Harim Peiris

Political and Reconciliation perspectives from Sri Lanka

  • September 2012
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Archive for September, 2012

A judicial rebuke to executive excess

Posted by harimpeiris on September 26, 2012

It was the French philosopher and scholar, Baron Montesquieu, who argued in his popular work, “De L’Esprite de Loix, the importance of the separation of powers in a democracy, between the executive, the legislature and the judicial arms of the state.   The executive and legislative powers of the state may be vested in a government, but the judiciary should act distinct from and independent of the government of the day, to dispense justice according to law, a key requirement for a society governed by the rule of law.

Further the powers of these organs of the state vary. It was a well known Indian jurist who commented that the Executive commanded the power of the gun or the use of state force, the legislature control over the state’s finances or the power of the purse. The judiciary on the other hand had neither force nor money, except the trust of the populace that it served justice without fear or favor, often typified by the image of the blind folded lady with the scales. Accordingly it is crucial that the judiciary in Sri Lanka not only dispense justice but be seen and believed to be doing so. Governments’ operate on the basis of the views of the majority. The Rajapakse administration is more than happy to govern Sri Lanka according to the wishes of its core constituency. The judiciary on the other hand must have a much broader and near  consensus acceptance of its integrity by the populace and needs to ensure the executives’ compliance with the rule of law. Read the rest of this entry »


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Rauff concedes in the East as Basil suffers a legal setback

Posted by harimpeiris on September 19, 2012

Earlier this week, the UPFA secured control of the Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) when the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) led by Rauff Hakeem decided to throw in its lot with the government as opposed to forming a provincial government with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). The UNP had no sooner the results were announced, indicated that it would back an opposition takeover of the Eastern Province Administration, given that the UPFA had fallen to just 32% of the popular vote and had only 14 seats in the 37 member Council. Fifteen (15) if you counted in the National Freedom Front’s single member. The TNA, the SLMC and the UNP divided the other 22 seats between them. The difference in the popular vote between the UPFA and the TNA was only 6,300 in the entire province and the TNA had defeated the government in the districts of Trincomalee and Batticalo. That the TNA was able to do so well electorally, despite “all the King’s horses and all the King’s men” arrayed against it demonstrated its enduring appeal amongst the Tamil community and hence the need to seriously engage with the TNA in a credible post war reconciliation process. In contrast, the UPFA elected only a single Tamil member in the whole province, former chief minister Pilliyan, through a preference vote recount that was dubious. Read the rest of this entry »

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PC Polls – the Government moves down a notch By Harim Peiris

Posted by harimpeiris on September 10, 2012

The elections to the three provincial councils, the North Central, the Sabaragamuwa and the Eastern Provincial Council concluded over the weekend and the results provide some interesting political trends.

At the very outset, it should be recognized that the government faced and conducted these elections on a basis that was as tailor made to its agenda as possible. If the PC elections were a cricket match, you would have claimed not just that the pitch was made in a manner friendly to the home (governing side) but actually doctored to fit its own needs. Since provincial elections are not contests that can conceivably change governments, there are a myriad of factors at play. Support for an opposition is lackluster since irrespective of the outcome, it will continue as the opposition in the central government, a savvy electorate is made to understand the benefits of state patronage by the governing party and in conducting elections in only a part of the country the government gets to focus the full force and intensity of its own efforts and state resources in a very concentrated manner. Read the rest of this entry »

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