Saturday 20 June 2020

Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

20 June  2020

Power of Article 91


Does an article in the Constitution have self-governance power? To my mind, the answer is ‘yes’ when  its origin was based on belief and a self-governing person invokes its powers. Article 91 about which I have been writing in relation to the SJB – was activated by me including as follows:

[The fundamental rights case before the Judiciary is about elections. But there was already an issue with the SJB candidates being in two parties when submitting their nominations. Article 91(1) (b)(ii) of the Sri Lankan Constitution – under chapter headed ‘THE FRANCHISE AND ELECTIONS’  - states:

[91. (1) No person shall be qualified to be elected as a Member of Parliament or to sit and vote in Parliament –
 (b) (ii) if he - stands nominated as a candidate for election by more than one recognized political party or independent group in respect of any electoral district, ]

The fundamental principle here is that one cannot be in two political parties at the same time. This article was breached by Mr Premadasa and others being in Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and the UNP at the same time. In his Island article ‘Gota-Sajith alliance: Exercise in futility?’ Dr Upul Wijeyawardhana states:


[The August election is important for the UNP and the SJB, solely for these reasons of their own disputes. But what about the country? The country needs dynamism and for that some of the idiotic aspects of the 19th Amendment need urgent change. We need to empower the President. After all, he is not a figurehead as he is directly elected by the voters and is responsible to them. In fact, he is the only person who commands a direct pubic mandate as all parliamentarians are not elected on the basis of a constituency. To have proper representation, we need to revert to a constituency-based parliament. Provincial councils have proved to be a complete waste of money and Yahapalanaya, paradoxically, proved their redundancy by not holding elections! Many independent commissions have proved to be anything but independent and a complete rethink is badly needed.
Sri Lanka has the best of brains and it is high time ways and means are devised to use them to make Sri Lanka great again!]

Lanka’s king Ravana also was clever. He was so clever he had his own plane. But his problem was that he did not share his intellectual powers to connect to wider world. The expressions ‘We need to empower the President. After all, he is not a figurehead as he is directly elected by the voters and is responsible to them.’ confirm similar block. One who believes is naturally empowered exponentially. Such power spreads like the covid19 virus. Such a leader does not need intellectual powers. In fact anything more is likely to weaken the power of belief.

We can complete the connection between ‘Cause and Effect’ through belief and / or through intellectual logic. When the current president promised to withdraw from the commitment to the UN he confirmed his reliance on local belief. The Sinhala Buddhist community voted him into power. In his paper ‘Tamil Buddhism in Sri Lanka’, Professor Gintota P V Somaratna states :
[In the analysis of the historiography of Buddhism in Jaffna, several questions surface in determining historical facts. In our study, we have to be aware of who writes history, with what agenda in mind. One has to observe whether the historian’s own standpoint, impacted by national and ideological affiliation, contributes to an agenda. When religion is used as an instrument for politics, the politicisation of religion would result.  The historian may be playing, unintentionally or consciously, into such a scheme. There is a danger of the past being abused for someone’s own purposes.  This is very clear in the interpretation of historical material as we see clearly the differences and conflicts between the Tamil and the Sinhalese perceptions of history of Sri Lanka.]

Those who wrote the 19th Amendment to the Constitution demonstrated belief in wider world. Their belief has been written as laws that others could use to complete the picture of ‘Cause and Effect’. It is equal to the structure of the current regime. If it is made junior to the current Regime’s form of belief – many intellectuals will not be able to complete the picture and this would lead to mental instability and effective wastage of investment in higher education. When no politician has taken action in relation to the breach of Article 91 it confirms the serious deterioration of intellectual powers of the Parliament.

But then any believer can invoke the mind of the architect of that article to complete the picture for her/himself. In turn that completed knowledge would spread exponentially including through the media, to become a reality – the Ultimate Reality of Belief. Hence the truth of divisions within UNP which can make it more powerful as an opposition – especially if it mind-merged with Tamils genuinely seeking a common solution.

Buddhism foremost article in the Constitution, is confirmation of Politicising Buddhism. Its presence automatically demotes the status of the Constitution to relative power. That was how Tamils became Equal Opposition in National Parliament when they completed their circle of belief. This will continue to happen from time to time when Buddhism is used for personal benefits and/or Minorities invoke the absolute power of their belief.

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