13 July 2020
Are we voting for the President or Local Member of Parliament?
It is currently election time in Sri Lanka. Sunday Observer carries an article headed ‘Those who wailed for democracy are seeing the real separation of powers.’ That is largely about politicians and how the writer interpreted their conduct while the respective politicians were in power. It includes the following about the current President :
[The President may not be the most enthusiastic supporter of legislative politics. As is well known, he has his team, and he relies a great deal on men with a military background, and of course that comes from within the territory of his being an ex army officer. He is the workaholic or veda karanaminiha as the campaign ditty regaled the crowds about him in the run up to last November’s poll. To that end, he cloisters himself for long hours with team members, and does the now famous spot inspections, and is famously action-oriented.]
The above assessment confirms that to the mind of the author - the President needs Executive Powers to function in that position. Since it is said without opposition – one is entitled to conclude that this author needs Administrative powers in the senior position that s/he holds in her/his local environment. This confirms the push to repeal the 19th Amendment to the Constitution which effectively weakens the Administrative powers of the President. Also is it good for the President to be a workaholic at the age of 71, in a nation where the retirement age is 60? Shouldn’t the leaders above 60 be sharing their wisdom and not Administer actively. Given that the life expectancy of Sri Lankans is 77 we then have 17 years over which we share our governance power with those who believe in us.
The author states :
[Mahinda Rajapaksa, PM and former President though he is, has also exhibited a remarkable reciprocal enabling behaviour that’s quite antithetical to the image of him as the classic old-school politician. Classic old school politicians want everything — every arm of governance, every political institution they could possibly get their hands on — to be cast in their own image.]
To the extent the above were true Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa – the elder brother of the current President needs to be junior in Administration to his younger brother Mr Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The level at which we complete Administration and take on Governing position is the level at which the consolidated power of our Governance would manifest. A CEO would manifest this naturally at her/his level and a cleaner would at her/his level. They are NOT Equal in status. Hence the PM & President are NOT Equal in Status. In order to be Equal in independent power which is exponential – one needs to serve through the position beyond the benefit one accepts. If one were truly more capable at her/his level than the senior at her/his level, one accumulates every unit of service as Ownership Energy. Once our contribution is Energy – it takes over and produces outcomes that we – the Energy developers need. That is known as the path of Dharma/Righteousness
In a family, when the child contributes at equal or greater level than the parent the child becomes Equal parent and is often separated from the parent. But so long as the child is in the parental home/family – the child with greater contribution must also recognise the parent as the senior-most in that structure. As a Facebook friend shared recently ‘when you hurt the good they would not fight with you; they would quietly separate from you’
To me, the above confirms true governance powers between Equals. If one disciplines the other – the former is a senior in Administration. In governance we are all equals. The author presents his assessment of the Opposition as follows:
[In the backdrop of all this, a strong mandate and a sturdy but constructive separation of powers is needed to undo the damage done to the country, its economy and its institutions in the five years of UNP/SJB (mis)rule from 2015-2020. (There was no SJB then, but most of its candidates ran the country in that period, so they have to be factored in.)]
The UNP walked away and took opposition position with the then President who was in the same party – the SLFP – as Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa who completed that term as Prime Minister. UNP leader Mr Ranil Wicremesinghe was pretty average in Administration. But he had strong completion at his level – the PM level – and therefore confirmed strong governance power by not fighting actively against separatists – including Mr Sajith Premadasa who was his junior. This facilitated the ‘freedom’ not only for others like Sajith to develop SJB but also minorities to develop their own ownership Energies in various aspects of Sri Lanka. The folks of Jaffna expressed certainly identified more with the PM than with the CM (Chief Minister) – whose position was new to them and very alien due to lack of reliable Administrative structure through which they could relate to seniors.
Ranil is a stronger governor than Sajith but his victories have come largely due to him becoming the medium through whom minorities expressed themselves. That may seem less attractive to some – but a true governor would rather be a firm opposition that naturally maintains harmony than a government that continuously develops disharmony through false promises and showing wins out of foreign resources. Both sides to the armed ethnic war are guilty of this.
This president is openly promoting his party the SLPP even after assuming the position. His governance power would therefore naturally influence those who believe in him to have military power at home and at workplaces. Minorities – including women would therefore be treated as juniors and not Equals by this government.
The real test would be how Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa would deal with this challenge – whether he would become the junior to his younger brother or whether he would be the real President in the body of his younger brother? SLFP also split due to power struggle. TNA continues to struggle. Separation of powers is a must to prevent reverse autocracy.
Governors are mothers and Administrators are fathers. Mothers have staying power. Ranil has that. Likewise Mr Sampanthan of TNA. Most Rebels separate due to lack of this Governing power which holds the whole together as a Sovereign Unit.