The autochthonous constitution (AC)


By Fr J.C. Pieris, Galle

This is a reflection on an AC; what it is, the need for it and what caused such a need. I am neither a student of political science nor an expert in constitution making. As an ordinary layman, given the present sorry state of the country, I am humbly sharing with my countrymen and women ways and means to redeem the country from the grip of the Ali Baba and the 225 thieves to hand over to the future generations a corruption free, debt free, globally respected, eco-rich, beautiful and a prosperous Sri Lanka.

A constitution

A constitution is a set of fundamental principles and laws that a particular group of people adopts as an expression of their character, identity, values, goals, dreams and binds them together as a nation. It is the primary law of the country that every citizen proudly promises to uphold and live by. There are various forms of constitutions; unwritten and written, in one book or in several books. Majority of the constitutions in the world are written republican constitutions. The longest is the Indian Constitution and the shortest is that of the Unites States of America. In Sri Lanka we have a republican constitution with an executive president and a parliament with a cabinet. It has been amended 19 times. The three pillars of democratic governance are the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.

Anomalies in the present constitution

The immunity granted to the president is such that whatever crime he may commit nobody can take him before the law. It is an open invitation to venality. Therefore in Sri Lanka all are not equal before the law. When a candidate is rejected by the people at the polls he is able to get back into the parliament through the backdoor, called the national list and become even a minister; the constitution is on the side of the crooks and against the people. If the constitution allows the MPs to get down luxury vehicles sans import tax, and sell them for millions depriving the national treasury of the customs income, isn’t the constitution anti-people? If the constitution turns a blind eye to the Ministers selling permits, for petrol sheds, bus routes, pharmacies, wine shops etc. and earn millions of dirty lucre, isn’t the constitution in collusion with the rogues? If the present constitution allows an elected Member of Parliament from a certain party, chosen by the people for the ideology and manifesto of that party, to change sides (99% of the time for dirty pelf) and betrays the intentions and ideals of his voters, of what use is the constitution to the people? Is there any difference between a woman going behind a bush with a man for 500 rupees and a MP switching sides for 500 million rupees? Yes, there is a difference. The poor woman did it as a last resort to feed her hungry children, but the MP did it out of sheer, intractable greed. Compared to the MP that poor woman is a saint.

When the legislature and the executive have been high jacked by a set of robbers and murderers and when the judiciary has been turned into their cat’s paw, what do we do? When the 225 crooks and scoundrels play at parliament for the benefit of the public, some in the government and some pretending to be in the opposition but in actual fact are a tightly knit pack of thieves helping one another and protecting one another, what do we do? Thus, they have built a system where they are always in power, or always in parliament and people have no alternative but to choose them again and again; then what do we do? When the law of the country does not apply to the law makers and the president of the country who take huge bribes and commissions and only the small fry get caught for tiny amounts what do we do? Ali Baba and the 225 thieves have fiddled and diddled so much with the present constitution that it is now more a liability to the country than a guardian of its law, order, civility and freedom. What is the use of a constitution, crookedly amended like the present one, by a parliament of baboons? There is no point in amending it again and again. It is now trash and it must be thrown in the garbage bin.

What caused the need for an AC?

Every year when the dry season comes not only the people in the arid and the dry zone but even in some areas of the wet zone are crying for water. Like the air we breathe and the food we eat water is essential for supporting life. These are the bare necessities of life. We are a small country with just 20 odd million people. Seventy one years have passed and none of the UNP and the SLFP led governments have been able to give potable water to the whole population. The same goes for electricity; they still cannot give us cheap, uninterrupted power. For them people and their basic needs is not a priority at all. Their only interest is in planning when and how to steal and rob the country and the people again and again.

Look at the situation in which we find the country today. It owes the world US$ 5.9 Billion. In 1948 when we received independence we did not owe the world a red cent. Now we cannot even pay the repayment tranche for this year without taking another loan. We are in a deadly debt trap. This is what the UNP and the SLFP and their alliances have done to the country after 71 years of their rule. Look around you, what have these rogues got to show for US$ 5.9 Billion? Have they got work done to show for even half that amount? Then what happened to the rest of the loan? Is it in Virgin Islands? In Seychelles? In Panama? Or in Swiss banks?

Look at the health sector. When poor people go to the government hospital they are given a chit to go to the pharmacy and buy the medicine and go to the private medical labs and pay for tests. The pharmaceutical mafia, international and local, makes a killing while the poor man becomes poorer and weaker and needs to go to hospital again and again till he either goes bankrupt or drops dead. Look at the education sector. Free education is a farce. It is the tuition ‘maduwa’ that gives knowledge to the children. God alone knows what they are doing in schools. Again the poor children who cannot afford tuition are sidelined and left out. Sadaranathwaya! Samanathmathawaya! My foot!

All the governments which ruled the country after ’77 consist of pimps. Pimps sell women for a living. These governments not only sell our women to Saudi Arabia and other West Asian countries for slavery, euphemistically called housemaids, they even have a ministry for this human trafficking. In one month alone, during the previous regime, 41 bodies of these women were brought back to the country. That is more than one murder a day. And our law makers behave like the notorious three monkeys; they see nothing, hear nothing and say nothing. Shame!

What is worse; the dependence-culture and the beggar-mentality they have brought into our social behaviour. You have to go behind these scoundrels, calling them Sir and ‘Thumeni’, grinning, bowing and kowtowing to them to get a school for the child, find a job for the daughter, get a permit for a pharmacy, a petrol shed, a wine shop etc. And everything has a price. I know for certain it is four million for a petrol shed permit. They are stinking and reeking with the rot, the corruption. There is a FELT need for a complete renewal, a complete upheaval. Can we achieve that bloodless revolution within the current political framework?

No hope

On the 8th of January 2015 we had so much hope for good governance, decency, law and order. There is no point in going over what happened after, again and again. It is like scratching an itching wound and renewing it. All of them have betrayed us and the nation. When the Lal Wijenayake committee began gathering suggestions for a new draft constitution, we had hope. Some of us interested in Free Education formed a group consisting of Buddhist Monks, Catholic Priests, Principals of Schools, Directors of Education, teachers, and concerned citizens called "Ruhunu Ekamuthuwa". We held meetings, printed handbills for distribution about the beginning of Free Education and CWW Kannangara, and finally organized a signature campaign from Kataragama to Ambalangoda, demanding that Free Education be made a fundamental human right. Absolutely nobody refused to sign it. It was a success and two big box files of signatures were ceremonially handed over to the Human Rights Commission. Our suggestion had been included in the draft, but when it went to the Parliamentary sub-committee for Human Rights, it got so diluted and adulterated that what little hope we had in a new constitution evaporated. After all we need the votes of two thirds majority of the legislature for the new constitution and they are all crooks who will never allow their ability to stay permanently in power and to steal curtailed. There is no hope of a renewal or reform with the present set of Ali Baba and the 225 thieves, pimps and murderers.

The (only) remedy, the AC

We were stranded in a political desert without an oasis in sight and desperate when, providentially, the idea of the AC was put forward. It is a constitution drafted by the honest, concerned, committed and ordinary citizens of the country preempting the crooked politicians from taking part in its making or by committees appointed by the wily politicians or their cats’ paws in the judiciary. An AC is begotten and drafted by the people, the citizens, and adopted by them as their Primary Rule of the nation.

The gist of the AC in the making

The country will be a unitary state. The executive presidency will be abolished. The provincial councils will be abolished. The legislature will be reduced to 125 MPs. The cabinet will be only 15. MPs will not have salaries or pensions only an allowance. Pensions of MPs will be abolished retroactively. The doubled membership in the ‘pradeshiya sabhas’ will again be halved. MPs will not get car permits, petrol shed permits, wine shop permits etc. to sell for millions. MPs will have to be either graduates or have studied up to that level. Nobody with a criminal past or such allegation will be allowed to tender nominations. No person will be qualified to be elected as a MP more than twice. The parliament will be back at Galle Face.

As soon as the new constitution comes into force the judiciary will be dissolved and new people will be appointed by a constitutional council. Constitutional council will consist of 9 eminent, learned people and chaired by the speaker, the only politician. There will be only one law for the whole country. Muslim law, Udarata law and Thesawelami law will be abolished. The national list will be abolished. All court cases will have to be concluded in six months. Only serious crimes like murder, rape, child abuse etc. can go on for one year and not one day more. The punishment for corruption, swindling people’s money etc. will be gallows. Proportional representation system will be changed to the old, first past the post system. Citizens will be empowered to recall their MPs. There will not be urgent bills. Foreign Service will be strictly restricted to career diplomats. Those who have robbed the people’s wealth will be given one month’s amnesty to return the loot, failing which they will be charged, tried, convicted and jailed. Their properties and the properties of their immediate family, movable and immovable, will be confiscated. Domestication of wild animals will be prohibited. Sovereignty of the people will be inalienable and fully protected.

The empowering of the AC

The AC will be presented to the people at the next presidential election with a candidate. The AC will be more visibly in front than the candidate. Citizens will be voting for the AC, not so much for the candidate. But, of course, the candidate certainly will be a man of integrity with a strong character and a clean past. He is not a politician and he doesn’t want to be one. He will be what the ancient Greeks called a philosopher-ruler, or in modern terms, a statesman. When the AC is voted for by the people and receive the 51% majority we shall truly have a democracy as defined by Abraham Lincoln "A government of the people, by the people, for the people." As far as the AC is concerned the next presidential election will be a referendum. It by passes the need for two thirds majority of the legislature which, in this case, is not necessary as the majority of the people has adopted it. The Voice of the People is supreme and above the executive, legislature and the judiciary. All the members in the executive, legislature and the judiciary are mere servants of the people with their salaries paid by the people. It is the sovereignty of the people that decides, there is nothing above it.

The alternative to the AC

Is this the last chance fate has kindly given us to save the country? If the people, at this juncture, fail in this political exercise, I dread and tremble to think of what will happen to the children and the youth of this country. We had had enough bloodshed in the seventies, eighties and in the long drawn out 30 year fratricidal war. Do we want to prepare the country again for a national bloodletting? If the Ali Baba and the 225 thieves come to power what else can we expect? The country will be robbed clean yet again, sold to the foreigners and irredeemably in debt. Sri Lanka will be a failed state with no money, no jobs, no future, no law and order. Chaos will reign with dog eat dog jungle law taking over. Do you want this beautiful land of ours to become, in the lingo of Trump, a ‘shithole’ country?

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