15 December, 2019

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Making The Best Of This Opportune Moment – Because The Times Are Evil!

By Elmore Perera

Elmore Perera

Elmore Perera

The Road Map of the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) convened by Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera was designed so that the non-partisan President elected would be mandated to ensure that within a period of 180 days, (before 8th July 2015), certain urgent changes would be effected prior to his/her stepping down and retiring from party politics.

The mandatory changes explicitly envisaged by the NMSJ included amendment of the Constitution to provide for: (1) Outright abolition of the Executive Presidency, (2) Adoption of a revised Parliamentary system with a Prime Minister and a Cabinet of not more than 25 Ministers and 25 Deputy/State Ministers, and (3) Repeal of the 18th Amendment and restoration of the 17th Amendment with necessary amendments.

The eleventh hour emergence of Hon. Maithripala Sirisena as the non-partisan Common Candidate that NMSJ was looking for, was wholeheartedly endorsed by the NMSJ. The need/desirability of the elected President retiring from active politics on 8th July 2015 was, no longer considered a mandatory requirement.

However, without any consultation with the NMSJ, the 180 day period was arbitrarily reduced to 100 days. Neither of the aforementioned first and second Mandatory changes were explicitly provided for in this 100 day programme.

The outright abolition of the Executive Presidency may, in these circumstances be delayed for some time, as a transitory provision during the term of office of the present incumbent.

However, it is mandatory that, before the present Parliament is dissolved:

  • the Executive President should be stripped of all Immunity and Executive Powers, (except perhaps, those of Head of State, Head of the Cabinet, Minister of Defence and the exercise of Authority in respect of Provincial Councils), and
  • a suitable electoral process incorporating a mix of the First Past the Post and Proportional Representation systems (specifically excluding elections on a District basis by Preferential Voting) for a Parliamentary System with a Prime Minister, not more than 25 Cabinet Ministers and not more than 25 State/Deputy Ministers.

The Dinesh Gunawardena Committee has deliberated on a desired electoral system since 20th August 2003. The Supervisory National Executive Council, including leaders of all political parties represented in Parliament, should be mandated to consider their recommendations, if any, and make specific recommendations within 3 or 4 weeks, for approval by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Investigations by Special Commissions appointed to investigate allegations of massive corruption during the preceding period, should be expedited and those found to have been corrupt, debarred from holding any positions in the Legislature, the Executive or the Judiciary. To facilitate this, it is entirely lawful to adopt all powers (including those under the 18th Amendment) to reverse the harmful consequences of appointments made or measures adopted, by abusing those powers.

All appointments made during this 100 to 180-day period must not only be untainted, they must also seem to be untainted. Great care must be taken to avoid even a semblance of the nepotism notoriously resorted to by the previous regime.

Under no circumstances is it acceptable that any kind of “deal” should be made with any corrupt elements in the Legislature, the Executive or the Judiciary. Such deals will not only be unethical, it would be clearly unlawful, and a betrayal of the Trust placed by the sovereign people, in the President elected by them.

*Elmore Perera, Attorney-at-Law, Founder CIMOGG and Past President OPA

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Latest comments

  • 2
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    Nothing much will be changed, Siri Lanka will be Siri Lanka.. Exponential downward slip may be reduced.. MS is almost a new man and we heard new and better kind of political speech (JVP AnuraKD wasn’t made noticeable impact while Old Somawanse was JVP leader)..
    However RW is old fox, was a leader in power and also opposition leader for 20 years without any output/impact. Is this 100 day program similar myth (like Hal Seru Deka Dennam) we have been fed from 1948….

    • 1
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      Civil society must push for a Code of Conduct for Politicians and an end to the Cross over Culture in the Parliament where corruption flourishes as nowhere else in the Miracle of Modays!

  • 3
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    Well said Elmore! Hat off to the NMSJ for all your hard work.

    Perhaps the most important requirement to end the corrupt political culture in Sri Lanka is ending Cross Overs by members of one political party to another in the parliament. The was enabled by Sarath Silva the corrupt former CJ and that ruling must be struck down.
    This cross over culture of horse trading members of Parliament is the single biggest reason for the rapid deterioration and massive corruption in the POLITICAL CULTURE in Sri Lanka. Members of Parliament are BOUGHT by the highest bidder – usually the ruling party. The name of the game is MONEY POLITICS and this game must end.
    Putting an end to cross overs is more IMPORTANT than getting rid of the Presidency – at this time – and certainly before the next election.

    Also voter education so that SInhala Modayas do no vote for the corrupt and criminal Mahinda Jarapassa family..

    A member of Parliament who wants to leave his party must give up his seat and face a new election.

  • 1
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    Well said Elmore!!
    Thanks.

  • 0
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    The statements made by Elmore Perera are idealistic. I too feel sick of the so called “Executive” Presidency because in reality it is an “Executioneering” Presidency. But we must be sane enough to propose and apply the correct remedy.

    This group that calls for abolition of “Executive” Presidency must first decide whether the President must be directly elected by the people or by an electoral college such as in India, comprising of Parliamentarians of both houses and state legislatures or by Parliament as in Bangladesh. If we decide that it should not be directly by the people and thus he or she must act on the advice of the Prime Minister, then the justification of Prez Sirisena continuing in office on even on transitional provisions yet being the whipping boy of the PM and removable simply by a vote of no confidence passed with two thirds majority is absurd. If it is compulsory that the President should be the whipping boy of the Prime Minister and be removable simply by a vote of no confidence passed with a two thirds majority then the President should not be elected by the people an therefore the slate should be cleaned and it follows that President Sirisena got elected to perform the supreme sacrifice and will be remembered only in the minds of the people as long as they live and also written in the books of history. But is that the case? Hence it is necessary to elect the President directly by the People.

    If on the other hand we were to follow the model in Singapore, where the President is directly elected by the people but cannot be a member of political party, then the chances of the President having a political agenda is slim and therefore it follows that the chance of having a confrontation with the Prime Minister who has a political agenda is also slim. The motive for the “Executive” President to be “Executioneering” and thereby all the racketeers trying there level best to access the President is the President’s political agenda. Worse still if the President’s political party commands a majority in Parliament. The moment you amend the constitution that the President cannot be a member of political party what about Sirisena’s own position? One can say that he has to fore go that, which means his position is extremely vulnerable in the present circumstances.

    It is now published that there were reports to the effect that an Anwar Sadat style assassination was mooted during the independence parade. Who would benefit immediately if something unfortunate happens to President Sirisena? The acting President has to be the Prime Minister as per the existing constitution. Since he does not command the confidence of the house he can promptly dissolve the house and call for an election. On the other hand people who were yearning for power in the now opposition but eclipsed during the Rajapakse regime too would like the situation as there opportunities are greater to be in the big seat. Therefore President Sirisena is in a vulnerable position in so many ways as long as he holds the position thus justifying the saying “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”

    Therefore the remedy lies firstly in the will on the part of President Sirisena himself to fore go his stability by agreeing not be a member of a political party. Secondly he holds no ministerial portfolio. NOT EVEN DEFENSE. (There is the precedent where Mr. Marapana was the Minister of Defense when RW was PM under President CBK). He should be given some work like the President of Singapore where need not be the whipping boy of the PM and the rest he naturally must take the advice of the PM whoever that may be.

    In Singapore one of the roles of the President is to appoint persons to high offices which means there is place for merit as the President is non-political and does not have to act on the advice of the PM on that score. Under the Rajapakse regime a group of Administrative Officers (Some call them the baby group) suddenly became class one from class three and it is noted that there were many of such kind in the Presidential Secretariat. I am confident that should President Sirisena decides to be apolitical fully then an independent role can be found for him and the effectively end the “Executioneering” Presidency.

    Another issue is State and Deputy Ministers which Elmore raises. In practice the State or the Deputy Minister is an ornament unless the Cabinet Minister delegates a part of his subjects and functions to the Deputy or the relevant state minister. (In the case of state ministers some of them can directly be given by the President). Therefore get rid of this category of State / Deputy Minister and have a cabinet of forty with proper rationalization of functions. It looks that some consultant is experimenting by combining unrelated subjects such as highways and higher education. The only relationship I can think of between the two is that both the subjects start with the letter H.

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