Category Archives: electoral structures

Vorsicht! Looking for a Hitler in Sri Lanka Today

Tisaranee Gunasekara, in Sunday Observer, 12 August 2018, where the title is “On Doctors and Kings. An authoritarian wind is sweeping across Sri Lanka”

The current yearning for the heavy hand of a strong leader is in tune with the Zeitgeist. Across the globe, people, disillusioned with democracy, are opening their ears to the siren song of authoritarianism. As Barrack Obama pointed out in his Mandela Centenary Lecture, “We now stand at a crossroads – a moment in time at which two very different versions of humanity’s future compete for the hearts and minds of citizens around the world.”

In Sri Lanka, the less immoderate, less illiberal government is in a state of semi-paralysis. The extremist and anti-democratic opposition is surging ahead. The myth that democracy is part of ‘The Problem’ (or even ‘The Problem’) rather than the least bad form of governance is ascendant. If democracy is the problem, then the solution, by definition has to be anti-democratic. This is the dangerous place to which Sri Lanka is careening. Continue reading

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Jayampathi Wickramarathna n Q and A on the Process of Constitution-Making

Sandun A Jayasekera in Daily Mirror, 25 July 2017, where the title runs New Constitution for Sri Lanka : ten experts working on initial draft of Constitution”

The Constitution making process is in limbo right now and the ‘Yahapalana Government’ seems quite content with the passing of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. Attempts to introduce a new Constitution has come under much criticism by many in the country. The Daily Mirror spoke to the main architect of the drafting of a new Constitution for Sri Lanka, Parliamentarian and Constitutional expert Dr. Jayampathi Wickramarathna on the issue.  Continue reading

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The Demons within the Proposed New Constitution: A Trojan Horse?

CA Chandraprema, in The Island, 25 July 2018, where the title is“The nature of the State and the Presidency” … with emphasis added by The Editor, Thuppahi

The new draft constitution prepared by a panel of experts, for the consideration of the Steering Committee of the Constitutional Assembly is now out. The panel of experts who prepared this draft comprised the following: Prof. Suri Ratnapala, N. Selvakkumaran, Prof. Navaratna Bandara, Asoka Gunawardena, Suren Fernando and Niran Anketell. Proposed Article 1 of the draft constitution describes the Sri Lankan state as follows: “Sri Lanka (Ceylon) is a free, sovereign and independent Republic which is an aekiya rajyaya/ orumiththa nadu, consisting of the institutions of the Centre and of the Provinces which shall exercise power as laid down in the Constitution. In this Article aekiya rajyaya // orumiththa nadu means a State which is undivided and indivisible, and in which the power to amend the Constitution, or to repeal and replace the Constitution, shall remain with the Legislature and the People of Sri Lanka as provided in this Constitution.”

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At the Heart of the Yahapaalanaya Alliance: Malinda’s Rapier

The burning political question of the day appears to be who and how many Parliamentarians received money from Perpetual Treasuries Ltd (PTL) for their respective election campaigns. In a political season marked by scandalous memory-loss some have claimed that they didn’t always know who was depositing money in their accounts. Meanwhile the full list of beneficiaries is proving to be elusive; first it was said that PTL had funded the campaigns of 116 politicians, later the number was upped to 166 and now it stands at 186.  

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Sri Lanka’s Political Swamp, Gotabhaya and the Viyath Maga Tamasha: A Critical Evaluation

Rajan Philips, in The Island, 26 May 2018, where the title is  The Shangri La tamasha: Neither presidential nor parliamentary, it’s Port City politics now

After a week in Cuba, I am late in gate-crashing the Shangri La party, the onset of the newest political tamasha in town. Calling it a tamasha is not to belittle the political potency of the event, but to highlight its ideational bankruptcy. No one took Donald Trump seriously when he slid down his gilded Trump Tower escalator, in January 2016, and announced his candidacy to become President of the United States of America. Look where he landed before the year was over and where he is dragging by its nose the world’s so called sole superpower. The Sri Lankan contrast is glaring.

GR making Viyath Maga speech at Shangri La

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May 28, 2018 · 2:38 pm

How It Became. Documenting the Ceylon National Congress

Michael Roberts

   BU4A8624 (1) Haris de Silva

The four volume Documents of the Ceylon National Congress produced by the Department of National Archives in 1977 runs into 3208 pages. In keeping with bureaucratic rigidity, the four volumes are still sold at some Rs 250. The give-away price has not enabled it to reach the public. The treasure trove of documentary data within these four volumes –  encompassing LSSP and Communist Party meetings in their early days — remain unknown and unseen. How many scholars, let alone armchair historians, know that FC “Derek” de Saram, Oxford Blue and Ceylonese cricketer of note, was among the ginger group (identified as “Young Turks” by me as the editor of the documents) who attempted to rejuvenate the CNC in 1938/39 by converting it into a party that could contest elections?[1] Continue reading

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Tisaranee dissects the Current Populist Currents and their Chauvinist Underpinnings

Tisaranee Gunasekara in The Sri Lanka Guardian where the title runs thus: “Blood-and-Faith Populism and Sri Lanka’s Future””

“As the great reformers of the 19th century well knew, the Social Question, if left unaddressed, does not just wither away. It goes instead in search of more radical answers.””……Tony Judt (Reappraisals)

This month, the populist wave suffered two critical defeats. In France outsider-candidate Emmanuel Macron beat Marine Le Pen. In Iran, reformist president Hassan Rouhani trounced Ebrahim Raisi, a religious hardliner backed by Supreme Leader Khameni and the Revolutionary Guard. These defeats come in the wake of other electoral setbacks for populists, especially in Austria and The Netherlands. Despite these welcome-defeats, the current wave of populism is far from spent – and would continue wreak havoc, until the forces of moderation manage to create a new synthesis between pluralist democracy and progressive economics.

Populism is hardly a new phenomenon. It flourishes best where there is economic loss and pain. Populist leaders succeed in their power-grabs by harnessing that economic pain to their political projects. Continue reading

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