thin air.
      Allied Forces killed millions of Germans to liberate them from Hitler’s Nazi Army. Americans dropped nuclear bombs and killed millions of Japanese to end WWII. Do you consider these events also as ‘not efficient victories’?

      Sri Lankan Armed Forces under the leadership of Mahinda Rajapakshe, Gotabhaya Rajapakshe and Commanders of Army, Navy and Air Force liberated Sinhala, Demala, Muslim, Malay, Vedda people from megalomaniac Piripaharan’s LTTE Tamil terrorists. They liberated about 300,000 Demala civilians kept as a human shield to protect LTTE cadres. They liberated thousands of child soldiers. So, in your opinion this is not an ‘EFFICIENT VICTORY’.

      • 3
        1

        Dear Blind Eagle Eye,
        You can’t see because you are blind with facts. According Gotabaya there was only 70000 civilians in the vanni during the war. According to Government agents statistics, there were 400000 civilians. You say 300000 Demala civilians came out of the war zone at the end of war. According to your inflation theory 70000 became 300000 overnight. According to Government agents statistics 100000 is missing. By comparing with allied forces and Hitler’s Nazi army you agree that you killed more than 100000 civilian Tamils although according to Gotabaya he killed over 300000 even before end of the war. According to blind eye it is efficient because you are fake Sinhala Buddhist.

      • 1
        0

        Eger less ?.
        in the process of liberation, 400,000 or more innocent Tamil’s have been unceremoniously killed, many more taken as prisoners are still not accounted for assets and pawned jewellery have done a rajapuk’s magician vanishing trick or two, the captured were raped/sodomized brutally murdered and the list goes on and on.
        it is endless.?
        =
        luckily your meenachi was in Melbourne in 2009 if not she would have had the rare opportunity of sexually climaxing many a time thanks to the many a round of raping and sodomization.

  • 3
    2

    Governance, divested of its redundant verbiage is simply One Person Rule. No more no less. Cromwell and Churchill, Louis XIV of “I am the State” fame to Napoleon and De Gaulle, Peter the Great to Putin, Bismarck and Hitler, Mao and Deng relate the same story. Abraham Lincoln said at his cabinet “Ayes 1, Noes 9, Ayes have it”.

    Ceylon and Sri Lanka were no different. DS and Sir John, Srimavo, JR and Premadasa and later Mahinda were epitomes of one person rule. Lalith said “North is ruled by Prabhakaran, Central Highlands by Thondaman and rest of the country by Paskaralingam”.

    From 22 million, 16 million are allowed to pick the rulers and 225 equals are selected. Since 1977, ONE is identified as MORE THAN EQUAL Except for a lady nurtured as a democrat and a gent never cut for that role, others were aspirants for FAR MORE. Only the latest is outspokenly so.

    Three questions are posed. (1) From 1948 to date, has the Cabinet ever prevailed over the primus ie PM or President? ((2) Has Parliament ever prevailed over the Cabinet. (3) Has the electorate ever prevailed over the Parliament?

    It is said that the threat of revolt is the guarantee of all freedom. Was there ever a freedom oriented

  • 1
    4

    Jehan
    Your expectations are good but solution is wrong. Not only you, had many got it wrong. When GR won, he declared he won because of the majority even after requesting the minority to support him to change the political and governance culture of the country. Obviously minority did not want to be a part of his solution and chose to be the part of the problem. Then GR said I will be the president for all. He is a very transparent and bold leader. He never said I will involve minority to his “solution teams” He gave that chance and the offer was rejected. What minority did not understand was that he will be the president for all and minority will have to live with his national solutions. If minority wants to be a part of the solution, they should enter to the main stream political system and suggest system changes while being a part of main system. Otherwise, this is the price minority have to pay. They have another chance at the next election. This is the last chance for them.

  • 1
    4

    However, if minority wants not to repeat the same mistake, the minority political leaders should openly request all minority people to vote for SLPP and request in turn to be part of governance team. If they are not willing to do that, they should shut up and be ready to be governed by GR. Which leader wants minority opponents in Task forces, if they are not willing to agree with solutions the majority proposes? I previously commented that GR is yet to violate constitution and he will run 6 months without any parliament. Everyone could see him doing it. If anyone does not agree, one can go to SC. No one will do that rather than screaming GR is wrong. GR is a great leader. He will structurally change everything which one cannot undo. When people reap benefits from his “change”, they will appoint him again.

  • 2
    4

    Minority have one other option. They can get together and develop solutions and pass to the representative of the majority in respective areas for consideration. However, if they do it with ulterior motive, it is not going to work. My message to minority is to join the majority with own principled, declared stand and participate system change slowly. Don’t expect miracles or total system change for minority liking. It is not ever going to happen. It will be a slow change for them in the right direction.

  • 1
    5

    There are anti-Rajapakshe dumbos who are trying to give the impression that President Gotabhaya Rajapakshe and PM Mahinda Rajapakshe are racists and they ignore minorities. This is a well-planned campaign by anti-Rajapakshe mafia to keep minorities away from Rajapakshe Government. May be they are ignoring racist or extremist politicians from minorities but they consult moderates from minority communities. If you are interested to know how the President dealt with the issue of messages regarding COVID-19 not passing to Muslim community please watch 360 Degrees program in Derana TV on 08 June 2020 where Mr. Ali Sabri was interviewed by Dilka Samanmalee.

    • 0
      1

      EE,
      demented patients of your nature woul dnever see it.
      :
      But it is a public secret that BPs are born racists – may also be against own community ..
      :
      The medamulana criminals are born to destroy this nation.

  • 1
    0

    I can sense that the writer is treading ever so softly on any aspect of criticism in regard to the present rulers of Sri Lanka. I cannot imagine his reasons for this approach nor his vagueness in addressing rather strong and clear issues that ordinary folk are well-versed about. Is this a case of cautious diplomacy or a very subtle transformation from the peace activist?

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