By 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.