10 February 2015

The Executive Presidency has a chuckle

Maithripala Sirisena is the Executive President of Sri Lanka.  He's not the first. He claims he will be the last.  Claims are cheap.  It is best to believe it when one sees it or sees it gone, as in this case.  So there have been executive presidents.  There has been a lot of talk about abolishing the executive presidency.  What does the Executive Presidency think about all this, have you wondered?  In a PARALLEL UNIVERSE the executive presidency would exercise that lovely thing called Freedom of Expression, we believe.  Something like what follows might result.

I have long stopped counting the number of times people called for my abolition.  I have stopped counting the number of times politicians, presidential candidates and political parties vowed to abolition me.   I have long since stopped pitying the voters of the country who with fervent hope and utmost trust in this politician or that, this party or that, voted for them believing that I will be abolished. 

This time, to be honest, I was a bit concerned this time.  That’s because of the noise.  Everyone seemed determined to bury me.  I breathed a sigh of relief when Maithripala’s manifesto came out.  Nothing of abolition.  Just some safeguards.  I am ok with that.  Just like capitalism needs a certain percentage of the workforce to be unemployed, just like regimes need a certain magnitude of visible protest (it’s the underground that worries them) so that dissent can be managed, I too need some reins.  It’s all good because the rope is long enough for me to graze to my heart’s content. 

Maithripala promised to set up a thing called National Advisory Council.  The moment he was elected he set up something like that but called it National Executive Council.  Now that’s setting up a competitor, one might say.  I might have been worried that there was another ‘executive’ and one which was not even elected and worse has as one of its members a notorious anti-democrat consumed by hatred and revenge-intent, Chandrika Kumaratunga, but I’ve lived long enough not to miss the wood for the trees.  What it told me that in principle Maithri and Co held this ‘executive’ thing as an article of faith. So I was relieved.

If I was relieved then I am thrilled to bits now.  Just the other day, my most vociferous detractors cheered until they were hoarse when Maithripala used me to get rid of Mohan Pieris, re-install Shirani Bandaranayake (originally installed with executive flourish for reasons of political convenience and ideological commonality by Chandrika Kumaratunga), have her resign and install Saravana Pavan as Chief Justice. 

Not a whimper of protest did I hear from the Good Governance Brigade; nothing at all about separation of powers being the cornerstone of a healthy democracy.  No protests about Maithripala giving the finger to all those 6.2 million people who the Good Governance Brigade claim voted for him for just one reason, that of burying me.  Well, the man needs me, it seems now.   

I am also pleased that Maithri is dragging his feet over electoral reform.  It seems that UNPers and SLFPers in Parliament are worried that they might lose their seats if elections were held on a first-past-the-post basis.  Sloth always bodes well for the status quo.  And a man who has used me for one thing will soon use me for something else.  In time he will need me more than he needs his voters. 

Things are looking great for me.  Those who voted for Maithri should not feel ashamed.  After all even the Good Governance Brigade has not read Maithri’s manifesto.  They were suckered in.  And maybe now they’ll realize that the 6.2 million who voted for Maithri were not really worried about me and burying me; they were more interested in voting the Rajapaksas out.  Now isn’t that the truth, ladies and gentlemen? 

So pardon me, I don’t mean to insult.  I just want a quiet chuckle about how things have unfolded over the last few weeks.