26 September, 2020

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Members Of The Cabinet Shall Not Be Members Of Parliament !

By Hema Senanayake –  

Hema Senanayake

Hema Senanayake

This is what UPFA parliamentarian Vasantha Senanayake proposes. “Think from the end.” This is what I like to do on certain things. When it comes to the subject of constitutional reforms I prefer to think from the end. What kind of government we want to have at the end? In this regard Wasantha’s proposal made me curious.

It seems that everybody wants to abolish the executive presidency. Chandrika promised to do it. Under Mahinda Chinthana the abolition of executive presidency has been envisioned. So called left political parties and JVP are for the abolition of it since the introduction of it. Finally, the UNP, which political party introduced the executive presidential system want to do away with it. All these sentiments have been well echoed by Ven. Maduluwave Sobitha recently and has said, “Whole country has rejected executive presidential system.”

Still I am not convinced. So is Vasantha Senanayake who is a great-grand-child of D.S. Senanayake. He is a Member of Parliament elected from Gampaha District under UPFA. He does want to retain the Executive Presidency but not in the current form. In this regard he has submitted a few important suggestions directly to the President Mahinda Rajapaksa too.

No one wants to abolish the executive branch of the government. Under any kind of reforms, the executive branch will prevail. But Vasantha Senanayake proposes to abolish any system in which the head of the executive branch could “purchase” opposition members of the legislature. While preserving the simple cross overs on policy reasons, the whole nation needs to prevent the head of state virtually buying opposition parliamentarians based on monetary or any other considerations.

Mere abolition of executive presidency will not achieve this goal. There is only one sensible way to do it; that is to abolish the system of appointing elected officials to Cabinet and other paid positions of the government. This means no member of parliament will be appointed to any Ministerial Position under the proposed system. This is the system the United State has.

Accordingly, Vasantha Senanayake proposes as follows:

“Members of the Cabinet shall not be members of Parliament or any other legislative body/council, and shall not undertake any other employment. Any member of Parliament or other elected body who assumes a Cabinet portfolio shall ceases to be a member of such body” (Paragraph 3 under the section of “Executive” of Vasantha’s proposal).

How this works? Let us take an example from the United States. Formerly, Hillary Clinton was elected to the U.S. Senate from New York. Later she decided to take a Cabinet position in the executive branch of president Obama’s administration. In order to take up the Cabinet portfolio she had to resign from the Senate, which is an elected body.

With this arrangement the United States separates the legislature to be an independent branch of the government. Under our presidential system executive branch and the legislature are unified. Even under the parliamentary system the executive branch and the legislature remains unified if the Prime Minister can appoint the Cabinet from elected members of the Parliament. Under the Parliamentary system, we do not see any true separation of powers among the three branches of the government. This is where Vasantha Senanayake’s above proposal makes sense to me.

Vasantha has made a few more interesting points under his proposal for which our constitutional pundits should pay attention. Yet, I may limit this article only to the said point above and invite our intellectual writers to enlighten us as to why we want to unify the executive and legislature in a Parliamentary system or as to why we should not truly separate powers as proposed by Vasantha Senanayake.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    0

    Mr. and Mr. Senanayake,

    Both of you should not try to piss against the wind!!! It is never a good outcome.

    Do not EVER attempt to compare systems in place in FIRST WORLD nations because educated men like you two should know better – Its just a feel good effort. Why? The systems in place in those nations are SUPPORTED by a lazy but aggressive media, a judiciary which is partial but is also vary of public sentiment, a generally educated but apathetic public and most importantly an electoral system that cannot be manipulated by every Tom, Dick and Harry.

    Africa has no democracy worth talking about although there have been spurts of it. Mandela was a moment in history that has now passed and everyone who quotes him today is simply trying to rent his reputation. Zuma is small-time crook playing a big boys game. Egypt is a basket case. The Gulf shiekhs will last another 10-15 years and all hell will break loose after that.

    Asia breeds the best crooks, shysters and sychophants and the illiterate populace helps them make it a family business. Imagine the repercussions if the British Premier or US Prez decides his wife would make a great replacement?? The system prevents such thoughts…let alone acts.

    In Sri Lanka we have ALLOWED and facilitated the destruction of the pillars of good governance nary a whimper from anyone. The irony is that those waiting to grab power and those without any power, are inclined to do nothing, for diametrically opposite reasons.

    So, expecting our politicians to do anything that will TAKE AWAY, REDUCE OR RESTRICT their goodies will be impossible to achieve without a concerted education process. That was the process the US EMBASSY was proposing that the govt vociferously objected to, before the Uva polls. See? They know; what is not good for them!

  • 0
    2

    As I understand it, we have three branches in our constitution to govern us. A unicameral legislature or a ‘parliament’ that makes and amends the law, and directly elected ‘executive’ to put the law into action and lead us or rule us, and the ‘judiciary’ to dish-out judgments on the law.

    Anyone can see that there is no apparent separation of powers between the Parliament, the Executive or the Judiciary in our system and even many systems for that matter. In most countries, each one of the said branches is clearly connected to the other: The creator of our constitution, JRJ gave the Executive the right to appoint judges out of the blue or even appoint a members of the opposition in the legislature a minister. This JRJ thought would bring stability to the country.

    From SC judgments, we can see that the power of the Executive is embedded in every corner of the law including the 13A. MR has used that power positively to the advantage of the country in general and to defeat the terrorism in particular and thereafter to bring about the necessary political stability for a rapid development. So manipulations by the President is not bad for the mass if done in good faith. But unacceptable level of nepotism is clearly evident. It is the job of the opposition to highlight such nefarious activities and defeat the government.

    If the mass is not happy, government will loose elections and will not have the majority in parliament. And the Executive President will become a Non-Executive President like in 2001. And the leader of party that command the majority in parliament can become the Executive prime-minister. However, such a prime-minister brings dissatisfaction to the mass like Ranil did with his peace accord and etc in 2001-3, he could be thrown out prematurely by the President and he’ll loose elections because he fail to convince the public that his ouster was bad to the country. And that’s what happened to Ranil in 2003. But if Ranil did what mass wanted and was a good manipulator, he could have prevailed and even become the President.

    So, allegation that present system would make MR a dictator is a myth. People are generally happy with JRJ’s Presidential system. What they may appreciate is are some checks and balances.

  • 4
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    Sobitha says abolish the Executive Presidency.

    Vansantha Senanayake says bring about a rigid separation of the Legislature from the Executive.

    Hema Senanayake says think about Vasantha’s suggestion, perhaps hinting he agrees with it.

    But Hema has preferred to not state his reasons. Afraid?

    What is not clearly stated is the PURPOSE for which the Executive Presidency should be replaced, or that members of the legislature should not be appointed Ministers.

    I am assuming that all these persons are alluding to the elephant in the room, namely, the ongoing subversion of democracy and the abolition the freedom of the citizens of Sri Lanka by the Rajapakse Ruling Gang.

    My own view is that no matter what the constitution provides, if the people do not fight for and actively safeguard their liberty and freedom they can easily be taken away. I expect the educated activists of our citizens to teach, enlighten, and lead the citizens in the fight for the protection of democracy and their liberty.

    Hema Senananayake is doing a disservice by implying that the United States constitution is a great way forward. The United States is no longer a democracy. This is what happened in the United States, the so-called mother of all democracies.

    George Bush the Terrible followed a ten point plan to wipe out democracy in the United States. The ten points are:

    1. Invoke an Internal and External Threat
    2. Establish secret prisons outside the rule of law, with torture as routine.
    3. Develop a Paramilitary Force – not answerable to the people
    4. Surveil ordinary citizens. Use fear to induce self censorship.
    5. Infiltrate citizens groups.
    6. Arbitrarily detain and release citizens
    7. Target key individuals, not in alignment with the Regime
    8. Restrict the Press – punish journalists if they refuse to act as state agent.
    9. Recast criticism as Espionage and Treason and pass laws to punish those who critise the government.
    10. Subvert the Rule of Law

    Bush copied the steps / methods tabulated above from the Nazi era of Germany, from Afican dictators, from Latin American tyrants.

    This is exactly what is happening in Sri Lanka. And it will continue unless the People are willing to fight for their Freedom. Will Sobitha, the two Senanayakes, and those who have an interest in fostering democracy explain this to the masses? Hema please note your Article is a waste of time, for you and for the readers.

    The above thoughts are from a book called “End of America” by Naomi Wolf.
    For a full explanation please watch her video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqRyUQzokYs&feature=youtu.be

  • 2
    0

    Unfortunately Mr Wasantha Senanayake withdrew the proposed amendments from the parliament. Did he get cold feet. Yes he is a politician. People expect thee things from them cos they do not have a backbone to carry it forward.

  • 0
    0

    “No one wants to abolish the executive branch of the government. Under any kind of reforms, the executive branch will prevail. But Vasantha Senanayake proposes to abolish any system in which the head of the executive branch could “purchase” opposition members of the legislature. While preserving the simple cross overs on policy reasons, the whole nation needs to prevent the head of state virtually buying opposition parliamentarians based on monetary or any other considerations.

    Mere abolition of executive presidency will not achieve this goal. There is only one sensible way to do it; that is to abolish the system of appointing elected officials to Cabinet and other paid positions of the government. This means no member of parliament will be appointed to any Ministerial Position under the proposed system. This is the system the United State has.”…………… bla bla bla…… bla bla bla

    H Senanayake,

    What the hell are you talking about? How much do you get paid to butcher the minds of gullible people? You are a real traitor of the nation. Why do I say this? You will soon find out. You have developed cancer, eating and living through the blood money paid by the regime. The cancer has affected your brain cells and there is no cure for that. You have two options: 1. We can prevent the cancer from spreading to the rest of your body by cutting off your head from the body 2. Quarantine you until you kick the bucket. We leave it up to you to decide your destiny.

    The traitorous Senanayake’s from JR’s time proposal is the same as your cancer story. Rajapaksha has deformed the DNA of Executive Presidency and EP has now become a cancer together with its bearer. Once the EP DNA gets deformed and starts replicating and breeding its alien eggs uncontrollably the whole system gets contaminated, putrid and unserviceable. The only remedy left is to seal off the epidemic, quarantine and bury it 20 feet underground. No constitutional tampering and tinkering, though the Senanayake joker who betrayed his ancestry is roguishly and deceptively purporting to effect, can bring back it to life and normal functioning.

    The people of this country have seen and fed up with this EP curse. It is Rajapakshas who made it a curse and we are determined to rid it the very first chance we get. Afterwards you will have to find another job, may be in a laundry for physical cleansing of fabrics.

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