The Sunday Leader

Right To Make And Break Parties

by Gamini Weerakoon

Profound statements made by politicians often fly over the heads of ordinary citizens which must be exasperating tothem. Ex-president Mahinda Rajapaksa, last week, declared: Anybody has the right to form a party (a political party).But this profundity has escaped notice of the general public.

It’s like some statements of cricket commentators who have to keep talking while the match is on and run out of words making bland and obvious statements. Last week we heard familiar comments like: A batsman’s job is to score runs, and another old time favourite – Catches win Matches.

The right to form a political party goes into the roots of constitutional making, fundamental rights, etc. Thus, Rajapaksa should have sounded and been taken seriously like one of those founding fathers of the American constitution and his statement subject to an in depth analysis by the political pundits. We hope thateven a humble newspaper column may help in a little way since other places where the learned, eccentrics and idiots express their views have so far ignored him.

 

Corollary

Perhaps Rajapaksa missed or ignored the corollary of his contention:This ‘right to make a party’ is linked with the ‘right to break a party’. In recent weeks there has been a heated debate between himself and President Sirisena on who is breaking up the party of which both claim membership. Sirisena last week sacked some pro-Rajapaksa rebels from party positions for daring to oppose and criticise his party and government while retaining membership of the party. This action against those described as their ’stalwarts’ of the party it is claimed is directed by President Sirisena with the objective of destroying the party.

The oldest of parties, the Trotskyist Party (LSSP) now called the Dead Left together with the Communist Party are barely surviving, hanging on to the ‘Satakayas’ around the necks of SLFPers

The Joint Opposition- as they call themselves- comprise largely of SLFPers while being led by Marxist leaders and with the backing of some light-weights of extremist parties.

SLFPers in this Rajapaksa cabal pledge devotion and loyalty to their partyalthough others say itis like offeringa tray offlowerscovering a loaded pistol beneath. (Mal Vattiya Udin, Pistolaya Yatin)

Political parties sprout in profusion in Lanka, particularly in the South, but wither away as fast. Since Independence, the Grand Old Party, the UNP has survived as one of two main leading parties although ‘the last nail had been driven into the UNP coffin’ many a time. SLFP too has suffered many defeats but bounced back. So is the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) after many vicissitudes under trying times and many names. The oldest of parties, the Trotskyite party (LSSP) now called the Dead Left together with the Communist Party are barely surviving, hanging on to the ‘Satakayas’ around the necks of SLFPers.

Whether a new party can emerge under the twice defeated Rajapaksa who will be 74-years old in 2020 and is constitutionally debarred from being president will not get the bookmakersodds. The oldest to become the president was J. R. Jayewardene when he was 72-years old.

 

Cross-Overs

The practice of MPs elected on a ticket of a particular party crossing over to another party has been known both abroad and in Sri Lanka. It is another way of breaking up a party. The toleration of an MP who crossesthe floor of a house even betraying the trust and confidence placed by voters in electing the MP was ostensiblypermitted on the basis that such a cross-over grantedthe MP the freedom of choice, if he disagreed with his own party’s views on a vital issue.Butthis freedom of cross- over in Sri Lanka not only shatters the confidence placed by voters in him or her backing apolitical mandatebut also encourages political skullduggery, chicaneryand downright abuse of power. We have witnessed this walk across thefloor of the House as an exercisenot only for gain in political power but privileges, luxuries and monetary entitlements had they remained faithfulto their party and voters who elected them. The most outrageous are the defeated but appointed legislators

Both governments, of Mahinda Rajapaksa and the Yahapalanaya governments, are guilty of going through this sordid exercise of cross oversfor gainingpolitical power.This cross-over is being used as an implement to prise political parties apart, usuallythosein the opposition and arelacking financial clout.

 

Running to Mummy

The so called Joint Opposition we thought were a tough group ofbearded revolutionary veterans who have no qualms in telling ex-imperialistand neo colonialist powers where to get off and‘Keep off the Grass of Sri Lanka’. But last week it was reported that they met representatives of the European Union at the plush residence of Prof. G. L. Pieris and complained about many things on what this ‘Good Governance’ government was doing to them: Threatening journalists; not holding local government elections and even the new IGP telling his policemen ‘not to break the law but bend it’.

This was quite a turn in events. A few days ago we saw the usual affable Prof. Peiris in a very aggressive mood on TV saying that there was a nexus between the International court he alleged was to be set up for SriLanka and the OMP (Office of Missing Persons) Bill implying that army officials could be brought to courtthrough this arrangement.

There can be no validlegalobjections to the Opposition making complaints to foreign diplomatic missions. The UNP when in Opposition and had no institution through which they could seek redress too did the same .But now there is the Police Commission and an Independent Judiciary that has shown its independence.

So why are these toughened veterans ‘running to Mummy’ to complainlike small boys do? What do they hope to gain? Persuade theEU to stall moves to resume granting the GSP+ and stop direct foreign investments coming in?

Is this patriotism with another face?

 

2 Comments for “Right To Make And Break Parties”

  1. Well, it appears that MR has given up trying to bowl maidens over. His ball has become a bit bare and the stitches have come undone. His catches have landed over the fence, and he has given everyone the runs.

    Wise move to form a party. The Sri Lanka Cricket Board needs a new “smarty”.

  2. goof

    Ask why such a powerful govt is not running but crawling on all fours to mummy all the time. No end of foreigners mainly US and EU who appear to be having some great goings on only in the North but are given Stately welcome by the southern govt and paying obeisance to them (mummy).

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