By W. Vishnu Gupta –
Fake Pukka Sahibs of Ceylon
The current economic, political, and financial crisis in the country was not created only by Rajapaksa clan, all political parties formed since the introduction of parliamentary system, some directly and others indirectly have contributed to the economic insecurity and misery of the people. These political parties have collectively designed, developed, and adopted a narcissistic and perverted constitution that keeps them in charge of national wealth and political power within an inescapable system of corruption. Especially, the perverted constitutions developed by Colvin and HWJ under the directions of Sirima and JRJ respectively, were deceptive moves to ensure that the political power remains in the hands of selected elite family circles in Colombo. Sirima, Colvin, NMP and PK all jingoistic politicians thought severing the links to colonial past and the British Empire, would enhance the electability of their political alliance (SLFP, LSSP and Communist) and they will remain popular among the voters forever. The election manifesto of these pretentious socialist pukka sahibs in 1970 stated.
“We seek your mandate to permit the members of Parliament you elect to function simultaneously as a Constituent Assembly to draft, adopt and operate a new Constitution. This Constitution will declare Ceylon to be a free, sovereign, and independent Republic pledged to realise the objectives of a socialist democracy; and it will also secure fundamental rights and freedoms to all citizens.”
The republic or the promised “Shangri la” turned fifty on 22 May 2022. Are we the people of Sri Lanka, free or have we achieved the objectives of a socialist democracy? The country is bankrupt all governments have failed, the republic has endured terrorism campaigns launched by disheartened young Sinhalese and Tamils many times, people; born and unborn infants, young and old are dying due to lack of food and medicine, many are deserting the country. Only pomp and the pageantry displayed by goofy political leaders have survived concealing the misery inflicted upon the masses, yet citizens have forgotten to question, what did the constitution and republicanism deliver to Sri Lankans? Judging by the status of Sri Lankans, Sri Lankan Economy the answer is resounding; Nothing, Nada, or Zilch.
Likewise, the purpose of 1978 constitution was to ensure the sustenance of autocracy capable of supressing the dreams of ordinary citizens. It was nicely sugar-coated, perverted at best, a contrived set of rules for the country sans any meaningful dialogue with the masses. The UNP promised to solve the ethnic problem with a devolution package. Economically, it proposed opening the Sri Lankan economy again. Constitutionally, the UNP called for replacing the Westminster-based political system with an approach modelled along French lines. But it was a ruse to introduce the “Poisson Pill” otherwise known as executive presidency. JRJ was a shrewd and undignified person and his decision to introduce executive presidency was based on the following main principles.
a) UNP has always garnered more overall votes (country and district wise) than any other single political party in the country until 1977.
b) Promise of devolution of power to entice and appease the Tamils in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
The above election data shows, the overall votes received by UNP has always exceeded that of SLFP very comfortably except in 1956. However, in 1956 SLFP formed an alliance known as MEP with other small Marxist parties to defeat UNP, hence it is inconsequential to JRJ’s scheme. He was a calculative politician and he assumed, based on previous election data, plus the promise of devolution to entice and appease the Tamil voters would surely ensure that UNP will always succeed in winning the Presidency in Sri Lanka. Also, if the election results are analysed on district basis, it will show that the UNP voters has always outnumbered the SLFP voters within every district except Jaffna and Vanni districts.
These compelling reasons prompted JRJ to instruct his brother HWJ to draft a new constitution to abolish the Westminster-style parliamentary system and introduce Executive Presidency and elect parliamentarians based on proportional representation (based on Districts) that overwhelmingly favor the established chauvinistic political parties and those loaded with money. JRJ’s 1978 constitution was meant to be the death knell for democracy in Sri Lanka.
Root of Corrupt Political Leaders
Both constitutions of 1972 and 1978 did not deliver prosperity or freedom, the nation is still entrapped by despotism under many political charlatans led by Chandrika, Ranil, Maithree and Rajajapaksas. Under them, many Sri Lankans as human beings have failed to realize their individuality, the rights are trampled, and the entitlements are stolen or denied. Those who want to be the next leader; SP, AKD, PR, and SF are equally corrupt waiting to swindle the nation and their behaviour inside and outside the legislature these days confirms that they are nothing, but another set of charlatans produced by ill conceived constitutions of 1972 and 1978.
As stated, the 1978 constitution established the proportional representation advocated by the chauvinist political theoreticians. However, if the country had continued to maintain Westminster-style parliamentary system where the parliament enjoys substantial constitutional powers and parliamentarians are elected by the ‘first past the post’ (FPTP) electoral system, it is doubtful that individuals such as Ranil, Mahinda, Basil, AKD, Vijitha, Patali, Sarath, Wimal, Udaya, Wijedasa, Badhurdeen, Hakim, Vasu, Johnston, Harin, Diana, Dilan, SBD, GLP, Sivanesan, Susil, Douglas and many others would be seen roaming the corridors of power in Sri Lanka today. What a travesty? the lonely man who entered the current parliament with the blessing of his uncle’s debatable efforts of 1978 and the Rajapaksa’s sponsorship may become the most powerful politician to play second fiddle to the interests of India endangering our sovereignty and the unitary status of Sri Lanka.
Another Political Game
Many believe that Rajapaksas have conspired with Ranil to sabotage the non-violent and peaceful protest campaigns emerging throughout the country. Nevertheless, the constitution of 1978 and subsequent amendments have paved the way for Ranil, the solitary UNP representative to be the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. It is a remarkable if not mind-boggling feat achieved by any politician in the world. It looks like 225 parliamentarians as usual have conveniently forgotten, that Ranil was instrumental and personally responsible for appointing his friend Arjuna Mahendran as the Central Bank Chairman who was alleged to have committed the CBSL Bond Scam during “Yahapalanaya”. Furthermore, it was evident that he has directly supervised Mahendran circumventing the authority of the finance minister at that time and hence it is reasonable to assume that he was privy to all alleged illegal activities at the Central Bank during Mahendran’s tenure. Therefore, Gotabaya’s personal choice confirms that he is wrong again and has failed to select the most suitable candidate for the position of Prime Minister of the country. Also, the President has made another ballyhoo this week heightening the prevailing financial crisis further by assigning the Ministry of Finance to Ranil, it is a mockery and insult to the democratic norms and flagrant violation of fundamentals of transparency. Ranil was never known to be a respectable stateman of the country, but everyone including the international community, knows his active role in the CBSL Bond Scam and how he arrived in the current parliament, a rejected politician who could not win a parliamentary seat in the Colombo District. Gotabaya must understand, both World Bank and IMF have insisted and expect him to put the “country back on a sound microeconomic footing.” So far, he has been aloof and played political games with the livelihood and freedom of every Sri Lankan. Appointing Ranil as the response to the present economic/financial crisis is not a solution and perhaps it is counterproductive. Still, the citizens must be wondering why a fox is invited to guard the henhouse again.