1 October, 2022


The Implications & Consequences Of The Verdict, Whatever It Is 

By Dayan Jayatilleka – 

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Quite obviously I haven’t the slightest notion of what the Supreme Court verdict will be, unlike my friend Eran Wickremaratne who announced publicly (and rather curiously) that he doesn’t have the slightest doubt about it. However I do know, as a political scientist, what the implications and consequences will be if it were to go one way or the other. 

I tend to perceive and analyze things from the perspective of comparative global politics. Therefore I tend to view the whole debate about parliament and the presidency in Sri Lanka today, not from a parochial point of view but from that of what is going on in the world around me at present and what has gone before.

What do we see? In London, there are no street demonstrations but no one knows who the Prime Minister will be, which party will be in power, what the composition of the cabinet will be next week!  Further down the road, we do not know how Brexit in whichever variant will affect the unity of the United Kingdom, what with Northern Ireland and Scotland indicating that there may be an exit within Brexit. This is the result of the Westminster model and the absence of an overarching Presidency. 

Conversely, there is a violent rebellion in France, both in Paris and the provinces. Yet, there is no visible crisis of governance and chronic political instability unlike in Britain! This is despite the unpopularity of the sitting President. That then is testimony to the strength of the directly elected Presidency in France, unlike the volatility and fragility of the Westminster model. 

The implications in and for Sri Lanka should be thought through. Insofar as the French rebellion is due to the neoliberal-globalist economic policies and remote, socially inattentive style of President Macron, we too in Sri Lanka could have such social turmoil if the economic policies of Ranil and Mangala are resumed. 

What is more, if the courts rule against the President’s decision and thereby tilt towards the interpretation that favors the Westminster model, we shall have social upheaval due to economic policies without the stabilizing factor that is the executive Presidency as in France. We shall have the worst of both worlds: a Parliament which is volatile will be at the center of decision making, while neoliberal globalism will cause social earthquakes but will not have a strong presidency to stay above the fray and maintain stability. 

This is precisely that which JR Jayewardene wished to forestall when he argued for “a strong and stable executive free from the whims and fancies of the legislature”, as a sine qua non of the stability needed for economic growth.        

The worst possible recipe in a global situation in which the world wide trend is of an inevitable populist revolt, indeed nationalist-populist revolt, against neoliberal globalism, is to have a Westminster model rather than a Presidentialist one. 

France was thought to be an exception to such nationalist populist backlash against globalism but the backlash came from below. Britain is dealing with the aftershocks of such a backlash which has impacted on the Westminster model, almost capsizing the government. France is managing for now because of its contrasting political system, though that too may not be for long. If, through judicial rulings, Sri Lanka converts in effect to a British model from the French—but a British model without the Sovereign, the Crown– we shall be hit by a combination of what we see now in Britain and France: a backlash against neoliberal globalism, without the stabilizer of a strong presidency, without the safety valves of a snap election, and within a weaker more fissured, less stable shell of a fractious parliament. 

The nonsensical view, often expressed either with decisive contempt or hysteria, that President Sirisena is responsible for all this, misses the obvious questions. If he took this course of action because he wants to run next year and be re-elected, why then didn’t he stick with the UNP as a partner, as he opted to in January 2015? The answer is that he saw that the UNP would lose. He saw this not only in the Feb 2018 local government elections but in the electoral history of Ceylon/Sri Lanka. Due to combination of anti-nationalism socioeconomic elitism, the UNP has almost always produced one term governments. It went three terms from 1977 simply because it skipped a second term Parliamentary mandate by foreclosing a parliamentary election through a referendum, just as it is trying to do through the courts this time. The result was a massive social explosion. It barely survived that explosion by choosing under duress, a pronouncedly populist and patriotic candidate. President Sirisena tried desperately to pick such a personality as his coalition partner so that the drag effect the UNP was having on him, as well as on itself, could be reversed. That effort failed and has continued to fail. 

The simple minded would wonder why President Sirisena didn’t go along with Mangala Samaraweera’s arithmetic after Feb 2018, namely that the anti-Rajapaksa vote was bigger than the pro-Rajapaksa vote. President Sirisena knew that the arithmetic was based on a stupid miscalculation. He knew that it was a non-Rajapaksa vote that was larger, not an anti-Rajapaksa vote and that the SLFP’s 13%  would not remain, if the party and he himself remained within a coalition with the UNP under Ranil’s leadership and headed along the neoliberal globalist path that Ranil, Mangala, Harsha and Eran had charted. 

The President had seen the UNP go down this road many times, starting with 1956, and he wasn’t going down that road with the UNP. More importantly he knew the SLFP voter would not stay the course, and would switch to the Rajapaksa camp. 

What is almost unbelievable is the crass obtuseness and myopia of the UNP, its western patrons and its liberal civil society followers, in failing to spot the mounting contradictions between Ranil and the President. The parting of the ways can be traced way back, to the Geneva 2015 resolution when President Sirisena gave the New York Times and the BBC Sandeshaya, interviews around the same time as the Resolution, which drew red lines around its implementation. Mangala Samaraweera responded by saying that was the personal view of the President—something that would not have been lost on the latter. By 2017, Mr. Samaraweera had lost his job as Foreign Minister and SLFP intellectual and current Foreign Minister Sarath Amunugama had publicly signaled an end to Sri Lanka’s patience with the Resolution. 

The next fissure was about the appointment of Arjuna Mahendran as Governor of the Central Bank. This issue was swept under the rug but resurfaced with a bang with the bond scam and the appointment of the Presidential Commission. 

The issue that followed was about the Constitution, with the SLFP and the President opposing a new Constitution as well as any reform that dispensed with or jeopardized through fraudulent finessing, the unitary character of the state—as the UNP and TNA were determined to do, with the JVP’s tacit concurrence.

So the crack up was inevitable. Shrieking about the President’s rapprochement with his erstwhile rival Mahinda Rajapaksa is as intelligent as shrieking about the Russia-China rapprochement given that the two powers were adversaries and each was a friend of USA some time ago! Luckily they are all adults in the rooms in Washington, Moscow and Beijing, so no one shrieks or wails complainingly about such a turnaround; they only set about dealing with the reality.       

No less stupid is the identification of the issue of democracy not with that of elections but rather with the alleged need to abolish the executive Presidency as an institution and replace it with a parliamentary system. No continent has suffered for longer and more often, from dictatorship and authoritarianism as much as has Latin America. And yet, even those who were fought with arms against and/or were tortured by such regimes, have never advocated the abolition of the executive presidency in any of their countries, and many have gone on to be elected Presidents! This is because these are rational, intelligent and authentically democratic political currents and personalities, who know that the executive presidency had nothing to do with dictatorship and that the institution itself is the best to serve the interests of the people, national sovereignty and stability. The same is true in the other corner of the world, namely South Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines.     

To conclude by returning to the issue at hand: the decision of the courts. If the courts green-lights the dissolution, then the crisis will be resolved in a peaceful democratic catharsis of a general election. If not, the issue won’t go away, because it is the selfsame issue that has manifested itself in the Brexit vote, the Mexican election and the street violence in France: the contradiction between neoliberal globalism and the nations and peoples of the world. 

The courts either have to unblock a safe and swift passage to address that problem or it has to further block and delay its addressing by democratic elections. Then the pressure will erupt in one way or another, in one place or another. 

Fortunately for Sri Lanka, there is a second chance, down the road. Whatever the judiciary decides this week, the electoral calendar as reinforced by the judiciary remains, and Sri Lanka will have a presidential election this time next year. If anything is predictable about that inevitable election it is that a neoliberal globalist will not win. Whether that election will yields a moderate-centrist populist or a more extreme nationalist populist will depend on whether or not the courts decide to open the safety valves this week, and let off the built up social steam. If the only election we have next year is the Presidential, then the swing away from neoliberal globalism will be that much greater, more decisive and durable.        

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 17

    “To conclude by returning to the issue at hand: the decision of the courts. If the courts green-lights the dissolution, then the crisis will be resolved in a peaceful democratic catharsis of a general election.” –
    According to you, If the courts decides to follow the constitution or go against the political coup of Sirisena _ Mahinda group, the crisis will not be resolved and there will be a bloodbath in this land.
    I am sure it is not your prediction, this is what Mahinda & Co already planned for.
    Are you threatening the courts or people?
    Can you tell us whether you planned to attack Tamils & Muslims or Sinhalese who wants the justice or both?

    • 15

      Dr. Dayan Jsyatillska,

      The JR presidential constitution was a unicycle, unstable. The 19A turned the constitution into a bicycle. Sirisena violated the motion of the bicycle, and that was unconstitutional. Therefore, if the court used common sense and reason, the parliament dissolution will be ruled unconstitutional.

      Did Mahinda Rajapaksa already spend Rs. 500 million per MP from the stolen public funds? Will there be a refund for Mahinda Rajapaksa? Shouldn’ Sirisena be impeached?

    • 12

      “The Implications & Consequences Of The Verdict”

      Let me make the Implications & Consequences simpler ………. the verdict will decide wether you have a job or not.

      Dayan buddy, …….. look around …….. is there a Lankan more jinxed than you?

      Couldnt have happened to a nicer guy!

  • 16

    It seems only Dayan Jayatilake agrees with JR’s 1978 constitution when all subsequent presidents promised to abolish it but did not. Late Dr NM Perera asked in 1978 when new constitution being debated, Honourable speaker, what would happen when a mad man get appointed as president! Late Dr Colvin R De Silva arrived in Colombo in 1983 to congratulate JR on his second victory , said ” Please Dicky abolish this constitution when you go.” His response was “Que sera sera” How wright Dr NM was as to what we are witnessing today!!!!

  • 22

    Dr. Snake Oil, now it is too late. At this moment most Sri Lankans don’t give a rat’s ass about what is going on in the world or about your international conspiracy theories a la Weerawansa. We want Sira, the crazy nincompoop from Polonnaruwa, out … … and out this very minute.

    • 0

      “We want Sira, the crazy nincompoop from Polonnaruwa, out … … and out this very minute.”
      Who are we? Are they White Supremacists, ‘Koti’ Diaspora, TNA, NGO bosses thriving on $$$s, Goo N.P. MPs who lost the opportunity they got after waiting in the opposition for a long time to make some money, Goo N.P MPs who took money from Mendis, Civil Society guys who get their living allowances from their White bosses etc. etc.

      • 6

        Evil Eye
        Ding a dang dong
        We’re the champions
        We are the champions, my friends
        And we’ll keep on fighting till the end
        We are the champions, we are the champions
        No time for losers
        ‘Cause we are the champions of the world
        Ding a dang dong
        We’re the champions

  • 15

    Dayan – have you seen My3 Shitsena interview to the Daily Mirror….

    what ever the verdict…. the real issue is that the whole political class is corrupt to the core.

    why don’t you accept that .

    How many millions do they offer you to churn out rubbish after rubbish

  • 11

    Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, the typical journalist he is, speculates here on the verdict – the same verdict we Lankans are waiting to hear!
    Dayan talks Brexit and concludes that Westminster system is about to collapse.
    He then talks the street protests in France and rubs in the strength of the Presidential form. He then quotes Mexico and other governments who have the same form. He may be pardoned for the shallow presentation because he is not versed in political science.
    To Dayan, Dr Sarath Amunugama is still the Foreign Minister!
    Dayan cautions us on possible street protests if Ranil/Mangala economic policies are resumed.
    Dayan reminds us JR J argued for “a strong and stable executive free from the whims and fancies of the legislature”. JR J never expected the culture of corruption/nepotism/impunity we have now.
    Dayan is not ashamed of the horse-trading/auctions
    Journalist Dayan did not see the dark cloud in the 26 October putsch.
    Dayan: Please do not tell us as to ~ “The Implications & Consequences Of The Verdict, Whatever It Is “.

  • 20

    Dayan- although you take pride in claiming that you are a political scientist- all your writings if read carefully between the lines and the subtexts reveal one thing very consistently and conspicuously: your unconditional allegiance to Mahinda and hatred for Ranil. You are blind to extent of saying hosanna for JRJ’s constitution which has become a bane to the country. Don’t you have an iota of conscience? This will lead to your damning perdition and you will be in good company in hell with the likes of Rajapakse racist clan and the rogues! Love it? Lucifer

  • 19

    Dear DJ- the Political Scientist,
    Crass obtuseness and myopia of the UNP, Precise foresight of Sirisena in fixing the purchase price of MPs and Mahinda’s fearless resolve to rescue the country ?

    Do we need a global perspective to read these signs? History is not a web woven with innocent hands. Is it too much to insist that politics must rest on a moral foundation? Or at least strive in that direction?

    • 0

      Oh yes it is too late for politics to rest on any moral foundation. I don’t think it ever did.

  • 0

    Dayan Jayathilake: UN chairman is coming to do the same thing that happened in Nicaragua to Orteaga. So, the reenactment of BRAZIL and BOlsonaro Drama, and nicraguan Protests will happen. Right now, they depoularizing Maithripala in order o tmake the winning chances of UNF. I heard protests that happebed were targetted fro Photographers and Veideoing from Overseas. I suspecty Unkited Kingdom want to be the election monitors, so they can say the elelction is not fair and therefore, Ranil and Mangala are the legal govt.

  • 2

    ‘non-Rajapaksa vote that was larger, not an anti-Rajapaksa vote’ yes it was sir. And frankly, we don’t care about the fissures and bolts and steam in your Titanic defense of the Siripakse coup heading towards the ice berg of the judiciary. We are only concerned with the values salvaged from the crash, and we hope your own conscience in this regard makes it to land.

  • 9

    It’s abundantly clear that you are not doing your job as an Embassidor but now your full time job is writing rubbish to CT. Man, you don’t know the meaning of the word scientist, they work on facts and truths, not like you on lies and fallshood. Man, now all the OL and AL students in Sri Lanka are in a quandary for they answered in the exam papers, after 19th amendment, the President could dissolve the parliament only after lapse of four and years.

    • 8

      Nimal – His full-time job is visiting restricted areas in Moscow to satisfy his biological needs. This public racist #1 and warmonger had been singing for his supper for quite a long time!

  • 10

    why no mention of russia
    you wont get your salary after 31st
    so keep your cock political theories to yourself and enjoy the brief respite
    and have a happy christmas and a bleak new year

  • 6

    Whether we have Westminster model or French model, we have to deal with corrupt, opportunist, racist and untrustworthy political leaders. This is the experience from 1948.

    Whatever the courts decide, the same old dance by these corrupt opportunistic politicians will continue.

    We one were to return after 100 years, Sri Lanka will still be a third world country trying to find the right constitution.

    This appe aanduwa pure and simple! Sinhalese frogs in the well croaking all the time.

  • 8

    Your intentions and interests are very clear to us. We are not political pundits like you but not a bunch of a idiots to simply understand whats your master SIRI SANE does to this betiful island..

  • 6

    Dr Dayan
    Did you predict the outcome of 2015 Presidential elections? The proof is in eating the pudding – i.e. experiencing it – not in imagining as per your wishes. Your ideas do not reach the independent voter anyway. Most of them do not know much about Colombo politics – leave alone London politics. Truth please not speculation. You would not speculate if you truly cared.

  • 0

    Dear Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Good to hear from you.

    Thanks for explaining the situation over there in Europe, with the Brexit.

    Democracies are unstable, that’s what political science teaches us isn’t that correct? Postponing elections of course is the worst thing, unless you are a UNP supporter. I bet that was constitutional.

    Apparently globalism has failed it’s masters.

  • 1

    What I do not understand, Ambassador sir, is whether the President was acting on good legal advice as he says he is? That’s quite a risk of political capital to take a chance on the SC voting in his favour. Maybe he counted on the 113 votes.

    Also, you have not addressed the challenge to the legality of the appointment of the current PM. This is crucial to the continuation of the people’s government as opposed to a foreigners government.

    There is no restriction on shuffling cabinet as far as I know, is this correct?

  • 0

    Every Article that are published in CT, except you DAyan Jayathilake’s, articles address the NAtional question of the International community living in colombo. Most of the Obsolete and now redundant PhDs are the paid authors. They all mourn the loss of the failed common candidate project.

  • 6

    “A strong and stable executive free from the whims and fancies of the legislature.”
    There is a flaw in that argument – What if the executive is a weak and unstable character like the present office-holder?
    Therefore, I would say that what this country really needs is, “A strong and stable legislature free from the whims and fancies of a (dictatorial/ lunatic/ moronic/ corrupt to the core) executive.”

  • 4

    Dayan, could you let us know whether the Russian Hackers are in SL or not. Hopefully you aren’t colliding with them.
    May be that’s why you were sent to Russia???

  • 8

    More DJ gibberish. Confusing himself and the issue by doing a past and current world tour. To make sense just read, Why Didn’t They Tell The President? by Nihal Jayawickrama further down. Mr Jayawickrama should be commended for his, brevity, precision and accuracy.

  • 4

    DJ is expert in hoodwinking people but this time, of course, nothing doing. Writing is on the wall. There are still good chances for MR to garner more seats from the electorates but no from the present chamber. In this context, why on the earth did he try a short cut, much to the dislike of the whole country and out side world. If you don’t feel it, definitely there is a breakdown in the nervous system. I think this would have been the first time that all the right thinking people got the side of the UNP which is not for the love or sympathy but they wanted to express their anger against the undemocratic act of the executive.

  • 1

    UNP & RW in particular have an ethical responsibility to go for fresh mandate as the mandate has become void due to the withdrawal of supporting partners of the government.

    It’s strongly felt when a political crisis has developed in the country.

    Clinging in to power is seriously undemocratic.

    Seeking judicial interpretation of the constitution over being ousted by the president is unworthy as people have already ousted you as supporting representatives have left.

    Take it that it’s not the president that ousted you, it’s the very people who put you to power.

  • 4

    If you think the court will rule that the dissolution is illegal ( & it IS illegal according the majority of intelligent people ) & u think country badly needs an election the answer is right there. Anytime after January 8th 2019President can call for A presidential election .Why does he not go before the people and ask for a mandate to govern along with MR?

  • 1

    Judges should not be concerned at all about the implications and consequences of the verdict, whatever it is. They should only be concerned about the action they are examining is in compliance with the Constitution or not.

  • 3

    Poor Dayan is singing for his supper. We now know who posted him as Ambassador to Russia. It was Sirisena. Now he is paying back by singing his praise, As one commentator stated how come an Ambassador whose salary and perks are paid from the Consolidated fund is writing articles blatantly in a partisan manner?
    He calls himself a political scientist. He cites Brexit as the cause for the instability of the British government? It is the Westminster model of government that has produced stable democratic states around the world for decades. There is nothing surprising when he displays his stock-in-trade chauvinistic ideals by opposing the UNHRC Resolutions, the draft constitutional proposals which according to him will end in a federal system of government. That it will lead to separation. He must be ashamed, if he has any sense of shame, to prop up a corrupt and autocratic Sirisena/Mahinda Rajapaksa who played ducks and drakes during his tenure as President. He handed a cheque for Rs.500 million to LTTE proxy Emilan as a bribe to boycott the presidential elections held in 2005. Built a memorial to his father costing Rs.90 million at state expense. He left millions worth of unpaid bills.
    Over Rs. One billion outstanding bills to state-owned media during his tenure.
    Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation – Rs. 206.1 million
    Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation – Rs. 51.7 million
    Associated Newspapers Ceylon Limited – Rs. 124.9 million
    ITN – Rs. 89.2
    Wasantham TV – Rs. 4 million
    Wasantham Radio – Rs. 11 million
    Lakhanda radio – Rs. 6 million
    State printing corporation – Rs. 592.6 million
    He is out of touch with reality because he is wearing racist blinkers. To be charitable you are not alone in wearing blinkers! You are in good company with Sirisena, Rajapaksa, Wimal Weeravansa, Gamanpillay (Pillai) and others!

  • 1

    Dayan,”it is the selfsame issue that has manifested itself in the Brexit vote, the Mexican election and the street violence in France: the contradiction between neoliberal globalism and the nations and peoples of the world’.

    So the issue facing all four countries is the contradiction between neoliberal globalization and the nations and peoples of the world.

    The British has hundreds of years old Westminster system whereas France, Sri Lanka and Mexico have Executive Presidency.

    if the problem is neoliberalism, not the system of government , then why you have become the ardent supporter of Executive Presidency whereas Mahinda himself promised abolition of Executive Presidency when he contested for Presidency in the years 2005 and again in 2010

    Charles De Gaulle, the father of Executive Presidency in France had become so unpopular by May 1968 due to demonstrations spearheaded by students that ultimately led to the resignation and downfall of De Gaulle in 1969.Executive presidency did not save him.

    JR Jayawardene, R Premadasa, Mahinda Rajapakse were the great proponents of Executive Presidency and were vehemently opposed to neoliberalism, then do you want Mahinda as Prime Minister to play second fiddle to Executive President?.

    You may even recall what Premadasa said once he became President, as Prime Minister he did not have the powers of even a peon

  • 1

    Dayan, the implications of the verdict is you will need to escort Pissu Sira to Angoda, and maybe propagate your political theories to the inmates there!

  • 0

    The French presidency did not save France from the German invasion, but prime-minister Churchill did. Churchill unlike our pretenders fought the war personally and went home like a man after he was elected out of office soon after the war; the right of freedom and democracy as opposed to slavish tribalism.
    Napoleon was also waterlood by the British parliament and duke Wellington was twice prim-minister.
    The case for a ‘strong’ presidency is appealing to tribal, backward, macho politics and culture now threatening civil and decent life and the rights of the citizenry achieved through much hardship and sacrifice of lives the world over.

  • 0

    More over if you go by this argument, the US presidency is more powerful than the Chinese.

  • 0

    DJ reminds us
    “a strong and stable executive free from the whims and fancies of the legislature”
    in other words, batting to your own bowling.
    Our institutions have been kicked into a corner, derided and discarded.
    The people are adrift in an ocean of uncertainty.
    The current parliament is a disgrace. 75% of those elected are not fit for purpose and should be kicked out, and replaced. Political leaders should be more careful in those they nominate. They should not be in hock to the thugs and mudalali’s – a case of the tail wagging the dog.
    We are in tight spot and the government does not have the capability to think itself out.
    We are so bereft of talent, there isn’t even a dictator on the horizon.
    Woe is us!

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.