19 April, 2019

Blog

Restructuring The Presidency

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

There are at least two fundamental challenges facing the new Sri Lankan government and both are of long standing. One is the North-South question, which is my shorthand for what is variously called the Tamil National Question or the ethnic problem. The other is the South-South Question.

While this latter naturally embraces the party political competition, which is now intra-party as well as an inter-party issue, that is not the hub of the problem. The crux of the South-South problem today is that of forms of government: Presidential or parliamentary.

The North-South and South-South problems intersect and interact, because they combine into problems not merely of forms of government, but forms of state. The options are:

(a) Presidential/unitary

(b) Presidential/non-unitary

(c) Parliamentary/unitary and

(d) Parliamentary/non-unitary.

Within the new government there are two positions regarding matters of system and structure. They are both flawed, but one is less flawed than the other.

The first position is that of the abolition of the executive Presidency, by which is meant the transfer of the executive powers and function from the presidency to the Parliament, essentially the Cabinet and the PM. This position is that of the shift from Presidential to Prime Ministerial government. In Sri Lankan terms it is a reversion to the pre-1978 situation of a neo-Westminster model. Inasmuch as the state is formally characterized as unitary, it is the reversion to the First Republic of 1972 rather than the non-republican classically Westminster model contained in the Soulbury Constitution. In stricter terms, it is a dismantling of what Prof AJ Wilson called “the Gaullist system in Asia” (1980), i.e. the French model of the Fifth Republic (without the important element of secularism), instituted by President JR Jayewardene in 1978 and the restoration of a quintessentially British (colonial) model.

Politically, this first position is shared by Ranil Wickremesinghe, Chandrika Kumaratunga, the TNA and the JVP. Ranil and Chandrika amount to what I would call the ‘UNP Plus’, with the Plus standing not for the SLFP but the neoliberal ideologues of the CBK Sudu Nelum constituency. It would not be inaccurate to say that if one were to exclude the JVP, the advocates, including the born again advocates of the abolitionist agenda are the old ‘peace constituency’.

The second position within the new Sri Lankan government is not that of the abolition of the executive Presidency but its drastic shrinkage, leaving it with certain core or residual powers. I call this a skeletal and minimalist, but not merely nominal, Presidency. This notion holds that the Presidency should retain the portfolio of Defence and nothing else or nothing else of much importance. The votaries of this view are hardcore supporters of President Sirisena, ideologues of the erstwhile Reformist (‘rebel’) faction of the UNP, and the JHU. They seem to be concerned about the centrifugal consequences, not least the ethnically centrifugal consequences, of the de-facto abolition of the executive Presidency by means of the wholesale transfer of executive powers to the Cabinet and the PM.

My own position is a third one, which I fondly believe is the unvoiced sentiment of the majority of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. Quite obviously the country has to bid farewell to the maximalist Presidency of the Jayawardene vintage, which reached its zenith with Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 18th amendment and the abolition of term limits. However, the answer is neither abolition nor even a minimalist Presidency. It resides in what I would suggest is a Buddhist-Aristotelian perspective in which one must search for the Middle Path and the Golden Mean.

The essence of the Buddhist-Aristotelian paradigm is the avoidance of excess. This would mean the identification of the excessive powers of the Sri Lankan Presidency and their deletion, transfer or diffusion/sharing. This avoids the twin extremes of maximalism and minimalism.

All of this sounds very nice but how would it work out in reality? It is really quite simple indeed. The Aristotelian tradition originated in the comparative study of the Constitutions of the Greek city states. In order to avoid controversy, let us set aside the Eurasian Presidential models such China, Russia, Vietnam. Let us instead look at the most exemplary variants of Presidentialism within the liberal-democratic tradition, Western and Eastern; global Northern and Southern. These are US, France, Brazil, South Africa, Philippines, Indonesia and South Korea. Whatever powers, role and functions that the Sri Lankan Presidency possesses, which are not among those that these liberal democratic Presidencies enjoy, should be shed. All powers enjoyed by the liberal democratic Presidencies in the above mentioned states, should be retained.

Succinctly put, my perspective is one of structural reform and re-engineering as opposed to systemic change. I urge that the Executive Presidential system of the Second Republic (1978) remain, but by no means untouched. While the “Gaullist System in Asia” as Prof AJ Wilson defined it, should remain, that system requires structural reforms, not abolition or gutting.

Concretely, I do not see the need for anything qualitatively more than the replacement of the 18th amendment with the restoration of the two term limit and the entrenchment of an independent public service (abolished only recently by President Rajapaksa, but initially and for decades by the Sirimavo-Felix-Colvin troika in 1972).

The centrist approach to Constitutional change that I have outlined here has as an accompaniment, the outlook of gradualism. It requires deliberation, discussion, debate, examination, indeed dispassionate scrutiny—and by large all inclusive and representative collective body so as to ensure broad national consensus. A Constitution must evolve; it must not be overturned or overthrown. A Hundred Day fast-track is precisely the wrong one for fundamental constitutional change.

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Latest comments

  • 22
    7

    What are you doing now to get your next diplomatic posting ?

    Time to retire and settle down in Timbaktu

    • 20
      6

      Jagath Fernando

      “Time to retire and settle down in Timbaktu”

      Please note Timbuktu is not in Cuba.

      • 4
        0

        This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

        • 4
          1

          Timbuktu also spelled Timbuctou is in former French Colony of Mali in West Africa. I doubt if Karadara Dias Dayan DeSilva can survive there. He will need a luxurious position with plenty of booze.

      • 5
        1

        Native,
        Cuba is in the process of reestablishing diplomatic ties with USA.

        I doubt Dayan would feel comfortable any where close to the Land of the free,geographically or diplomatically.

        He would suffocate.

        Remember he likes despots,Mafia state and Majoritarian Hegemony.

        On a different note.

        Medumullana Doctrine.

        If one goes by Dayan’s arquement about National question for the last 5 years,The defeated/vanquished don’t require to be heard,should live a life of servitude and what ever they get is purely based on the magnanimity of the victor.

        For this barbaric principle, I would coin the term Medumullana doctrine.

        Can the CT forum exercise this as far as Dayan’s suggestion and articles?

        CT readers and the Fora are much more principled than Dayan and his hero’s Medumullana MARA and GORA.

        • 4
          1

          Peace

          Here is one of Dayan’s typing:

          Set up an interim administration for North comprising non-anti LTTE moderate Tamils under a distinguished Tamil Governor
          13 February 2012, 8:41 pm
          by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

          http://transcurrents.com/news-views/archives/8001

          Excerpt:

          This then is the way to cut the Gordian knot: set up an Interim Administration for the North, vested with the powers of the 13th amendment except perhaps for police powers.

          It can consist entirely of Tamil political and civic personalities of proven moderate views and non/anti-Tiger track records such as SC Chandrahasan (Mr SJV Chelvanayakam’s son), V Anandasangaree, D Siddharthan of PLOTE, Sritharan (‘Sugu’) of the EPRLF, Nesan Shanker Raji of EROS and Douglas Devananda.

          Dayan chose the wrong people to run his Interim Council, if acted upon that would have denied democratic rights to a section of the who are Tamils and live in the North.

          A cunning/racist idea and he found no buyers.

          He is not only a racist but a man(?)with despotic and anti democratic tendencies. Even MR couldn’t stand this hypocrite. He was treated like an used French letter.

      • 10
        5

        He (restructuring-the-presidency)is The Bore, Boring away- Book Corak`et and enjoying his Croaka Cola.! Phew!!

    • 13
      5

      Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

      RE: Restructuring The Presidency

      A better Title Would have been Restructuring The Medamulana MaRa Shills and White-washers.

      Anyway, there is ample help toward restructuring the Presidency without the input from the MaRa Shills and Whitewashers.

      There one stinking guy, called Wimal Weerawansa (Baluwansa), still shilling.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tx2f_o2Oj8

    • 8
      2

      CT readers have only one problem: Dayan-Dayan!!

      • 5
        0

        MNZ

        “CT readers have only one problem: Dayan-Dayan!!”

        No not at all, its not a problem on the contrary lots of fun taking the micky out of this self confessed war monger.

        Please do join us.

    • 1
      1

      you (Dayan Jayathilaka) are bloody racist, that is why you support racist Mara. He try to win the election on racial ground. Again you are opportunist. That is why you support Mara thinking that Mara will win then you can get a diplomatic posting some where in the west. All that vanished you are big nuisance to CT readers and please get lost from CT.

      • 0
        1

        No he is the most known political analyst under Mahinda Rajapakshe.

        He is the most known know-all of all times.

        He is the one who would go radically against a federal state though lived in France and Switzerland many a times. This man to go against german type of federal system and agitate the folks is beyond all ethics and morals

  • 16
    5

    Since claiming he would stop writing in English only one week ago, this is his third article in 7 days. He can’t even stick by his commitment to himself, let alone maintaining the integrity of his political arguments. What a weather-vane. Honestly can’t someone give this man a job?

    • 1
      1

      Nothing new, Padmakumara.

      DJ is not an educated man; just a qualified man. Educated men have scruples.

      He is also a great punching bag. Can soak up a lot of punishment.

  • 4
    2

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 11
    6

    IT looks like Dayan Jayathilake’s second system and his third system or his system are the same thing but with different names.

    It is Dayan Jayathilake who argues in an earlier article that A president without executive powrs would be just a puppet who could not do anything when he wanted and therefore the country would be vulnerable to division or cession.

    His comparison of buddhist with Aristotle views ….just… – he is getting old.

  • 5
    3

    Do you forget or want to take away the east from us(The Tamils)

  • 10
    4

    Promising not to write and then continuing to write…no shame?

    Anyway, I think it speaks volumes when you can’t even stick to a simple promise to stop writing for 6 months…

  • 11
    4

    At the time of writing this comment, there were six comments already published – holding you DJ up to ridicule. Plainly your pearls, sorry d-ropes, were not welcome.

    First of all DJ, ask CT to replace that photograph of yours. When one sees the sperm spangled beard, one starts reading your article with a nauseated mind set.

    Second don’t send any more of your stuff for publication.

    Thirdly please depart for “solitary meditation in a rock cave in Sri Sumedha Monastery (near the Knuckles range), in Bambarella”.

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/a-kind-request-from-the-minister-for-buddha-sasana/

  • 11
    4

    As commented earlier DJ still continues to write though he promised to not write in the English media only a few days ago and this is how he bluffs all the time. He writes pro Mahinda, anti Ranil/Chandrika, indirectly on a communal line and tries his best to mislead the readers and pretends to be a political pundit.

    It was only yesterday, an article “A letter of Appreciation to Dr.Dayan Jayatileka” by V .Kanthaya appeared whuch amply analyses his stupid ideas and points of view. Therefore, there is no need to further comment on his article today which again tries to bring in some communalism.

    One thing is very clear, he tried to promote MR which failed and he knows very well both Ranil and Chandrika would not consider him at all but he indirectly tries to creep into Maithree which also would not succeed.

  • 8
    7

    Dayan, in short, your argument is that the only constitutional change needed today is the abolition of the 18th amendment and the reinstatement of the 17th amendment. This, in your opinion, would stop all the excesses of the executive Presidential system. I would not entirely agree this view.

    Despite your suggested minor change, a President of Sri Lanka, could still become a dictator and could enjoy near dictatorial powers. Take the case of JR Jayawardena’s rule. He did not have the 18th amendment but ruled like a dictator and imposed his will on the people of Sri Lanka. He was able to do away with Parliamentary elections and retained a four-fifth majority in order to carry out his dictatorial projects.

    As for your argument that we should have an executive presidential system like the ones in US, France, Brazil, South Africa, South Korea etc., these systems too provide near dictatorial powers and could be abused. But fortunately, no American, French, Brazilian, or South African president would dare to exercise the dictatorial powers found in their systems, because their constituencies are more liberal and intolerant of dictators. That is not the case with Sri Lankans. At the last Presidential election, the cry against what was seen as abuse of power by the former President Rajapakse did not succeed to any great extent among the Sri Lankan population, particularly among the Sinhalese. It is the revenge sought by the Tamils and Muslims that caused his downfall, not the conviction of the Sri Lankans to unseat a dictator.

  • 10
    5

    Dayan.
    Now you must understand you are failed and defeated by your foolishness.

    You have designed your own misfortune and remember YOU ARE THE ARCHITECT OF YOUR OWN MISFORTUNE.

    You are the one of henchmen of Mahinda Rajapaksa.

    We do not need your foolish advices now.
    We have great and outstanding scholars as advisers.

    You now look after yourself.

  • 1
    2

    KJ needs to stick to his own favourite models of governance – the dictatorship of Fidel Castro his hero, and the tyranny of Mahinda Rajapakse, his late employer.

    President Sirisena will usher in democracy which is strange to KJ.
    He should wait for it and learn.

  • 7
    1

    [Edited out] Dayan, there is no North South problem in Sri Lanka and there is no real ethnic issue in SL. What we have is a Minority – Majority issue, because of people like you who do not consider that Minority and Majority people are all SRI LANKANS. What I mean by minority is not based on the language, its also based on religious beliefs, cast beliefs, and regional beliefs. If you truly look at SL you will find that today mixed races, mixed religions and mixed casts live all over the country. So there is no North-South issue. As long as [Edited out] like you do not think all are SRI LANKANS this issue will remain the main issue.

    The case of Non-Unitary does not exist any more. TNA the government selected by the people has clearly and openly declared that they are for a Unitary Country. So those who keep on raising the Non-Unitary issue should be charged under Prevention of Terrorism Act as you are instigating violence by saying something that does not exist.

    Since the the recent presidential election our new President Maithreepala, PM Ranil and Chandrika together with other party leaders have proved that they are able to handle the complex issues. They do not need any two cents worth of input from [Edited out] like you. Please back off!

  • 1
    0

    Seems very high quality advice, but doubt if the people responsible for the reform would consider it. Your main concern about curtaining the Executives powers is that it will then be less effective in propelling centrifugal forces to deal with ethnic issues.

    Until, your master holds HE position you didn’t have an issue with 18th amendment, but now have jumped into the bandwagon and wish to see it being reversed.

    Deciding on what form of Government, whether to abolish or curtail the power of, the Executive Presidency is a national issue, is not it?. Why do you categories it as crux of the South-South issue. You tend to look through the divide?.

    The 100 days fast-tracking seems to be a wishful thinking as, to undo all the wrongs that are now considered to be the new normal would require not 100 but 1000 days. Just imagine the messes: To depoliticize the forces and maintain law and order including chasing the drug dealers; get rid of persons trained to tap only phones from CID and nominate duty minded persons; cleanse the foreign missions, which appears to be the places of shelter for retired forces and girl friends; bring an order to the justice system including send off our versatile CJ with a diplomatic post; depoliticize the reporters who received gifts from your master; follow the corrupted money trail globally bring back the money as well as the people involved including the percentage Rajapakse; purge the Central bank and treasury; chase the insider traders from share market; get rid of political appointees from University board and replace with academics, etc. The sheer volume of allege crimes committed by the regime might require months to inquire it, not days. The ones Mervyn disclose alone might require at least six months to investigate.

  • 2
    0

    I mentioned about an year ago in response to a DJ article that he is slowly but surely walking into oblivion. Well he started that when he was dumped from Sirasa’s Sithijaya. He’s slow and steady walk towards oblivion has begun.
    Please don;t get me wrong, he is a capable man. However, his unjustified anger towards a very influential section of the society (represented by the Ranil-CBK axis) is what hurts him. He is all but diplomatic when he communicates this anger.
    Now Mr.DJ, your diplomatic posting with the help of a ‘war crimes’ strongman looks highly unlikely, isn’t it?

  • 3
    1

    For God’s sake Dayan, stop. We have had enough. You need to get yourself rehabilitated NOW.

  • 3
    1

    I doubt that Dayan understands well as to what he writes. Why is that no one who reads his postings does not agree one word of his. I have been following his postings for couple of years, he is not consistent in his views. I am anxious to know whether he is alright.

  • 4
    4

    What I would like to see is a complete analysis that lists pros an cons of each of these proposed systems, that takes into account the ground realities of the China vs USA, China vs India economic competition, as well as aspects of Sri Lankan culture such as the tolerance of nepotism /cronyism, ethnicity-based politics, classism etc.

    Any takers?

    • 11
      3

      British style/The land of Associations where you use the trade union membership as prefix to your name.

      Set up a committee to kill the Idea while keeping the `minutes` and forgetting the `hours`.

      You cannot be a lover of life and be wise.

      • 3
        3

        suffix in lieu of pre please.

        • 3
          4

          Javi

          Which internet café do you work for.

          • 2
            1

            Why have you joined /sSAS through the backdoor for me to think like you??
            modaya five fingers are never the same size perhaps its to do with your free education that the nation has to beg ??

  • 0
    0

    Karadara Dias of Saint Josephs is trying his best to remain relevant. Yet, he is much better than Mangala Dress Designer Chandrika’s kitchen cabinet Foreign Minister.

  • 2
    0

    A lot of his anger and his diatribes and sometimes pointedly nasty attacks and snide remarks stem from his inability to deal with his late father and their relationship; it stems from booze and lack of love and affection and hugs as a child. He is permanently angry. Either that or he was molested by pedophile catholic priests when he was at Saint Joseph’s. Something about him stems from wanting to be heard and being angry. Mervyn DeSilva may wonder why he even changed his name out of anger over a pint or two. Yet, I feel he is better than Mangala S

  • 1
    1

    Dayan J:
    “Quite obviously the country has to bid farewell to the maximalist Presidency of the Jayawardene vintage, which reached its zenith with Mahinda Rajapaksa’s 18th amendment and the abolition of term limits.”

    Bru ha ha ha ha, hee hee hee hee, hoo hoo hoo hoo!!

    So you have turned again, have you mate?

    Didn’t we all hear and see you saying that there was nothing wrong with the Executive Presidency when you were coddling the then incumbents cojones in your palms and singing hosannas to him?

    Also, what about your promise to stop writing?

    You really are a bloody disgrace to your trade…..

    • 5
      2

      Easton Scott

      “So you have turned again, have you mate?”

      Nopes

      Dayan has 64 positions all at the same time. This is only one of them. If necessary he might tell you another of his position which would be diametrically opposed to the earlier one. And he expects you not only to agree with him but cheer him for his clever thinking.

      • 10
        5

        Politics never was a science like Social.

        Both are impulsive and algebric lies which he himself called higher algebra not knowing modern algebra used by engineers.

        In fact he wants to beat Emil Soundaranayagam into the `Readers digest classic edition 10 Greatest Conmen of the world` as the greatest Con-Man the island has produced!

        Crossed Legged have seen this man before TN interview was with SC boys with Phd’s like our muslim boys on quota entry to Uni.

        • 0
          0

          Javi

          The bread thief.

          • 0
            0

            Generally most bachelors have a good breakfast.

            He is another Gello(child-snatching demon/or modern Sherlock Holmes literature as in Italian style)

            It’s the Brown Boars & Bacon that is his supper.

  • 6
    1

    DJ,

    Why don’t you restructure yourself first.

    • 2
      1

      That is impossible so long his genetics are there. Only a gentic modifications – changing his genetics turning them to possive can lead him for a better restructure. This depita kattu miniha- hypocrite of all times would never learn lessions – being harboured to his personal vendetta, he would never change attacking mode towards Ranil and CBK. If the latter did nto sacrifice it – how would anyone have removed most abusive president – Mahinda Rajapakshe.

  • 0
    1

    Loser(That’s what you are!) DJ

    Frankly, I do not even read your posts now because it is the same venom against Ranil. I straight go to the comments section to read how hated and low you have become in the eyes of Sri Lankans. I know you keep writing (even though you promised not to) just to be in the limelight good or bad. Otherwise you would be forgotten and gone. Even the hate comments keeps you going!

    Oh! What a loser!!! How the mighty (UN Rep) have fallen!!!!

  • 0
    1

    why does the main stream media still entertain a clown like this? there are comedy channels for that.

  • 2
    0

    Thank you Dayan, for your article. Democracy thrives on different, civilly expressed points of view, however we are still trying to imagine the shape of the democracy like the blind men grasping various parts of the Elephant. The new government does feel like the old Elephant to the Hand has grasped it well.

    Some people do not understand Democracy yet.

    “It requires deliberation, discussion, debate, examination, indeed dispassionate scrutiny—and by large all inclusive and representative collective body so as to ensure broad national consensus. A Constitution must evolve; it must not be overturned or overthrown. “

    Are you sure we won’t get a thorough discussion in parliament, after all there is an opposition?
    .

  • 4
    1

    Dayan the Intellect:

    1) There are at least two fundamental challenges facing the new Sri Lankan government and both are of long standing. One is the North-South question, which is my shorthand for what is variously called the Tamil National Question or the ethnic problem. The other is the South-South Question.

    *** There is only one challenge that is facing the Country which is the North South Divide. There is no South South Question and if what you are alluding to is correct that simply means that there are deep cultural divisions amongst the people of the South and for me nothing springs to mind. But you and people like you the so called distractors are trying to find an excuse to derail the solution to the Ethnic Problem.

    2) While this latter naturally embraces the party political competition, which is now intra-party as well as an inter-party issue, that is not the hub of the problem. The crux of the South-South problem today is that of forms of government: Presidential or parliamentary.

    *** Frankly the above wouldn’t have caused any ripples if not for the Ethnic problem which has torn the Nation apart. Just out of interest if you take the Tamil problem out of the Equation then we wouldn’t be talking about Presidential or parliamentary.

    3) The North-South and South-South problems intersect and interact, because they combine into problems not merely of forms of government, but forms of state.

    *** I have already said that the South South Problem is only a smoke screen

    4) Within the new government there are two positions regarding matters of system and structure. They are both flawed, but one is less flawed than the other.

    *** We would prefer a Parliamentary System as that will give us a limited say in the running of the country whereas with a Presidential System as a minority we wouldn’t have much of an input especially if you have a Racist like MR in power.

    5) My own position is a third one, which I fondly believe is the unvoiced sentiment of the majority of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. It resides in what I would suggest is a Buddhist-Aristotelian perspective in which one must search for the Middle Path and the Golden Mean.

    The essence of the Buddhist-Aristotelian paradigm is the avoidance of excess.

    *** Try saying the above to BBS. You will be lynched.

    6) All of this sounds very nice but how would it work out in reality? It is really quite simple indeed. All powers enjoyed by the liberal democratic Presidencies in the above mentioned states, should be retained.

    *** It hasn’t worked in the last 64 long years and why would it work now.

    7) Succinctly put, my perspective is one of structural reform and re-engineering as opposed to systemic change.

    *** I take it that you mean Gene Mutation.

    8) The centrist approach to Constitutional change that I have outlined here has as an accompaniment, the outlook of gradualism. It requires deliberation, discussion, debate, examination, indeed dispassionate scrutiny—and by large all inclusive and representative collective body so as to ensure broad national consensus. A Constitution must evolve; it must not be overturned or overthrown. A Hundred Day fast-track is precisely the wrong one for fundamental constitutional change.

    *** The above is fine if you are treating the patient for a Common Cold and when the patient is fighting for his/her life you need drastic surgery and time is of the essence.

  • 2
    1

    You are quite right ,I do agree that presidency should remain but trim of unnecessary excessive power . Who shouldn’t stay above the law, and the position should change and it can be done .
    I can see many forums here are disgusting his opinion but those are come from wrong direction . I cannot see any one has released the opinions base on his statement ,which is unacceptable . The reason I suppose is his stance during the election .

  • 1
    0

    Mangala the traitor is in Europe these days thanking the governments who helped to overthrow our president Rajapaksa. He made sure he visit the main culprit India first and informe that the Sirisena regime is ready to bow down to any instructions from India.
    This is the first time in history a leader in this country changed his clothes for the minority, and of course India is very happy !!!!!
    Mangala if had any patriotic feeling in his bones should have first visited china and not India or europe.
    We sinhalise our watching your every step…… And we are not happy of what we are seeing so far…….

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