How Sri Lanka’s drop from frying-pan-to-the-fire was averted
“The trouble with conspiracies is that they rot internally.”
~Robert A. Heinlein
At the time this column is being penned, the Supreme Court of the land has already issued a stay order on the now infamous decree to dissolve Parliament. The Supreme Court’s unanimous decision to revert the President’s, the Chief Executive’s, order calls for enormous amount of inner strength on the part of all Justices of the Supreme Court on the one hand while on the other, delivers an unequivocal message to the world that Sri Lanka is still a land where the rule of law is at the core of her makeup. An enormous weight has been set aside, a sigh of relief and satisfaction is being exhaled; the ordinary people, for whom these nuanced arguments and debate about validity of Presidential decrees and sovereignty of Parliament are as alien as a glass of whiskey to a teetotaler, would unknowingly carry on with their daily chores; they were hardly aware that they had just managed to avert a fall into a cataclysmic abyss.
- AG made his obligatory submissions before a three-bench SC
- Political power being invested in one individual is simply not acceptable
- MR’s walking away when NCM was submitted was a clear sign of him losing badly
Attorney General of the country, the chief law officer of the ‘Crown’, made his obligatory submissions before a three-bench Supreme Court. His arguments for upholding President Maithripala Sirisena’s ‘political’ decision to dissolve Parliament without allowing the Speaker of that ‘noble house of the people’ to decide whether President’s decision of replacing one Prime Minister with another (in this case the one who was soundly defeated at the last Presidential Elections in 2015) could be validated via a ‘floor test’, was not held by the Supreme Court. By the time the reader reads this column Parliament might have already voted whether the status quo of October 25 still stands. The inherent disadvantage of a columnist restricts him from giving the reader a more up-to-date live account of a day’s accelerated paced-life. That is entirely up to the full-time reporters engaged by the Newspaper.
Yet, I refuse to put my pen down. Such treachery would amount to journalistic cowardice. Whichever way the decision in Parliament goes, it might lead to unprecedented chaos in the country. A total breakdown in the very trust and faith the ordinary man has in the three pillars of our democracy, namely, the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, would be incalculable. The resulting socio-political chaos will reign supreme. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court managed to restore some modicum of sanity in the overall system of governance. Whether Yahapalanaya has become another slogan or not, whether transparency and accountability are mere words which have failed to explode beyond the narrowing confines of their phonetic measures or not, people must realize that a day of reckoning has dawned.
Political power being invested in one individual is simply not acceptable. Standing Orders were suspended.
A no-confidence motion submitted by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) when Parliament met today and Speaker Karu Jayasuriya decided to accept it and was put to a vote, a ‘floor test’ and the Mahinda Rajapaksa and his unruly gang failed to secure the sufficient number of votes to survive the no-confidence motion. There were further crossovers from MR-cabal to the United National Party (UNP). Yet the mainstream media’s persistence on validating the MR-led parliamentary group is confounding. Wasantha Senanayake who crossed over from the UNP yesterday decided to resign from his Ministerial post. He further said that his crossover was based on his misbelief that the MR-cabal had a majority in Parliament. Having realized that it was not so, he decided to resign from his Ministerial post.
It is always natural that the losing side tries to spin their own stories. That political spinning machine of the MR-cabal is still engaged in that despicable job of turning a loss into a ‘conspiracy’ of the West. But numbers and numbers alone will tell the story and its color, substance and veneer did not look favorable to the MR-Cabal. Who wants democracy and who wants anarchical rule is now evident beyond a shadow of doubt. The country is at crossroads. The Supreme Court spoke and it spoke in no unclear terms. Later, Parliament, the House of the People spoke. A defeated political cabal consisting of corrupt, dictatorial and conspiratorial men whose intentions and actions were more than evident could not secure a majority of MPs. A macabre conclusion of an ill-willed and ill-intentioned journey came to an astounding end.
Politics has shown its both sides. The ugly countenance of politics was so vividly exhibited by the MR-cabal. The other side, the noble side of politics, a means for service of man and upholding the rule of law, was also predominant and pleasingly so. Democracy is not to be taken so easily. It is the most acceptable means of government; its magnificent character of majority rule with sublime sensitivity to minorities cannot be discarded by some politicians who have chosen to behave like common thugs and hooligans.
But the rights and wrongs of the original decision, arguments for and against that decision by President Sirisena cannot be foreclosed. Having being in power for 20 long years, from 1994 to 2015
The President’s original decision to name MR as Prime Minister is intrinsically wrong; its inherent quality is evil; it is anti-people. Such decrees do not substitute for the rule of the majority. Today Parliament, in no uncertain terms, showed that MR-cabal did not have their numbers. A joke of a Cabinet and Prime Minister so decreed by President remains such- a joke. A decision arrived with ulterior intentions and sinister objectives met its logical end today. Now the ball is back in the President’s court.
How would he decide now? By the time you read this that decision may have already been made. But the rights and wrongs of the original decision, arguments for and against that decision by President Sirisena cannot be foreclosed. Having being in power for 20 long years, from 1994 to 2015, and then for the shortest time on our history for about two and half weeks, the MR-cabal has gone crazy; they simply cannot live without the luxuries of power and money. As per Anura Kumara Dissanayake’s comments at the press conference of the JVP, a government and a Prime Minister were formed in moonlight at about 7:00 pm on October 26, 2018. His most logical and lucid explanation about the chronology of events, the way in which those events were conspiratorially executed was par excellence. How much this country does miss such brilliant speakers?
The Speaker of the House of Parliament and the Supreme Court held with the people. Of the three pillars on which a ‘Democratic State’ rests, two sided with the people. The Judiciary and the Legislature chose to uphold the rule of law; both were adamantly allegiant to the service of the people. In this context the role played by the other pillar, the Executive, is bizarre and unequivocally wrong. Now the decision goes back to that pillar of the State.
The Executive has another chance to undo his wrong; he has another opportunity to show humility and greatness by accepting the overwhelming wish of Parliament. Go back to the status quo of October 25, 2018. Restore Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister and ask him to form his new Cabinet in terms of the 19th Amendment. MR too has the same opportunity. He may have another chance to restore whatever dignity that is left of him. His walking away from the proceedings of Parliament when the no-confidence motion was submitted was a clear sign of him losing badly. A list of signatures containing 122 MPs was later submitted to the Speaker. It’s Game, Set and Match. Match over, so MR, please resign from your post of Prime Minister so unconstitutionally conferred on you.
Such greatness of humility and sensitive demeanor could still be assumed by those who conspired against the people of Sri Lanka. Anarchy can be averted; chaos can be forestalled and peace and harmony can be restored. Avarice for power may be too much for a mundane person to reject; yet greatness is not achieved by avaricious men and women; it is attained by those who refuse such allurements and renounce the obvious magic of such power.
Mr. President, once again, the ball is back in your court.
The author can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org