Unlike in any past election, it seems the split Opposition and civil activists have already granted victory on a platter to SLPP, foregone conclusion?
Commissioner of Elections, who was aggressive and spirited in his Pre-19th Amendment days who famously bullied the journalist referring to vote riggers, “Why below knees, shoot them in the head!”, now promoted Chairman through 19A with clipped-wings, and sharing responsibilities with a somewhat dominant colleague with a big say within the decision making body, and being a victim of unfair criticism by a few government cronies, continues his good work preserving his credentials as the best election boss the country ever had.
Mr Chairman, please enlighten me, apart from the four crosses that I can mark; one for the party or independent group and three for three candidates of choice, [though in some districts it is going to be a tedious task in selecting even two out from the lists submitted by main parties, as they are lavishly filled with the corrupt veterans], is there two cages in the ballot paper for a fifth cross, to indicate my wish for, “2/3-YES/NO”, may sound stupid: but not stupider as the call for and against 2/3. There is no such provision in The Parliamentary Election Act No. 1 of 1981 or any of the subsequent amendments to it.
It’s simply unimpressive. Why all this hullaballoo? If you own a hidden mathematical formula or if you can ‘produce a rabbit out of a top hat’ [in your inimitable terms], please explain to many an ignorant voter, what politicians of both sides, those who urge the voter for 2/3 and the others who say no to it; and those self-styled civil activist groups who vehemently oppose 2/3 to a particular party, on how a voter confer or deprive anybody of the luxury of ‘Two-Thirds’ by casting his vote on August 5th?
A recent news report says a new group [old wine in new bottles] of civil activists presented a document prepared by a high-level independent team urging the citizens to rise against two-thirds for a particular party. An honourable member of the Constitutional Council [CC] of Sri Lanka, one of the three civilian members of the ‘independent’ CC addressed the meeting too, which was organized by a group identified as, “Freedom: People’s Collective project” at New Townhall on Wednesday, 8th.
“CHAPTER VII A of our Constitution on The Constitutional Council [CC]
41 A. (1) There shall be a CC ….which shall consist of the following members:– …… (e) --(5) The persons who are not Members of Parliament to be appointed under sub-paragraph (e) of paragraph (1) shall be persons of eminence and integrity who have distinguished themselves in public or professional life and who are not members of any political party……[emphasis mine]
"A combined 2/3 with sensible men from both sides must get-together in amending necessary legislation based on Dinesh Gunawardana proposals for mixed PR/F-P-the Post and correct many other irregularities in the tinkered Constitution"
The civilian member of the CC, who addressed the meeting we presume, was, “…of eminence and integrity who has distinguished himself in public or professional life and who is not a member of any political party.” As per newspaper report, he has stated, while urging the electorate not give 2/3 to SLPP, that if not for the Election Commission [EC] established in terms of the 19th amendment, the government would have held elections in April despite the Covid 19 threat. It was the EC set up under 19A, according to him that prevented a disaster and therefore it is important to protect the 19th Amendment, enacted by the Yahapalana in 2015. However, there is no basis for this claim—according to the provisions of the Elections Act no 1 of 1981, the Commissioner was empowered to use his discretion, in the event of an emergency on the postponement of polls date without any interference from the Government. The commissioner was the sole authority who decided on the date, from the moment proclamation was Gazetted dissolving the Parliament.
Covid 19 and Amendment 19
The group had alleged that efforts were being made to undo important achievements through a 2/3rd mandate since the enactment of the new law. It has initiated an accord among the civil society groups on how to deal with an authoritarian administration—a commendable move by the group that should apply universally.
It proposes strategies to countenance the threats posed by the Rajapaksa government, resolving to campaign all out against the SLPP efforts to secure a two-thirds majority in Parliament. It has advised the electors to vote cautiously to avoid giving a 2/3 mandate and create an authoritarian government.
Produce a Rabbit out of a Top Hat!
Unlike in any past election, it seems the split Opposition and the civil activists have already granted the victory on a platter to SLPP, foregone conclusion? They fear only an overwhelming majority, an unwise implication that will immensely benefit their adversary as there is a tendency among a substantial section of the electorate to go with the winning side.
Has PR ruined and messed up peaceful democratic Parliamentary elections that people enjoyed for three decades since independence?
Isn’t it an utterly meaningless bit of nonsense? We are approaching another landmark in early August 2020 Parliamentary Election where the adult citizens get a chance to elect their representatives to Parliament. Since that massive victory in 1977, in which the UNP led by J R Jayewardene gained an unprecedented Five-Sixth
the majority, the electoral system has been changed from first-past-the-post to something known as Proportional Representation [PR] to ensure that the winning side would not get absolute power in a House of 225. The ‘Old Fox’, JR’s agenda was for the UNP to remain in power forever and also for the sustenance of his dictatorial constitution to last forever. The election system introduced with the 1978 Constitution. Prior to that, representatives to Parliament were elected on a simple electoral basis where each voter had to mark one cross in elections held by electorates and the voter cast their vote to his/her preferred candidate of the party of his/her choice. PR has destroyed the foundation and the character of people’s representative concept in this country.
In the absence of an “our MP”, irresponsible Parliamentarians enjoyed enormous benefits while the people were starving.
The rot started in the 1970s, when they together, not only passed a pensions law in 1977 but got it enacted to include their loved ones and personal staff as well. Rs 20-30 million worth duty-free vehicle permits were sold causing billions of losses to State by way of duty. At the tail end of last yahapalana regime, a friend of ‘Civil Activists group’ who took oaths filling a national list slot in Parliament, with just six days to go for dissolution, collected one of the precious vehicle permits too.
A combined 2/3 with sensible men from both sides must get-together in amending necessary legislation based on Dinesh Gunawardana proposals for mixed PR/F-P-the Post and correct many other irregularities in the tinkered Constitution.