Sri Lanka: Fragile Government Vs. Well-Organised Communal Opposition

The Public political debate deliberately started by communal media in Sinhalese society has told the public the very opposite ‘here is the proposal now dance!’ conveniently ignoring the truth. As warned by the left this is based on strategy cooked up by the racist organizations. We have to accept the communal opposition is very much more organized and backed by fascistic inteligencia who know what they are doing.


by Vickramabahu Karunarathne

( December 2, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Ranil wants to be a consistent liberal inspite his devotion to gods, alien to Theravada Buddhism. He will exhaust debate and discussion before challenging unrepentant racist and bigots. Hence he must have selected avoiding public campaign and political drama, over the reform process as the best option to launch it. However, constitutional reform inevitably involves the resolving of the Tamil national problem. That means nothing short of a revolutionary change of state have to be carried out, to which opponents will rally round, at least its opponents, more than its proponents, are acutely sensitive to. This is why political drama over constitutional reforms, the very thing that Ranil wanted to avoid, has erupted. An interim report of the Constituent Assembly’s Standing Committee was released. It is neither a final report nor a constitutional draft, but a statement of the various positions of groups in Parliament on reform topics. However, the Public political debate deliberately started by communal media in Sinhalese society has told the public the very opposite ‘here is the proposal now dance!’ conveniently ignoring the truth. As warned by the left this is based on strategy cooked up by the racist organizations. We have to accept the communal opposition is very much more organized and backed by fascistic inteligencia who know what they are doing. This neither 58 nor it is 83 and certainly not 88/89, as JVP not involved. The opponents appear to be determined to block any progress in the reform process beyond its present state of being confined to an interim report. Preventing a sober national discussion by unleashing an ideological war is a time-tested strategy. That needs an organization and a developed fascistic brain center. Recent attempt by Mahinda camp to develop such a center could have been successful.

One analyst has said ‘Meanwhile, something different seems to happening in Sri Lanka this time around. The opponents to constitutional reform seem to have exhausted their energy and arguments, ironically amidst the government’s own inertia and reluctance to publicly defend its positions. The government is divided on the nature and scope of reform. While the Prime Minister wants a new Constitution and abolition of the presidential system, President Sirisena wants only electoral reforms. Interestingly, the discord within the ruling coalition is paralleled by the loss of political energy in the opposition campaign. These two unconnected developments appeared clear when the Constitutional Assembly debated the interim report. The best ideas that were contributed to the debate were from the proponents of reform. The joint opposition’s speakers, led by Mr. Rajapaksa, lacked any new ideas.’ This is difficult to accept. It is true that fascistic thinking do not produce any new ideas. But they develop theories by lies and half truths. They could mobilize learned men misled by communal hate and jealousy . Unlike in previous times this deliberate construction of pseudo theory is going on backed by constructed scientific fishy data.

Our analyst goes further: ‘Ranil will still find it difficult to manage the politics of constitutional reform. First, there is the timing of the whole exercise. The government of ‘good governance’, as the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe coalition regime calls itself, is no longer as politically strong as it was a year ago. Corruption scandals, slowing down of investigations against individuals of the previous government, and economic stagnation have all seriously undermined the political credibility of Mr. Wickremesinghe’s side of the coalition.

Sensing the arrival of Mr. Wickremesinghe’s weak moment amidst the corruption scandals, Mr. Sirisena has recently moved in the direction of further weakening the Prime Minister’s position by asserting his own authority within the ruling coalition government. The balance of power between the two within the coalition regime may or may not change. Yet, the unfolding cold war is likely to further weaken the government’s capacity to advance the constitutional reforms initiative. A weakened government with self-inflicted wounds can hardly be the agency for a crucial project of state reform.

Thus the biggest obstacle to the progress of the constitutional reforms initiative comes from within the government, not outside. This is the real political conundrum in Sri Lanka today. Although the 19th Amendment to the Constitution created a system of diarchy in the structure of government, the two centers of power managed to function in a spirit of cooperation. That relationship has been damaged. Unless the two leaders repair it, their relationship might even degenerate into competition and antagonism. That will not be good for Sri Lanka’s democracy and political stability.’

This is imagination threatening reality hence unacceptable. There is an understanding between Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and President Maithree Sirisena in the yahapalana government’s attempt to change the Constitution, though they have been facing a series of obstacles. Inspite of Maithree’s commitment his Sri Lanka Freedom Party some leaders are not enthusiastically backing the reforms initiative. Inspite of Malwathu Maha Nayaka and Asgiri Anunayake with many learned Buddhist monks have given their blessings, the section of Sanga under the influence of Mahinda fascism are opposed to any constitutional change. Yahapalana constitutional reforms project envisages the abolition of the presidential system and return to empower of parliament and replacement of the proportional system of elections and preference voting with a mixed system, and greater devolution to provincial councils.

This is the only attempt to change the constitution with public participation and debate. In all attempts before, tamil people did not participate. in same manner 1977 then the President JR enacted the present system. Chandrika Kumaratunga as President initiated a reform process in 1994, which ended in failure in 2000. JVP at that time became a hindrance to reforms based on devolution. President Mahinda Rajapaksa, in 2005 and 2009, promised to change the Constitution, but did not take concrete steps apart from appointing two committees to make recommendations. These committees , in particular the LLRC fascistic politics made progressive recommendations Nonetheless, Mr. Rajapaksa continued in the path of fascist politics ; finally did an unusual thing by amending the Constitution in 2010 in order to enhance, not reduce, the powers of the President, despite the fact that ‘executive presidency’ was the darkest feature of the Jayewardene Constitution.

Same analysts say “History appears to repeat itself. The most ardent opponents of the reform initiatives now are Sinhalese nationalist forces, led by Buddhist monks. Parliamentary opposition, led by Mr. Rajapaksa, is in the forefront of the secular campaign against constitutional reform. The opposition by Buddhist monks revolves around two points. One, further devolution would amount to giving in to the demands of the Tamil and Muslim minorities as well as appeasing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam diaspora and foreign powers. Two, abolition of the presidential system would weaken the Sri Lankan state. The Sanga leaders are also worried that the new Constitution might drop the “foremost place” position that is accorded to Buddhism as per the current Constitution”

This is incorrect .the present opposition is much more political than the emotional explosions that signified the opposition to devolution or any change in constitution. Those emotional aspects are removed to large extent by political education and praxis of Desa Premi revolution of 88/89. Today domination of well organized fascistic political net work is creating the real challenge to the Yahapalanaya. Do the yahapalana leaders recognize this threat and are they prepared to defeat it. Even if Prime Minister Wickremesinghe is aware of all this, which is why he has adopted the strategy of drafting the new Constitution through the Parliament acting as a Constitutional Assembly; and The proceedings of the Constitutional Assembly were conducted in a low-key fashion with little controversy, can he avoid the confrontation prepared by the fascistic forces?

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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