Constitutional Crisis: The Selfie of a corrupt, putrid and nauseating political culture

31 October 2018 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


The Constitutional and political deadlock engendered by the sacking of the Prime Minister of the Republic by the President by Extra Ordinary Gazette and naming former strongman as new PM shows all the omens of blowing in to a crisis leading to bloodshed and long term turmoil for a country already reeling from low economic progress, problems of governance, accountability issues , rule of law, etc. The initial reaction, on my part at least, being suddenly startled by firecrackers last Friday Night was that the President was still having an old copy of the Constitution - pre 19th Amendment. Later it turned out that it was not the case and whoever had given legal advice to the President had intimated that it was lawful and Constitutional to sack the Prime Minister, in a jiffy, just like that.   

Now that we are reassured that it was not indeed an old copy of the Constitution sans the 19th Amendment that President had, the legality behind the move comes under scrutiny. It is common knowledge that the notorious 18th Amendment heaped up unbelievable and fearsome power on the President, making it simply a matter of inking a few words by the President in terms of appointment as well as removal of the PM, a mere constitutional scarecrow. But when the Constitution was amended for the 19th time, it pruned most of the draconian powers concentrated on the Executive President, making the seat of the PM relatively powerful with appointment as well as the removal of the PM, thereby, not dependent on the arbitrary decision of the President. One hardly needs to enter the constitutional legal melee as the situation was very clearly portrayed by none other than the President himself, a few weeks ago, when he said that what people had to watch for in a future election was not the Presidency but the Premiership as that was where all the power was.   
Yet, a few weeks is a long, long time, isn’t it?   

Back-stab politics

The apologists of the Presidential move say it is both constitutional and ethical that the hitherto PM was sacked. Yet the manner in which the UPFA broke ranks with the UNP is startlingly similar to the Maithri crossover in November 2014. For a consensual or national government , which was based on an MOU, it was nothing but a Coup that the Maithri faction broke away from the deal, writing a letter to the Speaker with a copy to President and not to the leader of the main party of the Unity Government. It sheds light on a dark and shady side of politics that has now become the rule rather than the exception, where betrayal, backstabbing, discourtesy and down right trickery are the arts to be mastered for success. It did violence to the very norm of coalition governance where a constituent party if it desires to leave a coalition, has the courtesy of informing the other as to their intentions. Such universally accepted conduct which is part and parcel of modern democratic governance holds no attraction to those who are hell bent only on power.   

The ugly scenes unfolding right in the middle of the capital city, push to oblivion the salutary and progressive ideals that the 19th Amendment as well as many other progressive measures in terms of guaranteeing adherence to representative democracy instead of whims and fancies of despots; it screams at the collective conscience of the law abiding and progressive minded people telling them that Democratizing a tribalized nation is now as elusive as a mid summer night’s dream!   

Standing judgement 

Ranil Wickremesinghe and his cohorts hardly championed the aspirations of the January 8 mandate, which now they say was brought about by a sacrificial handing over of Presidency to the common candidate. We agree; but what for? To allow chums to rob the Central Bank? To allow plunderers from the former Boss’s bandwagon to go scot-free? To enter in to deals with the corrupt and the crooked? Not at all. To democratize a society ruled under an iron fist in keeping with the exigencies of a brutal and bloody war! To bring in integration of and reconciliation with the minorities alienated themselves from the majority due to the scars of civil war! To build a society and a mode of governing based on universally accepted norms of good governance. They did not do that. On that account they deserve a thumping kick in the back and out of power.   

Yet it is at an election that the Yahapalana click should stand judgement; not by the whimsical fancy of one person under the pretext of escaping assassination by changing PMs. Or it is with the ability to command support in the Parliament. Lenin once referred to the Parliament as the pig sty; indeed a pig sty the Sri Lankan Parliament is in every sense! The ugly horse trading of MP s during the No Confidence motion bears testimony to the putrid nature of Parliamentary politics. Yet it is better than the whim of a despot, at least!   

Constitutional framework

The pillage, plunder, looting and murderous deeds of the dark decade as well as the roguish deals of the post 2015 rule are anti-democratic, unethical and criminal! Mahinda Rajapaksa paid the price for his misdeeds. Ranil should, in the same degree face final judgement at an election. Yet it has to be in accordance with the constitutionally allowed frame work and in keeping with the long-standing norms of government change that this country has manged to keep alive amidst insurgency, civil war, assassinations, violence, communal hatred etc. and not by doing violence to such core values.   

Political culture of this country is ugly , stinking and putrid; none of the three national leaders has embarked on a crusade to rectify it. In fact they are keen reapers of the benefits of such decadence for their politics. The Ousted PM too inspired little confidence in terms of his modus operandi in dealing with the Bond Scam, prosecution of plunderers of Public coffers or even in taking necessary steps of establishing rule of law. He too, is only the latest , if admittedly the most high profile , victim of a back stabbing , deal making and shameless politicking.   

It is only the arbitrary , vicious and cut throat modus operandi of the incumbent President that makes us even whimper in protest. It is a betrayal of mandate of the forces who rallied on January 8. It is a relapse in to the deal politics with billions of Rupees thrown about to fish people’s representatives for numbers.   

Colombo has become the backdrop of two, equally corrupt and power thirsty political centres; one at the Temple Trees and the other at Wijerama. The unclean hordes on both sides are sharpening their knives for a final battle till death to grab power

The ‘Selfie’

Colombo has become the backdrop of two, equally corrupt and power thirsty political centres; one at the Temple Trees and the other at Wijerama. 
The unclean hordes on both sides are sharpening their knives for a final battle till death to grab power. For the time-being a victory for the Temple Trees could be seen as a victory for democracy and norms of parliamentary politics. Yet whoever comes tops at the end of the tunnel, it would be with irreparable damage to the political morality of the country.   

Filthy lucre is the determining force in deciding who holds the mandate to govern us. It is the bundles of millions and millions of rupees that is doing the talking now. It is a selfie of the shameful, nauseating and disgusting political culture of Sri Lanka. An unedited selfie of the so- called Sinhala Buddhist Society.     

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