By Malinda Seneviratne –
It is four years since the 18th Amendment to the Constitution came into effect. It was dismissed at the time and occasionally since then as a subversion of the democratic spirit and further entrenchment of dictatorial provisions in the J R Jayewardene Constitution of 1978.
Now, four years later, the 18th Amendment is in the news ago. There’s little or no talk of democracy or dictatorship. The focus is one individual, Mahinda Rajapaksa. The question that is being addressed is whether or not he can run for a third term.
What is strange is that all the self-proclaimed constitutional pundits appear to have been in deep slumber for 4 years. That, or else, they were waiting for the right moment to spring this ‘objection’, aiming clearly to catch the President and his backers off guard.
It was the former Chief Justice Sarath N Silva who raised the issue first. Sections of the Opposition as well as prominent NGOs with dubious track records such as the Centre for Policy Alternatives (recently accused of widespread fraud) have got on the bandwagon. It smacks of regime-hatred more than democracy-love.
So there’s objection and objection to objection. Silva’s argument, notwithstanding the problematic nature of his position given his role in current political processes, has excited the Opposition to the point of distraction. The focus is not on promoting a candidate capable of winning it all (the Opposition seems hard pressed to find such a candidate, in fact), but on stopping the president from contesting. Silva’s argument however is just one interpretation and an interpretation that has too many holes as has been pointed out by commentators who are not exactly regime-lovers.
Time will tell if Silva’s objection will be upheld by the relevant authorities. Right now it seems that when the Opposition says ‘Mahinda Cannot’ it is really saying ‘Mahinda cannot be defeated’. It’s a sophomoric way of conceding that the President is too strong a candidate to contend with. In other words, the Opposition (either in parts of together) cannot come up with a candidate that can go head-to-head with the President on charisma, accomplishment and the promise of all-important political stability, even if such a candidate could come up with a plus in a compare-contrast of respective negatives (of Rajapaksa and the Government on one side and on the other the candidate and his/her backers). The best bet, then, is to get the man off the ballot!
Interestingly, this lack of human resources is not the preserve of the Opposition. Even the UPFA cannot come up with a name that has the kind of overall appeal the President enjoys. If he were to back down, for example, the Opposition might think, ‘we have an outside chance against an alternative candidate,’ while the ruling coalition would be less cock-sure than it is now.
It would be simplistic to attribute this state of affairs to the fact of incumbency. Incumbency helps no doubt, given constitutional provisions and a scandalous culture of abuse by whoever is in power. An alternative candidate has less edge than incumbent but edge there will certainly be. In this case, the seeming ‘invincibility’ derives from multiple factors. These include the defeat of the LTTE, a growing economy, a ‘doer’ image which is felt in concrete terms, a general deference of the voter to a person of proven strength and a general perception among a significant section of the population that whatever the faults (his and his government) Mahinda is ‘one of us’.
The voter might not like the Government, might be appalled by the strong arm tactics of ministers, MPs and members in other elected bodies, disgusted by the flaunting of wealth by the president’s ‘near and dear’ and yet might find no one half as suitable to lead the country. Not in the ranks of the government and not among the Opposition. This is why, perhaps, that the Opposition is clinging to the Sarath N Silva ‘point’ while those in the ruling party are so keen to dismiss the same.
‘Mahinda’, then, is a one-of-a-kind phenomenon, whether anyone likes it or not and whether it is good or bad for democracy. “Government by Mahinda, with Mahinda and for Mahinda and his ‘near and dear’ over and above the rest of the people never mind budgetary tidbits tossed with election in mind” is, in a democratic sense, clearly second best to “Government by the people, with the people and for the people”.
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com
Ben Hurling / October 31, 2014
Malinda please, is there any limit to how low you can sink?
Find another way to put bread or even a bit of bacon, at times if you wish on the table man.
Take care of your self-dignity. And try building your charachter. It can be rescued even at this late stage.
I admit, I have been a bit sympathetic towards Malinda’s writing. Even I feel an urgent need to throw up. After reading this dose of boot-licking crap. I kick myself for reading this piecce, in the first place.
Amarasiri / October 31, 2014
Malinda Seneviratne , aka Mahinda Raja[aksa Shill and White-washer,
*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at http://www.malindawords.blogspot.com “
“Now, four years later, the 18th Amendment is in the news ago. There’s little or no talk of democracy or dictatorship. The focus is one individual, Mahinda Rajapaksa. The question that is being addressed is whether or not he can run for a third term.”
Since the average I Q of Sri Lankans id 79, comprising mostly Sinhal, Tamils and Muslims, most of them can be fooled.So, any fool with some intelligence can fool the Sri Lankans.
Both Mahnida Rahapaksa and Malinda Seneviratna follows this strategy, and depending upon how well the populace is informed, their I.Q , and the standard deviation of the I.Q. Distribution., Mahinda Rajsapaksa may succeed, in becoming a President for the Third time,
If so, Thank the Sri Lankan fools, who waned the MaRa Dynasty to Continue…
If So, the Sri Lankan fools deserve it…and there will be considerable truth to the sating Sinhalaya “Modaya”. Sinhala are fools…
Pot Shot / October 31, 2014
Though directly not relevant to your article I am still posting this news report of your President. Please read this http://www.dailymirror.lk/55501/don-t-exploit-children-as-seen-during-tsunami-mr
Don’t you think he has the audacity to state this particularly after he led the exploitation of the Tsunami victims. A two faced ruler who robbed from his people then and continues to do so now. A serial liar, a cheat , a murderer and a mass scale manipulator and the only thing you say in your article with so much pride is that the opposition does not have a candidate to field.
It is true that the opposition does not have a candidate and we don’t need to read your article to know that. Just because the opposition does not have a candidate that does not mean we the people have to endorse somebody corrupt as MR. When you write please don’t mince words. Just be straight forward and bold to say that you endorse MR as the next President and explain to us why you think so? The absence of a suitable candidate is absolutely no justification for MR to continue. First dispose of him and his family. Sri Lanka has many capable people to lead her other than MR & RW. You write utter bloody nonsense!!!
Sri / October 31, 2014
If as you say if the opposition cannot come up with a candidate that can go head to head with the President on charisma, accomplishment and the promise of political stability, why the President depends so much on astrology? Why the President cut short his own term and call for election prematurely?
Amarasiri / November 1, 2014
‘why the President depends so much on astrology? Why the President cut short his own term and call for election prematurely? “
Is it the President’s I.Q or the I.Q . of the Shills and cronies who surround him?
Sri / October 31, 2014
Had JR contested for the third term in 1988, Do you think Premadasa or anybody else had a chance against JR and if Chandrica contested for her third term in 2005, Did Mahinda or anybody else had a chance?
This clearly indicates the necessity of a term limit for an executive Presidency!
Kirri Yakka / October 31, 2014
Could this be due to the large propotion of the spineless ?
If you are willing to also count your self in?
This is what happened to the Tamils creating ower whelming support to prabakaran and now it is happening to the Sinhalese and soon they will vanish as mutts who once populted the island.
Dr.Rajasingham Narendran / October 31, 2014
Should there be a time limit to correct a wrong, conceived in sin and delivered as a fait accompli to a people, who were not given the opportunity to digest what it portended?
Should what is wrong be permitted to continue, given our experience with this government, because a ‘ Bought’ majority voted for it and a visionless/spineless/ lawless(?) Supreme Court, sanctioned it?
Should tricks played on us be our permanent burden? When democracy is subverted by craftiness, it needs to be corrected at the soonest, to prevent further slide down a slippery slope.
sunil mohan / October 31, 2014
“The voter might not like the Government, might be appalled by the strong arm tactics of ministers, MPs and members in other elected bodies, disgusted by the flaunting of wealth by the president’s ‘near and dear’ and yet might find no one half as suitable to lead the country”
Who has the ultimate responsibilty for such a situation ?
Priya / October 31, 2014
Malinda,partly to this problem, silencing media is hugely responsible.People are brain washed with pro-government information all the time and they are denied of making an informed choice based on balanced arguments aiming at the well fare of the country.In a vibrant democracy neutral media plays a big role in educating people about facts and figures rather than propaganda and this is where the difference is made.
Mahinda is a shrewd campaigner and he has effectively shut the doors for freedom of information and this has enabled him to play his war triumph rhetoric’s over and over again and has successfully camouflaged himself in sheep’s clothes covering his and his family’s corruptions which has driven the country to its lowest possible ebb.
You are correct in saying that we are deprived of a charismatic leader to challenge him from both opposition and the government.
But with all this our people(with 90% litercay rate)_ are not as gullible as we think based on the recent Uva provicial results.Here Mahinda personally fought with all his might using gov propaganda machinery and using all it’s resources.He managed to escape with a mere narrow win.
The lesson is ,if opposition can put forward a chrismatic leader who could turn the wheel like Harin Fernando did, things can be difficult to him.Some one with back bone needs to expose his irregularities and corruption in a straight manner which is appealing to people.Whether Ranil is the right leader to do that I have no idea.He has been a weak campaigner historically though his leadership qualities can be quite the opposite. If he can ensure the trust of majority with regard to separatist issue his chances will be much improved in my opinion.People are still skeptical about his approach in that sense.However,to lead the country in a democratic fashion ensuring minority rights , to restore our international image and maintaining law and order, he is a most capable choice we have .All the others are novices and people have to take a gamble.
The unprecedented challenge to the solitude image of legendary ”Mahinda” is erupting slowly and JVP and JHU has taken to lead apparently. Cracks appearing from within the government and the coming developments will be interesting to watch.
Nathan / October 31, 2014
… However,to lead the country in a democratic fashion ensuring minority rights …
What do you think should a President do to ensure minority rights. How will Ranil or anybody else be able to do that?
Mahinda may go; Ranil may come. Minority rights will stay a fantasy for ever.
No one, that includes Ranil as well, has ever spoken a word about how they would deal with the issue of minority rights. You are speaking of a country that has no clue what democracy is all about.
If the will of the majority is democracy, our country is easily the best democratic state!
Our people have to first unlearn the literal meaning they know of what democracy is. It is no mean task for a majority fed with racism to the hilt.
If you think deep enough, you’ll stop dreaming of a Ranil Presidency.
Ranil is another politician. He cannot afford to think of the minorities or their interests. You remember JR don’t you.
The unlearning that I am speaking about has to be forced down the throat of the country and the politicians. How one could do that is the million dollar question.
soma / November 1, 2014
In your comment a list of minority would have been quite useful.
punchinilame / October 31, 2014
Any Election has to be won by Mahinda as required by CHINA and towards
this Basil visited China recently and some agreement has been reached to meet the cost of bribing etc, according to Upual Fernandos article,
published eleswhere. Unless the Opposition is able to EDUCATE SB voters
SL is doomed to go to hell, despite “Development” statistically!
Why he must win is backed by his cohorts and extended-family, as detailed below:-
see para re HELPING HAMBANTOTA – Investgation Report by http://www.thesundayleader.lk/20050703/spotlight.htm
“It may have the power to turn somersaults but you cannot stash away public money into it.
Indeed Weeratunga’s new explanation is even worse than his earlier stance. Not only does this public official feel that no laws have been breached in siphoning off public money into a private account, he states that the Helping Hambantota fund was opened by the officials of the private foundation.”
“We give you below a list of the officials of this private foundation:
Chamal Rajapakse – Chairman, Mahinda Rajapakse – Vice Chairman, Basil Rajapakse, Gothabhaya Rajapakse, Prithi Rajapakse, Vichitra Rajapakse, Lalith Chandradasa, Secretary (Brother-in-Law), Thusith Ranawaka, W. Gunasekera, U Wijesinghe (secretary), Chandra Wijewardena, Shiranthi Wickremasinghe(wife of the PM), Ramya Hettiarachchi, Ayoma Peiris, Pushpa Wickremasinghe, Sathindra Perera, Shainda Rajapakse, Saminda Rajapakse, Himal Rajapakse, Rangani Hettiarachchi, Thejani Rajapakse, Chaminda Rajapakse, Henri dissanayake, Vernon Samarakoon, Nihal Gunasekera, N.Ratnayake, Sarath Amaraweera, A.Weerarathna, J.P.Ratnayake, J. Amarawickrama, Upul Dissanayake, Udayanga Weerathunga, Dulari Dissanayake, Kithsiri Sepala, Keerthi Dissanayake, Dushyantha Roopasinghe, Jaliya Wickremasinghe, Anura Goonaratne, S. Jayasundara, K.M.A. Godawatta, P.H.G. Premasiri, Mendis Rohanadeera, T.Jayasinghe, Layanal Sarath, Edirisinghe, D.C.H.Samarasinghe
Pray tell us under which financial regulation would the above list of ‘officials,’ practically all of whom are family,come?”
Rohan Polwatte / October 31, 2014
Milinda, you must be having a IQ level below zero. PLease stop writing this bull shit articles. You are anjother traitor.I am sure you must be with the ruling clan robbing public money. [Edited out] who still dont realize that the ruling clan is a bunch of thieves, liars.