16 December, 2019

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Premadasa, Père et Fils  

By Sarath de Alwis –

Sarath de Alwis

We are what time, circumstances and history has made of us. We are trapped in history. At age seventy-seven, I refuse to trap history in my mind. This essay is an obligation to history.   

Although JR Jayewardene introduced ‘Executive Presidentialism’, coercive cruelty of presidentialism in the public psyche of my generation is firmly linked to the presidency of Ranasinghe Premadasa. We carry the scars. 

R. Premadasa was the first  to practice ‘patronal presidentialism’. Unlike his predecessor, R. Premadasa was the rank outsider to the establishment. He set down the precedents of ‘patronal presidentialism’ that his successors Chandrika and Mahinda gleefully followed.  His ethos was simple. Don’t be dissuaded by people who tell you that it cannot be done.

As a directly elected president he addressed the nation from the Octagon in Kandy. The office had bestowed on him significantly more authority than other state organs. Unlike JR who drafted the constitution, Ranasinghe Premadasa had the advantage of interpreting the constitution in his own light- that of the street fighter who cut his teeth in municipal politics of Colombo. He realized that the president’s power was not confined only to such as stipulated in the constitution. The Presidency was an opportunity to build extensive patron-client relationships that covered the country. Power was no longer limited to codified law. The executive presidency with its immunity enabled him immense power to manipulate an informal hierarchical power network through which he channeled state resources to the loyal and punished his opponents. 

Ranasinghe Premadasa was the first ‘patronal president’ with a charmed inner circle of a presential elite who were committed to carry out his edicts 24 x 7. 

The office of President was the institutional focal point of an elite independent of the cabinet of Ministers. The patronal president decided on matters for the better or worse in consultation with his trusted aides. Parliament was an inconvenient adjunct. 

Very early in the process, Sajith Premadasa was forthright in his belief that his nomination by the UNP was his birthright. He told us, that as the son of Ranasinghe Premadasa, had prepared himself for this onerous task from the day he was born. 

Now we talk of shadowy excesses of an all-powerful executive running berserk with an outfit labelled the ‘Tripoli Platoon’.  Citizens of my generation have an obligation to remind the current generation of the ‘Lawrence Mafia’ that functioned under the Premadasa presidency. It was truly the fountain head of extra judicial processes of taming dissent. It was that terrible mechanism of fear that compelled a group of UNP dissenters to rebel against their autocratic leader. 

Sajith Premadasa has now moved one step further. He wants to perpetuate the executive presidency and the current constitutional order. 

Any talk of abolishing the presidency would therefore be a negation of his manifest destiny. He has boldly, bluntly and brazenly dismissed his party’s officially declared policy committed to abolish the executive presidency. 

At a press conference held at the home of Mangala Samaraweera, his new political praetorian, he insisted, quite vehemently, that no scientific study has established that the abolition of the executive presidency was either a national imperative or an objective desired by the electorate. He seems oblivious to the stringent laboratory test that demonstrated the profoundly heinous nature of executive presidentialism during the October constitutional coup. 

Sajith Premadasa is committed to build one thousand one hundred twenty-five ‘stupas’ throughout the land. Now in this noble undertaking he has a solid scientific explanation for dotting the island with protuberant piles of concrete that serves no practical purpose other than appeasing the piety of the ‘wide eyed’ and ‘silly’ minded.   

Sajith Premadasa like his father Ranasinghe Premadasa has a deep-seated aversion to the science of reason. May be it is this quality that has endeared him to the likes of Mangala Samaraweera, anxious to find a wiling rouser of the rabble or the  UNP’s version of  a tribal totem dancer- a kind of a reasonably literate chap who can be made to say the most stupid things about the tribe, the totem and  taboos. To win this election against Gotabaya, Mangala and his team want a Tribal egoist who will focus on my people, my religion and me, me, me!   

What is wrong with the presidential system? The executive presidential system institutionally separates the legislature and the executive. There is adequate literature scientific and demonstrative to make the point that Presidentialism is incompatible with representative multi-party democracy. 

Let us briefly examine how we ended up with this conundrum. At the 1977 general election, the UNP under JRJ swept to office with a five sixth majority while polling only 50.7 percent of the overall vote. 

Of all our post-independence political leaders, JR Jayewardene is the only leader who had tasted electoral defeat. He lost his seat in 1956. He was the quintessential machine politician. He was feared and respected as a consummate political operator. 

At the ceremonial session of the newly elected parliament, he whispered to the Leader of Opposition Amirthalingam who was seated next; “It took me thirty years to get to this seat.”  

 The conventional economic wisdom at the time was that poor developing countries should follow programs of import substitution. They must not import manufactured products from developed economies. Developing countries should export their primary produce and use their foreign exchange reserves for infrastructure development and enhancing their manufacturing capacity.  Persistent poverty of developing countries was the result of exploitative practices of capitalist economies.  

A resolute leader, JRJ jettisoned the idea of import substitution and the regulated economy.

He forced opened an economy that was hermetically sealed since adopting exchange control in the fifties. An economy insulated from the world was dragged kicking, screaming into the remorseless world of the invisible hand moving the market. This was twelve years before the fall of the Berlin wall and the failure of Global socialism. It was fifteen years before the developed economies formed the World Trade Organization to bring the semblance of a world order in free trade. 

In introducing these systemic shifts that were seismic in their impact, JR Jayewardene never forgot his humiliating defeat at the polls in 1956. Just as winning the war became a unique selling proposition in the post-civil war period, wining independence was the winning formula of the ruling elite of the post-independence years. 

The fickle voter had finally given him an instrument for drastic change and reform. He admired two men- Napoleon and Disraeli. 

The depositary of power is always unpopular said Disraeli. He followed Napoleons dictum that a true master of politics was able to calculate, down to the smallest fraction, the advantages to which he may put his very faults!   

Proportional representation would prevent a reversal of his far-reaching structural changes. The change from fickle politics to firm politics had a price. An executive president with absolute immunity while in office would replace the office of the prime minister subject to the whims of a parliament. Logic of market economics would override reason and equity. Darwinian law of the ‘strong’ feeding on the weak would be overarching rule. Presidential discretion would be the exception to the rule. The authority of the Presidency would only exclude gender tampering – making a man a woman or vice versa! 

Introducing harsh structural reforms in a society that was benignly sheltered by social safety nets called for what a social theorist accurately described as arrogantly authoritarian, coercive policies of an intransigent regime. We can brush over our mistakes, but we cannot forget the lessons of our mistakes.  

History is for human self-knowledge. The only clue to what we can do in the future is what we have done in the past. The value of history is that it tells us what kind of fools we were in the past. 

The executive presidency caused two civil wars, one in the south and another in the north. 

The Rajapaksa family did not invent impunity or disregard for the rule of law. When the then government moved a parliamentary resolution to deprive Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike of her civil rights, the opposition pleaded that the government await the supreme court determination on her writ application. The then Prime minister Ranasinghe Premadasa put the matter to rest.  “even if the Supreme Court rejects the Report and the recommendations of the Commission, we shall not withdraw the Resolution that we are going to pass today” (Hansard Vol II – 16.10.80).  The executive presidency killed democracy and undermined the rule of law on that fateful day in October 1980. 

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Latest comments

  • 26
    19

    The executive Presidency ”çaused” the two civil wars that Sri Lanka has gone thru?
    What utter balderdash is this, Mr de Alwis?

    And what a pretentious title – is it to impress the use of the French language on Sinhala godayas??

    This is an article relentlessly focused on all the wrong of the R Premadasa regime and none of the right. With ”columnists” like these whose word is accepted as gospel by hysterically anti-Sajith civil society Colombians, what need of Gotas and Mahindas?

    We dig our own graves with ease.

    • 12
      28

      Sarath, dude, wake up!
      Have you heard of “Checks and balances” and separation of powers? True Sajith is not very attractive but better than US puppet Bond Ranil and US citizen Gota – both Manchurian Candidates for the US military bases project in Sri Lanka for which the Easter carnage was STAGED.
      The executive presidency, greatly trimmed after the the 19th amendment, saved Sri Lanka from SOFA and MCC and becoming a US military base and servicing hub and unsinkable aircraft carrier after the US-Saudi Secia Operations Forces (SOF) staged the Easter Carnage.

      US puppet Bondscam Ranil is desperate to abolish the EP on the behest of his US handlers – that is where the desire to abolish the EP and the PCs that have blocked the US MCC-SOFA projects. Now Trumpland is getting impatient as its Cold War on China and Iran escalates, with Maritime Hybrid War fare unleashed in the Indian Ocean on Easter Sunday in Lanka and they want want US puppet bond Ranil who has already disabled the Provincial Council system to land grab for US bases to abolish the EP now to advance the US military bases project in Sri Lanka with their puppet bond Ranil.

      • 3
        0

        This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

        • 16
          4

          Do not worry about Sajith Premadasa. He cannot win without the votes of Tamils, which unless he compromises his racist stand, will not be cast for him. He will be worse than Gota regarding democracy, freedom of expression and rule of law.

          • 1
            4

            Surely, this is a racist comment. “Vote of the tamils”.
            Do you really mean “all Tamils” vote in the same way, with only the racist Vellala agenda of keeping their fiefdoms strictly in their hands, while keeping the lower castes suppressed according to the Manu Dharma . Is that the basis of voting?

          • 5
            1

            Sajith, is a Passionless Presidential Candidate. He will not win without minority votes. No one will. Sajith IF he is victorious will dance to the tunes of Working Committee a la Ranil. Catastrophic. BUT he sure will divert votes from Gota. That’s the idea, no!! Ranil won’t. Karu too old. What a messy situation.

        • 9
          0

          Premadasas are the UNP’s Version of Rajapakses. …………. Lowbrow populism.

          Both are in vogue.

          Let them contest against each other. ……….. And be done with it.


          Give the people what they want and make them happy.

          Either way Lanka is doomed.

          Alors quoi de neuf au pays des Lotophages? :))

          • 3
            0

            “…And Round and Round the Spicy Downs, the Yellow Lotus Dust is Blown…”

          • 1
            0

            UNP version of Ra..kse is not Sajith; it is Ravi K and the click. I don’t believe that Elephant of RK & flower-bud want destroy each other. Rather they are trying to make a living off each other. They both want to play the usual game of making fools of voters in order to share the power.-

            In SL, honest politicians don’t get publicity b’cos media owners cannot make money off them. I guarantee that Sirasa’s support for Sajith is also only a temporary tactic designed to destroy Ranil.

      • 1
        6

        What putrid rubbish!

    • 21
      4

      Sajith is being manipulated by those behind CoupeLk as part of the second stage of CoupeLk. What a fool to fall for it! If he is foolish enough to be manipulated and used as a tool to split the UNP to enable a Gotabaya Rajapaksa victory he is unsuitable as a presidential candidate…

      All those behind this attempt to split the UNP must be exposed.

      Mano Ganesan was running behind Maithripala Sirisena during CoupeLk and is running after Sajith now! The Tamils should question his motives behind this behavior??

    • 9
      3

      Pandu de Silva,
      You’ve said my mind!

      The fact that Sajith is RP’s son is a fact. But, Ummagga Jathakaya also told us that sons also can be greater that fathers. The biggest difference is “time” itself. I must mention two major differences: 1. 19 A! It doesn’t allow any new presidents behave like autocrats even if so desires. 2. The leading backers of Sajith are the most clean, most talented, most educated and most clean team of the current UNP.

      During the press conference, Sajith never said he wanted to keep the EP; he only said that he would support the public opinion. The reality is that, there is nothing much a president can do to change the constitution; it must come from the parliament. UNP as a party already taken pledge to abolish the EP and that is enough.

      Yes, we are products of history but Sarath should understand that everybody don’t read history the same manner and therefore the conclusions also vary with people. The most important factor in reading history or any fact, for that matter, is the mind-set (biases) of the reader. Sarath has his own ways. We are intelligent enough to follow ours!

      There are many other fundamental errors in this essay but I cant break 300 word limit.But, I must mention one close to my heart: Darwinsm is not about stronger eating weaker. Turn to page 62 of the “Origin’ to sea in Darwin’s own words.

      • 7
        1

        Guys let us all wake up from our slumber in GaGa land and return to reality! I am no big fan of MR or Gota, I am a realist who thought in 2015 we were voting for a group that “….are the most clean, most talented, most educated and most clean team of the current UNP…. , to replace a set of “dumb” fools. The result after 4.5 years is all of us got shafted by the “………most clean, most talented, most educated and most clean team of the current UNP…. ” who happened to be a set of “intelligent” fools. Here we are in end September 2019, trying to convince ourselves, “….leading backers of Sajith are the most clean, most talented, most educated and most clean team of the current UNP.’ are the messiahs to bring about prosperity to this doomed nation!, not realizing we want to go back into slumber in GaGa land, whilst the majority of the nation is convinced the “dumb” fools are a better option to guide this doomed nation, and are prepared to ride with them for the next five years. Something noteworthy happened last evening when an “intelligent” fool and a “dumb” fool orchestrated a coup supposedly to abolish the Executive Presidency (in S De A’s words; Executive Presidentialism), and when the troops gathered at the theatre of action, both the “fools” who have on numerous occasions professed they have strong backbones, stripped naked to expose their backbones and query “Whose idea was this?”

    • 1
      3

      Is the WRITER , Sinkele man , a REFUGEE in France ????

    • 1
      0

      Pandu de Silva,
      Is Sajith P our new saviour? Isn’t 71 years of utter stupdity just about enough. Any update on Sajith P’s recuruitment policy for state sector jobs? Bear in mind that infamous video clip? Is it still based on desperate job appplicants HEIGHT?
      Cheers!
      PS: How often is Sajith P granted an audience with his HANDLER, Mafia Killi? Stupid Sri Lankan elecorate has a right to know these things.

  • 18
    17

    It is only SAJITH that can save the day for the UNP and bring back the party’s past glory that RW destroyed.

    Ranil never protected the UNP at times of difficulty. He only protected his leadership for a quarter century and from 2005 onwards safeguarded and nurtured the RAJAPAKSE dynasty, for which they reciprocated profusely by helping RW to secure his dictatorial grip on the party and eliminate all those who might be a challenge to the Rajapakse clan, at the expense of bleeding the UNP to death.

    If this miraculous opportunity to kick RW out is missed. The UNP is history.

    It’s a moment for a make or break call.

    Let’s see how many UNPers have a backbone.

    Should they not, the UNP deserves to be HISTORY.

    Good luck the Grand Old Party (GOP) of SL……..!
    (Its poetic justice for JRJ who might be turning in his grave now – I wonder whether the young tuskers really want to let this old man rest in peace ?)

    • 4
      1

      Sameera!
      UNP Past glory!! When was that?? Robber Barons. Orchestrated The July 1985 Communal Riots. Hijacked Chelvanayagam/Bandaranayake Pact. Abducted Judiciary and stoned houses of Supreme Court judges. Glory indeed.

  • 9
    8

    “The executive presidency caused two civil wars, one in the south and another in the north.”
    This is appalling a reductionist theory. There was an insurrection and a civil war in 1971, and it was also suppressed ruthlessly. Both in the South and in the North, there were many socio-economic and hegemonic political reasons for the events. If the writer wants to argue that under a parliamentary or a Westminster system, those could have been resolved, that is too much of idealism. That didn’t happen in 1971 and the prominent Leftists who later created the myth that ‘all problems are due to the executive presidentialism’ also supported and participated in that suppression. I am a witness if the writer is not. There was no ‘conflict’ resolution. The choice between ‘presidentialism’ and ‘pure parliamentarism’ should be viewed more rationally and without creating a historical mythology. Allow the people to decide, without propagating elite control. Ranil and clique feared to have a referendum. This is the present problem.

    • 2
      0

      Laksiri,
      I agree with you. JVP still uses the excuse that it was JR’s decision to ban JVP that forced it go underground. This is wrong excuse. After the very embarrassing lost, Wijeweera decided to go underground based on Marxist explanation that the power holding capitalists wouldn’t allow working class take control of power even through elections. JR banned JVP b’cos he knew exactly what JVP was up to. LITTE was already in the making by the time JR came to power. It was “southern” extremists that created fertile grounds for LITTE; not JR.

      I think that EP along with elimination of corruptions should be two of the major tropic of the upcoming election cycle but, I have serious doubt whether the voters will have the same priorities. I also believe that it is better to reformulate those two issues around the current hot topic of candidate selection process b’cos it is obvious that the lack of formal process in which the whole country can participate in selecting candidates is where corruptions & and other policy ambiguities begins. For example, even though the system in the UNP is not as bad as that of SLPP or of SLFP, UNP’s system system is against the meaning of democracy. These kinds of systems breed to corruptions right at the gate – there is no difference between “family” or a “close-nit click”.

      We should be products of history but, we are “not”. Rather, we tend to “produce” history based on our own biases.

      • 0
        0

        Thanks D. P.
        The following is what the JVP says about justifying the second insurrection in its present website and no mention about the executive presidency: “The JVP was not successful in convincing India, and as a result had to oppose India, the pro-US Sri Lankan government, and the separatists who fight to dismember Sri Lanka and create an ethnically cleansed entity called Tamil Ealam that will destroy the hitherto enjoyed unity of the people. …The JVP then had only one option to prevent the abdication of sovereignty and the division of Sri Lanka. The JVP took the correct decision to launch an armed struggle to defeat all enemies of Sri Lanka.”

        Yes, promise to eliminate corruption genuinely should take prominence at the forthcoming elections. The following are the 7 seven points I mentioned in my article on “Why Ranil or Karu might not be the best in defeating Gotabaya?” (CT, 17 September).
        (1) To eliminate inefficiency, corruption and waste and revamp the economy.
        (2) To deliver public services to the poor and the needy.
        (3) To encourage the private sector and promise not to nationalize.
        (4) To ensure peace in the country both through security and national harmony.
        (5) To soon change the electoral system and give people a responsible MP for an electorate.
        (6) To encourage youth and women for gainful employment and enterprises, irrespective of ethnicity and religion or any other distinction.
        (7) To ensure and implement rule of law to all from top to bottom.

        • 0
          0

          Laksiri,
          No. 3 is automatic under a UNP Gvt. No 4 is tricky in racially diverse & developing country like SL b’cos there are extremists on all sides who might try to entice violence by wrongly interpreting any accidental involving a small group as racially motivated as in the case of post Easter bombing incidents. For example, Some like Medagoda Abhayatissa are extremely suspicious of economic gains by Muslims. Considering media’s support for chaos for political reasons, anything could happen unless all ethnic leaders keep a constant vigilance.

          No 5 need a large scale constitutional amendment which is very unlikely without a huge majority in the parliament. I personally like the idea if TNA is willing to give up 13 A which is the biggest sticking point for any change including the abolition of EP.

          No 6 will go along with No 3. I think that if the new Gvt can prioritize No 1 & 2, no 7 will follow automatically. The success of Sajith (if win) will depend largely on how he would tackle the first two items b’cos SL bureaucracy which is heavily unionized under political patronage will certainly try to block any efforts to make them efficient. But I also know that Sajith will go at it as the first priority!

          Once the election heat start to rise, Aug 18th NPPM enthusiasm will dissipate.

  • 8
    2

    Sarath, have you ever met R Premadasa?

  • 5
    9

    Sarath de Alwis’s cock eyed Bulls Eye.

  • 9
    10

    A President may not be able to make a woman out a man but a Primeminister can! People say our Primeminister is woman changed into a man and several of his ministers are men serving as women. When President Sirisena discovered that he tried to bring in a real man.

    Soma

  • 8
    14

    As long as Provincial Councils exist Executive Presidency must remain.
    As long as Ranil Wickramasinghe is in politics an Executive President must be there.

    Soma

    • 0
      4

      Good call…

  • 7
    3

    Sajith P will be the first to build 1125 stupas, if he wins the election.
    This should bring him much ‘merit’ as a Buddhist.
    The size of each will depend on finances available.
    But so far no Buddhist leaders/clergy appear to be enthusiastic about this proposal.
    It is doubtful whether this will improve the lot of citizens in the low income groups.
    If he recommences his father’s “mobile presidential secretariats” and Gam Udawa ‘houses for the poor people’ program, it will help improve their standard of living.
    How the presidency benefits the nation, depends on the personality of the president.

    • 1
      0

      GamUdawa was an ecological catastrophe where habitat was destroyed to house humans who should be housed in high density housing, and not in an urban sprawl that has spread right through the country with “matchbox houses”.
      The population has increased exponentially, and if we go on building “villages” and “stupas” or kovils, mosques as in the old days of kings and queens (when the total population was less than the current population of central colombo) the whole country will become a slum littered with concrete and asphalt.
      The population of animals, birds, butterflies etc have dropped drastically.
      These idiots are behaving like MAD men who are cutting the very branch they are sitting on.

  • 4
    5

    A big Hindian Businessman who controls , a big Conglomerate from Garment Manufacturing to Heavy Industries and Electronics said the other day that he is so keen to use the Hindian Government Credit System to start large scale manufacturing in Srilanka .

    He said Srilanka has good Infrastructure, excellent Climate and labour skills which they value to expand their businesses.

    If the country is still attractive to big Businesses despite 30 years of absolute destruction, sabotage and terrorism which Mr Pirahaparan and his Freinds carried out since Junius’s time , the leaders who exercised the Junius’s Exec Presidential powers since done a good job, no only to eliminate Mr Pirapahaparan and his Terrorism but also to develop the Infrastructure and the Skills base..

    Just imagine if Dr Ranil and his crooked inner circle had the Executive Power when Dr Ranil as PM offered Mr Piraparah One Third the Country.in the 90s..

    BTW poor Keselwatta Kid.
    I now know why he does not wear DB Suits unlike his nemesis Dr Ranil..

  • 6
    1

    To : Sajith Premadasa ( future presidential hopeful )

    All that the good citizens of Sri lanka want is a strong leader with intentions to do the following.

    1. Eradicate and stamp out all corruption from all walks of life.
    2. Make the public service and servants realize that they are there to serve the public and not vice versa.
    3. Create a sense of security for all in all walks of day to day life.
    4. Make sure that all religious sentiments are kept within the walls of places of worship.
    5. Overhaul the country’s foreign service and create a better image for sri lanka and sri lankans in and out of the country.
    6. Do not, repeat do not give any ministerial posts to ministers over the age of 60 years.
    7. Bring in a clear sense of discipline to the grass eaters ( bus drivers, tuk tuk drivers, public servants, police, etc.
    8. Stop all dependency on foreign loans and grandiose projects.
    9. Respect our neighbors and keep them at a distance. We need to be independent and show that we are.
    10. Recruit as many good intellects ( Sri lankans ) from in and out of the country to top positions so that there will be a a gradual momentum of progress. We don’t need Mahendrans.

    The list can go on but these are the basics.
    If you feel that you are unable to carry out the above then do not run for any govt leadership for you will go down in history as another political virus who ruined the country.

  • 1
    0

    Someone told me that he is from the Rajaka caste. It sounds like a high caste because Raja in Sri Lanka and India mean Royal. But in the modern caste less world it should not make any difference. May the best person win.

    • 0
      0

      NO .. According to MANUDARMA – indu vedas, all south indians, srilankan tamil sinkelayas are SOOTHTHIRAYA means LOWEST CASTE – born from legs of brmaan.

      • 0
        0

        ceylonese,
        May be Brahman has wombs all over his body!

      • 0
        0

        Oh Yeah? May be that is why they cannot decide who should run, when to run and where to run.

  • 3
    0

    Everybody with their comments show that they are eager to continue with the present system which failed the country during the past 71 years. Cheers!

  • 2
    6

    Sajith’s father President Premadasa is responsible for the pathetic situation native Sinhalayo have gotten into today. When the Proportional Representation system was introduced the initial cut off point for any party to qualify for parliamentary representation was 12.5% but President Premadasa reduced the cut-off point to 5% on a request made by M H M Ashraff of the SLMC before the 1988 elections. The tail wagging the dog started because of President Premadasa’s decision to reduce the cutoff point.

    If Sajith becomes the Presidential candidate, Sinhalayo should demand a written guarantee from him that he will scrap 15th Amendment that reduced the cutoff point from 12.5% to 5%.

    • 0
      0

      @ Eagle Eye “When the Proportional Representation system was introduced the initial cut off point for any party to qualify for parliamentary representation was 12.5% but President Premadasa reduced the cut-off point to 5% on a request made by M H M Ashraff of the SLMC before the 1988 elections. The tail wagging the dog started because of President Premadasa’s decision to reduce the cutoff point.”

      The original PR system introduced by JR in the 1978 constitution did not have a preference system, and a 12.5% cut off was justified. Members were to be nominated by the respective parties. In hindsight this would have been a better system as no party would have nominated murderers, drug dealers, crooks and criminals. Premadasa introduced the preference system which would have completely deprived all minority representation in parliament if it was continued with a 12.5% cut off. Ashraff convinced Premedasa to reduce the cut off to 5% to ensure minority groups had a fair chance of representation in parliament.

      Introduction of the preference system by Premadasa was the death knell to Sri Lankan Politics. The ruffians involved in the post October 17 free for all in parliament were the off springs of the preference system.

      Most people are not aware the preference system was Premadasa’s brain child and not JR’s. If we had continued with JR’s PR system, Diyawanna would have been filled with intellectuals and technocrats. This does not mean I am a supporter of Executive Presidentialism.

  • 1
    2

    “the office of the prime minister subject to the whims of a parliament.”
    This is the most common misconception. What is actually at play is a parliament subject to the whims of the primeminister.(remember the no confident motion on the Bond scam?) Only a half blind nincompoop cannot see this. Primeminister ‘controls’ +50% of our ‘representatives’ and opinions expressed by our representatives are the opinions of the party leader. What is ‘legistated’ in the end is the opinion of the Primeminister. I can’t understand why people are oblivious to this obvious fact. This Democracy is the democracy of party leaders , not the representatives. You see they are howling like a pack of wolves and that we call Democracy.
    As long as our representatives (who in turn are nominated by the party leaders for us to vote) are not free to express, debate and vote according their conscience on the floor absolute power in the hands of an individual still remains unaffected be it in the form of a President or a Prime Minister. It is as simple as that. Parliamentary debates which we watch live on our TV are nothing but an expensive circus. Aren’t they exactly similar to school debates where you speak on the assigned side of a topic. Are we listening to his or her opinion? Is he voicing OUR opinion?
    In this background an external , independent individual directly from people with some clout to counter if and when required is necessary.
    As far as I am concerned the only objection for a directly voted President is the Himalayan cost of an election.
    (The hotchpotch of racists, separatists, fundamentalists, Wahabis, proselytizers etc. etc. in the Sri Lankan context is another story)

    Soma
    ( Sarath Alwis is not the only one living in this cloud cuckoo land of Sri Lankan Democracy. )

    • 6
      0

      soman

      “( Sarath Alwis is not the only one living in this cloud cuckoo land of Sri Lankan Democracy. )”

      Oh I see!
      According to my Elders many took residence in cloud cuckoo land in the mid 1950s when the stupid idea of majoritarianism and Sinhala/Buddhism were entrenched in the psyche of some noisy fascists while common sense, rationality, wisdom, democracy, ………….. bid adieu from this land.

      Look at you how pathetic you sound in almost all your typings.

      • 0
        1

        The stupid idea of Sinhal-Buddhist majoritarianism came into being as a reaction to the supid idea of Tamil Nationalism and Tamil hegemony sponsored by GGPonnambalam who triggered the first Sinhala-tamil riot in 1939 when he outlined his racist Tamil Nationalist policy for Ceylon at a meeting in Nawalapitiya and berated the Sinhalese as a “mogrel race”, unlike the pure race of Tamils. Fortunately, the British Raj snuffed out the communal riots within a day, unlike under SWRD and JR.
        GGPonnambalam even quite regally ASSUMED that he can represent the Muslims, though the Muslim leaders did NOT want to have any truck with his racist policies (Read Dr. Jane Russell’s book, Communal Politics under the Donoughmore constitution.)

    • 0
      0

      Soma-

      Our Parliament in Kotte is like a Stock Exchange where Members can be be traded when issues which are important to the nation and its great majority of the inhabitants come up .-

      This Yahpalana Govt set a new bench mark for the value of each stock by issuing .
      Free Car Permits which netted LKR 34 Million for each MP.

      That drove the trading price well over LKR 50 Million and up to 500 Million according to the current Presidents own estimates.

      Under Junius Constitution us Punters can at least learn about these Democratic Traditions of Dr Ranil’s Government.

      Just imagine what sort of Trading will take place if we Fire the President..

  • 7
    0

    WHAT A SHAME all the so called singala weerayaas are in the pocket if KIILLI RAJAMAHENDRAN RAJENDRA FROM KOKUVIL JAFFNA and dancing to the tune if him to take revenge of PM RANIL.ALL PERMADASA GROUP ARE CONTROLLED BY KILLI AND HIS MONEY.WHEN IT COME TO MONEY TAMIL MONEY IS MORE IMPORTANT TO SINGALAYS THAN THEIR RESPECT IF REALLY THEY HAVE ANYTHING.

  • 1
    0

    I read through and posted several comments. Now will someone please help me to understand the title.

    Soma

    • 2
      2

      SOMA, don’t worry mate,.It only says “Thatha ge Putha”…

      Putting a few French words to impress. is the forte of the Toffee Nosed English writers
      Now you know why Keselwatta Kid is Taboo among Dr Ranil supporters..

    • 1
      0

      SOMA:
      “Père et Fils” is Latin for Peretha fellow. By this the learned writer indicates Sajitha is a greedy fellow. Greedy for power. What school did you go to ?

  • 7
    0

    Though all the facts are not accurate, I fully agree with Sarath about Premadasa and executive Presidency. He was the one who broke the backbone of our civil servants and made them sycophants. As Sarath says he had a pathological dislike towards not only educated people and Science, but also sophisticated people. It is understandable the inferiority complex and the dislike he had towards the elite as he was a self-educated man, came from humble beginnings. What is hard to understand is while hating the elite, he tried to portrait himself as one of them by staging his “Piyagama and Mawgama” projects. He reminded me of W.A.de Silva’s “Radala Piliruwa”. Instead he should have proudly talked about his self-achievements without inheriting from anybody. He missed that golden opportunity. Sajith doesn’t have an iota of the smartness his father had. Just like all the academically unsuccessful progeny of the politicians, Sajith is another example who is bragging about following father’s footsteps. Truth of the matter is all of them, except for CBK’s children, are fools. Rajapakse progeny, Sirisena progeny, Premadasa progeny all are the same, using fathers’ powers. Whether stupa or not, the concept of making thousands of concrete mounds in this small country is outrageous, unless he wants to please the saffron robes. Real Buddhist priests who follow Buddha’s doctrine would not approve it. Don’t we have enough stupas? By building more, are we going to be better human beings? The question in hand is, are we going to let these halfwits who do not have an ounce of creativity, or ingenuity to run our country? Or are we going to give a chance to an educated person with a vision, who feels the pulse of the people like AKD?

  • 7
    1

    If RW never got taken into politics of Srilanka, Srilanka would never have ended up in this mess. IT IS HIGH TIME FOR HIM TO QUIT POLITICS and find refuge in an Indian Kovil.

    • 1
      0

      Hear hear!

  • 6
    5

    Is the CT language English or some thing else?
    /
    There are some of us who do not understand what Père et Fils’ means!
    /
    Pretenion to erudition is useless if the reader can’t understand you!

    • 8
      1

      Pere et fils is a french word meaning father and sons. If you do not understand it, it is your problem. There were Sinhala and Tamil (even Arabic) words used in some of the other articles and no one complained about them.

      • 1
        0

        This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

      • 2
        1

        Pere et fils is a french word
        How stupid
        There are three words, and not “a french word“.
        In any case, Pere is derived from sanskrit, and is also present in the english word “Parent”. Some 70% of modern english is French.
        French fils, (fiz, fil), is from Latin filius (“son”), which is from Old Latin fīlios, which is from Proto-Indo-European and so finally links to Sanskrit.
        Note that these words don’t link to less exalted languages of the Dravidian family which also acquired many sanskrit words and polish with the conquest of the south by Northern Indian kings, and by southern Chola kings marrying fair-skinned North Indian women who spoke prakrit and not any Dravidian language.

        • 1
          2

          It is the view of linguists in the world that Tamil is older than Sanskrit. If Sanskrit was a more exalted language than Tamil why was it abandoned and become a dead language. We learnt Latin in school for two years, and some of us learnt Greek too. When there was an option between Latin and Sanskrit, 90% of my classmates took Latin, and all those 10% who opted for Sanskrit were Sinhalese.So much about your super language of Sanskrit. Several European languages are derived from Latin and the script they use is Latin. Naturally there are several Latin words in them. There is conjugation and declension in Latin which is not there in English making it simple.

          • 2
            1

            Reply to the Tamil gentlemen named after Shankar’s Lingam.
            You cannot say a word arose from latin and leave it at that. You need to push it at least one step further.
            Have you asked about the origins of Latin? Its is also from Proto-Indo-European origns, and that means from the the Parkrit-Pali-Sanskirt family.
            If you chose Latin instead of Sanskrit in your school days, that proves nothing.
            Shankar Lingam even says that some ” linguist” have said that Tamil is older than Sanskrit. It depends on how you define Tamil. Some linguists are of the opinion that Tamil as such should be identified to have begun with the Sangam Period (சங்ககாலம்) 300 BC – 200 AD. So I would put the beginning of Tamil to about the 4th century BC.
            Before that there were forms of proto-Dravidian, many Dravidian dielects. Potsherds with Brahmi script have been found, which some Nationalist Tamils have claimed to indicate an old Tamil-prakrit.
            Even Iruvathu Mahadevan fell into this Tamil-jingoist trap in the end. Tamil Nationalists (exactly like the Sinhala Buddhists) will make gross and exaggerated claims. The claims of Tamil nationalists are more loud because there are 60 million Tamils in Tamil Nadu, but the factual basis for their claims is equally muddy.
            When Sarath Alwis wrote Pere et Fils, instead of Pithroo & Puthra , फ़थेर् अन्द् सोन it shows the level of cultural de-racination that these Sri Lankan journists have undergone in their education.
            They will not look for “les bon mots” in the vast golden realms of the literary works of the East, The Jathaka Katha, or Thirukkural etc.
            However, note that this writer cannot even write good English
            His first sentence is
            “We are what time, circumstances and history has made of us“.

            • 1
              0

              Mr. Samskritam,
              you understand nothing! Everything is only some Samaskirutham for you.
              அப்பா, பீதுரு, father
              அம்மா, மாதுறு, mother
              பிள்ளை, புத்திரன், Fils

              Because “A” is negative in latter days Sanskrit, they dropped the “A” out of the Amma and used it as Mathuru.
              Whoever telling as whatever the period of Tamil or at what time there was what form Tamil existed, but the facts is words Amma, Appa, ….OnRu(one) irandu,(two) went from Tamil to all world main languages, even to Eastern Chinese, Korean. …….like the ones. Remember Sanskrit has one, Eka. But the Onru is the only word used in all known languages. All languages has taken from Tamil the One to Nine, including Sanskrit. Adda- Eddu-eight, Nava- Onpathu-nine…..The game here is Tamil is the only language used 10 based cardinals – ordinals. You say Pathu Koodi, Pathu Ladsam but you never confuse as Nooru Kodi, because Tamil is ten based language. Tamil counts from Zero to infinity using 10 base numbers. If you look at French, it is counting here there in all stages; it is barely connecting up to 60; because they never understood 10 based numbers until the modern days. English is completely out of sequence even from one to hundred. Tamil is the only language was built to modern Arithmetic using 10 base numbers. All other languages accepting Tamil’s sound up to nine is showing they copied from Tamil even the counting mechanism leave aside the language.

            • 0
              0

              Yes, Prime Minister Modi is fool.

              “which is from Old Latin fīlios, which is from Proto-Indo-European and so finally links to Sanskrit.” This is your logic.

              So, why is it not that words are absorbed into Sanskrit from Old Latin?

              Again, one more reason for Sanskrit had to become dead.

              Stop this stupid reasoning.

          • 0
            0

            Oh, I get it, there is no the French language.

            By your logic, even if son or daughter marries another person, have their own children, they are still their father or mother.

            No wonder as to why the Sanskrit language had become dead.

            It is because people like you were allowed to learn it.

            Cut the crap.

          • 0
            0

            Tamil, Telugu, Kannada & Malayalam are derivatives of proto Dravidian . As such Sanskrit is the oldest language in India. Mother of Indo Aryan language family. Some say Telugu is the oldest language of Dravidian family. That may be true as Dravidians Came to far down south of Indian subcontinent after 1500 years latter from Godavary river basin, May be around 900 BC. Before that Andhra was colonized with less Resistance from local tribes. But Major resistance came at the time of colonization in far down south (Tamilnadu now) and South west ( Now Kerala). As such nobody can say Tamil is older than Sanskrit. Making such comment is an utter foolishness..

        • 0
          0

          Oh, I get it, there is no the French language.

          By your logic, even if son or daughter marries another person, have their own children, they are still their father or mother.

          No wonder as to why the Sanskrit language had become dead.

          It is because people like you were allowed to learn it.

          Cut the crap.

  • 9
    3

    As much as Gota is “connected” to Lasantha, was not Premadasa and or the First Lady “involved” in the kidnapping and killing of journalist Richard, dropped in the high seas from a Helicopter?

    Richards mother withdrew her case against a Police high up when this policeman serving Premadasa`s Security also died in the May Day assassination in Colombo 10
    by Babu using a bicycle to carry the bomb?

    All this too is History now.

  • 3
    1

    There’s hope for Sri Lanka so long as there are people like Sarath who are the voice of reason and civilized values.
    It’s accepted that 90% of the country’s income goes to servicing foreign debt.
    Politicians who propose spending the remaining 10%, not on medicines, education, and reform to wipe out corruption, but on buying bulletproof Mercedes luxury cars, going to Indian temples by using public money, going on presidential trips with a large coterie of family and friends, and those promising to build 1125 stupas throughput the country must explain why these are more important than spending our scarce resources on more desperately urgent needs.

  • 3
    0

    Sarath de Alwis,
    *
    It’s true what you say about the Jayawardena executive presidency. The country decelerated into the disaster and misery of the capitalistic venture so detrimental to our land. But take Sirisena for example. If not for his god-sent executiveness, our country would have slid into Partition, Indian-merge, Land-bridge, and voracious commercialism of the mad production and buying and selling of trinkets with the horrendous Indian masses. It was not the executive presidency that ever was the problem, but blatant force-fed capitalism by the people electing the wrong person.

  • 6
    2

    Sarath please don’t write bullshit we know who is R Premadasa and Sajith shame on you what do you think of Rajapakse family according to them only a Rajapakse can be a president First Mahinda next Gotabaya followed by Namal after him son of Namal ,Yoshitha or Rohitha .Sarath this what you want slavery

  • 5
    1

    Which is better to be on knees for Rajapakse slavery or to be a fighter for your people and to serve your people

  • 1
    5

    Malik Samarawickrama is the wisest political theorist . He should be nominated president

  • 5
    0

    Yes, in a nutshell, Sajith isn’t qualified;

    people accept it.

    But the problem is; others are impotent.

  • 0
    1

    Pot calls the kettle black. We all are too quick in name calling, whether an opponent deserves it or not. But it can be hurtful. But it can be a travesty for light hearted laugh too. I wrote my last comment based on the yesterday’s cabinet meeting, dispersed in the middle. Today, Tamil News had some interesting matters. Hakeem had called Ranil “Traitor” in that meeting. Is that possible it all because Hakeem has been hearing that curse word so frequently from others? How Hakeem plays his game was exposed by Ex Ambassador Patricia Butenis, USA. When Hakeem went to explain her about the dismissal of CJ Shiranee, she asked Hakeem why he has not resigned from his Justice Minister Position, yet.
    Mano Ganesan was so mad at Sumanthiran for adversely commenting Yahapalanaya ministers objecting to eradicate the EP. (I am in a country where presidency has worked well for last two hundred years, evolving with their civilizational need. I don’t have the same opinion Sumanthiran has about EP). Mano’s hands were flying, flicking & swing here and there and eyes were radiating fire. Mano Ganesan appeared to be ready to give no damn about what the North East Tamils feel about the Vaalaththodda mates. Every Child of that era in Jaffna will tell about the Library which the Richard. P set fire.
    Ranil so far have not shown much interest in standing EP election. His interest has been discouraging Vaalaiththodam Jr Standing for it. His PM position said to be not affected by the EP election. His party leadership too may not be affected. But if Vaalaiththodam JR wins, there will be uneasy relationship between EP and PM, until next parliamentary election. As a matter of fact, last three years that is what Ranil have had. If Old Brother Prince wins, Ranil would form another National Unity – but Unyahapalanaya – Government. Many Joint Comedy Club members, SLFP & UNPyers may get minister posts until next August. Who knows what for Mangala, Malik, Kabir, Mano (Except Hakeem) waiting?

  • 0
    0

    Problem is people like you are trying to compare former president premadasa with sajith. At that time Sri Lanka was facing three wars, one is north/east (ltte) , indian army and another all over the country (jvp) so he had to be extremely tough to deal with three fractions. He was succeessful in getting rid of indian soap eating army and jvp idiots. Also things he implemented such as garment factories are still one of our major foreign revenue earning methods.
    Many blame him for killing various individuals but no body was able to prove them still ?
    His son, Sajith is doing a good job since he came to politics. He had build houses with gardens in rural areas for low income families ( so that they can even do a self employed job at home. ) while apartments for low income families in cities (some ac room idiots blamed him saying he is making only chicken cages like houses, so he proved that those idiots are wrong ). Also he has helped pre school’s, temples, churches, kovils and mosques as well with and without his ministry.. He has proven that he is cable of doing any type of project depending on the situation.. So he deserve a chance more than anyone in politics at this moment.

    Also he was blamed once for giving jobs based on looks. You have to understand that some jobs does not need qualifications, it needs only physical fitness (eg municipal garbage collector job etc.. ). Also you need to give something for those who worked hard at ground levels. This is why unp lost at local government election. Because they didn’t do anything for most of the people that supported 2015 election.

    So it clearly shows coloumnist such as you are only having some kind of premadasa phobia and backing rajapaksa n wickremesinghe family thieves.. nothing else.. !

  • 0
    0

    Darwinian law of the ‘strong’ feeding on the weak would be overarching rule.

    This statement by the writer reveals a typically false public conception of Darwin’s theory, popularized among the literati by people like Tennyson who wrote that “Nature is red in tooth and claw”, or that evolution is characterized by the “survival of the fittest” (Herbert Spencer). I

    t is this kind of nonsense that was used by Marxist, Nazi ideologues as well as free-market advocates to develop their dangerous social theories.
    It is high time that journalists properly study Darwin before they write nonsense. Those who have no scientific background should perhaps approach it from the writings of modern Darwinian philosophers like Daniel Dennett.

    It seems that people cannot understand the simple Darwinian fact that the “fittest” among many species is that whose members can cooperate among one another.
    The fittest species are such that their members can cooperate rather than compete

  • 0
    0

    Some are engaged in meaningless arguments without doing what has to be done to save this country from the 1+225 IRCs

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