5 December, 2020

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Electoral Reform, Anyone?

By Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

Malinda Seneviratne

The existing electoral system is seen as a serious problem and one which encourages corruption and violence. This was observed by President Maithripala Sirisena in his manifesto. He also observed that it is an issue that successive governments failed to address. He pledged to abolish the existing system. The replacement would be a mix of the first-past-the-post system and the proportional representation system. Through this, he argued, every electorate would have a representative over and above the elimination of corruption and violence (see page 15 of Maithripala Sirisena’s manifesto).

In the 100-days program designed to operationalize key elements of the manifesto, the following were pledged: “On January 28 An all party committee will be set up to put forward proposals to replace the current Preference Vote system and replace it with an Mixed Electoral System that ensures representation of individual Members for Parliamentary Constituencies, with mechanisms for proportionality. On Monday March 2 new elections laws will be prepared in accordance with the proposals put forward by the all party committee. On Tuesday March 17 Amendments to change the system of elections will be placed before Parliament and passed as swiftly as possible.”

Maithri SEven the most ardent supporters of this Government would concede that the 100 Days’ Program is extremely ambitious. On the other hand very few, including the most ardent critics of the Government, would trash every element of the manifesto and this program. Even fewer would defend the existing electoral system. As such, no one would object if it took this government more than 100 days to put in place a different system that effectively eliminates violence and corruption while making for more wholesome representation. Thus, a few days’ delay is eminently forgivable not least of all because this is a system that the people have had to live with for almost 26 years.

Thus is it possible to offer a generous reading of the silence and inaction of the Government on this process which by the President’s own admission is all-important and certainly a cornerstone of institutional reform. However, given the ‘Robin Hood Budget’ that is total antithetical to the general thrust of the United National Party’s thinking on the economy, one must wonder if everyone is thinking more about election than about electoral reform.

A change in the system would certainly put at risk the parliamentary seat of almost every MP. The President’s manifesto speaks of a General Election sometime after April 2015. That’s just three months away. The Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reform appointed by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and headed by Dinesh Gunawardena deliberated for years before coming up with a proposal which of course was then left to gather dust. It is hard to imagine that a new lot, even if more efficient than the committee headed by Gunawardena, would get cracking and give us a relevant amendment in six weeks.

As things stand, the Government could say ‘we promised elections and we will hold them with or without electoral reform’. However, that would mean the continuity of the same ‘corrupt and violent system’ rubbished by the President in his manifesto and the election of, yes, ‘the corrupt and violent’. It would be far more sensible to take the time to amend the act and finish the delimitation exercise that must necessarily follow and then hold elections. This parliament can sit through until April 2016, after all. Why saddle the people for 5-6 years more with yet another parliament made of members elected through a flawed process?

In any event, this mixed-system supposedly based on the ‘German Model’ (as proposed by the Gunawardena-led committee) does not include a key element of the template, the election of candidates by the respective membership of the particular party in each electorate (as opposed to being ‘selected’ by party hierarchies). If democratization is the desire, then there cannot be shortcuts.

The Government can and should take the time and trouble. It is unlikely that the people will revolt if there’s a delay as long as it is evident that there is clear direction and commitment.

*Malinda Seneviratne is the Chief Editor of ‘The Nation’ and his articles can be found at www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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Latest comments

  • 2
    2

    Where are all the Malinda haters? Have they run out of steam?

    • 2
      1

      Malinda Seneviratne

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/rs-157-million-spent-for-entertainment-in-presidential-palaces-in-novdec/

      RE: Rs. 157 Million Spent For Entertainment In Presidential Palaces In Nov/Dec

      Did you get a chance to get entertained?

    • 3
      1

      Here I am a Malinda Hater!

      As usual Malinda has woken up after a brief sleep. Well Malinda, wait and see how Maithripala does what he has promised all of us. Yes you are correct most MPs will be in trouble when the new system comes on stream. Well, who are these MPs? They are mostly UPFA/SLFP MPs who were supported strongly by Malinda and from whom Malinda got his kick backs and computers.

      Lets wait and see for the good days to come when these rapists, thugs, murderers, kudu karayos, bribe karayos, and ethanol karayos are kicked out of politics.

  • 4
    1

    Malinda Seneviratne –

    RE: Electoral Reform, Anyone?

    Malinda, can you retire? Most MaRa Shills and white-washers have done so.

    If you really want to be occupied, may I suggest you kill two birds in one stone. Get exercise and make some money. There is s great demand for coconut pluckers with great commissions on the pluck.

    • 3
      0

      Amarasiri:
      While your suggestion is to be endorsed, coating the “wallalla” with grease AFTER the climber reaches the top is to be recommended in the interest of cleaning out this country of the parasites that have infested it.

      Lynx:
      I don’t know about “Malinda haters,” but this indescribable creature deserves NOTHING LESS THAN CONTEMPT FOR HIS YEARS OF SHILLING AND BOOTLICKING FOR THE RAJAPAKSAS BY WHOM HE IS STILL, LITERALLY, EMPLOYED AT THEIR “NATION” NEWSPAPER.

    • 2
      0

      Malinda Seneviratne –

      Financial Times
      Kerala wants Sri Lankan coconut pluckers

      http://www.sundaytimes.lk/091115/FinancialTimes/ft37.html

      A recent newspaper article spoke of Kerala planning to recruit Sri Lankan coconut pluckers a development which will surely gladden the hearts of this small community of skilled workers that is making a silent but significant contribution to the national economy.

      The announcement of the Kerala State that it is prepared to recruit pluckers from neighbouring countries offering high perks has given our pluckers international recognition. This is not the first time that coconut pluckers are in the limelight. Over 50 years ago when that outspoken, one time prime Minister Sir John Kotalawala was told that the coconut industry was suffering from a dearth of pluckers, his famous quip was, “They have all entered Parliament.”

      Whilst Kotalawala’s intention was to discredit the 1956 Parliament, he perhaps little realized that he was emphasizing that Parliament had ceased to be the preserve of the elite and become truly representative of the ordinary people. By saying so he also paid a compliment to the coconut pluckers.

      Lets not forget that it was Robert Knox who stated, “Wash the mud off the peasant cultivator, he is fit to sit on the Throne”! Today with this new recognition that our coconut pluckers have earned, if Knox had been living, he would have said, “Take the ring (Walalla) off his ankles and dress him in a white suit, a coconut plucker is fit to be a minister”!

      Today Sri Lanka professes to be a truly egalitarian society honouring all manner of rights, fundamental rights, human rights and what not.

      The time has come indeed, like the State of Kerala to look up to our coconut pluckers not only literally but metaphorically too. The uniformed gentry of the Police and Armed Services who are compelled to salute politicians who have criminal records and often resort to low and disgraceful behaviour, should have no qualms in saluting our honourable coconut pluckers!

      Edward Gunawardena
      Battaramulla

    • 0
      0

      Malinda Seneviratne –

      RE: Electoral Reform, Anyone?

      India’s coconut climbers

      “If you really want to be occupied, may I suggest you kill two birds in one stone. Get exercise and make some money. There is s great demand for coconut pluckers with great commissions on the pluck. “

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTrjuL5WL9w

  • 4
    0

    Sorry Malindha malli being a nut himself is incapble of plucking coconuts.

  • 3
    3

    The way this president functions, executive president is a blessing for the country and it should not be abolished. Instead, introduce checks so that a future president won’t be able to abuse the system. SLFP, UNP and other parties should be unified at the general election contesting as an alliance. They should do that before the election. By that way, they can get rid of undesirable elements in the parliament. National list should be amended in order not to appoint drug lords, thugs or because some wants access to the power.

    If the 13th amendment is there to stay cut down the 225 number of parliamentarians drastically to 45 or below.

  • 2
    1

    Malinda, leave aside the question whether the 100 day program could be implemented within 100 days or whether the system of electing MPS should be changed. It is obvious to any one that the 100 day program is ambitious and would not be achieved. That is not what I want to ask you here.

    But what I am asking you here is why have you become so silent on the issue about the high handed and unconstitutional action taken by puppet President Sirisena to remove Mohan Peiris as the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka. Not just you but none of the main newspapers in Sri Lanka or commentators have commented on this issue. Only Tisaranee had a piece with a bit of criticism about the method adopted in removing Mohan Peiris as Chief Justice and in reinstating Shirani Bandaranaike.

    Have you now started batting for puppet President Sirisena? Are not your recent pieces prove this course correction?

    All you Sri Lankan journalists are the same. You all go behind those who are in power at a particular time and justify your comments and editorials to suit the interests of the government of the day. Just days before 8 January 2015 you were justifying the actions of the Mahinda Government and I remember you even wrote a couple of pieces why Mahinda should be returned to power. You Sri Lankan journalists are plain opportunists. No commitment to policy or principle. You all are just plain bumsuckers.

    I call President Sirisena a puppet because he is seen clearly directd by others in almost all his decisions. See for example, in the removal of Mohan Peiris and reinstatement of Shirani Bandaranaike, it appears he was doing what Ranil and BASL asked him to do. Then, in the appoinment of his Cabinet, apparently he had acted as directed by Ranil, and JHU. Then see the problem he now faces with Faizer Mustapha, who by one news report, has threatened to resign just days after being appointed because someone has been appointed as Chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines without his knowledge.

    • 1
      0

      “Then see the problem he now faces with Faizer Mustapha, who by one news report, has threatened to resign just days after being appointed because someone has been appointed as Chairman of Sri Lankan Airlines”

      One reliable wag from Kandy told me that he wanted to keep the golden goose within the family by appointing his father, the senior lawyer as chairman of SriLankan Airlines. Now, Thattha No so Putha Go. Suba Anaagathayak.

  • 4
    1

    The 100 day programme may be very ambitious but it is plan with good intentions. There could be delays here and there due practical difficulties. This is better than the previous regimes’ s no plan to manage the country democratically except to plunder the country in every possible way and is what guys like Malinda appreciated as good governance.

  • 3
    0

    “‘Robin Hood Budget’ that is total antithetical to the general thrust of the United National Party’s thinking on the economy”

    Are you serious?

    Aney Malinda,

    Are you still ossified, Aney? Poddak Nagittindako.
    Or, don’t you want to face the new reality? Are you into denial?
    You’re the one who seems to be antithetical. Don’t you realize a new political culture is being created?

    You are still clinging to the old yardstick of adversarial politics: government/opposition; left/right, etc.

    That is why you can’t stomach what you call a “Robin Hood” budget by the UNP. First, get it through your blockhead that what we have now is an attempt at a national government – however tenuous it may be until it is solidified through general elections in April. So it is not a UNP budget. What matters is, it brings tremendous relief to the poor people who have suffered so much. (You never wrote anything to alleviate the suffering of the poor in the country; you were too much into “sophisticated,” “expert” analyis of palace intrigues and Mahinda’s political prospects.) It is a much welcome reversal of the “Horu Robbing” budget we had under your political master Mahinda Rajathuma for the last 10 miserable years.

    Also don’t you worry about the electoral reforms. One of the reasons an overwhelming majority of Sri Lankans elected Maitri as the President is to reform the electoral system and therefore they are much smarter than you think they are. They don’t need your condescending advice. It appears your readers are much better than you in dealing with socio-political changes.

    Aney Malinda, you need to develop a new journalistic code in keeping with the changes taking place around you. we are moving towards an open society where everyone can speak for themselves without being intimidated by intelligence agents or experts. Wake up and smell the coffee, Aney!

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