Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 22 November 2015





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

No to Executive Presidency; No to beer

So the Executive Presidency which many thought would never be rooted out is to be done away with. Many a wise person identified it as the cause of all evil that pervaded government and society. We had three definite promises, almost sworn promises, that no sooner the presidential candidate took oaths, she/he would abolish the post, at least the all powerful executive part of it.

But once the lady tasted power she forgot her promise to the JVP that helped her ensconce herself in the presidential throne. And the next person forgot his promise twice and while nodding to those who said the position was too powerful, made all arrangements by buying sillies like that TV star who won the highest preferential votes in Gampaha to cross over to his side and vote for the scandalous 18th Amendment. That President soon turned dictator. Not so our present President, bless him and sing hosannas unto him or more culturally appropriately, bow and say ‘ayubowan’, for he is keeping his word.

President Maithripala Sirisena announced on Tuesday, November 17at the ceremony to award dual citizenship to 2,000 people that he would submit papers to the Cabinet on the following day to go ahead with instituting a new Constitution and abolishing the Executive Presidency.

Many had been sceptical and said that once he was in power he would go the way of all presidential flesh. Not our President. He gave a promise when he was sworn in, he reiterated it in his funeral oration at the cremation of Ven Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera and now he has made the official statement.

Consequential thoughts

The first thought that came to this feline’s mind on reading the headlines on Wednesday, November 18 about the President’s pronouncement was that Ven Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera should have been alive to hear the announcement which was the crux of his campaign of government reform and social justice.

The Ven. bhikkhu, people said, was very disappointed that yahapalanaya was not going the way he envisaged it. Now he can see that what he wanted most has been set in motion. You cannot bring in such a mighty change overnight or even in a couple of months. But it is in the offing and the power of the Prez is to be reduced. This feline for one wants a President heading the government and steering its course correctly, but not one like the dictator we had, happy under a huge family tree.

The second thought that rushed to mind was that here is an honourable man, a statesman who is keeping his word to the promise he made when sworn in as President. At last, a man committed to considering the greater good, and country before himself. I heard a criticism that the President will abolish the Executive Presidency only when his term is over. So be it. We do not want a sudden vacuum. He is stable and thus executive power can rest in his hands, since he won’t abuse it. Also, he is sharing power with his Prime Minister. Was the criticism sounded by the ex-Prez as he continued his temple round, this time in Kandy, in responding to a journalist’s question?

The third thought that entered Menika’s mind on reading about the abolition of executive powers of the President was joy, malicious catty joy and relief that if by chance Mahinda Rajapaksa comes back to power, he will become a President more ceremonial than executive. Aha! He won’t now aim at the Presidency. What he’ll target, led on by the Weerawanses prodding him who are less than nonentities without him, is the premiership; more power will rest with this person.

Prohibition? Never!

Now to come from jubilation to fearful anticipation. The President told a meeting that too much liquor is around, that beer is consumed heavily. I held my breath. Was he going to say that like the executiveness of the presidency being abolished, he would ban all alcoholic drinks? No! Because he knows such a move is totally counterproductive. With a wide smile, almost a chuckle, he said that if he attempted banning alcoholic drinks the government would be toppled. I don’t think tipplers have that much toppling strength. After all they are near lotus eaters. But there will be trouble in the land, serious trouble since insisting on teetotalism will drive people to bootlegging, illicit import of liquor and all that.

Distilling of kassippu will increase with even less care being exercised in what goes into the distilling vat. Deadly intoxication and premature deaths due to drinking gut rot worse than witches’ potions, brewed with spiders’ legs and cockroaches and animal entrails, will result. Deadly poisonous stuff but imbibed by more in a country made to go dry. President Sirisena is a teetoller for sure, but many a man and woman likes a body warmer and spirit lifter, so the thing to do, if the Prez feels shocked at the amount of income that pours into the government kitty through liquor licences and taxes, is to make beer cheaper, also toddy and arrack so that poisonous kassippu is not drunk by so many. Of course excessive drink takes a toll on wives and children and can be a drain on the health services. But here punishment for abuse, whether physical or emotional, is what is called for and it should be severer.

Why punish the social drinker and the person who likes a beer on a hot day because of the inveterate imbiber? Health warnings against excessive drinking, akin to the warnings on cigarette packs, could be set in place to dissuade over indulgence. Dangerous drugs of course have to be banned. No importers barring Wele Suda and his sister have been punished so far.

A warning with racist intention

Did you hear a squeak from the Bodu Bala Bod? Menika read it: the warning given that ISIS will attack us. ISIS is concentrating on the West, everyone knows, and targets the US and England, and Russia. So our BBS President is crying wolf to create or deepen animosity towards the Muslims who make up a part of our population. By such foolish warning, he is giving radical Muslims among us the idea to create trouble.

So the cry should really be: Beware the BBS; trying to raise their heads again starting with a warning. We ordinary people take the Muslims as family members, who recently joined openly in mourning a Bhikkhu. Any sign of uprising or militancy on the part of any Muslim must be nipped in the bud, but by the lawful nippers – the Police and the Armed Forces, not militant, pretending-to-be-peaceful groups.

- Menika


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