Paradise Island Sri Lanka
January 28, 2007 will be written in Sri Lanka’s
history books as one of the most dramatic events in the political arena and it
was all because of Ranil.
Ranil may be the excuse that is being used to defect but the reality is that
these strings of jumbos, federalists, green-blooded politicos couldn’t resist
the plum portfolios and perks that Mahinda, the genie was ready to offer.
It seems quite a waste of any reader’s time in drawing attention to the history
of corruption and misdeeds that these defectors have been party to not to
mention the parliamentarians in the government. It is rather like a big tea
party where all the merry men and women have now joined to fill their stomachs
at the expense of the public. That really is the ground reality and undoubtedly
the truth of the matter.
What will the ardent UNP vote base now say? Some of these voters can only see
green and are oblivious to any other colour in the political arena. Will they
excuse the defectors and put the blame on Ranil? What good would it do anyway?
The carpet has slipped from Ranil’s feet and some of UNP’s best men are now
holding very lucrative positions in the ‘Chinthana Government’. The very one
they were laughing at not so long ago.
The genie is definitely having the last laugh even though it will eventually be
at the expense of the poor public who will once again have to suffer to upkeep
the lifestyles of these new ministers, non-cabinet ministers, deputy ministers
and possibly more defectors for whom the genie has still kept some vacancies.
Would it not be amusing if even Ranil as Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in the
What any voter today should take serious note of is a simple truth. ALL
politico’s have no principles, no shame and certainly no integrity.
With the present reshuffling Sri Lanka has the most number of ministers in the
Asian region. India with a population of 1.1billion has only 73 ministers.
Pakistan with a population of 168 million has just 16 but Sri Lanka with a
population of only 20 million has 104 ministers (46% of the total membership of
the House are ministers – 104 out of 225)
What more can we expect from sons and daughters of avarice!
Open letter to Bryan Nicholas
In a letter to the editor published in ‘The
Nation’ of January 28, 2007, Bryan Nicholas professed nephew of the late
President J. R. Jayewardene addresses an ‘Open Letter’ to Mahinda Rajapaksa,
current President of Sri Lanka, who governs under the 1977 Constitution
fabricated by his Uncle Dicky.
Bryan Nicholas is concerned that roads are closed whenever the Presidential
entourage and that of ministers get onto the roads. Bryan has obviously
forgotten that no vehicular traffic was permitted past the J.R. Jayewardene
residence in Ward Place, Colombo. Pedestrians were questioned by security and
directed on alternative routes. Even the sick on their way to hospital were not
Bryan is cheekily addressing his request to the first in the Land, whereas it
should be directed to the Inspector General of Police who has to answer for the
safety of the executive head of Sri Lanka and his ministers.
Presently there is a security problem. A failed Attempt was made on the life of
the Army Commander, Major General Sarath Fonseka. The LTTE foolishly had a swipe
at the life of the Pakistani Ambassador because his country supplied arms and
weaponry to Sri Lanka. The supply still continues. India is bashful and
diffident because Tamil Nadu is cautious. India does not want two sovereign
states in Lanka.
J.R. Jayewardene having had his Constitution passed by Parliament commented that
the document gave him all the power except the power to transform a man to a
woman. Utterly cocky with all that power in his pocket he did not realise that
his power was confined to a Lankan Yankee Dick as he was nick-named was an
admirer of the USA. He despised giant India. Not satisfied with his victory he
ventured out to insult India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In laconic abuse he
called Indira Gandhi a “cow” and her son Sanjay her “calf.” The allusion was to
India’s venerated animal the cow.
The abusive remark got to the ears of Indira. She lost no time in meeting out
retribution to arrogance and decided to destabilise the Lankan government. Young
Prabahkaran a Sri Lankan was picked up with friends in Madras where he was
absconding in search of greener pastures. With the promise of hoisting him to
greatness in Lanka, Indira gave him and his associates a training in guerrilla
warfare which he greedily lapped up in readiness to destroy the Sri Lankan
If he were to lead Tamils to the promised land he had to break with other ethnic
groups and set himself as the sole leader. A terrorist problem was born in
peaceful Sri Lanka.
Progressively all contenders for Tamil leadership were physically eliminated,
including many TULF members and its leader, former Opposition Leader, Appapillai
Having recited Prabhakaran’s doings this writer hopes that Bryan Nicholas will
free himself of all misgivings. He undoubtedly must be aware that a war of
attrition is on and shouldn’t give advice that would create chaos and a state of
anarchy and lawlessness in the land which is maintaining relative peace.
In the context of bedlam and a state of pandemonium that will arise with Bryan’s
advice it will be easy to assassinate any leader. Those in the pay of the
terrorist will not balk at committing any felony.
The role of the Opposition
In a parliamentary democracy an inherent
feature should be the existence of a dynamic and vibrant opposition. The
Opposition performs two roles; namely, it seeks to expose the deficiencies of
the government and secondly, to ultimately replace the government. Gilbert
Champion having in view of a two-party system defines the Parliamentary
Opposition as, “The party from the time being in the minority, organise as a
unit and officially recognised, which has the experience of office and prepared
to form a government when the existing ministry has lost the confidence in the
Sir Ivor Jennings observes that, “The duty of the Opposition is to oppose ....
that duty is the major check which the Constitution provides upon corruption and
Harold Laskie points out that two and only two parties are essential for a
successful functioning of parliamentary democracy viz. the Party in Government
and the Party in Opposition.
An effective Opposition generally means an Opposition which performs two basic
functions in the set up of Parliamentary Democracy. Firstly, to provide
constructive criticism and corrective to the policies and programmes of the
party in power and secondly, to show that it is able to form an alternative
government when the party in power goes out of office.
Thus, the concerted action of the Opposition is one of the surest means of
controlling a government. The responsibility of the Leader of the Opposition and
the Members of the Opposition is to be objective and pertinent in their
Another functional role of the Opposition is that of innovation. This means
that, the representation of new groups or interest and as a spokesman for their
demands and the adoption of new ways of organizing or mobilizing voters. In this
situation, the Opposition with a dynamic Leader of the Opposition should be able
to harness group loyalties in the interest of the nation.
Thus, an effective and a dynamic Opposition generally means an Opposition which
performs the functions of Parliamentary Democracy by constructive criticism of
the policies and programmes of the Party in power.
In analysing the ‘Role of the Opposition in Sri Lanka’, since independence, it
would be prudent to note that to date we have had 13 Parliaments meaning that we
have had 13 Oppositions. Since Sri Lanka is a parliamentary democracy with a
multi-party system, the Leader of the Opposition is always the Leader of the
Party who holds the most number of seats in the Opposition.
Going on this tradition from October 14, 1947, from the time the first
Parliament under the House of Representatives was established to the time of the
13th Parliament currently in session we have had 16 Leaders of the Opposition.
This does not mean that we have had separate 13 individuals as Leaders of
Opposition. Dr. N. M. Perera held this position in the first Parliament from
October 14, 1947 to April 8, 1952 and in the 3rd Parliament from April 19, 1956
to December 5, 1959. Then S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike assumed the role of the Leader
of the Opposition from June 9, 1952 to February 18, 1956. In the 2nd Parliament
C.P. de Silva performed this role from March 30, 1960 to April 23, 1962 for a
brief period in the 4th Parliament. Then we see Dudley Senanayake becoming the
Leader of the Opposition from August 5, 1960 to December 17, 1964 in the 5th
Parliament. Sirimavo Bandaranaike was Leader of the Opposition in the 6th
Parliament from April 5, 1965 to March 25, 1970. Under the 7th Parliament which
incidentally becomes the House of Representatives and the first National State
Assembly under the first Republican Constitution of 1972 from June 7, 1970 to
May 18, 1977, J.R. Jayewardene was Opposition leader.
During the 2nd National State Assembly and first Parliament (8th Parliament)
under the 1978 2nd Republican Constitution, A.Amirthalingam was the Leader of
the Opposition from August 4, 1977 to October 24, 1983 and thereafter, Anura
Bandaranaike was Opposition Leader from November 8, 1983 to 20th December 20,
From March 9, 1989 to June 24, 1994 in the 2nd Parliament (9th Parliament)
Sirimavo Bandaranaike was the Leader of the Opposition. Gamini Dissanayake
functioned as Leader of the Opposition from August 25, 1994 to October 24, 1994
and thereafter Ranil Wickremesinghe performed the role of the Leader of the
Opposition from October 28, 1994 to August 18, 2000 and from September 14, 2000
to October 10, 2000 under the 3rd Parliament (10th Parliament). Ranil
Wickremesinghe performed the role of the Leader of the Opposition from October
18, 2000 to October 10, 2001 in the 3rd Parliament (11th Parliament). Ratnasiri
Wickremanayake and Mahinda Rajapaksa were leaders of the Opposition from
December 18, 2001 to January 31, 2002 and February 5, 2002 to February 7, 2004,
respectively under the 5th Parliament (12th Parliament). In the 6th Parliament
(13th Parliament) which is currently in session Ranil Wickremesinghe is
performing the role of the Leader of the Opposition. The role of the Opposition
in real terms is the role of the Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the
Opposition in a Parliamentary democracy is the ‘Sun’ around which all other
parties in the Opposition revolve like planets. As the rays of the sun, an
opposition leader should be able to cast his rays on the Opposition to make it a
binding unit to confront the government as and when required. For this purpose a
Leader of the Opposition should be dynamic, vibrant and if the requirement
arises should be able to take on an oppressive Government headlong even by
leading the people to the streets.
The right to dissent by an MP
The right to dissent is an essential
pre-requisite for a democratic society. This right should be exercised not only
by citizens but by MPs as well.
In more than 34 countries MPs are permitted to dissent from their party
decisions even to leave the political parties from which they are elected. In
these countries MPs cannot be expelled from parliament for voting against party
There are two main theories of representation:-
1. The Free Mandate Theory (F.M.T.)
2. The Imperative Mandate Theory (I.M.T)
In F.M.T. MPs can exercise a free mandate in the national interest. In some
constitutions there is specific provision which reflects the Free Mandate
Eg:- 1. French Constitution Article 27 states, “Any mandatory instructions shall
be null and void. MPs shall vote according to their personal opinion.”
2. Swiss Constitution Article 91 states, “Members of both Councils shall vote
The I.M.T. specifies that MPs are obliged to act in accordance with the mandate
they received from their voters. The issue of the reflection of the wishes of
the party does arise even in the imperative mandate theory.
There are several reasons why the Free Mandate Theory, sometimes referred to as
the theory of uninstructed representation, is preferred to the Imperative
Mandate Theory or the Theory of Instructed Representation.
One reason is that the IMR theory s impracticable. It is impossible for voters
to be aware of the MP’s views on all issues. It is immoral, for it demands the
sacrifice of judgment and conviction of the representative in favour of others.
It will adversely affect the quality of the legislature. Persons of superior
intellect and integrity are unlikely to seek election.
It undermines one of the most important functions of the legislature, in a
representative democracy. Parliament is meant to be a ‘Deliberative Assembly’.
The dangers of ignoring the deliberative function of Parliament, is reflected in
a observation by a Jurist:
“Indeed, as Burke rightly saw, it would result in an absurd state of affairs in
which the determination precedes discussion, in which one set of men deliberates
and another decides, and where those who form the conclusion are far away from
those who hear tile arguments.
It seems clear, therefore, that the Free Mandate Theory enables Parliament to
realise its full potential as the paramount lawmaking institution, and as an
effective check on the executive branch of government. That is why the free
mandate theory has been accepted in most liberal democracies. There had been
judicial recognition of the Free Mandate Theory in a number of reported cases.