A triumph for democracy | Daily News

A triumph for democracy

Yesterday marked a Red Letter Day for democracy in this country of 21 million people where the attempts of dark forces of anarchy to trample on the free will of the people were resoundly defeated, restoring their sovereignty and independence. The people who cherish democracy owe an eternal debt to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who was sworn last morning as the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, for walking the gauntlet all the way in achieving for them this victory.

Had he baulked at the unequal challenge that confronted him since the day he was illegally deposed as Prime Minister on October 26 and allowed the forces of anarchy to prevail it would certainly have spelt the end to democracy and constitutional rule in Sri Lanka. The true democrat that he was, he fought his way according to the rule book and his unflappable demeanour and composure, amidst heavy odds, should be a lesson for all budding politicians who are wedded to democracy.

He did not sway from his insistence that he was still the Prime Minister of this country and was the rightful occupant of Temple Trees, knowing full well the might of the military and the police were in the hands of the illegal Government. His implicit faith in the eventual triumph of democracy, no matter what peril it was being subjected to, is also testament to his determination not to allow the vitiation of a system that the people of Sri Lanka had been nurtured on since we gained universal adult franchise in 1935.

To Wickremesinghe also goes the kudos of being the symbolic figure who protected democracy which was being assailed from within the system for the first time in this country. Earlier democracy was under threat from external forces. For the first time in the post-independence history of this country democracy was under siege when two insurgences broke out in 1971 and 1989/90 threatening the system. Both revolts were quelled by the Armed Forces. However, post October 26, democracy was undermined by actors who functioned within the system and had a good chance of success given that the Armed Forces, this time, were under the control of the usurpers. It is in this context that Premier Wickremesinghe’s role assumes historic importance.

Sri Lankans who cherish democracy should also salute the role played by the Judiciary for rescuing the system from what threatened to be its imminent collapse, through its impartial arbitration of matters that came before it. Their Lordships of both, the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, certainly delivered their verdicts in keeping with the Constitutional provisions. The unanimity reached by the seven member Supreme Court Bench that held the dissolution of Parliament illegal left no doubt, whatsoever, in the minds of the public that those responsible had acted outside the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the country.

It should be a matter for gratification for all that the country’s Judiciary has today asserted its independence, removing all doubts that existed on the impartiality of our courts. For this, the credit should undoubtedly go to the former Yahapalanaya Government for establishing the Independent Commissions which has ensured that no judicial officer could be subjected to intimidation by the Executive, like in the past. Their Lordships have opened a new chapter in the country’s judicial history that will now restore the confidence of the public in the judiciary that was virtually under siege pre-19A.

Credit, in full measure, should also go to the various President’s Counsel and other legal luminaries who argued their briefs forcefully and convincingly in placing in clear terms the true constitutional position before their Lordships. Their contribution towards upholding democracy and constitutional governance, thus, should therefore be treasured in the highest measure. The role played by the numerous legal experts such as former law professors through their opinions published in the media in debunking the theories of charlatans, imposters and pretenders who tried to mislead the public by giving their own interpretation of the Constitution is also not inconsiderable.

Last but not the least, the individual who should deservedly take a bow from the entire nation and certainly those who cherish democracy and democratic ideals is none other than Speaker Deshabandu Karu Jayasuriya. All right thinking people of this country would unhesitatingly agree that, but for his valiant efforts to hold his ground amidst physical threats and even danger to his very life (there were reports of a planned acid attack on him) in warding off attempts by anarchic elements to render democracy in tatters, autocratic rule would certainly have been enthroned in this country by now. He did not flinch in his endeavour to protect democracy and the supremacy of the legislature that is the fountainhead of the sovereignty of the people, amidst all the indignities, insults, humiliations and bodily harm he and the very office of Speaker was subjected to.

For this, his name will occupy a prominent place among the pantheon of world figures who made sacrifices, risking their lives, in the endeavour of protecting democracy and freedom for their people. 


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