Friday 22 November 2019

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

22 November  2019


When Mr Sajith Premadasa declared himself as the Presidential candidate – he effectively retired from the legislature and the Judicial Executive   of the People – represented by Parliament. This is clearly set out as follows under Article 4 of the Constitution :

[4. The Sovereignty of the People shall be exercised and enjoyed in the following manner :–
(a) the legislative power of the People shall be exercised by Parliament, consisting of elected representatives of the People and by the People at a Referendum ;
 (b) the executive power of the People, including the defence of Sri Lanka, shall be exercised by the President of the Republic elected by the People ;
(c) the judicial power of the People shall be exercised by Parliament through courts, tribunals and institutions created and established, or recognized, by the Constitution, or created and established by law, except in regard to matters relating to the privileges, immunities and powers of Parliament and of its Members, wherein the judicial power of the People may be exercised directly by Parliament according to law ]

Now that he has lost that bid – he is not entitled to become the Prime Minister’s Opposition.
The Colombo Page report headed ‘ Speaker says UNP should resolve emerging crisis about Opposition Leader post’ states as follows:

[The UNP has sent two letters to Speaker Karu Jayasuriya requesting the post of opposition leader.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya has received a letter from UNP General Secretary MP Akila Viraj Kariyawasam requesting the appointment of former Prime Minister and UNP Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Leader of the Opposition.
A letter has been sent by UNP General Secretary MP Akila Viraj Kariyawasam requesting that Ranil Wickremesinghe be appointed as the Leader of the Opposition. The Speaker's Media Unit stated that only Akila Viraj Kariyawasam has signed the letter.
The Speaker has received another letter with the signatures of 40 UNP MPs asking him to appoint Deputy Leader of the UNP Sajith Premadasa as the Leader of the Opposition.
Expressing his views, at the meeting of Parliamentary Affairs Committee headed by party leaders this morning, the Speaker has said that the selection of the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament was not within the purview of the Committee on Parliamentary Business and it is an internal matter that needs to be resolved within the UNP parliamentary group.
The Speaker noted that according to parliamentary tradition, the leader of the parliamentary group of the political party with a majority of opposition members is recognized as the Leader of Opposition.]

If UNP chooses Mr Premadasa over Mr Wickremesinghe – UNP  is highly likely to lose the minority votes in the Parliamentary elections.  So far, most Tamils known to me recognize UNP in its current form with Mr Wickremesinghe as the leader. This was confirmed by Tamil National Alliance under the leadership of the Hon Sampanthan. It is a policy level integration between UNP and TNA for which TNA has received some flak from younger political activists . Tamils are yet to witness Mr Premadasa in that senior position.

Mr Premadasa also promised to promote Buddhism and that did not go down well with minorities. Then there was that promise to ‘give’ sanitary pads as if women were juniors needing pampering. Both of these have naturally demoted him to the position of backbencher.  As per the picture of Mr Wickremesinghe as political leader – he is far more mature than any other member of the UNP active in politics. The minority votes during Presidential Elections were for UNP under Mr Wickremesinghe’s leadership. It would be unwise to lose that vote base.

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