Vital content supporting a principled, informed opposition to proposed 18th Amendment now on Groundviews

Opposing and bearing witness to the incredible capitulation of politicians and parochial expediency over principle, Groundviews features critical content from a range of perspectives opposing the proposed 18th amendment to the constitution.

Frankly, few entertain any hope that the 18th amendment will be struck down. From insidious statements and outright lies by the President to the tragic apathy amongst voters the government is counting on to rush this heinous amendment through, the architects of Sri Lanka’s democratic demise are those who today fail to speak out and express their concern.

In fact, this critical dissent is vital to secure over the long-term. The fundamentals of democracy – our ability to question policies and practices of government, to change government through elections free of violence and vote-rigging, to hold accountable those we elect, to express our opinion without fear – hang in the balance with the 18th amendment.

Last week we called it a civic duty to resist its introduction. Groundviews now features even more vital content – from leading academics and political commentators to ordinary citizens – on the proposed 18th amendment. To date, these articles have been read well over 13,000 times since 1st September. Please disseminate them amongst friends and colleagues, and join the debates online.

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Resisting the Loss of Citizenship in Sri Lanka by T. Aruna is anchored to the 18th amendment, but is interesting for the ways it suggest citizens can in their day to day lives, combat the erosion of democracy.

“A ruler, however powerful they seem, depends entirely on the smooth functioning of layers and layers of state machinery all the way down to the ground. As much as we sometimes need this machinery to get things done, it also needs us in order to function. Turn in your registration forms late. Ask at checkpoints if they are really still necessary. Argue with government officials and refuse to bribe them. Encourage officials who seem sympathetic to air their grievances. Honk whenever a VIP convoy sweeps you off the road. Question the expenditures of public money on MPís cars or on government vanity projects. Explain to your children (or other peopleís) what abuse of power is. Use every vote you have on a candidate of principle not power. Share your views with other people, and build their confidence to dissent. Talk about how things should be, not just what’s wrong with the way they are now.”

Featuring for the first time in Sri Lankan media an interactive timeline on the web, A timeline of duplicity: Promises to abolish the Executive Presidency was published to highlight various promises and statements made by the President and government over abolishing the office of the Executive President.

The 18th Amendment: Constitutional Reform as the Consolidation of Power by Dr. Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu ends by noting that “We will never know if we can save democratic governance in this country until and unless we try to do so.”

In The pathetic capitulation of the organised Left in Sri Lanka Groundviews traces the bizarre support by Sri Lanka’s leftist parties to the 18th amendment, going against everything they said and had ostensibly stood for since 2005. This post also now features a strong condemnation of Vasudeva Nanayakkara stance by other leading leftist figures.

THE JUDGMENT OF HISTORY by Rohini Hensman pull back any punches, noting that,

“The president becomes a dictator the moment the 18th Amendment is passed. And all those who contributed to making our country a dictatorship will be judged by history, even if there is no equivalent of the Nuremberg trials to hold them to account. The hollowness of all rationalisations – that going along with the regime prevents matters from getting worse or allows MPs to help their constituents, for example – will be exposed. Nor should representatives of minority communities think that they are absolved of responsibility for the oppression, misery and corruption that will follow. There are no excuses for collusion with totalitarianism.”

The Death of Democracy in Sri Lanka by Concerned Citizen is equally hard-hitting and notes,

“Through our silence and inaction, we have paid the price of sacrificing not only the freedom and rights of all citizens, present and future, but also our own precious progeny who will eventually hold us accountable and bring us to disrepute which we rightfully deserve.”

Background information
The 18th Amendment to the Constitution: Process and Substance is a comprehensive critique of the proposed amendment. As it notes,

“These changes have not been discussed in the public domain and they are sought to be made in secret. It is important to note that even at the Supreme Court hearing the intervening petitioners were only given copies of the proposed changes after the government started making its submissions. This article explains how the Constitution can be amended, what the key changes are and the legal arguments advanced in favor of and against the changes.”

Outrageous process and substance: The proposed 18th Amendment to the Constitution features a 7 minute video with Rohan Edrisinha, one of Sri Lanka best known constitutional experts.

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Groundviewshttp://www.groundviews.org – Sri Lanka’s first and international award-winning citizens journalism website uses a range of genres and media to highlight alternative perspectives on governance, human rights, the arts and literature, peacebuilding and other issues. The site has won two international awards for the quality of its journalism, including the prestigious Manthan Award South Asia in 2009. The grand jury’s evaluation of the site noted, “What no media dares to report, Groundviews publicly exposes. It’s a new age media for a new Sri Lanka… Free media at it’s very best!”

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