By Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka
I am proud that the Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka, of which my father was the Founder-President, was one of nine media industry bodies/organisations to express “deep concern” over aspects of the 20th Amendment and their potential to “negatively impact Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions”.
Mervyn de Silva would have endorsed the statement, had he lived. He founded the Lanka Guardian magazine in May 1978 as a critical civic alternative at the moment of ‘High Authoritarianism’.
The monopolisation of power through the 20th Amendment turns the Presidency into a monarchy by another name – which the Founding Fathers of the USA, having fought a revolution and liberated themselves from monarchy (‘Mad King George’), explicitly wished to avoid when they created the Presidency. With the militarisation of civil administration running parallel, the 20th Amendment arguably turns that elected monarchy into a military-backed dictatorship.