A closer look at the Opposition that’s pious about ‘democracy’ today | Sunday Observer

A closer look at the Opposition that’s pious about ‘democracy’ today

There should have been a provision in the Constitution that an essentially ‘defeated’ parliament should never be reconvened, irrespective of the circumstances. It could be argued that there is no such thing as a ‘defeated’ parliament —except there is.

A parliament whose majority belongs to the political entity that was defeated at the last elections that were held, is a ‘defeated’ parliament. It’s a spent force, but more importantly, it’s a parliament that has been subject to censure by the people.

In less abstruse terms, it just means that the sovereign people of this country have given that parliament its marching orders.

If the next Legislature cannot be elected for very legitimate reasons, the censured parliament cannot profess to have any legitimate mandate to reconvene.

This writer is not going to consider the legal position of all this, at least not in this article. The legal issues could be subject to various interpretations and the laws can be gone through with a fine tooth comb. But the legal aspect is nothing, and should be nothing, if there is no morally acceptable claim for the dissolved parliament to resume sessions.

In other words, the people do not want an ignominious parliament to have anything to do with the affairs of the nation, especially at a time crucial decisions affecting the well being of the people are being made.

Democracy is not a bunch of laws. Parliament is an organic embodiment of the will of the people. Sumanthiran the ‘democrat’ is in fact Sumanthiran the despot when he calls for a morally illegitimate parliament to be reconvened unilaterally.

Persecution

Sumanthiran’s understanding of the law is queer as his disdain for democratic process, despite his lawyerly credentials. Legally, parliament should represent the will of the people, as the people are sovereign in constitutional terms. When he is asking that parliament be reconvened unilaterally as a means of giving expression to democracy, Sumanthiran is talking through his hat.

The last parliament’s Opposition at the time of its dissolution in March this year, has been treated with kid gloves, compared to the ugly campaign of persecution that was launched against the then Rajapaksa Opposition in the year 2015. The UNP sought to demonize the then Opposition after the 2015 elections by digging up swimming pools in search of the ‘Rajapaksa billions.’

Nobody found stashes of cash, but old pairs of rubber slippers were unearthed.

The new Government in 2020 had better things to do than look for lost rubbers of any sort of past UNP leaders, even though past UNPers had been particularly fond of ‘sereppu soup’ (slipper broth). UNPers were not persecuted in 2020, and where they should have been, they were not even prosecuted.

How did the Opposition repay these acts of conciliation that were commendable doubly, considering how grossly the then Government went after the current President?

Its membership refused to pass the monies that were required to grant essential relief to the people. This cowardly stand was taken for the simple reason that the UNP knew a parliamentary poll was on the cards.

To hell with the people they figured, as long as we can stop the Government from obtaining a majority it deserved in parliament.

This kind of insensitivity to the people’s predicament has made the old parliament a symbol of oppression that was seen naturally enough as anti-people and anti-humanitarian.

To reconvene that parliament will not be a democratic act, it would be a thundering slap in the face of people’s will, and the power of one person one vote.

Belly laugh

That dated legislature was also the parliament of ghouls, monsters and brigands. Not the entire parliament but what was constituting the government benches, certainly, for the better part of its existence prior to November 2019.

Remember three Ministers having a raucous belly laugh when they were questioned about the circumstances of the Easter Sunday bombings? Remember how they blithely taxed the kitty bank savings accounts of the littlest kids?

Besides, there is no rationale whatsoever for the old parliament to be reconvened when the funds necessary to run the institutional machinery of government are legally obtainable through the Consolidated Fund.

What’s the Opposition — constituted of the then government benches — going to do, if the old parliament meets? Have a raucous belly laugh about the predicament of the people facing tough times and isolation — even death — on account of the Covid epidemic?

The old parliament is no instrument to combat the virus, because it WAS the virus. That legislature was the contagion that left nothing in the State coffers, which is the primary reason the Government is short of funds to ensure the wellbeing of a population besieged by the unexpected Covid 19.

It’s track record on the economy is abysmal, but even more importantly it was a parliament that rubber stamped the various measures that compromised our war veterans — and indeed caused an inimical UN Human Rights Council Resolution to be passed against the country with the concurrence of our own government.

It’s a parliament that should have been home with the first dissolution in late 2018.

 That dissolution was thwarted on legal grounds in the teeth of the obvious loss of mandate by the then rulers after the 2018 Municipal Council elections.

Anybody who wanted that dissolution to stand was called a conspirator, and the then government advanced the fiction that its continued existence at that time was in the interests of ‘democracy.’

Straight face

The Colombo centric green blinkered pukka sahibs went gadding about carrying placards at Independence Square against the ‘subversion of democracy’ at that time.

It seemed democracy was subverted at that juncture, but only through the self serving desire of the then UNP government to stay on in power.

This fact was vindicated in the landslide victory of Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential election in 2019. Now, the Sumanthirans of this world who were instrumental in the subversion of democracy on that occasion in 2018 by thwarting what was palpably the will of the people, want to subvert democracy once more, this time hiding behind a fig-leaf veneer of legalese about the people’s right to be represented.

The people have a right to be represented, but not by defeated shysters. But what do you expect from a parliament that was represented once upon a time by a goodly number of ‘members’ who had lost the elections but were smuggled in through the backdoor on the ‘National List’?

It’s these kinds of ‘democrats’ who wanted a dated rogue parliament to be recalled. The great irony of it all is that they want to do this in the name of democracy.

It’s an achievement that they can make such a call with a straight face, because these are the people who in the name of democracy postponed all the elections they could think of including the Provincial Council polls.

Which law did these people respect to postpone elections? Can the devil quote scriptures, one may ask.

After five plus years of irresponsible sabotaging of the political party that the President represents, the so called combined opposition forces now call for responsible cooperation with the same President.

The virus is no respecter of legality. This is true for Covid 19 as it is for the contagion of this combined opposition that destroyed democracy at every turn when in government.

This country needs to keep all types of viruses at bay. It’s this same pestilence that was sabotaging this same President when he together with the incumbent Prime Minister, was waging war to end the reign of terror of the LTTE.

These same forces, the Sumanthirans now baying for democracy offered ‘responsible cooperation’ at that time no doubt — except they offered it to the greatest terrorist of all time, Velupillai Prabhakaran, whose idea of democracy was to kill Sri Lankan parliamentarians from time to time, as that was his favourite sport.

These Prabhakaran boot lickers for democracy tout democratic credentials today. These are the people who fed Sri Lankan democracy a liberal dose of cyanide, and were seen ringside, waiting for it to die.

Their brand of democracy should frighten the Sri Lankan people far more than a virulent virus by the name of Covid-19.

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