I have had many bad experiences after commenting or writing about facts and realities. Here I would like to quote two examples in brief.
When the President of the International Monetary Fund - IMF President Dominique Strasskhan, known as DSK, had a problem in May 2011, I wrote an article in a newspaper in August that year covering certain well-analysed realities which were not known to the public. In my conclusion, I said many believe that one of the reasons for the DSK affair was a plot to prevent him contesting the 2012 Presidential elections in France. I highlighted some other important reasons as well.
Soon after this article was published, according to a reliable source, an Embassy rep approached the Editor of the particular newspaper, raising concerns as to how this article was allowed to be published in their newspaper. It was bizarre! Now you can’t find that article in any electronic domain.
Then on another occasion, a Tamil TV presenter who was away for a short while from his office due to some misunderstanding with the management, wanted to show his capabilities to the management when he returned to work. For this purpose, he did a programme about Biafra – the failed liberation struggle in Eastern Nigeria. Some who watched this program, who never knew about Biafra, thought that the situation of Biafra was exactly the same as the Tamil failed armed struggle of May 2009. In fact, it is not the case. When I watched that programme, I saw wrong information and exaggerations about the Biafran situation. As I knew the TV presenter, I spoke to him personally and gave him the right information. This led him to have a grudge against me.
Whenever I come on TV or Radio live programmes, I am never reluctant to counter any wrong information that is been given by the presenter. The consequence of straight-forwardness and courage, sometimes ends-up in hostility. My policy is to analyse realities and factual information and continue to write articles. There are occasions when there may be no-where to publish or to speak about realities, that doesn’t mean that truth and realities have lost their value.
Now let me touch on US President Donald Trump and the present controversy of his sacking the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - FBI, James Comey, which is in fact connected to affairs occurring during the Presidential election campaign. The media speculation is that Trump may be impeached and his period of Presidency may end up like former President Richard Nixon.
Those who go into the history of impeachment in the USA will understand that it is not an easy process. Like in many other countries, since 1865 the US Presidency or the US Congress has been dominated either by Democrats or Republicans.
In the US Congress (115th) - the four hundred and thirty-five members of the lower chamber - House of Representatives and one hundred members in the upper chamber - the Senate are mainly Democrats and Republicans. Of course, there are some independent members in the Senate.
To impeach any President in the US requires a majority of votes in the House of Representatives to decide whether they can go ahead with the impeachment. If this is successfully done, then the Senate, which processes impeachments, eventually takes a vote to remove the President from office. In the US Senate a two-third majority is important.
In the US, out of forty-five Presidents, only two have faced impeachment and another resigned before the House of Representatives voted to impeach him.
These days, the controversy surrounding President Trump is always compared to President Richard Nixon, the Republican who resigned in 1974 before the House of Representatives could take a vote on his impeachment.
If we look at the 93rd US Congress from January 1973 to January 1975, Democrats were in a comfortable majority in both chambers. This was enough to win any voting in both chambers. This situation made Richard Nixon resign from office before the impeachment process was voted in the House of Representatives.
When we consider President Trump’s situation, this is not the case. In the 115th US Congress, Republicans are in the majority in both chambers. According to available figures, in the House of Representatives - Democrats have only 193 members, whereas Republicans have 238 members. In the Senate - Democrats have 46 representatives and Republicans have 52. There are two Independent reps as well.
Even if all hurdles are passed, unless many Republican Senators supported the expected impeachment on Donald Trump, there would not be the required two thirds.
When we look at the proposed impeachments of two Presidents - President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and President Bill Clinton in 1999, both were unsuccessful attempts.
As President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865, then Vice-president Andrew Johnson became the President. When Johnson was impeached, the Senate voted to remove him from office but they lacked one vote to have a two third majority.
When there were attempts to impeach President Bill Clinton in 1999, in the 106th US congress from January 1999 to January 2001, even though the Republicans were in majority, the numbers were not enough to remove Bill Clinton from office. Therefore Bill Clinton managed to stay in power.
When we consider Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, it is obvious that impeachments were failures because of the vote in the Senate. Of course some Judges have been removed through impeachment.
Presently the Republicans have the majority in the Senate. Therefore, it will not be very easy to find two-thirds willing to remove Donald Trump in the case of impeachment against him.
Yes, it is true that the Justice Department has nominated former FBI director and prosecutor Robert Mueller who oversaw the investigations of former Panamanian Military dictator Manuel Noriega’s drug case and the Pan-Am bombing over Scotland - to investigate the alleged collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia. This is just at an initial stage. If Trump’s affair moves to the House of Representatives, then one can consider that it has gone into an important stage. But the situation in the US Congress raises doubt as to whether it could be a fruitful attempt.
However President Trump has already denied these accusations. He described the investigations as "the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history".
Malpractice in Sri Lanka
In Sri Lanka, during every election whether Presidential, Parliamentary or any other, vote-rigging and elections violations have been reported. But if those complaints are against the ruling President’s political party or alliance, they don’t see any further inquiry or investigation. If we consider the last two Presidential elections, it was reported in the 2010 election that there was a lot of vote-rigging, irregularities and violence. There were irregularities in the vote-counting as well.
The BBC reported that, .......After the presidential vote, Elections Commissioner Dayananda Dissanayake admitted that he "could not even ensure the safety of one ballot box". He said that he had done his duties "under great duress and mental agony". A few days later, however, he withdrew his earlier request to resign from the post. (Excerpts- BBC News Channel – 5 March 2010)
On 28 January 2010, The South Asians for Human Rights said the following - “Foreign observer and Mission Director of the Asian Network for Free Election (ANFREL), Ichal Supriady said yesterday the Elections Commissioner should investigate and call for a voter registration audit if the local monitors allege fraud in the counting of votes and disfranchisement of voters. ‘We expect the Election Commissioner to announce and clarify allegations of fraud,’ Supriady said. If there are suspicions of malpractice in the counting process then the political parties should reach a consensus to recount or the option of re election, Supriady said. The common opposition candidate is entitled to make complains and the Elections Commissioner should look into them, he added. (Excerpts – South Asians for Human Rights, 28 January 2010)
Regarding the Presidential elections in 2010, did any inquiry or investigation of those complaints happen? No.
In the last Presidential election in 2015, the person who lost the election complained that he was defeated because of a foreign conspiracy. Well, were his complaints investigated? No.
So where is the problem in Sri Lanka? Is it with politicians or with the judiciary? Some may say that it is with the general public because they never came to the streets to object against these malpractices.
Now so-called ‘good governance’ has been in power for nearly two years. So far, how many culprits have been indicted or punished for arbitrary killings and disappearances of members of civil society - journalists, lawyers, individuals and others? How many were indicted and punished for corruption and mishandling of government and private funds? With all these failures, some still name Sri Lanka as one of the oldest democracies in South East Asia. Those who claim this should look at democracy in a wide perspective, not only concerning them individually. In Sri Lanka, so-called investigations and inquires are life-time process! (End)
S. V. Kirubaharan