07 October 2020
Punishment of us, by us and for us.
One of the main challenges we face with Sri Lankan Government structure is the Executive Presidency. To my mind, Shivanthi Ranasinghe’s article ‘A Knot in Dr Jayatilleka’s Theory’ is about this challenge. It is about father son relationship of Sri Lankan Sinhalese culture which flows through to the government and its structures.
Shivanthi’s genuine analysis is based on the structure shown by Dr Jayatilleka, through his Financial Times article ‘The President’s ‘shock and awe’ 20th Amendment’, which opens as follows:
[ I am proud that the Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka, of which my father was the Founder-President, was one of nine media industry bodies/organisations to express “deep concern” over aspects of the 20th Amendment and their potential to “negatively impact Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions”. Mervyn de Silva would have endorsed the statement, had he lived. He founded the Lanka Guardian magazine in May 1978 as a critical civic alternative at the moment of ‘High Authoritarianism’.]
As per my knowledge Mr Mervyn de Silva was an outstanding journalist and hence it is highly likely that Dr Jayatilleka inherited the genes from his father. But in terms of politics, Dayan’s structure is his own. To my mind, when playing the role of a journalist Dayan lacks impartiality due to his political investment. This is also a problem with political leaders who are Dual Citizens. As per my experience, when I think of Australian challenges, I have to do so through my Australian structure. In terms of Sri Lankan challenges – I need to use Sri Lankan and in terms of Tamil challenges I need to use Tamil structures and in terms of Thunaivi in Vaddukoddai, I have to consciously override caste based influences and think like Toddy Tappers. This is necessary to travel through reliable relationships to discover and be live by truth. Reliable structures confirm reliable relationships. Truth is the basis of reliable relationships.
The value of relationships is that we can invest in the whole through the relationship. Every completed relationship confirms our ownership of the whole and automatically strengthens the whole. Often, the individual in a senior position does not deserve the junior’s respect. But if the junior is genuine, the junior sees her/his other side as the senior and v.v. This is not possible without a reliable structure. Given that truth is eternal – a structure based on truth facilitates relationship with the position which naturally happens to the extent we are true to our side position. Technical skills channelled through reliable position become stable flow of energies.
In this instance – the relationship between an Executive President and a citizen is the parallel of that of a parent and child in family. A Governing President is like a grandparent. The latter is immune from rights and wrongs. The former gets direct share of the credit of the child’s achievements and therefore is answerable to wider society where the child errs. Hence where a head of state is immune from prosecution – s/he is NOT entitled to Executive powers but needs to be responsible to the People.
Prior to the 19th Amendment, no proceedings could be instituted against the president. But after the 19th Amendment there is provision to sue the President on the basis of Fundamental Rights – as listed in Chapter III of the Constitution. As per my knowledge this is not changing with the proposed 20th Amendment. But this requires the People to sue the President if they feel their fundamental rights have been breached.
Shivanthi presents the following picture in relation to the influence of the then President Maithripala Sirisena:
[Hemasiri Fernando claims the reports from Nilantha Jayawardena were too basic for his interpretation and were more suitable for ground level officers. In any case, Jayawardena enjoyed a “father-son” like relationship with the then President Maithripala Sirisena, claimed Fernando. Therefore, he does not believe that Jayawardena did not share the relevant reports with President Sirisena. Either way, as far as Hemasiri Fernando is concerned, he instructed the then IGP Pujith Jayasundara to be informed and when he checked with the IGP, he was in the process of informing his deputies. ]
Given that the Easter Bombing to which the above refers – the right to inquire is covered by the provisions in chapter III. Out of these – the ones that relate to cultural differences are the ones that one could comfortably give form to – at least in theory. The others are abstract and are beyond the reach of the brain of Common Sri Lankan. The ‘family’ type of approach in public service would limit government structure to local levels. Hence the limitation.
As per my interpretation, the law that prevailed after the 19th Amendment, facilitates suing the President where Chapter III provisions are breached. This includes bases of racial & religious discrimination. Given that the perpetrators as well as the victims are Muslims & Christians and given that President Sirisena declared from time to time his attachment to Theravada Buddhism there would be just grounds for members of the Muslim or Christian community to bring about Fundamental Rights case against President Sirisena. Likewise by Tamils against President Mahinda Rajapasa, unless they are ‘out of time’ as per the law.
As per my search – the legal minds seem to have included their higher thinking when given form to the expectations of politicians. The true seeker will empower her/himself. The proposed 20th Amendment does include Electoral Divisions under Article 99A which includes the following:
[A recognized political party or a group of persons contesting as independent candidates (hereinafter referred to as “independent group”) shall for the purpose of election of members referred to in Article 98,submit, in respect of each electoral district in which such party or group intends to contest, one nomination paper setting out-
(i) the names of each candidate or candidates as the case may be, nominated in respect of each polling division; (ii) the names of additional candidates in respect of such electoral district as is equivalent to the difference between the total number of members to be returned from that district and the total number of members entitled to be returned directly from the polling divisions within such district, increased by three……]
The above recognises the pain caused to Chavakachcheri Division in Jaffna where Mrs Raviraj polled highest number of votes but failed to enter parliament whereas Mr Wigneswaran and Mr Ponnambalam who did not win at divisional level did enter at overall district level. If there are no divisions then the structure must not use polling divisions. Reporting happened on divisional basis in the case of Jaffna.
Discrimination often happens when we have power over those to whom we have not been seniors in reality. Unless therefore a Separatist President consciously applies the law, fundamental rights as per higher laws, are likely to be breached.
Mr Sirisena would have had little knowledge of the requirements of the law. Without any senior knowledge through law, to his customary knowledge, non-Buddhists would have been aliens to him. Hence the indifference to the threat. It is like pre-existing dementia.
Shivanthi proceeds to highlight as follows:
[To be fair by Dr Jayatilleka, he neither advocates nor opposes such a system where the responsibility no longer lies with the Head, but is “institutionally shared”.]
The responsibility is already shared through the Constitution – with the People. Who is brave enough to ‘bell the cat’? is the question. If victims keep suing – as I did here in Australia – the consolidated power of Truth will eventually demote such persons – as happened in the case of Mr Howard. As stated recently ‘Karma continues to lead – through us also but not ‘only’ by us.’ That is how trial by media happens when such media are driven by truth.
As per the laws of Truth – those who benefit are Accountable. Hence an Executive President is liable to be sued. In the system of Natural Justice – the punishment is of our truth, by us and for us. We call that Karma.