29 September, 2020

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Reconciliation: Looking Forward xii – Constitutional Anomalies

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Prof Rajiva Wijesinha

In the whole sorry impeachment saga, the UNP seems to have done the impossible and managed to keep everyone happy. Though some other opposition parties are making valiant attempts to criticize them, since the criticisms are not based on clear arguments, similar generalities on the part of UNP officials will allow them to emerge unscathed.

This is a pity, because proper analysis of their role will also suggest what they might do to make things better in the future. Firstly, they should acknowledge the absurdity of the Standing Order that they put in place hurriedly in 1984, mainly it seems to keep Neville Samarakoon quiet. While they have granted that this is hopelessly inadequate and requires further elaboration, the efforts of some to condemn the Standing Order were stymied, on the grounds that that would amount to criticism of their sacred cow, namely J R Jayewardene’s Constitution and its appendages.

Since the UNP leader affirmed this principle, and also refrained from speaking on the Impeachment Resolution, he continues to convince decision makers in government that he is the best possible Opposition Leader for the Government. This is myopic, because they think only in terms of popularity within Sri Lanka. Whilst certainly Ranil Wickremesinghe would fare disastrously in any electoral competition with the President, the same applies with regard to any other possible leader of the Opposition.

The UNP strategy rather is based on influencing the international community, and in this regard Wickremesinghe is streets ahead of anyone else in the field. And whether we like it or not, in this globalized world, the international community can affect opinion in this country and elsewhere even without resorting to the underhand measures the former American Political Affairs Officer engaged in.

At the very least, we need investment, and the not very subtle comments of the Americans following the impeachment suggest areas in which pressures might be applied. We should not then forget history when a UNP leader, whom everyone had thought for years could never be elected, swept the polls largely because of the economic deprivation the country was facing in 1977.

It was that which allowed him to introduce the 1978 Constitution. Characteristically, the current UNP  refusal to admit how awful that Constitution is goes hand in hand with a determination to limit now the powers of the Presidency which they allowed Jayewardene to exercise without restraints. This anomaly with regard to the 17th Amendment they now see as sacrosanct has never been pinpointed.

One argument used by critics of the government who resent the continued support given to the government by those within it who opposed the impeachment is that their vote in favour of the 18th amendment shows they are not really interested in democratic principles or practice. This is absurd because, as I have pointed out for many years, the 17th amendment was an ad hoc measure which confused two Constitutional dispensations.

In both there are mechanisms to reduce the absolute power of the Head of Government to appoint whom they want to positions of importance, but they are very different, given the differing status of such Heads of Government. Where the Head of Government is not the Head of State, as is the case under the Westminster system, the Prime Minister forwards a recommendation to the President or Monarch, who duly appoints. In practice the Head of State will not turn down any recommendation, but the very fact that someone else is responsible for the final appointment means that the Prime Minister will exercise care in making recommendations.

Where the Head of Government is also the Head of State, the situation is very different, because the ultimate responsibility is his. That is why checks are exercised through an advise and / or consent mechanism. I will flesh out this idea further in a later article, but for the moment it should be noted that, under the 1978 Constitution, for over 20 years, there was no such check on the absolute power of the President to appoint – and no one in politics now complained about that, except I think the Liberal Party.

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    You say “the UNP seems to have done the impossible and managed to keep everyone happy.” Who are the “everyone”? Certainly not most of the people who read this paper. Anyway, what is the earthly use of your churning out these convoluted essays anymore? So long as you stay firmly in your parliamentary seat propping up the regime and aiding its rush to dictatorship your words are just so much chaff. Few people will even try to separate the grain from them. Maybe you should just ghost more of your medical brother’s columns in the Sunday paper as you did this last Sunday, running down a British MP about to visit. Why? Was he not impressed by your erudition when you met him in the UK?

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    This jumping Jackass has just opened his mouth. He is now blaming the UNP in order to whitewash himself for the non-committal vote. Too late now. His neck is already on the block, like the Musthafa man who offered his shoulder to cry-on.

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    What the hell is this gibberish nonsense? We know that Ranil has showed your regime of donkeys to the international guillotine without your being said so! What you must do is not waste time by engaging in further laundry operations but to find a safe culvert lest what befell Gaddafi will not befall to you.

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    Rajiva,

    dont worry you will have to answer next session, why you thought the impeachment process against the FORMER CJ SB was not fair.

    IC will not be abe to stay deaf as your leader always has been – almost every time, not respecting what others say

    This time in March it will NOT be easy as had been in the past sessions – if you are in a mind that the LLRC implementation is getting forward… you will be asked to bring best examples from the last 6 months.

    Now we are on a country – thanks to your leader – where no independent judiciary is in function – the current CJ who was appointed last week is comparable to the situation – in the parliament – and its speaker… he is said to be a former police officer but turned to a politician.. not an adequately educated person for the position – AND being a brother of President. Situation is seriously adverse than the prevailing situation in Robert Mugabe´s

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    My simple question to the readers is: why even the educated stay deaf and indifferent when also alarming issues become as if they cant be bearable anymore ? In previous times in the country – the educated ministers were the ones who made aware of the nation again and again – but today in the cabinet with the majority of members filled with robbers, rapists, drug dealers and all other forms of criminals, though the few of the educated ones like Rajiva, GLP are also trying to further support those criminals – this is not at all acceptable. I really dont know that we had any previous govts with this much of worst combinations.

    I have not been in the country for the last two decades, and this is the reason why I raised this.. I simply cant realize the current situation in the country. Alone with the proofs on the hand, letting Mervin silva to stay free is NO WAY acceptable. Any country, that respect human lives would immeidately put Mervin silva to jail. But what is happening today in the country – ?????????????

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      Desperate_CITIZEN,

      Some of the reasons are: Opportunistic politics indulged in by SLFPers-most raucous being SWRDB and MR and the gang of robbers-which invaded and pervaded throughout the country a culture of racism, chauvinism, uneducatedness, narrow and shallow mindset, compartmentalization, selfishness, greed and hate etc. The resultant brainwashed despicable SLFPers began to hate UNPers, considered them as capitalists, and the throng wanted their class to outnumber and rule the country. So they voted in vast numbers for their “poor classed” politicians and hence a general decline in human qualities, conscience, attitudes, behavior and aspirations occurred. Thanks to JR’s liberal economy these trivial and unprincipled poor populations had means and access to economic and educational opportunities and they outwardly and materially progressed without any gray matter and humanity inside. During UNP governments even though there were parliamentarians prone to corruption and malpractices they had been handicapped and tethered due to the principled and visionary leadership-during JR’s days they were on a very low note, so were during Ranil’s as well. But with the grabbing of power by Rajapakshas whom Chandrika described as uneducated uncultured bastards all checks and balances, principles, standards and ethics were thrown to the dogs and all the riff raffs, crooks, thugs, cheats and robbers were enthroned and given power and authority to control everything on this country. In a way this Rajapaksha dystopia is an exact replica of the common moron’s nature, character and ill-bred nature. The UNP MPs under JR/Ranil virtually unnoticed in the corruption scale but after summersault they rank among the best of worst in the world which exactly contrast the quality of leadership then and now! So this contagious disease of immorality emanating from the top rung of the regime and distilling down to the very bottom of the social structure has engulfed every one of every walk of life, be it Rajiva, Dayan, Carlo, Nalin, Buddhist Prelates or anybody who is regime happy. This is like a cancer, spreading without control and gradually killing the carrier. And the only cure for cancer is the complete and utter obliteration of the root cause of the cancer that is Rajapaksha family with the immediate rogues that are implementing their dystopian measures.

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    Dear Desperate Citizen – tho u cant be as desperate as some of us who have no choice but to go on living here – do get your facts right about things in the land of yr birth (?) before you speak! The newly appointed CJ was not a police officer NOR is he a brother of the President, &, as far as I know, he wasn’t even a politician unless u are using the word as Shakespeare did. Your confusion reminds me a of a cautionary note Chairman Mao once sounded — perhaps quoting someone else — “No investigation no right to SPEAK!” However, this piece of wisdom seems to be more observed in the breach in our country, most recently by 117 parliamentarians. I still wonder who the 117 were who signed the motion for impeachment, and what “investigation” THEY had done before signing.

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      Sorry for the confusion, while being on a train (not in SL9, previous comments were passed…

      please read my corrections below:

      Quoted from my previous comments:

      “nd its speaker… he is said to be a former police officer but turned to a politician”

      Speaker of the current cabinet who is a brother of incumbent president…
      He had previously been as a police officer before coming to politics.

      ReferneceS:

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/two-responses-bulldozers-cannot-destroy-sl-history-and-a-speakers-duty/

      Quoted from the article of ELMORE PERERA:

      “Both Jayatilaka and I, and undoubtedly many, many others, are very well aware that Chamal Rajapaksa retired after exemplary service as a Police Officer, before venturing into politics. To succeed in politics there was no requirement that he should necessarily further his legal knowledge/expertise. As such it seems to me that Jayatilaka was being a little bit unfair in expecting Chamal Rajapaksa as Speaker to offer legal advice to the signatories of the Impeachment Motion, since their knowledge of matters “legal” are largely restricted to their appearances in Court in response to “summons” or “notices” served on them, or on those near and dear to them “.

      To my understanding, the impeachment of the CJ SB was based on a calculated verdict made by MR.

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    When is your last day at Parliament, Learned Professor?

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    “Reconciliation: Looking Forward xii – Constitutional Anomalies”

    Rajiva, it seems your travails are coming to an end and your trousers-clad kurakkan-shawled journey through the mud-fields of Rajapakshas would soon die away! You now have two options left: lick and suck more and more Rajapaksha balls and try to win their favor again or take political asylum in a foreign country and vomit all the secrets you know of the regime and assist the UN to build a strong case against the regime!

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