Even as in spring time a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love and romance,  so do Lanka’s leading politicians begin to hum the old, known, well-worn tune of scrapping the presidency at every spring of a presidential poll year before raising it to a crescendo at the approach of winter’s end. And this [...]


‘Abolish Presidency’ blues hit the charts again in poll’s year

Ranil, Maithri and Mahinda combo unite to end the jazz while Gota gets set to make debut on presidential stage

Even as in spring time a young man’s fancy turns to thoughts of love and romance,  so do Lanka’s leading politicians begin to hum the old, known, well-worn tune of scrapping the presidency at every spring of a presidential poll year before raising it to a crescendo at the approach of winter’s end.

Gota: Set to make debut whilst his elder sibling wants to make the presidency obsolete

And this time, like the robin breast who sings at the first sign of spring, they have started cooing early.

Leading the flock was Ranil Wickremesinghe, a long time proponent of the executive form of government which his uncle Junius introduced 40 years ago to the Lankan constitution and nailed it to the cross of this nation’s fate as an irremovable object. But now the one time proponent has turned opponent and the very idea of abolishing the executive presidency makes his pants want to get up and dance.

He hit the first note and had the rest joining the choir to sing the chorus when he stated in Parliament on December 17 last year that he wanted the public to give him a rain cheque to him to have the executive presidency abolished next term; and no sooner had he said it, his loyal bandmaster Malik Samarawickrama took the cue and raise his conductor baton to make the orchestra ring loud with Yahapalanaya’s Unfinished Symphony.

Samarawickrama, giving echo to his master’s voice, said, ‘The Executive Presidency does not lead to a stronger State; it does not strengthen the unitary State of the country; nor will it lead to a more stable Government. We must bring priority to this Parliament, the elected representatives of the people. It is clearly apparent from this crisis that the Executive Presidency is posing a serious threat. All of us members of this Legislature need to double down and commit to abolish the Executive Presidency. We commenced through this path through the 19th Amendment, which drained the absolute powers of the Executive and brought more power to Parliament. From the last 51 days, you can see how vital this Amendment was. Now it is time to complete the job of abolishing the Executive Presidency.”

Ranil: Scrap the Presidency

He said: “The United National Party, which created the Executive Presidency in 1978, endorses the fact that concentrating so much power in one single office is dangerous for democracy and the country at large.”

Then it was the turn of Maithri who, having made it his campaign promise, cannot afford to do a bulti on his pledges and even whilst dancing the kaffringa on every political stage, has to solemnly swear to do away with the executive presidency even as he vowed before the corpse of the Yahapalana architect, the Ven. Sobitha Thera, to abolish it — even though he has made no secret of his own ambitions to content the presidential election again, despite vowing before the nation at his inauguration as president on January 9, 2015 he will only serve one term and leave thereafter to his Polonnaruwa paddy field to till the land.

Last month on the 21st of February he said, ‘It’s not my fault that I transgressed on my promises’. Addressing Parliament he stated:  “Even in my 2015 election manifesto, I stated that I am contesting with the intention to abolish the executive presidency. It is not my fault that it has not been abolished until now. That responsibility is vested with Parliament. Whatever decision this honourable House takes in that regard, I will abide by it. I have stated that then as I do now. There is no issue on that.” And then President Sirisena announced his continued commitment to abolish the Presidential system of Government.

Mahinda: Scrap the Presidency with conditions

And then after these two have sung their usual signature tunes, await the surprise of the year. The arrival on stage to join the jazz combo and render his own version of ‘what a wonderful world it will be’ if we didn’t have an executive form of government.’

Suits him fine, doesn’t it, at this hour to sing soul? For one who had enjoyed executive power for a decade and even enacted legislation to extend his right to contest the polls forever whilst arrogating all the powers of the state unto himself, including the police, the Attorney General’s Department and other powers, with no check or balance until the people gave him the boot in 2015, Mahinda Rajapaksa forms the threesome to make ‘abolish the presidency’ once more a familiar tune on Lanka’s Hit Parade. The jingle remains the same. Only the singers are different. And all of them singing in unison sound as a choir singing flat.

Of course, all three have their own reason for wanting the executive presidency to be abolished. Perhaps Ranil, long denied as he has been of the ultimate prize, five times bridesmaid but never the bride, believes his chances of wielding executive power as prime minister with his party on course to gain the majority of seats stand him in good stead rather than once more face the jinx of a presidential contest, the holy grail which has always eluded him. So near to his grasp but so far from his reach as happened in the 2005 elections when Mahinda beat him at the post after Jaffna punters were denied their right to bet.

Maithri: Scrap the Presidency

Maithripala, condemned as he is to political Coventry has no choice in the matter but to save face and give voice to his parrot call for its abolition. And as far as Mahinda is concerned, the presidential election is a no go zone, barred as he is from showing his colours at the starting point by virtue of the 19th Amendment. Rather than play second fiddle to an executive president from either side, the logical thing for him is, of course, to campaign for the abolition of the presidential system and ring in the prime ministerial stakes.

And while the combo play their song, now comes the troubadour to give his own solo recital. Ex-president’s Mahinda Rajapaksa’s younger brother, Gotabaya, who believes he his presidential material.  Having confined himself to a series of voice cuts each time he emerged from the courts where he faces a series of corruption charges, Gotabaya has now ventured into the open to announce his own maiden appearance on the political stage. The debut was to be held on Friday. But for some reason or the other it has been postponed.

Gotabaya faces three challenges.

The first will be the verdict of the courts as to his guilt or innocence as to the charges he is indicted with.

The second is the matter of dual nationality; and although he says with confidence that the renunciation of United States citizenship is a casual affair which can be disowned overnight at one’s whim and fancy, America seems not to be in so an obliging mood when a citizen who had enjoyed its broad acres for so long wish to slap Uncle Sam on his face and vanish from the scene.

Third, whilst he is trying to make the maiden speech on stage, it must infuriate him to find his elder sibling joining hands with Ranil and Maithri to frustrate his very aim.

And the thought must worry him.

If the USA should grant him renunciation of USA citizenship in order for him to contest the presidential polls which, if he does as he has said he would, and which in turn would serve to send the fear of God through the corridors and rooms of the judiciary presently hearing his cases, if the combo of Ranil, Maithri and his own brother succeed in enacting in parliament  legislation to abolish the executive presence in the body politic – which they can for amongst them they have the necessary numbers, the two thirds necessary as the Supreme Court will demand or when a referendum to validate it is called for – would he find forlorn that, after giving up USA citizenship, it all been in vain for there is no presidential podium to step on and make his presidential address? And where would that leave him? Neither here or there.

There is a saying in Istanbul, centuries old. A Turk never keeps a brother near the throne.

Sirisena’s Aluth Avurudu gift to the nation: The rope

Druggies on death row await hangman and his noose

If President Sirisena’s avowed determination made six months ago to execute convicted drug offenders presently on death seems to have waivered, his meeting with ‘hang  the bastards’ Duterte of the Philippines last month clearly has stiffened his resolve  to ‘ string the lot’.

Duterte: He's a man after my heart

No doubt, he was impressed with Duterte’s popularity rating that has soared to 83 percent after carrying out the executions in his country; and, fortified after his meeting the Philippine’s  President who has executed hundreds of druggies, Sirisena announced last month on February 9 in Parliament to present to the nation his Aluth Avurudhu gift. His sense of timing to coincide with the Sinhala New Year was remarkable. Addressing Parliament in the first week of February, he announced there will be a hanging in Lanka, the first to be done after Maru Sira was hanged  forty three  years ago on August 5, 1975.

Fellow proponent of executions Duterte was the first to hail Sirisena on his  hanging mission. On Feb 12, he said what a jolly good fellow Sirisena was and told him ‘hang the bastards.’ He said “I knew the most basic sorrow and agony of the people is drugs. And we are not buffeted on both sides, we get a double whammy. The cartel of Mexico is expanding and the greed for money, easy money, dirty money, increases their appetite every day,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City.

“If you look at the Philippines, your left side, your left hand is the west, your right hand is the east. On the western side, we have the golden triangle, also a well known drug cartel in Asia and doing now business in the East Asian countries, prompting even the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka say, ‘I will follow Duterte. I will kill the bastards,’” he added.

But, unlike the offers drug godfathers make which none can refuse without risking retribution, is Sirisena’s promise to carry out his first execution before the arrival of the avurudhu raven, the koha, one more promise he cannot keep? Not because he is wanting in resolve but because of the logistic problems involved judicial murder.

But there’s many a nick between the neck and the noose.

For starters, there is the question of the rope. One that will withstand the fall of a 200 kilo weight. Apparently the forty year stay of hangings which kept the death penalty in the statue book but held suspended its actual execution, has rendered the nation unable to produce the coir fit for a presidential hanging. And this from a nation with a proud track record of doling out punishment to fit the crime.

Hundreds of years ago, in the gory days  of yore, in an era where today’s Sinhala chauvinists still pine for and wish it had still existed, there was what was call the ‘ dasa vada’, the ten commandments that dictated what punishment merited the  crime. Apart from being impaled in the anus, another favourite of the kings was to tie the culprit summarily found guilty between two coconut trees, tie him with his arms and legs spread wide eagle with a strong coir rope and then to cut the two tree so that it ripped the mortal frame in half. Pathetic, isn’t it, that a nation so rich with craft and ingenuity, cannot now produce a simple rope to hang a man?

So that’s Sirisena’s first obstacle. The rope now has to be imported. Perhaps tenders will have to be called and awarded to some Chinese company to provide a rope fit enough to hang a Lankan on a string.

The second one is more challenging. Unless one wants to do the darned thing oneself, the task of finding a hangman must tax the ingenuity of a king. And heavy must lay the head that wears the presidential crown as he ponders over to find the ideal chap to put the noose around another’s neck and make another swing.

Apparently, there’s enough takers for the job. Some 102 have sent in their applications for the task, including one American guy. As if Sirisena didn’t have enough on his plate having to fend off foreign judges from passing judgment on Lankan citizens as the United Nation’s Human Rights Council demands, he now has to contend with the uproar that will surely rise in having a foreign executioner as well charged with throttling  Lankan citizens.

A hundred and two may have sent their CVs, but the question is whether they have the necessary qualification?

According to the government advertisement published in the newspapers, they must first have A’ Level qualification to do the job, which might possibly rule out many Parliamentarians on the prowl moonlighting   for added income.

And a must, as listed in the job vacancy ad, is that one must have an ‘exemplary moral character’ to kill another human being which will rule out the likes of Madush on whose orders from Dubai, it is said,  scores  of rival drug dealers were killed to safeguard his own patch of the drug trade.

But in the midst of Sirisena’s lust to prove himself a macho man in the style and mode of the Philippine’s Duterte in the belief that it will increase his ratings in the manner it seems to have done for Duterte when troops were ordered to shoot down any suspected drug peddler wherever found, does the death penalty act as a deterrent?

For those who plan murder in cold blood also plan their escape route and never think they will be caught. Those who commit rape never think of being strung up when brutish sexual lust takes over their being at that moment in time. And those who deal in deadly drugs always believe they can bribe their way out by paying politicians or that they can flee to Dubai or hide amongst the millions in India and will never be caught till, as it happened to Madush, circumstances catch up with them. The death penalty exists only to satisfy society’s blood lust and craving for justice and condemns all, stains all, leaves all with the blood of judicial murder on their hands. As Jesus Christ said on the cross, ‘Father forgive them, for they do not understand.’

Fags banned in Vavuniya
The Vavuniya South Tamil Pradeshiya Sabha has banned the usage of polythene and sale of cigarettes in areas which fall under its purview from March 1, it was reported on Thursday. The decision was made after a proposal to this effect was unanimously approved by the members of the Pradeshiya Sabha. Public Health Inspectors in the area are expected to assist the implementation of this proposal in a proper manner.
Meanwhile, the Vavuniya South Sinhala Pradeshiya Sabha has completed 80 percent of implementing a similar project which bans the sale of cigarettes in areas under its purview.

But under what law have they done so?
Apart from the debate whether smoking is bad for your health, this decision is certainly hazardous to the legal system of the land and impugns upon the right of Parliament to be the sole lawmaker.

In the week that saw the Finance Minister raise the price of a pack of fags by a hundred bucks to enable the Exchequer to enhance its income to better balance the nation’s budget, under what law did the members of the Vavuniya Pradeshiya Sabha act to ban the sale of cigarettes and thus deprive the government earning its keep from a legitimate source of income?
This, it is reported, has also led the Jaffna provincial council to pass a similar resolution but the move was butted out when it was realised that they had no legal right to do so.

If every single Pradeshiya Sabhas in the country – and there are over 300 of these meaningless ones in existence – decide to impose bans on goods legitimately sold in the country what we will have is a form of de facto federalism which the central government new constitutional draft is desperately trying to avoid.

And why stop at cigarettes? If the mood takes these Sabha, some of which are notorious for having suspected criminals on its benches, whats to stop them from banning soap and toothpaste or any other good that they take a pet hate to? What about banning newspapers that don’t reflect their political views? The Sunday Times, for instance?

It’s time for the central government to crack the whip and bring these pups to heel before other Sabhas begin to issue their own dictats in their areas. If this is not stubbed out now this small island will have rules, regulations and laws varying from area to area and a central police force confused as to what laws to enforce – whether the general law of the land is to be followed or the little fiats issued by the Sabha to be obeyed.


How shall I Sing of Thee By Don Manu
How shall I sing of thee, my love,
What shall I sing of thee;
Shall I sing you’re from heavens above
For that’s what you seem to me.
Shall I sing you’re the lotus born
Such seems to be thy beauty
Which lingers on e’en when you’re gone
And which brings such bliss to me
You’re my rising sun, my waxing moon.
You’re the stars that blaze all night;
You’re the one that holds me in a swoon
The picture of all that’s bright
You’re the weather vane of all my moods
That in my dark brings light;
You’re the symphony sans interludes
The score of life’s delights.
Now ere the dawn when the hour breaks,
The darkest of the night;
And the whispering moon serenades
A song of shivering delight;
I reach for you and in your arms
I find banished my blight;
And feel descending a balming calm
That soothes away my fright.
And when my ship’s on stormy seas,
And I hear the tempest’s roar;
You set your sail upon the lees,
And sail me safe to shore;
And in my desert barren patch
You’re the sweetest rose that blow:
The heaven’s angel earth did snatch
To bless her brood below
Thus shall I sing, I’ll never forsake,
The love I have for thee:
And though my heart’s own lyre would break
I’ll always yearn for thee;
And scale the mount no matter how steep
To reach my destiny.
For within your sweet bosom sleep
My dreams in eternity.

Share This Post


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
Comments should be within 80 words. *


Post Comment

Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.