Gajalakshmi Paramasivam – 18 December 2015
Confusion Over Using Majority Rule
Majority Rule over minorities is at the root of Sri Lankan ethnic problem. It has now become an issue in Parliament over Budgets. As per Island editorial ‘Majorities and dissent’:
[Our interest is in ……..the government’s argument that there are no grounds for a motion of no confidence because the budget has been passed with a two-thirds majority at the second reading stage.
This argument may sound tenable in terms of numbers. But, the question is whether the content of a budget becomes indisputable simply because it is passed with an overwhelming majority. The government has unwittingly debunked its own argument by undertaking to alter the budget in spite of its passage at the second reading stage. Its flexibility is to be appreciated, but, one may argue that in so doing it has owned up to certain inadequacies therein and bolstered the Opposition’s argument that the budget contains certain flaws which justify its motion at issue.]
The simple response to the above question of is ‘Yes – in a Democracy – the Parliament elected by Majority has the Duty to accept Budget passed by majority – overwhelming or not’.
The dissenters may be more logical than the majority – but in democracy – one has the Responsibility to work within the logic of a Budget approved by majority, however small the logical part may be. If we the People have the Responsibility to follow the laws made by the Government approved by majority in Parliament – however illogical those laws may seem to us personally – then following the Budget that may seem illogical is only a small dose of the stronger pressure on the citizen using logic and more importantly Truth. Truth is perfectly logical and as Gandhi confirmed - works even for a minority of One. But remaining within one’s Truth is not easy. But one who does so remain develops Belief in the whole and Common Belief works for us in any home-environment.
Developing this Belief is not easy in a multicultural society – especially where majority rely on natural / de facto relationships towards harmony at that time at that place. Country based demarcation is as important as Community based demarcation for majority rule to merge with the system of Truth which is Universal – beyond Time and Place borders.
Knowledge without faith – often leads to abuse of power and enjoyment of Benefits above costs paid. Majority costs in democracy, need to be Current Costs rather than Historical Costs. Historical Costs are those paid through respect as Royalty to the Structures inherited by us. Those who rely on their past to claim the right to rule – for example King Thuttagemunu for Sinhalese and King Ellalan for Tamils – automatically negate their right to rule by Democracy and therefore majority vote. Likewise, those who rely on their ancestors in a profession.
In the case of Budgets – in a Democratic Parliamentary system – the content of the Budget is beyond logical discussion in Parliament on the basis of Principles of Financial Management – once the Parliament has approved it through majority vote. It is then left to each elected member to take it back to the electorate as per her/his understanding. This understanding is a combination of Belief based knowledge and External knowledge. Where Belief based knowledge is greater than External knowledge – those voters who voted on the basis of faith would draw their own parallel values from that sharing. That is part of self-governance. Where majority voted for easy benefits – such sharing is overridden by immediate enjoyment of the return for votes – through quid pro quos. There is little Common Value in such sharing.
In Sri Lanka – the current government faces the challenge to release itself from weaknesses resulting from excessive quid pro quos – in the past. Not only Sinhalese but Tamils are also faced with such challenges. Those close to the Politicians and Rebels on both sides – enjoyed higher level benefits than those distant from the Politicians and Rebels – but doing the same level of work. Now when they are open to wider world – they are not able to perform as they did when given money and position cheaply. Those who insisted on earning their benefits – complete that experience – and function well in wider environment. Every completed experience – energizes us. This Energy opens doors when we knock on the door. Hence the Christian saying ‘Knock and It shall Open’.
The first Budget is to release ourselves from the past system and those who oppose the new confirm their attachment to the past. By the same token – we Sri Lankans are not yet ready for full blown Democracy and to the extent we have copied Americans and Singaporeans – without common faith – they need to be short-term – purely to release ourselves from our attachment to our weak past. If our investment in Democracy is weaker than our investment in Autocracy – then the system that would naturally present our work is the system of Autocracy. This cannot be practiced as is in a Democratic system but could be a motivating force that brings us the support of those who have already released themselves from the past and invested more in Democracy than us. True investments convert themselves to serve us any time anywhere. Given that the current leadership is getting such support from the West – one concludes that they have accumulated such genuine powers – including through all those who genuinely included this government as part of their environment. I believe that that is how Tamils became the marginal force and the link to wider world – including through actions at UN level. Accepting that discipline is automatic membership in the UN structure.
In the meantime, those of us who seek to be global need to not deal with the Budget on stand- alone basis and effectively go back to the old system. That part of the Diaspora that has invested in Democracy in Administration – is a strong force that works in Sri Lanka’s favor. This is often less visible than the Political force – but is more real than the Political force.