I was happy to read in an article by Salma Yusuf in a recent edition of your newspaper the reference to the launching of a ‘Movement for Moderation’, on reading that I thought I should share my thoughts on the subject with the reading public. This country is certainly heading in a wrong direction and heading towards becoming a Dictatorship of sorts; we the people have a duty to draw attention to it in our own interest, yes Moderation is the need of the hour --- we must seize the centre. We must counter Extremism whether they be political, religious, cultural or economic---we must tread the Middle Path. We have already suffered enough.
" Everyone concedes that Corruption has become endemic and before it becomes any worse let us take measures to reduce corruption "
With the best of intentions no doubt this government brought in the 18th Amendment to strengthen the President’s powers, but this Act is wholly against the letter and spirit of Democracy and has undermined Democracy itself and proved counterproductive, this is Political Extremism and contributes to creating a dictatorship, the government’s policies must move towards the centre. If we seek to be a full-fledged respected member of the Democratic Club, then we cannot have such Amendments to our Constitution as the 18th; we must bring back the 17th Amendment and restore Independent Institutions such as the Elections Commission, the Corruption Commission, the Public Service Commission, the Judicial Service Commission and the Police Commission and win back credibility. We must have checks and balances written into the Constitution once again, in the peoples interest and in the interest of our own political leaders, who may not realise the value of this until they are out of office someday, for no one is in office forever.
Our international critics, instead of seeking to hang us on issues such as violations of human rights during a war, should make a positive and constructive effort to help restore true dignity to our country by requiring the government, yes by requiring the government to put our house in order; yes these may be strictly internal issues but they do impact on our external relations.
The other urgent issue is that if we are to be a respected, true representative of Democracy we most definitely need to change our electoral system. We already have the Dinesh Gunawardena report and it is conceded by everyone that the present system is both absolutely corrupt and does Everyone concedes that Corruption has become endemic and before it becomes any worse let us take measures to reduce corruption not make for true representational participatory democracy and that we should change the system --- President JR it was who changed the system and created this monstrosity, let us change the horrid system NOW.
Everyone concedes that Corruption has become endemic and before it becomes any worse let us take measures to reduce corruption for it is conceded that corruption cannot be wiped out completely because money is the root of the evil and has contaminated societies around the world. One way of reducing corruption is by giving the people the Right to Information --- through special statute, by having a Right to Information Act.
Another fundamental issue is the Rule of Law, its importance cannot be over-stated – we need most urgently to enthrone the Rule of Law, for we the people, have lost confidence in the Police and the entire Judicial system ---- this is an absolute imperative and we need an absolute commitment from the government on this – and it is in their interest too, to as stated before, to enthrone the Rule of Law.
Should we not also bring back the Equal Opportunities Bill and also legislation to reform our Judicial system? This brings up the fundamental question of our present Constitution --- Bringing a new Constitution will not happen so what are the available options? The most obvious one is to amend the present Constitution to restore true Democracy, to have in the first instance a true separation of powers along with a system of checks and balances. I do hope if we cannot mobilise all local constituencies to achieve that, the so-called international community will act for once in a constructive manner and force the hand of the government to put our house in order.
This of course will be construed as a violation of our so-called Sovereignty, but have we not conceded much of our sovereignty already to the international community? We are today members of the UN and what does that mean? Has not the international community a right to ensure and safeguard human rights when there is proof of violations of HR. Does this extend to protection of political, social, cultural and economic rights as well of people of member states of the UN? The Universal Declaration stirs the spirit of Democracy in Article 21 of the UD which states “Participatory Democracy is a Human Right, the right of citizens of a country to take part in the governance of their country directly or through freely elected representatives”.
Our country is being unfairly discredited at every turn, described as a quasi Democracy drifting towards Dictatorship, a country where the Rule of Law does not obtain. The ‘charge’ that we have not implemented all the recommendations of the LLRC within an year and a half of its release is also unfair; Let us counter our critics for a start by implementing the 13th Amendment without Land and Police powers and implementing those proposals we have made mention of in this article and let us win back respectability for our country by treading the middle path and let us take a page out of the President’s Chintanaya and unify this country in a true manner by taking both English and Tamil to all our schools and empowering our people in a meaningful way. Our President will then be remembered as the greatest ever --- the Chaves of Sri Lanka.