Majority Vote, Law and Truth
| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( March 25, 2013, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘Towards international isolation, old Myanmar style’ by Ms Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena.
These days I tend to not think too much but observe. The vote at the UN by foreign governments, the reality in Sri Lanka and the experience I feel within. I often ask myself whether we could have expected different outcomes for various sections of Sri Lankan society. The UN resolution itself does not directly affect Resident Sri Lankans except in educated circles. Similarly, when the LTTE were listed as Terrorists by foreign governments.
Ms. Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena states ‘This week, a visiting Canadian Member of Parliament’s insouciant remark during a guest lecture in Colombo that Canada’s courts have often rapped the Canadian government over its knuckles but that the Chief Justice of that country has not been arbitrarily impeached, had evidently touched his host, External Affairs Minister GL Peiris on the raw. Referring to this observation as ‘unwarranted and inappropriate’ during his closing remarks at the session, the Minister had stated moreover that ‘I would not have dreamt of making such a remark if I was visiting your country’ (Daily Mirror, March 23, 2013).’
The Sri Lankan Government looked towards influential foreign governments to list LTTE as Terrorists. To that extent, the Sri Lankan Government owes these nations and the global governments through which these nations contribute to good governance – including the UN and the Commonwealth of Nations. Those driven by majority vote – have the tendency to separate especially where that majority power’s root source is not common faith/belief. If that Government is supported by common belief / faith by majority – then their local solutions would lead to harmony. This is a great value in democracy. Hence a negative outcome in the UN need not necessarily mean disharmony in Sri Lanka.
It is when we use knowledge – be it through hearsay or discriminative thinking – we stop using faith. If hearsay is used and there are divisions within a society – each one would hear their own voices from within and hence the different cultures would not meet to harmonize. They need to stay separate and hence the path of Devolution. This may not be ideal and may in fact lead to lower standards – but there is greater possibility of harmony through such path.
Often even here in Australia, Equal Opportunity to access common resources is not a priority. I myself actually practiced that – including by not favoring custodians of power towards immediate benefits . That way I practiced the law and beyond the level of majority’s practice – I felt free to use my own wisdom which worked – not through the official system but through the Truth within others. In official terms this is the area where discretionary powers are used by the Chief/s in an official system.
I learnt through an email that ‘The United States has warned that international action maybe initiated on Sri Lanka if the island fails to implement the latest resolution adopted at the UN Human Rights Council.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Sri Lanka should listen to the words of the international community and implement the plan that they have never implemented.
She was referring to the recommendations of the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC) which the US sponsored resolution calls for the full implementation.
“As you know, we welcome the passage of this new resolution; 24 other countries also voted for it. We call on the Government of Sri Lanka to fulfill its obligations to its own people. The resolution very clearly expresses the support of the international community for Sri Lanka, addressing its outstanding issues related to reconciliation and for meeting its obligations for accountability, which it has not yet done,” she said at a State Department press briefing.
She said that the US had made clear, including when senior Sri Lankans had visited Washington, that if they didn’t take steps that they could then they would see this kind of a resolution coming forward’
To my mind, the message quoted above about the observations of the Canadian Parliament fall within the ‘voters’ area and is therefore inappropriate. But the above observations by the US Administration are part of Global Governance process and therefore are within their discretionary powers – to the extent they actually practiced the common principles in this area. The latter is the Power of One. The former has no power through single individuals – be they Sri Lankans who from their positions of power express similar opinions. If Minister G L Peiris had received it as a politician it would hurt. If he had received it as an Administrator – he would address the issue through global governance – not by saying he would not have made such remarks in Canada but by making them through the higher language of Discretionary powers as the representative of Sri Lankan Government – which the Canadian Parliamentarian does not seem to be.
Some time back, my sister in law made the observation to her brother - my husband that he had brought disrespect to the family by marrying a divorcee. That to me is the parallel of the Canadian Parliamentarian’s expression of opinion. Our sister in law who was referring to her Vaddukoddai relatives as family was sponsored by us to Australia. Therefore that marriage has worked for her. Instead of being grateful to that marriage and the way we merged her system with ours to support her – she was inappropriately using her credit with her Vaddukottai relatives to demote us – so she could use us. This kind of approach is taken by many Westerns in relation to Sri Lanka. They are all reacting to Sri Lanka keeping foreigners ‘out’. They are not responding as per their investment in common governance. Hence the remarks about the treatment of Chief Justice by the Sri Lankan Government is as per the Western relatives and not as per Sri Lanka’s system.
My response to my Sister in law – was / is that we have worked our marriage and through that marriage developed a strong and healthy family system which would support not only the next generation but many generations to come. It was because we used our Truth after I had practiced the Northern Sri Lankan system with faith – that I was able to comfortably use the Australian system of marriage – culturally as well as legally. Not so my sister in law who – like the Canadian Parliamentarian was living in her old culture while deriving benefits from Australian system. The Canadian Parliamentarian was using Sri Lankan minds which represent high level resource in this issue of separation of powers.
In countries like Sri Lanka – use of discretionary powers begins at lower levels than in Western countries with stronger administrative structures. If the outcome is acceptable to majority in that environment – it works for them and those outcomes are the foundation of tomorrows common principles and laws. The reality in Sri Lanka – including in Northern Sri Lanka is that there are no reliable administrative system and one who uses common principles – including the doctrine of separation of powers would feel isolated from a community that lives through its realities and physical possession. Provisional Councils do not have the structures to support a system driven by Common Principles and Laws. Most of the time – people who live in harmony are driven by real outcomes produced without opposition. It is not the best way but is a good start.
Today’s Truth (experienced) is the foundation of tomorrow’s common principles. Any nation that respects and upholds this – would enjoy inner peace.