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Needed: A Politico-Economic Roadmap

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | Wednesday, November 26, 2014 | Posted in , , ,

| by Tisaranee Gunasekara

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered.”
Paine (The American Crisis)

(November 26, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Floating Market is one of a kind. A brainchild of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, it was built by the UDA at a cost of Rs.100 million. Its row of shops-on-boats looks rather quaint from afar. Closer encounters, reportedly, are not so pleasing. The shops have no proper walls or doors. Instead they have loosely woven coir-covers which provide no impediment to inclement elements or robbers. Every night the shop-owners face a Hobson’s choice: do they carry their merchandise home with them or do they sleep in the shops to protect their merchandise? 

Shops in this part of Pettah are patronised almost totally by bus-passengers. Time is of essence and the passengers rushing from one bus to another will stop at a shop because it is literally by the roadside. The Floating Market is picturesque, but it is not located by the road side. This inconvenient setting is affecting sales; most shop-owners reportedly find it hard to make ends meet . 

A market which is pleasing to the eye, but is neither convenient for buyers nor profitable for the sellers is the infrastructural twin of an international airport with no international flights and a port which has created zero-employment opportunities. 

Attractive, but impractical, unproductive and wasteful - that is Rajapaksa development.
Ordinary Lankans may not know that the cumulative losses of the UDA (that fief of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa) from 2006-2011 amounted to a colossal Rs.1.23 billion . But they would know from their day-to-day experiences that Rajapaksa development is of scant benefit to them. 

The Rajapaksas are destroying Lankan democracy from within. But the Siblings have been able to disembowel basic rights and freedoms without resorting to generalised repression. This, together with their Orwellian media policies, has enabled them to dismantle democracy behind a democratic façade. 

The latest CPA survey reveals the success of this strategy: 58.7% of Lankans think that the country has become more democratic, post-war while only 10.6% of Lankans think it has become less democratic. 

Popular perceptions are not necessarily a measure of democratic health. The gentile and politically inactive German majority did not regard Nazi Germany as a land of unfreedom. Public faith in Rajapaksa democracy does not make Rajapaksa rule democratic; but it does demonstrate the limits of ‘restoring democracy’ as an electoral slogan. 

Dismantling familial rule and turning Sri Lanka into an ordinary democracy (with the usual warts) is imperative. But campaigning on that basis, solely or even primarily, will not help the opposition to defeat Rajapaksa rule. Democracy must be restored; but it can be restored only via an electoral platform which accords primacy to economic issues.

There are no factual reasons to believe that a majority of Lankans either support or oppose the presidential system. Most Lankans probably do not care one way or the other. This does not mean that the current executive presidency should not be replaced, ideally with some sort of hybrid system. This means the opposition should pay at least equal attention to rice-and-curry issues.

What will replace the executive presidency? What will be the new electoral system? What about devolution? How will the new constitutional provisions be enacted? (If Mahinda Rajapaksa is defeated, it is almost certain that a majority of parliamentarians will consent to abolish the executive-presidency.) These are important issues. But to resolve them, the opposition must win the presidential election. That requires a roadmap which is political and economic. 

The opposition roadmap should not only explain how democracy will be restored in 100 days. It must also explain how prices of certain consumer essentials will be reduced in 100 days. A roadmap which focuses solely on political issues and ignores/marginalises ordinary economic concerns of ordinary voters will be as effective as a one-limbed runner in the upcoming presidential race.

The Socio-economics of Familial Rule

In September this year, an eight year old girl was raped in Akmeemana. The mother was a tea-plucker; she had to go out to work everyday leaving her two daughters alone in an inadequately built house .

This story symbolises the connection between poverty, insecurity and such horrendous crimes as child rape.

As the UNDP pointed out, Sri Lanka has an abnormally heavy reliance on indirect taxes, “which account for over 80 percent of total tax revenue. This shifts the burden of taxation onto the poor.” Rajapaksa rule neglects the concerns of poor people while imposing ever higher burdens on them via indirect taxes. In the past, governments subsidized the poor; now the poor are subsidizing the government. In Sri Lanka, the President and his political and personal cohorts are the real welfare kings and queens.

The Rajapaksas are building eye-catching but wasteful First World infrastructure projects by imposing crippling indirect taxes on poor/middle class Lankans. Absolute and relative poverty in Sri Lanka can be dented not by giving more handouts, but by reducing the crippling tax-burden on the poor.

Take that mother in Akmeemana. She has to pay more for basic consumer essentials, because of the exorbitant taxes imposed on them. The Rajapaksas take a large component of her meager earnings and squander it on unproductive and wasteful projects. The money she could have used to build a safer house for her two young daughters is spent on airports and expressways. Millions of ordinary Lankans get cheated out of their earnings in a similar manner.
This is Rajapaksa development.

The people feel the economic pain. But they must be shown, again and again, the connection between their personal economic problems and Rajapaksa rule.
The economic component of the roadmap must not be the pie-in-the-sky, rice-from-the-moon variety. The roadmap must contain clear and concise information about how prices of selected items can be reduced in the first 100 days. The people can also be told that the consequent reduction in governmental revenue can be covered by making cuts in wasteful and unproductive ventures – such as Mihin Air or Mattala airport or the astronomical sums allocated for the misuse of the executive president.

Eric Hobsbawm argued that the purpose of government is not to look after the gifted minority but to care for the ‘ordinary run of people’: “Any society worth living in is one designed for them, not for the rich, the clever, the exceptional, although any society worth living in must provide room and scope for such minorities.” In other words, a meritocracy which does not ignore popular concerns; a meritocracy committed to the alleviation of the problems of the less-merited majority.

Rajapaksa Sri Lanka is the antithesis of this – it is not a meritocracy; nor is it concerned about the ordinary problems of ordinary people. The Rajapaksas ignore both the ordinary and the exceptional in favour of familial. Rajapaksa governance exacerbates both brain-drain and popular discontent. The brain-drain gives the Rajapaksas a freer hand politically and socio-economically while popular discontent provides them with a flexible weapon which can be used against political opponents and ethno-religious minorities, depending on the need.

Most Lankans and most Sinhalese know, instinctively, that they do not benefit from Rajapaksa rule. The opposition needs to come up with a politico-economic roadmap which can bring this discontent into political-life.




References;
  1. http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2014/11/16/business-sinking-at-floating-market/
  2. Ibid
  3. http://www.sundaytimes.lk/140427/news/uda-losses-since-2006-total-rs-1230-million-auditor-general-93978.html
  4. Struggling Mother Earner Families Vulnerable to Predators - The Sunday times – 21.9.2014
  5. Sri Lanka Human Development Report - 2012
  6. On History


The mastermind behind the common candidate

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , ,

| by Shihara Maduwage 
Courtesy: Daily Mirror, Colombo

 ( November 26, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Last week, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) stalwart and its General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to cross over to the opposition and his nomination as the common opposition candidate shocked the country. In an interview with Dailymirror Jaathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) General Secretary and the leading figure of the Pivithuru Hetak (Clean Tomorrow) National Council Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera revealed that he had played an instrumental role in this political twist.

As a party has the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) reached a decision on whether to support Mr. Maithripala Sirisena as the common candidate?

I don’t think there will be any issues with regard to the JHU’s support. But the JHU has to reach an agreement on common principles with Mr. Sirisena. Even on Sunday, the party’s Central Committee held discussions. Without reaching an agreement on these principles, JHU won’t extend their support. In other words, the party’s support would be conditional.

What about your support?
Well, I also have to consider the stance of the JHU as I am a part of the party. When I take decisions I have to discuss with my party and be in agreement with their stances and principles.

What we have done so far is, we have created a common candidate. Our next step is to reach a consensus about how the candidate is going to proceed. We need to come to an agreement on the principles and the way forward of the candidate.

However, we cannot create the candidate and then abandon him. So I am confident that we will succeed in our next step.

Has the common candidate signed a MoU or any document indicating that he was in accordance with the proposed 19th Amendment and would implement it in the event of his victory?


Not yet, but we hope to sign such a document in the near future. Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe is in agreement with our proposals so I believe that coming to an agreement with the candidate put forward by him and his party would not be a problem.

The revelation that Mr. Maithripala Sirisena was put forward as the common candidate came as a shock to most people. Even now, no one knows the process or who was behind this plan. Could you reveal how Mr. Sirisena ended up as the common candidate?

A lot of people have various theories about how it happened and who was behind it. But I know the true story. I will reveal the truth on how this political twist took place in due course.

There is a rumour that it was former President Mrs. Chandrika Kumaratunge who had the biggest hand in bringing Mr. Sirisena as the common candidate. Is this true?

Actually, I was the one who approached Mr. Sirisena and suggested to Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe that Mr. Sirisena would be the suitable candidate to lead the common opposition. This happened about a month ago.

It was a very difficult task. Until it happened, I was not sure whether our plan would be successful.

Why did you think that Mr. Sirisena would be the suitable common candidate? Has he approached you and expressed his wish to contest as the common opposition candidate?

No, Mr. Sirisena did not approach me. This was actually the result of logical reasoning. When we tried to bring a candidate from the UNP, there were disagreements within the party. Whether it was Karu Jayasuriya or Mr. Wickremasinghe or Sajith Premadasa, there were certain people in the party who opposed these people. This was when we realised that bringing an external candidate would be a better option. I would like to add here that we have certain pre-conceived notions about Mr. Wickremasinghe based on past incidents. However, this has proved that he is a very flexible, mature and an intelligent leader.

Have you always had such a positive impression about Mr. Wickremasinghe?

Well, we do have criticisms about his past conduct. However, if there is societal pressure, we can change people. I am always of the idea that no one is perfect and no one is completely bad. I am not afraid of people and I never divide people into categories when I work with them. I believe that through discussions and unity, we can change some of the negative ideas and actions of people. With dialogue, people can reach compromises. According to Buddhism, anyone can rectify their mistakes and become a better person. A person who has a strong vision and courage can influence others in a positive way and change their ideas.

Has Mr. Sirisena put forward any conditions or any demands on his part when he left the SLFP and joined the common opposition?

No, he has not made any conditions or demands. What he did was to volunteer himself to become the common candidate.

How can you say that the promise to abolish executive presidency won’t be another broken promise?
When there is such a strong consensus on a principle – as there is today – it is difficult for any ruler to ignore it. Today, all the opposition parties have reached an agreement to abolish the executive presidency, put an end to the rampant and large-scale corruption in the country and for a united ruling.

Do you think achieving this would be an easy task?

I think it won’t be too difficult if societal forces unite and stand together. What we need to do now is to line up these forces.

Today politics is very dirty; in fact I have never experienced such dirty politics. There are no principles. Politics are solely based on financial deals and opportunism. After 2005, politics in this country is shameless.

Are you trying to say that those who left the government are different and they do have principles?

I am not going to give character certificates to anyone. However, there comes a time when anyone – no matter what flaws they may have – will listen to their conscience and take a decision based on his principles. At least some people have realised that the dictatorial way this country is heading is wrong.

Can you tell me what the next steps would be in the event that Maithirpala Sirisena does win the presidential elections?

What would happen is that a care-taker government would be formed together with the SLFP and the UNP for about three months. The Prime Ministerial post of this care-taker government should be given to Mr. Wickremasinghe because he made a sacrifice. However, this would be only to amend the Constitution. After April, Parliament will be dissolved and a general election will be held. Afterwards the President will not be able appoint the Prime Minister. A Prime Minister will be appointed according to the parliamentary majority.

Mr. Sirisena is from the SLFP. Mr. Wickremasinge is from the UNP. These two elements coming together have created the perfect environment for the constitutional amendment. It seems like this process has come together naturally.

Nobody expected things to go this well. Apart from the President, the Leader of the SLFP is Mr. Sirisena. He is a senior SLFPer who has been with the party throughout. His roots are in Polonnaruwa and he has a rural, agricultural background. He is a pleasant, flexible leader. He is the ideal person for this role that it seems that this is the way nature intended things to be.

However Mr. Sirisena has been sacked from the SLFP, has he not?

That will change once he becomes the President of the country. After winning the presidential election, the whole political atmosphere of the country will be different.

By the time the next general elections are held, which coalition would the JHU be affiliated with?
We have to make that decision after considering the political situation at that point. We have to think about the principality of each party and take a decision.

Are you confident that the opposition will be able to win the upcoming presidential elections?

I think the opposition was victorious the moment Maithripala Sirisena was nominated as the common candidate from the opposition. There was a new revival in the country within 24 hours after this historic announcement.

Do you have a back-up plan just in case the opposition loses?

We should be ready to accept any outcome. However, we are not preparing for a losing-election. We are thinking of this as a victorious election. As a monk, I don’t overly plan for the future. I will act according to the present situation. I prioritise the present moment. We cannot predict the future and we cannot jump into conclusions. We have to consider the future depending on the outcome of these moves.

Is there any threat of terrorism raising its head again if the opposition is successful in abolishing the executive presidency? In other words, will this move create a conducive environment for another LTTE to be created in the country?

No, we are not completely abolishing the presidency. The 19th Amendment is such that in a situation where national security, integrity or unity is threatened, the President does have some responsibility and the power to take action. We will only agree to an amendment where the post of the Defence Minister is vested with the President. So the President will not have simply a ceremonial role. He will have some amount of power and responsibility as well.

We will not agree to anything that goes against the 19th Amendment or threatens national security. We are only agreeing to strip the unnecessary powers of the executive presidency; this won’t be a complete abolishment of the presidency. According to our proposals the national leader would be the President and the leader of the government would be the Prime Minister. We will not agree to any other system. Different people might have different ideas but we are not going to act according to the whims and the wishes of these people. We need to be very clear on this.

Have you faced any problems, threats or intimidation since Mr. Sirisena was nominated as the common candidate? 

There were a few incidents where thugs on the street tried to cause issues. Also, the municipal council workers were influenced to protest and ask to retake the land where Sadaham Sevana was located. But nobody can reclaim property or possession of the temples. This land has been given to the Buddha Sasana and no one has the right to reclaim it or give it to someone else. Even I don’t have the authority to do that, neither does the President. So this is a baseless demand. This is not my personal property and if someone tries to take away property that belongs to the Sasana, it is a concern of the Sasana and should be solved by the Sasana.

Furthermore, there are foreign monks who study here. There are classes and clinics held to serve the people. So reclaiming this land would be a disservice to the public.

Another thing is, when this temple was built and given to the sangha, we did not promise to support the President or the regime. We are not under any condition or obligation to help the regime just because they built a temple. Just because the government helped the Sasana, we are not bound to support all their wrongdoings.

Have you faced any threats to your life?

There has been a lot of mudslinging in my direction and a lot of lies are being spread in the media about me. Anyone can understand why they are trying to assassinate my character.

However, not many people know about my spirituality. They only know me as a very vocal political leader. But they don’t know that I meditate every morning. A team of us chant pirith every day, blessing this cause. I have built my own spiritual strength so that I can face any challenge without fear. I am not afraid of life because I know this life is impermanent. Nobody can bring me any pain or fear. If I die tomorrow, it is detrimental to the country, not to myself. Once someone immerses himself or herself in the Dhamma, that person won’t be intimidated. This is my vision. I am not someone who is constricted to any political party and I will take my decision bravely no matter what. The best way to protect ourselves is to be with the people, among the people.

The SLFP has alleged that the common candidate is a foreign conspiracy. What are your comments on this? 

This is a natural process which took place in the country. Since the government needs some excuse, some way to console themselves, they are now saying that this is a foreign conspiracy. They are trying to hide their own flaws and faults.

We have no such foreign connections. I will not be aiding something that has such ties. I don’t know if some people have any such ties but the principles would be created according to what we want. I am a part of this campaign and I have not received any finances or other aid from foreign sources.

The President made a statement recently saying he has files on those who left the party. How do you interpret this comment by the President?

If he has files, he can reveal them and take necessary action. We don’t know what he is referring to. As for me, I don’t know what kind of file he has on me and am not concerned. The real file about my life is not with him but in my conscience. I alone will have to bear the fruits of my doings, nobody else. This is according to the Dhamma. I cannot determine Mahinda Rajapaksa’s file. Whatever I have done in this country has been transparent. I have not harmed anyone. So I am not scared of any file he might be having on me.

Are there any other government ministers joining the opposition?

There were some who were ready to join but we cannot say anything for certain right now. Let’s wait and see.

Don’t you think what happened to the common candidate last time will happen to this time’s candidate as well? 

Not just Maithripala Sirisena, but we will all face problems in the coming days. There will be a very violent atmosphere in the country; we can just feel it. Terrifying bursts of violence will take place if we win. However, there is justice in the world and I am confident that we can face whatever challenges that comes our way. But we will continue forward with the people; we are not ready to back down no matter what happens. Every time I face a problem or a threat, Mr. Sirisena will get more and more votes. If I am killed, he will win by a great margin.

We need to ensure that free and fair elections take place. This is the responsibility of the Elections Commissioner. If the people stand together, no one can cheat at the elections.

Finally, what do you hope to achieve by your campaigns? 

We have no need to topple Mahinda Rajapaksa. Our aim is to make a change in the way the country is run. We have no underhand intentions or hidden agendas. We gave him a golden opportunity to implement the 19th Amendment. We tried to influence him in many ways and get him to listen to us. We held personal discussions with him as well as discussions as a party. We had huge rallies. Even the day before Mr. Sirisena’s nomination was announced I tried to get the President to implement the proposals. Breaking away from the government and joining the opposition was our last resort. He had the opportunity to go down in history as a golden leader. But now he will be known as a power hungry, greedy leader who is extending his term for a third time. He could have at least implemented the amendment before running for a third time. But he lost his chance. Even by joining the opposition we tried to get him to see sense but it was nearly impossible. We had no intention of toppling the government but had to do something to stop this dictatorial, corrupt regime. If we didn’t act, the future generations would curse us.

If somebody says that they will implement these amendments and does not keep the promise, we are ready to sacrifice our lives for this cause.

However, we will not let anyone take Mahinda Rajapaksa to international war crimes courts or let any international forces harm him. In those issues, we will defend him, stand by him and support him. But we will carry out a public investigation with regard to bribery and corruption allegations and take necessary actions.






Presidential Elections and Quest for Justice

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , , ,

| by Laksiri Fernando

( November 26, 2014, Sydney, Sri Lanka Guardian) I was extremely pleased when Maithripala Sirisena, the common candidate of the opposition, emphasized the importance of adopting a Gandhian policy for Sri Lanka in his appearance at the ‘Satana’ program of the Sirasa TV on 22 November. He showed a tiny booklet to the audience written by the renowned writer, W. A. Abeysinghe, titled “Gandhi Example for Sri Lankan Politics,” written in Sinhala. For those who are not familiar with Abeysinghe, he is a popular writer and a literary figure whose many essays became interestingly published in a Tamil title, “Satyam Shivam, Sundaran” (Truth is Beautiful), edited by his daughter, Dipachandi Abeysinghe, in 2011.

Let me call Maithripala Sirisena, MS.

Opposition Declaration

In his concluding presentation, MS emphasized the importance media freedom for democracy and vouched it would be re-established after a victory, of course among a gathering of many journalists and media personnel. One may discount it as a media stunt. However, he also outlined the basic tenets of a program that the United Opposition Front might unleash in a few weeks’ time. That was impressive. His emphasis, as he said, was on “unity and harmony of ethnic and religious communities” on the one hand, and “alleviating the grievances of the low income earners” one the other. 

These twin approaches would be underlined by the “respect for and protection of all human and fundamental rights,” he said. He gave an emotional promise to “end the corrupt family rule, re-establish rule of law, reinstate democracy and change the existing political culture.” All these were in addition to the “abolition of the executive presidential system within 100 days,” which is the main plank of the opposition.

He agreed with the JVP leader, Anura Kumara Dissanayake, who was another panelist at the program, that “benevolent dictatorship (Sonduru ekadipaathiwadaya) is now turning or has turned into a malevolent one (Kuriru Ekadipathiwadaya).” The emphasis came from Dissanayake.

It is in respect of “changing the political culture” that he referred to Mahatma Gandhi and his principles, and also referred to Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Dr. Martin Luther King of US and our own SWRD Bandaranaike. I would have preferred him also to mention SJV Chelvanayakam, along with Bandaranaike, who were the two main advocates of Gandhian principles in our country, whatever the deviations of their followers or themselves. He said “our policies will be based on these principles.”

He emphasized that “Nelson Mandela was in prison for 27 years, but after he came to power or office, he held the presidential position only for 4 years.” Alas, that is not the case in Sri Lanka.

A President for 100 Days!

There are those who have asked the question “Why should anyone vote for Maithripala if he is not going to be the president after a hundred days while Ranil is going to be PM?

Obviously, this question is asked not because of any ignorance. Let me first ignore the clear personal antipathy against the person who is supposed to become the PM. There will be a strong UNP constituency who would vote for MS merely in order to appoint Ranil Wickremasinghe as the PM. That is one strength of this strategy. Leaving that aside, what is behind the question is a particular perception of politics. That is my main concern in this article. Let me reduce the question to the following: Why should anyone vote for Maithripala if he is not going to be the president after a hundred days?

The clear and simple answer is ‘to abolish the presidential system and bring good governance and caring administration in the country.’ It may be a puzzle for those who think politics and elections only in terms of power and position. However, the time has come to think politics and elections in terms of justice, fairness, righteousness, honesty and integrity. That is the cry of the most enlightened ordinary people. When one traces the history of the present movement for the abolition of the presidential system, it started with the formation of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) initiated by Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero particularly after the 18th Amendment.

Of course, the presidential system can be abolished through extra-electoral or extra-parliamentary means and one may think that is the logical procedure than contesting for the presidency and then leaving the position in 100 days’ time. But the results would be worse than what we have at present.

Contesting the presidency to renounce the position in 100 days may appear contradictory to some. But it is the most dialectically logical and consistent proposition. As the popular proverb goes, ‘it is only through the mouth of the well that one can escape when one falls into it.’ There is no other way.

Philosophical Underpinnings

There is a philosophical underpinning to what is happening in Sri Lanka today, if I may become little abstract. Hitherto almost all societies considered politics as matters of power between various classes, ethnic or social groups, dynasties, individuals or ideologies. And as a result questions of justice had to take a back seat. The newest theory is about clash of civilizations (based on religious beliefs). The consequence of power politics has been war, violence and destruction of life and property, with immense human suffering. This has been common to national as well as international politics, but Sri Lanka has been a classic example of this predicament in recent times.

Do we need to or can we go on the same lines in the future? Can’t we take a reverse turn and understand the common human peril and make a determination to stop the lunacy and take a more rational and a reasonable path?

What can we call the new way? I would call it the ‘quest for justice,’ while admitting its own limitations or misunderstandings. Justice to one can be an injustice to another in some circumstances. This is a contradiction that we have to resolve. When some call for justice they sometimes mean vengeance. This urge also should neutralized. These are however some exceptions than the normal understanding. Normal understanding of ‘justice’ is good enough to make a departure from destructive power politics and to make politics reasonable, peaceful and more responsive to people’s needs and aspirations.

Permit me for a personal note. I have been advocating or holding the above ideas for some time and two landmarks can be mentioned. Once when the University of Colombo was engulfed in student violence between different political factions, the Centre for the Study of Human Rights (CSHR) issued an educational leaflet on my initiative requesting the students to change their minds about the ‘purpose of politics.’ Consideration of ‘politics as power’ was identified as the primary cause for student violence. That was somewhere in 1998. Later when a new Department of Political Science and Public Policy was established in 2001 at the University of Colombo, an emphasis was given to reconsider, in research and teaching, politics as a ‘struggle or movement for justice’ and not as a ‘struggle for power.’ That mission however was not taken root.

I was not completely going against Lasswell’s characterization of politics, “who gets what, when and how?” but rather expanding on it. At the same time, I was not completely denying or rejecting the power aspect of politics. If I were to recognize power as an important dynamic, I would rather go along with Max Webber who characterized “power as the chance of a man or a number of men to realize their will in a communal action,” adding that ‘for a justiciable object,’ also revising the terms ‘man and men’ also to mean ‘woman and women.’

Two Contestants: MR and MS

What is the object of Mahinda Rajapaksa seeking a Third Term as the Executive President of Sri Lanka? Is it personal, family, party or country? Why couldn’t he handover the baton to another person within his party or even within his own family? Why is the family (or the acolytes) hiding behind him without allowing a democratic succession within the party and country? What is there to hide and safeguard? These are some of the questions that the people should ask before voting for MR or MS at the presidential election.

It is clear that MR is contesting to preserve and safeguard power.

Supreme Court’s opinion on the President’s Reference

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , ,

| by Reeza Hameed

( November 26, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) At last, the Supreme Court’s opinion on the President’s reference has seen the light of day, albeit unofficially, and it makes for miserable reading.

The feature that stands out in the opinion is not only the unctuous tone which the Court has adopted in responding to the President’s request for an opinion, but also the sanctimonious view it has taken of the importance of its own opinion given in an advisory capacity, and the un-judicial language with which it has chosen to castigate those who have taken a view contrary to its own. The engagement of the Court in this manner on a controversial issue at the request of a person who sought its opinion on his capacity to stand for re-election at a poll that he was about to announce is bound to affect its own dignity and standing in the eyes of the public both at home and abroad.

The defining characteristic of the Court’s jurisdiction under Art 129 is that the question that is referred to it by the President must be one of public importance. The recent reference related to the qualification of the incumbent President in his individual capacity and nobody else. He did not even pose the question as to the qualification of any other person who has been previously elected for two terms. Naturally, the public had an interest in knowing the Court’s opinion on the questions but that does not make it a question of public importance.

The Constitution does not oblige the Court to give an opinion whenever a question is referred to it. The Court ought to say ‘No’ if it is asked to give an opinion on a question falling outside its jurisdiction. The President cannot involve the Court on matters affecting his personal or domestic affairs and the Court cannot and should not allow itself to become entangled in such matters. Many people drew this to the Court’s attention before it gave its opinion but the Court ignored their views.

A similar advisory jurisdiction is reposed in the Indian Supreme Court by Article 143 of the Indian Constitution. The relevant provision in that Constitution reads as follows:
‘If at any time it appears to the President that a question of law or fact has arisen, or is likely to arise, which is of such a nature and of such public importance that it is expedient to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court upon it, he may refer the question to that Court for consideration and the Court may, after such hearing as it thinks fit, report to the President its opinion thereon.’

The Indian Supreme Court declined to express an opinion on a reference made by the President relating to the Ayodhya controversy, namely whether a temple originally existed at the site where the Babri Masjid subsequently stood. The Court explained its refusal not only by relying on the wording of the Article, which says that the Court "may" report to the President its opinion on the question referred to it, but also because it took the view that the question was superfluous, unnecessary and opposed to secularism. As Justice Bharucha said, the Court was not willing to compromise its dignity and honour by answering the reference.

The Sri Lankan Constitution, too, states that the Court ‘may’ report to the President its opinion ‘after such hearing as it thinks fit’. Yet, the Court has virtually regarded itself as duty bound to give its opinion on the reference. In its own words, the reference focussed ‘on a matter of public importance which concerns the irreducible components of sovereignty’ and ‘being the Custodian of judicial power of the people cannot flippantly dismiss the questions as a private matter and refuse to exercise our jurisdiction vested in the Court’. Yet, the Court did not consider it amiss to flippantly dismiss the pleas of interested parties, including the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, whose opinion the Court sought, to make oral submissions.

No rules regarding procedure

A disconcerting feature of the advisory jurisdiction as exercised by the Supreme Court is that it has not framed any rules specifying how it would exercise its jurisdiction under Article 129. In comparison, the Indian Supreme Court has laid down rules announcing the procedure it would follow when it receives a reference from the President. The Indian Court had stated that it will follow as nearly as may be the procedure in proceedings before the court in the exercise of its original jurisdiction. The court may issue notice upon persons or institutions interested in expressing views on the question under reference and may also grant them leave to appear at the hearing.

The words ‘after such hearing as it thinks fit’ in Article 129 (1) of the Sri Lankan Constitution imply the necessity for a hearing. The words ‘as it thinks fit’ do not give the Court a warrant to dispense with a hearing altogether but that was what the Court did. It is not a matter that concerns only the judges who form the Court. The framers must have intended a hearing to ensure that the Court does not form an opinion on a matter of public importance without subjecting the views and counter views to proper scrutiny through an oral hearing at which the various views and counter views may be tested. It is apparent from the tone of the Court’s opinion that it did not take even the written submissions made to it with the seriousness they deserved.

Despite its pronouncement that it was exercising the judicial power of the people when called upon to give the President its opinion, the Court did not adopt a procedure that is appropriate for the exercise of such jurisdiction. Unlike in the exercise of its jurisdiction in respect of other matters, the Court has thus far failed to frame any rules by which it would be guided in relation to its advisory jurisdiction. Rules of procedure such as the ones that the Indian Court has in place would lend the process a degree of transparency, uniformity and predictability which are essential for the Court to maintain its impartiality and credibility as a Court. Instead, the Court followed an ad hoc procedure and went through the process of making up its mind without the public knowing how it went about its business.

The Opinion is not binding

The Supreme Court has made a basic error in stating that its opinion given in advisory capacity acting under Article 129 (1) should be given the same weight as that given to a judgement or determination given by the Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction under other provisions in the Constitution. In the words of the Court, ‘it is our solemn duty to emphasize the fact that the effect of our opinion is no different to a judgment that we would pronounce in any one of our jurisdictions’.

Not only is the Court wrong but it has expressed an opinion on a question on which its opinion was never sought. The Court has gone out of its way to gratuitously express this opinion instead of confining itself to the two questions on which it was asked to express an opinion.

The Court has cited the judgement of Sharvananda J in Bandaranaike v Attorney General (1982) 2 Sri L R 786 in support of its proposition that the same weight attached to a judgment of the Court should be attached to an opinion given on the reference. Incidentally, a similar view was expressed by Professor G. L. Peiris some days ago when he stated, on the basis of Justice Sharvananda’s judgment, that an opinion given by the Supreme Court under Article 129(1) of the Constitution ‘has exactly the same authority as a judgment handed by the Court in litigation between parties’.

The Court’s opinion on the Rajapaksa reference has relied also on the Court’s dictum in the Determination on the Appropriation Bill 2013 [SC/SD 19/2013], which has in turn relied on Justice Sharvananda’s statements in the Bandaranaike case. The Court has made the sweeping conclusion that there are ‘compelling reasons as to why advisory opinions proferred by the Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction in terms of Article 129 of the Constitution should not be treated any differently’ to that of a determination made by the Court under a different provision as in the case of the Eighteenth Amendment.

The Court, I submit, is seriously mistaken in making such a statement; it follows from an obvious misreading of Justice Sharvananda’s observations in the Bandaranaike case.

The Bandaranaike case arose in relation to a Bill that sought to extend the life of the then Parliament. The Speaker had referred the Bill to the Court for its opinion under a different provision of the Constitution, namely Article 122(2), as urgent in the national interest. It was certified on the Bill itself that Parliament intended to pass it by the special majority required under Article 83 and also have it submitted to the people at a referendum. After hearing the Petitioner, the Court made a determination to the effect that it ‘does not have and exercise any further jurisdiction in respect of the said Bill. Three members of the Court are not in agreement with the above views’.

Following this amendment, the Bill was passed with the special majority as the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and it was submitted to the people at a referendum. While it was pending, Felix Dias Bandaranaike petitioned the Court alleging that no valid determination had been made on the Fourth Amendment Bill on which the Court had already made its determination because of certain errors committed by the Court. His argument was based on Article 132 (4) of the Constitution which requires that a ‘judgment of the Supreme Court shall, when it is not a unanimous decision, be the decision of the majority’ (emphasis added). He sought to distinguish between a ‘judgment’ and ‘determination’ for the purposes of article 132 (4) and contended that only a judgment rendered by the Court may be by a majority whereas a determination required a unanimous decision of the Court. The Court rightly dismissed this argument stating that the provisions of Article 132 (4) prescribing a decision by a majority of the Court applied not only to a judgment but also to a determination and an opinion.

There is nothing in the Court’s judgment in the Bandaranaike case to support the proposition that an opinion expressed by the Court under Article 129(1) shall carry the same weight as a judgment rendered by the Court say, for instance, under Article 126. Given the virtually surreptitious manner in which the Court gave its opinion on the reference and the equally surreptitious and hasty manner in which it went about preparing its opinion without giving an opportunity to interested persons to make oral submissions, it cannot be said that the Court’s opinion is deserving of any weight.

There must be a reason why the framers had deliberately employed the word ‘opinion’ instead of ‘determination or judgment’ used elsewhere in the Chapter conferring the Courts its various jurisdictions. It is to ensure that the same weight attached to a judgement or determination is not attached to an opinion.

The Court’s opinion is not even binding on the very person who sought the opinion. Several days have passed since the Supreme Court conveyed its opinion to the President. Yet, neither the President nor the Court has made it available to the public for its edification. The very fact that the President has chosen to conceal the opinion from the public goes to show that he does not regard it as a matter that should concern the public. If, by definition, the questions that have been referred to the Court are of public importance, then it beggars belief as to why the answers to those questions are not made available to the public.

The Supreme Court may be the highest judicial authority in this country but when it gives an opinion it is not acting as such because the jurisdiction that it is called upon to exercise lacks the characteristics of a Court giving a judgement in the exercise of its adjudicatory function. Its opinion is no different to that given by the President’s personal advisers or even the Attorney General, who strangely has been silent even though he is supposed to act as the guardian of public interest.

Conclusion

An opinion given without a hearing is no ‘opinion’ at all and it has no constitutional validity as the Court acted in breach of its constitutional duty to have a hearing on the reference before giving it.
It would have been better if the Court did not get involved at all in this controversial matter, and if its standing were to suffer in the eyes of the people, then it has only got itself to blame.

The writer is an Attorney-at-Law




Dharmishta, the second?

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , , ,

| by Dr Upul Wijayawardhana
Courtesy: The Island

( November 26, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Maithripala Sirisena, the ex-minister of Health, announcing that he is the ‘long-awaited’ common opposition Presidential candidate is the "Et tu, Brute" moment of our time, some may argue, perhaps with good justification. Others may say he tried to portray himself as righteous (Dharmishta), justifying his actions by quoting from The Dhammapada. He started with AppamadoAmathapadam - pamadomaccunopadam, Appamattanamiyanti - ye pamattayathamata, which, according to the translation by Venerable Narada reads: ‘Heedfulness is the path to the deathless, heedlessness is the path to death. The heedful do not die; the heedless are like unto the dead.’ Though not entirely appropriate, may be, he used this to highlight the urgency for abolition of the Presidency, which he is prepared to do, if elected President!

He catalogued many instances where President Rajapaksa prevented him from doing the right thing and gave the impression that he lumbered along. It would have been credible had he the guts to resign on any one of these issues, giving up all the frills and perks of office, rather than enjoying them till the last moment; when his conscience had a reawakening with the kind offer made by Ranil and Chandrika!

He followed up with Na hi verenaveranisammanthidakudacanam. Averenacasammantie sadhammosanatano, perhaps, implying that he has no hatred towards the leader he betrayed. The one who echoed this teaching of the Buddha "Hatreds never cease through hatred in this world; through love alone they cease. This is an eternal law" to the whole world at the San Francisco peace conference and, perhaps was instrumental in changing the future of the world, if not at least that of Japan, was none other than our own JR. Paradoxically, it was the same JR who created this monstrosity that everyone, except the poor who are more interested in their daily bread (rice), is keen to destroy! It was JR who called himself Dharmishta; true he made a very good start pulling the country out of the economic quagmire Mrs B left us with but drifted, later, towards the dream of all Presidents, President for life!

May be Maithripala, Dharmistha the second, is equally ambitious! He wants to be elected President, to hand over power to Ranil as Prime Minister in spite of him not commanding majority support in the Parliament, unless there are massive defections. He can then continue to be non-executive President for life, enjoying all the perks sans the headaches of responsibility! Not a bad deal!!

What is in it for Chandrika who shed crocodile tears at the press briefing? All that she wants is humiliating Mahinda for having broken the Bandaranaike ownership of the SLFP! At many a heated political discussion, I have often posed the question "Tell me one thing that Chandrika did in eleven years as President?" with a resulting deafening silence! I have to answer my own question and point out that the only good thing she ever did was sacking Ranil who, as Prime Minister, was prepared to ‘share’ the country with Prabhakaran. Anyone who cares to go up North, which we can do now thanks to Mahinda, would not miss to see the capital Prabhakaran was able to build in Killinochchi during Ranil’s time. She and Ranil are, now friends in need!

Poor Rajitha Senaratna, cried his heart out stating that he has sacrificed so much that he does not have even a private residence or a private vehicle! Did he expect to be a minister for ever, enjoying the perks! Perhaps, he did; after all he had excelled in jumping from one party to the other, at one stage forming his own party! May be he would have done better if he stuck to his profession, Dentistry! Oh! He was a bitter critic of Chandrika once but they are chums now. Politics, they say, makes strange bed-fellows!

What about Ranil? Full marks for not giving up but what is he doing to the UNP? It has become a party that cannot find a suitable candidate within, for yet another Presidential election! Someone has written that Ranil has done a sacrifice like Gandhi. Must be a joke! Why insult the memory of a dead national leader of India? One very pertinent question is whether Ranil’s recent ‘lecture tour’ of USA had anything to do with these developments? It is no secret that USA prefers anyone else to Mahinda!

If reports circulating are to be believed, there seems to be a movement by the rump of the LTTE, aided and abated by some of our own self-serving politicians, not only to defeat Mahinda but haul him before the ICJ, on the unsubstantiated claims of 40,000 civilian deaths during the tail end of the insurgency. If the army was responsible for any unjustified deaths, is it not the responsibility of the Army Commander than the President? Even if worse comes to the worst and these conspirators get Mahinda jailed, in the minds of all patriotic Sri Lankans he will remain the hero who saved the country from terrorism and will earn, without a shred of doubt, an exalted place in the history of our country.

Having said that, there is no doubt that Mahinda has to take responsibility for some of the failings, especially the deterioration of the law and order situation. There is no excuse for this to continue; errant politicians should be brought to book just like any others and misbehaviour of their progeny, which is disgraceful, must be stopped.

Corruption is a universal phenomenon in multiple guises. Though eradication will be an impossibility, he needs to take action to curtail it, as much as curtailing family bandyism. Of course, he cannot help if two his brothers get elected by the peoples’ wish; nor can he help another brother being an effective defence secretary who was responsible, more than anyone else, in defeating terrorism. Rump of the terrorists and their supporters are still at large and very much active. Therefore, it is not yet time for us to relax; we have to be vigilant for years to come and if the Presidency serves that purpose, the attended disadvantages may still be worth the price to pay. If not for the presidency, terrorism would not have been defeated and we have admit that this much maligned post has served a useful purpose.

In my humble opinion, electing Sirisena President will not serve any purpose other than bringing Ranil to power through the back door. The only person who can prevent this happening is Mahinda and may I urge him, for the sake of our Motherland we all love, to be magnanimous enough to admit that some mistakes have been made and present a plan for progress which must include the following pledges:

1. Re-establishing law & order with an independent Police and Judiciary.
2. Curtailing corruption and family bandyism.
3. Trim down the Cabinet and the provincial councils.
4. Appoint a commission of Sri Lankan judges/jurists, recognised internationally, to inquire into all the outstanding allegations and make realistic recommendations for lasting nationalunity which may include constitutional changes.
5. Taking oaths immediately after election, for a six year term.

I do sincerely hope, wish and pray that he embraces these ‘five precepts’, to win the confidence of the electorate one more time, to complete the new era he dawned with the eradication of terrorism, which many thought was impossible.

May he have the strength to make the impossible possible and leave a prosperous and united Sri Lanka for generations to come!


Ferguson: The Safety of Citizens is Lost with The Unaccountability of Police

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in ,

| by Paul Craig Roberts

( November 26, 2014, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) Events in Ferguson unfolded as most aware Americans thought they would. A white prosecutor guided a grand jury to the decision that the white policeman who shot and killed a young black male had just cause and committed no crime.

The black majority but politically powerless community in Ferguson consists of Americans who are constantly harassed and abused by police. The black community responded predictably to the exoneration of the white policeman. The results were riots, looting, and the destruction of property.

This response hardened the whites in their view that black people are criminally inclined and a threat to the safety of the lives and properties of whites.

The issue has been cast as white-black racism.

Actually, the situation is far more serious than racism.

I can remember times when police in America were reliable. They had themselves under control and saw their role as helpful to citizens and investigators of crimes. They took care not to bring charges against innocent people and to kill citizens without cause. Police would put their lives on line in order to avoid making a mistake in the use of their power.

Those times are gone forever. The police have been militarized, especially after 9/11, but even before. Police are taught to regard the public, especially any suspect or traffic offender as a potential threat to the police. The new rule taught to police is to apply violence to the suspect or offender in order to protect the police officer, and to question suspects only after they are safely secured, it they are still alive after being beaten, tasered, or shot.

This police training, together with police incompetence, which is difficult to understand in these days of GPS addresses, results in massive assaults in the homes of totally innocent American civilians who have done no wrong, but, despite their innocence, lose family members and pets to gratuitous police violence.

Taxpayers pay the police to investigate crimes, not to attack members of the public. But the police have been taught to see their role as protecting themselves from a criminally-
inclined public, black and white.

Police reside in the executive branch, and since 9/11 the executive branch has succeeded in removing itself from accountability to law and to the Constitution. This unaccountability has filtered down to the militarized police who can now murder with impunity as their numerous murders of citizens are given a pass.

Governance Concerns Of Ethnic Minorities Must Also Be Part Of Election Campaign

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , , , ,

| The following statement issued by the National Peace Council

( November 26, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) One of the major campaign themes at the forthcoming Presidential election is the issue of good governance, specifically the abolishing of the Executive Presidency and de-politicising of institutions of state. There has been a continuous erosion of the independence of the main institutions of governance over the past four decades that began with the First Republican Constitution of 1972. In recent years there has been an even greater centralization of power in the hands of the Presidency which has been justified by national security considerations.

The National Peace Council welcomes the declarations by the opposition political parties that they will institute reforms with regard to good governance if they obtain victory at the forthcoming presidential elections. However, good governance needs to also take into account the existence of an ethnic conflict in the country. It was the long unresolved ethnic conflict that first emerged during the British colonial period that finally led to three decades of civil war. Finding a solution to the ethnic conflict needs to be given priority. It is also important to address the concerns of the ethnic minorities in order to make them full participants in the electoral process.

The National Peace Council believes that the concept of good governance needs to be widened so that it embraces the concerns of the ethnic and religious minorities. The discussion on issues of power sharing and devolution of power need need to be made a part of the discourse on good governance. Greater devolution means not only good governance, but also greater and wider democracy. It also means reduction of centralisation of power while addressing the long festering ethnic conflict by ensuring power sharing between the ethnic communities and outlawing ethnic-based discrimination. Whoever wins the election will need to deal with these issues of good governance also.

Sri Lanka: Mr. President, We Have Your Files Too

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | Tuesday, November 25, 2014 | Posted in , , ,

| by Nilantha Ilangamuwa

( November 25, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Dear Mr. President we are no longer a nation based on the ideology of the cancer cell which, as Edward Abbey, a priceless man of our times who speaks out against the unjust in the United States, described as growth for the sake of growth.

It is true that many politicians and bureaucrats including you attempted to make this nation of ostriches, people quite happy to hide their heads in the sand when confront by injustice, but the times are changing, Sri Lanka now is eager to see the positive changes. Once again, the principles of non-violence is growing among the authentic political ideologies.

Do the files on President Rajapaksa and his clan differ in content from the files that he is keeping on others? For one thing the amounts plundered will be unimaginably higher.
It is impressive to listen to the common opposition candidate and the former General Secretary of the ruling party, Maithripala Sirisena, highlight the values of non-violence. However, the journey has just started. There is a long way to go. Real challenges, obstacles and burdens as well as failures are yet to come. It is not easy to get rid of the tyrant who has disabled the morality of the nation.

It has been the main story for most of the media outlets based in Colombo. President Rajapaksa has openly challenged those who crossed over and those who are planning to walk out on him in the coming few days.

According to the president, he has files of many ministers and others who are licking his feet. The implication being that the very reason of why they are with the president is just because of those files. The bugs may have eaten the facts, but it’s all over the country and no longer invisible to the public that most of politicians in the country have contributed to the ruin of the country and the plunder of public resources.

However, no one knows the contents of those files. But bugs insides the files have revealed that the subjects of those files have aided and abetted the destruction of the stability, integrity and dignity of the country in the name of politics. Every file may have its own own uniqueness or art of the stealing of the public resources. Is this a new type of magic?

“I will not use them against those who had left betraying the party, but I warn them not to throw stones from inside glass houses,” he stressed his “gentlemanly” political tricks in a public function. This is nothing else but the utter bitterness of political opportunism and the reflections of the breakdown of the power he once held.

His theory of files on others has two faces.

First: the morality of the leadership which he maintained in last decade, and second, the political behaviour and dissimulation of the ruler and his clan and their colleagues.

If the country and the state institutes are deserving of their independent power, the president should submit those files to the Attorney General and the AG should prosecute each case on its merits. But why he does not proceed with due process? It is not because, he is unable to do so, but he has to keep those files under the carpet to protect himself. His politics have become a self destructive parasite.

His theory of files on others in nothing but a deliberate attack on the country itself. This is an indication of the cynical manipulation of the basic norms of the integrity of the nation. This is an indication of the aberration of executive power which was further augmented by the 18th amendment to the constitution. The whole story of dissimulation of the constitutional crisis lies on this basic notion. Why do we need a leader who is protecting thieves to protect himself?

This is an indication of further decay of the moral and ethical quality of the state apparatus. Instead of finding justice according to the law, he used those files to blackmail the thieves to protect and enhance the executive power. The whole story behind the rising of Rajapaksa’s power is based on this deteriorated disagreeable cynical lure. This is nothing but the real nihilism of the “Mahinda Chinthanaya”.

However, he has made the real threat to his thieves who are licking his feet. “I will exposed you if you cross over,” is the basic motto of the president.

But the important challenge is to the public, the people have to decide take all the files, including the known files of Rajapaksa into the public domain.

Do the files on President Rajapaksa and his clan differ in content from the files that he is keeping on others? For one thing the amounts plundered will be unimaginably higher. By announcing the existence of these files on his present and former colleagues President Rajapaksa has truly opened a can of worms. He is not the only person keeping files on others.

The public has files on all those who plundered the nation. The public will decide which kick is suitable to whom. This is only a matter of time.

LTTE - Not Terrorists?

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , ,

| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

( November 25, 2014, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) In the wake of the Presidential Election announcement in Sri Lanka, there has been some discussion on the basis of the Ground Views article ‘The Sirisena Surge: Why Mahinda Is Still Way Ahead’ by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka who stated about the Common Candidate of the Opposition: ‘Mr. Sirisena is a brave and decent man; possibly our last hope. He deserves better than to be overshadowed or drowned out by his current companions and patrons who represent and recall the failures of a past from which Mahinda Rajapaksa, to his lasting credit, rescued the country.’

The credit that Dr. Jayatilleka refers to is the defeat of the Tamil LTTE. If LTTE was considered a serious threat to Sri Lanka – by Dr. Jayatilleka ( who referred to them as Terrorists ) then he would have been steadfast in his loyalty to Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. Likewise with anyone who referred to the LTTE as Terrorists. To all those who are defecting to Mr. Sirisena’s side – LTTE were never Terrorists by belief. Belief can be overridden only by larger belief at a later time or by another person one feels part of.

The above article confirms – that now that the LTTE is out of the way – the beneficiaries are desiring to play the ‘good administration’ music and are jumping from the bandwagon of Baila dancers to the leftovers of Ballroom mail trains.

Our expressions are various combinations of ‘emotions; knowledge and feelings/Truth’. In terms of Governance – they are ‘Politics, Administration and Self-Governance’. The first and the last when they are genuine - are sovereign powers. The middle is relative. The expressions of sovereign powers need to be based on belief. The good voter – believes in the Leader and therefore includes her/himself in the Leader. The Governor believes in the whole and therefore includes the voter as part of her/himself. The Administrator structures and facilitates the passage from voter to governor. Rights and wrongs ; benefits and costs – are used, towards regulated travel along this path. In a system of Democracy it is the voter’s duty to contribute to at least 50% of the development of this pathway to Governance.

As an Administrator – Dr. Jayatilleka had/has the duty to use UN laws and principles in judging rights and wrongs. So long as he claims credits through UN structures - Dr. Jayatilleka continues to have the duty to accept the decisions of the UN whether he agrees with them or not. On that basis Dr. Jayatilleka no longer has the authority to attribute credit to the Government of Sri Lanka led by the President, in relation to that victory over the LTTE, after the UN decided to investigate the war processes. One wonders whether the inner mind of Dr. Jayatilleka is influenced by the UN’s decisions to investigate war related processes undertaken by the Sri Lankan Government and hence the defection. Any UN judgment against the Sri Lankan Government would have the effect of diminishing the status of Dr. Jayatilleka’s own work through UN positions. Hence the shift away from the current regime – into the gentlemen’s pool?

When faced by such challenges - my mind often uses the Mango Legend relating to Lord Muruga – the most Common Deity to Hindu Tamils and Buddhist Sinhalese. In that legend – about Power sharing – the younger brother Muruga renounces all his wealth from the old structure – the structure of His parents before claiming equal leadership position with Palani Hill in South India as His capital. Often those who want it both ways end up separating at the lower level. Hence the reduced status of Tamils through LTTE who were juniors to politicians within the Tamil community but took up leadership position without renouncing benefits from the old structures. Likewise Dr. Jayatilleka’s choice (as stated earlier this year) for a JVP (the Sinhalese parallel of LTTE) member to be Presidential Candidate against Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa. Renouncing the benefits (including Goodwill) from rebels who acted in breach of the law - was needed for Dr. Jayatilleka to be self-sufficient in the official system. One looking for leadership positions in both – would keep wavering.

According to news reports, the Common Candidate – Mr. Sirisena has stated that he would appoint Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister – within 100 days of winning the Presidency. Anyone who backs Mr. Sirisena is backing Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s leadership. Earlier this month, Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe confirmed his stand to treat the LTTE as terrorists when he confirmed that he had approached the European Union to lodge an appeal against the EU Court decision to lift sanctions on the LTTE. Hence a vote for Mr. Sirisena is a vote against the LTTE.

Where does this leave the Tamil Community? There are already discussions regarding the side Tamils need to take and vote for. Under Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa – the Sri Lankan Ethnic issue came to the surface at global level. This was because the Government led by Mr. Rajapaksa was not distracted by ‘Good Administration’ credits. Their Armed forces fought on their own at Equal level to the LTTE. The UN found both sides to be in breach of war rules. Tamil leaders are responsible for the breaches by the LTTE. Sinhalese like Dr. Jayatilleka who are running away from such responsibility – would fall within the category of ‘traitors’ as per LTTE rules. My cousin was stabbed to death by the LTTE due to their fear that my cousin would divulge information when he was required by the Armed Forces to report every week to them. My cousin was labeled a ‘traitor’ for his support for another armed rebel group.

In summary – the Tamil Community has a share in the loss of status suffered by the Rajapaksa leadership in facilitating the Escalation of the Conflict to the global level. Without the ‘other side’ – the Tamil Community could not have achieved this Escalation and therefore the Opportunity to participate through International mechanisms. In terms of deaths - it is a shared responsibility – as the Tamil side also were ruthless in many ways – the above example of my cousin being only a tiny example of such a tragedy.

By claiming victory – Mr. Rajapaksa separated that which was Common. Once we separate – consciously or subconsciously - we weaken the forces of unity that support us. By following the group led by Mr. Sirisena, the likes of Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka are scattering the Government structure of their Community.

As per the values of Doctrine of Separation of Powers – the mind that expresses Political power through vote or Governance power through Judgment on behalf of the whole, using discretionary powers – is one sided. Both need to have privacy / confidentiality to add strength to Justice in that environment. The section of the voter in the mind needs to be separated from the section of administrator – for the vote to have political value. Otherwise it is an extension of weak administration – as Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s seems to be.

The job market – how to find a job

Posted by Sri Lanka Guardian | | Posted in , ,

| by Victor Cherubim

( November 25, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) There is no job for life in the world of today. To have and to hold a job is in itself, more than an opportunity. It has become a privilege. To search for a job is not easy. To find a job and secure it is an exercise, a combination in research, preparation, ambition, enthusiasm and dedication, of some magnitude - with fierce competition.

To get a job one has to literally travel miles, cross many hurdles, make many sacrifices in time, energy and money. To succeed, one has not only to have the right qualifications, the required grades, the necessary experience, not forgetting the ambition, the contacts, the will and right motivation to get ahead. There is no alternative, say observers.

It is never too late to switch to a new career. It is equally never in doubt to adapt to market requirements. As the jobs market is continuously changing to keep pace with technology and innovation, competition is also growing at a faster rate than before. As the content of jobs and/or careers is changing, employability is taking on a new dimension.

Statistics show an average person will have been through 10 to 14 different jobs during their lifetime and up to 4 or 5 career changes in this period. The days are long gone where “long service medals” are awarded for being in one job for over 40 years.

The illusion in the many professions offering training?

We were used to associate the professions of medicine and law, engineering and chemical engineering, accountancy and architecture, appealing as career progression professions of a generation past. Where have they all gone? A profession was the symbol of qualification, of status and of learning. The professions still exist but competence and comparison as “pillars of knowledge” has been challenged by the new world of technology and innovation. Here again change in each of their professions is seen. To be assured of a lucrative salary, status or even job satisfaction on completion of necessary study and training, is not automatic acceptance.

The idea of a clear cut profession is a misnomer. Some professions offer “a mosaic of employment opportunity, good prospects, work-life balance and job security” To scrutinise how the medical profession has changed over time, we may consider one aspect of this learned profession.

To be a qualified Surgeon, it was a necessary to possess acute precision and dexterity of movement of both hands to perform surgical operations. Today, we witness, varied techniques used in surgery, laparoscopy (keyhole surgery) instead of laparotomy (invasive surgery), unless necessary. The job of a Surgeon which was mostly confined and performed by an able bodied male, is being performed by perhaps,

“laser-guided,” eminent surgeons of the fairer sex. This is innovation in action, with quicker recovery, minimal blood loss, far better cosmetic result externally. What is imminent in the not too distant future? We may see the job of a Surgeon, open to much competition.

What about the legal profession? The field of law is not static, changes are “hitting” fast and more frequent. The profession of a solicitor, may soon become redundant, as barristers are given “right of access”. Even barristers and solicitors are being “penalised” with the near abolition of legal aid fee scheme in UK. Proposed funding cuts to legal aid threatens to undermine a decade of “Pro bono” work removing key areas of law from the scope of legal aid, resulting in the loss of expertise of lawyers practices in these areas. With more and more legal researchers taking over court representation, law as a profession is an open field, in the job prospect market.

Ways to get a job today?

Here are a few suggestions to consider, including a career change:

1. Make a list of your likes and dislikes, skills that you possess or acquired, especially those that are transferable to a variety of job situations.
2. Match your list to the roles in your research of the job market. But, most important, include time frames for the completion of the task and the achievement of your goals in the prevailing jobs market.
3. Be ready to pursue every known skill and passion you have as a career option.
4. Avoid adopting the excuse:”I am not ready for the change in career yet”. There is an invariable risk element in the belief that a change in career may be not to your liking in the end.
5. Plan to move on and get started on your proposed/planned job. You are not going to achieve anything, if you don’t get started, even small.
6. Prove to yourself that even wrong choices get started, which is the only way of eradicating fear, by talking to people who have been in your position.
7. Get connected to the real world of work by discounting negative vibes from yourself or anyone other than yourself.
8. Don’t look back on what you have chosen as a job prospect or career change. If you have the courage to juggle several different choices, and careers, you will not be dependent on one source of income, but simultaneously learn different skills of your chosen job / career.

The Job scene in 2020

By 2020, approximately 1.5 million jobs, a jobs survey says, will be created by “job entrepreneurs” who have on their own researched and created their jobs in the jobs market in UK.

Researchers also maintain that virtual services will be the basis of new jobs in 2020. It is better to start up with assumptions that 2020 will be a “brave new world,” nothing like 2014/15.

Ten to twenty years from now, we may look hard on the present as the dawn of “smart working era”, with continuous innovation changing almost every thing about the way we live today. “The only person, who can save you, is YOU”.

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