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The death knell of Democracy

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The 19th Amendment to the Constitution is the desire and goal of Pohottuva politics today. It is now more important that the economic crisis faced by the country and people, especially in the Covid19 situation.

The strongest voice against 19A today is that of the highly learned Professor Gamini Lakshman Peiris, the GL swinger in governing politics in Sri Lanka; whose leaps to and from political parties and policies is a display of political manoeuvre with hardly any matching.

The two-thirds majority the Pohottuva government obtained, thanks largely to the UNPs disastrous leadership and party breakup, stands against the 19A, which is shown by GL and anti-19A players as the biggest threat to democracy today.

Let’s take a look at how the parliament at the time – in April 2015 – voted for 19A. In a 225-member parliament, it was passed by 215 voting for.  One voted against, One abstained, and seven members were absent. That shows a huge parliamentary majority, much more than the small and shaky majority the UNP-SLFP – Maithri-Ranil – government of the day had.

The 19A was a constitutional amendment that obtained the huge support of the then opposition, who are now the leading and even hanging on members of the current Pohottuva regime, the hurray and hosanna ranks of the Rajavasala.

The principle purpose of the 19A was the dilution of many powers of the Executive Presidency, which were available since 1978 under the JR Jayewardene drafter and adopted constitution. Isn’t it strange that shouts against the 19A today, which was ranged against the Executive Presidency, come from the Rajapaksa rankers, especially GLP and players, who were all for the total abolition of the Executive Presidency and  the 1978 JRJ Constitution? The election manifestos of Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapaksa – fully supported by GLP- were for the abolition of the Executive Presidency.

The GL players are wholly against Independent Commissions that got new life under 19A. They see it as a threat to democracy, easily forgetting the threats to democracy that came from the Mahinda Rajapaksa  bred 18th Amendment, when ‘independent commissions’ were all brought directly under the President. 

Do these anti-19A forces realize that the two-thirds power they have is because of the wholly free and fair election we had this year, organized by the Election Commission? There were many attacks of the EC, mainly against its single Tamil member, but the three-member team performed their role by and for the people, and saw what was the most peaceful and fair election in recent history. 

But the call today is against such Independent Commissions, which is very learned GL thinking.

The other threat to Democracy and the sovereignty of the people  as seen by the GL players is the Constitutional Council, tasked with maintaining and monitoring independent commissions. The goal at the time it was passed was depoliticizing the public service.

If that is what the 19A did, which has earned so much dislike today, let’s look at what the earlier 18A brought by President Mahinda Rajapaksa – with a ministerial position held by GLP – did.

The 18A   introduced the Parliamentary Council, moving away from the 17A, which had powers only to recommend persons to the independent committees, and sole authority of appointing members of the independent committees was vested with the President of Sri Lanka, and while he is needed to seek the observations of the council, its decisions are not binding. What a wonderful display of democracy!

It is also necessary to remember that the 10-member Constitutional Council under 19A, has a majority of MPs – mainly because the call for such MP presence in the Council was what the then UPFA and now Pohottuva players in Parliament. The necessity of larger parliamentary representation was called for  by none other than the present Speaker of Parliament, the leaders of the MEP and Democratic Left Front – Dinesh Gunawardene and Vasudeva Nanayakkara, among so many other opposition MPs.  That was their view of Democracy in April 2015, but the power of a two-third majority has given them cause for new thinking, and agree with the GL punditry that such Commissions were not divine to be worshiped as some portray them to be.

We must also understand what the Pohottuva punditry of today was wholly supportive of way back, when Mahinda Rajapaksa acquired – promised/purchased.promoted – the two-third majority in Parliament.  They saw a ‘democratic’ necessity for the Executive President to have more than two terms in the presidency. It was not a move to three or four terms, but to any number. The most desirable goal of Dictatorial Democracy, still seen in some parts of Africa that are escaping Democracy.

It is the perfect Rajavasala desire to keep in line with our 2,500 year history of regal power.

They did not want to remove the Executive President’s power to dissolve a people-elected, sovereign parliament at any time just one year after its (then) term of six years. 

The GL punditry of the Pohottuva is now all in favour of the dominant power  of the Executive Presidency. Even the currently powerless Maithripala Sirisena who promised the people in the 2015 presidential election to repeal the 18A has forgotten the pledge to reinforce democracy in the country.

The learned and learn-lacking thinkers and movers  of the Pohottuva today – ranging from GLP to Maithripala and the power crazy supporters of an Executive Presidency – with much more power than Donald Trump – are singing the song for the burial of Democracy.

In the weeks ahead as the drum beats of a “Democratic Dictatorship” gets louder, and the learned like GL join the politically ignorant and crooked, we will hear many more calls for the restoration of Democracy, without the evil of the 19A. It won’t be long till we hear the knell and toll of the Death of Democracy through 20A and a whole new Constitution. Will we sing praises to the deities with Haro-Hara, for this restoration of the Rajavasala Balakeliya?    

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Opinion

The care of good dentists

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I experienced an agonizing toothache for the first time in my right-hand upper jaw. On bringing it under control with native medicines, a couple of colleagues at my work place stressed me to see a dentist who could prevent any recurrence, and recommended a highly proficient doctor by the name Rini Mathew attached to a popular medical centre in Riyadh. After nearly five-days-wait I was successful in getting an appointment to consult her.

This highly pleasant lady doctor from Kerala, India, after seeing the set of teeth in my right-hand upper jaw recommended for a root canaling and requested to return in two-weeks-time. Having not undergone any sort of surgery in my whole life, I was a little confused as to what to expect. As I arrived prepared for the repair work on my teeth, the good lady told me to my pleasant surprise that I don’t need any further treatment for the moment and if I get the toothache back again to come and see her. I thanked God and praised her for her being frank and honest.

The history of dentistry records Hesy-Re, an Egyptian scribe, who lived around 2600 BC is recognized as the first dental practitioner. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates and Aristotle wrote about dentistry, specifically about treating decaying teeth, but it wasn’t until 1530 that the first book entirely devoted to dentistry – The Little Medicinal Book for all kinds of diseases and infirmities of the Teeth – was published.

You don’t want to feel like just another item on your dentist’s to-do list. The best dentists, like whom I consulted, have a way of letting their patients know they care about them personally. They are interested in their patient’s lives and are eager to become a part of their general care team. The best dentist always gives you the care that you deserve.

 

S. H. MOULANA

 

 

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Opinion

The Age of Animal Ministries

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The call by the government’s backbench MP Mr. Dilan Perera to be made the Rilav/Vanduru Amathi, or the Minister for Monkeys, in the Pohottuva Realm, certainly leads to plenty of interest.

This must do with the various divisions and breakup tasks that have been given to both Cabinet and State Ministers, in the current play of governance, by the Gotabaya strategies. 

The call for a Rilav Ministry may have come after the Minister for Coconuts, Arundika Fernando, tried to climb a coconut palm, in his estate, at Dankotuwa, and hold a press conference to tell the people about the shortage of coconuts and the cause of the high price of this essential food item. One was surprised that he did not blame the coconut price hike on the 19A to the Constitution, and give any assurance that the coming 20A will bring the nut prices to within the people’s reach. Such nutty thinking is possible from politicos today.

What was also interesting is how he did this climb, halfway to coconut heights, with some modern climbing gear, having nothing to do with the traditional coconut tree climbers, who used their feet and hands to move much higher, and also walk on ropes from tree to tree for coconut plucking and toddy tapping. He must be following the new thinking of the Rajavasala on Digital Development to raise this country to new heights of Rajapaksa Success.

Let’s get back to the hopeful Rilav Amathi – the Monkey Minister Dilan Perera. The dictionary meaning of ‘Rilava”, that comes from the Vaanarayas, is those who take the forest products. This certainly has much relevance to the huge forest destruction taking place today, with the clear political blessings of the Rajapaksa realm. It is the crooked, or rilav, thinking of the Pohottu politicians that is causing this huge destruction of nature, bringing disaster to the environment. Is it the hope of Mr. Dilan Perera that he would be put in charge of this chronicle of destruction, becoming the political gatherer of profitable forests products, and giving free forest land to the political catchers of 20A fondness?

Or, is he thinking of the romantic legends of the monkey Hanuman, that had so much to do with Rama and Sita, and brought so much of forest land from India and dumped in several parts of this country, giving much of the ayurvedic medicine to this day. Is the Pohottuva Dilan thinking of becoming the Phohottu Hanuman, to bring in new legends of politically powerful romances that will soon be part of the Hanuman Keli or Monkey Games of the Power Players? His recent defence of the 20A, against the 19A that he voted for, gives a good indication of the Rilav and Vanduru thinking that is the stuff of Pohottu politics.

 There is also a good opportunity for the call for a Nari/Hival Amathi, or Fox Minister, in this government. Why not have one of these foxy politicians, with their delight in political long-jumping, who have plenty of nari-thinking in their systems, as the new Nari-Hival Amathi. He or she will make some quick decisions on how the ‘Nari Tharjanaya’, the Fox Threat in the Kalutara, and now Horana areas, can be tackled; giving the Cabinet Minister of Health time to keep thinking of matters other than public health, and more on the political health of those who are in the bandwagon of power politics. 

A Nari-Hival Amathi will be one whose hoots will be heard loud and clear in support of 20A, and one who would have gladly hooted in support of both the 18A and 19A, and is ready to raise both hands, and even one’s legs, for the 20A.

There are other animals who can have Cabinet or State portfolios in this politics of backward evolution. Why not have a Buffalo, or Meeharak Amathi? This could be a Pohottuva activist who will promise to give a good price to the curd made from buffalo milk, and also tell the public how much they can benefit by lying for hours in the mud found near their homes, without looking for government jobs or contracts for services that can only be given to the Pohottu catchers.

The Tamil Tigers were defeated more than a decade ago. But the politics of today is still seething with tiger threats to national unity. With what is happening to the leopards in this country, there is certainly a cause for a pohottu backbencher to ask for a Kotiya or Diviya portfolio. This can be a pohottu player who have the stripes of corruption on one’s body, with plenty of experience of grabbing the land of others, whether paddy fields or plantations, with the twisted politics of power, whether from the UNP, SLFP, UPFA or the Yahapalana travesty. A Koti Amathi will be roaring away, and leaping with great success on grabbing the property of other people, for the rising cause of Pohottu Balaya, the future power Dual Citizens, especially of the Washington-Medamulana alliance.

It is not likely that there will be any calls for a Bull or Cow – Harak Amathi – especially after the reigning silence over the plan to stop the slaughter of cattle. There are plenty of bulls in the huge pack on the government side, at Diyawanna Oya, we hear and also see their ‘gon talk’ and ‘harak keliya’ in the parliament so often today. They will be happy that cattle slaughter will remain a reality here, with no moves for the rise of a vegan society, which is certainly not the substance of the real Rajavasala thinking, with complete absence of kindness to animals.

There are many more animal or species ministries that can be offered to build up this Rajavasala Sathva Kattiya, once the 20A is passed, and the ministries can flow from the Rajapaksa pen. There is much space for more than one serpent or Sarpa Amathi – who will spread themselves all over the country, and crawl around and strike down with venom those who dare talk of the disasters that lie ahead post 20A. There can be many cockroach and mosquito ministers, too, who will help spread the Covid 20 — that can be far more dangerous than today’s Covid-19.

Let’s give a bow to the Age of Animal Ministries or Sathva Amathya Yugaya. 

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Opinion

Where is Sajith’s leadership?

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By Dr UPUL WIJAYAWARDHANA

The Leader of the opposition is a vital link in democracy and, as the name implies, is expected to give leadership. Unfortunately, the behaviour of Sajith Premadasa is casting doubts as to whether he is giving that leadership.

Even when he challenged Ranil for the leadership of the UNP, he was happy to put up a fight for some time and then give up. His disappearance into the wilderness after losing the presidential election and issuing a statement that he would devote the rest of his life to looking after leopards, perplexed many. Egged on by a coterie of Ranil-haters, he split the UNP but still wanted to grab the HQ of the party, an aspiration he quickly gave up after the last general election, probably because the UNP did unexpectedly bad.

There is no doubt that the biggest challenge he faces is opposing the introduction of the 20th amendment. If the ugly scenes in the parliament, when 20A was tabled, on 22nd September is anything to go by, many would be in for disappointment. “The ongoing campaign against 20A is characterised by a severe trust deficit, which the Opposition has failed to overcome.”: This forewarning in the editorial “Diyawanna Post Office” (The Island, 22 September) seems to ring true. I greatly doubt the opposition enhanced its image with this behaviour and the contempt of the voters towards Members of Parliament surely would increase.

What was displayed was not leadership but gang-leadership. Instead of obeying the rulings of the Speaker and forging a strong opposition in a democratic manner, what we saw was rowdy behaviour. To add insult to injury, they were demanding the cameras be aimed at them, so that the whole country could witness their rowdiness!

I too am against some aspects of 20A, like removing the limitation of Cabinet size and letting dual citizenship holders enter parliament, but have done so by just means; having voiced them through this newspaper.

In addition, Sajith failed miserably as a leader when he did not take any action against the national list MP Harin Fernando, who made a totally unsubstantiated allegation against Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith. He told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry investigating the Easter Sunday attacks that the Cardinal shifted the Sunday Mass to Saturday as he was aware of the terrorist attack. As a catholic himself, Harin should have verified facts before he made such a serious accusation. In spite of having had to admit his folly to the commission, on his way out, Harin made sarcastic remarks to journalists. It is impossible even to speculate what earthly purpose these insults are meant to serve. If it is to regain the support of the Buddhist voters, it certainly is an exercise in futility as most Sri Lankans hold Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith in high esteem for his exemplary leadership following the Easter Sunday attacks.

Sajith should have taken immediate action, as this is a repeat offence; having taken Harin to the Cardinal for an apology on the previous occasion. Instead, he said in high-brow Sinhala “abhyantara kathikawathaka yedenewa”, meaning an internal conversation is taking place. Sajith seems to be under the impression that using serious sounding words would satisfy the masses and solves problems.

Unfortunately, Sajith’s lack of leadership qualities are becoming more obvious by the day. Perhaps, there is a chance for Ruwan Wijewardena, if he plays his cards right!

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