17 July, 2019

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Stand With Ranil: Fight Against Sri Lanka’s Bolsonaro Moment 

By Chamindra Weerawardhana –

Dr. Chamindra Weerawardhana

The appointment of Mahinda Rajapaksa as Prime Minister at the discretion of President Sirisena was unconstitutional. 

The argument advanced by people like Professor G.L. Peiris, that the withdrawal of the UPFA from the Joint Government unseats the sitting Prime Minister, is inadequate, due to a very important constitutional provision – that it is the person with a clear parliamentary majority who is entitled to be Prime Minister. 

As many commentators have noted by now, Sirisena had other options if he was so keen to unseat Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, such as defeating the 2019 budget. 

As this writer noted in an article written hours after the ‘coup’ happened, there is a precedent to this kind of power game, in the November 2003/February 2004 decisions made by President Kumaratunga. 

However, as clarified in the same article, Kumaratunga did not violate a single provision in the Constitution. There was absolutely no limit on executive powers at the time. 

Today, we are in post-19th amendment Sri Lanka, and let’s not forget that the President is obliged, by oath, to abide by the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka. 

Sirisena has clearly not done so, and has hence grossly violated the Constitution. 

At this point of time, all citizens of Sri Lanka need to take stock of the violent consequences of Sirisena’s actions. 

One fellow citizen is dead. A few others injured in the same incident are in serious condition. 

State television and radio corporations have been taken over, using mob violence, in the most undemocratic, un-ceremonial and shameless manner. 

Reports also indicate that Gotabaya Rajapaksa, a man known for his violent disposition, is behind organising violent mobs to take control of state-owned departments, ministries and corporations. Individuals known for their disregard for the rule of law such as Kamal Gunaratne and Suresh Saley have been given responsibilities in these violent missions. 

If no action is taken and Mahinda Rajapaksa remains Prime Minister, it will set an extremely bad precedent, that political power can be grabbed through shady deals and coups, with zero regard for the Constitution of the 2nd Republic and the rule of law. 

If Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans can be proud of one thing, it is our system of democratic governance. Irrespective of the multitude of problems associated with that system, Sri Lanka has had a functioning democracy, elected governments, structures of local government, and broad conversations on issues such as the devolution of power. Even at the height of a secessionist war, this ‘system’ remained functional. 

Under the present circumstances, the first priority that we should all stand for, is for Parliament to be reconvened at the earliest possibility. 

Once Parliament is reconvened, the person with a clear parliamentary majority can remain Prime Minister. 

Supporters of Mahinda Rajapkasa MP should clearly take note of an absolutely vital point: that this is NOT about Mahinda becoming Prime Minister. Instead, this is about our democracy, our Constitution, our institutions, and the rule of law. 

The recent descent into violence, mob attacks at state bodies, and violence against private citizens are clear signs that the very epicentre of democratic governance is at risk. 

This writer, like many others, upholds a stern critique of neoliberal political models. However, it is necessary to remember that no such critique can be advanced if our democracy and institutions are at stake. 

Hence the vital importance of reconvening Parliament. 

A clear risk of reconvening Parliament is that violent mobs directed behind-the-scenes by a ‘caucus of evil’ composed of Gotabaya/Kamal Gunaratne/Suresh Saley and others, might prevent MPs from entering Parliament premises. This writer hears in the political grapevine that this is currently a key concern at Speaker’s Office. 

The problem, then, is of very high magnitude. It is therefore a national priority to stand with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and call for Parliament to be reconvened. 

It is also important for everyone with a concern for Sri Lankan democracy to resolutely stand against the mob violence currently being unleashed in Colombo. 

Our international partners, except, unfortunately, China and Iran, have done it right, by supporting Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. 

Given the sorry nature of this power grab, and even if Mahinda Rajapaksa eventually succeeds in demonstrating a parliamentary majority, it is essential for a general election to be called at the earliest possibility. 

This is due to one single reason: we do not want state power – in one of Asia’s oldest democracies and in a place where the Constitution and the Rule of Law ‘matter’ – to go to the hands of vain and mediocre village thugs whose only priority is to establish a dynastic dictatorship.  

As Brazil is hit by the Bolsonaro effect, we must never lose sight of the dire consequences of supporting extremism, majoritarian nationalism, all hues of chauvinism, and leaders who thrive on discriminatory discourses. We do not want a Sinhala-Buddhist Bolsonaro to rule over us, limit our fundamental rights and freedoms, and dehumanise many of us who do not fall into what they consider as superior. 

*Dr Chamindra Weerawardhana is a political analyst. She is the author of Decolonising Peacebuilding: Managing Conflict from Northern Ireland to Sri Lanka and Beyond. 

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Latest comments

  • 15
    8

    I fully agree with you but the problem is power greed..
    M&s struck a deal with MR family that he will be given second term .
    M&s knows he can not win any election by his own ..so; he wants to make use of MR support to get next term ..
    He is sure that he could win it with MR backing him..
    But ; crafty MR will never give MS any chance to context next term ..
    Once MR is well established m&s will be wiped out …
    ALL WHAT MR wants is to hand over power to his son.
    Democracy is a joke now ..
    It is used by many people to hold on to power .
    It’s used to invade nations
    It’s used to kill people ..
    It’s used for political change.
    Our international partners are using it for their geopolitical interest…
    ALL WHAT China wants is to use us ..
    Same with others ..
    But; our politicians have become victim of these geopolitics.
    Shame on M&s to do this ..
    To cheat public

    • 6
      1

      Majority of the country are not edcuated about the ground situaton in the country.

      Media mafia run by Rajapakshe supporters made an opinion which is not the truth.

      Latter is the setback for the govt of MS-Ranil as the once who gave more freedom to expression during the last 3.5 years.

      And in the high days of MR so called regime – over 44 journalists and several dozens of media personnel have either being killed or went missing.

      By the time Ranil-and Sirisena came to power, democracy of this nation had been overtaken by RAJAPAKHSE AUTHORITARIANISM.

      Entire world was against MR by 2015.

      COMMON WEALTH had requested him to respect CW latim principles.

      Within 3 years Ranil lead foregin policies cleaned it as no other goverment did and 5-star democracy restored in the country.
      Last week, some world organizations named srilanka as the best destination for tourists… but it was dark prior to Ranil and entire world hated the country.

      https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/lonely-planet-best-destinations-asia-2018/index.html

      But next days, looking at the undemocratic performances alone by President, entire world would not welcome srilnaka again.
      Rajapakshe has been fooled by china and India too is not that close to Rajapkshe.
      Indias concerns show that lanken problems can influence their politics too.
      How can Rajaplkshe now bring peace and reconciliation if he failed to do it within his 10 years ?
      He can rather work on filling his pockets. Sirisena himself called Rajakshes a blatant high criminals before the premiership is offered ot him.

  • 8
    6

    Chamindra,
    .
    A very pursuasive article. However, will it be pursuasive enough for those so strongly in the other camp including not just the Rajapaksas, but even the educated, one track opportunists such as GLP, Dayan et al.
    .
    With the false confidence provided by these bogus intellects, there is a good possibiilty that the goons will do what the goons do – trample on everybody’s consitutional and democratic rights, and take office by force and enforce compliane, totally overpowering the free media and discourse.
    .
    As such, the immediate concern is if the MS/MR conjugation bulldozes through with the least consideration to the constitution, what options does the democracy-respecting majority have – is that reduced to a choice between violence or sheepish concession? Are there other less harmful alternate options?

    • 8
      1

      Chamindra,
      Your headline is misleading. Bolsonaro was elected, as Mahinda himself was once upon a time.
      Today, Mahinda has grabbed power in collusion with a pathetically incoherent nincompoop of a “president”, who talks about threats to his life in 2015 and announces the appointment of the very man who threatened him , as PM, in the same speech. Can it get crazier than that, even in this miracle of Asia?
      However, I believe Mahinda is being used as a palatable frontman by the crooks and dark forces around him. The man is practically senile and didn’t look too happy. He had to read out his explanation to the Mahanayakas from a piece of paper. It is not Mahinda we must be afraid of. It is the hangers-on using his name.
      Finally, “If Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans can be proud of one thing, it is our system of democratic governance. ” Sri Lanka is NOT a democracy, not since Sarath Silva’s judgement. If a representative elected by the people to support a particular set of principles can change sides with impunity, there is NO REPRESENTATION whatsoever.

  • 9
    8

    Very good. This article is self explanatory. West is upset.

    • 11
      4

      JD
      It is not the West who are upset. Anyone at least who values democracy in our country is upset. You and a few are the exceptions.

      • 8
        1

        Bedrock of Democracy is holding elections on time.DO not pick & choose parts of democracy when you need to use it.

  • 12
    4

    The West must accept the importance of a mandate from the people.

    We must immediately hold a parliamentary election to decide what the people think of the events of 26 October.. At least hold the Provincial elections.

    From the results of the local government elections held in February 2018 it does not appear that the majority are with Ranil. In fact he lost very badly at that election.
    .
    He got a mandate in 2015, but by betraying that mandate ( to fight corruption, not let Mahendran rob the country, commissions, bribes..) Ranil seems to have lost it.

    So we must have an election now, a new beginning.is called for.

  • 8
    3

    Chamindra, I get the idea that you would like us all to stand behind you in line? Sorry, not this bugger.

  • 3
    1

    Bedrock of Democracy is holding elections on time.DO not pick & choose parts of democracy when you need to use it.

  • 1
    1

    Dr, C W

    Yes, the Bolsonaro moment has come. It will not be gone if Ranil is not supported totally and his opponents nipped. The Sri Lankan version is nebulous and more dangerous. Bol. of Brazil is brutally outspoken and will remain brutal from day one with none to resist. His handlers of power will be the avowedly disclosed jackboot. In Sri Lanka it is to be the velvet glove of democracy on display and the red claw of the beast underneath for execution.

  • 8
    9

    What a load of crap!

    Didn’t see you write articles when the Bond man got away or when elections were postponed!

    And now spewing out fake news! Helloooo- Arjunas bodyguard fired the shots. Seriously.. get a life

  • 5
    9

    Ranil got the premiers job in 08/01/2015 almost the same way.

    • 5
      0

      Not true. Sirisena was elected on the basis that Ranil would be PM, and the people voted on that premise. He was NOT appointed as an after thought!

  • 0
    0

    “As Brazil is hit by the Bolsonaro effect, …”
    We have some way to go to get there.
    Incidently, the election of the fascist Bolsonaro was with the connivance of US imperialism.

  • 0
    8

    Chamindra, this is manifestly NOT the Bolonaro moment. Bolsonaro is in the wings. If the neoliberals and the liberals keep shrieking, the Sinhala masses will exercise their Bolsonaro option at next year’s Presidential election. What is happening now is the mildest, most moderate backlash against neo-liberalism. If it is vilified, then the majority will exercise the Doomsday option of an Alt Right Presidency. This is not it.

    • 4
      0

      Dr.DJ,
      “the Sinhala masses will exercise their Bolsonaro option at next year’s Presidential election”
      Stop talking in parables please. Tell us who the Bolsonaro is. I think his name starts with ” G” . Hedging your bets as usual?

      • 3
        1

        OC
        As Bolsonaro is the fascist who won the presidential polls in Brazil last weekend, I guess that DJ knows what he is talking about.

    • 4
      0

      DJ,

      when would you grow up. ? I thought they would offer you MINISTER OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS the manner you licked their asses. What happened.

      Please dont betray educated folks.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7RFtejjxAY

    • 3
      0

      DJ, you say
      “…the Sinhala masses will exercise their Bolsonaro option at next year’s Presidential election.”
      What is your understanding of Bolsorano?
      *
      He is considered to be a fascist, and is retired military officer.
      Perhaps you understand it in the real sense.

  • 1
    0

    streets of Colombo are empty…where is the uprising against this undemocratic act….

    • 0
      0

      Rajash,
      “streets of Colombo are empty…”
      The notorious Podihamuduruwo of Gangaramaya thinks so too.
      May Jesus Christ save Buddhism!!

  • 5
    0

    US State Derpartment wants and wishes, all sides to respect and work according to the constitution of SL, but their own US citizens Gota and Basil are the big culprits working against this, well and clearly behind all these troubles, working to destabilise are a true functioning democracy, and trying to subtage, and going against the wishes, interest and values of the US. So State Dept, please take note of this, and it’s a crime and illegal subverting democracy and established norms, and undue interfering in the affairs of other nations.

  • 1
    0

    Chandima what fight? It’s time you people get out of Sri Lanka if you can, it’s your life, is it worth it? Just stop writing if you are in Sri Lanka.

    I feel sorry for the ones like you who can not leave the country, they may be killed according to cultural beliefs of all four Religions

  • 3
    2

    Where were you when RW was appointed as PM when UNP had only 42 seats and UFPA had 2/3 majority in the parliament.

  • 0
    0

    Ranil is a very egoistic person, anyone who is arrogant and egoistic will be destroyed by his own arrogance and egoism, Why did The Buddha throw all his kingdom and withdrew to the jungle? Because he already was a half Buddha enlighten with pure wisdom, he knew the evil of the Ego.

    When JVP advised him to abolish the executive presidency and bring in the west minister, he refused, so now it’s too late. He even destroyed the political future of the JVP.

    Not even in the dreams of Ranil or Unpers or anyone on earth can ever take control of Sri Lanka in future , at least we will never have anymore Strikes huh that is a relief.

  • 2
    0

    if you want to ensure democracy the time has come to abolish universal suffrage
    it served its purpose then but like the us electoral college it is no longer relevant
    if an election is held now the rajapaksas will sweep the board and poor sirisena will be sacrificed for gota to be nominated for the presidency
    the betrayer will be betrayed

  • 2
    0

    Dr. Chamindra.
    Prof: GLP has now mastered the Art and Science of Dead-Rope !.
    He knows that neither MS nor MaRa are quite conversant with section X, section Y[ a] etc etc in our constitution.

  • 2
    0

    Totally agree with Chamindra’s views.
    GLP stopped teaching in the faculty of Law many years ago. He is Emeritus professor and has amply demonstrated that he can not provide valid legal and constitutional views.

  • 2
    0

    @Free da ,

    What nonsense, the time when the President appointed Ranil as PM he had full executive powers and was not accountable to the parliament, now his wings are trimmed and he is fully accountable to the parliament, am No supporter of RW, in fact I have lot of complaints against him and do not promote his Premiership, never did.

    But I am very Sri Lankan and believe whole heartedly in true democracy, the last thing I want is for us to become a bad taste in the mouths of the world of democracy.

  • 2
    0

    Being a die hard pro. SIRISENA, I am in shock, why did he take such a decision being a seasoned politician.?

    it’s unfortunate he has stains on his white character now.

    Wonder if he still got time to do anything to resolve the issue.
    In no way now he can let go Mr, nor leave RW in the current situation.
    Only The Dhamma is his refuge now.

  • 1
    0

    What a simplistic analysis of the current political situation. Only someone who has no idea of what went on in Sri Lanka for the past three years would say Stand behind Ranil. Do you even know the LGBTQ stance of the party that you are advocating. Why not say stand for democracy through civil societies. The gross injustices that we experienced during the MR regime was replicated to a certain extent within this gov. and especially espoused by the Royalist mafia surrounding Ranil. The UNP has displayed time and time again their incompetence in everything they do. They can’t even steal properly. The inaction and incompetence have led to this current crisis and Ranil is at the centre of it.

    Sorry Dr C W, I will not stand behind a man who has no idea what democracy is (judging by his autocratic hold on his party). I refuse to be a vassal of a political pogrom.

    • 1
      0

      Marlon,
      Your argument “Only someone who has no idea of what went on in Sri Lanka for the past three years would say Stand behind Ranil.” can be at least equally applied to the previous 7 years under Mahinda as well.
      .
      So, I guess the issue is selecting the “better of the two evils”?
      .
      And, should that not be decided by a majority than by proclamation?!

      • 0
        0

        It does. I agree. Stop thinking in binary terms because if you read my comment you will realise I am not. Don’t stand with Ranil does not mean Stand with MR. The point is we, the people, should not stand behind any politician… especially ones as corrupt, selfish as ours. Why not strengthen the civil societies. Why not stand on your own two feet, why not stand for democracy on your own rather than being subjected to political agendas.

        Yes, convening the parliament is the best form of action. Not standing with an incompetent, autocratic leader like Ranil.

        • 1
          0

          Marlon,
          .
          You are not being neutral or fair here – 3-years of corruption and incomptetence as you judge somehow seems to weigh more than 7-years of white vanning, ransacking the country and misery. A country that was an inch away from reaching the pariah status under MR, somehow got voted under Ranil as the best country in the world for anternational tourism!
          .
          So at least you could have ended with “Not standing with an incompetent, autocratic leader like Ranil, or accepting blind folded the white-vanning thuggary and grotesque ransacking dictatorial kingdom under MR’s familial greed!” That would be fair.

  • 0
    3

    Go to hell Chamindra. Take your democracy and go to your imperial masters. Your western democracy does not work in this country. This country had an ancient native political system. Imperialists destroyed it and planted this democracy and socialism. Sri Lanka must return to the Monarch! No Demo-crazy! The Monarch is the only answer.

  • 0
    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/

  • 0
    0

    For RW what matters is RW. He doesn’t want to step down. That is RW.
    But would he have the staying power. Temple Trees for how long….

  • 0
    0

    Stand with Who? Nothing is more important for RW other than RW. Two people have been killed and do you want more of this?

  • 0
    0

    Dr. Weerawardhana,

    “we do not want state power…to go to the hands of vain and mediocre *village* thugs whose only priority is to establish a dynastic dictatorship.”

    It is unfortunate how you undermined an otherwise well-written argument with one poorly-conceived sentence.

  • 0
    0

    There is a LGBT issue underlying this writer’s opinion! The Rajapakses and Maithree clan are normal family nucleali. While Ranil W and company are supporting Gay rights

    Is Dr.Wijrwardene therefore, a Man or Woman or just plain don’t know case?

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