14 December, 2017

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A Reform Agenda: Reducing The Power Of The Executive

By Rajiva Wijesinha –

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

It is widely agreed that the Executive Presidency has too much power, and those now supporting the common candidate are pledged to reduce this. However , in doing so, they should work on basic political principles, and particularly the doctrine known as the Separation of Powers.

This involves building up the powers of other institutions of State, so that the Executive can be held in check. Such institutions include Parliament as representing the legislative power of the State, and the Judiciary which exercises judicial power. In addition, we need to strengthen the media, and also the public service. This last works for the executive, but it must work on the principle that it is the Constitution and Laws that are supreme, not the instructions of individuals exercising power at any particular period.

All those working for the common candidate must then realize that it will not be enough to go back to the Westminster system. After all we know that the government elected in 1970 and in 1977 both engaged in excesses under the Westminster system. The problem then was the idea that Parliament was supreme, and the fact that Parliament was controlled by the Executive power.

Five measures should then be implemented immediately to ensure that the Executive is subject to constitutional controls.

  1. The first, which is clearly understood, is restriction of the arbitrary power of the President to make appointments. There should be a body to advise on these, and recent experience has shown that it should have provision for representations by the public, and should make clear the rationale for its decisions. If it is made up of elected members, who are not themselves part of the Executive, it should also have veto powers.
  2. There should be limits on the size of the Cabinet (I would suggest 25 at most, though the number could be up to 10 more until the next election). This is essential since it will preclude the Head of the Executive controlling the Legislature by the simple mechanism of adding more and more people to the Executive branch.
  3. The Attorney General’s Department and the Legal Draughtsman’s Department should be brought under the Ministry of Justice, with a proviso that the Minister of Justice should not be involved in electoral politics. In the old days he came from the Senate, but for the present a National List member would be appropriate. The Supreme Court however should not be under the Ministry of Justice, but should be administered by an independent body, with salaries and pensions and privileges not subject to the Executive.
  4. It must be specified that Secretaries to Ministries should be appointed by the Public Service Commission, not by the Cabinet or the President.
  5. Elections, including for Parliament and Provincial Councils and Local Government bodies, should be held at fixed intervals, not at the convenience of the Executive.

I would also suggest five measures to ensure that Parliament is strengthened. This means strengthening the powers and prerogatives of Members who are not part of the Executive.

  1. First, the Chairs of the Finance Oversight Committees (the Public Accounts Committee and the Committee on Public Enterprises) should be Opposition members. The Executive will be required to respond in writing to the reports of these Committees, and give reasons if their recommendations are not obeyed.
  2. There should be no more than 25 Consultative Committees. This should be in line with the number of Ministries, but if there are more during the interim period, business should be combined (ie all education matters together, or lands and agriculture and irrigation etc). There should be a limited number of members in each committee, say about 10, and no Member should belong to more than two committees. The proceedings of these committees should be minuted, and the minutes made publicly available. Ministers should not chair the Committee but should attend meetings to discuss policy and procedures. Only senior officials concerned with policy should attend these meetings. Such Consultative Committees should deal with general policy matters and finance and legislation, as laid down in the Standing Orders. There should be opportunities for Members to meet officials in the Ministry to deal with matters of individual concern.
  3. The Petitions and High Post and Standing Order Committees should be chaired by Opposition members and their proceedings should be made publicly available.
  4. All questions must be answered within a month, and Ministers not available to answer questions should explain the reasons for this in writing to the President.
  5. The Standing Orders should promote Bills by Private Members, and there should be a Business Committee of Parliament without involvement of the Executive to schedule such initiatives as well as Adjournment Motions.
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Latest comments

  • 8
    1

    Rajiva, Rajiva, Rajiva,

    Now – this is truly the proverbial “sour grapes”!

    How come these issues were not important until now. Upto now you have always insisted that MR was all fine, but it was just that Foreign Ministry, especially GL, your nemesis and manny or the other side-kicks that was the problem. Now, all of a sudden, coincidentally promptly after you got booted out, the powers of the Prseident has become the focus of issue for you.

    You should go back to teaching English – perhaps to some rural school in the vicinity of Hambantota!

    I am sure you have heard the wisdom of “ballage wade and the booruwage wade” – there is a lot of wisdom in that than you realize!

    • 3
      1

      Rajiva, the clown Maitipala Sisisena has promised to “Protect” the corrupt and criminal Mahinda Jarapassa family rather that try them for all their FINANCIAL crimes and corruption and in debting the people of Sri Lanka for generations to come!

      I have NO CONFIDENCE in the so called joint opposition candidate who seems to have NO Brains or Principles and plays by Jarapassa’s scrip. Also, Sirisena’s explanation of why the National Drugs Policy Bill was not passed for 4 years while he was Health Minister is unconvincing, especaialy since he claims there was a mountain of corruption and did not expose it.. Like Jarapassa “files/ piles”!

      The joint opposition is a joke because the so-called Joint opposition leader sounds like a supporter of the Corrupt President – promising to Protect the Jarapassa family! My ass! What sort of opposition is this if there is NO accountability for crimes committed?

      Shows the depths to which we are sunk in this Miracle of Modayas – both the Opposition and the govt are equally corrupt and Sirisens is part of the whole corrupt political circus in the Miracle of Modays.

      I am so totally unimpressed by Maitipala Sirisena who seems to be falling hook, line and Stinker for Jarapassa’s lies and deceit. It is a joke that the so-called leader of the joint opposition has pledged to protect the single most corrupt family in the Miracle of Modayas instead of asking the prior question why has Jarapassa called and illegal Presidnetial election 2 years ahead of time if he is such a patriot and good guy who is so innocent?!

      • 2
        3

        Maithri wouldn’t “protect” MR and his family if he receive huge pressures from the UN Investigators. All he will do is that he would allow the UN Investigators to arrive in SL for the crimes that MR Govt has committed. Other than that will not be allowed under the Maithri Govt such as granting access to the Government and State documents, Because its the Govt property and no one is allowed to access to it.

        All he said that he would provide basic protections against the investigations for MR Govt. But the protections will be dropped when MR Govt found guilty of war crimes he would surely be extradited to the ICC courts in the Netherlands. Maithri can’t keep hold of him unless there would be sanctions against our motherland it would hurt us a lot more than MR’s corruption in the Island.

        As Honourable President and the rightful President of this National must needed the protection by the law. You can’t just throw MR and his family into dustbin because he would be the former President after Maithri. Just wait and see after Maithri wins, He would do everything within his powers to bring criminal cases against MR’s corrupted family.

        • 2
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          `He would do everything within his powers to bring criminal cases against MR’s corrupted family.`

          then you go hang passa and co for killing all the sihala folk because Den Hauge does not do that therefore buruva sihala talk of sovereignty.
          Why was Bush and Sarkozy not interested in Den Hauge??
          Passa and you believe in rebirth so better go jump in the sea.

      • 0
        0

        Yes! s.modaya, it is not going to be as good a change as projected. The whole political system gradually got corrupt from early 1946. The idea among top politicians is not development from the ground up to benefit the people. Always it has been a divisive politics culminating in making the situation of the Country worse. Even this combined opposition will not be for the benefit of the Country. It looks more emotional than meaningful. A meaningful change can only take place if reforms in education and justice system is made. These two serious reforms could have been first taken care of if these politicians know how to develop a Country. After these reforms are in place, new emerging politicians may be able to understand the problems better. Existing senior politicians are mostly the believers in puppet making for their evil benefits. Look at the way how violence is let lose to achieve their evil emotional ego. Look at the way how they handle the UN and make friendship sour with other supportive Countries. Do they understand to what level they can push the Country down just to satisfy their emotional ego.

      • 0
        1

        S.Modaya

        First Things First.

        First Get Elected.Say whatever he wants now.

        Other items will come layer.

        Instead of Hanging , can put in Jail,, like Jayalaitha of Tamil Nadu.

        First things, First. Get get of MaRa of Medamulana.

    • 1
      1

      Rajiva, It seems that too many cooks and theorists spoil the soup!

      The joint opposition has been totally uninspiring thus far after the initial buzz about Maithi Sirisena and seems set to LOOSE the January 8 election at this time.

      Since Sirisena has promised to “protect” the corrupt and criminal Mahinda Jarapassa and his family, the poor voter has a choice between more and less corruption, and as the saying goes, the know devil is better than the unknown!. The Joint opposition seems set to LOOSE the election at this time.

      1. Maiti Sirisena is playing on Jarapassa’s script rather than promising a CLEAN BREAK with Corruption. Rather Sissena has promised to PROTECT the corrupt and criminal Mahinda Jarapassa and his family who have committed endless FINANCIAL CRIMES and corruption against people of Lanka and indebted us for decades.

      2. Sirisena is dancing to Jarapassa’s tune and seems almost like plant. HE should rather ask: What president would declare an election while having two more years to serve before expiration of his current term if he thought he would face a war crimes trial later?”. Maiti Siripala has shown us that he is a FOOL and also UNPRINCIPLED. He has fallen for Jarapassa’s lies and is promising not to hold Jarapassa and his corrupt family ACCOUNTABLE for their crimes against Sri Lankan people, rather than pointing out the logical fallacy of Jarapassa’s greed and lies in calling an ILLEGAL Presidential elections 2 years early!

      3. Instead of taking their case and talking to the VOTERS and the PUBLIC on policies and speaking to and EDUCATING VOTERS on the CORRUPTION Of Jarapassa, the so-called joint opposition is discussing symbols and busy trying to get CORRUPT politicians and Ministerial RATS on Jarapassa’s ship to cross over! Horse trading of corruption and disease ridden horses seems the name of the opposition game! 3. Rajitha Seniviratne who has become the mouth piece of the Joint opposition, is the worst, has a mouth like a sewer and is constantly talking about cross overs that do NOT materialize. 4. Meanwhile, precious time to speak to the VOTERS in lost in the horse trading circus that is taking place ELECTIONS ARE NOT WON OR LOST IN a CORRUPT PARLIAMENT. They are won and lost on the streets and by engaging with VOTERS.. 5. Women are conspicuously absent from Joint Opposition except for CBK. This is a mistake as WOMEN VOTERS are over half the population.

    • 1
      3

      “It is widely agreed that the Executive Presidency has too much power…”

      Widely agreed among whom Professor? Among the loosers like Chandrika, Ranil and yourself who can’t win elections?

      Show us a single survey that points to “wide agreement” among the common people of this country that the powers of executive presidency concern them.

      The executive presidency is for the political bankrupts is made an issue by those who can’t find another issue to latch on to. They keep harping about democracy, corruption etc.

      If we talk of “families” in power, what about Chandrika’s (mother, father and brother!)and Ranil’s puppet master father, maternal grandfather and uncle Ranjit who is giving media support to him at the moment. Whay are you asking us to exchange the Rajapakse family for those old rogues? We know your family connections to Ranil too>

      Speaking of corruption, only Chandrika has a supreme court verdict thst declared she is corrupt. What about maithripala’s brother Dudley’s rice monopoly and US $ millions made with the support of his brother.Not corruption?

      You can’t fool the people professor. they have brains!

      • 1
        3

        Vdap:

        Any where in the world, mostly the lay people are worried about their day to day life.

        That is why even the voter turnout is not 100% ever. Some simply don’t care elections.

        On the other hand, Even Obama talked about Health care in order to win the elections. Because that was a burning issure there. When he was at the losing end of the second presidential election he went to poor americans and not to the rich americans.

        So, don’t talk dumb.

      • 1
        3

        Vdap
        Atleast Chandrika did’nt try to influence the Supreme Court er?

  • 4
    4

    Yes, those who do not understand separation of powers argue institutions take wrong/illegal actions when they were operating independently. Therefore, they say Political interference became a necessity.

    Each institution must therefore have directors appointed by the PSC. The PSC must ensure the appointees have the necessary expertise to deal with problems within the institution autonomously so that political interference in not needed.

    Each institution must build a culture of integrity and one that fiercely guards its independence. It must protect its independence but also make things transparent via Freedom to Information policy.

    The other thing, when a politician makes a request, the institutions must demand the request is made via email or some written form. This is to ensure the requests are legal, above board and it leaves a paper trail if things go wrong.

  • 1
    2

    The future is becoming the topic now. A vision would crytalize from these discussions.

    “All questions must be answered within a month, and Ministers not available to answer questions should explain the reasons for this in writing to the President.”

    Why to the president? Should not they be answerable to the parliament? This will measure will strenghthen parliament.

    Further, should the ministers be appointed from outside the parliament and be appointed as non-voting members of parliament? They should of course lose the parliamentory position when they cease to be ministers.

    How about an upper house-a Senate, to ensure provincial, professional bodiestrade unions and minority representation?

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 0
    0

    Looks good. But how is an executive subjected to a check? Instead the executive must be guided by proper implementation of a final plan submitted by the City or Provincial authority. The way development is done is not planned in another Country and laid out here to please certain section and the Executive. It should originate from our ground here, come up to the executive for carrying it out. The benefit of a project is not looking at anything but the benefit of its purpose in the future at the grassroot level. However the controls are in place you have to make jurisdiction to obstruct partiality in decision making. The first things like preventing ethnic hatred, hate crimes, and hate talk has to be stopped for the executive to focus in the right direction. The proportion of hatred between communities is so high even if a whole Department allocated to stop this is not easy. Specially the hatred introduced from political candidates has spread throughout and steps should be taken to reverse and bring genuine friendship. Then only the top executive can focus on beneficial development.

  • 3
    8

    Is this real…

    I mean the CC Sira will be President in 39 days ,,,Right.

    Then he has until the 18 April to hand it over the exc PM, Mr Ranil

    Now Wije, who was the gofer between Ex Prez and sand Sira’s Bro, to pull this off.comes out with his own 10 point demand list…

    Even Ranil didn’t know it was coming I mean that Sira was coming..

    Otherwise the erstwhile friend, TNA Sambandan and his Vellalas clan wouldn’t be in the position what they are in now…

    How long will our Legal Drafters take to study these 10 important points from this gofer to give our inhabitants, the paradise they have been been promised.

    No offence to our able legal drafters.

    But the Duals are still in the doldrums because the Drafters can’t work out how to give them.

    It must be hard to meet the high standards the applicants are asking because they are all Western passport holders.

    And Wije is not the only who is making these demands.

    As I understand, JHU Rev Rathan has forwarded his list, and is in serious discussions with the CBK and Sira.ign off..

    An even the UNP Council Chief is still negotiating the party demands before he can sign off the MOU.

    Thank god our Dalit inhabitants are not up to speed with these machinations. ,

    Otherwise they will also have to be on Panadol.

  • 6
    2

    ‘I have never considered Sri Lanka to be a particularly civilised country. It has instead appeared to me to be a particularly immoral country, whose leaders embodied iniquity and baseness’
    – Victor Ivan’s introduction to the English translation of Chaura Rajina.

    So there you have it in summary. It does not matter whether it is the Common Opposition or MR, they are all corrupt, power hungry thieves. They are already arguing over deals and jobs for the boys. The best that can be said is that some are less corrupt or weak than others. There is no statesman at hand to rise above this rabble and lead the people.

  • 1
    4

    Is the Professor on the same wave length as the Fashion Designer ?…

    • 1
      4

      K.A Sumanasekera

      Wave length of school teacher who was unable to come up with a best seller that would have given him a pot of gold to reside at Monte Carlo.

      There was a bloke close to Lucias Cathedral who wrote an english novel way back around 68-69 and left for the states.

      • 1
        2

        Javi the illiterate

        Christopher Columbus Discovers America, 1492. Columbus led his three ships – the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria – out of the Spanish port of Palos on August 3, 1492. His objective was to sail west until he reached Asia (the Indies) where the riches of gold, pearls and spice awaited.

        There was a bloke close to Lucias Cathedral who wrote an english novel way back around 68-69 and left for the states.

        Did this guy leave for the Islamic State.

        • 0
          1

          columbus the mott,

          `Javi the illiterate¬

          Quinqui Pedo!! (Delinquent, Drunkard)

          Cris Coloumbus was from Pays basque village with in San Sebastian like popeye.

          Why don’t you crawl on your fours to LCat check the line rooms on right he was felicitated there and a RC.

          In any case what has religion got to bother a writer when its fiction/detective??

          there were several even with ginger hair born anglo saxon at col 2 commercial company excetive parents , they too left 79 after takeover 68 slow move lankan corruption, mackwoods one such- folk have kids live and work london.

          • 0
            0

            Javi the headless torso

            The usual rubbish.

            • 0
              0

              kali kola columbian cocain top up soda-

              If you have nothing to say don’t say it muttal.

  • 3
    1

    Wonder what nonsense you were up to when the 18th amendment was being passed!!!

    • 0
      0

      Dev – I am almost certain that Rajiva abstained during the vote on the 18th Amendment. Of course, it is a pity he didn’t vote against it.

  • 1
    1

    Very True Paul,

    Al least when Tambi was there, he re-cycled them on a regular basis. The poor Sinhalese must be missing him now.

  • 0
    0

    “A fool’s paradise is a wise man’s hell”, goes the saying. I am surprised why Rajiv is wasting his breath on this forum..

  • 0
    5

    He voted for 18.

    Now crying.

  • 3
    0

    All that you capture in the article is true Prof. But I just hope you are NOT nominated to any high office in the new gov when its is formed after the 8th of Jan. You are a selfish politician after your own personal ambitions and not with the country at heart. Why didn’t you bring this up before with your master when you were his slave? I challenge you to enter parliament by contesting. You will get nothing more than 100 votes. You are a two timer the country can do without.

  • 0
    3

    This Rajiva is from St Thomas Mt. Lavinia and I went to Hena Vidyalaya Mount.
    We travelled to school together and Rajiva used to buy buns for me and asked me to do certain things. I was small then and did not understand.
    Now only I know.

    • 2
      2

      you are neither the original KAS or do you understand the meaning of giving.

      Christianity is charity It is giving to all irrespective of where you come.

    • 1
      0

      Aathal Sumane
      “We travelled to school together and Rajiva used to buy buns for me and asked me to do certain things”

      Chikay, chikay…… you mean you sold yourself for a bun? And of all clowns to Rajiva? Is he a homo, or was it just that boys from that school always wanted to bu**er unsuspecting younger boys in shorts?

      Chee Sumane…..

  • 1
    2

    [Edited out]

    It seems he is very out of touch with certain realities in Sinhale.

    Sri Lankan media is the most outspoken when it is not needed. Sri lankan media is the most anti-Sri lankan. Sri lankan media is the most greedy and would give up all the journalistic ethics, discipline and would not report when it is needed and would report all the crap in the world that is not true.

    He wants more freedom to the media.

    See TV, They are like north American Tabloid TV and some times pornography channels. They rape the country.

  • 4
    3

    In that sensational hard talk by C4 Wije lied though his teeth and topped it with insulting the host.

    Now he talks of the Christians being 5% of Lanka as if he owns their vote when so many of his faith have been slaughtered which he like the Cardinal has ignored. Nonis case is classic where thug Vas is stopped from entering Rome- money power from 68 nationalisation.

    They both use the dying person’s statement `father forgive them for they do not know what they do` to protect their new found glory – confession! Men like Robin cook never did same because they have character.

    Wije I would love to see you in hard talk with Boris Johnson as Host just for a good laugh.

    Hampstead Heath will not rest till then.

  • 1
    0

    Prof:

    Let us look at the following and see whether you can actually reduce the power of the Executive and how.

    “the vesting of the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers of government in separate bodies.
    “constitutional arrangements based on separation of powers”

    The Sri Lankan Parliament is the supreme legislative body in the Sri Lanka (i.e., there is parliamentary sovereignty), and Government is drawn from and answerable to it

    The executive is the part of the government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state. The executive branch executes, or enforces the law. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.

    Frankly in a Countrty like Sri Lanka where there is no Rule of Law or respect for Rule of Law reducing the power of the Executive will make no difference as any Government will blatantly interfere with the Judiciary if it doesnt suit them. This is a 64 year itch and will continue no matter what.SAD

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