| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam
( December 1, 2012, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the Sri Lanka Guardian article ‘Is Parliament sovereign? ’ by Dr Reeza Hameed.
In old English Governments Christianity and its clergy were distinctly visible. Sovereignty to my mind is the ability to be independent and feel wholesome – as a person and/or as a group.
I enjoyed very much the feeling of identity with the substance of this article. In terms of legal science – to my mind if Dr. Reeza Hameed is the academic father I am the practicing mother. It is interesting that we are both of minority religions of our country of origin – Sri Lanka. The current question before Sri Lankans is Who is Superior – Political Mother or Judicial Father?
Dr. Reeza Hameed’s opening statement is ‘There is no basis in the Sri Lanka Constitution for the proposition that the Sri Lanka Parliament is sovereign. It is neither sovereign nor supreme.’
My version of this would be: ‘As per the Constitution of Sri Lanka we have the holy trinity – Brammah/Vishnu/Shiva; Allah/ Mohamed / Islam; Father / Son / Holy Spirit; Legislature/Executive/Judiciary; Body/Mind/Soul.’
To Tamils who are claiming sovereign status this would be Tamil Eelam/Prabakaran/Tamil Nation.
In terms of Sri Lankan legal system this is Customary Law such as Thesawalamai and Common Law/Enacted Law/Justice.
Article 4 of the Sri Lankan Constitution also lists the three leaderships in governance in this order. Each one is not superior to the other. Each head is superior to other institutions in its own branch. Likewise any Multicultural system – including the caste system of Jaffna which was based originally on the type of work performed by particular groups. They go wrong when applied without reference to their roots.
Dr. Reeza Hameed states ‘In England, given the absence of a single document called the Constitution, not all the basic principles of constitutional law are codified. Such is not the case in Sri Lanka.’
To my mind, in England, no particular religion has been given by law, priority placement but in Sri Lanka Buddhism has been given priority placement and therein lies the problem.
In old English Governments Christianity and its clergy were distinctly visible. Sovereignty to my mind is the ability to be independent and feel wholesome – as a person and/or as a group. Hence where majority needed religious beliefs to feel independent and wholesome, Religion and religious leaders were part of the Government. When an individual realizes this independence and therefore sovereignty that individual has the power to recognize and develop this power in others. That individual is the natural leader of that group. When Truth of that whole group is pooled in common (as in Commonwealth) and is equally divided we have Equal Opportunity systems. When that common pool is shared as per merit – we have hierarchical systems. The paths through which we ‘pool’ our investments in sovereignty become the basis of the structures and due processes for the next generation and/or other contemporary groups that seek to learn from us.
Our work and sacrifices during our lifetime need to be given form towards this following by the next generation and / or learning by wider world. This is the reason why we have memorials for those who pass away and why we produce current objectively measurable outcomes of our work for those who seek to learn from us but are not biologically/physically connected to us. Occupier of every position also has that responsibility as per her/his position structures and boundaries. If existing structures and boundaries are not able to facilitate this we need to restructure our positions – to become broader or narrower – the goal always being to achieve sovereignty at that level. One who has achieved sovereignty at a lower level position has the right to be recognized as being Equal to every other position in a sovereign entity. This is why I often say that the Pariah/Toilet Cleaner and the Vice Chancellor of a University are Equal once the Pariah realizes sovereignty through her/his position. I realized this through my position of Management Accountant of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of New South Wales. By having me arrested when I peacefully demonstrated this ‘Sovereignty’ / ‘Independence’ the Central Administrators (parallel of the Executive in National Government) were interfering with my Sovereignty and therefore the Sovereignty of the group I felt I belonged to. This group was first the University of New South Wales, followed by the State of New South Wales and finally the Commonwealth of Australia headed by the Hon John Howard as Prime Minister who, like the President of Sri Lanka, was following the footpath of his own biological culture to govern a multicultural Australia. I instituted legal action to confirm my sovereignty as Australian through the path of Asian migrant and Mr. Howard’s lack of sovereignty as Australian through the path of Anglo migrant. Equal Opportunity laws facilitate our journey towards realizing Sovereignty in a multicultural country. I practiced Equal Opportunity actively and hence became wholesome Australian before Mr. Howard to whom Equal Opportunity laws would have been secondary so long as majority members of his electorate were influenced strongly by belief in their English culture. I thus gave form to my investment in Equal Opportunity laws and through such my realization of ‘Sovereignty’ as a migrant Australian. This is like writing a will which ideally ought to confirm our belief as to who would best respect and carry forward our money wealth and status. Our money wealth and status are the physical manifestations of our life. They denote the paths through which we realized our spiritual values. Most, if not all, of the material side of Gandhi’s life is in his status as Father of the Nation.
Religious leadership within Government represented the belief in God / Universal Power. This has been replaced in Democracy through the belief based Do It Yourself leadership to complete the cycle sovereignty through that part of the institution/nation. The stronger our belief in Democracy the lesser the visibility of structures that confirm Hierarchical leadership – which most Religious leaderships are.
By stating specifically in the Constitution (Article 9) that Buddhism is the foremost religion of Sri Lanka, the People of Sri Lanka have blocked their own progress in Democracy. Similarly by stating ‘The Official Language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala.’ [Article18(1)]. The above language placement has been followed by ‘Tamil shall also be an official language.’ [Article18(2)]. As per my interpretation – the use of ‘The’ mutually excludes the use of ‘a/an’ to denote placement. If they were truly Equal as official languages – the wording ought to have been to the effect of ‘The Official Languages of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala & Tamil’.
As per my observation, the controversy of ‘Sinhala Only’ which led to ethnic riots followed by war over the past 30 years has changed form to manifest itself as ‘Executive Supremacy Only’. If Tamils had been facilitated to manifest their investment in Sovereignty as a community within the country, Sinhalese would have not needed an alternate avenue through which to ‘show’ their Supremacy. Like Soorapathman who took various forms and eventually surrendered to Lord Muruga as Peacock and Rooster, the majority race in Sri Lanka is changing its leadership forms. When they surrender to Lord Muruga who represents Independence through the path of Democracy / Globalization, the Politicians would become the Peacock on which Sovereign Powers would travel the world and the Judiciary, like the Rooster in Lord Muruga’s flag would intellectually inform that wider world that Sri Lanka is a Sovereign Nation.
In the meantime, for the purpose of intellectual debate – one needs to ask whether Buddha is superior to the Constitution of Sri Lanka or whether it is the other way around. The tertiary stage is the spiritual stage of life and hence is belief as part of a whole. At primary stage we express our individual belief through our vote. The tertiary stage belief needs to be least visible at individual level. By giving it specific form in the Constitution, those who crafted the Constitution have given lesser status to Buddhism below the Constitution and to Buddha (leave alone the Judicial Head) below the President. If Tamils who claim Sovereignty are punished as Terrorists – Sinhalese Politicians who abide by Article 9 must be punished for Blasphemy. More importantly they cannot lead their followers to realize sovereignty through the Constitution so long as their religious belief is stronger than their belief as a Sri Lankan. Thus they cheated their people promising they would lead them to realize sovereignty as Sri Lankans. Hence the ongoing turmoil in Sri Lanka, which is more visible now that majority Tamils have separated themselves.
Parliament is Sovereign to voters. Executive is Sovereign to Practitioners of Civil Codes; Judiciary is Sovereign to Practitioners of Law. They are like three religions. Citizen who believes s/he is an intrinsic and inalienable part of the whole country is Sovereign to the Nation. Without at least one such citizen, a country is yet to attain Nationhood and therefore is yet to realize Sovereign status. One who realizes Sovereignty as a Buddhist in Buddhist group would feel part of the whole and therefore Sovereign. This is confirmed by treating the other religions as Equals. Likewise the Legislature and the Executive.
According to information received by me, the Speaker of Sri Lankan parliament had said in relation to Judicial Summons/Notices regarding the Parliamentary Select Committee inquiring into the impeachment charges against the Chief Justice: ‘I am happy to note that a broad consensus emerged in the course of the debate on the central issue requiring my decision. I would like to make particular motion of the view, clearly expressed by the Hon. Leader of the opposition in the course of his intervention, that the purported notices constitute an unwarranted interference with the powers and procedures of Parliament and are invalid. This was stated with great clarity by the Hon. Joseph Michael Perera as well.
On careful consideration of this matter, I wish to convey to the house my ruling that the notices issued on me, as Speaker of Parliament, and on the members of the select committee appointed by me, have no effect whatever and are not recognized in any manner.
I declare that the purported notices, issued to me and to the members of the select committee are a nullity and entail no legal consequences.
I wish to make it clear that this ruling of mine as Speaker of Parliament, will apply to any similar purported Notice, Order or Determination in respect of the proceedings of the committee which will continue solely and exclusively under the authority of Parliament.’
If this is true recording of what happened – then I conclude that the current Speaker of Sri Lankan parliament is not serving all Sri Lankans but is reducing one group to elevate his group. We’ll have to do what we can and leave it to Buddha/Muruga/Allah to bring about the change. Every sovereign Sri Lankan would be able to make the connection and identify with her/his contribution when the change happens.