6 December, 2023


The Govt.’s ‘Independents’ & The Vote On The Opposition’s NCMs

By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody

Ruwan Jayakody

The native Indians of the Americas use smoke to coax the armadillo out of its burrows. The armour of this animal only unfurls itself when the hot breath of fire caresses and tickles it.

How does a nation get rid of or ‘smoke out’ its ruler, like for an example, the incumbent Executive President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who, per the majority of the people protesting or standing in queues in the streets, has exhausted his welcome? Is it the threat of mutiny or sedition that one uses as the gambit or the lure of more power to ambush the Executive into making a fatal blunder? To cock the gun barrel of impeaching the leader of a country requires the folly and courage to plot. Plotting requires recruitment and more recruitment in order to obtain a two thirds majority and it is required that an epistle of fire has to be signed by the willing (and also unwilling) signatories. If all does go according to plan, as it almost always never does, the signatories would, as history belatedly informs us, be betrayed, leading thereby to the plot being discovered, which would soon be followed by accusations of conspiracy against the State, with the ever merciful grace of final deliverance being meted out by the Government in the form of interrogations, trials of expulsion and executions. Justice, as some say will have been served. Impeaching the President, suffice to say, is a Faustian bargain and perhaps requires the mad glare of Lee Harvey Oswald (killer of the American President, John F. Kennedy), to set alight the powder keg of changing the regime.

Following months long and still going strong protests – nourished by the lone body count of Chaminda Lakshan made possible on the Bloody Monday of 19 April, courtesy of the trigger-happy ‘law and odour (wasn’t it order)’ cops of the hill country and their indiscriminate bullets – which have led to both topographical and demographical changes to the country, with the former signified by the creation of the Gotagogama and the Mynagogama, named after their unwitting patrons, and the latter due to the personal-political schism experienced by the erstwhile voters of the ruling Rajapaksa duo, and those shuffling their mortal coil to the latest queue for the soon-to-be shibboleth of personal hygiene – soap, this week will see those among the protesting public who are steadfast and uncompromising in their demand for the present seat warmers of the posts of the Executive President and the Prime Minister to vacate office, get an opportunity to flex their legal muscles towards the realizing of the expulsion of the said duumvirate – President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

The Parliamentary Opposition, specifically, the main Parliamentary Opposition, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) led by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa and the Tamil National Alliance’s (TNA) Spokesman, President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran are scheduled to present no confidence motions (NCMs) to the Parliament, the former against the Government and the latter against the President.

This is in part due to the two siblings tenaciously refusing to budge an inch from their occupation of the people’s sovereignty in the bloated Executive and Legislative realms, citing the possession of both the people’s electoral mandate and the requisite Parliamentary numbers. While President Rajapaksa who no longer inspires ‘oderint dum metuant (let them hate, so long as they fear)’, has categorically stated that he will not step down, he has professed openness, sans any clarity on the specifics, both to an interim Government with those who can show the Parliamentary majority or an interim all party national Government of sorts. He has noted that the decision regarding the appointment of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers of the said interim Government should be decided by a national assembly or council of party leaders. For his part, the President’s elder brother and Premier Rajapaksa has stated that his younger brother, the President, has not asked him to resign and neither would he make such a request. As observed by a mafia don in The Godfather Part II, it is “between the brothers”.

The move of employing a no confidence motion for the purpose as opposed to an impeachment resolution is unprecedented but justified. The Constitution allows for the impeachment of the President, but the legal provisions in place for an impeachment are cosmetic and decorative, and as Sumanthiran puts it, inordinately time consuming (approximately two years, according to him). However, both the SJB and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) led National People’s Power (NPP) have stated that impeachment motions are pending.

Hence, the no confidence motions. These require only the simple majority of 113 Members of Parliament. According to the SJB and the newly ‘independent’ Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) Government Parliamentarians (a group of 11 parties made up of, among others and most prominently, former coalition partners of the ruling SLPP led alliance such as the Sri Lanka Freedom Party {SLFP} Chaired by Maithripala Sirisena, and Party Leaders and former Ministers Udaya Gammanpila, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Wimal Weerawansa), with regard to the anti Government no confidence motion, they have the numbers (one has to however factor in that simple arithmetic may not be their strongest suit), also counting among them, Members of the Government’s cadre of underlings. The JVP led NPP and the United National Party too have expressed support to it. Concerning the anti President no confidence motion, according to its framer Sumanthiran, with the exception of certain Government ‘independents’, all the usual suspects are onboard.

However, on 28 April, the SLFP, earlier in the day, claimed that they would entertain no talks with the President including about an interim Government, until and unless the President sacks the two political minions cum State Ministers who are Members of the Party, whom he horse traded. What political naiveté. On the same evening, the SLFP did a volte face, stating that they would meet for discussions owing to political exigencies. Bah.

This beggars the consideration of facts. It was not an act of thaumaturgy that installed an American goblin, as Gammanpila and Weerawansa described him, to oversee the nation’s financial affairs and set them on the path of economic ruin. It was entirely the doing of Gammanpila, Nanayakkara, Weerawansa and Sirisena et al., all of whom gave their express assent to the 20th Amendment to the Constitution which paved the way for the said ‘ugly American’ to sully the Diyawanna with his uniquely Basilisk, snake oil brand of fringe monetary theory. Of course, Gammanpila and Weerawansa et al. claimed that their support was conditional on a Presidential promise to remove the clause permitting dual citizens’ entry into the Parliament from a future amendment of the Constitution. So much for Weerawansa’s rabid American un-exceptionalism. More to the point, none of them emitted as much as a whimper when it came to the ill advised tax cuts which were introduced when Prime Minister Rajapaksa helmed the Finance Ministry or the subsequent nursery crime of 100% organic agriculture, which was entirely the President’s problem child. Their opposition has been but a mere illusory spectacle of tarred dissent, and has amounted to nothing beneficial in the public interest. The Government ‘independents’, a movement that started with the disenchantment of Gammanpila, Nanayakkara and Weerawansa over the President allegedly being under the thumb of his brother Basil Rajapaksa, and which feeling was manifested by the trio opposing a questionable bilateral power deal, and has since led to other SLPPers’/SLFPers’ defection to the no man’s land of ‘independents’ within the Parliament, has, suffice to say, been up to more than its share of political mischief. They too have the blood of forex exsanguination and insolvency on their hands.

However, the grouping of ‘independents’ have now been presented with an opportunity to right political wrongs, seek redemption and put to rest valid and persistent questions about their sincerity and dyed-in-the-wool patriotism. This concerns their vote on the two motions of no confidence. Regardless of their lack of animus with Premier Rajapaksa, and for that matter with President Rajapaksa, with their spleen reserved thus far for former Finance Minister Basil Rajapaksa, and regardless of whether the Rajapaksas’ have dirt on each and every one of the ‘independents’ which could be potentially politically ruinous, it is time for them to do their duty by the electorate by stepping up to the plate in this time of grave national crises. They are the swing vote. Removing the Premier alone, and leaving the President be – even if one leaves the unlikely scenario of the cutting of the umbilical noose to the siblings themselves – would only ensure that the status quo festers. It is time to sever ties with the family. This is no time for political skullduggery. Therefore, anything short of a yes for both the motions, with abstentions, a very likely possibility from this group of ‘independents’, is completely unacceptable, unless they seek to affirm the affixing of the ‘pseudo’ tag before ‘independents’. Their litmus test is the nation’s D-Day.

Then there is the fallacious logic behind the argument that the absence of the Head of the Executive, the President, not to mention also the absence of the Premier (as stated by the man himself) and the Government, would plunge the country, double quick time, into instability and precipitate a descent into anarchy. This erroneous reasoning has to be repudiated. What those who argue so fail to comprehend is that Sri Lanka is already an anarchic State. Anarchy is not the absence of leadership. Anarchy is the leadership of absence. By this working definition, it is the incumbent Rajapaksa rule that is anarchic. The senile cannot rule. Period. Plus, the argument falls flat as the Constitution is unambiguous on the processes that would be set in motion in the event the President, the Premier and the Government are no more in office.

Can Sri Lankans, whose civic mindedness towards democracy jarringly mimics the conditioning of Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov’s dogs, be foolhardy enough to have confidence in the motions of no confidence that seek only to propagate the messianic cult of the Executive President and the proposed Executive Prime Minister (under the two submitted 21st Amendments to the Constitution) through a process of legal sublimation in this paint by numbers democracy, instead of the defenestration or at the very least, straitjacketing of such high and malodorous offices? The answer is a resounding aye. As a prescription for “making it impossible for anyone to oppress his fellow man”, the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin, suggested ensuring “that no one shall possess power”. Under the present structure of governance, it is required for the purpose of functioning, to vest controlled authority, under a system of checks and balances, within and between the branches of Government. Yet, it is possession by power, that oldest of flaws, that the country must safeguard against.

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Latest comments

  • 4

    I can tell you one thing for sure – Persons like Udaya Gammanpila, Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Wimal Weerawansa, and Maithripala Sirisena will never take a principled stand on any matter if it involves even the smallest sacrifice on their part. There are many others too like that, including several Muslim and Tamil members of parliament. They will pretend to be against this dictatorial and corrupt government but at the last minute, when it is time to raise their hands, their self-interest will prevail over all other considerations. They are purely and simply snakes in the grass. You cannot trust them an inch!

  • 3

    Despite semantic differences and some matters of detail, this is a fair summary of the current status. The dangers warned about are real, but there is reluctance among the ‘Go Home’ campaigners to talk about “What Next?”.
    Indecision about the next step will have deadly consequences after success in sending anyone home.
    Not all the backers of the GFG campaign have clean motives.
    That could be an important reason for avoiding open discussion of key issues.

  • 3

    The poor Sri Lanka is now struggling to come out from the hands of power greedy political thugs and fundamentalist Buddhist Mahasangha. The power greedy political thugs and Fundamentalist Maha Sangha are united together and they try to save each other when the people struggling for their next meal. They have no sympathy over poor masses who suffer under the hunger and poverty. The poor people who have lost their thinking power became slaves of these two groups for the past century.
    Regarding this NCM or any other motions will not succeed because the power holders are powerful and they have the support of Fundamentalists and most of the 225 are opportunistic who wants to protect Fundamentalism or the so called Buddhist Sinhala supremacy.

  • 1

    “Can Sri Lankans, whose civic mindedness towards democracy jarringly mimics the conditioning of Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov’s dogs, be foolhardy enough to have confidence in the motions of no confidence that seek only to propagate the messianic cult of the Executive President and the proposed Executive Prime Minister (under the two submitted 21st Amendments to the Constitution) through a process of legal sublimation in this paint by numbers democracy, instead of the defenestration or at the very least, straitjacketing of such high and malodorous offices?@ – Phew! Is the author the English tuition master of Sajith Premadasa?

    • 5

      Weerawansa, Gammanpila, Sirisena, and the rest of the “independents” have mastered the art of pious hypocrisy. What they say in the morning can be reversed in the evening, like Gota’s gazettes. These are the generators of mass hysteria who, along with other ambitiously self-important charlatans like Ratana and Gnanasara, have been wagging the dog for too long. Let’s hope these creatures will be wiped out at least at the next election.

    • 1

      Oh dear! I actually posted that comment to JS BEFORE reading Ruwan’s article, which I didnt get around to reading till much later. I had no idea his long sentence was actually Ruwan’s. And as I have never heard Sajith speak (I am deaf) or even read much reported of his speaking, I didnt really take in the reference to him here.
      Oh dear, it is high time I packed my bags & went into an old people’s home…I’m making too many faux pas like this nowadays.

      • 1

        It is said by some that Sajit in his infancy was accidentally fed a dictionary.

  • 2

    Dear Ruwan Laknath J.,
    Your remarkable ability to manage long and complex sentences, and your habit of exhibiting a daunting array of vocabulary is something that I have commented on before. However, it is difficult to find the most telling example among the many articles that you have written.
    I’ve spent some time searching, but I’ve given it up as a task too difficult at this time when accounts of unexpected happenings keep tumbling out to pile up, making it difficult to keep track of all that is worth reading.
    The other aspect of your articles that get impressed on our minds is how you focus only on subjects which genuinely move you. I don’t know you at all, but I’ve been following what you write, spending countless hours threading my way through your articles.
    Thanks for your persistence; now that news has come through that Gota has declared an emergency, it is clear that this nightmare is nowhere near ending.
    Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela

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