The Sunday Leader

The Death Of A Nation

Mahinda as Big Brother

Mahinda as Big Brother

If you want to see the shape of the new constitution, look at the last two elections. To quote George Orwell’s 1984, “if you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever.”
In the last General Election the government requested a two thirds majority in parliament. They got it. Or more precisely, Ranil gave it. Ranil has emerged as good as a fourth brother to Mahinda, holding the opposition down while Mahinda stomped the life out of it. Now the UNP has hemorrhaged enough green blood to give the President the power to write them out legally, making the whole process look pretty.
The new constitutional changes create an Executive Presidency Plus. There is no more pesky Constitutional Council keeping Mahinda from appointing whoever he wants and there are no more term limits to keep the population from re-anointing the President every six years. It’s a seamless system. Mahinda appoints the custodians of state TV, the keepers of state funds and the police. Then he runs in an election with the shameless backing of state resources, with the power to throw the opposition candidate in jail. This is exactly what Mahinda did against Sarath Fonseka and now he’s trying to codify the policy into law.
And law this will most certainly become. Ranil as the fourth brother has been trusted not with business, military or even Parliament. He is just the Parliamentary eunuch — completely ineffective — Fredo to Mahinda’s Godfather, he simply keeps an eye on the opposition MPs until Mahinda decides he wants to take a few.
Ranil is a sucker for negotiations. The LTTE suckered him once and Mahinda has suckered him again. While he was talking to Prabhakaran, Chandrika took his ministries and the LTTE took his votes. While he was talking to Mahinda, Mahinda took his MPs. If Mahinda is the father of the Constitution, Ranil is most definitely the mother, but the deformed child belongs to us all.
Mahinda’s 18th Amendment is effectively a red sash around the Constitution. It eliminates the (imaginary) checks on presidential power written in the 17th Amendment and gives the President unbridled power over government institutions, Parliament and the police. Mahinda has already shown no compunction about abusing those powers to win elections, so this he will presumably do until he gets tired (another 12 or 24 years?) or until his son Namal is ready for the throne. This is Mahinda’s vision for Sri Lanka. To the opposition its a boot, to Mahinda it’s just his smiling face, glittering in various transmutations for eternity.
It is vanity and foolishness. This is not a Constitution, it’s taking Sri Lankans a step back from the Magna Carta. In this case Sri Lankan nobles (i.e. politicians) are giving back power to the king. All that is left of democracy is elections, with an elections commissioner appointed by the king.
Mahinda’s vision does not extend beyond his own body and blood. He has no thought of the next 200 years, of what these powers might do in other hands, of what sort of template he is laying for a future nation. There is no vision beyond his own family and no humility of placing nation before self. Perhaps he and Namal are the best leaders for the country, but why not trust the country to decide? Why not implement a template to prevent any future tyranny instead of entrenching a benevolent dictatorship in law? Mahinda may be a functional leader now, but all things are impermanent. Situations change, people change, even sons rise and fall in their fathers eyes. Even Sinha Bahu gave birth to a child so incorrigible that he had to be expelled from India. That bad blood can flow in any dynasty.
Yet, under this new Constitution, Mahinda places the country at the same grave risk. Perhaps Mahinda only abuses state power for noble ends, perhaps the end justifies the means. But what about the leader after Mahinda? Should he be trusted with the same powers? And the one after that, and the one after that?
Mahinda obviously hasn’t thought that far. He seems to like himself and he seems to like Namal and that is presumably enough for the nation. But it’s not.
Sri Lanka has been crippled by spoilt dynastic fruit throughout its history, which Mahinda has presumably read. Even Vijaya, the founder of our nation, was such a Malaka Silva type despoiler of people and property that he was ejected from his native land. In more recent times, the Bandaranaikes used all their inherited power to waste this country’s precious time.  Sri Lanka’s historical dynasties have also been wracked by murder, military takeovers and violent overthrow. Because that was the only way to effect change. The point of a working constitution is to enable stable change, not preserve power. Without a working constitution pressure builds up and eventually explodes in violence.
Mahinda has already ignored the checks and balances in the Constitution as is, that could have gone on forever. What he could not violate was the simple math of term limits, so he’s simply writing that out of existence. With that goes the last check on the absolute power of the Presidency. Now the only check is death, revolution or palace intrigue, hardly a stable template for a democratic nation. In Mahinda’s shortsightedness, he has lost track of his duty as a leader. A Constitution is not supposed to think 10 years ahead or 50 years ahead, it’s supposed to think for hundreds. It’s not supposed to imagine best case scenarios, it’s supposed to plan for the worst. Most importantly, it is not about one man but about the people. That is who power belongs to, and that is who this new Constitution takes power away from.

143 Comments for “The Death Of A Nation”

  1. Che

    THE FORMING OF A NATIONAL GOVERNMENT IS THE ONLY ANSWER, THE POWER SHOULD BE GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE, AND NOT TO AN INDIVIDUAL.

    • Palmyrah

      No. National government is dictatorship. Isn’t dictatorship of the majority masquerading as democracy good enough for you?

      The trick is to make democracy work. But that will never happen in Sri Lanka until people give their primary loyalty to a secular nation-state of Sri Lanka, not to some race, religion, caste or other sub-national grouping.

  2. Umesh

    I totally agree with the article since it is a very dangerous move. Since the most population is not very intellecutal (though literacy is 90%) it is not easy to explain people about the danger. There is enough reason for not to extend terms of US president. People should thin deeply and take action. Otherwise, it can benefit only those in power along with Mahinda.

  3. Roy

    GANU HORA KAPAN ME RATMA THOGE HORA PAIUL SAMAGAMA EKTHUWELA BALLA

  4. Mark

    There are a lot of Ballas coniving on this one. The JHU, The NFF both so called patriots have supported this. The rebel UNPers who are the most vile scum support this after first giving evidence against S.F. Now one of the mahanayakes have joined in. The other mahanayake will soon follow. This is the sinhala way. Condemn JR’s constitution disrespect it and then shamelessly use it and ammend it to be even more draconian. Words cannot describe the mentality of these vile sinhalese scum. And yes the mahanayakes are included. For they too are scum not deserving any respect for this act. I am ashamed of being a sinhalese. Every right thinking sinhalese should rise up against this grevious damage being done to our nation undermining its very foundations forever. How dare you perpertrate this travesty and still call your selves patriots.

  5. The people have no clue as to what is in the 18th Amendment. Can someone who knows what is in the amendment tell the general public what is included and why they are not good for the nation. If and when it is done, people can make a decision. Blaming everyone for what is not known is not right. Wake up people, find out what is in the Amendment and the give some constructive criticism.
    Henry

    • HM Magodis Rajapakse

      This is the End of Democracy (Extinction) in SL and the beginning of the Maha Rajano’s Dynasty, “flavoured” with dictatorial, authoritarian, totalitarian Regime. Our idiots who trust this TYRANT could eat lots of ice cream (bitter!) in the near future, instead of rice.

  6. willows

    unfortunately, english speaking/reading mass only knows the gravity of ths situation, for an ordinary person this is neither good nor bad, only they focus on the present person. How are you planning to go to general people and tel them the gravity of this situation???

    • pemma

      Willowa: The solution lies giving voting rights only to englich speaking and reading masses and disenfranchise those sinhal speaking gamayas and modayas..They tried this succesfully in south Africa, US for many years before deciding to give voting rights to the black people (and wome other countries , to women). Perhpaps you should put this as a proposal to your idol SF for consideration. One can not have the cake and eat it too.

      • gona

        WOW ..!! That’s a funny way of protecting the democracy.

        Where are you from pemma?

  7. Suwimal

    I have only one question. Are the people/voters in Sri Lanka competent enough to elect a leader with such extensive and autocratic powers?

    • pemma

      I agree. Sri Lankan people /voters are not competent t oelect their leaders (Look at the people they have elected – like JRJ, Chandrika, Premadasa etc.. etc.. Perhaps we shoul ask the people in a clever country (like Norway or Japan) to vote on Sri Lankan constitution…

  8. Banda

    Sri Lanka is a third world dump. It is under developed corrupt and lacks everything that even Bangaladesh or Afganisthan has. No wonder I can sit back in my beautiful western homeland and laugh at you cave men.

  9. Sachi

    People are so helpless in front of this grave danger. Long live democracy!

    • suni

      Do you know what is this 18th amendment? I really don’t. Can someone tell me what are the changes in 18th amendment? I understand Mahinda can run again and again.
      We shouldn’t have to worry about Mahinda contesting for the3rd time. If people don’t like him they can vote him out. We do not have to worry about Namal also. If people don’t like him he cannot come to the power. I

  10. Che

    20 MILLION BRAINLESS HUMAN BEINGS GOING TO THE SLAUGHTER, THEY HAVE NOTHING AND WILL HAVE NOTHING, BUT AN IRON FIST RULING OVER THEM, THEY WILL HAVE TO HEAR NO EVIL DO NO EVIL SEE NO EVIL AND BE MORE DUMB FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES

  11. [...] Link: http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2010/09/05/the-death-of-a-nation/ [...]

  12. Psycho

    Another golden era has begun, lets relish every second of it!

    Lets give traitors “dethis wade”.

  13. murugs

    Nation started dying some time ago and finaly is dead now.This amendment adjustment is the last nail to the coffin. Thanks to India,Pakistan,China,Russia,Iran,IMF,USA.,UK,EU,UN,Ban-ki-moon, Ranil,and every one else who helped make it happen. No tigers,no al-Qaeda, no UNP, no JVP, no DNA,..Now the rest of us can live in harmony & peace with MR dynasty or any future Burmese type army dictators coming out within or outside the king family. Jayawewa !!

  14. kumara

    Power comes neither from the East, nor from the West nor from the South. Power is in the hands of the Lord, the God of heaven and earth. THIS IS NOT THE DEATH OF A NATION. God is in His throne. Just trust God. This nation shall live. It maybe under the Rajapksas or the Wickremasinghes. When the Bandaranayakes were in power, everyone including the Bandas thought it will be their “boodalaya” for life. JRJ said he will roll back the electoral map, like Napoleon did in Europe. Today, as CBK says she is a nonentity, no one even want to remember JRJ, Napoleon is only a historical pin-point.

    The Lord Jesus said “Heaven and earth will pass away but My word shall by no means pass away”.

    • kumara

      What is there to moderate in my comments??? Are you scared, and if so it appears you are frightened of the Divine power of God!!

  15. I am concerned

    Yes, Sri Lanka started dying some time ago. CAN WE TRULY BE PROUD OF A COUNTRY WHERE -
    (1) the President has failed miserably to set an example as a ‘true statesman’ ;
    (2) government servants from peon to top guy have to be bribed to get anything done;
    (3) people spit on roads and public places without any care in the world!;
    (4) women are not given any respect and sent to middle east in hordes to be virtual slaves for the Arabs;
    (5) the President and his cronies brainwash the masses and rigs the elections and thereafter fiddles with the Constitution as they please;
    (6) the police are worse than thugs and people dread reporting a crime to the police;
    (7) there is no respect for others nor for other religions;
    (8) Buddhist priests have taken the propagation of Dhamma to a new level by mixing Dhamma with politics and joining in strikes and protests;
    (9) the ruling party sanctions goons like Mervin to do as they please, but threatens and blackmails the victims;
    (10) people who oppose the ruling party are bumped off and bodies never recovered;
    (11) Media is threatened that they fear to publish the truth;
    (12) Principles of schools take bribes to admit children and teachers give priority for their personal matters than for teaching;
    (13) MPs are attracted by filthy money and jump sides forgetting promises given to the masses;
    (14) there is no discipline on the road with people driving like crazy with no regard for road rules;
    (15) judges are easily bought over;
    (16) professionals do very little to act according to professional ethics;
    (17) politicians use their thugs to get their own way or get favors or waive the rules for their cronies;
    (18) people throw garbage on roads and drains and pretend they have nothing to do with it;
    (19) the remaining natural beauty of the country is destroyed by people exploiting such sites for their greed;
    (20) the minority fears or doubts the sincerity of the majority as there is woefully little done to alleviate the fears of the minority;
    (21) laws are passed but never properly implemented;
    (22) a case takes at least 6 years for finality with litigants losing all hope in the judicial process;
    (23) senior citizens are never given a proper place in society;
    (24) there is so much cruelty to animals;
    (25) refugees live in pitiful conditions but the politicians give only lip service;
    (26) ruling party try to make the maximum from all projects whether they be good for the people or not;
    (27) the military waives its own rules brazenly in conducting bogus court martials against its own once admired super General!;
    (28) the government shamelessly threatens the UN in spite of being a member state and being a recipient of its assistance;
    (29) the government brazenly breaches its own commitments signed and delivered to the EU on Human Rights to get special benefits such as GSP+ and thereafter finds fault with the EU for meddling in internal matters;
    (30) cost of living is becoming intolerable day by day but the government carries on with grandiose projects forgetting the need of the hapless poor;
    The list goes on and on……
    When we come to think of it, yes, this nation is truly dying or has become one of the worst places to live in. CAN WE REALLY BE PROUD TO LIVE IN A COUNTRY LIKE OURS WHEN NO ONE LIFTS A FINGER OR CARES A DAMN TO PUT IT RIGHT?

  16. This bastaed give presidential to rapista m drug dealers , child molesters, drug traficers, muderes, tax cheaters under world gangsters wahat else you name it every thing is there.

  17. Rathanavali

    Yes, Sri Lanka started dying some time ago. CAN WE TRULY BE PROUD OF A COUNTRY WHERE -
    (1) the President has failed miserably to set an example as a ‘true statesman’ ;
    (2) government servants from peon to top guy have to be bribed to get anything done;
    (3) people spit on roads and public places without any care in the world!;
    (4) women are not given any respect and sent to middle east in hordes to be virtual slaves for the Arabs;
    (5) the President and his cronies brainwash the masses and rigs the elections and thereafter fiddles with the Constitution as they please;
    (6) the police are worse than thugs and people dread reporting a crime to the police;
    (7) there is no respect for others nor for other religions;
    (8) Buddhist priests have taken the propagation of Dhamma to a new level by mixing Dhamma with politics and joining in strikes and protests;
    (9) the ruling party sanctions goons like Mervin to do as they please, but threatens and blackmails the victims;
    (10) people who oppose the ruling party are bumped off and bodies never recovered;
    (11) Media is threatened that they fear to publish the truth;
    (12) Principles of schools take bribes to admit children and teachers give priority for their personal matters than for teaching;
    (13) MPs are attracted by filthy money and jump sides forgetting promises given to the masses;
    (14) there is no discipline on the road with people driving like crazy with no regard for road rules;
    (15) judges are easily bought over;…
    LIST GOES ON AND ON….

  18. You say, “Ranil as the fourth brother has been trusted not with business, military or even Parliament. He is just the Parliamentary eunuch — completely ineffective — Fredo to Mahinda’s Godfather”

    Either you got it wrong…or you were too scared to say it. If Ranil is Fredo…Mahinda is Sauron! Re-read “The Lord of the Rings” by J. R. R. Tolkien or watch the 3 movies!

    ps: Mahinda already has 3 brothers…and there is one in America who is not into politics! Get your facts right and don’t keep using Ranil as a scapegoat. The majority voters are IDIOTS.

  19. [...] a better read than I can provide, I encourage you to take a look at this article and Google a few others to form your own [...]

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