Category Archives: Presidential elections
An Introductory Note from Michael Roberts
Gerald Peiris and I were undergraduates at Ramanathan Hall Peradeniya in the late 1950s and met on occasions when we were pursuing postgrad studies in UK and I visited Cambridge. Thereafter we were colleagues in the Arts Faculty at Peradeniya University from 1966 to 1975. Quite vitally, we were active members of the Ceylon Studies Seminar. During those seminars and at times in private tête-à-tête over drinks the two of us occasionally engaged in discussions, sometimes with sharp disagreements on specific issues.
Sam Samarasinghe aka SWR de A Samarasinghe of Tulane University, in Sunday Observer, 27 January 2019, where the title is “Gotabaya’s alternative vision challenges Sri Lanka’s democracy” …. with highlighting emphases in different colurs imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi
Gotabaya Rajapaksa recently announced at a meeting of Viyath Maga, of which he is president that he was ready to contest the next Presidential Election that must be held this year.In his speech to the assembled professionals and business people he asserted that Sri Lanka must have national unity (jaathikathwaya) and rejected sectarian division (jaathiwaadaya). The Viyath Maga website makes all the right statements on good governance such as “steer the country in the correct path with accountability; inculcate democratic values…”, and so on. Rajapaksa also stressed the importance of solving ‘social problems’ focusing on poverty reduction. All of the above are desirable political goals for the country. They are also not new. The UNF in 2015, and earlier leaders, made similar promises that were largely ignored once in office.
Sanjana Hattotuwa, Sunday Island, 20 January 2019 where the title is “Puppets, Pawns and Presidents”
Sirisena, Wickremesinghe, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, his brother Chamal and Karu Jayasuriya. The last week saw media frame prospective candidates for an office that the incumbent said, nay, swore on 9th January 2015, he would never seek re-election to and would be the last to occupy. Evidence of Sri Lanka’s sickeningly bankrupt political culture is again to be found in how, leaving aside unequivocal promises four years ago, even the catastrophic events of late 2018 and its entrenchment have not resulted in any meaningful measures to abolish the Executive Presidency. While the government continues bizarrely, blindly and blithely with business as usual, the names paraded as Presidential aspirants offer some interesting insights.
ONE. Sanjana Hattotuwa: “Musical Chairs,” Island, 12 January 2019
The appointment of a new Army Chief of Staff. A fresh denial around the use of chemical weapons. The denunciation of a civil society protest against mainstream media supportive of the constitutional coup, not by members of the SLPP, but by those in the UNP and government. A photograph of a former President, the incumbent and the Prime Minister, comfortably seated next to each other, enjoying or at least at a musical show. Newspaper headlines and reports framing dire warnings by the former President, who true to form, relies on the capture of emotions over fact or principle. In just the second week of January, we are presented with the template for what the year ahead holds. It is not looking good, but despite the obvious anxiety, I continue to maintain, is counter-intuitively rather beneficial. The greatest contribution of the constitutional coup to conversations around the grasp of Sri Lanka’s democratic potential was to place in the open and very clearly, who stood for what and where. This endures.
ONE. Lakshman Gunasekara: “Politics vs Constitutionalism,” in Horizons, 9 December 2018 …
When the Bandaranaike International Memorial Conference Hall (BMICH, what a mouthful) began hosting conferences in those old-fashioned 1970s, we, the ordinary citizens hadn’t a hope of freely strolling into its premises (let alone its halls). One needed a conference invitation to enter the gates and some ‘delegate’ or ‘media’ tag to enter the main hall or ‘committee rooms’ (as they were quaintly termed then). Today, in our lower-middle-income country comfort zone, people are constantly streaming in and out of the BMICH, for weddings, exhibitions, conferences, convocations, concerts and seminars, all at the same time (and I am sure there is romance in those verdant gardens). Continue reading →
Neville Ladduwahetty, in Island, January 2019, with title “The Need To Revisit the 19th Amendment”
Recent political developments have brought into sharp focus the need to revisit the 19th Amendment (19A) despite the unanimous approval it had received in Parliament in May 2015, with the notable exception of one brave Naval Officer Rear Admiral MP Sarath Weerasekara. The primary aim of the 19A was to transfer power from an Executive President to a Prime Minister and a Cabinet of Ministers. The first attempt to indulge in such an exercise was in 2002. Having failed in 2002 a fresh attempt was made in 2015. The 2015 attempt succeeded subject to the Supreme Court determining that some named provisions required approval of the people at a Referendum. Notwithstanding this judicial intervention the fact that certain provisions that should have received the attention it deserved escaped attention makes it necessary to revisit 19A in order to address at least some of the omissions that matter for the sake of clarity.