14 December, 2017

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Who Will Rule? A Question From An Undecided Voter

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Like the majority of my fellow citizens I am an undecided voter. My father Mervyn de Silva used to characterize me slightly critically, as “a Romantic”, and the romantic in me would like to vote for change. But right now, I cannot make that decision because the Realist in me raises a fundamental question: “who rules?” Or rather, who would rule, if Mr. Sirisena wins? Sadly, the answer to that question is not “Mr. Sirisena, would, of course”. That is because Mr. Sirisena has told us categorically that he would abolish the executive presidency within one hundred days. He has also told us that he would appoint Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister, when he could have said instead that the Prime Ministership would be given to the UNP (the party, not the person). In addition, as Maithripala’s media conference and more tellingly his homage at the Bandaranaike Samadhi tells us, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga would be a key player in the bloc that succeeds Mahinda Rajapaksa.

So the question—and it is the most basic question of politics— remains: who will rule? We know who will not rule, namely Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. Is that good enough? Is that enough to make a decision to vote for Maithripala? Not for me, and I daresay, not for the majority of our citizens. That may have been enough if the President were quite as unpopular as President Jayewardene in his last few years in office. But that is not the case with Mahinda. Furthermore, even in the case of JRJ, the voter was fastidious about whom we would replace him with—Sirima Bandaranaike or Ranasinghe Premadasa? In short, would we go back to the bad old days of ’70-’77, or forward to a socially fairer future?

If Maithripala Sirisena steps down after abolishing the presidency in a hundred days or whenever, who would lead this country and how would that person be chosen? Under the executive presidency power resides in the hands of the institution occupied by the individual who has won a majority of the votes of the citizens of this island taken as a single whole. After the abolition of the presidency that would not be the case. If executive power has been transferred to the Prime Minister, then the country would be led by someone who has not been elected by the majority of our citizens but by those of a single electoral unit, a district—which is a far more narrowly restricted base. Is that what we want? Certainly I do not.

If the choice is between the Presidency as it is, and a reformed Presidency which is less centralized and top-heavy, I would certainly opt for the reformed version. If however the choice is between the existing presidency and no executive presidency at all and an executive Prime Ministership instead, I would reluctantly take my chances with the status quo.

That is a rather abstract choice, but there is a far more concrete one to be made. If we vote in Mr. Sirisena and he is no longer the occupant of the office we voted him into because he has abolished it, and instead Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe is the Prime Minister with executive powers (as they proclaim on the UNP platform), then the closest approximation of an answer to the question ‘who will rule?’ becomes clear: the PM, to wit, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe. Mr. Sirisena has already sought permission to address him as “Sir”. Obviously no leader of a country will address Mr. Wickremesinghe as “Sir” if he hopes to remain the leader de jure of the country. It is also obvious that Mr. Wivckremsinghe is and will be in an alliance with Ms. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, whom Mr. Sirisena calls “Madam”.

So it will no longer be Mahinda Rajapaksa, who as a President elected by our votes does not and will not call Ranil “Sir” and Chandrika “Madam”, who will rule us. Rather, after Mr. Sirisena has done his job as “an interim President” as Mano Ganeshan has accurately termed it, it is “Sir” and “Madam” who will jointly rule this country, as they so splendidly did from 1994 to 2005. Is that really the change we want? Is that the change we seek and deserve? Pardon me if I have second thoughts.

Change is needed. Iran needed a moderate nationalist in the form of Dr. Hassan Rouhani, to re-set relations with the West. He beat the nominee of the hawkish populist, Mr. Ahmadinejad. But what if Dr. Rouhani had pledged to step down in a hundred days and bring back the Shah or a member of the deposed pro-Western monarchy? Mr. Sirisena’s pledge to abolish the Presidency while making Ranil the PM, and worse still the written pledge reported in the Sunday Times to the effect that he will hand over executive powers to Ranil within 24 hours, smacks of a restorationist project to bring back the ancien regime of Chandrika-Ranil. Churchill was defeated by Attlee. What if Attlee has promised to bring back Neville Chamberlain and step down from office upon election?

Much as I would like to believe otherwise and unless I am convinced to the contrary by what Mr. Sirisena might do by or on Nomination Day, my lucid Realism overcomes my Romanticism and tells me that the real choice here is not Maithripala versus Mahinda, but precisely the following: “do we prefer Ranil and Chandrika to Mahinda (with his clan)?” I must confess that I for one am not convinced that the former combination is the more desirable. Nor do I think that the majority of voters will opt for that duo, any more than the majority of Russian voters (who are provincial and patriotic) would have opted for the return of a combination of Yeltsin plus Gorbachev, over Putin.

I am inclined under the current circumstances, to prefer the ‘containment’ of the Mahinda Rajapaksa presidency, to his electoral overthrow. Therefore, unless the Opposition discourse, agenda and trajectory are dramatically re-set, I shall content myself with wishing Mr. Sirisena good luck, hoping he gives Mahinda a real run for his money, and simply staying home. As would  appear to be the case with the JVP, my hopes for change are probably best transferred to the parliamentary election.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    4

    DJ has raised some very important points. They need to be answered by Mr Sirisena – the common candidate.

  • 2
    4

    Dayan, do not make comments as a fool. You cough for Mahinda expecting privileges. Mahinda has sacked and kicked you out.
    How can you say Mahinda is going to win. Still opposition campaign has not started yet . We have to wait the way campaign changing the minds of floating vote.

    • 0
      0

      SUN – Many paranoids who wants MR down the drain really do not understand the points raised by Dr Dayan in this article – After I saw Mithree’s comments on TV after him switching sides – I was wondering what a lousy man he is – he is simply not from this generations – and he certainly not fit to be a leader –

      I hope Dr Dayan can publish this article in Sinhale on a Sinhale daily to educate and save the rural voters from falling into Mithree trap created by “Madame” and “Sir — Phoo

      Of course MR/ GR gov. is not the best – but certainly much better than Sir/ Madam combination

      I hope paranoids in these blogs will gain some sense by reading reality in Articles from Dr Dayan

      The biggest problem with MR Gov. is his close associates – who keeps on derailing him for personnel gains – one of the biggest crook in this gang of associate is SWG – MR’s foreign policy coordinator – many decent , knowledgeable , educated guys left our Foreign Policy portfolios due to manipulation of this empty headed F…r – whose only qualification is his good english

  • 5
    3

    Dayan, Please write logical articles without showing your foolishness. People will not accept your silly arguments. Last presidential election Mahinda obtain 58%. after war victory. To defeat Mahinda, Maithripala need to break only 9% of votes. Last time some UNP members also voted for Mahinda due to war victory. Lot of Muslims also voted for him. Today after five years situation is entirely changed. Peoples expectation for economic benefits, democracy, independent judiciary has become a myth. Mahinda,s popularity has gone down. Latest uva election is an example. If Maithripala can break only 5% of SLFP Votes he can win.He will break more SLFP votes this time. Maithripala will win Polonnaruwa district. Even Gamopaha and Anuradhapura also. Maithripala will give close fight. Considering northern votes Mahinda need to be scared not Maithripala.

    • 0
      0

      SUN the man — As per your calculation Mithree is going to win – or already won in the minds of many ….s — Even a very logical articl from Dr Dayan – is not logical for these guys — Try to get out of your emotionally driven mental state and figure out what is going to happen to this country after 8th Jan. – I think it is more rational than jumping into the Bandwagon of MR haters — I have a suggestion for you – get a piece of blank paper and jot down the good things and bad things what Mr Sir / Mithree’s Madam /MR & GR combination have done to this country – then logically evaluate the impact of these goods and bads for the future of this country ( the you can become more sensible and logical )

  • 2
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    What is wrong with addressing Ranil as Sir. In 1993 Maithripala was a new opposition MP. Ranil was the prime minister of this country. Chandrka was his former boss.

    • 0
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      Mr Khan The point here is – Mithree ( now everybodys Hero – Saviour of the nation –Phooooo ) so meekly requesting permission to call Ranil “Master Sir ” What kind of a mental picture he created for himself by this idiotic address – for me I picture him as a Poor Peasant who takes his towel from his shoulder and bent ninety degrees when he happen to come across village Mudliar – on top of that He virtually worshipped Chuora Regina (remaining political cancer of the political body of this country- luckily we do not have anymore Bandarnayakes Haamus in this country)
      — now tell me how can this man without a strong personality can rule this country in the company of cunning fox like RW and CBK — these guys have their personal agendas and history had amply proven that they cannot be trusted – If you want to ruin what we have already achieved then vote for Mithree

  • 1
    0

    I see there are problems in the mutual admiration society

    Do DJ RW still admire each other

  • 3
    1

    WHO WOULD RULE?

    It would be Rule of law,not Rule of Man!

    It is immaterial as long as it is rule of law

  • 6
    3

    Dayan:

    Don’t make a fool of yourself and we all know you are a liar. You cant come to terms with the fact that MR might not win. You defended the Criminal at UNHCR and by inference you were part of the AXIS of evil.
    Leopards never change their spots.
    At least I give credit to Prof. Rajiva who despite his support to MR in the past has done the right thing and put his Country before his Loyalty to one man.
    If you have any decency left in you will apologise and stop fooling everyone.

    • 0
      0

      Idiot and a paranoid like you will say Dr Dayan protected Criminals at UNHCR in 2009 – He protected the souviorinity of this country – we are really grateful for him for his heroic efforts – unfortunately vulgar egoistic idiots in the Foreign ministry and around MR did not allow him to continue – I hope when MR wins this time he will pick him again give him another chance to work for our motherland – I think you must apologise for trying to fool innocent voters with crooked comments

  • 5
    2

    Dayan the Pretender:

    Who Will Rule? A Question From An Undecided Voter;

    For us it is a question of Who should rule and the answer is MR.

    I hope you will campaign hard to elect MR with landslide victory so that Sanctions can be imposed soon to bring Sinhala Lanka to her Knees and we don’t want to wait too long.
    US and EU have promised to follow suit.

    UK MPs propose sanctions on Sri Lanka

    Nov 27 (CG) British MPs have proposed imposing sanctions on Sri Lanka if the Govt of Sri Lanka does not allow the UN investigating team into the country. The UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has noted that given the time that has passed since the launch of the international inquiry, and the constraints placed on the OHCHR team, they believe that UK Govt should be ready to consider all possible options

  • 2
    1

    DJ could be a puppet of the present regime or still looking for some bones from them and therefore he will always be negative towards any opposition candidate and would work with Sirasa/MTV to discredit
    the UNP/Ranil etc. How does he state that majority of the voters are undecided? Did he do a countrywide survey?
    All his articles are one sided and he
    cannot fool the people with them anymore.

  • 2
    1

    Does any one care which way you ate inclined.Dont flatter your self. You sre too easy to predict. Vasi Pattha has always been your choice.

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]

  • 1
    1

    Under maithripalanaya you address CBK as “Madam” and RW as “Sir”. Good God! What hypocrisy! The man will have his own way if and when he is elected both of them may be required to call him “Devayan wahansa!”. Stepping down in 100 days! Guys! Take it with a pinch of salt.

    • 0
      0

      What Madam and Sir had done to this country are no secrets – the problem is our emotional voters have very short memories – hope they will not repeat the mistake by electing Madam in place of Premadasa UNP

  • 1
    0

    It is not about who will rule or not but whether some semblance of good governance can be brought back to this land. Over throwing a dictator without substituting him with another is what this election is all about. All those who are fed up with the gross excesses of this government whether Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim will vote for Maithripala; and that’s gonna be a substantial number! The Sri Lankan people will vote with political acumen. So stay at home Dayan because it ain’t gonna make a difference.

  • 1
    0

    Very good article by DJ. This is exactly the question we have. One more, when SIR ( Ranil) & Madam (Chandrika)joined by Ganeshan, Muslim congress, TNA , Bahu & other NGO gang, out come will be a hell!

  • 1
    0

    DJ – It is a very applicable comparion that Voters should act in the fothcomming election. Very positive potential is to Mahinda to win if this is understood correctly.

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