By N. Logathayalan –
President Maithripala Sirisena has shown that he is really indistinguishable from his pre-2015 gang of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s. The latter only needed to have waited till 2020 to gain power through elections. But the judicial nooses were tightening round their necks at Courts. Rajapaksa’s family and friends were in real danger of going to prison – and pretty soon too. So they threw caution to the winds and jumped the gun dissolving Parliament unconstitutionally.
They tried to buy government MPs. It did not work. Sirisena claimed in a major speech that MPs were on auction. It turns out that the only cross-overs at that point were to his side, making it quite plain that his side was doing the bribing. One clown has been crossing back and forth and has made a joke of the Tamil community.
The literally crooked gang did not have the required numbers in Parliament. They tried their hooliganism in Parliament but failed to avoid a no-confidence vote. Now they are boycotting Parliament to make excuses as to why they cannot demonstrate the numbers they claim in Parliament.
Worse is to come. Important cases are being heard in the Supreme Court.
The cases are hopeless for Sirsena. His argument for the legality of his dissolving Parliament is essentially this: that Artcle 33 (2)(c) of the Constitution gives him the power to dismiss parliament anytime: “In addition to the powers, duties and functions expressly conferred or imposed on, or assigned to the President by the Constitution or other written law, the President shall have the power to summon, prorogue and dissolve Parliament.”
In contrast, Article 70 says that Parliament can be dissolved only 4 years and six months after its first meeting, or on a motion supported by 2/3 of all members. Neither of these two conditions has been fulfilled.
The President’s case is essentially that Section 33(2)(c) may be read in isolation, and he can ignore section 70. However, there is enough case law that says that different sections must be interpreted in manner that the whole is harmonious. Yet in his gazette proclamation dissolving parliament, Sirisena draws from Section 70(1), the only place in the constitution that speaks of dissolution of parliament by proclamation and which he claims to ignore. Section 70, he says, does not apply in interpreting Section 33. Moreover in that special gazette proclaiming the dissolution of parliament (No. 2094/45 of 27 Oct.) he invokes the powers conferred on him by article 70(5) – reminding one of wanting to have the cake and eat it at the same time. Moreover, that article confers no power on anyone and only speaks of the dates he has to set for elections. He has proclaimed claiming powers not conferred on him by the article he has cited. It shows the quality of legal advisers Sirisena has.
The President’s interpretation in reading Section 33(2)(c) – that is, that he can dissolve parliament any time – means that he can call for elections, and when he does not like the result call for elections again and so on till he gets the results he wants. What s worse is that by his interpretation he can never be impeached – for when Parliament dares to impeach a terrible president like himself, all that the President has to do is dissolve Parliament. That absurdity renders Sirisena’s interpretation totally crazy – what in logic is called reductio ad absurdum, reducing a thesis to the absurd conclusions it leads to, thereby disproving the thesis.
All these arguments will be heard 4, 5 and 6 of December with the inexorable verdict expected on the 7th. I do not need to expand on the many more reasons why the Supreme Court will find the dissolution of Parliament unlawful.
The point I make is that Sirisena must be quite aware by now of what is coming. Rajapaksa has indicated his own foreboding in saying that in Sirisena’s place he would not have dissolved Parliament. Indeed Colombo Telegraph has him saying in 2015 that there will be no elections for another 4.5 years. In the short time since 26 October, Rajapaksa has been making the most of it before the blow falls on his Prime Ministership – appointing his crooked friends to let them make more money, letting his son use state property as he wants, giving helicopter rides to the tune of some 800 million rupees, getting persistent detectives out of the way of investigations that reveal how foul and murderous his regime was, and so on. Everything is coming a cropper for him and Sirisena.
The last argument the gang could resort to was that, as they claimed, they had 103 seats against the UNP’s 102 which gives them a better case for heading the government. The UNP therefore wanted the ITAK vote which seemed to come in the vote of no-confidence against Mahinda Rajapaksa and in passing the vote on the 29thto curb the Prime Minister’ budget. But that was not enough. The UNP needs consistent votes in its support not just for bills here and there on an ad hoc basis. The ITAK votes must always be with the UNP to overturn the Sirisena-Rajapaksa gang.
The present (or recent if you prefer) Ranil Wickremesinghe cabinet of 30, according to a former Mayor of Colombo has 10 gays, and that Mayor is able to count them off one by one, name by name. However distasteful it may be to many, gays tend to be minority friendly because of the shared suffering. In contrast Sirisena has taunted the gays in his cabinet as butterflies (using the example of the Monarch Butterfly which tends to same-sex mating) in giving reasons for the dissolution. At the same time he defends as national heroes those soldiers guilty of war crimes whom he says he will never allow to be prosecuted – those soldiers who murdered Tamil girls on the Mullaitivu beaches and gratuitously played with their corpses for sexual pleasure, engaging in necrophilia. Gays at least have some form of mutual consent while the poor Tamil girls of Mullaitivu had their corpses violated without their consent. This is the status of minorities under Rajapaksa who was at the top of the chain of command during the murders and rapes of 2009 and his terrorism of Muslims, and under Sirisena who now protects murderers of Tamils and elevates necrophilliacs as national heroes, while taunting homosexuals. The Sinhalese tend to be in denial, calling these photos doctored. However, how our soldiers behaved in Haiti as UN Peace-Keepers raping children shows the true quality of our national heroes.
This is why Tamils, except for a very few, resist more strongly, indeed are terrified of the Rajapaksa-Sirisena combine triumphing over Ranil Wickremesinghe. The ITAK could therefore simply sit back and let the country drift into anarchy with neither side commanding a majority in Parliament. But the Sirisena-Rajapaksa combine, in the reckoning of many, is far worse for Tamils than Ranil Wickremesinghe for the reasons stated. Indeed, Ranil Wickremesinghe attempting to take Ravi Karunanayake back into the cabinet and his own lack of explanation for the bond-scam make many Tamils wary of him too. Those sympathetic to the LTTE hold Ranil responsible for engineering Karuna Amman’s defection which really was the beginning of the end of the LTTE.
In the North-East, the general feeling is that Mahinda Rajapaksa is terrible for Tamils, and Ranil is better but not necessarily much better – after all he has delivered little in his three years as PM and is on record saying he will not have the international judges that he committed to in Geneva as a cosponsor. ITAK MP E. Saravanapavan has been forced to go on record in Jaffna that the ITAK will never support Ranil. Supporting Ranil therefore will lead to an electoral setback for ITAK; and C.V. Wigneswaran (whose standing among Tamils at the moment is poor because of his untrustworthiness and for his speeches tending to war mongering), will be the beneficiary. Having lost Sambanthan’s trust, he also must be disappointed by how things have turned after praising Rajapksa recently, presumably wanting to ride on Rajapaksa’s coat-tails by placing himself under the command of his sambanthi(in-law) Vasudeva.
The Sirisena-Rajapaksa gang wants a dignified way out of the cesspit it dug for itself as everything seems to go awry. It was signaled on the 29thin Parliament when Wijedasa Rajapakse made a plea for peace. The Speaker, Karu Jayasuriya, the gentleman that he is, agreed to speak to the President and already has. The ITAK too wants to support the UNP which is more likely to settle Tamil grievances but cannot face the electorate if they side with Ranil openly. So in their letter to Sirisena of the 29th they have adopted a formula of not openly supporting Ranil but keeping the door open to that eventuality:
“We the Members of Parliament of the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi, will support the restoration of a Government headed by the U.N.F as it existed prior to 26th October [and] the Appointment of a nominee of the U.N.F who in the opinion of Your Excellency is able to command the confidence of Parliament as Prime Minister.”
It is reported that Ranil Wickremesinghe has assured Sampanthan in writing that a new constitution would be presented before Independence Day in 2019. Those who want nothing short of Eelam see this agreement as a threat to their project. Attempting to disrupt all prospects for peace, three policemen at a checkpoint at Vavunaitheevu in the Batticalao District were shot at in the early hours of the 30th. Two have succumbed to their injuries.
The stage is set for Sirisena to cancel his gazettes and avoid a devastatingly humiliating judgment from the Supreme Court. What is uncertain is whether the UNP will abandon Ranil or be firmly loyal to him. On that rests the outcome of any talks. If there is a settlement and the gazette is annulled, there will be nothing for the Supreme Court to rule as illegal. Unfortunately that outcome while saving face for the Sirisena-Rajapaksa combine, will leave the door open for another mad and immoral president to try the same disgraceful bag of tricks again.