Mr. President: Enforce Articles 85 & 86 of the Constitution to enact the 20A through a referendum
Watchful and concerned citizens are witnessing as to how the President Sirisena’s proposed 20th amendment to the Constitution is being effectively hijacked by the Rajapaksa clan, demanding more MPs under the Proportional Representation System to the Parliament.
When the British left this country, a time-tested democratic system of governance, was established in this country, based on the British Westminster style that prevails untouched even today in the UK. Under this system all members to the House of Commons are directly elected by the people and but not a single member is appointed or elected by any other means. Under Westminster democracy, all candidates are required to prove their worth to their respective constituencies and are required to win a clear mandate over all other opposing candidates.
JRJ removed the Westminster Democracy for a private benefit
When JRJ was elected to office in 1977, this truly democratic system was abandoned and relying on the voter-base the UNP enjoyed countrywide, the current proportional representation system was established. This invariably permitted all undesired people, including ethanol smugglers, drug dealers, murderers, sexual offenders and many other anti-social elements to enter into mainstream politics. As a result the legislature was heavily burdened with social liabilities, who have entered the Parliament after aggressive and expensive election campaigns. And it is sad to note that it has been customary for the Executive to abuse the office of the Attorney General to have the indictments, served on such criminals who have become MPs, withdrawn.
Fed up and disgusted with the character and conduct of such people dominating the legislature, the people have given a clear mandate to President Maitripala Sirisena to revert to the Westminster style of governance that offers only a very slim chance for the cheats to become MPs over their opponents who are with a high degree of integrity and social stand.
Corrupt politicos want PR system to continue
It is apparent that Rajapaksa clan in the UPFA is busy and do their utmost best to resist the changing of the electoral system that would inevitably reject most of the anti social elements now enjoy the status of an MP. Rajapaksa clan has now indicated that they would only support the 20 A that would provide more members to the legislature elected through the PR system and it appears that President Sirisena has been rattled by their demands.
Inalienable sovereignty of this country is in the people
Amending the electoral system – is clearly a matter of ‘national importance’ affecting the democratic rights of the citizens of this country. Under the prevailing scenario, it is certain that in the event the 20A is placed before the people, they would surely reject the proportional representation system altogether and would endorse, the return to the Westminster Style of governance.
Respect the people’s sovereign rights and their power to make laws
The Constitution itself asserts that sovereignty of this country is in the people. This inalienable right includes all powers (Article 3), including Legislative, Executive, and Judicial power – Article 4 [a], [b], [c] – that is exercised through the Parliament, the President and the Cabinet of Ministers and the Judiciary. This is purely a social contract with the people. And once people lose the trust and confidence in these institutions, those who administer these institutions, effectively lose their right to remain in office.
The Chief Justice, Sripavan, in his ceremonial address made on 09th of Jan 2015, clearly gave way to this constitutional norm with the following remarks.
“…The administration of Justice draws its legal sanction from the Constitution, its credibility rests in the faith of the people. Indispensable to that faith is the Independence of the Judiciary. Public confidence in the administration of Justice is imperative to its effectiveness, because ultimately the ready acceptance of a judicial verdict gives relevance to the justice system. We should always try to see that our Courts of law should be the Temple of Justice and it is our proud privilege to work together in order to make democracy of our country to be the best symbol and emblem for the whole region…”
Let the people use their power (Article 85 & 86) to enact the 20A
The constitution provides, that the President is empowered to submit any matter to people by Referendum, which in the opinion of the President is of ‘National Importance’ (Article 86) and any such bill submitted to the people for a Referendum to become law if approved by an absolute majority of the valid votes cast by the people at such a referendum (Article 85 of the Constitution).
Right-thinking people of this country are at a loss to understand as to why the President is not given the correct advice by his advisors, when the President enjoys ample power under the constitution to bring about the necessary changes to the electoral system. There is absolutely no need for him to plead for support of the corrupt politicos to change the electoral system. Plainly what he should do is to refer the 20A to the people at a referendum in terms Article 86 of the Constitution.
Introduce zero tolerance of election propaganda
It is also pertinent to introduce a new law with drastic changes to the existing electioneering system that permits corrupt politicos to spend billions of ill gotten to win over the people.
Proven examples can be drawn from the British Election System that forbids election propaganda altogether, encompassing both electronic and print media. This would enable the honest people who truly wish to serve the nation to enter into mainstream politics, denying the undesirable elements to abuse the system with scant respect to the Rule of Law.