"Abracadabra zomzomboozoo tomtomtootoo" (Magic words)
President alone can stop this violence says Cecil V. Wikramanayake

I read the other day that Dr. Sarath Amunugama has said that the President of this country, unlike presidents in other countries, has more powers than anyone else, under the present constitution, 17th amendment notwithstanding. The late J. R. Jayewardene is purported to have said that under his constitution, the only thing he could not do was to change a man into a woman.

But a woman, even though less powerful, can always change a man into a woman. That everybody knows. Just look at the many henpecked husbands around us!

But Amunugama’s obiter dictum set me thinking. And I have come to the conclusion that if there is any one person in this country who can, by just a Presidential Proclamation, put an end to all this pre-election violence that is plaguing this country, and prevent any post-election violence, it is the President.

I said, a few Sundays ago, in a little diatribe I wrote under the heading "The thick and thin of Sri Lanka politics", that being a member of parliament in this country is the finest sinecure a man or a woman can ask for, what with the ‘perks’ the pension, and the opportunity to make a little ‘something’ on the side in the way of commissions on contracts and so on.

I also pointed out that this sinecure was even better than playing cricket for one’s country, because, as if to prove my point, a cricketer of fame has entered the hustings.

You could well say that this inspiration came to me in a dream, but the other night, unable to sleep thinking about all the violence that was being telecast day after day, I suddenly saw the light.

You might be wondering how a President can possible put an end to all this violence. She too has become the victim of such violence, though that had nothing to do with the coming elections.

I will not keep you in suspense for very much longer, dear reader, for I know that you are as impatient as I am to see the end of December 5 and the outcome of the polling.

The magic words I have quoted above the heading of this little piece goes back, I believe, to the days of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. They are said to be the magic words used by Merlin.

But the President herself has a few magic words that she can utter in a Presidential Proclamation, and that will put a full stop to all the violence. All she has to do is to proclaim that " every member of the new parliament that will be formed after the polls on December 5, 2001, will, by presidential decree, be entitled to only a monthly stipend, equivalent to that of the most senior member of the Administrative Service. No vehicles, no houses, no bodyguards, no subsidized meals at the House by the Diyawanne, and certainly no pensions after five years."

In other words, all these people who have been going round the country saying that they were coming forward to serve the people, will hereafter be treated as servants of the people and not their masters. Just as public servants are servants of the public, so members of parliament will be considered servants of the people and will be treated as such.

I can visualise the reaction of the over five thousand persons who are now falling over themselves and are hellbent on winning a seat in parliament.

"Aiyo! May mona kehelmalakdha may" would be the first thought that comes into the minds of many of that five thousand who have spent time, money, and energy in trying to get to the House by the Diyawanne.

And, at the opening of parliament, I bet you there will not be even a handful of those contestants taking their seat in that hallowed house.

You think this is a pipedream? Perhaps it is!