2 December, 2023


Restoring The Parliamentary System, The Womb Of Racism, Discrimination, Separatism & Civil Wars, Is The Guaranteed Portal To A Worse Catastrophe

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Though Trotsky was by far the better writer, next to Marx and Engels, Lenin had the most unforgettable political terminology. One of his terms was ‘Parliamentary cretinism’. It popped into my mind recently.

The main Opposition has taken a sharp turn in the wrong direction recently, opting for the slogan of the abolition of the executive presidency instead of reforming it so as to ensure a separation of powers and checks-and-balances, which was its earlier position.

Today there is Opposition unity among the main tendencies of the political Opposition: the SJB, TNA, JVP and FSP. But this opposition unity is on, and for the wrong thing: the abolition of the executive presidency and the restoration of power to Parliament—with the exception that the FSP places more emphasis on organs of People’s Power. Since those organs are yet to be created, any abolition of the executive presidency will mean a power shift to parliament.

While the People call for the ouster of all 225+1, the political opposition wants power to be shifted to the very place that the 225 are and the next 225 will be! Go figure.

Furthermore, the executive presidency is elected by a majority of the people of the entire island taken as a whole. The autocratic over-centralization of power in the executive presidency is a distortion which can be corrected by the abolition of the 20th amendment and introducing the separation of powers and checks-and-balances as in the USA and France. When there is a cancerous growth in the throat or even in the brain, the solution is not to decapitate the patient, but to use surgery—especially laser surgery—to remove the tumor.

What I find especially shocking is that all the fundamental blunders of policy that robbed Ceylon/Sri Lanka of the bright future it had, took place under a parliamentary system of governance, broadly regarded as the Westminster model. And yet, a liberal Opposition now embraces that model in place of an executive presidency with checks-and-balances such as those in the USA and France.

The hill-country people of recent Indian origin, who had voted in elections since 1931 were disenfranchised in Independent Ceylon under the Westminster model.

The first mass uprising and the lethal police shootings (leaving 8 dead) in 1953 took place under the parliamentary system.

The Sinhala Only policy of 1956, which Lee Kuan Yew always identified as the island’s original sin, was promulgated under a parliamentary system.

The Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact of 1957 was abrogated under a parliamentary system, though SWRD may not have done so had he been the elected President instead.

The proficiency exams in the public sector, the change in the medium of instruction in schools, and the schools take-over all took place under the parliamentary system.

The universal system of weekend holidays on Saturdays and Sundays was substituted by pre-Poya and Poya, under the parliamentary system.

The policy of district-wise and media-wise standardization of entrance to the university took place under the parliamentary system.

The state takeover of Lake House took place under the parliamentary system.

The rise of the JVP, the first insurrection of April 1971 and its bloody suppression took place under the parliamentary system.

The abolition of the independent Public Service Commission and the subordination of state administration to politicians, took place under the parliamentary system.

The constitutional status of Sinhala only and the formal accordance of primacy of place to the biggest one of the island’s many religions took place under the parliamentary system.

The birth of the Tamil New Tigers (TNT) in 1972 and of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 1976, as well as the first acts of lethal violence, took place under the parliamentary system.

The adoption of the separatist Vadukkodai resolution by the democratic Tamil mainstream took place in 1976 under the parliamentary system.

This system, under which the worst policies were adopted, policies which derailed and wrecked this country’s prospects, is the very one the liberal-democratic Opposition is committed to restoring.

By contrast, the re-enfranchisement of the hill-country people of recent Indian origin took place under the presidential system.

The 13th amendment making for provincial devolution was adopted under a presidential system.

The electoral system of proportional representation was adopted under the presidential system.

The 200 garment factories program and Janasaviya were enacted under the presidential system.

This is the system the liberal-democratic Opposition is now committed to scrapping.

Surely a nationally and directly elected presidency is closer in spirit to a republican democracy and a far better channel of popular sovereignty, than a parliamentary system?

Surely a presidential system with the separation of powers, making for checks-and-balances is the Middle Path between the present-day hyper-centralized autocratic presidency on the one hand, and a purely parliamentary system which privileges parochial interests and makes for majoritarianism, on the other?

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  • 30

    It is not parliamentary democracy or presidential democracy stupid, that screwed up Ceylon/Sri Lanka into the mess today. It is the racist, inept leaders not dedicated to nation building at the helm of successive governments lead to the Sri Lankan state’s downfall.

    Dayan, don’t think you are so smart to sell presidential democracy as the best: Look at the number of countries with parliamentary democracy thriving in world.

    • 24

      The problems of Sri Lanka is nothing to do with presidential or parliament system. The author listed only selected items that suit to his theory. He did not mention anything about the burning of Jaffna library, 1983 massacre of Tamils and 30 year war or the massacre of over 50000 innocent Tamils or the murder of surrendered LTTE political wing members or the murder of people who were handed over to the military or even the plot through 18th amendment, Easter Bombing, and many other attack on Muslims all happened under the presidential system. Finally, the bankruptcy of the country in the whole 75 years and peoples protest happened under the presidential system. The fact is that Buddhist Fundamentalism will not allow the country to resolve the problems.
      There is no different between Mahinda and Dayan.

      • 1

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        • 11

          Reading between Dr.DJ’s lines, it appears that Sajith Baby’s prime advisor has fallen out with his boss.
          Still, I think there is no point arguing about political systems.It is true that one man should not have as much power as the 20th Amendment gives, especially when that man is a fool, as now. But Prime Ministers too have been idiotic, using their majorities to pass ill thought out legislation.
          Even the overly deified DS is guilty of partisan behaviour. SWRD was even worse.
          The problem is the feudal mindset of even “educated” people. Even in this 21st century, we see religious dignitaries threatening to issue a “fatwa” against the very government that they enthusiastically promoted a couple of years ago. I haven’t seen any civil society busybody even commenting on this. Is everyone in the country afraid of these un-elected potentiate?
          If they are, is this a democracy?

          • 6

            Dayan, I have been saying that next parippu drop will be in Colombo. This is being proved right. Did you hear that Parippu is going to be shipped from Tootukudi to Colombo.

          • 1

            Hi OC,
            “I haven’t seen any civil society busybody even commenting on this. Is everyone in the country afraid of these un-elected potentiate?
            If they are, is this a democracy?”
            Well founded questions and deserves an answer!!
            Given the facts of the case as above, dare to say, it is far distant and distinct from a DEMOCRACY!!
            More like a D. E. M. O’ CRAZY OF 1977 VINTAGE!!!!
            Pathetic state of affairs of result of 6.9 million electors backed by the self-appointed guardians of the state – “un-elected potentiate”???!!!!
            Whither Sri Lanka???
            Hope no more mud holes to surmount to survive, even this is hard enough!!!

          • 4

            HI OC,
            If we still had Buddhist priests the like of Sobitha Thero, amongst us, it would be different outcome??
            Alas, that is not the case unfortunately!!!
            Their wish to have a Hitler was granted, but they were unable or didn’t have the ability to assess the competency of the candidate!!!
            They in their illuminated, enlightened self-assessed (we don’t know the process employed) that a gas station attendant of California and the Landscape developer of the SL Urban Development Authority is and will be a “GOOD ENOUGH MORTAL” as the Executive President of Sri Lanka!!!???
            The un-elected Potentate’s understanding of the duties and responsibilities toward his citizenry is as Mundane as their equal ignorance of the “Life and Times of Adolf Hitler and his achievements and failures!!”

        • 4

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    • 1

      “It is the racist, inept leaders not dedicated to nation building at the helm of successive governments…”

      Sinhala leaders who were at the helm in successive Governments after indigenous Sinhalayo who were oppressed by colonial rulers gained independence wanted to unite different communities in Sinhale and formed national political parties e.g. United National Party, Sri Lanka Freedom Party but racist Tamil politicians who had their separatist agenda since 1930s moved in a collision path with Sinhala leaders and formed a racist political party called ‘Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi’ in 1949 (toned down as Federal Party in English but the real meaning was Tamil State Party) which had as its hidden agenda the establishment of a separate State within Sinhale and told Tamils in Yapanaya not to learn Sinhala with the intention to keep the two communities apart for their political survival. In 1949, there was no ‘Sinhala Only’ policy.
      By blaming Sinhala leaders you cannot clean Tamil politicians who are responsible for ruining this country by promoting separatism and terrorism.

      • 14

        Eagle Dumb Eye

        THAMBY, ANNA, AACHIE, ….

        It was the Sinhala/Buddhism and people like you internationalised domestic racism, cruelty, hypocrisy, double standard, human rights violation, war crime, …. now it is the same Sinhala/Buddhism which internationalise country’s bankruptcy. This time it is the hard core Sinhala/Buddhist Gota’s supporters who are up in arms against Gota and his clan.
        Hope you learn from these dramatic happenings.
        I know it is difficult but doable.

        I have been receiving whats app clips from all corners of the world how people are energised against the real culprits.

        Racism has helped many people in their career progress. Many had been made filthy rich in a short period of time. However my question is what is in it for you as Racist b***s carrier?
        Think how best you can salvage your soul?

      • 6

        ‘Blind and DUMB’ promoting, foibles to OBFUSCATE the truth!
        “in a collision path with Sinhala leaders ‘Yapanaya’ ——– called ‘Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi’ (Tamil self-rule Party of Ceylon) in 1949 (toned down as Federal Party in English but the real meaning was ‘TAMIL STATE PARTY’ – SELF-SERVING INCORRECT translation by EE!!), which ‘had —— hidden agenda ————————- separate State’ within Sinhalé (NO; INTEGRATED FEDERATED SELF-GOVERNING PARTY) and told Tamils in YAPANAYA NOT TO LEARN SINHALA with the intention TO KEEP THE TWO COMMUNITIES APART for their political survival. In 1949”.
        Sinhala language was taught IN ALL SCHOOLS, Private/Public Schools from 1949 to 1956 (inclusive), until, SWRDB, “Sinhala only” was passed!!
        Aware of friends in working life originating from North and East, well enabled TO READ, WRITE AND SPEAK/CONVERSE, IN SINHALA LANGUAGE DURING THIS PERIOD due progressive education process that was in place, progress made in unification, SUCCESSFULLY PREVAILED THEN IN NORTHEAST CEYLON, UNTIL SINHALA ONLY ACT OF 1956, IT WAS DISMANTLED!!!
        Intelligent and knowledgeable’s could discern HOW/WHEN Divide began?
        1949 OR 1956?? OPEN SHUT CASE!!

    • 6

      old codger,
      Sinhala_man, …….
      rest of the Sinhala and Tamil speaking good people

      Please tell me whats wrong with this man?

      • 7

        “Please tell me whats wrong with this man?”
        Maybe the Canadian medical system doesn’t treat senility as a problem.
        Or the man’s Tamil supervisor at Toronto Waste Disposal, treats him badly?

  • 9

    I look at the two systems and I will say the president elected by the people is the best. But like the article said there should be equal branch (judiciary and legislative) to check the President. Legislative should have the power to impeach and remove the president. Not out side cronies judges. Justices for the supreme court should be selected from the best judges by the president and confirmed by the parliament to sit in the Supreme court. President cannot remove the Judges. Same way all ministers have to be Nominated by the President and confirmed by the parliament. The justice department and its head Attorney General does not report to the president. AG should report to the Supreme Court. Also make it clear that no one is above the Law. AG also in charge of the bribery commission. When you have equal and 3 branches of the govt it works much better. The problem here is too much power was granted to the President by 225 gutless people. How to fix the gutless MPs beyond me. All 225 are there for money and power. The government should stop giving all government servants and officials govt cars and houses. They have to come on their own car or cycles. This apply to the ministers too.

    • 5

      Very good idea and commendable too!!
      In respect of cars, although ban on cars nominated for “personal use” must be prohibited,
      Government should have in each ministry and department, “Car Pool for the use of the field staff for allocation of Field Staff or for visit to the regions on Official Work????!
      “NO cars to begiven for private use and take home, including MP’s and Ministers!!! OUT!!
      Also, Head of State to be disected from the

    • 1

      Sorry, it jumped out popped away.
      Head of State to be also Head of the armed Tri forces, commander-in chief (CIC) but not the Head of Government and Executive President elected independently and directly OR OTHERWISE BY ELECTORAL COLLEGE, SAVE COST; (HoS) being a Non-Executive President (NON EP) ; Ceremonial ARM
      The Prime Minister (PM) should be the Head of Government and Head of Cabinet, – the (Executive ARM)
      The head of the Legislature should and is the Speaker of Parliament and remains unchanged (SoP) – LEGISLATIVE ARM
      HoS and Non EP would be assisted by the other 3 governance Arms, independently and in conjunction to exercise governance

      • 5

        Eagle Dumb Eye


        I was wondering as to why people who have been anti west all their life for historical reasons do not seem to go to anti west countries to claim asylum and organise protest against Gota and his clan.

        When others protested against successive governments of Sri Lanka in western countries they were called with names, ….
        What do you call the current protesters who form part of the Sinhala speaking diaspora?

        If I were you I would not sit on my brain.

    • 7


      It is not about which system is best.
      This racist is the one who typed in early 2015 immediately after the elections, it was not a convincing win because the candidate did not win with the support of the majority of the majority, although the election was won fair and square.

      This man has been part of the those war mongers, racists, bigots, fascist sympathizers who supported the presidents who were bent on destroying democracy.

      If anything along with war criminals human rights campaigners should take war mongers and war crime deniers to courts and charge them with all available laws, if not get parliament to pass necessary laws just to name and shame them.

      It is all about how to restore the democratic rights of all people.

  • 11

    The author says that if there are any defects in the Executive Presidential system they can be reformed through suitable amendments. What I say is, if there are any defects in the Parliamentary system they also can be reformed just as easily through appropriate amendments. Further, he has given us a list of cherry-picked examples from both systems to buttress his argument. He is writing for people with an IQ of 79 points!

  • 8

    Since the so-called Ceylon ’s independence,the democracy system was not fruitful for all peoples.
    The likes and dislikes of the majority Sinhalese people exist in the name of democracy. It’s ethnical democracy.

  • 0

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  • 0

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  • 5

    Here is a list of the bad things that happened under the Executive Presidential system:

    1. A large number of journalists were Abducted, Assaulted, Disappeared, Murdered, Threatened and forced to flee to other countries.
    2. Many Vanity Projects that did not yield meaningful returns were carried out, like the Mattala Airport, Hambantota Harbour, Sooriyaweva Stadium, Lotus Tower and Superhighways, some of which have little traffic.
    3. Many Convicted Criminals were pardoned by presidents and released.
    4. A large number of court cases that were instituted by the Attorney General against many suspects after painstaking investigations were withdrawn arbitrarily. They were acquitted and discharged by the courts without hearing the cases properly.
    5. Many citizens who were engaged in peaceful protests were shot dead. E.g. in Rathupaswela, Chilaw, the FTZ and Rambukkana.
    6. At least Eight (8) persons waiting in Gas, Diesel and Kerosine queues dropped dead due to high stress.
    7. High level of Corruption became institutionalized. Etc., etc.

  • 9

    DJ, our independence was premature and born dead. “STILLBIRTH”. Now you are talking about reviving after 75 years, good luck.

    • 6


      “Now you are talking about reviving after 75 years, good luck.”

      It is one of his newly discovered position out of the 64.

  • 3

    DJ is so selective in choosing events to support the system of governance that he prefers. It is not the system that is at fault, it is the rulers who ruled the country since independence. The rulers were elected democratically, however, their ruling was no different to an autocratic or dictatorial rule. Dissent within and outside of the ruling party was not tolerated, suppressed ruthlessly. Racism is real in SL and the racist rulers should take the blame for most of the ills, however, I don’t see racism when the rulers suppress dissent whether it came from Sinhala JVP or Tamil separatists.

    SL can have the best constitutions in the world with separation of powers between the branches of government (president and parliament) and judiciary and checks and balances, still, a SL ruler is able to ruin the country sooner or later. It doesn’t take long for a ruler in SL to blur the boundaries. You add the religion to the mix, you have an explosive situation in SL. This is the “right” mix for the rulers and has “served” them for the last 74 years. For how much longer is the question the people are asking.

  • 2

    You missed important facts as usual:
    1. They confiscated Tamils’ farm land and settled thugs from jail which resulted in productivity of land.
    2. Whatever the system of govt it would be run by Mathanamuthas
    3. Democracy is the best den for majoritarianism

  • 1

    Expatriating several hundred thousand Tamils
    Killing over 300,000 Tamils
    Over a million of Tamils left the country
    These resulted in loss of production and consumption in the country thus loss of govt’s tax receipts

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