17 October, 2021

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Parliament & Parliamentary Democracy In Sri Lanka: A Brief Political History

By Jayadeva Uyangoda

Prof. Jayadeve Uyangoda

Parliament has been a theme of many political debates in Sri Lanka since the establishment of the country’s first modern parliament in 1947. Thus, the chronicle of Sri Lanka’s parliament has been intertwined with several other stories, for example, of modern democracy, changing constitutional architecture of the state, and political agendas of different elite groups vying for state power. Therefore, the story of Sri Lanka’s parliament is also one about the vicissitudes of the country’s post-independence politics.

The introduction of the principle of elections based on limited franchise in 1910 and then the universal adult franchise in 1931 were early turning points during the formative phase of parliamentary system in colonial Sri Lanka. What evolved during the period between 1910 and 1947 was a proto-parliamentary system in the sense that the legislature was still an institution of the colonial state, the voters were not politically free citizens, and there was no independent political community bearing political sovereignty. The State Council established in 1931 on the basis of universal adult franchise was the forerunner to the parliament proper inaugurated in 1947. The post-independence parliament functioned in its original form till 1972 without any major disruption. There were however arguments for its remaking through an agenda of decolonization so that the parliament could become an authentic symbol of national independence.   

Since 1970, the nature, composition, role and powers of parliament have been subjected to alteration several times. Directions of such alterations shaped by ideological commitments of various power blocs, group interests of  competing class alliances and political elites, personal ambitions of individual political leaders, and occasionally the popular expectations for better governance.

Original Design

Sri Lanka’s parliamentary government was originally designed by framers of the Soulbury Constitution generally in line with the Westminster model with some minor deviations.

The British model of parliamentary government had three specific features. Firstly, it had a bi-cameral legislature, reflecting class divisions within the British society. The interests of the ordinary people were represented in one House and interests of the landed and wealthy elites in the other. Members of the first, appropriately named the House of Commons in accordance with the English class values, were elected directly by the voters, or the ‘people.’ Members of the other Chamber, the so-called ‘Upper House’, which had an equally apt name — the House of Lords — were not people’s representatives. They were not elected through popular vote either. The hereditary head of state –King/Queen – was an institution of parliament symbolizing the monarchy which was never abolished in the process of Britain’s long democratic revolution. Thirdly, the political executive, or the Cabinet of Ministers, was part of the legislature in the sense that its members were also members of parliament, and they were collectively accountable to parliament.

Following that model, Sri Lanka’s parliament too consisted of a bi-cameral, or two-chamber, legislature as well as the British monarch. In the Sri Lankan version of parliament, the two chambers were re-named as the Senate and the House of Representatives. Naming the second chamber as ‘Senate’ was not in line with the Westminster tradition. Rather, it was a legacy of Roman republicanism. However, that has never been a point of controversy among Sri Lanka’s constitutional experts.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s parliament had one major  deviation from the British parliamentary model. The Soulbury Constitution had imposed limitations on the legislative sovereignty of Sri Lanka’s parliament.

Two Controversies

Two major issues of controversy soon arose surrounding Sri Lanka’s first parliament. The first was the question whether parliament, with limitations on the scope of its legislative powers under the minority protection clause of 29 (2), had really embodied people’s expectations for full political independence from colonial rule. The question at the core of this controversy was the following: If parliament was not conferred with full and sovereign legislative power, could the ‘nation’ be viewed as really free, fully independent? The second was the ethnic majoritarian turn which Sri Lanka’s parliament took no sooner than the country received political independence. 

Those who spearheaded the debate on the first theme were Sri Lanka’s Left parties and the Sinhalese nationalists. Both sides, although with different political agendas, shared the position that in the absence of a parliament with sovereign legislative powers, political independence of 1948 was incomplete. While the Sinhalese nationalist forces argued for the replacement of Section 29 (2) with a new clause removing the legislative limitation on parliament, they also advanced a novel idea that Sri Lanka should be made a republic within the British Commonwealth. This was a key recommendation of the Buddhist Inquiry Commission Report of 1953.

Meanwhile, the Left proposal for a republic had echoed both French and socialist republican notions of freedom of the political community. It also had a legal justification, elaborated by Lanka Sama Samaja Party’s (LSSP’s) Dr. Colvin R de Silva. Since a legal revolution was required to alter or rescind Section 29 (2), making Ceylon a republic through a popular mandate for a constituent assembly was the only option available. The example of Irish Republic of 1921 was perhaps in the back of Dr. de Silva’s mind.

Meanwhile, the nationalist and socialist parties – SLFP, LSSP and CP – got their much awaited opportunity to create a fully sovereign parliament and a republic. That was in 1970 when their United Front coalition of the SLFP, LSSP and CP received a two-thirds majority seats in parliament. However, as we will see later, a ruling party securing a two-thirds majority in parliament has always been quite harmful to the health and well-being of Sri Lanka’s parliamentary democracy.

Majoritarian Parliamentarism

The majoritarian turn which Sri Lanka’s parliament took at its very inception reflected an inevitable fate of modern parliamentary democracy in ethnically plural societies. As Arendt Lijphart, an American political scientist noted in his comparative research on democracy in parliamentary systems, has shown, the principle of majority-rule had an inherent weakness. It enabled a numerically strong ethnic group in plural, multi-ethnic societies to transform not only the legislature, but also the entire system of democratic government, into an instrument to serve the interests of the ethnic majority at the expense of the minorities. Tightly built into the structures of electoral and parliamentary politics, ethnic majoritarianism is a specific type of democratic deviation of which Sri Lanka continues to be an example.   

The enactment by post-independence parliament of the citizenship and franchise reform laws in 1949, within just one year of independence, marked the beginning of an irreversible process. It pushed Sri Lanka’s parliamentary democracy into a trap of ethnic majoritarianism and ethnic bargaining of the zero-sum type. The makers of the official language legislation of 1956 and the First Republican Constitution of 1972, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party and its socialist allies of different hues. faithfully followed the ethnic-majoritarian footsteps of their senior political rivals in the United National Party, with greater conviction and determination. Only the eloquent speeches delivered in parliament by opposition MPs on both occasions, not the legislative enactments themselves, that still remain as testimony to the vibrance of Sri Lanka’s parliamentary democracy in moments of grave setbacks.

Republican Recasting of Parliament

Re-making of Sri Lanka’s parliament in line with the principles of republicanism in 1972 marked a major turning point in the evolution of Sri Lanka’s parliamentary democracy. It brought to an effective end the presence of Westminster parliamentary model in Sri Lanka’s constitutional practice. At the same time, the damage which the First Republican Constitution did to Sri Lanka’s parliamentary democracy is second only to what the Second Republican Constitution was to make a few years later in 1978.

If we take any new Constitutions as embodiment of projects of power forged by elites with specific political and ideological agendas, the 1972 and 1978 constitutions were championed by two elite groups who shared a thoroughgoing skepticism, for different reasons, about the utility of liberal parliamentary democracy to advance their political interests.

In 1972, the United Front coalition of socialists and Sinhalese nationalists  found an opportunity to drive Sri Lanka decisively away from the old style parliamentary democracy that had been designed in line with the late seventeenth century Lockean principles of liberal, minimum government. It was also an opportunity for them to put into practice ideas that had been crystalized in their polemical attacks on the Soulbury constitutional  model. Constitutionalizing ‘Popular Sovereignty’ was the foremost political and ideological goal of the socialist and nationalist makers of the 1972 constitution. They proclaimed Sri Lanka to be a Sovereign Republic and made a hybrid constitution mixing features of parliamentary democracy with that of a Socialist Republic. The single-chamber House of Representatives  was re-named as “National State Assembly’, a name that reminded one the name of the French Parliament after the Revolution of 1789, ‘National Assembly’. It gestured to the commitment of some influential framers of the 1972 constitution to move away from the English Westminster Parliamentary model and embrace the French Republican parliamentary model along with some features of socialist constitutionalism.

In 1972, there was also a peculiarly instrumentalist approach to the meaning, purpose and functions of parliament as a key state institution. It was more a socialist republican parliament than a liberal democratic one. The constitution declared,  in words borrowed from the socialist political vocabulary, that the National State Assembly (NSA) was to be “the supreme instrument of state power in the Republic.” Thus, the NSA was also the institutional embodiment of people’s sovereignty and thus exercised the legislative, executive and judicial powers of the people. Unlike in the case of Soulbury parliament, the republican parliament’s legislative power was declared “supreme.” No authority, institution or person, including the judiciary, had the power or jurisdiction “to inquire into, pronounce upon, or in any manner call into question the validity of any law” passed by the NSA. This clause was clearly a slap on the face of those who drafted the Soulbury constitution and allowed implicitly the principle of judicial review of legislation, a facility earlier used by Tamil minority citizens to challenge discriminatory legislation passed by the previous parliament. With its legislative supremacy firmly established, the NSA still lacked any measure of institutional autonomy; it was an ‘instrument’ in the hands of the political leadership of the regime, an influential section of which saw parliament as the key state institution to be utilized as a facilitator of socialist transformation. In other words, parliament was given so much power and authority by the 1972 constitution not to empower the citizens who elect its members, but the regime and its elites that controlled parliament for their own ends.

Thus, the way in which socialist constitutional thought, along with French Republicanism, had inspired the specific illiberal features of Sri Lanka’s parliament under the First Republican Constitution of 1972 warrants some acknowledgement, although belatedly.

The Second Republican Constitution of 1978 continued to re-create this model of illiberal Republican parliament with added features that gave the constitution ’s republican framework a few de Gaulle style autocratic features as well. Mr. J. R. Jayewardene and his reputed legal team made the parliament powerless and utterly subservient to the ‘Leader’, who was to become the unelected President of a republic as the  head of the executive. To emphasize the  supremacy of the executive over the legislature and the latter’s devalued status, J. R. Jayewardene, its architect, introduced to the world his new constitutional scheme as ‘an executive presidential system.’ Moving decisively away from the Westminster model of parliamentary-cabinet government that  had an implicit framework of separation of powers, the 1978 constitution brought both parliament and the cabinet under total domination exercised by one individual, the President who was simultaneously the head of state, head of government, head of the cabinet and also head of the ruling party. The political and constitutional change of 1978 marked the culmination of a process of the rise of the executive branch of Sri Lankan state over the legislature that began in 1972. Subordination of parliament to the executive headed by individuals with authoritarian-autocratic agendas has been the key general feature of new template of executive-legislature relations as defined by the 1978 Constitution, except during 2015-2019 when the 19th Amendment restored the powers of parliament vis a vis the executive.

Failed Reforms

The blow that Sri Lanka’s parliamentary democracy received in 1978 has been so debilitating that several attempts to restore Parliament-centric Cabinet government through constitutional reform have failed. In fact, when there was mounting criticism of the presidential system with arguments for its total abolition, one option brought to the table was returning to the pre-1972 parliamentary system with some adjustments. The first occasion when an electoral promise for returning to parliamentary government was made in 1994 by the People’s Alliance (PA), consisting of the SLFP, LSSP and CP. However, in the absence of a consensus between the PA government and the opposition UNP to ensure the passage of new reform proposals in parliament with a two-thirds majority support, Sri Lanka’s presidential system could easily survive during 1995-2001.

During the subsequent years, particularly after 2005, the Presidential system could find its most ardent defenders and beneficiaries from among its harshest critics of yesteryear, the SLFP and Left leadership. Interestingly the presidential rule of President Mahinda Rajapaksa from 2005 to 2014 also led to a vigorous renewal of the argument among the oppositionist forces for returning to parliamentary – cabinet government, with a President reduced to the status of a ceremonial Head of State with no executive powers. Ironically, it became the UNP’s turn now to spearhead the new campaign for the abolition or reforming the presidential system within a framework of parliamentary government. Tired of a presidential system marked by autocratic style of governance, abuse of power with impunity, contempt for checks and balances and the rule of law, relentless greed for personalized political power, and normalization of repression, public opinion once again turned in favour of abolishing the Presidential system.

A fresh coalescing of various reform constituencies eventually contributed to the emergence of  a broad new coalition, bringing together the UNP and a breakaway group from the SLFP and civil society groups, to win the Presidential election in January 2015. However, political elites within the new yahapalanaya (‘Good Governance’) regime could not reach a consensus on the proposal for abolishing the presidential system altogether. While one faction pressed for the restoration of parliamentary-cabinet model of government, the other faction made a case for the retention of the presidency, with reduced powers. The latter’s key argument was that parliamentary-cabinet government headed by a prime minister would not guarantee either political stability or a strong leadership to ensure national security while functioning as the symbol of national sovereignty.

This defence of the presidential system, advanced by one strand of thought within the yahapalanaya coalition, also had an implicit critique of the pure model of parliamentary democracy. According to this critique. parliamentary democracy would produce only inherently weak governments. Faced with the prospects of minority ethnic insurgencies and terrorist threats, Sri Lanka’s national security interests require political stability under  a president with executive powers, who would not depend on parliamentary support for political survival. The eventual compromise between the parliamentarist and presidentialist approaches to constitutional reform in 2015 was the 19th Amendment. It produced a hybrid parliamentary-presidential government, with a new balance of power favouring parliament., If permitted to operate after 2019, reformist provisions of the 19th Amendment would have contributed to further consolidation of the parliamentary-cabinet government.

Parliament after 20A

However, the year 2019 saw the renewal of the argument for a quick and complete restoration of the executive presidential system. The activation of Islamic militancy highlighting  the urgency of national security preparedness and the emergence of a presidential hopeful with a personal ambition to become Sri Lanka’s all-powerful leader of destiny were the two major factors that once again put to halt the consolidation of parliamentary democracy in Sri Lanka. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka’s new President, brought back, through the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, the original ‘executive presidential system’ designed by Mr. J. R. Jayewardene nearly fifty years ago. Rajapaksa and his party, Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP), totally ignored the rich political debate that had subjected the presidential system to critical scrutiny and evaluation. He even demonstrated his antipathy to the autonomy of parliament as guaranteed by the 19th Amendment when he began to rule the country  ignoring parliament, particularly its powers of law making and controlling the executive, and financial control. The period of covid pandemic, beginning March 2020, was one in which the constitutional role of Parliament was ignored by the executive. That is also the period during which Sri Lanka entered a new phase of executive authoritarianism. One defining feature of executive authoritarianism in Sri Lanka since 1978 has been the devaluation and marginalization of parliament as an institution of government.

As Sri Lanka’s experience since 1978 shows, the rise of presidentialism has been also a story of rapid decline of parliamentary democracy. Sri Lanka’s presidentialism has a template that has a dual approach to parliament. The first is the taming of the parliament, making it ineffective, incapable of self-assertion and wholly subservient to the head of the executive branch of the state. The second is making the parliament superficially strong with a two-thirds majority for the ruling party to which the President belongs, and simultaneously turning it into an instrument of presidential rule. Thus, the two-thirds parliamentary majority for the ruling party in Sri Lanka’s presidential system of government is in practice a bane for parliamentary democracy.

As Sri Lanka’s past and current experience shows, governments with two-thirds majority have always undermined parliamentary democracy  and pushed the country’s politics and the constitution into illiberal, authoritarian and autocratic transformations. Ambitious politicians with personal agendas have used their two-thirds parliamentary majorities to coerce the parliament to abdicate its powers, duties and responsibilities in order to serve egoistic political goals of ambitious of leaders who think of themselves as men of destiny. Legislative power of parliament has been repeatedly abused by such rulers obsessed with executive power to undermine the parliament’s role as the main institutional agency of popular sovereignty and democracy

Meanwhile, parliamentary democracy has survived only under governments with unstable parliamentary majorities. However, reformist governments with unstable majorities cannot restore parliamentary democracy through constitutional reform. This in turn gives rise to a paradox which is very difficult to resolve: restoration of parliamentary democracy in Sri Lanka requires the commitment of a new reformist political force, capable of securing a two-thirds parliamentary majority as well as the office of the President. It also requires a sustainable coalition of both the executive and legislative branches of the state. The head of the executive in such a coalition should be prepared to abdicate the huge range of powers and privileges attached to his/her position for the larger good of the people. Amidst such formidable obstacles, the restoration of Sri Lanka’s parliamentary democracy seems to require a new type of legal revolution.

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Latest comments

  • 7
    1

    Though JU talks of politics, the desire is for democracy, which is a chain based structure of authority and not the self fulfilment of human dictatorship. Science clarifies all the time that the unseen and seen realms reflect the same and are non contradictory. Some simply cannot obviously see what others see and hear as inspired knowledge and revelation. We see the water molecule, but cannot see its atoms and much less its subatomic electrons and protons and neutrons, which are as real. Simply put, the dual nature of light as both energy wave and also a particle (matter) cannot be denied. Unseen karma and sin are not disconnected from its matter containing particles in its own human being and so are accountable. One cannot escape from an unseen higher authority, simply by doing rituals in this human body of particles. Clearing forbidden robbery and murder amongst other evil, goes deeper than doing pacifying rituals.

    • 6
      2

      Mr Uyangoda,
      .
      Time has come to raise the question that we at all have democracy in this country today.
      :
      President released the convicted high criminal out of his imprisonment.. Not a single word against that is being discussed in the country today. Not even LAWYERS COMMUNITY seem to have guts to raise the question yet tday. Serving justice is far from reach. So the man made high promises about ” one country one law” has now turned out to be a CACRICUATURE of usual criminals that have been ruining this country. Not a single step taken by INCUMBENT president is seen as acceptable today. He has abused his power going beyond all ethics and morals. How can the kind of men ever face and see in the eyes of the people that made possible his DEFACTO PRESIDENCY ?

    • 0
      0

      Dear davidthegood:

      Interesting and well intended thoughts!

      But we are always left to wonder about the powerlessness of the presumed “unseen”; the powerlessness to pre-empt evil and the misery thereof.

      The reality that the evil is let to run amok indefinitely, and the idea that at some point in time karma is unleashed on the evil by the presumed “unseen” is impossible to reconcile.

  • 13
    2

    We have to be grateful to Prof. Uyangoda for this fine analysis. Disagreements would be natural. He whitewashes the role of the socialists in the making of the 1972 Constitution. It allowed for Sinhala Buddhist supremacy. Colvin piloted this constitution which sought to marry “socialism” with ethnic chauvinism. The LSSP and the CP stood behind it. The destruction of parliamentary democracy began then. The idea was foreign to Sri Lanka. As the Tamil saying goes, it was like giving a fine garland of jasmines to the black Aryan monkeys who still populate our Parliament. There was only one way to go given the past history of Sri Lanka. JU tries to salvage the “socialists”. The fault may well lie in the fact that the “socialist” leaders sold socialism which stood as a bulwark against ethnicity for their own advancement in their old age

  • 7
    2

    Professor
    Parliamentary democracy can not salvage Sri Lanka as the history has shown. It does not have separation of powers. Executive is part of Legislature and therefore power is not really separated. It hs been very clearly defined by French Philosopher.
    Only constitution that has real separation of powers is American. Even though it is a Presidential style Constitution, it is has real separation of power.
    In a multi racial society, you need both vertical and Horizontal separation of powers. American constitution h has that as well despite it being not a multiracial society.
    No single institution has absolute power in Ju7dical, Executive and Legislative power.
    If we had a constitution like that in 1948 or subsequent years even after 1983, country would not have gone into this mess.
    No doubt, we need a revolution to get out of this mess. It is difficult to have Wijeweerra or Pirapaharan type of revolution. but we need a Iranian type

    • 2
      0

      Dilshan, Re multiracial SriLanka having Iranian type of revolution would involve major religion. Shah of Persia was pro-American which constitution is bible based Isa. 33,22 “The Lord is our Judge, Lawgiver and King and will save us” US money shouts “In God we trust” But our major religious leaders are silent while enjoying the perks and are ignorant and immune to the current danger of Marxism communism, humanism, socialism invasion. Except for a few, greedy parliament has been bought by eastern friend, an unknown deadly virus blower who will not stop. International resolutions and natural disasters led to Hitler’s suicide.

  • 6
    1

    In speaking about universal adult franchise granted in 1931, the writer misses the important qualification that it was given on the basis of residence as in Britain. The principle of ancestry later introduced was utterly untenable. With birth registration brought into reasonable shape only by 1900, one would have had to be about 23 or younger in 1948 to prove that one’s father was born in this country. There was no independence struggle and citizenship legislation in 1948 was a gigantic fraud.
    Our struggle from 1928 to 1948, the tragically successful so-called independence struggle, was to 1.) Deny the Plantation Tamils on whom we were utterly dependent – who even in 1965 were responsible for 65 percent of our foreign earnings – the vote that was their due, and 2.) To neutralise the writ of habeas corpus that was the cornerstone of the legal system we inherited from Britain – the removal was Britain’s gift on the eve of independence – the PSO. The script for our ruinous post-independence history was thus complete.

    • 2
      2

      Thank you RH for placing in perspective the process of independence, although you seem to be a little sentimental to say “The script for our ruinous post-independence history was thus complete.”
      But I agree that it was rather ominous.

  • 6
    2

    If you take the yardstick of democracy and the well being of the people on a continuum, which is the best constitution?
    The Soulbury Constitution, The First Republican Constitution, the second Republican constitution, The Second republican Constitution after the 19TH Amendment or the Second Republican Constitution after 20th Amendment.
    Unfortunately, most well- meaning Sri Lankans will say it is the Soulbury Constitution, of course with much shame and regret.
    The Soulbury Constitution was framed under British monarchy, but it was farsighted by not mentioning an Official language, official religion, Nature of State whether Unitary, federal or even quasi- federal but had a minority friendly safeguard in the form of Section 29(2) .

    It had a bicameral body with an elected Parliament with 06 nominated members and a Senate.

    But it is a disgrace to the country and the people who could not frame a constitution on their own that could reflect the aspirations of all the people and that could stand for a reasonable period of time without much controversy.

  • 6
    2

    Parliament & Parliamentary Democracy In Sri Lanka is history.
    RIP

  • 7
    1

    The Sri Lankan experience shows the failure of two models. The strong authoritarian model concentrates power so much that it leads to abuse unless the leader is above corruption (as Lee Kwan Yew in Singapore was). In Sri Lanka, its failure was demonstrated by JR and is being demonstrated by Gota. The first was an able and shrewd politician. The less said about the second, the better. Parliamentary democracy is also a failure as demonstrated by Trump, Lukashenko and Gota. It is possible to obtain two third majorities by deception and manipulation. Given the history of Sri Lanka and the dominance of the “Maha” Sangha, it takes but a few Benz cars to do the trick. The reintroduction of checks and balances in a meaningful way and an end to ethno-religious politics through criminal sanctions is the need of the day. Also, it is time that powers are devolved so that the minorities do not have to stew in the Mahavamsa shithole along with the Sinhalese.

    • 1
      4

      Cicero,
      Native Sinhalayo did not invite minorities to their country. If minorities who came as invaders, refugees or coolies and settled down in this country think they have to stew in the Mahawamsa shithole along with the Sinhalese, they are free to leave this country. If they want to live in this country, they have to live as Sri Lankans in a Unitary State. Devolving power to people who came from other countries and settled down in Sinhale is out of the question.
      —–
      “Also, it is time that powers are devolved so that the minorities do not have to stew in the Mahavamsa shithole along with the Sinhalese.”

  • 1
    0

    The experience of India in constitution making is the envy to all right thinking people in Sri Lanka.

    India commenced the process just before Independence in 1947 and convened an constituent assembly with wide representation.

    Constituent Assembly was indirectly elected by the provincial legislatures comprising 278 representatives and 15 women.

    Parties represented in the CA were the Congress Party, Muslim League, Scheduled Caste Federation, the Indian Communist Party and the Union Party- an all inclusive representation.

    The Indian Constitution was amended more than 90 times, yet the basic structure was not altered.

    Except recurring controversy over Kashmir, Indian Constitution was a success story. It was an indigenous effort..

    Our 1972 and 1978 constitution making was also an indigenous effort.

    But we could not unify the country , to date it remains a divided nation.

    If India can why not Sri lanka.?

  • 3
    1

    Excellent! On the aspect of History, impeccable. A small essay like this will receive unavoidable criticisms of missing-s. But they are not purposeful or even at the least, negligent. In those competing situations, it is common for authors to select a few matters by random or by verifiable priorities, no hidden objects. Anyway, the general tone of the essay is benign. Prof Uyangoda is one of the few writers in CT, commentators agree with mostly. Having said that, with other commentators, we too can analyze the contents of the essay without prejudice.
    Professor Uganda’s wish is clearly advocated everywhere in the essay: restoring the democracy that is dead or at least in a similar situation. For that, sure, he will be marked by few him as their enemy and could be labeled to Sinhala Buddhist as a Sinhala Kottiya (We won’t spend time on explaining that, but that is because, democracy is as much an enemy for rulers of Lankawe as LTTE, which the so called Kottiya, So, by that maxim, the educated Sinhalese talk about democracy is Sinhala Kottiya- of cause no brainly logic). We agree with Professor Uyangoda on the object that is restoring democracy, but our path is different.

  • 2
    0

    He has very eloquently argued how all the usual paths of Sinhalese, by voting and changing the governmental landscape of Lankawe, is cordoned off & closed in multi-dimensional fronts. He is outlining in his history note how the past attempts failed too. Having considered the ability of Sinhalese in breaking the barriers through elections, he is looking at legal revolution as an alternative. He is taking the meaning for democracy as in the popular sense, people’s representation; so, he feels if a lawyers’ revolution changes the constitution from EP systems to full size, the parliamentary system will restore democracy. Though he believes in this shortcut restoration of democracy, he did not miss to quote that Ceylon democracy started to go tainted soon after the freedom, when UNP’s Don Stephen redefined the Ceylon “Universal Franchise” which was natured from as early as British Universal Franchise (1919 women’s voting rights). He further mentioned the 4/21 where few Muslims extremists were recruited to establish the continuous need for a Hitler. (The planning for that started as early as 2012.) He agrees that from 1948, all rulers contributed to the death of democracy. We have denied frequently on these pages that Sinhalese voluntarily descended into an elected dictatorship not because of LTTE, but to honor the Mahavamsa’s inconsistent claim that Ceylon is a Buddhist land.

  • 1
    0

    Professor Uyangoda established that Sinhalese cannot restore the democracy by voting but seems to hope they would safeguard this time if it were restored by a legal revolution. Further he places hope on lawyers this time. It was the same lawyers who drafted all the new constitutions, their amendments, Indian Pakistani Citizenship Act, MMDA, Sinhala Only, PTA and the other whole bunch of internationally condemned legal provisions. That is why our process of restoring democracy differs. Our insistence is, recognizing their weaker interest in democracy, that Sinhalese need to be provided with a shield that they can use to protect the newly restored democracy, which unlike prof. Uyangoda hoping, cannot be done locally. The main tool repeatedly used to lure Sinhalese voluntarily into dictatorship is Tamils. So, before wasting time and effort to restore democracy, that distraction must be removed from Sinhala Politicians’ hands. Tamils needs to be separated out of Sinhala Politics. If that is done, the presidential ruling or parliamentary ruling is not going to make any difference to Sinhalese, as it is seen in many other democratic countries. Lankawe lawyers are no different from the Tomb Raiders, the GMOA. Asking BASL to undertake the job revolting to restore democracy is appointing the wolf to babysit the precious baby.

  • 1
    1

    C
    “…unless the leader is above corruption (as Lee Kwan Yew in Singapore was)”
    Was not the idea that JRJ was ‘above corruption’? Perhaps in money matters.
    Moral corruption? ( I do not mean sexual matters.)
    LKY too was lacking on that front, judging by what have seen in the way he harassed the opposition.

  • 2
    0

    Whatever the systems of governance, whether it is parliamentary or Presidential or mixture of parliament and presidency will not work for Sri Lanka. It is not about the systems, it is about the power given to the individuals (politicians-MPs, Ministers, Prime Minister, President) by the people in the constitution is the problem. So, it is the problem of the people. Who gave the power to JRJ? Who gave the Power to Gota? Who gave the power to Mahinda? Did the people know what powers they are giving to them? Who gave the power to President to pardon a murderer? Was there any standards or procedures he should follow in making decisions? Some people try to blame British and some people try to blame JRJ to defend what Gota did after seven decades or four decades. People are happy to accept the merger of different devolved kingdoms (unitary state) but do not want to go back to the former system. Why? Under the unitary and democratic system, the power was handed over to two British based two Sinhalese “nayaka” (Indian) families.

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