21 September, 2020

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On Weerawansa’s Collecting Signatures: It Is Certainly The Age Of The Demagogue

By R.M.B Senanayake

R.M.B. Senanayake

Our politicians and civil society groups talk about popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people as a sacrosanct principle justifying any action of the government if it has the consent of the people through a referendum. In practice it would of course mean the decision of the majority of the people. President J.R Jayewardene extended the life of Parliament through a Referendum. President M.R frequently refers to the will of the people to justify his actions.-

This extension of the concept of sovereignty of the people to cover direct decisions by the majority of the people, is not really what the proponents of democracy meant. By Popular sovereignty political philosophers like Rousseau meant the principle that the authority of the government is created and sustained by the consent of its people who are the source of all political power. Popular sovereignty is the principle that the authority to rule is drawn from the people. It is created by the consent of the people and is sustained by the continued consent of the people. Before the American Revolution, few examples existed of a people deliberately creating their own governments. Most people in the world had experienced governments as an inheritance—whether monarchies or expressions of raw power. The Americans were the first to self-consciously create a government explicitly relying on the authority of the sovereignty of the people (or “popular sovereignty”).-

This assertion of the peoples’ sovereignty however contains a dangerous dynamic of making people think that whatever they decide by majority vote is right and can and should be carried out by the government which it chose. It also raised the popular expectation that the peoples’ wishes must be satisfied no matter what. So we find in today’s debate on devolution of power that the peoples will must prevail. Selfish and power hungry politicians are invoking the peoples consent as to whether there should be devolution of power to the Tamil minority or not. So we find Wimal Weerawansa collecting signatures of the people in the streets to a petition against devolution of power. But there are fundamental individual and minority rights that no people can curtail because they constitute a majority.

Should the people be consulted on the rights of the minorities? Should the people be asked to vote on whether cattle slaughter, gambling and liquor banned? What if the people decide that since this is a Buddhist country and Buddhism is guaranteed the foremost place in the Constitution, these practices should be banned and the ban enforced by the State? Should the government of the day ban cattle slaughter because the Buddhist monks immolate themselves for such a ban?-

One is reminded of the prohibition movement in USA. Spurred by the temperance movement’s crusade against alcohol and liquor licensing, local option laws there empowered local voting majorities, in a referendum-like manner, to decide annually at the ballot box whether or not licenses would be issued. Similar option polls were also held in Madras in the 1970s.  In the USA debates on the issue resulted in a reassessment of fundamental tenets of American popular sovereignty. Lawyers inspired by James Madison’s warnings about majority tyranny argued for limits to popular political empowerment and majority rule and stressed the responsibility of representative democracies to protect minority rights. So lawyers representing pro-liquor forces convinced Delaware’s highest court to declare local option polls unconstitutional. Not only did their ideas reverberate in other court decisions and policy debates of the period, but they established a lasting practice of questioning ballot box legislation grounded in the ideas of James Madison and other elite thinkers concerned about the threat of majority tyranny. In the process, pro-liquor groups helped democratize the tradition of questioning majority rule for future use by other non elite minorities.-

So popular sovereignty cannot be invoked to deprive the rights of individual citizens or the rights of minorities? Hayek said “ to call ‘law’ everything that the elected representatives of the majority resolve, and to describe as ‘Government under the Law’ all the directives issued by them – however discriminating in favor of, or to the detriment of, some groups of individuals – is a very bad joke.  It is in truth lawless government.  It is a mere play on words to maintain that, so long as a majority approves of acts of government, the rule of law is preserved”

The ancient Athenians who practiced direct democracy realized that the people were too ignorant and unstable in their opinions and could be swayed by the oratory of demagogues. So they ‘ostracized’ (exiled to the islands) demagogic orators. Mr. Chandra Jayaratne has sent me the words of a former Rector of St; Thomas College Mount Lavinia during the time of SWRD who for the first time made use of the power of the demagogue. “it is certainly the age of the Demagogue ( Vachalaya -වාචාලයා), the man with the loud voice and fluent vocabulary and specious tongue who debases his gifts by devoting them to misrepresentation of facts, the stirring up of hatred, the vilifying of persons and causes to which he is opposed; the man with much cleverness but little wisdom who is prepared to sacrifice the peace and prosperity of the country to the gaining of some petty personal or party triumph”. We should be aware of the perils of demagoguery which the ancient Athenians discovered. Despotic rulers always use the demagogues to justify their actions.

The constitutional wisdom of the eighteenth century European thinkers of the Enlightenment is lost in our conception of democracy and democracy is treated in our popular parlance as almost synonymous with majoritarianism. But popular sovereignty never meant absolute validity of the will of the people. We have misunderstood and continue to misinterpret. There are spheres of individual and social living where the will of the people cannot dictate to the individual . What if the majority of the people decide that that everybody should practice Buddhism or speak only the Sinhala language or abide by the ethical values of Buddhism and that if they don’t they should be deprived of citizenship and driven out of the country or even tried and executed. These are areas where the popular will cannot be allowed to move in .There must be areas of civic society that must remain protected by constitutional barriers. These include fundamental human rights freedom of religion and minority rights. Even if the 70% Sinhala Buddhists to a man sign the petition of Wimal Weerawansa these rights cannot be abrogate.

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    RMB SENANAYAKE,

    Weerawansa belongs to the category of

    1, Monk Mahanama Racist Myth Holder Group, but a milder version. Another face of JHU.

    2. He is the spokesmen of the regime.

    3. Even though he is balance and fair, still he is shill, with Sinhala Buddhist racist tendencies.

    He has sold out his Egalitarian principles to the Maras. The current regime has bought many of them.

    DeJa Vu

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      to add to this.
      I believe, he has a personal grudge against WESTERNERS or their policies that IC would consider as fine. If he knew one of their langauges he could get more about westerns, unfortunately, his stubborness seem to be against. For example, for any ISSUE, he is trying to intrepret it – not studying properly, but falling the lines of imperialism /foreign intervention/mediation, even if we have to respect the sourverenity of thecountry – but he seems to be far from understanding that we as one of developing nations, need to stay well connected with IC, only pleasing the locals, he can though stay further in power, but that would be a solution for any of our problems. Sometimes his interpretations are far from the real picture of addressing issue, but no doubt mostly helful to manipule the nation such ours. People´s everyday langaughe he uses to deceive them further. His kind of stammered stories infiltrate across the majority stupid folks. He is a good actor too.I really dont think Weerawanse has done much to the country yet. He has all along manipulated the masses.

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        This man Uruwansa is against the westerners mainly ‘cos of the language which is very difficult for him learn now, as has not educated enough not even through GCE. He is not a real person loves the country either, from palace he has built at Malambe, any fool can understand how he has earned so much. Sometime back his bro Sarath Weerawansa robbed electricity at Matatra and was fined in court. Now he is a PS MP from NFF.
        This man though he is very against with western world, he & the family is going shopping and entertainments to USA etc. The US embassy should not issue visas for such cads.

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      R.M.B SENANAYAKE is talking for the Church.

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      Amarasiri is a Tamil who is spreading Anti-Sinhala buddhist, anti-Rajapakse venom.

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        …and you are JimNutty, the racist??

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    What can you expect from Weerawansa. He was not elected by the people but was appointed. Even in his name there is TAMIL. Weera means brave. May be he should first change his name to Modawansa. Moda is a Sinhalese word.

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      The Sinhala alphabet is said to contain more than 30% Tamil words. Moda can be a derivative of Mada (Tamil) as in Madayan.

      Senguttuvan

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        Like the indelible silly substances you relish in your brain.

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          Furthermore his full name is Sangili Panikkilage Wimalasena.
          Sangili, Wimala, Sena all Tamil or Hindu words.
          His boss Perci Mahendra Rajapakse, first is a western and ‘Mahendra’ a hindu name.

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      if you see that in that way, almost every sinhala name has connecting word with tamil or other indian langauges or not ? Even indonesian names are related of our words. He is stupid, but a kind of polariser of our nation. His stammered fairy tales spread as if a killing virus could quickly change the state of a person. Gullible, easily manipulative people (70% of the population)believe him not raising the question why. Then the state media give their all efforts to pass the same smilar to that of WEERAVANSA. Then the synergy of all these make SO CALLED GENERAL PUBLIC even glass clear for them there is nothing beyond what Weerawansa´s tales. He screams, amme thaththe, sahodariya sahodaraya… but all these folks would not know how the bugger really has been. In my days, as i KNEW him decades ago, I thought his principles are very maxist. Now having heard that he has got built palaces while letting the nation much deeper – many of the average people struggling to their daily meals – with sky rockted cost ofliving levels.. It is impossible to respect the man anymore.

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        Jaya, Medalankara and the actor who says that he studied Lankan history says that Ravana era was a fact and not fiction.If that is so, people of this country traversed to India regularly, even before Vijaya exiled from India came here. Ravana on his travels to India would have spied on a beauty called Sita which made him abduct her.In other words, before the Sinhalas dominated this country there would have been “Indians” probably with a language which led to the current Tamil.We are told that 700 prices were got down for Vijay and his gang.”Princes”? most probably women who could under no circumstances get married and that would have to be again come from South India.

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      Park,

      You cannot tell from a name and is subject to errors.

      You also cannot tell from religion, as religion is belief.

      However, you CAN tell from DNA analysis. Get Weerawansa Cheek DNA sample and settle the dispute scientifically.

      https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/

      National Geographic’s Genographic Project has used advanced DNA analysis and worked with indigenous communities to help answer fundamental questions about where humans originated and how we came to populate the Earth. Now, cutting-edge technology is enabling us to shine a powerful new light on our collective past.

      Did Weerawansa come from South India?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genographic_Project

      Geno 2.0 test
      Nine ancestral regions make up each of populations’ genomes: Northeast Asian, Mediterranean, Southern African, Southwest Asian, Oceanian, Southeast Asian, Northern European, Sub-Saharan African and Native American. There are 43 reference populations, each made up of distinct blends of these nine regions (results < 2% are not reported by Geno 2.0):

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        and every group is in want of a devolution by the UN.

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    President engages demagogues like Weerawansa and Racist like Champika to do what he would not be seen doing. ‘Balalu Lawwa Kosatta Banawa’- Using the cats paw to remove hot jack seeds from the frying pan’. He is surrounded by such imposters and con men. They use hate speech and fine words couched in Patriotism and Buddhism to arouse emotions and hatred in the masses to achieve their aims.

    Although they have very limited mandate from the people they are given high visibility in state and pro-racist media. They dress in white national to cover up their lack of votes and claim to represent the whole country. Yesterday the JHU claimed that all 26,000 war heroes who gave their lives were the sons of the JHU. By engaging in such rhetoric and misleading the public they are doing great damage to the nation.

    Where have these people been over the last 25 years. One Udaya Gammanpila is even a Minister of the WPC. Shouldnt he resign from his post with immediate effect. Now when the country and president have made various promises to the people and the international community and with 2 months to go for the NCP election they have created a serious issue that will have a great impact on all Sri Lankans. One hopes that saner counsel will prevail although insanity is the hallmark of this regime.

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    What We should expect from a unprincpeled,uneducated [socialy], and thuggary worshipping coward.

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    I wish Sri Lankans, especially the majority community, appreciate the relevant essential concepts of true democracy mentioned in this article.

    Also, would we find a statesman, or a party who can educate the masses on these concepts of fundamental human rights, freedom of religion and minority rights?

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    Is the right of the minority to

    CONVERT PEOPLE?

    DESTABALIZE THE NATION?

    LIE AND CREATE DISTORTED VERSIONS OF THE TRUTH?

    RIDICULE THE MAJORITY AND THEN WHEN THEY GET THEIR RETURN THEY GO CRYING TO THE HEAD MASTER…

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      Nandana – Read my comment above.

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    So Mr Senanayaka is cheesed off that one vanchalaya ( demogogue) is getting our ordinary punters to say no to Police Powers and Land Titles to other Vanchalayas, eight of who are taking care of us now with their mates who are not only Vanchalayas but some with a penchant for roughing up our inhabitants, and even murdering them.

    Don’t these poor inhabitants have the right to be frightened of these Vunchalays having their own Police?.

    Mr Senanayaka reckons minority rights got nothing to to do with the majority inhabitants.

    Fair enough,

    The great majority of the majority inhabitants want equal rights to their fellow inhabitants.

    They do not need any reminders.

    Instead the leared and caring people like Mr Senanayaks calmly explian where the minority people are lacking equal rights, the inhabitants will be more than happy to sign another petition to request immedeate redress.

    By the way, Did the Deputy Mr Sumnathiran do his studies in an Eelaam with its own Police to become the high profile and rich Lawyer that he is?.

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    Dear RMB

    Your persuasive argument, supported as usually by evidence, will not hold water on WW – the man who, in his expected wisdom, advised the Sinhala people Google is a conspiracy and Internet’s aim is to seduce the purity of the Sinhala race. How this dirt from the streets, with a long record of murder and destruction of public property, was taken into the Cabinet is baffling. That he was embellished
    with an important Ministry is all too well known and indicative of the times we live in where square pegs are plaed in round holes. He is a deliberate creature of the King with unwritten orders to insult other countries and VVIPs, sleep in pavements in the name of the Sinhala Buddhist Nation to the glare of arranged TV cameras and otherwise create mayhem in the streets when so ordered. His other function is to silence colleagues who may appear to disagree with the regime’s plans – something that he is supposed to have demonstrated recently when he swung at a senior octogenarian Minister – Muhamad Ali-like. As a remarkable and regular Writer in these columns noted recently, the regime will set up minor fires all over the country periodically to divert the attention of the people from the more pressing day to day punishing issues ot the poor. Then the King will appear with retinue, kept-media, TV cameras and all extinguishing the fires – in the foolish belief the already submissive people will give him the credit for saving the country. This is the strategy of those believed to possess IQ’s that look like the temperatures in the Arctic – minus zero.

    Senguttuvan

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    In many instances it is the Sinhalese who have mixed blood, which is signified by their forenames (vasagama),
    choose strongly campaign against the other communities. Now like our man Wimal in the 1950s there was KONARA MUDIYANSELAGE RAJARATNE. Konara is a Kerala (MALAYALA) name. KMP was a hardened anti-Tamil. I know a Sinhalese who has the vasagama MARAKALGEDERAGE so and so. He is a strong anti-Muslim.

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      Mohomad:

      what are you saying that you are from Arabic lands ?

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        Whatever I am, which I am proud of, I do not spread hate of others because of what I am.

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      “Marakkalaya” does not mean Muslim but a member of the crew of a boat or a ship. The surname or “vaasagama” with “Marakkalagederage” or “Marakkalage” means decedent of a person whose occupation is serving on board of a boat or a ship. In “Madol Duwa” Martin Wickramasinghe used the word “Marakkalahe” to describe the chief of the fishing boat in which Upali Giniwelle hid himself.

      In English the member of crew of a ship or a boat is identified as a Mariner and the Captain or the chief of the crew as the Master Mariner.

      Master Mariners are now professionals and to qualify they have to sit many examinations covering subject areas of mechanical and marine engineering, international conventions and maritime laws of ports of call etc. etc. I am told that the Association of Master Mariners known as the “Company of The Master Mariners” is a member association of the OPA. If surnames are derived from occupations like in the past, then we can have Anglicized surname called “Mariner”.

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        The word ‘Marakkala’, whatever its origin be, is used in Sri Lanka to identify the Muslims, or at least a section of the Muslims. So a Sinhalese who this term as a part of his vasagama could have some Muslim or Marakkala mix in him as the term ‘Mudiyanselage’ appears in the fore-names of some Muslims and the Muslims accept them as having some Sinhala connections.

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          Natives of Ceylon were not familiar with going for fishing in the sea in boats before the Arabs and the Malays started coming here in boats or “Sampans”. Marakkalays are said to be of Yemeni origin. Some Muslims having Mudiyanselage as vaasagama is due to the Kings decorating them for their services to the palace. Some of them have even received land grants. Those who abandoned trade as the occupation and settled down in the Eastern province came to be known as “Mattayas” and the descendants of those who settled down after coming in “Sampans” to “Sampantota” or Hambantota are sometimes called “Hambayas”.

          Afgans were called “Avakans”, Portuguese “Parangi”, Hollanders “Landesi”, Chettiyars ‘Hetti” and so on. That is how the Ceylonese society drew the lines between the visitors and the locals. Now there are “Brown Sahibs” and “Pukka Sahibs”. I do not know how Sri Lankans are called in other countries. We should not consider it as social discrimination. But if someone wants to be identified with the origins, there is no bar for anyone to do so.

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    The racial-religious bigot KMP Rajaratne, who, I believe was an MP from the Uva. His father was believed to be from the South Indian Konar (Yadav) caste. Konars come more from Andhra and Tamilnadu. There is still a small community of them in Sri Lanka.

    Senguttuvan

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    At the rate we are progressing soon there will be a guillotine erected at the Gallface green and all the undesirables
    and minorities will be marched each morning past the araliaya mandira by Modawansa brigade, to be beheaded at the behest of the Maharaja to purify the land.
    The majoritarian supporters will throng the green cheering the Noble achievements of the Modawansa task force to give them a pure Buddhist land rid of all ithe impure elements.
    Thereafter a new era will dawn where there will be no want, no sickness, no sadness and everyone of this holy land will attain nibbana!

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    Soverignity of the people is when we have a constitution that upholds the individual rights of the people that should be moral, compassionate with the rule of law as the guiding principal. In sri Lanka we have a constitution that safeguards the interests of the rulers. 13th amendment is a reflection of the misplaced power of the MPs who were safeguarding the right of JRJ at the expense of the people held to ransom by letters of resignation. All this is wrong. Soverignity of the people can only be safeguarded by if their is a sense of morality amongst our rulers. It is time we have a second chamber to ensure that.

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