23 June, 2024

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Aren’t Citizens Entitled To Propose & Enforce ‘System Changes’?

By Bernard Fernando

Bernard Fernando

The writer was prompted to send this article having noted a National newspaper going on record that nobody has so far come out specifically with the much hyped ‘System changes’. As far back as in 2016 the writer as a senior citizen/sovereign voter was convinced  that our complex Electoral system has proved beyond reasonable doubt that it has fundamentally failed to a) maintain fairness and rationality in the allocation of seats to the National Parliament  b) ensure selection of suitable ‘Political Professionals‘ to represent the sovereign voters in keeping with the changing times and c) make the main stake holders viz. the simple voters understand the system and mark their vote judiciously. Accordingly, the writer prepared a holistic package of Electoral Reforms/‘system changes’ to our flawed and wanting Electoral and Political Administration systems in 2016. It was based on forging National unity (Sri Lankan ness), Fairness, Rationality, Meritocracy and Simplicity championing a genuine Sri Lankan Democratic model. It fully complies with article 21(3) of ‘The Universal declaration of Human rights’ proclaimed by the UN where Sri Lanka as a signatory has pledged to hold ‘Genuine Elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage’. Thus, the writer opines that it is pertinent to keep the readers in context by chronologically recalling his submission of the said holistic package of Electoral Reforms/System changes, to the National Press (both in Sinhala and English), relevant Authorities, Civil Organisations and activists over the years as follow;

1. Lal Wijenaike Public Committee on new Constitution – 2016-January

2. NEC Chairman and his senior officers – PP presentation – 2017-July

3. ‘Legal Experts Committee’ to draft a new  Constitution – 2020-Nov.

4. Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms – 2021-June

5. Chairman-NEC – 2021-March/April

6. Commissioner General of Elections – 2021-June/July

7. PAFFREL/CMEV/CaFFe – 2020/2021

8. Feature articles and letters to the Editor in the Press – 1997 – to date.

However, the outcome so far has been sadly confined to an acknowledgement of receipt without any further ado connoting that ‘Fools should not rush in where Angels fear to tread’!  Anyway, the writer still wishes to rush in with a summary of the said holistic package as given below, to enable all concerned Country loving Sri  Lankans for their critique on each item.

A summary of Critical ‘System changes’ to be legalised before any Election

1. Ensure ‘Equality’ of Citizens Vote as per UN convention- 1948 and forge ‘Sri Lankan ness’ by allocating seats to parties based on their National /District l Vote % at Parliament and PC Elections .

2. Guarantee nomination of public cleared, merit based, genuine ‘Country-first -Political Professionals’, as Peoples’ representatives by mandating minimum eligibility criteria and a standardized structured Interview marking system  for all contesting Parties/Groups. 

3. Secure Women and Youth representation (20% each) in Parliament/PCs, by mandating at least 01 woman and 01 youth below the age of 35 among every 5 persons in all District/Electorate nominee lists in merit order. 

4. Stipulate objective oriented mandatory criteria for nomination of 29 National List MPs.

5. Abolish ‘Manape’ and Mixed Member Voting (MMV) systems and if necessary, allow all parties to enter their nominees in merit order using any one of 03 District/Electorate lists captioned PR, FPP and Central-Pool. 

6. Brand the ‘5 year Party Election Manifesto’ as a prosecutable document subject to a regulatory mechanism and convince the voter to accept it as the primary determinant for a wise voting decision.

7. Fix a ‘Common Maximum Expenditure limit’ for all ‘Party campaigns’ to ensure a ‘Level playing field’ and also to create an  opportunity to more deserving applicants lacking financial strength. (This item has since been legalised)

8. Install a ‘Sustainable National Cabinet’ system to foster ‘Sri Lankan ness’ by allocating Cabinet seats to seat- wining parties based on their National Vote % at a General Election.

9. Ban ‘Cross overs’ to ensure an ethical & a consensual political culture sans ‘corrupt deals’.

10. Objectively strengthen Provincial Councils and rationalise the role and fringe benefits of MPs. 

11. Depoliticise Local Govt. Elections to ensure fair and uncorrupt service to people through election of respectable, acceptable and sociable ‘Independent’ candidates in the locality. With the establishment of NMSJ proposed independent ‘Jana Sabhas’ (JS) at ‘Grama Niladhari Division (GND) level, JS nominees would be the ideal candidates to represent people and Elections can be conducted by Divisional Secretaries.

12. Take simple and cost -effective steps to ensure maximum productivity of the Electoral and Political systems. E.g. Hold General and PC Elections and if possible, the relevant Referenda too on the same day. It can become easier after introducing the much awaited Electronic voting system. Also, implementation of items 11 and 13 will simplify the Political Admin. System and save massive costs now being spent for the 02Elections. 

13. Complete all pre-requisites to abolish Executive Presidency as unanimously agreed by the People, Religious leaders and the BASL in the aftermath of the ‘Aragalya,’ paving the way to elect a ‘Hybrid Governor General’. The Constitutional Council shall propose 3 independent candidates, one of whom shall be elected from the vote of Parliament and PC members. He/She will have additional powers to appoint Provincial Governors and through them ensure the timely execution of Parliament approved Laws, Budgets and Programmes. This step, will enhance productivity of the system sans red tape and achieve massive savings on Election and other expenses.

14. Prioritise approval of above critical ‘system changes’ to be effective before any future Election.

Note: Writer’s detailed methodology for above ‘System changes’appeared in National Newspapers.

Finally, it is pertinent to reiterate that the historic ‘Peaceful Aragalya’ that desperately upstaged slogans such as ‘Gota go Home’ and ‘Ditch the 225’ surely gave a voice to the voiceless people. Their first slogan became a success but they did not upstage specific  ‘system changes’ to select ‘Political Professionals to occupy the ‘225’seats.Hence, the writer suggested a holistic package of ‘System changes’ through an  article to the press titled ”Open letter to peaceful and intelligent protestors on ‘system changes’ to remove curse of the ‘225’ on 4th June 2022 and another article titled” A follow up open letter to peaceful and intelligent youth of ‘Aragalaya’ on critical ‘System changes’ prior to next Election” on 31st Aug. 2022.However, It is unfortunate that the  ‘Aragalites’, could not proceed with them while the ‘Thatiya’ was hot. Also for reasons best known to them, the Religious Leaders, Politicians, concerned authorities, civil organisations and activists who unitedly campaigned for ‘System changes’, too appear to have given up on such fundamental ‘system changes’ crucial for a ‘Bankrupt Country’. The latest comical ‘Volte-face’ by the Politicians is their return to contest for ‘Executive Presidency’ without any reservations! Though not surprising, even the report of the aforementioned Parliament Select Committee that was published in 2022 did not touch on any of the pressing voter proposals except the ‘Limit for Election expenditure’ and ‘Electronic voting’ which were hanging fire for several years

Last Resort

Since it is the ‘Need of the hour’ for our ‘Bankrupt country’, we fervently appeal to all Religious leaders, all concerned ‘Country first’ Politicians, Civil and Professional organizations, the intelligentsia and the Trade Unions in the country to bring the entire country under one banner to forge the above ‘System changes’ without any further delay indicating the last resort given below.

As we know, the cunning and wily politicians will buy time to respond till the Elections come around the corner and make a hue and cry that there is no time to pass legislation before the Election. The classic examples are the ‘Abolition of Executive Presidency’ that was in the fray since 1994 and the reduction of the Local Govt. members despite the recommendation by the Former President in 2018 which was  kept in the ‘Back Burner’ till the recent clarion call for LG Elections arose.

If the unabated appeals of the sovereign People continue to be ignored, the only peaceful and decent ‘last resort’ is for the people to boycott any future Election until their aforesaid ‘System changes’ are legalized.

*The writer, a former Deputy General Manager-BOC can be reached at jbvfernando@yahoo.com                            

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  • 0
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    Aren’t Citizens Entitled To Propose & Enforce ‘System Changes’?

    Ranil was with the subject when he became president and suppressed who will take the leadership to drive the system change. If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading, Injustice and lawlessness is the greatest terror a government can ever enforce on its own people

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      Thanks for your comment. I still think the Pen is mightier than the sword !

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    “Complete all pre-requisites to abolish Executive Presidency as unanimously agreed by the People, Religious leaders and the BASL in the aftermath of the ‘Aragalya,’”
    Really? When did this poll take place and why wasn’t I informed?
    “Ensure ‘Equality’ of Citizens Vote as per UN convention- 1948 and forge ‘Sri Lankan ness’ by allocating seats to parties based on their National /District l Vote % at Parliament and PC Elections .”
    Why is there no mention of the Buddhist clergy, who are more equal than others? This group has now acquired the power to even jail people for making jokes about Buddhism in private. Already, we can neither eat chicken or consume alcohol on some days, or sit in the front seat of a bus on any day.
    Any “system change” has to tackle these issues. The author hasn’t. Even the JVP won’t dare. So much for system change. Sorry.

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      I sense that Mr. Bernard Fenando is a Christian, and therefore doesn’t want to offend the more equal sections of society. That’s good indication of the size of the problem.

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      Thanks for your comments.
      1..It is the same poll that compelled the PM and the President to resign.

      2.Under the UN proclaimed ‘Equal suffrage’ all citizens including clergy should carry a ballot paper of equal value.Democratically speaking, we very much like to see the Buddhist clergy leading the Religious leaders to head this campaign too.

      3. My proposed system changes are confined to tackling the root cause of our bankrupt country. ie. Electoral and Political system changes. Perhaps, when this root cause is treated, your concerns should get addressed and so to say,water will find its own level !

      • 0
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        JBV,
        “we very much like to see the Buddhist clergy leading the Religious leaders to head this campaign too.”
        That is exactly the problem. Why should clergy lead political campaigns? Are they better than others? Where is the evidence?

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          JBV,
          ““Complete all pre-requisites to abolish Executive Presidency as unanimously agreed by the People, Religious leaders and the BASL in the aftermath of the ‘Aragalya,’”
          Speaking of religious leaders, yesterday the Cardinal’s spokesman Fr. Cyril Gamini seemed to suggest that the Aragalaya was a conspiracy.
          Unanimous?

          • 2
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            My appeal is for a campaign by citizens with country at heart led by their dignified Religious and civil society leaders who too should have Country at heart.

          • 2
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            He is entitled to freedom of expression.

        • 2
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          The campaign is to strengthen National level democracy,human rights,fairness and ‘Sri Lankan ness’ in the country as a whole. It has nothing to do with specific Political Parties and is bereft of Ethnicity, Colour, Caste and Creed.
          I am a not Historian….but evidence is there in our history.

  • 2
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    I wish to add: (1) The number of Representatives must be limited to around 150 -175. The Delimitation must consider determining the number of seats based on the “Population Numbers” and not according to “Ethnic” based categories. This will ensure “Ethnic” (communal) representatives are eliminated and also discourage and do away with political parties formed on such a communal basis.

    (2) If any political party cannot secure at least a minimum number of polled votes, e.g. 2%, all such parties must be de-listed. It will reduce the political parties to a bare minimum and do away with the “Sale” of parties that are in the register for making money.
    (3) Do away with all perks to MPs. Pay only a “Sustenance Allowance.
    (4) Do away with the maintenance of “Ex-Presidents” and their “Spouses” . Take over all the “Presidential Palaces” spread across the country and hand those to the Tourist Board or set up “Public Libraries”.
    (5) Make all three languages i.e. Sinhala, Tamil, and English “Compulsory” from Primary Schooling onwards.
    (6) Decentralize the Public Administration and set up “Reginal Service” Units under an efficient Local Government mechanism. All services in those units must be digitalized and made accessible through the Internet.

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      Thanks for your comments.
      1. I would be happy to rationalise the no. to even 5o MPs!….Due to the complexity/sensitivity of the proposed changes, I opined not to upset the apple cart too much,as it would affect the proposed allocation of Cabinet seats to smaller Parties as per my ‘System change’ No. 8.
      We have to consider Fairness and ‘Equal suffrage’ when electing MPs to the single National Parliament.’ Population numbers’ will automatically get due consideration, at PC elections based on District results.
      2.The system changes are based on giving equal value to all valid votes as far as possible. Despite the present 5% ‘delisting of votes’ (sic)at district level, 353 Parties/ Groups contested at the 2020 Elections.Though not included in the said package, I have already proposed to increase the cash deposit and other conditions to discourage ‘Mush-room’ parties with business motives.
      3,4 & 5- Fully agree. The newly elected set of ‘225 ‘after the ‘system changes’ will surely do more than that!
      6.Pl. refer my proposal No. 11 above.

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      Simon,
      Good one, agreed proposed changes necessary to be economical and practical – reduce waste??
      “Take over all the “Presidential Palaces” spread across the country and hand those to the TOURIST BOARD OR SET UP “PUBLIC LIBRARIES”
      Why??
      Handover to Tourist Board to operate Libraries!!!?? NO, bad idea!!.
      It is far better to CONVERT THEM TO LUXURY HOTELS AND HAND OVER TO THE CEYLON HOTELS CORPORATION (CHC), so that High-end Tourist HAVE WELL SET LUXURY ACCOMMODATION to yield Revenue!! Much needed USD!!???
      Libraries are existential item for Student Educational purposes, mostly outside Colombo, Rural and Suburban areas!! The Presidential palaces locations may not suit this purpose!!! Public libraries must have ease of access, close to Public transport!! New locations must be found and purpose oriented buildings constructed with digital access!!! Commended for implementation, from the PROFITS OF THE LUXURY HOTELS SO EMPLOYED FOR TOURIST REVENUE EARNING of Presidential Palaces!!!
      CHC has the expertise to run hotels and those luxury Presidential palaces could be converted to Luxury Hotels within a brief interlude!!!
      They don’t have expertise to operate Libraries – best done by an LG or PC body!?

      • 1
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        I fully agree with your suggestions…..I am sure the ‘Country first-Political Professionals’ when they occupy the 225 seats will even exceed your sincere expectations.( Pl.also read my response No 2 to Dayan )

  • 1
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    @BF – My thought on your points (To be continue…)
    1. Ensure ‘Equality’ of Citizens Vote – This may be unfavourable to independent candidate who may possibly get lot of preference vote but not collectively when parties form alliance for the purpose of election. We may tend to miss the good individuals.
    2. Guarantee nomination of public cleared, merit based, genuine ‘Country-first -Political Professionals’ – These are all subjective words in terms of constitution have no meaning. On top it in violation of your proposal 1 to make sure equality. We cannot left anyone to contest based on certain parameters. It is up to the people to decide at the time of election.
    3. Secure Women and Youth representation (20% each) – Then again in violation of your equality concept. You trying to give preference to certain gender and age category. Not a good idea either.
    4. Stipulate objective oriented mandatory criteria – Not sure what you trying to achieve here. Not clear to me.
    5. Allow all parties to enter their nominees in merit order – If party been given a chance to decide why you think its effectively a change to the original system. Even now this is what happening.

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      Dayan,
      “On top it in violation of your proposal 1 to make sure equality. We cannot left anyone to contest based on certain parameters. It is up to the people to decide at the time of election.”
      Exactly. Who will decide the “goodness” or otherwise of candidates?
      Most of the proposals, while being idealistic, are contradictory.
      If someone has the mandatory.power to tell the voters whom to vote for, then the system isn’t fully democratic.
      But we must remember that no Asian country in the last 50 years developed itself while being a fully fledged democracy. No, not even India, which took 75 years but isn’t quite there yet.

    • 2
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      Thanks for your detailed comments.
      1. ‘Equal suffrage’ at an election as per UN declaration applies to voters and not to candidates. Good individuals surely can assess the ground situation and contest under his most preferred party. Besides, accommodating so called ‘Good Individuals’ as exceptions at a common Election can surely breed nepotism and Corruption.

      2.Article 90 of Constitution allows any ‘Elector'(Voter) to contest subject to certain negative conditions as per Artices 89 and 91. We are in this abyss due to such obsolete provisions. The present generation want well educated political Professionals to become their Representatives as the current ‘225 ‘ function as the best paid, prominent and TV sought individuals in the country and therefore,not deserving the ‘Honourable’ prefix.As such, transparent mandatory eligibilty criteria and interview systems are necessary to send the ‘Creme de la creme’ of the country to occupy the limited ‘225’ seats on behalf of 16.5 mln. voters.Then, the new generation will at least be satisfied that proverbial ‘Horses’ are contesting instead of ‘Donkeys’!…I will continue with other comments later. Thanks.

      • 1
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        JBV,
        “The present generation want well educated political Professionals to become their Representatives”
        G.L. Pieris, Nalaka Godahewa, Champika Ranawaka, Channa Jayasumana, and even Dhammika Perera are in that category. Dilith Jayaweera runs Derana.
        Did it make a difference?

        • 1
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          Thank U for your comment. Even if we have 175 ‘Political Professionals among the ‘225’, the balance 50 (as we see now,) will exhibit their inferiority complex using high volume verbosity and aggressive tantrums to silence them with sensitive character assassinations and cheap arguments.
          Therefore, we need to have ‘225’ -‘Country first Political Professionals’ who will meet the objectives of the Parliament viz. Lawmaking, Controlling National Finance through Budgets,Foreign policy and National level Projects etc.

          Pl.also read my response No.5 to Dayan. Thanks.

      • 0
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        Artices 89 and 91 are necessary condition and well thought one to assess an individual capable to run an administration or to represent the people such as the person mental health, trying to contest in more than one electroal district (to increase his possibility of getting elected rather than truely represent the people of his/her area), members of a commission or public servants while in service (suppose to be unbiased), convicted criminals, bribery offenders, whether the person is a minor (under duress), etc.. But You kind of thinking a well educated scholar is an able administrator. History proves many times this is not the case. They can make scientific, well informed decisions but wont able to cope up with the pressure on the job or the every changing dynamics of internal and external condition pressurize to take the right decision than align with majorities will.

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          1. I actually referred to article 90 as the obsolete provision. 89 and 91 should be there.
          2. ‘Well educated scholars'(sic) if given the opportunity to apply at a future Election will surely assess their own strengths to ‘cope up with the pressure on the job or the every changing dynamics of internal and external condition pressurize to take the right decision than align with majorities will.’ (sic) before they apply.

      • 1
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        3. Democratically and demographically speaking, female voters are not at all equitably represented in the parliament because of our patriarchal culture. Similarly, the blatant failure of our majority elderly, politicians with traditional thinking for the last 75 years has justified infusion of new blood.Also, since the global campaign for increased women and youth participation in decision making has borne results in many countries, SL too had to fall in line and they imposed a 25% women participation and now the clarion call for youth participation too! Considering such factors, I suggested a more conservative 20% each for both women and Youth.
        4.Since articles 99 and 99A are not very specific about the nomination criteria for 29 National seats, we saw them being breached by parties going against the stated single objective of ensuring Multi-community representation as per country population ratios.Hence, the need for a wider objectives such as subject expertise and a transparent method to convince the voters that they are also ‘Horses’ !

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      Continued….
      5. Due to the ‘Manapa porey’ system that subverted the original ‘District merit order list’ system of 1978, the District lists are now prepared as per Sinhala/Tamil alphabetical order which makes the simple and gullible voter clueless about the ‘quality of candidates’ he should mark his preference vote. Thus, he is compelled to select those ‘Black money’ throwing, aggressive and vociferous goons throwing goodies to buy his vote !
      Under the ‘System change’ the party leaders cannot call the shots and all parties have to follow the transparent mandatory eligibility criteria and structured interview marking systems,that are standardised and circularised by the Elections Commission(EC).It is the same as any other established procedure for paid jobs. So, why not for the best paid job in the country?Parties are also required to submit an affidavit having followed the procedure.blic under supervision of EC.Further, the preliminary nomination lists have to be published in the press and cleared by the pu. If defects are observed in the final lists, the returning officers can delete nominee names and allow redress before closing date.If they are highlighted after Election, Election petition is the answer.

      • 2
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        5 Contd. A small error correction please ….
        After the question mark appearing at the start of the 5th line from bottom, the following misplaced sentence should be inserted.
        ‘Further, the preliminary nomination lists have to be published in the press and cleared by the public.’
        Sorry for the inconvenience caused.

  • 1
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    6. Brand the ‘5 year Party Election Manifesto’ as a prosecutable document – There is a genuine case of govt cannot achieve certain promises which are outside it’s control due to global socio political or even economic reasons. On top if there is no clear mandate and parties decide to form a government using MoU. Then all the parties involved in forming a government may have conflict of policy decision in the manifesto. So prosecutable document doesn’t serve the best interest for the people of this country.
    7. Fix a ‘Common Maximum Expenditure limit’ for all ‘Party campaigns’ – There are direct and indirect cost involved with campaign. They may use proxies or even media outlets act as propaganda organization in the name of journalism. There is no practical guarantee this can be enforce in legal terms. On top it again I would like to spend as much as I can to get my message across the country rather than targeted audience will be hampered. If we put a cap on expenditure. Rather provide accessible mediums for all individuals to do fair campaign with enough air time more sensible to me.

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      6. Since a regulatory mechanism is proposed to be established, such genuine exceptions can be justified and brought to the notice of the public.The envisaged MOUs should address such policy inconsistencies among coalition partners in a transparent manner before signing them so that voters and the regulatory mechanism can justify such exceptions.
      The crux of this ‘System change ‘ is to dissuade the Parties from liberally including false promises as ‘Chanda gundus’ that have led the voter to completely reject the current ‘Party Election Manifestos’.They are sold to ‘Gram sellers’!
      The proposal to make them prosecutable will also act as a deterrent and give more confidence to voters to take the relevant Party in power to courts which will give a balanced decision taking all the facts in to consideration. Voters should be educated to make the ‘Election Manifesto’ to be the primary determinant of their vote.

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      7. I have not read the recently approved version.My proposal was that, the Entire ‘Campaign Financing’ should be undertaken by the Party hierarchy at Head office as it takes the total ownership of candidates having selected, ranked and listed them under their own list- type. EC to fix Rupee limits to Parties. For example, a reasonable amount per registered voter can be fixed and aggregated as the Maximum National limit for any Party subject to strict environment-friendly criteria and others that can seal possible loop holes mentioned by you.Many countries have such limits. I agree that Print and Electronic media can offer slots to each contesting Party hierarchy for their campaign on a level playing basis.
      Benefits: i) Campaign financing can be easily compiled, monitored and audited by the authorities at Party Head office level.
      ii) Party Head Offices can focus their campaigns on ‘Election Manifesto’ as well as on the quality of their Candidates under their own ‘list type’.
      iii) Deserving candidates without financial backing can come forward.

  • 0
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    8. Install a ‘Sustainable National Cabinet’ system – You trying to create chaos here. There is a govt but they cant decide who going to be the people in the cabinet and what are the subject we need to allocate to each party. At the end of the day we tend to shuffle cabinet every now and then rather than a strong one.
    9. Ban crossover – On the surface it looks good. But in other words, we are telling the people you cannot change your mind when you realize that you are on the wrong side of the fence. Now I want to correct my own mistake. Sorry you can’t live with your own mistake.

    • 1
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      8.U are right. The present set-up tainted with a plethora of divisions and corrupt deals among traditional Politicians clamours for a radical ‘system change’ to move forward.
      Since the proposed system changes envisage to forge ‘SriLankan ness’ and ‘Country First -Political Professionals’ this proposal can be easily discussed by the Party Leaders of the new genre and the portfolio allocation can be consensualy agree upon in the right spirit.

      9. With the ‘System changes’ in place we can rarely expect -‘Branded Country first-Political Professionals’ to change their minds/Conscience against the collective conscience of the voters.If at all, they can resign and pave the way for the next in the merit list of the Party.

  • 4
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    Candidates who are nominated for election or who enter politics do so for a main primary reason: To make lots of money. For this purpose, they throw their ill-gotten money, together with those of businesspeople who want to benefit from the member (of parliament) to further their interests. So, there will be no system change if we depend on politicians in the two main camps to change it. So, a system change must come by force of public will, where people rise as one, against their oppressors (peacefully of course). The laws are there to protect the criminals from the people, so do not depend on the justice system to help you.

    • 0
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      U are right…..The final para of my article reads as follows,
      ‘Since it is the ‘Need of the hour’ for our ‘Bankrupt country’, we fervently appeal to all Religious leaders, all concerned ‘Country first’ Politicians, Civil and Professional organizations, the intelligentsia and the Trade Unions in the country to bring the entire country under one banner to forge the above ‘System changes’ without any further delay indicating the last resort given below.
      If the unabated appeals of the sovereign People continue to be ignored, the only peaceful and decent ‘last resort’ is for the people to boycott any future Election until their aforesaid ‘System changes’ are legalized.’

  • 1
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    10. Objectively strengthen Provincial Councils – What it really means by that? Strengthen in terms of decision taking authority, or power to manage, land, natural resources, etc? Highly autonomous states like US or Australia kind of setup? It is not clear.
    11. Depoliticise Local Govt – Whether it national or local we cannot decouple politics from publicly electable governing body by people. Even local election can be represented by independent candidate or representative from national party the GND is already a proven failed system with so many corrupt people decorate that position. How you expect a clean system emerge from already failed system.
    12. Take simple and cost -effective steps – Elections together doesn’t reduce the cost and even more violent election malpractices to experience. It will be an utter mess. All what we want is a constitutional amendment to allow the election to conduct electronically where people can choose to either vote digitally or a paper-based system whichever convenient to them. I’m pretty sure lot of fraudulent practices take place during exchange of ballot boxes or on the voting centre can be avoided if people can vote from home itself with uniquely identifiable token generated for them.

    • 1
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      10. Again , with the ‘system changes’ in place to abolish ‘Manpey’ system, advent of a new genere, sustainable National Cabinet etc. the 225 can be confined to their functions as ‘Law makers’, guardians of the Country’s finances and other functions such as Foreign Policy and National level projects. As a result, PCs role and functions can be reviewed on some of the lines U have mentioned as a ‘SriLankan’ State and transform the ‘White Elephants’ to ‘Timber pulling Elephants !. Of course it is not reasonable to compare Sri Lanka with such large Countries such as US and Australia.

      • 0
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        I will continue with 11 & 12 tomorrow please.

        • 1
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          11.In 1997, my article titled ‘An alternate system to Local Govt. Elections’ appeared in the press.In short I proposed to depoliticise this politically biased and corrupt system to allow honest, respectable and acceptable people in the locality to contest as ‘Independent’ candidates citing the famous ‘Grama Rajya’ concept.With the establishment of NMSJ proposed independent ‘Jana Sabhas’ (JS) at ‘Grama Niladhari Division (GND) level, JS nominees would be the ideal candidates to represent people and Elections can be conducted by Divisional Secretaries.The 14,000 strong JS Representatives will surely make the LG machinery more meaningful and effective than the existing politically biased and corrupt LG system. They may be paid a monthly allowance that ensures a lesser total outlay compared to that of the existing Politicised members.

          • 0
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            Mission of ‘Jana Sabhas’
            Ensuring optimal citizen participation in the formulation of public policies as well as in the implementation of public policies in Sri Lanka, through making Jana Sabhas the most active form of participatory democracy in South Asia, and thereby contributing towards the creation of a sustainable State with an advanced and conscious citizenry by the year 2030.

            • 1
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              12. I fully agree with the introduction of ‘Electronic voting’ system proposed by U.
              Final Comment: 1. Electoral and Political ‘System changes’ will be resisted by traditional Politicians as they will lose their ‘Status quo’.
              2.They appear to be radical to those traditional citizens who too resist change as they are happy with ‘Ohoma Yang’ approach.
              3.They are called ‘System changes’ because they demand amendments to the Constitution/Acts and current procedures if any.
              4. They are not ‘Free size’ to fit in to all exceptions !
              Thanks lot again to Dayan and others for their valuable comments.

  • 2
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    13. It is a very good suggestion for a system change.

  • 1
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    Dear Bernard,
    .
    I first saw that you were making an earnest appeal for us to read your article when I saw you comment on this article by Dr Upathissa Pethiyagoda which followed this into Colombo Telegraph:
    .
    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/are-local-government-elections-that-important/
    .
    I have read through not only all the comments by others, but also your patient responses. Since you had provided your email address, I also wrote a brief note to you. That also, you have responded to. So, you’ve done all that could possibly be asked of you.
    .
    I hope that you will follow up on all this. This is just a humble word of thanks to you.

    • 1
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      I usually identify myself unambiguously. I notice that I haven’t done so here. Discussing ideas is all very well, but people saying things must also accept responsibility for what they say.
      .
      Since what attracted me to Bernard’s article was his candour, let me identify myself here as well.
      .
      Panini Edirisinhe of Bandarawela (NIC 483111444V)

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