29 November, 2020

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The Shape Of The Constitution To Come 

By Dayan Jayatilleka 

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

The drafting committee of the new Constitution consists largely of very able lawyers. However, Dr. Colvin R de Silva and JR Jayewardene were not simply lawyers; they were outstanding, world-class intellects, with encyclopedic political learning and rich, protracted experience. Replacing a Colvin Constitution with a JR Constitution was no travesty of standards, but demolishing the Jayewardene Constitution because it requires rectification is akin to hiring an ad-hoc group of reputed but hardly iconic architects and builders to destroy Geoffrey Bawa’s Parliament and design a new one.

What is it that requires a new Constitution? What problem is so fundamental that it cannot be solved by consensual reform? Why assume that a new Constitution will be an improvement? 

None have raised the question as to what the animating thematic idea of a new Constitution would be. The main question about the new Constitution is “what’s it for and about?” Why hasn’t it been disclosed–and why isn’t the question posed? 

What more is there beyond the 20th amendment which needs to be addressed and why does it need a new Constitution to address it? What change can be of such magnitude, that it requires a total systemic replacement?

If anyone cared to think it through, it is possible to discern why a new Constitution is necessary and what it would be like.

Why is the JVP-driven NPP calling for a new constitution? It is one thing to recognize that it cannot be stopped but quite another to call for it. The liberal-progressive democrats appear to think that a new Constitution will somehow open space for their ideas; that they will get a chance to push things in their direction. They do not seem to grasp the glaringly obvious, namely that the balance of forces- the numbers– are such that a new Constitution will only move the dial the furthest away from their democratic ideas as this country has ever gone. 

Worse still is the stand and situation of the Tamil parties. Having failed to defend the 13th amendment and rally round Prime Minister Modi’s reiterated commitment to it, the Tamil parties probably think they can aim for something much higher, when what they’re staring at is the abolition or amputation of provincial-level devolution. 

This is proved beyond reasonable doubt by a new article in the Daily FT the State Minister for Provincial Councils and close comrade-in-arms of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Rear-Admiral Sarath Weerasekara, who asserts that:

1. “…What I said was that Modi’s interference into our ‘internal affairs’ must have been based on the authority India wields via Indo-Lanka accord and if the accord has become null and void, India has no moral right to insist on 13A.” 

2. “…Modi who insists on 13A in Sri Lanka implying autonomy to Tamils, stripped J&K of autonomy and downgraded them into Union of territories status with the slightest sign of danger. Now J&K is not a state of India.”

3. “India should now be cognizant of the fact that we too see the ‘danger’ due to the behavior and attitude of Tamil politicians…So if that is the attitude of the Tamil politicians, we should seriously think of following India and abrogate 13A.”

4. “Indo-Lanka Accord makes no mention of 13A and it serves no purpose to the country…What needs to be said and reiterated is that Sri Lanka cannot be divided into mono-ethno-linguistic faith States and if so the PCs cannot be also demarked in the same manner.”

To summarize, the State Minister for Provincial Councils says here that:

 (I) the Indo-Lanka Accord is null and void 

(II) the 13th amendment should be “abrogated” and 

(III) Provinces – and thus, Provincial Councils—should be re-demarcated (clearly indicating that there should be no Tamil or Tamil-speaking majority provinces). 

This is the coming Constitution’s agenda. It should be taken seriously. 

In his article, which is a diatribe against me, the State Minister also says that “…In keeping with the norms/much valued traditions of a diplomat, he should have been blacklisted, tried for treason and sentenced to jail…Past history shows us how such people were spiked to death as punishment…” (ibid)

I can only describe his grimly threatening discourse as proto-fascist and a prefiguring of a dark future and have critiqued it.  (http://www.ft.lk/columns/Spiked-to-death-A-revelation-of-the-regime-s-policies-and-mindset/4-708072)

But I digress. To return to the main topic of the coming Constitution, the parties of the ethnic minorities and the left will find that the electoral system is changed so as to minimize if not eliminate them from the equation. 

The religious minorities will find themselves systemically subaltern, with the ethnoreligious majority designated the privileged owners of the state and the island. 

The liberal democrats and left-liberals who pushed the project of a new Constitution in 2015-2019 and earlier in 1995-2000, are still in denial about the reality that was written on the wall, all along: they lacked the support in Parliament; the project eroded their vote base and that of any ally; and their effort strengthened their political and ideological enemies. Constitutional neoliberalism has resulted in constitutional neoconservatism. 

Any lucid democrat would have known that there were far more dangerous things out there than the Jayewardene Constitution. The fundamentals of liberal democracy would have remained far safer with it as it had evolved up to 1994 with the 13th amendment, citizenship for the hill-country Tamils, an upgraded status for the Tamil language, and a more generous electoral system of proportional representation with a low cut-off point, than the “rough beast” that “slouches to” the Diyawanna “to be born” as the new Constitution 2021. The neoliberal Constitution projects of 1995-2000 and 2015-2019 opened Pandora’s Box.  

Liberal and left-liberal democrats remain blind to the character of the only type of new Constitution that can be born in the contemporary social and ideological context. Therefore, they fail to grasp how to intervene and what stance to take in order to defeat the despotic project at a referendum.

The Constitution will reflect the thinking—and the model of state embedded in that thinking—of the new power-elite. That power-elite is a bloc of like-minded ex-military brass, ultranationalist corporate and professional elements, and hardline clergy; a bloc in which the hegemonic fraction is the ex-military brass. The new power-elite was born at the intersection of two social and ideological streams, the older one of Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism and the relatively newer one of military hegemonism.

The new Constitution will erect a model of state akin to those in countries where the military elite feels it has been accorded its due place at the top, or as chief shareholder or at least veto-wielder. That will not be all. Its second characteristic feature will be a state model in which the ethno-lingual and ethnoreligious majority is guaranteed the unambiguously dominant (not simply the pre-eminent) status. Such a model would rule out the secular military models of Egypt and Kemalist Turkey. As I have written earlier, it would include the model of Pakistan before the Imran Khan opening—albeit substituting Buddhism for Islam–but would most closely approximate the model of Myanmar. Both share a patron and a geopolitical axis.

Constitution 2021 will be presented at a referendum as a new model which explicitly and irreversibly redefines the Sri Lankan state as a Sinhala-Buddhist state. This would conflate the civilizational heritage of the country (‘Sinhala Buddhist’) with the nature of the state—which in its defining character should rightly represent all of its citizens rather than the majority of its citizens as defined by religio-cultural identity. 

Such a reactionary counterreformation cannot take place through constitutional amendments. The constitutionalizing of the majoritarian-supremacist cosmology requires a new Constitution. 

All previous Constitutions governing Sri Lanka/Ceylon, presupposed and reflected the civilian-democratic nature of the state and were drawn up by, and according to the vision of, those who had been schooled in the legislative process. Constitution 2021 will be drawn up according to the dictates of those who were socialized in the barracks and the officers’ mess.  

All previous Constitutions governing Sri Lanka were inspired by progressive ideology of one sort or another, all recognizable by universal markers and criteria and belonging to the paradigm of modernity. 

The Soulbury Constitution reflected the post-WWII progressivism of the newly elected Labour Party government of Britain, in interaction with modern Ceylonese currents of political opinion. The 1972 Constitution reflected the Republicanism of a broad center-left coalition government. The 1978 Constitution arose from a party that was animated by a powerfully modernizing ideology and had led a bourgeois-democratic struggle against nepotistic semi-feudal rule. 

The three Constitutions we have had direct experience of, emanated from different currents within the same overall universalistic idea of democracy; the same history of diverse struggles against absolutist rule. This will be the first Constitution since Independence to come from a very different and opposite place; a different origin and starting point. The October 8th 2020 speech in parliament by GR confidante Rear Admiral Weerasekara attests to the point I seek to make: “…The Centre must retain the power. Our culture of governance was centered with the ruling king…”  

The coming Constitution will reflect for the first time, this “culture of governance”; a pre-modern, anti-democratic culture which not only falls outside the universalist, modern, democratic culture of reason in governance, but is its exact antipode. Why would anyone think that the new Constitution will not be animated by and incarnate that “culture of governance centered with the ruling king”?

As a political scientist I’d say the qualitative difference between the three Constitutions of independent Ceylon/Sri Lanka and the incoming one (prefigured by 20A), is that the central concern or ‘problematique’ of that constitutional triptych may be understood as ‘democratic leadership and the relationship between the citizen and the state; the governed and the governing’ while in contradistinction, in the current ethos, the main considerations—indeed compulsions– are ‘control’ and  ‘domination’, which will doubtless be crystalized in the coming ‘Gotabaya Gothic’ Constitution.

The ideology and ethos of today’s new power-elite is a total rupture from those of all its predecessors. In my understanding and experience, this country has never witnessed a more backward, reactionary, rightwing, autocratic and ethnocentric-supremacist regime, ideology and ethos than it has today. The coming Constitution will mirror this. Its protagonists will call it “home grown”, which will mean nativistic, archaic, and monarcho-militarist. It will be by far the most backward and repressive of the three Constitutions we have lived under since Independence.  

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Latest comments

  • 2
    1

    Turkey is doing exceptionally well. Ankara keeps its head held high to Russia, Israel, USA and Saudi. Not confronting any of them directly but eliminates their proxies mercilessly when they mess with Turkey. Wish Sri Lanka ends up like Turkey.

    As a side note, Sri Lankans have fallen in love with Turkish movies and dramas!

    • 2
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      Erdoğan’s Turkey suppresses the Kurds; and GR’s SL suppresses its minorities.
      Pretty good for a start.

  • 6
    3

    If the President give this guy an Ambassador post, he will take a ‘U Turn’ and praise the President and the Government.

    • 2
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      Eagle Eye,
      Would a U, V, or W turn, alter the strength and validity of the arguments he presented.

  • 6
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    DJ knows what he is talking about. After all, he was in the camp of those who wish to foist a New Constitution.
    So, we need to take him seriously on the unfolding drama that is to be staged. Cogent arguments.

    The fact that EX: Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, a man who has spent a better part of his life on the high-seas, crying for the blood of DJ is a pointer that DJ has touched a raw nerve.

    The New Constitution is all wraps right now. When unpacked, lo and behold Srilanka will have 3, just 3! regions. Ruhunu, Pihiti and Maya.
    The British carved 9 provinces will be rendered maya, an illusion!

    The Indians will be told that the 13th A is valid only if the provinces existed and therefore could not be incorporated in the New Constitution!
    The North-East region will be submerged[ not merged ] within Pihiti and Ruhunu! Howazatt!
    Home grown solution to the National question: 13 + and all that eh?

    Well, when a country has traitors as Parliamentarians from the opposition and that too mostly from the minority communities who voted for the 20th A., just the other day ,anything is possible.

  • 6
    2

    Dayan,
    You are running after a bus you missed. How silly! You had ample time to catch the bus when it was there at your stop. It was your thirst for ambassadorial appointments that made you miss it!

  • 1
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    Dr. Dayan Jeyatilake,
    It is a very good political scientist’s analytic report based on past experience, facts and truths. However, the forecast of the new constitutional model is one of many outcomes that are possible. I am sure the preparations for the new constitution were made immediately after 2015 election results. However, I don’t know whether Mahinda Rajapakse or Buddhist Monks involved in that process. The militarisation, Sinhalaization, Buddhisisation after 2019 Presidential elections and the introduction of 20th amendment at fast clearly points out that this group is expecting a considerable barrier from either Buddhists or Tamils or Muslims. One of the important message from Gotabaya was about development. Development requires stability, peace, participation, elimination of corruption and discipline from top to bottom. Most of the Buddhist Sinhala Monks or Politicians of all SLPP, SLFP, UNP, SJB or Muslim parties are not used to this kind of situation. Even most of the Rajapakse family may not like this kind of politics. For you have give priority to Rajapakse family to violate the rules, then every one will ask for that. As it is Gotabaya can continue with any election or ministries or judiciary for long as he can. The limitations are if Buddhist clergy rebels against Military and Gota what will happen? He can destroy all by religious institution using his military power. But what is next?

  • 8
    2

    Dayan types

    “What is it that requires a new Constitution?”

    Nothing.
    Who cares?
    Even if there is a good democratic liberal constitution in place the privileged ruling thugs and their cronies never gave two hoots about it nor will they respect it in the future.

    I am surprised of all b***s carriers Dayan is interested in framing a constitution.

    The political thugs and their so called intellectual b***s carriers cheered their leaders/rulers whenever opportunity presented itself for them to correct their past mistakes, misuse of power, …. point out the anti democratic path and reverse the deterioration of law and order, prevent abuse of powers, … human right violations only to see them becoming corrupt morally bankrupt participant of destruction of people’s democratic rights.

    Constitution is all about legal personality of a country and rights and responsibilities of citizens. What has it got to do with war mongers and war crime deniers?
    Instead let each of us have a copy of Mahavamsa if that would satisfy the racists including saffron brigades, corrupt politicians their former and present b***s carriers, functionaries, … racists, members of patriots, ….

    • 2
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      “Constitution is all about legal personality of a country and rights and responsibilities of citizens. “

      “Tell me who your friends are I tell who you are”. If one reads a country’s constitution, first thing predictable these days is which god they pray. This is the “era of incapacity”- shallowness of the human livings. Putting a constitution straight indicate how material are the citizens in that country. Thero opposed 20A thinking that may pave a path to a new meaningful constitution,(I don’t see any base to substantiate that fear) through that Tamils may escape to freedom.

  • 3
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    Dear Dayan

    Do you know these people please?

    https://thefederal.com/international/how-a-lankan-tamil-tried-to-capture-maldives-and-india-beat-him-back/

    You are making reference to these folks as Tamil Component Parties correct??

    I really did tell you Tamils are not for sale/slavery/target practice by anyone anymore specially the TNA you are trying to please?? Please keep them near your home or something…they are very familiar with all down South as that is where they did conduct the Tamil war for the past 40 years?? you want to reward them please reward them a kingdom down south in the heart land of Sinhalese thank you specially where the upcountry Tamil are so the Indian focus can be on you and not us…we are not the sacrficial cathodes please?? we were doing fine until the FP/Indians introduced guns to my children?? Please liken them do the same favours to you for a change??

    • 2
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      “sacrficial cathodes “ Check that please. By the chemistry I studied in school, I think it is the other way. It is anode sacrificed to protect cathode.

      Is that why you are on the wrong side of the pole, the defect in understanding?

      • 0
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        Dear M

        Correction accepted thank you.

        Cathodic protection and Sacrificial anode indeed.

  • 1
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    Politics is not a science.
    ‘Political Scientist’ is an oxymoron.

    Soma

    • 3
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      soman

      “‘Political Scientist’ is an oxymoron.”

      Come on, I thought you were with Dayan when things were great for him.
      How can you call him an oxymoron when he seems to oppose other oxymorons. Don’t you know he takes 64 positions all at the same time?

      You are being childish.

  • 2
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    Part I:
    I agree wholeheartedly with the first paragraph of this article. Certainly, the attributes the author quotes, namely, “outstanding, world-class intellects, with encyclopedic political learning and rich, protracted experience” is important and a team of lawyers without any of these trying to adjust with finer points can be a disaster. I am told that a Minister in the present Government was consulted by the late President JRJ, though politically opposed but from the same Alma Mater and accordingly certain clauses in the 1978 constitution was made “entrenched”, that is they cannot be modified without a referendum.
    The author in his second paragraph raises the all-important question “What is it that requires a new constitution?”. The author may recall the observation of late Dr. N. M. Perera, who prophesied that should the President and the Prime Minister be from different political parties the difference would be disruptive. Although the response of late President JRJ was that he would act on advice in that event, history records the relationship between President CBK and Premier RSW and as well as President MYS and Premier RSW finally resulting in a 04/21 disaster.

    • 2
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      “as well as President MYS and Premier RSW finally resulting in a 04/21 disaster “

      That is a misunderstanding. It is not Hakeem could not stop his members voting to 20A. Hakeem voting against 20A while members voting for 20A is telling that Hakeem wanted to teach Vaalaththtodam a lesson for not giving him national MP positions. Same case in 20A. Ranil took leave from NSC meeting to allow one hand to plan and stage the 4/21. It was never New King blocked Ranil when he wanted to arrest the Saharan nor Ranil blocked New King when he wanted to arrest Saharan. Remember, right after the attack, Hakeem said “it was not ISIS, but some local boys”. Long after it was found out it was the Aanduwa took the connection to Sainthamaru home people ISIS connection through Thailand. The whole Muslim Sinhala Government, including Mano, Deva, Sumanthiran (, possibly Sampanthar Ayya) were in that. That is why Muslim Ministers and MPs protested that they were only being investigated to punish, while all did it together.

  • 0
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    Part II:
    As opposed to the 1972 Constitution where the Prime Minister has his/her way in anything and everything the President is elected directly by the people, from a list of aspirants so nominated even by political parties, leading to a confrontative situation should the elected President be from an opposing political party of the Prime Minister who should command a majority in Parliament. Clearly there cannot be two authorities who should decide on the law and as well as the policy. However, the ideal is that a state machinery free from party politics should implement the law and policy of the Parliament without hindrances. Towards that extent, similar to Singapore, a President be directly elected by the people outside a political party should be in charge of the state machinery. By no means he/she should not be a figurehead to ensure no party politics creep into state machinery to function as an impartial head of state, thus maintaining the dignity of office and serve as a check on political abuse. Hence the need to have “Constitutional Councils” and so many “Independent Commissions” does not arise. He/She thus can be immune from suit except on Sovereignty.

  • 1
    1

    Part III:
    The author seems to be of the opinion that a devolution of power based on land masses seem to address ethno-religious issues in the country. A majority of Scots may live in Scotland thus devolution of “power” to Scotland may address concerns of Scots of an ethnic character. Is it so in Sri Lanka? More than 50% of any of the so-called ethnic minorities in Sri Lanka live outside a land mass which they claim to have historical habitation thus negating devolution as a means of addressing ethno-religious concerns. When the land mass of the devolved unit is comparatively large the peripheral areas are marginalized which must be prevented. So, the unit has to be smaller than the 9 provinces. Switzerland having a land area close to Sri Lanka has about 25 cantons, Sri Lanka has 25 districts. Above all, Sri Lanka having experienced the recent 04/21 attacks must ensure that devolution should not boomerang on the nation to find explosions being hatched in areas where the security would not effectively have any access. Ultimately, devolution should be an asset and not a liability. I believe that like in Singapore, meritocracy largely addresses ethno-religious issues.

  • 2
    2

    This is the first time Dr Dayan Jayathilake has written an article without quoting any experts from the Marxist left to the liberal right.

    Further, He has raised some thought provoking pertinent questions with gloomy answers.
    However, he has the foresight to see a pessimistic future in his last paragraph.

    Dayan,“The ideology and ethos of today’s new power-elite is a total rupture from those of all its predecessors. In my understanding and experience, this country has never witnessed a more backward, reactionary, rightwing, autocratic and ethnocentric-supremacist regime, ideology and ethos than it has today. The coming Constitution will mirror this. Its protagonists will call it “home grown”, which will mean nativistic, archaic, and monarcho-militarist. It will be by far the most backward and repressive of the three Constitutions we have lived under since Independence”.

    Prophetic words indeed!

  • 2
    1

    To Dr. Dayan, Colvin and JR were world class intellects. One would wish to endorse this effusive praise if their contribution had placed the two giants on a Himalayan pedestal. Realities tell a different story. Colvin lived through his creation for a mere 5 years: 1972 – 1977. Forty years of his politics took him and the country only to their doom.

    JR disdained to have any truck with it. He chose to live only under a Constitution crafted by him. The result: endless blood letting by all ethnicities and religionists. Death beyond a lakh of humans, on many fronts. To the two idols, who has placed a blossom with reverence? Who has written an epitah in deference?

    Who has not done these for Thomas Jefferson and James Madison? Their effort has won encomia for two centuries and a half.

    In Japan, battles and dislocation ended in 1868 with the Meiji Restoration. What next? Drafting a constitution conducive to their aspirations. Japan sent delegations to the West for protracted study.
    American was rejected because it was too democratic and did not meet with the Japanese ethos.
    The British was unacceptable because it was an unwritten constitution.
    The most dynamic personality led his delegation to Germany. They were greatly impressed by German leader Bismarck, adopted his approaches and the delegation thrust its way successfully in Japan.

  • 2
    1

    “Having failed to defend the 13th amendment and rally round Prime Minister Modi’s reiterated commitment to it, the Tamil parties probably think they can aim for something much higher,”
    In what way have the Tamil parties stood in the way of Modi, if he had any intention of getting 13A fully implemented.
    The TNA has long given up on secession. Others who may nurture secret ambitions of secession to only call for federation. These in no way constitute an obstacle to a committed Modi, who could always refer to the Tamil parties if he seriously undertook the project of getting 13A implemented.
    Tamil leaders have seen Modi’s performance for 6 years. They have been daft to place their trust in him.
    DJ is only once again up to his old game of blaming the Tamils for the non-implementation of 13A.

  • 3
    0

    “The 1978 Constitution arose from a party that was animated by a powerfully modernizing ideology and had led a bourgeois-democratic struggle against nepotistic semi-feudal rule.”
    Can DJ tell us what the “powerfully modernizing ideology” behind the 1978 Constitution?
    It allowed recolonization of the country by imperialism, now armed with neoliberal ideology and neocolonial methods that came to the fore in the latter half of the 1970s.
    *
    DJ was a beneficiary of the kindness of a semi-dictatorial ruler towards him, and his sense of gratitude deserves appreciation but not approval. His bitterness towards the JVP too has to be seen in the light of events of that period.

    • 3
      1

      SJ/DJ

      “It allowed recolonization of the country by imperialism, now armed with neoliberal ideology and neocolonial methods that came to the fore in the latter half of the 1970s.”

      Chinese were not ready to colonise the island. It was a big mistake on the part of Chinese. Had they tried bit harder they could have colonise this island and Hindia as well without any problem. Well a missed opportunity. The Chinese wouldn’t give a damn about neoliberal ideology or neocolonial methods as long as they have control over whatever they wanted.

    • 2
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      The 1978 Presidential position and constitution came about to deal with the TULF river of blood separate state mandate??

  • 3
    0

    “All previous Constitutions governing Sri Lanka were inspired by progressive ideology of one sort or another, all recognizable by universal markers and criteria and belonging to the paradigm of modernity.”
    I think that the term ‘progressive’ needs re-defining individually in each context according to the way DJ see the world at that specific moment.
    He would have found the constitution to come to be even more progressive, had the family taken him to its bosom.

  • 7
    2

    I am afraid Dayan is right. When the Indian envoy Jaishankar visits in the near future, Sri Lanka is planning to inform Modi that Sri Lanka’s decisions and policies will be guided by election mandates, the law and the constitution of the country, and its interests. It is not for outsiders to tell Sri Lankans how to run their country and as per the mandates they got through the November 2019 Presidential and August 2020 parliamentary elections, any solution to the ethnic question will have to be acceptable to the majority community in Sri Lanka. The Tamil leaders are thinking of 13++ whereas the Rajapakshes are thinking of 13- – or No 13 (remove completely). The Rajapakshes are sitting on Chinese lap. As someone said, Modi can only issue statements and nothing more.

    • 2
      1

      Dear LC

      The 13– was given in the form NPC by the Hon or rather the Excellency MR then under his presidency where Hon Judge passed 400++ resolutions…yet folks were short of water and waste management was open dumping of municipal waste in the old salt evaporation ponds, no fisheries and cause removal of my Fathers name from his college back to Hindu college (super decision) and you are rewarded with MP post even under a different Tamil Virgin party.

      Based on this TNA success Modi could consider a kind word with our GOSL a 13 as a next step perhaps? then we arm and create new fighters before we merge the East and call it 13+++++++++++++ it is true the 13 is bad number then?

  • 6
    0

    Constitutions progressively became authoritarian. Colvin emasculated the courts and concentrated power in the legislature. JR concentrated power in himself as President. Now we are going to concentrate power, as the great Admiral says, in a king, as in the old days. Sinhala kings were ephemeral. Their ending was always brutal, entombed alive, spiked, taken to china by cheng ho or assassinated in various cruel ways. As the Bar Council pointed out, if power comes to be so concentrated, the only way out of a bad rule would be through violence. That would not be a good outcome for anyone but a tin boat Admiral who wants to spike people who disagree with him. the Inso-Sri Lanka accord is not invalid. If it is, Sri Lanka should openly say so. If they cannot, then, India has competence under the accord to insist on the obligations under it being carried out.

  • 1
    1

    New constitution or amendment of 2020 is the replica of JRJ coming back- with a majority, of bought-out , or so-promised something to 9 opposition MPP, – would not help the ordinary masses, except spreading a new virus GOVED-20 ( Gothas vertex Dictatorship) similar to COVID-19.

  • 2
    0

    Greetings Dayan! Recent events have changed your political stance? No matter.

    I do not see the need for a new constitution, even under President Sirisena. I never did.Follow the old constitution or existing constitution is what I say.

    Is there a concept of such transitional costs?. It may very well be that you could enlighten me on the literature around this concept, but the idea is simply this: change is good, but is too expensive in the current context . For example, going back to the Soulbury constitution, which I really like, with a Prime Minister and its parliament. Will it work in Sri Lanka? Well nothing seems to have worked so far: even JR’s constitution was an utter failure in that the UNP did not gain a single seat (well maybe one) in parliament. But it would cost too much politically.

    I do not think it is about constitutions, is about people, people in power. It was always curious to me how this nation is forever in search of an Utopian perfect leader, perfect parliament, perfect constitution and always ending up destroying large swaths of the country.

    My priorities as a citizen are clear: let me quote from the existing constitution:

    “10. Every person is entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, including the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.

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