Sri Lanka: We shall overcome!

Time for People's Revolution 

by Fr J.C. Pieris

A revolution is a very sharp change made to something. The word comes from Latin, and is related to the word "revolutio" (which means a turn around). Revolutions are usually political in their nature. But there have been other types of massive changes in human society that are called revolutions for example the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution and the information revolution. Samples of violent political revolutions are the French, the American, the Bolshevik and the Haitian revolutions causing fundamental changes to existing societies. Then there are the national revolutions seeking freedom from colonial imperialism. Most of the Asian, African and Arab revolutions were of that kind. (Wikipedia)

A sharp change

With the above introduction to revolution in its broadest sense I’d like to discuss a peculiar type of revolution that we in this country need and need immediately. From the above description we learn that a revolution is a sharp change. Changes are not comfortable. In the domestic scene just change the position of a chair, a table or the TV and you will know how uncomfortable everybody feels and they will let you know it in no uncertain terms. Our country needs a change and needs it badly. And it is not a minor change but a sharp or a major change, a 180 degree turn around. If we do not feel this need even after the April 21st carnage we are either idiots or vegetables.


The manager of a super luxury hotel in the South confided to me that by the 23rd April they had cancellations of 259 nights of confirmed bookings. The loss to the hotel is over 20 million. No new bookings are coming at present. Hotels are retrenching majority of their workers. Some small ones simply closed down. Daily wages earners and casual labourers are badly hurt. The week after the New Year, of course, all were in a holiday mood, even the casual workers. They expected to get back to work after Easter Sunday. But the country came to a standstill, the hospitality trade, a major component of the economy of the South, died with the Catholics and the tourists. It took one whole month for children to trickle back into schools, how can a school function without students? There is a ‘moosala’ mood of fear, uncertainty, anger and despair. People are numbed. They do not know what to think or what to do. Every time either the Ali Baba or the 225 thieves open their mouths they put both their feet into their mouths. Nobody takes them seriously any longer. They are despised and cursed. They dare not go into the street without their body guards or their bullet proof vehicles. Everybody accepts, even the Veddah Chief, that a change is absolutely necessary, a sharp change, a revolutionary change.

The political nature of the change

The second salient feature of a revolution is that it is of a political nature. It is politics that decide whether we live or die, eat or starve. Therefore, invariably, a revolution is an operation to vanquish the present political regime and set up a new one. To do this non-violently we need a general election. Even before the 21st April people had almost decided that "Enough is enough" and we must get rid of the present lot of rascals, robbers and rogues. I called them, soon after the notorious Bond Scam, Ali Baba and the 225 thieves. And they must be sent to jail or home permanently. But after the Bloody Easter there is no doubt in anybody’s mind that these 225 nincompoops and baboons should GO! So, we come to the next presidential election and the consequent general election and the big question - what shall we do?

Fundamental changes to society

The third salient feature of a revolution is a fundamental change to the existing socio-ethical patterns and trends. Let us ponder on some of the current socio-ethical patterns and trends that slowly seeped into our way of life after the JR era and corrupted it and got completely rotten after the MR era. Selfishness has become a virtue. This was noticed first by teachers among the students. The OL and AL students do not like to show or share their notes with others. If one’s classmate had being sick and missed class they do not show the notes to them. Even the little ones working their sums cover them with their hands not to show them to the companion sitting next to them. How strange? It is unbelievable. Remember, children copy and imitate their adults. They are a faithful reflection of the adult society!

The culture of corruption and selfishness seems to begin in school with small children. The famous children’s poem "Me gase boho…" was originally meant to inculcate non-greed and concern for others and sharing the oranges even with birds and squirrels, but later it was changed to mean let’s eat as much as we can and sell the rest to make money! It is money and profits that matter.

During the previous regime people from the gutter and the underworld began to take over the country’s leadership. Murderers and gang-rapists (Tangalle), murderers and drug traffickers (Hikkaduwa), maniacs with intractable sex urges throwing parties celebrating the 100th woman-victim (Akuressa), big time drug traffickers (Negombo) were the politicians of the country supported and protected by the so called national leaders. As the retired DIG Edward Gunawardana once said famously: "Seluwa aniwarya kara ethi rataka Saluwa vihiluwak bawata pathvee etha." We need to break out of the indecent Seluwa-culture and get back to the civilized Saluwa-culture. And that is not going to be an easy exercise for it will be a revolutionary change.

Changing the context

The only way to make a bloodless revolutionary change is to change the context of the present ugly, rotten system. The present rotten system thrives in the context of the present weak and corrupted constitution. Throw this constitution completely out and bring in a new, firm, uncorrupted and decent constitution. In which context the ugly present politico-cultural indecent system will not be able to survive.

It will never be possible to bring about such a new constitution with the present set of Ali Baba and the 225 thieves. That is clear from what happened to the Lal Wijenayake draft of the constitution; whatever people may suggest finally it goes to the parliamentary sub-committees where it gets diluted, adulterated and corrupted. We have seen this happening.

The doctrine of necessity

Therefore according to the doctrine of necessity we can and should find a way out of the present dangerous mess we have got into. If USA is going to set up military bases in this our land, we are really and truly in a very dangerous mess. Now is the time to seek the help of such an extra-legal intervention which is wholly beneficial to the people and the country – The doctrine of necessity. "The doctrine of necessity is the basis on which extra-legal actions by state actors, which are designed to restore order, are found to be constitutional. It also includes the ability of a private person to violate a law without punishment where the violation of law was necessary to prevent even worse harm. The maxim on which the doctrine is based originated in the writings of the medieval jurist Henry de Bracton, and similar justifications for this kind of extra-legal action have been advanced by more recent legal authorities, including William Blackstone.

In modern times, the doctrine was first used in a controversial 1954 judgment in which Pakistani Chief Justice Muhammad Munir validated the extra-constitutional use of emergency powers by Governor General, Ghulam Mohammad. In his judgment, the Chief Justice cited Bracton's maxim, 'that which is otherwise not lawful is made lawful by necessity', thereby providing the label that would come to be attached to the judgment and the doctrine that it was establishing.

The doctrine of necessity has since been applied in a number of Commonwealth countries, and in 2010 was invoked to justify extra-legal actions in Nigeria." -Wikipedia.

The doctrine of necessity is supported by the famous jurist Hans Kelsen too. He mentions the dynamic theory of law in his book Pure Theory of Law. The dynamic theory of law is the explicit and very acutely defined mechanism of state by which the process of legislation allows for new law to be created and already established laws to be revised, as a result of political debate in the sociological and cultural domains of activity. – Wikipedia.

The autochthonous constitution (AC)

So we come to the urgent and dire need for a drastic change of the constitutional context of the governing system in the country. This is the whole purpose of a completely new AC. This AC, now being drafted by the people, is in the public domain. I have seen the fourth edition with changes. In the original it had reduced the number of members of parliament from 225 to 125. In the second, third and fourth editions it had come down to 80 members. And the latest change is that it has been brought down to 60. Here is an interesting comparison. In India the Lok Sabha has some 500 + members. In round numbers let us say it is 500 and the population of the country one billion. That is roughly 5 MPs for two million people. We have 20 million in our country. According to the Indian system we should have only 50 MPs. All are invited to send in their comments, suggestions and opinions. That is how the people are drafting the new constitution.

The gist of the AC

The country will be a unitary state. The executive presidency will be abolished. The provincial councils will be abolished. The legislature will be reduced to 60 MPs. The cabinet will be only 15 or less. MPs will not have salaries or pensions only an allowance. Pensions of MPs will be abolished retroactively. The doubled membership in the ‘pradeshiya sabhas’ will again be halved. MPs will not get car permits, petrol shed permits, wine shop permits etc. to sell for millions. MPs will have to be either graduates or have studied up to that level. Nobody with a criminal past or such allegation will be allowed to tender nominations. No person will be qualified to be elected as a MP more than twice. The parliament will be back at Galle Face.

As soon as the new constitution comes into force the judiciary will be dissolved and new people will be appointed by a constitutional council. The constitutional council will consist of 9 eminent, learned people and chaired by the speaker, the only politician. There will be only one law for the whole country. Muslim law, Udarata law and Thesawelami law will be abolished. The national list will be abolished. All court cases will have to be concluded in six months. Only serious crimes like murder, rape, child abuse etc. can go on for one year and not one day more. The punishment for corruption, swindling people’s money, will be gallows. Proportional representation system will be changed to the old, first past the post system. Citizens will be empowered to recall their MPs. There will not be urgent bills. Foreign Service will be strictly restricted to career diplomats. Those who have robbed the people’s wealth will be given one month’s amnesty to return the loot, failing which they will be charged, tried, convicted and jailed. Their properties and the properties of their immediate family, movable and immovable, will be confiscated. Domestication of wild animals will be prohibited. Sovereignty of the people will be inalienable and fully protected.

Good governance

In the new context of the AC, drafted by the people to replace the present rotten constitution, good governance can and will be established. The AC will be presented to the people at the next presidential election with a candidate. The AC will be more visibly in front than the candidate. Citizens will be voting for the AC, not so much for the candidate. But, of course, the candidate certainly will be a man of integrity with a strong character and a clean past. He is not a politician and he doesn’t want to be one. He will be what the ancient Greeks called a philosopher-ruler, or in modern terms, a statesman. When the AC is voted for by the people and receive the 51% majority we shall truly have a democracy as defined by Abraham Lincoln "A government of the people, by the people, for the people." As far as the AC is concerned the next presidential election will be a referendum. It by passes the need for two thirds majority of the legislature which, in this case, is not necessary as the majority of the people has adopted it. The doctrine of necessity validates the AC. The Voice of the People is supreme and above the executive, legislature and the judiciary. All the members in the executive, legislature and the judiciary are mere servants of the people with their salaries paid by the people. It is the sovereignty of the people that decides, there is nothing above it.

How you can participate in the drafting of the AC

Your suggestions, opinions, comments, fears and misgivings can be shared with the drafting committee made up of the initiator of this revolutionary project Mr Nagananda Kodituwakku and his team in the Vinivida Foundation and the NPM, National People’s Movement. Find below how you can contact them:

Vinivida Foundation.
Tel. +94 115 248 322 / +94 701 440 500.


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