A Brief Colonial History Of Ceylon(SriLanka)
Jack Layton’s open letter
Systematic Genocide of Tamils
Sunday, August 20, 2017
The Citizens’ Movement for Good Governance (CIMOGG) has always been against the concept of having an Executive Presidency because the concentration of state power in a single person is a sure formula for destroying good governance. An Executive President is invariably a politician with partisan views and would place his own and his party’s interests before those of the country. The deeds of J.R.Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa, Chandrika Kumaratunge, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Maithripala Sirisena provide ample evidence to support this assertion.
It is no secret that two of these Presidents appointed certain persons to high judicial positions despite well-publicized evidence of behaviour that would have been totally unacceptable at any level in the judiciary in the early years of Sri Lanka’s independence. The damage done to Sri Lanka by these appointments is incalculable. The disgraceful packing of the Courts with compliant judges would have been much less likely if there had been a sufficient separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary, allowing the latter to develop its own rules for the appointment, promotion, transfer and dismissal of judicial officers without being dictated to by the executive.
Politically-motivated interference with the judiciary is only one of the grounds why, from the mid-1990s, there has been increasing pressure from the public for a new Constitution to replace the current one. There is no doubt that a new Constitution is desperately needed and that, inter alia, it must have the elimination of the Executive Presidency as one of its mandatory objectives, together with a clearer and stronger separation of powers than we now have.
We must be alert to the danger that, during the exercise of forging multiple compromises in writing a Constitution from among the conflicting demands of all stakeholders, we could find ourselves being unwittingly dropped from the frying pan into the fire. Most specifically, there is the ever-present danger that the Constitution would create a Prime Minister endowed with all the powers of an Executive President minus only "presidential immunity". We must not let this happen or we shall be no better off than we are at present.
A glaring instance of the immense power of an (executive) Prime Minister was that of Tony Blair of the UK, who badgered the members of his cabinet to support a declaration of war against Iraq based on a fabricated story about that country possessing "weapons of mass destruction". The colossal suffering and damage caused to the people and economy of Iraq, the Middle East, Libya and many other countries by this crime cannot be quantified. The lesson for us here is that the dominance of the Prime Minister’s office must be limited.
The foolhardiness of having a too-powerful Prime Minister would be compounded if we were also to allow Parliament to be anointed with the "supreme" label. J.R.Jayewardene implicitly fashioned this concept through the wording of Article 4 of the 1978 Constitution. Anura Bandaranaike, when he was Speaker, went one step further and declared explicitly that Parliament was "supreme" and, in particular, was not obliged to respect the views or decisions of the Courts.
Whereas Article 4 of the Constitution made the judiciary totally subservient to Parliament, Articles 30-41, in their turn, gave the President almost unlimited powers. How shamefully Presidents and Parliament have exercised judicial power can be gauged from just two incidents, namely, (a) the cruel manner in which a newspaper editor was forced to grovel before the House because an inadvertent switch of captions of two unrelated photographs, and (b) the thoroughly demeaning and crude language, and unjust procedures, that were employed during the "trial" of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake, who had declared correctly that a proposed piece of legislation was not constitutionally acceptable.
It is nauseating to recall that many of those who had signed the impeachment motion against Ranasinghe Premadasa later claimed that they had not read what they had signed! In the case of the 18th Amendment, the text of it was not seen by most MPs until just before they were dragooned into voting for it. Most of the 117 MPs who signed the impeachment motion against Shirani Bandaranayake were not given the opportunity or time to examine critically what they were being asked to sign and its implications. These three cases demonstrate how little the MPs concerned would have reflected upon their obligations in respect of the doctrine of public trust. With MPs of this calibre comprising the majority in Parliament, should the people consent to this body being classified as "supreme"? Assuredly not.
CIMOGG stresses that the people are supreme. Article 3 of the Constitution asseverates that sovereignty is in the People and is inalienable. Sovereignty includes fundamental rights, the franchise and the powers of government. The people never surrender their sovereignty to anyone or anybody but, from time to time, for practical reasons, they delegate the exercise of their powers of government to the legislature, the executive and the judiciary whilst retaining their fundamental rights and the franchise. Parliament, being a subordinate body to which the people delegate some of their powers for a fixed period of time, cannot logically, morally or lawfully claim "supremacy" over the very people who have granted it such powers.
The standard picture of a pyramid with Parliament at the apex and the people at the bottom, with the Grama Niladhari Divisions, Pradeshiya Sabhas, District Council and Provincial Councils in between, is an affront to the sovereignty of the people. If the pyramid analogy is to be used at all, it should be inverted so that the people are located at the broad top face and power flows down to the point at the bottom, where Parliament may be considered to be situated. Indeed, it would be far more sensible to regard all these institutions as being located in concentric circles at one level with the people at the periphery, the Grama Niladhari Divisions in the next inner circle, and so on, to Parliament at the centre.
The Constitution has given Parliament, which should be concerned largely with legislative matters, unlimited authority over the executive and the judiciary. Those who have been brought up to think of the UK’s unwritten Constitution and established conventions as being the "gold standard" that is being followed in Sri Lanka fail to appreciate the fact that the historical processes that Sri Lanka has experienced over the past two millennia are unlike those which apply to the UK and that this "gold standard" cannot be adopted blindly. By virtue of conventions built up over hundreds of years in the UK, the executive and the judiciary cannot be bulldozed by their Parliament. There are numerous independent mechanisms in all three arms of government to ensure that the government acts with the benefit of the informed advice of highly professional technocratic and other specialists. Transparency and full accountability are the features that ensure that there is little room for corruption or gross inefficiency.
Our constitution-writers have given Ministers both legislative and executive powers but without the strong financial and other controls that members of the UK public service and the judiciary exercise strictly. In contrast, our public servants have been stripped of all independent authority and have to function at the unfettered will and pleasure of our Presidents and Ministers. Another important differentiating factor is that UK voters are far more issue-oriented and less personality-oriented than their Sri Lankan counterparts. Hence, the separation of powers cannot be left at the mercy of long-established UK conventions but must be spelled out unambiguously.
The four "subjects" mentioned in the title above are critically important and should be dealt with circumspectly and comprehensively in a new Constitution. To these must be added the burning need to include features that would help forge a truly Sri Lankan identity, without emphasizing differences of race, caste, religion, class, gender, colour, occupation and other divisive classifications. It would also be salutary for MPs to be reminded firmly and constantly by the public that the people will continue to exist whether there is a Parliament or not; but Parliament cannot exist without the people.
(The writer is the president of CIMOGG – Citizans’ Movement for Good Governance)
The Road to School: Access to Education in the Plantation Sector
RAISA WICKREMATUNGE on 08/16/2017
On August 4, the Supreme Court dismissed a petition seeking a court order that the Ilankai Thamizh Arasu Kadchi (ITAK, historically called the Federal Party, in English) is in violation of the Constitution insofar as one of its aims and objectives in advocating a federal form of government is the establishment of a separate state within the territory of Sri Lanka. Three Judges who heard the petition disagreed. In what some newspapers have described as a landmark ruling, Chief Justice Priyasath Dep, Justice Upali Abeyratne and Justice Anil Gooneratne declared that advocating federalism within the existing constitution is not advocating separatism. Although much of the contentions in the case would appear to have centered on the translation of terms (the Sanskrit and Tamil translations of the English term – federalism), the ruling is indeed landmark for at least three reasons.
First, the ruling adopts a flexible approach recognizing the overlapping features of unitary and federal constitutions as opposed to rigidly insisting on the immutability of a unitary constitution. As the Court elaborated, "there could be unitary states with features or attributes of a federal state and vice versa. In a unitary state, if more powers are given to the units it could be considered a federal state. Similarly, in a federal state, if the Center is powerful and the power is concentrated in the Centre it could be considered a unitary state. Therefore, sharing of sovereignty, devolution of power and decentralisation will pave the way for a federal Qform of government within a unitary state." The Justices even offered an example of devolving power to provinces without contravening the constitution: the Thirteenth Amendment.
Second, the ruling must put to rest the baseless accusations and canards that the ITAK is doing something illegal in advocating federalism. The Supreme Court has now confirmed the obvious: federalism is not illegal.But not being illegal does not make federalism politically attractive, or even viable in the short term. For now, it is sufficient to take note that the Supreme Court has ruled that it is constitutional to have "a federal form of government within a unitary state." The ruling also constrains the ITAK, or any other organization, to work within the existing unitary state and not outside it. But the existing unitary state is not immutable, but flexible. And the Thirteenth Amendment is here to stay as reaffirmed now by the Supreme Court.
The third reason is more symbolic than substantial, but no less significant. Anecdotally, it used to be known in Tamil circles that Tamil lawyers and litigants often preferred to have their civil and criminal cases heard by Sinhalese judges as opposed to Tamil judges. Greater objectivity and fairness, the reasoning went,could be expected from the former, free from the peninsular parochialism and prejudices that may come into play with the latter. On the role of the judiciary on political and constitutional matters, however, Tamil notables took somewhat of a schizophrenic position after seeing appellate reversals of favourable original court decisions in constitutional matters: to wit, the citizenship of the Tamils of Indian origin (the Kodakan Pillai case of the early 1950s), and the linguistic status of Tamil public servants (the famous Kodeswaran case of the 1960s). More recent instances include the injudicious reasoning by dissenting Supreme Court judges in the 13th Amendment constitutional case, and the North-East merger case in which the principle of ‘equal protection of the law’ was cavalierly turned on its head.
It is against this backdrop, that the ruling of Chief Justice Priyasath Dep, Justice Upali Abeyratne and Justice Anil Gooneratne could be seen as a welcome sign for the future. In fairness, judicial prejudices are not peculiar to Sri Lanka. Historically, judiciary in every society has been a major bulwark of social conservatism, economic inequality and political exclusion that victimized peasants, workers, minorities and, most of all, women in every social class or stratum. It has taken more than a century of struggle, education, and the exposure to and experiencing of the ‘other’, to progressively change societies and along with them their judges, though not all of them and not everywhere.
Sri Lanka has takeQn half a century to barely start putting its share of baleful genies in the bottles of its history. One would hope there will be no reopening of them and the evolution in judicial thinking will continue in a positive direction. But the danger of the re-releasing of evil genies and the risks of cultural and political recessions will never go away permanently. Just watch the United States of America and its unfolding cultural and political chaos as its sociopathic president goes crazier and crazier from one day to another. The former Vice President Al Gore has given a one word advice to Donald Trump: Resign!
What’s in a name: Unitary or Federal?
Thirty years ago, writing in November 1987 (Lanka Guardian Vol. 10, No. 13) during the Thirteenth Amendment controversy, Dr. Colvin R de Silva anticipated the 2017 August Supreme Court ruling and elaborated on the overlapping between unitary and federal constitutions. "There is no model," he wrote, "laid up in heaven, so to speak, from which any deviation will deprive a constitution of its unitary character. It is the same with federal constitutions. Thus, there can be unitary constitutions which have strong ‘federal’ features, as also federal constitutions with strong unitary features."
He went on to emphasize that "the unity of a country is not determined by its state-form. The federal form is often claimed to carry this danger; although, historically, the federal form of state has always been the means of holding together in a single state units which would otherwise be separate states." The Comparative Political Scientist Alfred Stepan (Columbia University) made the same point in 1999, and used as a specific example the experience of Sri Lanka: "a territorially multilingual and multinational unitary state that feared "the slippery slope" of federalism, could not cope with its ethnic divisions and plunged headlong into a bloody civil war that has lasted more than fifteen years."
More pertinently, Dr. Colvin’s "holding-together" phrase is the term in political literature for one of two ways in which federal or quasi federal systems come into being. The other is "coming-together", in which separate jurisdictional units – provinces or states, come together to set up a federal form of government. The United States, Switzerland, Australia are classic examples of the coming-together type of federal systems. The often cited holding-together examples are India, Belgium and Spain, where pre-existing unitary state formations devolve power to their sub-national units while retaining their strong unitary features. Brexit or not, Britain is seemingly on course to becoming another ‘holding-together example.’
To the two models, Stepan has added a third one: "putting-together" federalism; and he includes the former USSR as an example where, in his view, a multinational state was coercively created out of pre-existing independent states. This is debatable, although now purely academic if not nerdy, because what was there before the USSR, were not independent states, but the Tsarist Empire and, what Lenin called, ‘internal colQnialism’.
As models go, Sri Lanka, if it were to execute the Supreme Court license to achieve "a federal form of government within a unitary state," would fall into the holding-together category. But, as I noted earlier, a political proposition merely because it is legal does not become immediately viable. Federalism is still the ‘F’ word in many Sri Lankan political quarters, and even those who are less uninformed will not yield more than an inch beyond the 13th Amendment. But 13A + One Inch is certainly better than 13A Minus. The latter was a serious consideration during the last years of the Rajapaksa government along with the push to even repeal the amendment.
As things are, the arrogance of the Rajapaksas has given way to the ineptitude of good governance. While the present government has made ambitious starts on many fronts, it has achieved little or nothing on any one of them. The constitutional file is no exception and despite loads of effort by expert foot-soldiers, the political leadership has shown no evidence of strategic thinking or even serious purpose. The government is also hamstrung by the bond scandal and penthouse peccadillos and has lost the moral standing to advocate a major constitutional overhaul. And with chronic disunity within the unity government, the prospects of reaching consensus on controversial changes and securing the requisite two-thirds majority are becoming increasingly bleak. Nonetheless, the August 4 Supreme Court ruling should be acknowledged as a landmark ruling that would enable future governments to pick up the pieces and hold Sri Lanka together in better ways than it has been held since independence.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
That Sri Lanka’s new Minister of Foreign Affairs has chosen to flippantly wave aside the stupefying conduct of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) in grabbing an employee by the collar, threateningly raising a hand and berating him, is unfortunate to say the least.
Not reflective of the law
The IGP’s fury had been occasioned by the failure of a hapless lift operator to participate in compulsory meditation sessions ordered by him. Judging from the video footage, it is the IGP who seems to need supervised and strictly enforced intensive meditation, not his helpless employees. I will return to that salutary point later.
But when questioned on this incident, the new Minister is reported to have said days into assuming his new post, to quote, “torture is something that will severely injure a person….but (this) was a person abusing a person; you can’t equate it to torture” (Economy Next, August 19th 2017). If these remarks are correctly attributable to him, the Minister (himself a lawyer of repute at a point) is in need of a summary brief on the jurisprudence regarding ‘torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ prohibited by Article 11 of the Constitution. This claim is quite contrary to the weight of precedent on the matter.
The Supreme Court has held that it is well settled law that the constitutional prohibition will apply to physical as well as psychological trauma. Extreme pain of mind and the circumstances of the case or in other words, the standing of the torturer and the powerlessness of the victim are key factors. In one 2003 precedent for example, verbal abuse meted out by members of ministerial security in forcing a lawyer, his wife and their baby to get out of their vehicle was ruled to attract the constitutional bar (2003, 1 SLR, 270). The Minister would be well advised to freshen up his knowledge of the legal bar.
Following the example set by the IGP
Indeed, this news report is perturbing in more ways than one. The Minister is also reported as referring the matter to the ‘independent police commission’, saying that ‘any disciplinary action against the police chief’ is outside his authority. However, it is a well-established fact that under the 19th Amendment, the IGP does not come within the purview of the National Police Commission (NPC). This was a much critiqued limitation of the first NPC as well under the 17th Amendment.
Notwithstanding, apart from the law and the knowledge (or the absence) thereof, let us assess this IGP against standards of ordinary decency, if this is something which we still recall. To put the discussion in context, this is an IGP who once broke down in tears before the public. It is also this same IGP who was captured on television cameras abjectly promising the Minister of Law and Order that he would not take steps against a ‘favourite’ of the previous Government.
Yet and as aggravating as such conduct may be, this pales into insignificance when compared with the current incident a few months ago. Is this the standard of propriety expected from the head of law enforcement? What if ordinary men or women go around grabbing people with whom they disagree with, by the collars and intimidating them for whatever perceived slight or dereliction of duty? What about the Juanis Singho who waits patiently in a government office for hours while the staff stands around gossiping and drinking cups of tea? Would that rightly infuriated citizen be justified in taking the culprits by their collars or sarees as the case may be and threatening them?
Or venturing into the province of law enforcement itself, when police officers refuse to record statements in violation of the law and a complainant uses strong language, the likelihood is that he or she will be put feet first into the police cell and face criminal charges the next day. If so, then why is the IGP protected from the consequences of his actions?
Safeguards not meant to enable jesters
Strengthening removal procedures of high-level public servants like the IGP and the Attorney General by consequential legislation after the 17th Amendment to the Constitution was following hard advocacy to reform the law, upheld by numerous judgments of the superior courts. This was due to the need to safeguard the independence of the offices.
But this safeguard is not meant to enable individuals holding such office/s to behave like court jesters. Certainly the conduct of this IGP, held out as an appointment that ran the gamut of checks and balances under the misleadingly feted 19th Amendment to the Constitution, only illustrates the colossal failure of that exercise.
Moreover it is sardonically amusing that the IGP’s fury is absent in even an iota thereof when his police officers abstain from performing their duties or when politicians call upon him to protect their favorites. Rather, a pitiful subordinate has to face his wrath. Compulsory meditation sessions may certainly benefit individuals. However the very idea that it will be a panacea to Sri Lanka’s systemic failures, particularly in law enforcement is a cruel mockery. In the first place, the IGP should properly enforce the gargantuan and comprehensive Police Departmental Orders that have been meticulously drafted from decades ago by those with expertise. If implemented to the letter, these will suffice to address the lack of discipline of his officers at least as a start.
One incident too many against the IGP
On his own part, the new Minister of Foreign Affairs needs to be a tad more cautious in his pronouncements. Barely two years ago, he resigned from his then portfolio as Minister of Law and Order when he waded, arms flinging (metaphorically speaking) into a highly unwarranted controversy in Parliament. This was when he defended his onetime client, maritime security firm Avant Garde with scant regard for serious conflict of interest questions.
Previously, this column has reflected on the games of ministerial musical chairs that the Government delights in. Resignations of ministers are paraded as some great sign of accountability and these same gentlemen are later brought back quietly into the Cabinet after the fuss dies down. Such cynical games are simply not acceptable. And the Government will be keenly watched on this count. Its waning popularity, which is a matter of obvious fact outside the rarefied ‘Colombo bubble’ as it were, can only be further negatively impacted.
In the meantime, the law must work against the IGP as it would against any other individual. Simply put, this is just one reprehensible incident too many.
Forum demanding: "Respect the People’s Mandate" Left to right: Sumanthiran, Jayampathy, Athauda, DEW, Michael Fernando and Ajith Perera (speaker)
The government had no option but to throw Ravi Karunanayake under the bus. Even if one accepts the version that his wife and daughter, in cahoots with Perpetual Treacheries, were the parties to the penthouse deal and that he had no knowledge thereof, formal propriety demanded his removal. It also removes a thorn since allegations of corruption are an obstacle to enacting a new constitution. Loss of confidence in the government on corruption and economy harms the constitutional project. In politics each thing has knock on effects on others.
January 8 (2015) had three objectives; Rajapaksa’s march to dictatorship had to be halted, the new government must end corruption, and a democratic constitution abolishing the executive presidency must be enacted. Where do we stand today? The first has been achieved and democracy seems assured for the foreseeable future. As for the second, maybe incidents of big time theft and the amounts stolen by this government’s cronies fall short of the records set by Rajapaksa era gangsters, but public perception is "ung okkoma horu" (they are all rogues). The third item, the constitution, is what this piece is about.
Who is taking the constitution forward?
It has become clear that the Sirisena-Ranil (S&R) combo does not have the spunk, the gall and the balls to lead mass mobilisation subduing impediments to the constitution. So new actors have pushed them aside and taken matters into their hands. From civil society we have the Just Society Movement founded by the reverend Sobitha now guided by Sisira Jayamaha and a string of distinguished persons, and Purawasi Balaya (People’s Power) where Gamini Viyangoda, Janaranjana and Chandragupta Mauriya are those I am familiar with. There is Rights-Now whose firebrand is Philip Dissanayake and cheerful leader, Sudharshan Gunda. I give names because with the milquetoast duumvirate S&R scooting into the shadows and as others coming forward to take up the January 8 mandate, the public needs to know who they are.
Another force accepting the challenge is a grouping of parties and personalities. Prominent are those who spoke at a "Respect the January 8 Mandate" forum on August 3; DEW Gunasekra, leader of the Communist Party, the JVP’s Vijitha Herath, Athauda Seneviratne an SLFPer with an LSSP background, the ULF’s Jayampathy Wickramaratna and the UNP’s Ajith Perera. The TNA has thrown its weight into the constitution making process. Its spokesman Madiyaparanam Sumanthiran also addressed the forum. Enough is enough; no more concealing Tamil involvement in the constitution. Let us defy bigots in the sangha, racists in the Joint Opposition, hunched professors and English-literate, bogus-Marxist mouthpieces. Let openly declare: "This is a democratic, plural, non-divisive constitution carried on the shoulders of the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people. Damn racists, damn peddlers of religious opium and damn opportunists!"
Frontline leaders must
call the tune
Those who put their neck on the line earn the right to call the shots. If the national leaders take fright and hide under the bed while others take the fight on their shoulders, then they earn the right to influence the constitution’s contents. Furthermore they must not allow themselves to be used to push provisions that are not acceptable to the people’s movements.
Let me illustrate. If you tease the drafters "Hey comrades, where is your constitution?" they squirm "Once those rats up there make up their minds on key points like structure of state and devolution, we drafters can get it out in weeks". It is time to go further. The parties and persons who lead the battle in the public arena should not allow themselves to be at the beck and call of the rats. Those who lead have the right to insist that the prize is worth the sweat. Though some compromises are unavoidable, they must, on the whole, ensure that it is not merely a contract handed out by R&S, but that the contents make up an acceptable charter. Note this well DEW, Vijitha, Jayampathy and Sumanthiran!
He who pays the piper calls the tune; in politics paying the piper means leading the fight. I make no bones about it; I am instigating civil society groups and parties in effective mass leadership to impose their stamp on content. Am I inciting a no-compromise deadlock? No, there is a need for compromises with the sloppy side and the catatonic R&S duumvirate so as to get two-thirds in parliament and to win a referendum. But let’s not make the mistake Colvin, the LSSP and the CP made in 1972. Let us not hide from the people and from our cadres the imperfections issuing from such compromises; let constitution making be a learning process for the people.
"Unto the breach dear friends"
A breach has opened. The Rajapaksa-JO game plan has no content other than racist snarls and religious bigotry. What is the JO-gang’s socio-economic programme? What its constitutional agenda? Zilch, nothing, damn all! Aside from this chasm, there is another void, state leaders reluctant to fight and content with stillness and modest humility. On August 15 the next step to set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit to full height, was kick started.
The people of Lanka will dishonour not their mothers and attest that those whom they call fathers did beget them. Or to descend from poetry to prose: OK Rajapaksa, ok JO, the fight is on, the plebs will show you the mettle of their pasture. (The little romps in this para are stolen from Henry V).
The objective of the satyagraha is to pressure the government to live up to the mandate on which it has been backsliding; a poor show in bringing the corrupt – previous and current - to book, hither and thither uncertainty on the constitution, and an inability to inspire confidence about good governance. The last matter, in part, is inability to discipline its own ranks, e.g. the Karunanayake incident, Wijedasa Rajapakshe courting racists, and the bond scam. In part it is incompetence, e.g. cancelling Sampur coal power station, the corrupt coal purchase contract, and worries of sleaze in the award of the proposed LNG power station contract. More worrying is the government’s reluctance to confront disruptors head-on, defeat trouble makers like the GMOA and student hooligans, and its unwillingness to smash thugs who attack Muslim institutions and monks who incite the thugs. Good governance is getting one’s house in order but it also entails crushing reaction, hooliganism and thuggery.
The satyagraha was supported by several organisations and an encouraging first step in an island wide campaign to continue till the government wakes up to its pledges. Some elements in the sangha, following the JO’s lead, are attempting to undermine the new constitution. The reply of the people’s movement on August 15 to these reactionaries was clear: "Go fly a kite!"
To digress for a moment we must commend the strength and spontaneity of American direct democracy in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week. White supremacist and neo-Nazis armed with torches, staves and weapons were confronted by thousands of Americans, young, old, mostly white. One woman was killed and 19 injured when a car driven by a racist rammed into protesters. President Trump first made an SWRD in 1958, JR in 1983, type of address to the nation only to fan the flames instead of stopping the mob. Two days later even Trump, under intense pressure, did condemn the white racist thugs. Unfortunately, SWRD, JR and their respective cabinets, could never rise above their depravity. The American protesters did not back off till the racist mobs dispersed. What a difference from Lanka where in 1958, 1977, 1983 and many other occasions, the Sinhala-Buddhist public, with few exceptions, did not lift a finger to staunch the carnage. I wish I could understand the reason.
Direct democracy in America is supplemented by strong institutional instruments of democracy; for example Congressional inquiries and Special Counsel (Bob Mueller) whose probe is expected to dig deep. All this bears witness to strong institutional frameworks underpinning democracy. I understand the reason for the difference with our sham institutional framework, the Acting AG and his department included, but a quote first.
Here is Rajan Hoole in Colombo Telegraph on August 11, 2017:
"A particular instance that concerns Mr. Yasantha Kodagoda is the 2007 – 2009 Presidential Commission proceedings into the murder by the security forces, and home guards under their direction, of 17 aid workers serving Action Contre la Faim (ACF). The following describes the role of Yasantha Kodagoda who was supposed to lead the evidence before the Commission: The Government’s control of the CoI through the role played by Deputy Solicitor General Kodagoda and the complicity of some of the Commissioners, has allowed the extraordinary attempts at cover up described above to take place as well as an obvious and deliberate failure to pursue questioning and investigation that could implicate the Government. See our Special Report No.33 of 2009. (http://www.uthr.org/SpecialReports/spreport33.htm )".
This is only an example. However, without implying any excuse for sham artists in government, law enforcement, military and the legal-judicial system, I believe that one reason for relative concavity in our institutions is that democracy is young in our country. And unlike India, sans a multi-cultural and plural social bedrock and without a secular polity, it will take us longer to come up to spec.