The time has come for the people and civic action groups to come forward, speak out and campaign actively for the abolition of the executive presidential system which has brought democracy to the brink of collapse with little or no checks and balances, rampant corruption and crime because of the criminalisation of politics and the politicisation of crime.
Since 1978 and especially after the repeal of the 17th Amendment and the enforcement of the 18th Amendment, democratic principles such as good governance and accountability, transparency and sincerity have gone with the wind. Instead we see authoritarianism, a lap dog parliamentary system, self-righteousness, hypocrisy and deception. Solemn promises are often made, but most people now know it is sanctimonious humbugging because the promises are seldom or never kept on issues ranging from salary increases and an equitable distribution of wealth and resources to genuine reconciliation through a just and fair solution to the ethnic conflict.
Part of the deception today is a policy of subtle diversion. For instance at least three constituent parties of the ruling UPFA are campaigning for the repeal of the 13th Amendment, while most independent political observers and analysts agree that the root cause of the crises is the absolute power of the executive presidency.
Besides people power like the Arab Spring where we saw the toppling of dictatorial regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, the restoration of democracy in Sri Lanka could come through an act of statesmanship by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. His predecessor Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge had promised before her election in 1994 that she would abolish the executive presidency within 24 hours because she saw it as a curse. But the curse probably became a blessing. Ms. Kumaratunge now sees the catastrophic consequences of what she did or did not do, and we hope President Mahinda Rajapaksa won’t find himself in the same muddle and realise too late that the country has been plunged into a hell hole of duplicity and devilry.
One of the crises today is the threat to the independence of the Judiciary. The rot or the politicisation of the Judiciary began in 1999 when President Kumaratunge bypassed the Senior Supreme Court Judge Mark Fernando and appointed Sarath Silva as the Chief Justice. The current impeachment motion – widely condemned locally and internationally as an act of political revenge against Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake – is a result of the rot that started in 1999. If the impeachment motion is not reconsidered and if judicial independence is not guaranteed, then Sri Lanka is on the racing track towards becoming something like a Ruwanda or a Somalia.