May 07

Not a day too early! The Island Editorial of 11th April 2014 says it all! Money has taken precedence over everything else in politics. Time was, when the super rich became paupers because of their politics. But now, we have rogues in the garb of representatives. Some politicians who wore flip-flops, rode rickety bicycles or snatched gold chains before entering politics, have become billionaires owning palatial houses, both here and abroad and fleets of super-luxury vehicles. Cattle-rustlers, boot-leggers, killers, rapists, racketeers and dregs of all sorts, drug dealers and their beneficiaries, and even those not fit to be labourers in a government institution have become law makers and placed themselves above even top-bureaucrats and are going places in politics.

The Legislative, Executive and Judicial powers of the Sovereign People are currently all vested in one single individual. The elected representatives of the people are solely responsible for this sad state of affairs. By the 18th Amendment these representatives divested the Sovereign People of their “Inalienable Sovereignty” and vested same in the Executive President. Some of them belatedly admit their folly and even shed crocodile tears, but, without exception, they all continue unashamedly to reap the benefits of their treachery and continue to exercise people’s power as their representatives.

Those in the highest echelons of governance are blatantly violating the law in the full glare of public scrutiny. Privileged persons have no law to obey. The wrongs of headless anarchic attitudes and the ruin of a nation are on the cards – and on the heads of the Sovereign People.

Bleak indeed, is the future of a country where people’s Sovereignty is exercised by a bunch of idiots at the levers of power. The country cannot aspire to development so long as it trusts semi-literate, intellectually retarded, corrupt elements with the management of public finance and law making. Those elected to control the destiny of the country should be men and women of integrity with some intelligence and education.

To quote Nelson Mandella, “Our new order must therefore be based on constitutional democracy in which, regardless of race, gender, religion or political opinion, the law will provide for the equal protection of all. Government will be bound by a higher body of rules – an empire of laws – and will not govern at its discretion. We reject the empire of men. We require the rule of law, as opposed to what Aristotle called the ‘Passion of men’”

Stating the obvious, the Editor opined that “If only decent, intelligent candidates are fielded, the National Legislature, the Provincial Councils and the Local Government Institutions will have representatives capable of making this country a better place”. D.E.W. Gunasekera lamented that “Intellectuals no longer enter politics unlike in the past”.

The power of money has overtaken and vanquished the power of the people. The people are many and their power is diffused. It takes time to harness it. The power of money is concentrated in a few and it is closely knit when the few realise they may lose all their privileges. They have got the means to corrupt and to organise their strategies.

The Editor opined, “Who in his or her proper senses will ever want to plunge into a cesspit?” Taking momentary leave of his senses (or was it sarcasm?) the Editor further opined that the “mind-blowingly simple” solution to this mega problem is for political parties to abandon the practice of nominating rogues, cattle-rustlers, boot leggers, killers, rapists, racketeers and drug dealers or their proxies/beneficiaries. The “closely knit few” in whom the power of money is presently concentrated, cannot survive without the active support of the aforementioned hoodlums who will demand nomination as a pre-condition for their continued support. The honourable men and women willing to take the plunge and accept nomination to act as true representatives of the people, will be effectively taken care of by (toy) pistol wielding hooligans.

Austin Fernando has opined that “Not to have election violence at all is the best, though the prevailing election systems do not support such outcome.”

We urgently need to think ‘out of the box’. The need of the hour is an inexpensive, easy to operate, people friendly and truly free and fair electoral system that would enable the people resident within a small area (such as a Grama Niladhari Division) to elect – from amongst themselves – decent, intelligent persons, whose strengths and weaknesses, assets and liabilities are well known to all of them. Representatives so elected are more likely to honour the trust placed in them and serve in the best interests of those who elected them. This system must necessarily include a simple and expeditious process of “recall” of representatives who fail, for whatever reason, to act in the best interests of those who elected them, and election of a replacement within 15 days. Neither the Judiciary nor the Executive will have any power to prevent such recall and replacement in the exercise of the inalienable sovereignty of the people. The role of the Elections Commissioner will be restricted to facilitation of this process. All appointments to Pradeshiya Sabhas, District or Provincial Councils and Parliament itself, will be made by appropriate Electoral Colleges constituted from the aforementioned freely elected representatives of the people.

Political parties may continue to operate as such, to support the Sovereign People. However, nomination by any such party will neither be a requirement nor will such party be recognised in any manner for the election, recall and/or replacement of people’s representatives. This will perhaps facilitate persons in their proper senses being persuaded by their electorate to take the plunge.

No longer can it be claimed by interested parties that the average Sri Lankan is incapable of electing decent, intelligent and honourable persons as their representatives, in this manner.

Successful implementation of this system will undoubtedly make Sri Lanka not only the “Wonder of Asia” but perhaps of the entire world.

Much of the credit for this must go to the forthright Editor for his timely intervention.

More strength to your elbow, Mr. Editor!