20 September, 2020

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Mr. Executive, Your Office Is Bigger Than Yourself

By Vishwamithra

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”  ~ Aristotle

Sirisena

When an electorate gets carried away with the candidate’s veneer of simplicity that concealed all the oozing that was rotting away within the presumed ‘common man’, consequences are seldom concealed. When he couldn’t match his flowing rhetoric with actual accomplishments on and off the field of politics, his acquired purity fades into nightmarish shadows. When the Executive does not realize that the office he holds is bigger than the person, the scope and expanse of office shrinks- and that happens only in the puny mind of the holder of office- instead of the holder controlling the office, the office starts controlling the person, the holder.

What was described above is no psychoanalysis of an ordinary man of yesteryear. It is not an unimportant examination of an unimportant man on the streets. It is the living tale of our current constitutional crisis. One cannot take a powerful organism such as a written constitution of a country for a toy in the hands of a toddler; nor is it a tool in the hands of a sinister and under-equipped set of rulers. Crafty rulers in the past resorted to navigating affairs of government through various nefarious means. They violated the constitution as if they were obsessed by the very existence of such a document. The Constitution of Sri Lanka is the very source of our law; it frames the legal and lawful structure within which all our citizens have to exercise their rights and privileges. The one who chooses to go beyond the precincts of that Constitution does it at his own peril. The law of the land, the Constitution through one of its three pillars, the Judiciary, will pursue him or her whoever he or she be, how powerful or powerless, how rich or poor and regardless of the language he or she speaks or one’s ethnicity, and will punish him or her. That is what makes us Sri Lankans, civilized and an organized community of brothers and sisters.

Gathering storms against violations of our Constitution are noticeable. The storms have enveloped the body-politic of the country and the social media seems to be passionately infatuated with a movement that is still at a juvenile stage. Every three-wheel driver, every boutique owner, every junior and senior executive in the private sector, every government servant and every street vendor, barring some who would not desert the Rajapaksa-clan are making their own moves, sometimes willy nilly to express their opinions and views via the social media, the most popular media methodology of the Twenty First Century. The Smart Phone is the vehicle through which these numerous views and counter-views are being exchanged.

In this age of ‘smart and progressive’-social evolution, the Chief executive of the country needs to craft and adopt a sensible and strategic approach to any developing problem. A minor problem should not be allowed to grow into crisis proportions. A minor irritant could always develop into a crisis of one opts to deal with it on a retail or piecemeal basis instead of adopting a strategic methodology to resolve such minor irritants. The current constitutional crisis is the birth child of such a foolish and untoward series of mistakes and blunders in statecraft. As was enunciated in my previous column, one violation was committed in order to cover up a previous violation. The unending series of lies and violations of our Constitution began turning its unpleasant and murky cycle; what seemed as a violation at the beginning turned into unmistakable rape towards an uncontrollable orgy, until an independent judiciary intervened.

When civility and political decorum gave way to unhinged behavior on the part of the Executive, a cascade of events began to flow; most hostile, uncivilized and shameless nature of our parliamentarians was exposed to the hilt. When the world at large was the audience, the television and Smart Phone screens screamed loudly and bared open the nudity and desperation of our lawmakers. The so-called guardians of our sacred machinery of governance were the very violators of that machinery. The two men, the Executive and Mahinda Rajapaksa, who could have controlled the chilling behavior of our lawmakers on November 15 and 16 observed their silence. Another unabashed chapter of the story of Sri Lanka’s progress towards a developed democracy was etched with chili powder and water.

When a coalition government is formed, it is but inevitable that differences among its stakeholders, especially in the realm of policy and principles of governance, erupt every now and then. As and when such eruptions do occur, civilized leaders on either side of the differences usually get together and make genuine attempts to arrive at compromised positions without giving up the core principles of a working democracy. In such a potentially dynamic political dialogue, gentlemen usually thrash out all differences within the accepted confines and make a deal (reach a compromise) in order to continue with a working formula in running a government. However, when one party, in this case the Executive, makes a unilateral decision to fire the sitting Prime Minister and swears in a different one who does not enjoy a majority in the Legislature, as Prime Minster, all that deal-making and compromises flow out the window. 

October 26, 2018 is indeed a dark day in the country’s seventy years of post-Independence history. What followed, some gruesome events both inside and outside Parliament, bore unmistakable signatures of mis-governance. No country in the world would enjoy being placed on the brink of chaos and anarchy. Man has advanced over centuries of untold misery and hard struggle against his own self-inflicted sins and crimes and arrived at the Twenty First Century with remarkable achievements that would eclipse all his mistakes and misadventures. Pundit Nehru remarked in his ‘The Discovery of India’ thus: “How amazing is this spirit of man! In spite of innumerable failings, man, throughout the ages, has sacrificed his life and all he held dear for an ideal, for truth, for faith, for country and honor. That ideal may change, but that capacity for self- sacrifice continues, and, because of that, much may be forgiven to man, and it is impossible to lose hope for him. In the midst of disaster, he has not lost his dignity or his faith in the values he cherished. Plaything of nature’s mighty forces, less than a speck of dust in this vast universe, he has hurled defiance at the elemental powers, and with his mind, cradle of revolution, sought to master them. Whatever gods there be, there is something godlike in man, as there is also something of the devil in him. The future is dark, uncertain. But we can see part of the way leading to it and can tread it with firm steps, remembering that nothing that can happen is likely to overcome the spirit of man which has survived so many perils; remembering also that life, for all its ills, has joy and beauty, and that we can always wander; if we know how to, in the enchanted woods of nature. 

With such polished diction and unlimited passion, Nehru described the ultimate summit a man could ascent. Being the closest neighbors and even closer than closest relatives of India, Sri Lanka and her leaders, could easily lend credence to these eloquent enunciations of the ‘spirit of man’. That spirit seems to have evaded our political leaders. When one places oneself above the country, when one considers oneself more important than the basic principles and norms that define the very character of the people and nation that he or she leads, when one chooses to dwell in the dark and shadowy space of delusion and self-pity, the spirit of man seems a mirage receding one’s own eyes. Such tragedy has occurred in our midst today. 

One should never try to interpret the political differences in terms of western and local. When one tries to do that, the hidden argument of patriotic against unpatriotic emerges and that is the very argument that holds true in the unsophisticated and unscholarly minds of the majority. When a simple personality becomes a simpleton, all hell can break loose. A close examination of the facts before all of us today indicate that there is strong possibility of such an occurrence. Sentries of democracy have fled; the moats of defense have been clogged up and the sturdy walls, the last line of defense of democracy against unilateral onslaught by those who lack education, scholarly aptitude and wise decision-making is absent.

Discomfort and feeling of envy against those who could lend better and more informed judgment combine to make a leader dangerously close to implosion. We have not reached that uncomfortable and uncomplimentary state as yet. Controlling and navigating the state machinery is not a mean task. It requires immense aptitude and extraordinary patience and poise. It’s not too late to wish for such a sublime occurrence.

*The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com                           

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Latest comments

  • 1
    1

    Putin and Mcron have figurehead Prome ministers. Even in Sri Lanka. Mahinda Rajapake had a figure head PM. Maithripala did not understand that he was as big as the country, Instead he appointed again same PM that tried to push CBK from the president’s chair, Ultra Right wing Neo Liberal Ranil who is completing the western agenda in Sri Lanka tried his best to push MAITHRIPALA away. Maithripala Took three and half years to repalce him. 19th amendment’s drawback was Maithripala could not fire the same traitor to the country thst he appointed.

  • 3
    1

    Well said sirisena does not have insight about what he is doing. It’s again the fault of RW for not realising that this man was not a material for common candidate.

    It’s unfortunate that we are stuck with a person of low IQ and lack of dedication the position requires

    • 0
      0

      Roger

      It wasn’t the fault of RW; it was the political impotency of RW that made somebody called common candidate.

      All the contenders in an election are common candidates so what was the reason for the UNP to support non UNP candidate & later attempt to hold that victorious common candidate in their grip.

      It’s the root cause for this present impasse & UNP is responsible for it.

      Under that circumstances, though controversial what the president has done is correct. If constitution doesn’t provide for an election UNP has a responsibility to volunteer for an election without making any condition.

      Only the JVP can lead a caretaker govt. under which an election can be held with required power for the elections commissioner.

  • 1
    0

    I think Sirisena’s candidacy as President, promoted by CBK & Ranil, was a strategic move as CBK could not contest again after completing her period in office & Ranil did not have the mass appeal of MR. Therefore, the only way to oust MR was to bring in a similar Sinhala speaking village educated ‘simpleton’ who fits with the Sinhala Buddhist rhetoric of MR. Unfortunately, CBK once again misjudged her ‘protege’ & just like her previous choice, MR, the worm turned.

    CBK underestimated Sirisena, thinking she could still pull strings behind the scenes, effectively, continuing to wield power, perhaps, until she grooms a Bandaranayake successor. Whatever CBK’s agenda, Ranil, too, would have thought he could buy time as PM until he could strengthen his popularity & ready to contest as President at the next election. After all, constitutionally, it is the PM who calls the shots while the President is very much ceremonial, & having an obedient & uneducated yob, totally out of his depth in the high office, should pose no problems for Ranil. Unfortunately, a yob as he is, Sirisena was not satisfied with just status & perks of the high office but wanted more. Now the genie is out of the bottle & is playing havoc.

  • 0
    0

    Charles Dickens in the opening chapter of his “A tale of two cities” begins saying ‘It was the best of times , it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom , it was the age of foolishness’ etc. etc.These words of wisdom is an apt quotation to describe our country’s miserable and disgraceful situation it is today due to the corrupt and selfish politicians of today and yesteryear. This golden opportunity was dawned in Sri lanka in December 2014 and what did the sincere and honest citizens expected to hear from the two leaders after the great victory, absolutely nothing else but a promise to lead the Nation with sterling honesty and implacable justice. RW specially should have cautioned the UNP sitting MPP the need to be above board in all their official and private activities and that no illegal acts will be tolerated, but alas, what do we hear, dust is being swept under the carpet which has gathered after the CB issue of bonds episode. It is surprising as to why MS is silent . Is he too having a hand in this deal??. Politicians and their cohorts beware, there is a spiritual dimension to politics and a Supreme Legislator.
    The writing is on the wall.

  • 0
    0

    Vishwamithra reminds our own Mr. Executive, “Your Office Is Bigger Than Yourself”.
    We are well past this stage. Now it is a question of ownership of the country. By elites or solely by the elite-elitists.
    .
    Vishwamitra quotes from the Pandit Nehru book ‘The discovery of India”. At that time the whole world talked about the Gandhian way of achieving the impossible.
    .
    Some seventy years back Nehru was PM of India. Gandhi was revered.
    Our then leaders, ostensibly to monopolise the leadership came out with ‘Invasion assisted by local traitors’. This backfired. The opposition used it more effectively. The language/religion-divide addiction set in.
    .
    Now the bogey is ‘Invasion assisted by Separatists’.
    SLPP(Temporary) used this at the recent Local Government polls.
    SLPP (now Permanent) will use this bogey in elections.
    We must say “Enough is enough”.
    Add “Save us the ignominy of Failed State”?

  • 0
    0

    We are very sorry about that mega corruptions ,frauds and looted public funds by UNP leaders and his gang that President was too late to act since 2015 January 8th?

    The RW of UNP has taken all advantages and keep his in political- power by misleading President of
    Sri lanka and its voters of people.

    But this real facts of truth that cannot just look at by Judiciary system and legal order of highest court of Republics Judiciary .The Court of Law did NOT address issues in before Supreme Court of Democratic Republic….survival .
    Ours judiciary procedure are still lagging behind in case that failure to address the nation burning issues of Citizens of Lankan? What is that most paramount important is of that UNP leadership or People’s Sovereignty of nation decided by Judiciary ? Or by Sovereignty of the People.

    In fact that Judiciary behavior is Unpersedant complexities to be appear in their actions are concern !
    Actions of Judiciary that so delay the time is running out that need and expected to seek the Crisis Solution by promptly. Well, until now it has NOT yet address by Supreme Court of faith of Millions of People’s live hood .

    On the current System of Sri Lankan Judiciary order that failure to address conflict between President and ousted UNP party of governed and its leadership . Why is that Judiciary of technical points of which delaying verdicts and judgments are indefinitely postpone by highest judges in Island?

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