16 May, 2022

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Executive Presidency: Root Cause For Country’s Current Governance Dysfunction

By P. Soma Palan –

P. Soma Palan

I refer to the above captioned article by Javid Yusuf in the Sunday Times of 26th December 2021 and respond with an addendum. I sent this article to the Editor Sunday Times, but it was not published. I am seeking your help to publish it. The Executive Presidency, beyond an iota of doubt, should be scrapped. That is not a panacea for all the evils of Governance we face. More need to be done to save the nation from the putrid state it is in.

It is my conviction that not only the Executive Presidency but the whole system of Government based on Political Parties, is the root cause for Country’s woes and evils of Governance, both recurrent, and current. The Executive President is a part and parcel of the whole Government, though elected by the people at a separate election. Nevertheless, the Executive President is a creature of a Political Party. Thus, he is only a branch of the Root Cause, which is really the Political Parties. He is not a separate cause. He is inextricably part of the same root cause, which is Political Parties.

A mere piecemeal abolition of the Executive Presidency will not ensure good and effective democratic Government. Are any Government and the Opposition elected by the people? The answer is a positive no. The people in actual truth do not elect their Representatives to the Parliament. They only elect candidates put forward by the Political Parties at an election. They have no real choice except to vote for those pre-decided by the Political Parties. This is not democracy. Those seeking election to be the representatives of the people should emerge from the people and not from the Political Parties. They should be independent individuals with no connection or affiliation to any Political ideology of any Party. What is required is that they should be educated with minimum academic or professional qualification and other specified eligible requirements to seek nomination for election. Citizens should nominate themselves for any election to Parliament and Provincial Councils.

I enumerate some salient drawbacks of Government based on Political Parties:

1. Political Parties are the curse of the country. By nature, and inherently, Political Parties are corrupt and corruptible.

2. Political Parties are divisive and create divisions amongst people on political ideologies. The country is fractured into various political Party segments. This inevitably promotes conflict and violence in society. The so called non-allied, independent floating vote is just a negligible Minority.

3. Political Parties are not people owned. Even the Card carrying members of Political Parties have no power. They are mere subservient and compliant tools of the Leadership hierarchy which in reality is a particular family owned, and by extension select group of peripheral families, which monopolize power.

4. Corruption is ingrained and institutionalized in Political Parties. Political Parties’ collective solidarity promotes and protects corruption and other evils by ensuring collusion and complicity.

5. There is no real, genuine democracy in Political Party based Government. By casting a vote at every five years does not make the people Sovereign.

6. Genuine and true Democracy will materialize only when people exercise their sovereignty by directly choosing their Representatives from independent individuals who seek nomination for elections in their electorates.

7. The Electoral Law should be changed, as we are in the throes of framing a new Constitution. Political Parties should be abolished, together with the Executive Presidency. It is conflicting and contradictory to have two parallel arms of Executive bodies. A return to the Westminister model of Government, where the supremacy of Parliament is enthroned, can usher in true and Peoples’ Representative democratic Government.

The methodology of forming a Government after an Election 

1. Those who win the elections, by the simple “first past the post method”, say the225 Members of Parliament, will gather in Parliament. Firstly, they should propose and second candidates for the Posts of Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House. If more than one name is proposed, it should be decided by majority Vote. Thereafter, the Prime Minister will have the discretion to appoint his Cabinet of Ministers and Deputy Ministers not exceeding 30 respectively from the entirety of the Members, based on an evaluation of their educational/professional qualification, background managerial experience, and potential for the chosen Ministerial Portfolio. Parliament will consider the names of eminent persons of national significance and appoint a Nominal Head of the State as the President.

2. Remaining balance Members be appointed to 30 Executive Committees under each Minister, not necessarily equally, but depending on the size and number of institutions under each Ministry. Thus the sum total of all the Members of Parliament will participate in Governance. Members of minority communities, Tamils and Muslims, also will have the opportunity to be appointed as Cabinet Ministers/Deputy Ministers and serve at the Centre and participate in country’s Governance. Their integration to the governing process will to a large extent, promote reconciliation between different ethnic communities and bring about communal harmony. Such a Government truthfully will be a National Government not a Government of a Political Party. This is not just a theoretical proposition but a practically achievable proposal.

3. An Opposition will be rendered redundant. This does not mean there will no discussion, debates, and criticism in the process of enactment of Laws or deciding on Government policies. All decisions will be taken by majority vote. Political Parties rivalry will end inside parliament and therewith with fisticuffs and violence. Decency and decorum in the conduct of deliberations of Parliament will be resorted.

4. Proportional Representation and appointment of National List members to Parliament will cease with the abolition of Political Parties. The latter is a device used to entice opposition members to cross-over to Government side to harness a majority under the existing system.

5. Campaigning of candidates for elections will be simple and less costly. Pre-election public meetings, Posters, placards, Party flags etc will be totally unnecessary. A printed leaflet setting out the personal details of the candidates coming forward for election and their vision for the country would suffice. House to house visitation of voters of their electorates and explaining their position of what they will do for their electorate and the country will be more than enough.

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Latest comments

  • 8
    2

    “…………The Executive Presidency, beyond an iota of doubt, should be scrapped…..”

    That is what Yahapalanaya people did after 2015, didnt they? But then Gamarala started whining that he could not even transfer a police constable although he was the President as the Police Commission cancelled one of his arbitrary transfers of a cop! At least we had that luxury of democracy for 3-4 years. Then what happened?? A big snake erupted from the Kelani river and ‘brainwashed’ the backsides of all those 6.9m people where their ‘brains’ were located and ……here we go….!!

  • 5
    1

    Thanks for lateral thinking on a very important issue, others should contribute to further improve.

    Let us start with Local Government and Provincial Councils.

    Let only independent candidates to contest these elections in a first past the post system and run these bodies..I agree that the Executive Presidency should be scrapped first as a priority..

  • 5
    1

    I fully agree that the Executive Presidency in SL is not fit for purpose. JR, in his vision of making SL a capitalist US, ignored the scenario if the President is not from the ruling party, which happened during CBK/Ranil period & Yahapalanaya, & the rest, as the saying goes, is history. When we have an uneducated & self serving yob like Sirisena, who was totally out of his depth in international politics, & whose own party being in the opposition, it is not rocket science to understand the lack of cooperation in going forward as a country. Sirisena was the obstruction to any reforms & as a result, the regime failed, paving the way for the re-election of a known corrupt regime, in which Sirisena is now attached to.

    A poor country like SL cannot afford the luxury of a ceremonial President. The up keep of a Presidential office, considering the fact, that Sirisena, as President, enjoyed the use of a custom built limousine, a Maybach, which only a handful of the rich are privileged to own, shows the extravagance. We already have a bloated cabinet with Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Subject Ministers, etc etc. & parliamentary privileges even developed countries are not offering. Can we survive this colossal expenditure?

    Has any political party the guts to abolish the Presidency, trim the Parliament & cancel the perks & pensions of Parliamentarians?

  • 1
    0

    I agree fully with Mr. Soma Palan. Get rid of the Executive Presidency and get rid of the political parties. It is possible to have true democracy without political parties. These parties have a penchant for choosing as election candidates persons who are drug dealers, illicit liquor distillers, chain snatchers, pickpockets and all sorts of undesirables. Political parties show utter disregard for even basic educational qualifications when selecting people to represent their parties. Quality control is a vital necessity not only for industrial factories but also for legislative assemblies and ministries.

  • 1
    2

    Were things better without it?

    How about 1948, 1956, 1958, 1971, 1972, 1977?

    No.

    The problem is the one country that is disunited.

    Solution is to divide the island into 3 mono-ethnic nations with relocation of people.

    Until then PMs will come and go. SL will be moving from disaster to disaster.

  • 0
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

    For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 1
    0

    Not only the executive Presidency but also the communal politics immediately after the Independence. Commenced by DS. Senanayake. DS was subtle but thereafter it was openly hateful and competitive as to who could be a’ better’ communalist. Arising out of this competition only presidential competition arose. Today we are competing to be the poorest country in the world? come what may.

  • 2
    0

    Back door entrance to the Ceylon Law College for the young MPs by Srimavo
    let Mahinda R followed by his son Namal to become Lawyers without really studying and passing the final exams in a very doubtful way.
    Changing to Swabhasha was another disastrous move. Allowing Political Tampering of the Judiciary made Justice system in SL a Joke. Allowing Hate crimes against minorities too let to the current state. + all that mentioned in the article

  • 0
    2

    This write up is full of contradictions. The author says ” A return to the Westminister model of Government, where the supremacy of Parliament is enthroned, can usher in true and Peoples’ Representative democratic Government.” But this model depends on the party system. In democratic governance, political parties are inevitable.

    If independents are elected who will form the government? Who will form the Cabinet? What happens if all the independents want to be appointed the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers? The system simply will not work in practice. What is wrong with the party system is the wrong candidates are elected to parliament. Cronyism, nepotism and money influence the nomination of candidates and the subsequent election to parliament.

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