The 18th amendment repeat telecast
Daily Mirror Editorial
Nov 3, 2011

It may be true that the Executive and the Legislature execute the power people entrust to them through elections. Even though they seem to be the highest bodies of power, both democratically and theoretically, ultimate power always lies in the hands of the country’s citizenry. Ideally, appointing them, assessing their work or sending them back should be people’s call. Yet, in third world democracies such as ours, the roles are reversed. Instead of people’s rule, they are ruled over. They make arbitrary decisions and pretend to be deaf to the people’s voices.

One need not have to go groping for examples, for they are plenty in the recent history. The newest addition to the list is the controversial bill that will make the way for the government to take over 37 private institutions and appoint a new authority to manage them. It is also learnt that the competent authority is required to consult the government when making decisions.

The move can, no doubt, be interpreted in many ways; yet, the manner in which it was brought in and the conditions and rules it imposes make one unable to call it ‘democratic.’ If this is a genuine effort to develop the nation’s economy, as it was dubbed initially, there are a hundred other ways of cutting down on unnecessary expenditure and do away with white elephants, the state now seems to be nurturing. If they are so anxious about the economy, one would wonder why jumbo entourages are continually sent on foreign trips or the defence budgets do not seem to come down even after the end of war. However, it is both surprising and disheartening to see the government’s economic policy- makers pay little or no heed to such matters. No doubt, they would not want to run short of their pockets for the sake of public welfare; for such an extra-ordinary generosity can be hardly expected.

By bringing in the bill disregarding the outcry of various sections of society including that of the opposition, the government exhibits a kind of obduracy that cannot be expected from a legitimately elected governing body. While it leaves the unanswered question among the citizenry as to whether this is the newest guise for a large-scale land grab, one cannot help but wonder how the government could be over-optimistic about the Bill when there is many a possible negative outcome looming in the horizon.

The bill gives very little assurance to foreign investors who are intending to enter business ventures in Sri Lanka. After all, who would want to come all the way from another quarter of the world and start a business only to see it was occupied by the government the following day. Certainly, scaring away the investors will not and should not be the aim of the economic-policy makers.

Letting the 18th Amendment slip through the people’s hands, was bad enough. The silence or the lack of response from the part of people has been taken for granted and misinterpreted in the most blatant manner. The danger it poses on the dormant democracy of the country is ever so appalling. Perhaps, democracy has already died a silent, natural death.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka