By Elmore Perera –
Since Independence in 1948, Constitution making and amendment, of same in Sri Lanka have de facto been the exclusive preserve of politicians. Invariably therefore, they were designed to suit the whims of scheming politicians to safeguard and further their own selfish interests. The only exception to this was perhaps the 17th Amendment to the 1978 Constitution. Civic minded professionals who placed country before self, laboured for eleven months to have this passed in Parliament, without a single dissenting vote, to amend the Constitution in October 2001.
Regrettably however, it did not take long for scheming politicians to restore to themselves those lost powers. Commencing in 2005, the Executive initially disregarded, and subsequently blatantly violated the mandatory constitutional provisions – an impeachable offence, under the same constitution!
Having tasted blood, the Executive went the 2nd mile in October 2010. The 17th Amendment, commonly described as the ‘Good Governance Amendment’, was repealed and replaced with the draconian 18th Amendment. In double quick time all institutions were totally politicised. The last bastion, the Judiciary, fell in January 2013 with the wholly unlawful impeachment of its Head, the Chief Justice. The rule of Law was rapidly replaced by the Law of the Jungle. The predators devoured all that they chose to.
Unwilling to remain as passive observers of this carnage and impending doom, the National Movement for Social Justice, spearheaded by the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero was formed about two years ago. Since then, a relentless campaign has been carried out in an attempt to restore the rule of Law and establish a “Just Society” in Sri Lanka.
The root cause for this unprecedented degradation was soon identified as the patronage extended to a host of Criminals, bootleggers and hooligans of all sorts, by the patent abuse of the unlimited powers of the Executive President. The abolition of the Executive Presidency and the restoration of the 17th Amendment became the key issues pursued by this movement.
The mere abolition of the Executive Presidency will not instantly solve all our problems. However, without first abolishing the Executive Presidency, Sri Lanka cannot be saved from the imminent destruction of every semblance of civilisation.
Far from honouring the solemn pledges, repeatedly made by him to abolish the Executive Presidency, the Incumbent President is rapidly arrogating to himself all conceivable power and authority, and ruthlessly exercising them as he pleases, to crush or suppress any opposition.
Though clearly prohibited, by prevailing law, from seeking a third term as President, he seems hell bent on achieving that objective. It is reported that “his Judiciary” has, for what it is worth, opined that there is no legal barrier to his seeking a third term. The purported opinion is no more than the mere opinion of a collection of individuals. If nothing else, it is an expression of their personal biases. It is said that “man (including woman according to the current provisions of the much maligned Interpretation Ordinance) is Master (or Mistress) of the unspoken word (or opinion) which when spoken (or opined) becomes the Master (or mistress) of him (or her). This expression of an opinion they have formed, clearly disentitles them from thereafter adjudicating on the same matter. At most, such opinion is only persuasive to the extent of the credibility, if any, of the individuals expressing it.
All national assets re being flagrantly exploited by the Executive to achieve its goal. The most ominous is the establishment of Army Camps throughout the length and breadth of Sri Lanka, which is the electorate for the impending Presidential election. The possibility of a military coup (by those who claim to have defeated terrorism) cannot be ruled out.
The President has decreed that there shall be no “Arab Spring” in Sri Lanka. The question is “Then what it will it be?
Que Sera Sera! Whatever will be, will be!
The Sovereign People will then deliver their verdict!
*Elmore Perera, Attorney-at-Law – Founder CIMOGG and Past President OPA