15 August, 2020

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Voting In The Elections 2020: For Public Or Rulers’ Welfare? 

By The Friday Forum

On August 5th 2020, we as citizens will choose the people who may join the President in governing this country for the next five years, if a Parliamentary system of governance under the present 1978 Constitution continues. Parliament has not functioned for 4 months- well beyond the limit set by the Constitution- so we do not know what will happen after the elections, and how or when Parliament will meet.

We have exercised ‘people power’ and cast our votes at Elections many times. It is our experience that those we elect to public office tend to forget us and our needs and concerns soon after they take office, often with fanfare and publicity. This election is a defining one, conducted at a time when the country is facing the double crisis of a debilitating debt burden, and an unprecedented economic and public health crisis. It is therefore important to reflect on our current situation, and cast our votes to help achieve the kind of governance that will hold our rulers accountable to us, and provide primacy of place to citizens’ well-being, when they exercise their powers.

The Friday Forum identifies the following issues as of critical concern to all of us:

1. We can have strong party affiliations. Many will have decided the party of their choice. But all of us, both party loyalists and independent voters, must decide whether we want to cast our votes at this critical juncture, for persons WITHOUT a record of serious crime, financial corruption, incompetence, and selfish abuse of power, while holding public office?

2. In 2009 we saw an end to a 30 year armed struggle. But have we resolved the hard issues that contributed to this violence? There have been many committees, commissions and expert committees, many of them appointed by the Prime Minister. He supported arrangements for power sharing, and gave public assurances in this regard. We must ask ourselves whether we should vote for persons who do not understand the need to respect the diversity of our people. Can this country afford to encourage ideas in governance that promote violence and discrimination against minority communities? Must we not support candidates for public office who will support finding real solutions acceptable to all? Can we afford conflict when we face new economic and public health crises like those we face today?

3. For 30 years the people and political parties agreed that the office of the Executive Presidency of 1978 amassed to itself too much power undermining other public institutions like Parliament and the Courts. We have seen how during long years, these two institutions have been undermined. Upto 2019, we wanted to abolish the Executive Presidency and introduce a system of governance that gave authority to a Prime Minister and a Cabinet that were responsible to an elected Parliament. We also looked for Courts that were independent of the Executive. That was why ALL Parties passed, by a 2/3 majority in Parliament, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

This 19th Amendment has flaws and must be modified. But now we have a new discourse which is asking for a 2/3 majority to give MORE powers to the President, and indeed change completely the structures of governance, so that the President will exercise extensive powers. We must ask ourselves whether this new system with concentration of power in one individual, is the form of government we want to introduce through a 2/3 majority and Constitutional reform.

We have had no Parliament for the last 4 months and have no idea how funds have been spent, without authorisation by Parliament. We have witnessed how the principle that a person is innocent until proven guilty, has enabled many persons accused of serious crimes in our Courts, to obtain bail, stand for election, and hold high office in the government The recent destruction of a cultural heritage site has been ignored by the Cabinet because holding anyone accountable will have political repercussions. Is it satisfactory that the public service and public institutions are no longer accountable, and ad hoc decisions determine important matters relating to the economy ( eg the MCC agreement), the environment- including the human /elephant conflict, public health issues, and the destruction of public property such as heritage sites? These decisions impact on all our lives, but we cannot hold anyone accountable because our public institutions have been destroyed by the unfettered exercise of political power. Do we need accountable, strong public institutions or the concentration of extensive powers in an Executive President?

4. A new agency, the military has moved out of its traditional role and is taking on all the responsibilities of civilian institutions on public administration, and even the Police. We have Military Task Forces which exercise significant powers, and exclude the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers. They report directly to the President. We have governance according to gazette notifications that allow investigation of persons for spreading false information on Covid-19’. The army also has been made responsible for ‘de-radicalising’ those with ‘extremist ideas’ in their custody, under the Prevention of Terrorism law. Others, including politicians who advocate violence against minorities in the community, continue to do so with impunity. What implications does this type of governance by Presidential gazettes have for public administration, and for our personal liberties? Fundamental rights including media freedom and freedom of expression are protected both by the Constitution and the Right to Information law.

Do we want this ‘new normal’ of unchecked power, ‘authoritarian leadership’ and militarisation to facilitate or ensure economic growth and the sustainable development of our country?

5. Administration of Justice without fear or favour is in our collective interest. Do we not want governance that ensures the independence of the judiciary from political interference? Increasingly, we witness selective justice- some people prosecuted in the courts while no questions are asked about the conduct of others. They are not held accountable for their conduct, despite Commissions of Inquiry and prolonged investigations. Should we not vote for and demand, a strengthening, rather than undermining of institutions responsible for the administration of justice in our country?

Prof. Savitri Goonesekere, Dr. Radhika Coomaswamy, Dr. A.C. Visvalingam, Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka, Prof. Ranjini Obeyesekere, Prof. Gameela Samarasinghe, Mr. Faiz-Ur Rahman, Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare, Dr. Geedreck Usvatte-aratchi, Bishop Duleep de Chickera, Prof. Camena Guneratne, Mr. Chandra Jayaratne, Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris, Mr. Priyantha Gamage, Ms. Shanthi Dias, Mr. Daneshan Casie Chetty, Ms. Manouri Muttetuwegama and Mr. Prashan de Visser.

*The Friday Forum is an informal group of concerned citizens pledged to uphold norms of democracy, good governance, rule of law, human rights, media freedom and tolerance in our pluralist society.

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Latest comments

  • 12
    33

    Professor Savitri Goonesekere, Professor Gananath Obeyesekere, Professor Arjuna Aluwihare, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Dr. Deepika Udagama, Dr. Jayampathy Wickramaratne,
    .
    Definitly it is not for your welfare.
    .
    In 2015 you made people vote for your welfare.
    .
    Not again.

    • 16
      4

      S. C. Passqual

      “In 2015 you made people vote for your welfare.
      Not again.”

      Okay, is it in your interest this time around?
      Yours include:
      You, soma, Eagle Eye, MR, GR, CR, BR, NR, YR, RR, Champika, Udhaya, Channa, Wimal, Dhinesh, Kamal, Shavendra, ….. 15,000 Generals, ……….

      • 9
        0

        Dear N.V. ,
        .
        I agree. You have mentioned “Champika” – that is “ Achchige Patali Champika Ranawaka ” Number One on the Colombo District List.
        .
        The names are arranged in the Sinhalese Alphabetical order of names. He’s got that number by virtue of the “ Achchige” part of his name. I can’t do it now, but I will provide you with some articles in which he makes out that he got that number because he is the “best” in an otherwise mediocre group.
        .
        In other words, he already a guy who will readily betray, but he’s probably got greater ambitions. He will want to control this Party, where Sajith is not exactly fantastic.
        .
        I intend voting for this Party in the Badulla District. This is why I say that you should be careful as to whom you give your Preferences to. This man remains a Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist.
        .
        Vote instead for solid professionals like No. 10, Ginige Mahendra Harsha de Silva. Oh, I don’t know the others. If you want a woman, there’s 21 Hirunika Eranjali Premachandra. And to show that you’re not a racist, why not 7 Mano Ganeshan or 8 S.M. Marikkar? Aren’t they both people who have been in Parliament?
        .
        Don’t vote for 4 Abdul Hameed Mohamed Fowzie – he’s far too old.

        • 5
          0

          Sinhala_Man

          It appears Gota has increased the average age of his cabinet but reduced its IQ.

          GR 70
          MR is 74
          Nimal Siripala de Silva 75
          Dinesh Gunawardena 71
          Douglas Devananda 62(?)
          Bandula Gunawardane 67
          Janaka Bandara Tennakoon 67
          Chamal Rajapaksa 77
          Dullas Alahapperuma 61

          Abdul Hameed Mohamed Fowzie only 82 years.

    • 2
      0

      I generally do not agree with you but this time you hit the nail on its head! Bang!

  • 16
    3

    Dear Friday Forum, A big thank you for voicing the real concerns which unfortunately our voting public tend to ignore and deny. Thirty years of arms struggle, it self is a by product of, 30 years or more of “screw up” by our politicians. Now that its over our current lot is working hard in creating one if not, more struggles (economic, international)for coming thirty years. By then our citizenry will be exhausted and overwhelmed, but not our politicians.

  • 7
    3

    At the present moment having called for the break up of a valid parliament 6 months before its due period of time was the cunning ploy by the always hora boru pariah Rajapuka family and their blindly following bitter-tasting human uncouth parasite pariahs.
    =
    The average Ran Banda even though being in many an unpalatable situation at this moment of time thanks to the much-cursed coronavirus-19 are at present in a state of all noes.
    =
    No jobs, no money no food no to pay the costs of electricity telephone travelling etc no clothing to wear no schooling and for many a moon to come this will be the pattern of life in many a part of the world.
    =
    As the Rajapuka led SLPP/SLFP acharu combination are desperately on their knees begging for a 2/3rd majority to get rid of the much-acclaimed respected 19th amendment, if so obtained by a hook or crook basis by boys of massive hora boru cheating election campaign.?
    =
    These are similar to the various illegal doings by the SLPP to get the kallathoni war criminal elected to pollute, soil and squat on the latrine which they will unceremoniously state that it is a Medamulana aristocracy of a royal kingdom.

    • 4
      1

      rj1952,
      Where are:
      • Twenty trillion US Dollars Rajapakses hiding in foreign countries.
      • Golden horses
      • Lamborghini cars
      • Gold plated toilet seats
      What were you guys doing for four and half years?

      • 1
        0

        Are you blessed with amnesia, dementia and become senile in your young age of 82 but I admire you am a bit jealous of you that you are frolicking with a Tamil Demala meenachi fit enough to your great-grandchild
        #
        Where were you when the criminal guilty pleases were unanimously entered against the Crooks in the Rajapuka mongrels.
        In one case the Chief justice has had to save Mahindan from being a VIP inmate at one of the state guest houses and later he shed crocodile tears by apologising to one all the poverty-stricken pauper citizens who just could not benefit from their losses suffered due to the tsunami.
        #
        There are many a criminal money murder related cases have been reluctantly filed by their godparents MY3 and Ranil but as they are now shitting on the royal latrine it will take another change of government to pursue these unsavoury buggers.
        #
        As you have become nothing but a JOKE of a petty crap typing racist please retire now gracefully before you become a real Charlie Chaplin and that’s my new pet name for you.
        .

    • 3
      1

      In frustration that matters are just going the way as planned on the election front, the afraid rats of the witless thuggish Rajapuka’s have got the uniformed police loyal to them to arrest the well-acknowledged well reputed CID senior SP Shani Abeysekera at an unholy hour this morning.
      =
      By behaving in this indecent cowardly pariahs are trying to send a message to the other poll contenders, you can defeat us on the ballot but remember we have the military to stage a coup and take over the running of the island without any prior notice being given.
      =
      I blame MY3, Ranil and the yahapalayana government who adopted an attitude of you scratch my back and when the time comes around we will do the same.
      =
      If only all these criminal hora boru asses were jailed as promised Sri Lanka would have been on its merry way to overtake even Singapore as the undisputed jewel of the Indian ocean.
      =
      I am on my one knee praying to all the gods to ensure that the great human being is given the energy to get out of these unwanted unwarranted shackles /chains by appearing before a clean honest judicial officer who does not care two hoots for these undesirable baiya Gulla coward pariah bastards.

  • 6
    2

    Friday Forum has raised all the important non-economic issues.
    Thanks

  • 5
    2

    Well Said!

    Thank you for this timely intervention!

  • 6
    1

    In 1928, United Kingdom got the vote for all at 21 years of age by the Equal Franchise Act.

    In 1931, Ceylon got her universal suffrage to vote at 21 through the Donoughmore Constitution

    The colonial rulers and the ruled were equalized in a stupid balance.

    What a gift which the recipient never looked in the mouth.

    Astute Sir P. Ramanathan gave it a blistering attack.

    A Tamil poetess said 2,000 years ago :

    “Beggars will receive anything they get; it is for the giver to weigh the
    sagacity behind the gift”.

  • 14
    2

    The overwhelming majority of voters are poor, generally uneducated or seeking employment and have no idea about modern, liberal values that the members of the Friday Forum seem to carry. While these authors have visited and studied in or mixed with people in developed countries, the vast majority of voters have not. Therefore they only understand the grand rhetoric of make-believe champions who strut about with power and affluence. They are not attuned to voices of moderation or cultured compromise; they revel in cheering on the marauding parasites who habitually ravage and pillage Sri Lanka. They will never learn lessons discussed on this forum, but will gape in awe at their oppressors the con-artists holding forth at public rallies instead.

    • 3
      1

      Lasantha Pethiyagoda I completely agree with you. I have said this on another CT blog…Articles in CT are great ..but we need to move the intellectual debate to the rural voters in a way they can understand.

    • 2
      0

      Lasantha P: One candidate from Matara District, revealed at a TV discussion, this “Episode”: “I met a person on the road while walking on canvassing. I asked him to who are you going to vote. He mentioned a name and I promptly asked him why to “Him”. He replied and said because that candidate presented an umbrella”. Are there any who listen to “Friday Forum”? Or, is the “Friday Forum” aware of this “Ground Reality”?

    • 0
      0

      “They will never learn lessons discussed on this forum, but will gape in awe at their oppressors the con-artists holding forth at public rallies instead.”
      On the dot, Lasantha.

  • 6
    3

    The Military and The Monks want to give Mahinda Family all the powers to run this country. The country was in peace for nearly for the past four and a half years. Now the country looks like a war zone but not in real. As usual the Mahinda Family took racism as the main weapon. But note that they are now don’t talk much of MCC or Handing over the Colombo harbour to India. Mahinda talks about Pirabaharan demands equal to Federal. But he had a negotiation with TNA about new constitution.
    Mahinda family can do anything for power including federal solution if necessary. We all know how he tried his maximum to buy MPs during October 2018 Plot. Once he got the two third majority, he might be a different man. His military support, Karuna & Douglus are there to do anything for him. He is very dangerous to the country.

    • 4
      1

      Ajith,
      “The country was in peace for nearly for the past four and a half years. Now the country looks like a war zone but not in real. “

      Where the hell you live. Definitely not in this planet. That is why you are not aware of the Muslim terrorist attack in 2019.
      The country was peaceful from 2009 to 2019 because Rajapakse regime wiped out LTTE Tamil terrorist barbarians who slaughtered people in this country for three decades. Due to stupidity of ‘Jadapalana’ Government, that peace was shattered by Muslim terrorists. ‘Para’ Tamil and ‘Para’ Muslim terrorists play hell in this country and do not allow Native Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo to live in peace.

    • 1
      1

      ” He is very dangerous to the country.”
      Talking through experience?

      Soma

  • 2
    0

    Would you consider this good news?
    .

    http://www.dailymirror.lk/print/front_page/Polls-Chief-slams-reports-he-illegally-approved-SJB/238-192913
    .
    A report that Mahinda Deshpariya says that there’s no problem with the SJB contesting the elections.
    .
    No wonder the public are confused when there are all sorts of strange stories making the rounds.

    • 0
      0

      There are certain universal values that the world has begun to uphold. Please listen to this, remembering the differences in context etc.
      .

      https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2020/07/barack-obama-eulogy-for-john-lewis-was-perfect.html
      .
      Barack Obama has just made one of his greatest speeches. There are similarities, however.
      .
      The Rajapaksas, like Donald Trump, are trying every trick in the book to deceive and cheat. Never mind what else I ought to be saying. Just listen carefully and crically to what Obama is saying.

    • 0
      1

      S_M
      Why do the SJB guys insist on being UNP members while UNP is gracefully kicking them out in droves?
      Can you contest from one party while being a member of another?
      Master crook Ranil Wickramasinghe looks cool and confident.
      I can’t wait till the election is over to witness this grand spectacle.

      Soma

      • 1
        0

        somass

        “Can you contest from one party while being a member of another?”

        Don’t you remember the period post dark ages (2015) SLFP sat on the front benches and also on the opposition?

        Your memory cannot be that bad.
        It is known as having the cake and eat it too.

  • 7
    11

    Believing what these ‘Girl Fridays’ and ‘Boy Fridays’ told about ‘Change’ that ‘Yahapalanaya’ will bring, Sinhala boys and girls cast their votes to Sirisena+Wickramasinghe combo. Instead of getting ‘Yahapalanaya’ they got a ‘Jadapalanaya’ that ruined this country. So, are you dong keys suggesting that they should vote for the same bunch again despite the unpatriotic actions taken by them such as:
    • Robbing the Central Bank two times.
    • Allowing a main culprit of ‘Bond Scam’ to escape.
    • Co-sponsoring the UNHRC resolution accepting that our Armed Forces committed War Crimes.
    • Giving Hambantota Port to China for ‘Peanuts’.
    • Agreed to give East Terminal in Colombo port to India and Japan.
    • Signed ACSA and SOFA without getting approval from the Parliament.
    • Ruined the Intelligence Service.
    • Slept until Muslim terrorists blew up churches and hotels.
    • Wasted billions of Sinhala tax payers’ money to draft a new Constitution with Federal features to please
    Terra rist National Alliance.
    Just to name a few.

    • 1
      2

      Eagle,
      1.Slept until Muslim terrorists blew up churches and hotels.
      Who was sleeping when Terra rusts blew up the Salads maligawa?

      2. Wasted billions of Sinhala tax payers’ money ..
      The biggest exporters in the country
      are Muslims. Are Sinhalayo too dumb?

      3.Allowing a main culprit of ‘Bond Scam’ to escape.
      If your hero could get KP from Malaysia, why can’t he get Mahendran? With a ranaviruwo army of 300,000, ( bigger than UK) surely he can invade Singapore?

      • 1
        0

        old codger

        “With a ranaviruwo army of 300,000, ( bigger than UK) surely he can invade Singapore?”

        Could I remind you that you have omitted to mention 15,000 single handed (serving) Generals.

        People agree with you when you say Gota’s Heroes got KP from Malaya. By the way people are not always honest.

  • 2
    0

    The only good thing about this election is no party supports a federal solution this time. A major change since 1994 when all major Sinhala parties proposed some form of a federal solution.

    There should never be federal. Unitary SL or a divided island into Sinhala only nation and Tamil Elam. No federal whatsoever.

  • 2
    0

    Why was this Friday Forum and ALL other NGO and Civil Society guys totally silent on the question of abolishing the Executive Presidency during the November 2019 Presidential election campaign which was the main talking point and the promise on all previous occasions?
    Because their man Sajith Premadasa wanted to be the Executive President?

    Soma

  • 1
    0

    F.Forum is late to vent its thoughts – but had to do it for propensity sake!

    The Parliament will be summoned ONLY after hot purchasings of M.PP to
    make up that 2/3rd – an agenda of Basil for sure. China has provided hard
    cash is my guess. The most important part SLPP are concerned is the provision for life-long immunity for Presidents, not available in the present 19th amendment – so in the process of changes, this WILL be provided for Gota`s & family`s sake.

    The future of Democracy in Sri Lanka lies in the hands of Students and their
    family Voters – as the educated students using their Vote must ensure that a
    2/3rd is not provided for in the first place.

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