29 September 2019
Abolishing Executive Presidency and Standardization in Education
To my mind, the Executive Presidency is at the centre of the upcoming Presidency battle. Dr Vickramabahu Karunaratne who is well respected by the Tamil community has picked up again the thread ‘JR would have been happy if Executive Presidency is abolished’.
To know whether or not JR would have been happy, we need to become JR at that time when he WAS happy to create the executive presidency. The landslide victory UNP had at the 1977 Parliamentary elections was a strong influence in this regard. That was the first time – as per my knowledge that the Tamil political coalition won the position of Opposition leadership. Scientifically speaking - this meant that Sinhalese as a total were Equal in value to Tamils – even though we were only about 25% of the total as per body count. As per the science of Democracy, Equal Opposition is needed to stop the clock and therefore ‘Time will tell’ equation. When we are driven by emotions, time tells us. But by the time tells us – it may be too late to prevent damages.
Intellectual pathway helps us to ‘project’ the other side and therefore prevent the wrongs. Equal & Opposite force manifests the ‘other’ side immediately and hence one who is intellectually driven is more deserving to lead than one who is emotionally driven.
Belief, is absolute power and hence is above intellectual pathway and is available to all participants – including those who are intellectually driven.
Within the UNP for example – as per my assessment – Ranil Wickremesighe has demonstrated deservedness as the one most eligible for the intellectual pathway. But that was also the case with his uncle Mr J R Jayewardene who created the Executive Presidency.
In hindsight we know that that excess power of one has damaged the basic democratic rights – especially of intellectuals – as was confirmed by the current President who terminated the services of Vice Chancellors of two Universities. The termination of the Vice Chancellor of Jaffna University was far more damaging than the termination of the Vice Chancellor of University of Visual and Performing Arts, Colombo. The reason is the ‘political settlement’ equation in the creation of the University of Jaffna – to balance the standardization advantage to Sinhalese.
The creation of the Executive Presidency is the parallel of high percentage of Tamils entering Universities. Abolishing Executive Presidency is the parallel of Standardization which came about due to the reality presented as follows:
[In 1969, the Northern Province, which was largely populated by Tamils and comprised 7% of the population of the country, provided 27.5 percent of the entrants to science-based courses in Sri Lankan universities. ] Wikipedia
The quota system limited merit based entrance to Universities to 30%. This indicates also the percentage of intellectual population served by the Executive Presidency. Roughly stated – (belief does not need proof and therefore accuracy) the Executive Presidency served 30% of the Sri Lankan population who needed common law basis rather than customary law basis.
Mr Jayewardene himself was a clever person. Certainly cleverer than his predecessor Mrs SWRD Banadaranaike who came to power initially through sympathy vote. By the time the 1977 elections happened in July – the Hon G G Ponnambalam who contributed most to the intellectual politics of Tamils had passed away. Had the Hon G G Ponnambalam been an active participant in Parliament – he would have diffused Mr Jayewardene’s desire for more – mind to mind. The Hon G G Ponnambalam was the Executive President of Tamils. Sadly – this was not recognized by Tamils themselves. But the clever contribution was there and continues to be there to support those who believe in the intellectual pathway. That is Jaffna’s heritage.
The Executive Presidency was created to offset that intellectual power in the real Opposition in Sri Lankan parliament – the Tamils. This however may have been in the subconscious mind of Mr Jayewardene, rather than the conscious mind. Effectively this gave additional advantage to Sinhalese – majority of whom were already advantaged by ‘Buddhism foremost’ advantage to the less intellectual Sinhalese. Dr Vickramabahu Karunaratne identifies with this as follows:
[In many ways, the Executive Presidency 'blocks' democracy as the Presidency is kept above Parliamentary level. There is no way that a member of a minority community upholding diversity would become President.]
Before 1977 elections, the parallel of the above statement would have been :
[There is no way that a minority community political group upholding diversity would become Leading Opposition in Sri Lankan Parliament]
But we did – due to that intellectual power.
At the same time the majority race became complacent and deteriorated in value and hence the landslide victory. If intellectual power were dominant – in the parliament after 1977 elections – Sinhalese opposition would have prevented the passage of 1978 constitution by two thirds majority. By that time – the intelligence of Sinhalese was seriously at low levels.
The 1978 Constitution in effect had two components:
(1) No Opposition Zone for those who enjoyed majority power and therefore was effectively Absolute power by law
(2) Limited intellectual participation of minorities to Parliamentary level
Dr Bahu presents his interpretation as follows:
[In many ways, the Executive Presidency 'blocks' democracy as the Presidency is kept above Parliamentary level. There is no way that a member of a minority community upholding diversity would become President. However, R. Sampanthan became the Leader of Opposition and challenged the President, too]
The President challenged by Mr Sampanthan was not as clever as Mr Jayewardene nor Mr Sirisena’s predecessor – Mr Rajapaksa. The question is whether Mr Sampanthan would have challenged the intellectual heir of Mr Jayewardene - Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe. As per my belief the answer is NO. To challenge without senior status – one needs to be Equally or more clever than the one being challenged. This can happen through true Belief which is Absolute Power. Also – one being challenged would carry within her/him – the power of those s/he believes in. In this instance that certainly includes Madam Kumaratunga.
To the extent Mr Wickremesinghe carries in himself Mr Jayawardene’s leadership – subconsciously or consciously – the Tamil leadership needs one who carries the Hon G G Ponnambalam and not the Hon S. J. V. Chelvanayakam – the non-violent leader who empowered the manifestation of Vaddukoddai Resolution 1977.
Dr Bahu continues:
[The secret message by President Jayewardene was that as Executive President, he did not have opposition. In that sense he blocked that pathway for minorities through the Constitution and activated his equal other side - the secret self-appointed opposition of Velupillai Prabhakaran backed by India! ]
If the Hon G G Ponnambalam had been recognized and believed in by Tamils as an intellectual leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran would not have assumed power. We deserve the government we recognize in a free environment. Prabhakaran’s free environment was in armed fighting in which he was very clever and would have been winner one to one against any other Sri Lankan. But that takeover placed a ceiling on the entitlement of Tamils to equal position that was confirmed through the Vaddukoddai Resolution. Instead it separated us from the rest of Sri Lanka. Our investment in democracy would not work under separation without Equal Opposition to show us our other side immediately.
Democracy returned to Northern Province after the 2009 war but it is still blocked from South due to the Executive Presidency which was activated by the current incumbent in October last year. The fact that we Tamils won Equal position of Opposition leadership in 2015 was due to the same reason why Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa did a JR at his level. We needed to free ourselves from dictators amongst us before Democracy was free to enter our community. Mr Rajapaksa eliminated Opposition to his actions – by eliminating independent witnesses to the war and abandoning the common rules of war as per the global powers that empowered the Sri Lankan Government to list the LTTE as a Terrorist organization. If that were true Independent witnesses would have been facilitated to witness and share the truth.
Dr Bahu in his introduction states about JR:
[It could be true because at end of the day he brought devolution, equality to all three languages and threw caste and creed into the dustbin making it possible, for appointing R. Premadasa as His Excellency the President. ]
Dr Bahu concludes as follows:
[As long as Tamils believe in their homeland and follow the path of democracy, the President of Sri Lanka would be a lame duck President. Every Tamil who believes in self-rule would exercise his vote to confirm this, as we did in 2015. If Tamils believe in the same form of democracy in Tamil home-area, Tamils would continue to disempower the Executive Presidency because, 'President Jayewardene would be happy if the Executive Presidency is abolished, some day'.]
It is unrealistic to expect Tamils to believe in Sri Lanka to a deeper degree than Sinhalese.
My parallel statement as an Intellectual Tamil who believes in Sri Lanka is:
If Tamils as a community who are about 12% of the population, function on merit basis to produce outcomes that in total value is greater than value of the outcomes of the top 12% of majority race – we become – as a group – the Common Executive Presidential Group of Clever Sri Lanka.
When that is the Truth – it becomes a global power and that power leads us and protects us anytime anywhere. Then we would pick up arms only to protect our belief and no more.
The above is based on the principle that the value of the total is greater than the sum of individual parts. This happens – through belief or higher intellectual work. One binds at the fundamental level and the other at the Energy level – like Einstein was.
If we have a repeat of 1978 which led to LTTE surfacing as Tamil Opposition which resulted in 1983 riots – Sinhalese could be taken-over by Tamils led by Hindus who believe in Hinduism more than Sri Lankanism. Truth never fails the believer. If democracy is disrespected and set aside – and minorities continue to believe in Democracy or other pathway to ownership – Sri Lanka becomes the loser from the point when that pathway becomes more important than Sri Lankanism. JR did not devolve power to provinces nor implement the equal status to Tamil language. Tamils backed by India did that – as Sajith did in nominating himself as a Presidential candidate.
That amendment was the return that Tamils showed through the Constitution. But under Rajapaksa rule – all that was effectively set aside through Prevention of Terrorism Act. The good side of JR to uphold cleverness would work only when there is Separation of Powers between the Judiciary and the Executive and there are Equal numbers from minorities as majority race in panels appointing top Judiciary – i.e. – the 50:50 representation sought by the great G G Ponnambalam.