The Sunday Times on the Web


25th July 1999

Front Page |
News/Comment |
Business | Plus | Sports |
Mirror Magazine

47, W. A. D. Ramanayake Mawatha Colombo 2. P.O. Box: 1136, Colombo 2.
Telex:21266 LAKEXPO CE
EDITORIAL OFFICE Tel: 326247,328889, 433272-3 Fax: 423258, 423922
ADVERTISING OFFICE Tel: 328074, 438037
CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT 10, Hunupitiya Cross Road, Colombo 2. Tel 435454, 548322

Front Page
Mirror Magazine

    Con-reforms & politricks

    It is a statement on the political culture of our times that political promises can be uttered like a mantra to temporarily appease some lobby or some cross section of public opinion.

    The currency that a political statement carries nowadays is zero, the credibility of political pledges nil. Politics has always been politics, and election pledges have been broken before. But, in the main, the art of dissembling in politics at least tended to respect the general intelligence of the masses.

    These days, political pledges are a continuing saga of insulting the general intelligence of the horde. In other words, the prevalent political culture takes it for granted that the masses are there to be suckered.

    The latest declaration of the Central Executive Committee of the People's Alliance is generally in line with this trend of dishing out absurd- theatre for the consumption of the hoi polloi and the electoral horde.

    Apparently , the PA heavyweights have decided, according to the Executive Committee statement, to "abolish the Executive presidency through a complete change of the constitution.'' So what's different in this new trick that has been pulled out from the hat, the politically jaded citizen Perera may as well ask?

    The PA had pledged even before it formed a government that the Executive presidency should be changed. It was gradually decided that the new constitutional package will accomplish certain changes that will establish regional councils and at the same time replace the Executive presidency with a Westminster model executive system of governance.

    This is as far reaching as any change to the constitution could get, and was basically seen as a "complete change to the constitution'' that would radically change the country's constitutional framework.

    But, it's an old story now that these changes could not be accomplished even though this government has completed almost five years of it's six year term in office.

    It's another matter that there didn't seem to be any political will to accomplish these changes, or and real political grit and determination that was worthy of any applause. It was said variously that the political opposition was not willing to vote with these changes, and that the Dalada Maligawa bombing has something to do with the fact that the political reforms could not be carried out due to the prevailing public mood.

    Now, this newspaper has never been enthusiastic proponents of the new constitution, and in fact ,editorially , we have pointed out the pitfalls of the regional system of government. So, not being able to make any headway with the proposed constitution certainly doesn't make us any sadder and we rightly consider the inability to carry forward the changes the PA's problem.

    Apart from a lack of political will, the PA has displayed some dubious and duplicitous tactics which cast a cloud over the genuineness of its motives.

    For example, the government did not have to tie up the dismantling of the Executive Presidency with the new package at all. If it was presented in parliament as a legislative proposal by itself, there would have been no doubt that the opposition would have voted with the government.

    But, none of these alternatives occurred to the visionaries and the trail blazers steering the ship. The constitutional experts did not even make use of the provision in this constitution to use the clause enabling a non-binding referendum on the political package, so that the people's will could be ascertained.

    It's in this backdrop that the government, now after a full five years suddenly claims that "the constitution will be changed completely,''and that everyone will live happily ever after. The less said about the political currency and the credibility of this statement, it would be better for our collective health.

Political Column

Editorial/Opinion Contents

Presented on the World Wide Web by Infomation Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.

Hosted By LAcNet

Editorial Archive

Please send your comments and suggestions on this web site to

The Sunday Times or to Information Laboratories (Pvt.) Ltd.