17 April, 2024

Blog

Creating A Government That Serves The Public By Upholding The Constitution & Laws To Advance The Public Good

By Lacille de Silva –

Lacille de Silva

The Donoughmore Constitution was introduced in 1931 in Sri Lanka establishing the origins of the Westminster parliamentary model. This enabled the citizens to elect their representatives at regular elections to run governance on their behalf, having granted universal suffrage. Ours is, therefore, the oldest democracy in Asia, which laid the foundation for parliamentary government. At that time, it consisted of three pillars, namely: the legislature, executive and judiciary. The legislature then consisted of two Houses, including the Senate. Presently, we have four pillars, which are known as Independent Commissions and Regulatory authorities.

Based on the doctrine of separation of powers, these four branches, the legislature, the Judiciary, the Executive, the independent regulatory oversight commissions, being the principal institutions of the state requires to be clearly separated from each other. The sole objective of this principle is to ensure that there is no conflict with those of the other branches. John Locke, a forerunner to Montesquieu had defined that the legislature cannot govern arbitrarily and cannot levy taxes or confiscate property without the consent of the governed. This was a clear indication that each institution should have independent, equal powers and responsibilities so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict with those of other branches.   

Montesquieu, the French social commentator, lawyer and political thinker in 1748 had also added that – “When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty…there is no liberty if the power of judging is not separated from the legislative and executive..…there would be an end to everything if the same man or the same body… were to exercise those three powers”. 

It has been emphasised that according to the strict separation of powers, none of the three branches may exercise the power of the other, nor should any person be a member of any two of the branches”. This conclusion appears to have been reached by Montesquieu since the Roman Republic had powers separated so that none could usurp the other. Montesquieu argued in his book “The Spirit of Laws”, pages 151 – 52, I quote – “When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person, or in the same body of magistrates, there can be no liberty; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same monarch or senate should enact tyrannical laws, to execute them in a tyrannical manner”.

In Sri Lanka, it could, therefore, be seen that there is no liberty, since the judiciary and administrative power has NOT  been separated from the legislature/executive, together with an all-powerful executive, the President at the helm, who is a law unto himself. All these have been en-joined and strengthened with constitutional force in a crafty manner, due to which the life, liberty, the freedom of the subjects have been rudely exposed to arbitrary control. Montesquieu had also written, “Judge would then be the legislator”. He had further added ”Were it joined to the executive power, the judge might behave with violence and oppression”. 

Prior to 1972 almost all including the Civil Servants, the the judicial officers, etc  were appointed purely on merit and on the basis of fair, transparent, open competition by the then Administrative  Services and Judicial Services Commissions. (All these are now handled by corrupt politicians and that is the root cause of all the problems). These two Commissions had been totally independent institutions. There had been no political interferences whatsoever and hence,  all of them in their respective services occupied a unique position. 

And they were bound up with proper accountability practices, including strong parliamentary accountability, underpinned by higher standards of ethicality and integrity in the Civil service, the judiciary and all other agencies of government, and the government itself. 

Subsequently, the governance processes, including recruitment, at all levels have now been politicised. Such a country has now become unjust, hard, non-transparent, unresponsive, and unaccountable which has finally led to a reprehensible outflow of issues such as corruption, intense politicization, abuse of power, poor service delivery etc. The governance structure, therefore, needs overall reforms without delay to strengthen citizens’ rights. 

Bearing in mind the destruction caused to our motherland by every elected government, it is our earnest hope and expectation that all ordinary citizens, civil society members, and business leaders should unite under one umbrella to establish and deliver higher standards of ethicality and integrity, in the judiciary, administrative service, in all political parties for a better – focussed governance model where we want to see corrupt practices and systems of the past.  

Our politicians have miserably failed. They can no longer deliver positive political goods to the people. Their corrupt, inefficient, and inhumane government has lost legitimacy and there is growing anger and hatred in every nook and corner in the country against the corrupt governance system. 

We should now say enough is enough and we now have to internalise ethics, morality, accountability, transparency etc., and establish an ‘ETHICAL CULTURE’ in the country, which supports professional responsibility, self-discipline, and the rule of law. It is time as citizens we come forward to strengthen the ethical competence of judicial officers, administrative officers, and politicians including political parties to support “professional ethics” to institutionalise new techniques for strengthening ethically competent decision-making, disinterested advice to government, and ultimately an ‘ethical culture’, which supports professional responsibility, self-discipline which will eventually pave the way for a country which supports only rule of law.

In conclusion, let me add, standards of living in my beloved motherland are fast deteriorating, particularly because the greed of our corrupt rulers overwhelm their responsibilities to better their citizens and their surroundings. And they have not stopped pillaging to-date. For the rulers, from the President downwards in Sri Lanka, GOVERNANCE, MEANS PILLAGING.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 3
    0

    Major deviation from French Jurists is from 1948 itself not from 1972.
    Evening the westminister system Executive was part of Legislature. Prime ministers and cabinet executive arm was from legislature.
    You are sayingAs if everything worked well underWest minister system. Defranchising Indian migrant labor, Sinhala only,state supported 1958,1977 racial riots without any culprit brought to books, bringing Religion into the constitution by a man who used to say Religion is the opium of the people’ and politizizing the Bureaucracy, etheric based standardization, Nationalizing the estates and destroying the plantation sector,suffering without food no rice on Friday. Poya, Pre poya weekends and 12 poya days holiday, all happened during the west minster system without presidential system.
    If the Presidential system where executive is separate from legislature in full without prime minister and ministers coming from legislature. Real separation ofpower is in US from ministers known Secretary are not from legislature. Not only that senate has enough powers by oversight committees to make sure no single man is powerful.
    8n addition to vertical separation of power there is clear horizontal separation power.
    In France where Jurists was born prime minister by constitution need not come from legislature but normally does come from.
    If we implement a system as per French jurist then we will have a sound governance system.

    • 0
      0

      My dear Ram, Aspointed out by you, there had been certain deviations prior to 1972 as well. It was because we had followed the Westminster model. The French principle (Montesquieu’s theory) had not been observed since the enactment of the Donoughmore Constitution in 1931.. The Cabinet was chosen from the then State Council. And they had done an excellent job.

      In regard to dealing with corruption, a law was enacted in 1958. Thereafter five politicians have been dealt with and their civic rights had also been removed.

      As suggested by you, we could certainly consider the French model and the US example as well to ensure better governance model..

  • 3
    1

    Good to see you here after a long time, Lacille. Saw you in some YouTube clips ……. taking the fight to the great “Lankan statesman” Ranil! :))

    It’s hard for Lankans to break out of the Lankan mould …… inherent traits/genes always dominate ……. over reading/education ………. or a large collection of books.


    Btw …… one summer did summer-work in the Library of Congress with some other students cataloguing books from cards onto computers ……. wonder if Ranil’s collection of books is bigger. :))

    • 2
      1

      Dear Nimal

      Thank you so much.

      The battle goes on endlessly. Ranil has now become our problem. He seems to be a man who has no idea whatsoever about democtratic governance.

      His job now seems to be a different task. He is breaking up everything in order to give state protection to his buddies. Ranjan had said the truth..”They are all good friends”

      Hence, our mission should go on till the job is done. Thank you.

  • 3
    0

    Dear LDS,
    “Finally, the quality of life in my beloved motherland is deteriorating rapidly, especially because the greed of our corrupt rulers overrides their responsibility to better their citizens and their surroundings. And even today they have not stopped looting. From the President of Sri Lanka down to the rulers, governance is looting”

    I think we should stop slandering only politicians. Who elected them btw?

    Aren’t they the “mirror image” of people’s ideas?

    If politicians are highly corrupt, are the voters who elected them to parliament equally responsible or not? both voters and politicians are highly corrupted in this sinking country.

    If a blood cancer spreads throughout the body, you have no choice but to have a full blood transfusion – also, society must be restructured before anything else can be restructured. Our common people must submit to improve their awareness. Only then will they stop falling into the same pit they have fallen into again and again.
    Only then can we expect our people to act ethically.

    • 3
      0

      My Dear LM: I appreciate your thoughts because they remarkably deviated from your usual “Bashings” of Rajapakses. For your information, I have reduced the “Rajapakse” bashings to a minimum unless otherwise needed to make a noteworthy reference. Please listen to the following link. This is by Rahana Hettiarachchi of PAFFREL.

      https:///www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAc2hSxhwLA

      I have made this available to the “Kadamandiya” discussion and the results are very encouraging.

      • 2
        0

        Thank you and I appreciate.
        .
        Mr. Simon, you know that better than I do. Dreamt to visit the “Unawatuna Wella Dewalaya” Temple last time in Galle (Nov 2022), unfortunately I missed it due to lack of time. But next time I will go to that place.

        I have not lived in Sri Lanka for the last 3 decades. And I have not worked with Sri Lankans in my entire life. I dont regret it either.
        I have only met them at some fringe gatherings in Europe. Most of them are more or less reflected, by thoughts and minds similar to “KADAMANDIYA community”. Unfortunately true. Even their diet does not change easily. Although heart researchers have warned that should change. I read recently that the microcosm of South Asians in Europe are the ones most vulnerable to diabetes and childhood diabetes. Doctors interview me for detailed information when they make their publications.
        :
        Same in Australia. Where our people come together, they continue their way of life as ingrained in their psyche during adolescence. You may have heard about the brutal killing incidents of immigrants in Australia, even if they are graduates. We have more in common with South Asians than anyone else. Pakistani community in LONDON is no better. You may read them on the web.

        • 2
          0

          CONT:

          That is why I believe that the religious leaders and professionals of this nation should work together to build a good citizen. It will be a long process, so we should start now, not wait for tomorrow.
          You won’t believe, your SIAMESE brother (Panini E) attacked me a day ago saying that I should be a slave of white Europeans. The kind of baseless attacks are very unique to his person. Nevertheless I am used to tolerate him, becuase I know his inconsistency levels are no different to that of a teenager. He might have thought, I should be the one he could destroy easily…. what a joker he turned out to be.

          Gone were the days, I assumed he should be an exemplary GURU, see the truth is the derogatory terms coming from a PISSU MAN are no different to that of an aggressive JVPr. If people could think subtly, things wouldn’t work out like that.
          Whether they are educated or not, if they have spent half of their lives in that society – They dont want to allow any criticisms about sinhala race.. They will not be open to discussion on this subject either. Sinhala supremacy may be worse than the white American supremacy. That is why they elected all times clown -TRUMP as their president

    • 1
      0

      It is the politicians who are totally responsible for breaking up the system. They paved the path for pillaging, mismanagement etc. .. All what they needed was to create a country where the law does rule and only those corrupt politicians rule the country according to their wishes. I would therefore put the blame totaly to Parliament and those crooks in Parliament who has destroyed rule of law. This is why we talk of system reforms pl

    • 0
      0

      Dear. LM,

      Think how Den Zia Oping, Lee Kuan Yew and even our own leaders of the caliber of. DS Senanayae, CWW Kannangara had done to uplift a Nation. They knew people need to be lead by good ethical leaders and should enhance their capabilities. Prof. Amartya Sen,who had been awarded the Noble price in Economics says developing capabilities of the Nation is development. I do not blame people because since 70 s they did the opposite. Ours is the only country where we have shutdown nearly 1500 schools when the population is exploding.. May I say I cannot agree with you pl.

      • 2
        0

        Dear LDS,
        .
        It’s really nice to read the writer’s own opinion, which I think is rare in CT. You broke the record, LDS appreciate it.
        I will not compare it with any other country, but we must study the psyche of our own people closely. . Most of our people tend to fall for any convenient trick of monster politicians. Studying Sri Lankan politics, I am though out of the country, and to my knowledge, I think that no one born in Madamulana should have the right to travel freely in this country. The deliberate crimes made by them are far more bigger than any high criminals already jailed in.
        I strongly believe that our taxpayers should be freed from further paying for their luxurious lifestyles.
        :
        We should empower the thinking nature of our common people by feeding them with the facts rather than let them be caught by political goons on and on.. Once we feed them the facts, their attachment to the myths will gradually fade away. That I firmly believe.
        This is clearly not the case in Vietnam or rural Malaysia, which is now thriving with their economic miracles.

        TBC

      • 1
        0

        Dear LDS,
        In the recent elections, who was elected by the people? Why are people’s psyches misguided again and again?
        That is why the need of the hour is to rebuild the nation, by feeding them with facts about the situation.

        – The primary medium that informs the people is television channels and printed media. However levels of their newscastes are very law and mostly filled with anecdotal information. Both media are heavily abused and biased towards criminal politicians.

        In a civilized world, Rajaakshes would have long been hung, with pf evidence being at hand for their high crimes.

        Btw, why JVP with all clean records could not get elected? We wished at least 15 seats could have been won by them in last election.

        Very importantly, we should not compare our mentality with Southeast Asians, because their genes are completely different. They are hardworking by nature. I know how some rural people in Malaysia and Indonesia cultivate their land from morning till evening.
        But the truth is, our people don’t want to get mud on their hands, even though nature has provided all the cultivable land. During the Covid crisis, this was more evident than ever, as many were able to grow a few vegetables on their small balconies.

  • 1
    0

    We do indeed have to internalize honesty, truthfulness, morality, accountability, transparency, compliance, whistle blowing, public petitioning and most importantly ensure that our state recognizes the reality of the fact of the territories which it is being used to govern are populated by several different groups of people each with their own peculiar histories, ethnic identities languages cultures and systems of belief and establishes clearly and without any ambiguity tits duty is to protect and foster each and every individual member of each and every one of these many groups along with their ecological and cultural environments in order to establish an ‘ETHICAL CULTURE’ where justice peace and development become possible and it is the primary and urgent responsibility of every citizen to participate in and contribute towards the successful accomplishment of this task in whatever way and to whatever extent they can do so,

    • 1
      0

      My dear Nirma,

      Thank you so much. Agree with you wholeheartedly.

  • 0
    0

    Why would any one predict majority people and Sinhala Buddhist political leaders would engage in ethical and responsible behavior?.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.