Humility in Politics | Daily News

Humility in Politics

D.S. Senanayake-Dudley Senanayake-S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike
D.S. Senanayake-Dudley Senanayake-S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike

Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake as the Minister of Agriculture and Lands in the State Council days frequently toured the North Central Province to see to the welfare of the newly settled colonists in places such as Minnneriya, being so humble and polite as to tell them that they must be offered flowers (Thamunnanselata mal puja karanta uvamanai), for their sacrifice toiling in the malaria mosquito infested jungle, in a poignant display of rare humility followed by his son Dudley as Prime Minister being so sensitive as to resign after the 1952 August Hartal shootings and passing away with a bank balance of only twenty-five rupees!

S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike born with a silver spoon in the mouth spurned all wealth, walked out of the mansion into the midst of the common people discarding alien attire, embracing native creed, adopting the Arya Sinhala way of family life, even daughters dressing in lama sariya, getting a Sinhala school head master from whom he had accepted a rustic meal electioneering in Kurunegala in 1952 as Prime Minister discussed with his pet projects like the District Councils Bill, taking the night mail train to Nuwara Eliya for a weekend holiday using his car only from railway station to residence, running along Maradana railway platform up to a sleeping berth attendant shouting “Sir, you have left behind your umbrella”, grabbing his golf umbrella followed by his daughter Chandrika sipping kahata-tea, with jaggery, in coconut shell cups with village youth when implementing Land Reform as she said at 1988-99 Wayamba Provincial Council election campaign meetings.

President J.R. Jayewardene who declared 1983 as election year visiting his old Kelanya electorate getting down from the Daimler official car under the pandal erected to welcome him, lovingly looking at the face of the son of a head master remembering him, both of whom he took in his Ford Mercury car to a school function and going standing in an open Jeep to the meeting venue at Malwathuhiripitiya, greeted with folded hands all respectful elderly people lining the road banks who would have been those for whom he had found employment at the pre-nationalization Colombo Harbour Cargo Boat Despatch Company, endearingly saying, “I remember you all” (mata mathakai, mata mathakai) quite unlike his successor in office denying a post in two Media institutions to a talented one greeted by him with folded hands sitting comfortably in the same car over his house parapet wall, proceeding to a meeting at the same venue in 1988, in favour of two henchmen recruited by sham interview fired in one or two months for inefficiency, in the early nineties.

Quite in contrast the Opposition Leader, throwing all humility and politeness in decent politics to the winds, seems to be hell-bent on unceasingly insulting President Ranil Wickremesinghe saying that he has become President through the back door when in fact the Constitution ordains otherwise laying down in no uncertain terms in Article 40 (1) (a) that “If the office of President shall become vacant prior to the expiration of his term of office, Parliament shall elect as President one of its Members who is qualified to be elected to the office of President. Any person so succeeding to the office of President shall hold office only for the unexpired period of the term of office of the President vacating office”.

The framers of the Constitution have in their sagacity and foresightedness never intended that the Member of Parliament so to be elected shall be from the ruling party or otherwise, elected or from the National List, making it sure that the Member eminently suited in the particular circumstances is chosen disregarding petty prejudices.

It has to be emphasized that the consequential requirement laid down in Article 40 (1) (b) that “Such election shall be held as soon as possible after, and in no case later than one month from the date of occurrence of the vacancy. Such election shall be by secret ballot and by an absolute majority of the votes cast in accordance with such procedure as Parliament may by law provide” has been followed through without any hitch whatsoever.

It has also to be noted that President Ranil Wickremesinghe was elected with the votes of 134 of the 225 Members and that he became President not through the back door but treading a well-paved constitutional path and entered the Presidential Secretariat through the front door.

Avoiding all constitutional jargon Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, PC very simply articulated his view saying something like that President Ranil Wickremesinghe, whom the late Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera described as one who should have become so but never became so, became so by a strange turn of events.

Extremely venomous language is spurted out these days by both clergy and laymen describing President Ranil Wickremesinghe as a dictator for saying in a rare tough stance that he would not allow the Government to be overthrown by strugglers and use the Military and the Police to put down terrorist attempts to do so in a dangerous context where even the Public Security Minister revealed in Parliament that the Opposition Leader himself has admitted that there were both genuine agitators and terrorists among the strugglers.

Setting fire to property, State or private, legitimate or illegitimate, destroying the country’s wealth is an act of terrorism and terrorists committing preposterous acts of arson must be punished.

One commentator said recently that President Ranil Wickremesinghe should without threatening to suppress protests say that he would give relief to the people which he has done in small measure during the short period he has been in office by eliminating fuel and gas queues, meeting the fertilizer requirements to a considerable extent and taking all possible steps for economic recovery and it is better done than said.

He cannot possibly clear, in a jiffy, the 10-year mess of Rs. 5 trillion being spent on 262 mega-projects with only 12% success rate, according to an economist quoting State statistics, coming on TV, recently!

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