Saturday, May 18, 2024

The dual-citizenship ‘thorn’

By The Pepper Spray Club 

Among the objections to the proposed 20th Amendment is the removal of the article preventing dual citizens from contesting elections. Not surprisingly, the strident voices are from the Opposition. The unnamed ‘villain’ of these objections is Basil Rajapaksa.

A bit of history would shed some light here.

The 19th Amendment effectively disallowed dual citizens from holding public office. It is no secret that the measure was introduced principally to stump presidential bids by either Basil Rajapaksa or his brother, incumbent president Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Gotabaya apparently moved to waive his US citizenship to overcome the constitutional hitch. His political opponents believed he had not and wasted hundreds of campaigning hours crying ‘foul.’ Even at election time it wasn’t really clear whether or not he had indeed been de-listed, so to speak. The people didn’t care obviously.

Now we hear people saying that dual citizens should not hold key positions because in a crucial moment their loyalty could waver. In other words, it’s ok for dual citizens to be in Parliament but not the President’s House. That would of course subvert the fundamental principle of equality but these objectors were never high on equality except when it suits them.

As has been pointed out, if it was ok for a dual citizen (Gotabaya) to play a crucial role in defeated terrorism, what’s wrong in such a person holding public office? If it was ok for Basil to drive post-war reconstruction (which came to a grinding halt under ‘The Pure Blooded Yahapalana Citizens’), what’s wrong in him holding public office?

The very same objectors, interestingly, defended tenaciously the appointment of Arjun Mahendran as Governor, Central Bank. Mahendran was not a dual citizen. He is a Singaporean. It’s a position in many ways as key as that of the president.

This country has been and is still being run by people holding single-citizenship — IN OTHER COUNTRIES.

The resident heads of the IMF and World Bank demarcate the operating universe of president and parliament. The US Ambassador thinks she is and often operates as a kind of Viceroy. The UK High Commissioner might want to believe she is, but then the UK is almost another state of the United States of America. The boss of UNHRC thinks fit to insist on how this country should be run and at that body single-citizenship worthies tell Sri Lankans what laws they should have and what they should dump! Then there are Indians and Chinese who have a say.
None of the individuals relevant to these designs are dual citizens. They are not ‘half Sri Lankans’ either!

So what’s this nonsensical horror-cries about dual citizenship? Balderdash!


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