21 September, 2019

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The Provincial Council Elections – The Charade Goes On

By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Prof. S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

Originally the SLPP was keen to hold the Provincial Council Elections (PCE). After the Local Government Election results they felt the PCE would go in their favour. PCE were held under the proportional representation system. The relevant Act had been applied several times and was well-tested. Several Councils had overdue elections. But Government did not seem interested in holding PCE.

At the time, although the Government wanted to avoid elections and had been checkmated by the Election Commission (EC) which called for elections in the few Local Government bodies where the government had not been able to sabotage elections by delaying delimitation that was required under the newly revised LG Act, and by filing cases through proxies. When it was clear there would be a referendum on the government’s performance at least in a few councils, the cases were withdrawn and Local Government Elections (LGE) were held on 10 Feb. 2018. The government performed abysmally.

It now seemed that the government did not want the long-delayed PCE. As if to sabotage PCE, Parliament passed the Provincial Councils Elections Act No. 2 of 1988 as amended by Act No. 17 of 2017. The subtle trick on everyone was that no PCE could be held because that Act was sabotaged ab initio by leaving out the required schedules without which PCE cannot be held. No one noticed at the time.

The SLPP was still keen on PCE and pressed for them. As it was clear that there was a deliberate delay, Prof. GL Peiris argued on behalf of the SLPP that the old law was still valid under Section Six (ii) of the Interpretation Ordinance, viz.

“Whenever any written law repeals in whole or part a former written law and substitutes therefor some new provision, such repeal shall not take effect until such substituted provision comes into operation.”

The SLPP demanded on this basis that we hold PCE under the old law. The delimitation report defining the electorates for the new Act was rejected unanimously by Parliament and the 5-person committee to approve the report in the event of its rejection sat on it with hardly 2 meetings during the 2 months it had to approve changes and send it to the President for gazetting.

The Commission took no action in pursuit of the SLPP position because the view was expressed that in doing the delimitation report the new law had already gone into operation. I was sympathetic to the position that the Provincial Councils Act had not come into force because Parliament has been negligent in approving delimitation in time.

As time dragged, I judged that all or most parties came to not wanting PCE before PE. Explained a person who attends the Party Secretaries’ meetings at the EC that fighting for nominations prior to the PCE and for offices after that would ruin the party unity that is required for the PE.

Only the EC to its credit felt compelled to somehow hold the PCE because that is what the law required. To me personally, this was important because the Provincial Councils are a hard won means of empowering minorities and those at the periphery. To my horror some are now speaking of scrapping Provincial Councils altogether saying we are doing well without them.

The EC met the PM, the Speaker and the President and pleaded. There was no progress. Then Mahinda Deshapriya, the Chairman of the EC, threatened to resign his Chairmanship if by 15 August there was no progress. This threat was in public, in several newspapers, on TV, and at the Party Secretaries’ meeting. The President, PM and most notably the Speaker as Chairman of the Constitutional Council that would appoint his replacement in the event of his resignation, sent messages through numerous channels that the resignation would not be accepted. Deshapriya clarified that he would resign only his Chairmanship and not his membership. He told me that he could absent himself from 3 consecutive meetings, and the question of having his resignation accepted would not arise. But then, it would mean losing both the Chairmanship and the Membership.

Everyone (I understand with the exception of his family) advised Deshapriya against a resignation saying with PE round the corner, such a resignation would be disruptive and anti-national. Convinced, he signaled that he would not be resigning. Yet he felt he had to try one last push for the PCE.  Honour demanded it.

The Commission then met the President and asked him to use his constitutional power to seek the advice of the Supreme Court – whether the old law is valid or if he may gazette the delimitation report to allow elections under the new law. He promised to get back after consulting the AG. On July 26 whilst in London I was informed “[T]he AG has communicated to HE the President that there’s no possibility [of] enquiring of the applicable law from the Supreme Court.” It seemed clear at the time that the next elections would be PE. 

Who twisted whose arms and promised deals I do not know, suddenly the AG’s non-possibility became reality. Early this month the President under Article 129 of the Constitution asked our apex court through the AG for an advisory opinion on three questions:

(a) In view of the Review Committee failing to submit its report to him in accordance with sub-sections (13) and (14) of Section 3A of the new Provincial Councils Elections Act whether, he can as President by proclamation publish the report by the Delimitation Committee submitted to the Minister.

(b) On the basis of the proclamation whether, the PCE can be held under the new PCE Act.

(c) Whether in the absence of such inability to hold such PCE in terms of the present law, PCE can be held under the law that was in force prior to the enactment of the new PCE Act.

The stress was not on c) as we wanted since winning that would mean no further parliamentary intervention.

MA Sumanthiran, MP, PC, in his submissions has said “a) must necessarily be answered in the negative since the statutory provision referred to therein does not permit of any other answer. Consequently, question (b) must also be answered in the negative.” Part c) too he says must be answered in the negative since the new act does not delete and substitute in its place anything as in the Interpretation ordinance referred to above.

Courts will usually not tell parliament what to do. To avoid contempt charges I will not say what any intelligent man would know about the judgement. I think the law is clear. The AG was clear in July but will now argue something else. Even if the court decides yes to a) or b), Parliamentary action is a must to revise the new law giving the missing schedules. That is going back to square one. Sumanthiran even gave a private member’s bill to reinstate the old law but it missed the order paper for this week, meaning that even if it is passed later PCE would clash with PE.

This charade is costly. If the courts allow PCE by saying yes to c), they must be held immediately because the law requires elections to expired Provincial Councils – that is to all save one – and no parliamentary action is needed. PE cannot be shifted. If the two elections are held together, both elections will be chaotic. Why? All minority parties will probably urge followers to vote for one major party in PE. At PCE, they may attack the same party and urge followers to vote for them. 

The voters will be confused. And that is not fair. And all this anxious speculation for what I bet is a nonevent in court. In my opinion the Presidential Elections will be next and first. It is not a wish but an assessment of how things will play out. It is the only thing that will set the country on course on an even keel letting the people decide.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on 23 August 2019 and give its advisory opinions on 30th Aug. 2019.

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Latest comments

  • 7
    1

    Rajan, thanks for this, but the bottom line is that US puppet Bondscam Ranil and his mafia have been intent on debilitating Provincial Councils and local governance institutions at the behest of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) which wants to by pass Provincial Authorities to land and ocean grab, and access land and marine resources, particularly, the northeast for the Colombo-Trincomalee MCC corridor to set up and service US military bases aka. logistics hub operations, also in Mannar. Mannar and Trinco being main targets of this plan.

    This is clear from the Development (Special Provisions) Bill that was rejected by 9 PCs in 2016, which was preceded by the Divineguma Bill under Rajapassa regime for the same purpose, when MCC was working with them as Palitha Kohone revealed recently. The Divineguam Bill was also sent to the PCs and defeated, but the CJ lost her job because of this!
    .Both Bills, US citizen Basil’s Divineguma Bill and Development (Special Provisions Bills), were intent on creating “Super-ministries” to bi-pass PCs and other local government structures to push the US military base land grab project that has long been in the works since LTTE defeat in 2009, both with US citizen Rajapakas (including Avant Gurad case for asset stripping of SL Navy|) and with US puppet Bondscam Ranil
    US puppet bond Ranil and his mafia are however now responsible for this chaotic situation and deliberate undermining and debilitating of PCs to enable the US SOFA, ACSA, MCC military base project.
    US puppet Bondscam Ranil must should be impeached.

    • 0
      0

      Right on, Election season has started EARLY, and with it the POLITICS OF DISTRACTION.
      Lankans are being distracted from the US-Saudi owned IS Easter Sunday attacks and the US weaponization of Ethno-religious identity politics and the MCC land grab and BIG DATA grab project in Sri Lanka.
      US Economic terrorism is now again in high gear and the rupee crashing again. Meanwhile Mangala the moron wants to dish out more Duty free car permits to increase the debt and benefit Japanese and US car manufacturers, while turning a blind eye to Nomura Ratings and US economic terrorists who have again started crashing the rupee! A case should be filed against Mangy for corruption.
      The US game with their puppet Ranil and his butterfly network, including the financially illiterate fiance Minister, Mangala the moron, and US citizens Rajapassa brothers is “Heads I win, Tails, You lose”. Either way the US has UNP and SLFP/PP is the bag and it is the Sri lankan comon man and woman on the street who are screwed!

  • 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

    Thank you Ratnajeevan for informing the general reader of the problem of the PCE. From your article it appears to me that the President, the Prime Minister, the parties in Parliament do not want Provincial Councils. The substance of the 13A is left to whither. The Centre now governs, through the Governors, the rights given to the people in the 9 Provincial Councils and the Chief Ministers. PC system came as a political solution to the Tamils in the North and East. None of those in the other 7 provinces asked for devolution of powers. JR thrusted the 13thA on them for political reasons.

    My question is whether the fundamental rights of the citizens is being violated by the President, Prime Minister and Parties in parliament? Can a citizen, especially a Tamil, file a fundamental rights case, after the SC decision?

    • 0
      1

      Dear Dr Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam and Professor Jeevan Hoole,
      .
      Professor Hoole has said:

      “To me personally, this was important because the Provincial Councils are a hard-won means of empowering minorities and those at the periphery. To my horror, some are now speaking of scrapping Provincial Councils altogether saying we are doing well without them.”
      .
      Ethir seems to agree with them, but in his brief comment he says much. Well, I’m one who doesn’t want them, seeing them, as I do, as imposing yet more corrupt politicians on the country. I fear that we’ll never agree on this, but some caveats must be noted.
      .
      Neither of you seems to think that the Provincial Councils have had a fantastic history, and for my part, I admit that we should never have imagined that we had a right to impose Sinhalese language and mores on you, or be still maintaining an army of occupation in the two Tamil-speaking Provinces. Also, we have been doing wrong since the moment of Independence. Colonisation per se was O.K., but not when State-sponsored. I know that you have suffered terribly, but I’m not for Provincial Councils or for dividing this country.
      .
      I see nothing wrong in your talking about these things. I’m also glad to note (with only six comments displayed) that there is nothing vituperative. On the contrary, even the duo referred to here aren’t enthusiastic about having these elections right now. Lastly, Hoole may be an Elections Commissioner, but he has a right to his personal views, and thanks for telling us all these things.

      • 1
        0

        Sinhala_Man,

        “Well, I’m one who doesn’t want them, seeing them, as I do, as imposing yet more corrupt politicians on the country. I fear that we’ll never agree on this, but some caveats must be noted.”

        I agree with you and I am a Tamil in the North. The fact is that the NPC achieved very little when it was there. A lot of funds were returned unused. A lot of money was used on constructing useless roads and buildings in projects suffering from corruption. Shiny infrastructure will not help when human resources are of at best mediocre quality.

  • 0
    0

    Many countries like USA, Malaysia, Australia etc all conduct elections for Presidential, parliament, state government, local government etc on the same time and same day. By this people and state could save money, time and troubles. The elections are big distraction and disturbance for the people and country but real people who benefit most are politicians who are the curse for all.

  • 0
    0

    As an ordinary folk, I understand that the ability to vote is a part of people’s sovereignty. What is ability to vote? One votes for the election of people’s representatives in such bodies where they exercise the people’s sovereign authority on behalf of them. According to our twisted constitution, people elect the president, members of Parliament, members of the provincial councils and members of the local councils. One cannot perform a legislative jugglery to stop that. “SORRY! ELECTIONS CANNOT BE HELD BECAUSE OF SOME LEGAL PROBLEM” is untenable. The current set of fellows who control the Parliamentary majority today will go down in history for robbing that right from the people. One might argue that if it is possible to rob the Central Bank in broad daylight why not the people’s sovereign right? What a pity.

  • 0
    0

    there is no point in having the PC elections now as the whole country and all the politicians are only interested in the presidential elections.As such the PC election will only cause a great big yawn.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Dr Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam and Professor Jeevan Hoole,
    .
    Professor Hoole has said:

    “To me personally, this was important because the Provincial Councils are a hard-won means of empowering minorities and those at the periphery. To my horror, some are now speaking of scrapping Provincial Councils altogether saying we are doing well without them.”
    .
    Ethir seems to agree with them, but in his brief comment, he says much. Well, I’m one who doesn’t want them. I see them, as imposing yet more corrupt politicians on the country. I fear that we’ll never agree on this, but some qualifications must be noted.
    .
    Neither of you seems to think that the Provincial Councils have had a fantastic history, and for my part, I admit that we should never have imagined that we had a right to impose Sinhalese language and mores on you, or be still maintaining an army of occupation in the two Tamil-speaking Provinces. Also, we have been doing wrong since the moment of Independence. Colonisation per se was O.K., but not when State-sponsored. I know that you have suffered terribly, but I’m not for Provincial Councils or for dividing this country.
    .
    I see nothing wrong in your talking about these things. Indeed you are two of the finest, most civic-minded individuals our country has produced. Your observations are most valuable, Sirs.
    .
    I’m also glad to note (with only six comments displayed) that there is nothing vituperative. On the contrary, even the duo referred to here aren’t enthusiastic about having these elections now. Lastly, Hoole may be an Elections Commissioner, but he has a right to his personal views, and thanks for telling us all these things.
    .

    • 0
      0

      ” Colonisation per se was O.K., but not when State-sponsored. “

      sinhala_man,but how do you get rid of the imbalance of so many tamils with northern ancestry are living outside the north while not many sinhalese are living in the north.

      • 1
        0

        Today seems to be the day when it is best to give this very honest reply:
        .
        I don’t know. It’s too difficult a question to answer.
        .
        These Tamil fellows just don’t know how to bake bread. There used to be lots of Sinhalese bakers up there. Let them go back there – but on their own. Let the State not sponsor their transport.
        .
        These Tamil guys used to study like mad, foregoing all the fun in life, get themselves jobs in the South, spend as little money as possible because they were collecting dowries for their daughters, go home in the evening carrying (murunga) drumsticks in their armpits, and being subservient to the whites (maybe). Why on earth didn’t we allow that to continue?
        .
        Now, I grant that there were little things that had to be put right, which we ought to have put right, after careful investigation. Instead, Cyril Mathew wrote his “Maduruwa” (mosquito) Book, and we assaulted them on the 11th of March, 1983, at a dress-rehearsal staged in the Science Faculty Canteen of Peradeniya University. I was there. I’ll provide you with the link to that account later. Then came July 1983.
        .
        Caste is a huge problem in the North. MMDA is a huge problem for Muslim women. We seem to have made some progress in the latter area. These things amount to Human Rights Violations; there must be reform, but as much as possible let those reforms come from within those societies. Let us not harass them with our “holier than thou” attitudes. The question of Sajith Premadasa’s election: can we deny that we all know that caste is an issue there?

      • 0
        0

        PART TWO
        .
        At least now, let’s read “Romeo and Juliet” and see for ourselves what wise words Friar Lawrence gave young Romeo:
        .
        “Make haste slowly; they stumble that run fast”,
        or something like that.
        .
        By the end of the play, Friar Lawrence has been made to look a fool – no, a villain – poor man. I think that the play ends with the Prince saying “All are punish-ed”. At the end of the Zeffirelli film, the words are made to echo and re-echo.
        .
        Nagananda Kodituwakku has been speaking only in Sinhala so far on Youtube: the solution he suggests is, apply all laws with equal diligence to all people including himself.
        .
        Dr. E.W. Adikaram
        was a school principal. He had made a rule that all late-comers should kneel in front of a certain tree near the entrance for twenty minutes. No other punishments. One day, word went round the school, all rules were broken. The entire school gathered round the school within ten minutes. A slightly built man was kneeling in front of the tree. Dr Adikaram. He continued, eyes shut (but ears possibly open) for ten minutes more. Stood up, told the school, “I’m sorry. You really must be in your classrooms. There are lots more interesting things to learn about than my shortcomings.”
        .
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._W._Adikaram
        .
        As is stated there, he started many Buddhist schools, but his own adherence to Sinhalese-Buddhism was most suspect. When I, a teenager, was posed to my first State School in Ettampitiya (and lived there, although only ten miles from my home) the staff used to travel to Badulla in the early evenings just to listen to his “talks”.

      • 0
        0

        PART THREE
        .
        I had posted this THIRD PART relatively early “last night”. It hasn’t appeared yet. I hope that the moderators will let it in, because it is very relevant. Most of our “ethnic problems” stem from the belief that the Sinhalese-Buddhists are Aryans, while the Dravidian Tamils are all caste conscious Hindus. And never the ‘twain shall meet. The existence of a man like Mahinda Palihawadena, Emeritus Professor of Sanskrit, challenges those notions. Despite his vegetarianism, he is able to respect positives in the three Abrahamic religions, and of atheistic humanists. I once took him to a Quaker meeting – it was not the first that he had attended. I won’t give you his residential address because he’s too old and weak to meet crowds. He is prepared for Death.
        .
        This is where the original PART THREE began:
        .
        Adikaram’s closest disciple (who succeeded him as Principal of Ananda Sastralaya School, Pita-Kotte) is still with us. He’s told me that he left the Education Department when Assisted Schools were taken over by the State in 1962. He joined Vidyodaya University, and was even Acting Vice-Chancellor of Jayawardenapura University.
        .
        Professor Palihawadena taught me the only Sanskrit word that I know. Ironic. We became friends after he discovered that I had the first name of the greatest of all linguists (of any language, but his work was on Sanskrit: Google the name) – Panini. He is not a Buddhist, he says: he’s “kochinomi” – meaning nothing. He has read a lot of the Sanskrit texts of the Jains and of the Hindus. He is a vegan. He’s well over ninety, uses the Internet, but he’s resigned to imminent departure. He does not believe in re-birth.
        .
        Let us have “Buddhists” like that, not Gnanasaras.

        • 1
          0

          ” He does not believe in re-birth.”

          can you ask him why?The reason i ask is i’am neutral on the issue at the moment.

          • 0
            0

            Dear Shankar,
            .
            What Prof. Palihawadana says is that the idea of re-birth is something that is there in Hinduism. As far as Prof. himself can make out the Buddha also was neutral on that.
            .
            Applying logic and common sense to all that, he told me (that was many meetings ago) there is no compelling reason to believe that we survive death. The commonly adduced “proofs” that are adduced by some, he said, could be explained in such a way as not to upset all scientific thinking. That we would all wish to survive in some form is understandable, but that does not make it true.
            .
            Besides, all religions adduce “facts” that have been recorded quite sincerely, but they can’t all be true. Understanding the desire to believe, and not unnecessarily upsetting people is all very well, but if we are going to be rational we should have the ability to say that some things are beyond our understanding. It was something like that. You sound so sincere, shankar, that I feel like telling you where he lives, but what’s the point. [edited out]
            .
            https://mahindapalihawadana.webs.com/

            • 1
              0

              ooh.He does look very intelligent .i agree that we should not believe things just because they are what we like to believe in.I’am a hindu,but i don’t like to believe in rebirth just because my religion says so.I like to see some facts that make me think that on the balance of probability the chances are that we could be reborn or not reborn.No need for any proof,simple probability theory is enough.

            • 0
              0

              ” As far as Prof. himself can make out the Buddha also was neutral on that.”

              suffering of samsara-the wheel of cyclic existence

              Nirvana-the state of enlightenment in which one is free of the karma that drives rebirth

              so rebirth is central to the teachings of lord bhuddha.

              I met a german lady who told me that she saw her daughter who had died standing inside her room and then she went away.Of course that is not rebirth but seems like something does happen after death.

  • 0
    0

    In my impartial view that S.R.H Hoole must be sack from Member of that Election Commission by promptly.
    Why is that he has created unprecedented an illustrate to history which our country of Universal franchise had been denied by Hoole.
    When President of MS has Dissolved that Parliament at that time and while he wanted seek public Poll or by obtain or get consent of citizens that Will or wish of People, Hoole was against that . While senseless of Rajan Hoole was against to seek citizens mandate .
    That was NOT that NON of Business or duty as member of Commissioner of Elections like Hoole.
    The man was an appointment for was totally wrong place .
    He many be having ideological links with that political terrorism or may line of thinking be debug by an Ideology extremist of anarchism .
    Hence his personality background by foundation of an inferiority complexes of physiology which …that persons of belongs to category team of debilitation.

    By shake of Universal franchise is key pillar of guaranteed by ours Democracy Republic of Sri lanka.
    We are in turning point of Right to Vote is fundamental Rights that man has been that debrief of Hoole as member of Election Commission.
    An undoubtedly he will be undermined whole norms of 80 years of process Right to Vote our very foundation of Island sovereignty of People of masses of the country by S.R.H Hoole!

    h has gone supersem court claming that Not to go for the Gereal elecation effect

    • 0
      0

      Dear D. Nimal,
      .
      I had great difficulty in understanding what you had written. Not your fault. We all have our blind spots.
      .
      This is the man who has written this article. Long before seeing it, I had stated, in bold letters, too, that he has a right to his personal views. Yes, he has taken a risk. The President, the Prime Minister, and the Leader of the opposition may all want to sack him. The question is, “Do you want officers in key positions who quietly cover up uncomfortable details, or persons who tell us all what they really feel”?
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ratnajeevan_Hoole
      .
      This other is his brother, Rajan Hoole. He was my classmate at Gurutalawa and Mt Lavinia. Study that Wikipedia entry carefully. There is no reference to Gurutalawa there. I asked Rajan whether he had omitted Gurutalawa because it is no longer such a fashionable school. I know that his response strains credulity. He has not seen his Wikipedia. Some relative had put all that on. The latter guy told me that Wikipedia had asked for proof. Not available to the guy. Rajan said that his first school had been the Dutch Reformed School (or was it Presbyterian? There isn’t much difference between the sects – both follow the unattractive teachings of Calvin). It must have been an Assisted School in 1954. That is my conjecture!
      .
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rajan_Hoole
      .
      Not my business to say all this.

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