Tsar and commissars (Island Editorial)
The polyandrous yahapalana marriage produced several children and one of them became President Maithripala Sirisena’s favourite. He lamented, the other day, that the precious child had been abused. He flew into a fury and vented his spleen on the child abusers.
President Sirisena went ballistic, in Parliament, on Thursday, tearing as he did into his estranged yahapalana allies. Lambasting the Constitutional Council (CC), he likened the 19th Amendment to a child who had been abused. Little did he realise that his lament was a self-indictment in that the victim had been left in his care; he should take the responsibility for neglecting his responsibilities and exposing the child to danger. He cannot absolve himself of the blame for what has befallen the victim.
President Sirisena should explain why he failed to prevent the abuse of 19-A, which he says, is precious to him. He was the head of the yahapalana government, which he is flaying. He kept quiet and tolerated the abusers until they began to short-change him. If they had treated him well, without undermining his authority, and agreed to field him as the common presidential candidate again, perhaps he would not have minded the ‘child abuse’ at issue.
What we witnessed under the Rajapaksa government was the rape of democracy, but President Sirisena has no qualms about having joined forces with the former rulers!
The CC was created to act as an antidote to the politicisation of state institutions, but it has been reduced to an appendage of the UNF government; it is packed with UNP politicians and sympathisers. What the Russians said after the Bolsheviks’ ascent to power comes to mind; they said they had been troubled by only one Tsar before the October Revolution, and, thereafter, they had many commissars to contend with. Sri Lankans find themselves in a similar situation. Earlier, one person, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, following in the footsteps of his predecessors, controlled all state institutions according to his whims and fancies; today, there are CC members helping the UNP-led government do just that. It is a supreme irony that Rajapaksa has become a member of the CC in his capacity as the Opposition Leader. Now, he is expected to function as a countervailing force against that UNP-dominated institution which is doing exactly what he once did, albeit in a different manner.
President Rajapaksa brought the Attorney General’s Department under his purview and manipulated the State Prosecutor; he stood accused of meddling with the judiciary. He also had a Chief Justice hounded out of her job as she did not toe the government line. Times have changed and, at present, nobody can become the Attorney General, however senior, qualified and competent he or she may be, unless he or she is in the good books of government, which controls the CC. The same goes for judges who seek promotions. The President tells us that the upright ones among them are overlooked by the CC, which does not care to give reasons for rejecting their names submitted by him. Has the CC become a law unto itself?
Under the Rajapaksa regime, democracy came under machete attacks carried out by goons, who incurred much international opprobrium. Today, democracy suffers rapier thrusts at the hands of English speaking swordsmen, and the international community looks the other way.
While listening to President Sirisena, on Thursday, we were reminded of the words the US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley used to describe the UNHRC. She minced no words when she called it a ‘cesspit of political bias’. This, in our book, is true of most councils, international or local; they stink to high heaven.