26 September, 2020

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Next Leader Of The Opposition In Sri Lanka

By Sarath Wijesinghe

Sarath Wijesinghe

Sarath Wijesinghe

Sri Lanka follows the Westminster modal, though currently transformed to a mixture of Presidential/ Parliamentary system. Opposition exists by customs, and normal expectations and customs were modified by political realities from time to time. Sri Lanka followed the Westminster model since 1935 and a country mastered on the conventions and practices of the British Model. Free and fair elections supervised by thousands of foreign observers and their positive comments on the General Election and the way the elections were conducted are a credit and an example to the civilized world of democratic ideals. Opposition and the leader of the opposition is a necessity to the democracy and a democratic modelled government system. Sri Lanka can be proud to have followed the democratic ideals and systems based on the British Model following the conventions and traditions of the Western world and Sri Lankan experiences which is exemplary.

In 1846 the Conservative party split into Protectionist Conservative and “Peelite” or liberal Conservatives fractions. The Protectionists became the largest group; the recognized large group in the same party, the recognized leader of the opposition were drawn from the ranks. Though Britain is free to change the conventions and procedure in the absence of a written constitution they continuously adhered to the previous traditions and we too followed the traditions, conventions and the writings of the Jurists and the directions of series of case law and opinions on the subject.

Chandrika SampanthanSri Lanka is facing a dilemma and a complex situation on the same issue in a different situation based on the change of Government and the President in a most unusual manner unique to Sri Lanka in which the President of the country happened to be the Head of the State, Cabinet, Armed Forces and the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party which has secured the second highest Members in Parliament. Prime Minister who is the leader of the UNP with the highest Members of Parliament but not the absolute majority, has formed the government and steps are being taken for the formation of cabinet with the participation of the Major Opposition and other parties to be called a National Government with objections from the JVP which has secured few seats and a sizable number of SLFP Members of Parliament. Many names and proposals have emerged and it is time for the Political leaders and the concerned citizens to arrive at consensus on this matter based on past experiences national and international.

TNA which has secured 17 members in the Parliament is a party with a restricted agenda for the Tamil Community confined only to North and East has to National Agenda for the entire population as in any other party. SLMC restricted to the Muslim Community however has integrated with the united National Party and their aspirations are limited to the Muslim population in the country. Therefore the credibility and competence for TNA or the SLMC to be the opposition leader is doubtful.

“The Ideal candidate for the leader of the Opposition is the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa who led to SLFP to near victory. He has gracefully and politely declined the offer and chose to be an ordinary member of the Parliament which is not an unusual scenario. He is a political animal who likes to be in politics in some way refusing to retire in public life. Most world leaders were active in social services after retirement. Bill Clinton is still active in public services. Prime Minister Edward Heath of the Conservative party continued to be a member of the parliament until his death”.

We should be capable and free to transform ourselves according to needs and situations and this is the time to show statesmanship of those who are genuinely interested in the country. It is pleasant to hear and notice that the dust is settling and the venom and vengeance is fading away gradually proving that “no permanent friends or enemies in Politics- only political interests remain”. Absolute power corrupts and there are numeral examples in the world for us to be cautious. It is time for us to emerge with a unique system to set an example to the world that we are capable to manage our own affairs of world standards. It is time for all political parties to incorporate and practise internal democracy and to incorporate a model constitution of political parties in the constitution as long as we follow the party system which is an integrated part of Parliamentary democracy. Giving freedom for the party members to arrive at a decision independently is an option open and available. Voters should not be disappointed as they will in future have no trust in the electoral process. Voters declining to vote and the wasted votes given the recent polls are giving a dangerous signal.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    2

    Very insightful article. We need an opposition and a vibrant one which will not succumb to the powers of the government but also will cooperate with the government in regard to policies of national importance. I strongly believe if you are a supporter of the national government you cannot and should not be the opposition leader or a member of the opposition. I hope one will emerge from the UPFA members. As I understand there are about 25 MPs (Taking from S.B.’s claim that 70 are supporting the national government) of the UPFA who are not willing to be any part of the national government. Therefore they should be able to choose one. I was surprised and chuckled when I heard MS has the powers to appoint the opposition leader and the opposition whip. Thank you Mr. Wijesinghe for the article.

  • 3
    1

    It may appear at first sight to those who have not taken the trouble to really find out from the TNA why it has an agenda restricted to only the people of the N&E of the country to believe that way,but those who know better, know that the TNA is realistic enough to understand that it the interests and welfare of the people whom it represents, depends on the welfare and goodwill of the rest of the people who constitute a majority in the rest of the country.
    It is in that context that I feel the TNA would qualify and wish to play a role in the opposition provided the majority community is willing to concede and appreciate that fact, and not for any other narrow intention or motive that is attributed by those who think otherwise.

  • 10
    2

    Yes a vibrant Opposition is a fundamental neccesity in a democratically governed state.Yet for Wijesinhe to clamour for Mahinda R to be Leader of the Opposition is preposterous.Going by his argument about the SLMC and TNA’s ineligibility , MR too is equally unsuitable since he is a narrow minded racist who is unacceptable to the minority communities, beside a sizeable proportion of the majority community as well.This his why the crook lost two elections in a row within six months.
    As for Wijesinhe the London based Mudalali who’s wife owns and runs a wayside eatery in Nugegoda, MR is his ONLY hope of getting a DPL posting, so that he could convert the Ambassador’s residence in to a bath kade as he did in Abu Dhabi.So he crys for his supper as this article clearly shows.

  • 1
    0

    Hey you Rajapaksa[Edited out]!!

  • 4
    1

    Let the TNA reach the mettle of National politics,
    Though through influence of Opposition Chair
    Let the TNA feel the pulse out side North&East
    Though not through day dreaming of Premier of…..
    Let them prove their mettle for Nationalism – unlike
    Though air-born,last time around for the day dream of..
    Let the TNA prove their resolve for Sri Lanka on the floor
    Though if do allow TNA to Opposition Leadership!

  • 1
    0

    Seemingly a fine idea in democratic ideals, yet in system thinking this would be the last thing a country should do under circumstances because TNA is not representing a large cross section of people with different ethnic origins, culture and socio-economic sectors.They are restricted to North and North East Tamil communities & not even representing upcountry tamils. Their views as the opposition would be recognized internationally as the alternative for the Goverment whereas virtually it is not so with the small numbers and confined representation.In short it is not a National Political party and another ethnicity or rather a community based party which has no capability and will to appear for common national issues representing a wide range of different sectors, people and problems. However TNA should be a part and partial of a National Government if to be formed and their leader could be a deputy prime Minister for that matter and their absence is a void in the proposed formation.

    The need is a strong opposition and so ropes to be loosened allowing some SLFP stalwarts to form another wing of the party or some mechanism to assemble a opposition with a leader having acceptable National reprentation & a democrat. There are enough precedences for this.

  • 1
    3

    Mr wijeyasinha i endorse your assement that Mahinda the Great should be the leader of opposition and Not sampanthan, a tamil.
    Hail Mahinda:-):-):-):-):-):-)

  • 1
    0

    Hail Mahinda aka Hitler.

  • 1
    0

    Sambandan has passed his sell by date and it is time that the Thamil people get them selfs a vibrant new generation leader. We have two women younger Members of Parliment in the UK and in Canada why are we not able to find an articulate qualified Thamli person from the Thamil speaking parts of Sri Lanka. Let’s face it we are asking an elderly person too do a demanding job in addition we wish him to be the leader of the opposition. This is absurd!. We has a society should encourage him to retire and put his feet up. This job is for a vibrant fire brand and not for an elderly man ready for retirement.

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