President has ‘learned nothing, and forgotten nothing’



We expresses profound alarm at the recent report of a speech made by the President at a meeting of the Coconut Growers Association. The headline of the report is the government will not heed orders or advice from any other party except Parliament with regard to debt optimisation measures – President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

This refers to the Supreme Court inasmuch as later in the article the President declares that ‘they are attempting to utilise the court for their political agenda, seeking prohibitory orders’ which refers to those opposed to what he characterises as ‘loan optimisation activities’. Clearly, he seems worried that the Court will take up in the coming week the current Fundamental Rights case challenging the impact on workers’ superannuation funds of the domestic debt restructuring proposed by government.

This seems an attempt to browbeat the Supreme Court, on the lines of his predecessors last disastrous flourish in 1983 when government goons attacked the homes of Supreme Court judges. Their leader who claimed to be an ordinary citizen was a man called Kalu Lucky, at whose wedding the current President signed as a witness.

In declaring that the government would not heed orders of the Supreme Court, President Wickremesinghe is taking further the line he has already assumed, which is to ignore all elements which the Constitution lays down to uphold the sovereignty of the people, viz (Article 3)

In the Republic of Sri Lanka sovereignty is in the People and inalienable. Sovereignty includes the powers of government, fundamental rights and the franchise.

He has already flouted directives regarding the franchise and now he moves to the flouting of fundamental rights.

The Supreme Court is the guardian of those rights, as laid down in Article 126. The Supreme Court shall have sole and exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine any question relating to the infringement or imminent infringement by executive or administrative action of any fundamental right or language right declared and recognised by Chapter III or Chapter IV.

The rights under which the case has been brought cannot be restricted, save in one instance where such restrictions have to be by law. Regulations cannot be used to subvert fundamental rights.

The President knows this, and also knows that the article which he seems to rely on, 148, that ‘Parliament shall have full control over public finance’ cannot be exercised without reference to fundamental rights and the sovereignty of the people. But assertions based on willful misrepresentation of constitutional provisions seems to be the hallmark of the current government.

In 1983, the then President claimed to have rolled up the electoral map for years after his referendum. The present President seems to want to follow suit, and without a referendum. He may have forgotten that, following that proud boast, and the attempted intimidation of the Supreme Court, all hell broke loose and the government became a lame duck for the several years that remained to it following the referendum. The present President was a leading member of that government, and deeply involved in the hubris of 1983. Like the Bourbons, he seems to have learned nothing, and forgotten nothing about abusing the constitution.

The Council for Liberal Democracy


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