7 April, 2020

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The Danger Of A Third Term And How To Prevent It

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

The precedent against a third term for any president grew out of the same determination….a third term [is] most dangerous to the people’s liberties.” – Robert Alphonso Taft

The danger of allowing a third term for the incumbent President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, cannot be underestimated. It would be the litmus test whether Sri Lanka completely goes in the authoritarian direction or whether it retains the main thrust of democratic governance. If a third term can be prevented, it sure can, then it would be the resurrection of democracy in Sri Lanka which is at present stifled under a family rule.

It is not my normal habit to say, ‘I said so.’ But this is such an important issue to clarify the different positions expressed in relation to the increasingly controversial third term, some retrospection might be important. In my article titled “President Rajapaksa has no People’s Mandate or Moral Right to Contest Again” (Colombo Telegraph, 21 April 2014) I argued the following in the initial paragraph.

“When President Mahinda Rajapaksa contested for the Presidency in January 2010 for the second time, overwhelming assumption of the people who voted or campaign for him was that it was his last term. That was the constitutional position as well as the tradition of this country, like in many other democratic countries, since 1978 when the presidential system was inaugurated. The two term limitation was ingrained in the Constitution.”

Mahinda - ShiranthiObviously my argument was primarily ‘moral and political’ one and still remains the same. However, in summarising the arguments at the end, I also said that it should be challenged even legally in courts of law as follows.

“The purpose of this article however is to argue the point as it has done that President Rajapaksa doesn’t have a people’s mandate or a moral right to contest again and his candidacy, potential or otherwise, should be challenged morally, politically and even legally in the courts of law. (Present emphasis).

Morality undoubtedly is the basis of law or should be the case. In most languages, the etymology of the word Law connects up with the word Just or Jus. In ancient South Asia including Sri Lanka, Dhammathath (moral/natural law) was considered the basis of Yasathath (law of the king).

Former Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva, in my opinion, has come up with a strong legal argument against the third term. Whatever the mistakes on his part in the past, his arguments cannot easily be disregarded in public debate or in law courts.

Constitutional Position

Any careful reading of the Article 31 (2), before the 18th Amendment, shows that when President Rajapaksa was elected for the second time he became disqualified for a third term or any other term. It explicitly said “No person who has been twice elected to the office of President by the People shall be qualified thereafter to be elected to such office by the People.” The words ‘twice elected’ and ‘thereafter’ are important.

Although that article became abrogated with the 18th Amendment, his disqualification did not become nullified since law cannot apply in retrospect unless explicitly decreed. This is not only an international principle as Dr Prathibha Mahanamahewa has erroneously stated today (Daily News, 15 October 2014) but a domestic principle ingrained in our legal system. Otherwise the legal system can become easily arbitrary. Supremacy of parliament does not automatically alter this principle. In other words, the amendment of Article 31 (3) did not alter the disqualification placed on the incumbent President. There is opinion expressed that in the absence of such an explicit reference in the Amendment what is relevant is the ‘intention of the Amendment.’ That definitely can be the case. This also means the intention of the Constitution as well.

18th Amendment undoubtedly is one of the bizarre constitutional amendments. As I stated in my previous article “It was a major mistake by Dr Shirani Bandaranayke, as the Chief Justice, to allow the bill to have passage only through 2/3 majority without a referendum and without having a full discussion in the country.” On a similar occasion, late Pran Chopra, stated the following and it is worth quoting.

“The central issues in the debate arises from political philosophy rather than constitutional law. Can a Constitution provide for its own subversion? How far can a Constitution be amended and still retain its original intents and purposes?” 

The original 1978 Constitution itself is not an admirable democratic constitution. Among several adverse amendments, the 18th Amendment undoubtedly is the most treacherous even subverting the basic safeguards of the original constitution. There is a fundamental contradiction between the original Constitution and the 18th Amendment. What is primary is not the intentions of the 18th Amendment but the intentions of the original Constitution. Any judicial review should take this matter into account. In 1993, the architect of the Constitution, JR Jayewardene himself expressed the view that the six year term period should have been limited to four or five years. The removal of the term limit obviously is beyond the intentions of the original drafters.

This does not mean that the people or their law makers cannot alter the original intentions of a constitution, but it should be done through a people’s mandate i.e. a referendum under the present Constitution. People in Sri Lanka have voted for governments who promised to abolish the presidential system three times in 1994, 2000 and 2005. Their intention is clear. The intention of those who passed the 18th Amendment however is not clear.

Since the promulgation of the 18th Amendment, three constituent partners of the UPFA, the Communist Party (CP), the Lanka Sama Samaja Party (LSSP) and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) have expressed their reservations or opposition. The Amendment was proposed as an urgent bill in Parliament and rushed through a two thirds majority. As a result, the members of parliament or the public in general had extremely little time to discuss the full implications of the Amendment. Within the UPFA circles it was kept a secret until the eleventh hour.  The SLMC General Secretary and Member of Parliament, M.T. Hasen Ali, last year said (Ceylon Today, 27 August 2013) “In fact, I can openly say, I did not support it. I was forced to support it.This is a terrible indictment of the way politics is conducted within the UPFA.

Prathibha Mahanamahewa in his interview today to the Daily News (giving perhaps his legal advice to the government as the ‘independent’ Human Rights Commissioner!) has expressed the view that without waiting anyone to challenge the question after the nominations, for example former CJ Sarath N. Silva, the matter should be referred to the Supreme Court beforehand. That perhaps be advantages to the government at least seemingly. If that is referred to the SC, however, then the people should also petition the Supreme Court that the previous decision to allow the passage of the 18th Amendment without a referendum and only with a 2/3 majority also should be reviewed as it fundamentally contradicts the Intent of the 1978 Constitution.

However it is not sufficient if the third term is challenged only as a legal issue.

Political Challenge

The weaknesses of the effort to challenge the third term only through legal terms in my opinion are mainly two fold. First and foremost, the issue is a moral and a political one and should be considered that way in educating the people of the political dangers of a third term of a President whoever is the person. Second, there is no guarantee at all that the legal battle on the matter can be won easily given the submissive nature of the judiciary and other legal complications involved in the matter. No person or even a former Chief Justice could give such a guarantee. The legal battle should be considered part of the educational and the political process. At least there should be a Plan B.

Assuming that the President Rajapaksa contests or allowed to contest a third term, what might be most important is to challenge the third term at the presidential elections. This is where the JVP’s expressed policy appears to be defective and an agreement and consensus between different political parties and civil society organizations in the opposition are important. The JVP has expressed the view that it would strongly challenge the nominations of President Rajapaksa in courts and if fails they would boycott the presidential elections declaring it as illegal (Colombo Page, 4 October 2014). This is a repetition of their policy in 1988 which was underlined by their insurrectionary policy at that time.

It is important that all opposition parties work within the available democratic framework and desist from any extra-parliamentary deviations. Particularly in educating people on the danger of a third term, the JVP has a major role to play as it has already begun. However, the utilization of that kind of a campaign to deviate from the democratic and peaceful path would allow the incumbent government or any government to suppress that kind of a resistance. It is important that the JVP remains within the democratic path.

What might be necessary to prevent a third term for the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his family rule is a strong and a common candidate from the opposition on a democratic and a progressive platform. It is obvious that the main opposition party, the UNP, has a major leadership role to play in this respect. The prevention of the family rule, the attempted third term and the abolition of the executive presidential system are closely linked. While the National Movement for Social Justice (NMSJ) has played a decisive role in making the people or the political parties understand the need for the abolition of the presidential system, it is obvious that a single issue is not sufficient to make a decisive democratic change in the country.

A common platform for a common candidate could constitute the following.

  • Stopping family rule for a third term.
  • Abolition of the executive presidential system.
  • Restoration of rule of law.
  • Pro-poor development policy.
  • Development without corruption and political discrimination.
  • Preservation of Free Education and Health Care.
  • Reinstatement of the 17th Amendment and an independent public and police service.
  • Implementation of the 13th Amendment with cooperation and through dialogue.
  • Independent and non-aligned foreign policy.
  • Promotion and protection of human rights of all communities and socially disadvantaged groups.

Even if there is no possibility for all opposition parties to agree upon a common platform such as above, the main opposition party the UNP could incorporate such a program to seek common support. Assuming that the TNA is a willing partner for a common platform/candidate, the JVP should be able to support a common candidate on the basis of pro-poor polices and the preservation of free education and health care.

I still maintain that the ideal common candidate, as stated twice before, could be Karu Jayasuriya, preferably resigning from the UNP to symbolize his neutrality among the opposition parties or forces. He should immediately dissolve parliament to hold elections for a new government to be formed obviously under the UNP leader, Ranil Wickremasinghe. If the UNP leader’s pledge to abolish the executive presidential system is reliable or to be achieved without delay, that is the consistent and the best strategy. This could also be the NMJS’s condition to support a common candidate from the UNP to achieve its main objective in abolishing the executive presidential system.

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Latest comments

    • 4
      0

      Dear Prof. Laksiri ,

      apparently there is another legal obstacle for MR ,i would like to get your opinion on the matter !

      “According to the 3rd amendment to the Constitution presented by Mr. JR Jaaywardene a person who had completed four years of his term could call for a presidential election for a second term. However, it also states that a person elected for the second term should “hold office for a term of six years commencing on such date in the year in which that election is held.”

      can MR call an early election ?

      • 1
        0

        Srilal, If I may, I think Chandrika too got caught out on this one. You would recall, she lost an year of Governance by calling an election an year before her first term ended.

        Then, give it to her, she followed the constitution. We are in a different era now.

        Cheers.
        Visha.

        • 3
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          Visha ,

          yes i remember that drama , it was her confident CJ SN did the honors for her, but this time it’s a totally different ball game though , looks like MR is having more than one constitutional hurdles to jump , let’s wait for prof. laksiri’s answer.

      • 2
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        Yes Srilal, as the 18th Amendment does not apply to the incumbent, he can hold office for a full term from the election and that means six years from January 2010. Of course he can resign and call an early election, but he cannot contest! To add to my paragraph 14, even the JHU has now expressed that they were mistaken in supporting the 18th Amendment. The issue is about good or reasonable governance.

        Laksiri

        • 0
          0

          DR.Fernando, Resignation of the current President does not lead to a presidential elections. Parliament has authority to elect an M.P. as the President for the remainder of the term.

    • 0
      1

      [Edited out]
      Please write, instead of posting web links – CT

      • 2
        1

        Well CT , for the purpose of educating the readership ,i’ve posted a very relevant video clip of the above topic , i just wonder do i have to write now when i want to share a video ????????????

    • 0
      0

      The Youtube Party here is going to oppose the BBS thereby creating a
      revolt within the SB Voters. A stage will be set for a “palace Coup”
      whereby MR will continue for eight years!! This is Plan B ???

      The opposition will have to work harder, over and above the Chinese
      Cyber experts set-up here, a deaf & blind EC and kept Media.

    • 2
      0

      Dear Dr. Laksiri Fernando,

      You say:

      “A common platform for a common candidate could constitute the following.

      Stopping family rule for a third term.
      Abolition of the executive presidential system.
      Restoration of rule of law.
      Pro-poor development policy.
      Development without corruption and political discrimination.
      Preservation of Free Education and Health Care.
      Reinstatement of the 17th Amendment and an independent public and police service.
      Implementation of the 13th Amendment with cooperation and through dialogue.
      Independent and non-aligned foreign policy.
      Promotion and protection of human rights of all communities and socially “disadvantaged groups.”

      Dr. Laksiri Fernando, very good, but the MESSAGE needs to be communicated well ans succinctly in common folk language, in simple day to day language.

      There was an Author Thomas Paine, who wrote a Common Sense pamphlet in 1776, before the American revolution describing why the King had to be removed.

      Can you find some, any author who will write a Common sense Pamphlet in Sinhala, Tamil and English and distribute to the masses on the dangers of MaRa and the MaRa Dynasty?

      But First things first. Get Rid of Mahinada Rajapaksa, his goons and shills and terrorists.

      Everybody needs to pitch in. Here is a suggestion for you.

      Whatever opposition candidate comes forward, there need to be exposure of MaRa corruption and nepotism. There is a dire need for a Common Sense Pamphlet, like what Thomas Paine did in 1776 for the American revolution, exposing King George III.

      What can writers and other do? Expose.. Expose and Expose the Mara regime.

      The current perception is that Rajapaksa Hegemony has taken over the UPFA/SLFP and people do not want dynasties

      What can the writers do? Expose. what can the people do? Vote against MaRa and the criminal gang.

      Can you be the Anonymous Author and Produce a Sri Lankan version of Common Sense in Sinhala, Tamil and English? You will do as much service to Lanka, the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, just like Thomas Paine did for America and France.You can expand this write up, and get there.

      Say, Because I have Common Sense, I will not vote for Mr. Rajapaksa and their criminal cronies for a continuation of a Family Dynasty, and say that Sri Lanka is a Republic.

      Rajapaksa had the opportunity. The power corrupted them. The People are sick of them. They even used Buddhism towards their ends. Even Sinhala Buddhists are fed up them, and they are showing their true colors.

      An Anonymous Author like Thomas Paine or an Author with guts is needed with a Common Sense Pamphlet to expose the King, King George, the Rajapaksa Clan. Read, the Common Sense Pamphlet , by Thomas Paine, that inspired the American Revolution along with the other events. Common Sense (pamphlet)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Sense_(pamphlet)

      Produce a Commons sense Pamphlet for Sri Lanka and say why it is in the best interest of the people of Sri Lanka to remove the King, aka Rajapaksa Dynasty from power and let the Republic be a Republic and Not a dynasty. This Pamphlet, in Sinhala, Tamil and English, need to be sent to each and every Sri Lankan Citizen, just like Thomas Paine’s Common Sense pamphlet.

    • 2
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      Srilal@,

      If former CJ convicted MR in 2005, how would it have worked to this day ?

      Yesterday, SN silva made it very clear that it was he who defended him without going through the evidences properly and he further said that he now suspects more Rajapakshe and their illegal activities. In that case CJ should also be charged actually

  • 10
    4

    Srimavo Bandaranayake did it, JR Jeyawardene did it – extending the terms of office illegally, now what is wrong in Mhahida Rajapakse doing it?

    People have short memories of what Sri Lankan ruling elite did since independence? Perversion of Democracy from DS Senanayake onwards – in the name of democracy he disenfranchised more than a million Tamils. The leaders that followed did heinous things too.

    I don’t understand what is all this fuss about, after putting up with rulers hijacking democracy, mass murdering Sinhalese and Tamils, sponsoring pogroms against Tamils and genocide of Tamils – get on with life as usual. Rajapakse is merely following the precedents in a more crude form.

    Sri Lanka doesn’t deserve democracy with the warped Mahavamsa mentality of the majority – it is a crazy dysfunctional state that reflects their thinking.

    • 5
      3

      ‘Sri Lanka doesn’t deserve democracy with the warped Mahavamsa mentality of the majority – it is a crazy dysfunctional state that reflects their thinking’

      So all Tamils, Muslims are upright, incorruptible democrats? The Eelam lobby seizes every opportunity.

      • 6
        2

        Taraki

        “So all Tamils, Muslims are upright, incorruptible democrats?”

        Even if they were (I doubt it)the majoritarian political establishment and the nature of the state would have ensured that they too were corrupted.

        “The Eelam lobby seizes every opportunity.”

        Eelam lobby is only 20 years old whereas the Sinhala/Buddhist run state is 66 years. Its time the majoritarian who elected their rulers and manned the civil services, judiciary and the defense establishment took responsibility for all that has been and is wrong with this island.

        • 1
          2

          Native,

          ‘Its time the majoritarian who elected their rulers and manned the civil services, judiciary and the defense establishment took responsibility for all that has been and is wrong with this island.’

          Generalising like this is foolish, if not racist. Would you say the majority of Americans (i.e. White Christians)are responsible for US policy in Iraq and economic disasters and Vietnam and for all that has been and is wrong with this country?

  • 0
    1

    [Edited out]
    Please write, instead of posting web links – CT

  • 6
    0

    Prof. Laksiri,

    I agree with you on the overall strategy you have outlined.
    The opposition must come together to defeat the present government, highlighting its grave failures and sins in a multitude of fronts. They (including the JVP) should support whoever is elected, on a program to introduce a new constitution based on the recommendations of a Constutional Commission sans politicians, but eminent qualified persons. The new government should not be hobbled by any other pre-conditions. The new constitution should be well deliberated before being introduced. The newly elected President should have the character to operate the present constitution within the ambit of good governance until such time.

    Further, no one has satisfactorily explained to me why the Executive Presidency as an institution should be abolished. Why can it not be retained in a better form? Can you please do so?

    I think Ranil should lead the charge, since he is already on the UNP saddle. Karu Jayasuriya may be a good man and probably a good President, but his crossing over to the UPFA with a pack of UNP MPs has tainted him beyond repair.

    I was never a supporter of the UNP, being centre-left in poltical orientation. However, I will support the UNP this time, to get rid of the present government.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 3
      0

      Dr. Naren.

      I agree with your sentiments. Especially that Karu J, committed political suicide by crossing over. He is done.

      Btw, what we have in SL is a Left Govt. One would expect a Left Govt to deals with people’s issues magnanimously, look what we have done to our Tamil Brothers and Sisters. Now the Christians and Muslims. This is no Left Govt, this is an Extremist Govt. As AKD of the JVP says, This is a Govt that wraps itself in sil garb and murder people.

      Give it to the UNP, they introduced devolution of power thru the PC system. The current fellows in Govt then screamed ” Rata Bedanna Yanawa “. Look at us now, we have ceded Property to China in H’Tota in perpetuity and will cede 10 acres from Colombo too. So the ” Rata Bedana ” fellows are in Govt now. They are the Left.

      I regret if my response went beyond the contents of your post.

      Always happy to read you.

      • 6
        1

        vishvajith

        “Btw, what we have in SL is a Left Govt.”

        It is not about left or right government but about right or the wrong government.

        • 4
          0

          I agree. All govt’s have taken the people to the cleaners.

    • 1
      0

      Dr Narendran,

      In answering your main question, let me give you 21 reasons briefly why the EP system should be abolished altogether in Sri Lanka. (1) The present family rule depends on the presidential system. There were symptoms even before. (2) Presidential system has encouraged the militarization of the state even after the conclusion of the war. This is not recent, but has worsened in recent times. (3) Beyond the military, a strong politically coercive and ad hoc mechanism has been created to suppress political opponents under President’s direct and indirect patronage. (4) The power of the state has almost completely moved from Diyawanna Oya to the Temple Trees. (5) All other Ministers including the PM are mere puppets in comparison to the President. (6) Key decisions are not made in Parliament or in the Cabinet, but within an inner circle of family and faithful bureaucrats. (7) Although the President may attend Parliament he/she is not answerable to Parliament in a practical sense. (8) Presidential powers are enormous under the Constitution and he/she has virtual immunity from prosecution/legal accountability. (9) With the above powers and resources at hand, a Presidents can manipulate the Members of Parliament quite easily. This has been the case in the recent past although crumbling at present. (10) Under the presidential system, the functions and the level or quality of Parliament has degenerated although EP system is not the sole factor. (11) The opposition has become weak under the presidential system as there is no visible government in Parliament. Take the example of DMJ as the PM. (12) There is the possibility of conflict between the President and Parliament or even the President and the Cabinet like during 2002/2004 at any time in the future jeopardizing the stability of the government and the country. This instability can be greater than in a cabinet/parliamentary system. (13) A President has powers to disregard, take powers away or dissolve such an oppositional government and/or Parliament. (14) A presidential system is extremely expensive and leads to corruption. (15) Crony capitalists and business manipulators can easily rally around a dubious president. This is not possible or easy in a Cabinet system. (16) The reasons given to establish an EP system by JR were flawed or no longer valid. (17) Cabinet or Parliamentary systems are proven to be better than a presidential system internationally. (18) There is an inherent tendency within a presidential system to become authoritarian and dictatorial particularly in a developing and a conflict ridden society. This is the history of the presidential system in Sri Lanka and in many countries. (19) People in Sri Lanka have voted for parties who have promised to abolish the presidential system in 1994, 2000 and 2005 although the elected governments failed to do so. (20) There is a broad agreement among political parties in the opposition today and also some in the government to abolish the presidential system. This is based on experiential knowledge. (21) Although the abolition of the presidential system is not a panacea it could be a springboard for greater democratic changes.

      Laksiri

      • 1
        0

        Dear Prof. Laksiri ,

        Thanks for your detailed response.

        What you have listed are mostly the problems with our current Executive Presidency within a pernicious constitution. The Westminster system of governance under the well laid down Soulbury Constitution was also poor, although it appears superior in comparison to what we see today. The 1972 Constitution was a downward step to the present one. The Soulbury Constitution was rendered a meaningless shell at the time the 1972 constitution superseded it by extra-parliamentary means.

        The Soulbury constitution was written with the interests of all citizens of the then Ceylon in mind and good governance as its vision and mission. However, the degeneration that was to reach what it is today started during its reign. It was stripped of its vision, mission, intent and structures in a step by step manner. The Soulbury constitution was stripped of its ‘ SOUL’ and ‘ BURiED’ alive, by the then parliaments and parliamentary executives in the shape of Prime Ministers.

        I do not think we are where we are today exclusively due to the Executive Presidency. Abolishing the Executive Presidency will not solve our problems or pave the way for better governance. The demand to abolish the aExecutive Presidency and replace it with a parliament based executive is a red herring.

        Yes, we have to get a new constitution. I would like it to retain a well defined and accountable Executive Presidency. The powers of the Executive Presidency, Parliament and the Judiciary should be clearly defined and counter balanced to ensure the sovereignty of the people and the independence of the instruments and institutions of governance.

        Both the Presidential and Parliamentary systems of governance are prone to abuse as revealed by own history. What was wrong was our apathy, lack of understanding what democracy means and the type of Brown Sahibs, cloth clad nationalists , illiterates, thugs and criminals we have elected to govern us over six decades. We need ‘ Great Persons’ of education, experience and wisdom to govern us to turn the tide of sewage water that is drowning us through the wide open sluice gates of bad governance. We need a ‘ Great Person’ of high calibre to lead us from the front and set in motion the process to attract equally great persons to come into the political process. This will be no mean task, given where we have been brought to today.

        A well written , visionary constitution, with a well defined executive Presidency, would provide us this opportunity- probably our last chance before a military dictatorship takes over. This is what Nelson Mandela as the President,was able to provide the newly emergent and potentially explosive South Africa, This is what we need now,

        When viewing the political scene, Ranil Wickremasinghe, given his age, education , exposure to the world, experience, family background and the advantage of having no history of corruption, nepotism or criminality, who is fit to play this role. He may not be a Nelson Mandela, but he has what it takes to take us where we should be as our redefined Executive President. The people instinctlvely recognise this today, although many pundits see otherwise.

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        • 1
          0

          Dr Rajasingham,

          I think it is a major mistake to retain the executive presidential system even in a reformed form. I have always considered a presidential system less democratic (or undemocratic) than a parliamentary system. My position goes back to 1978 or even before when JRJ introduced the idea in December 1966. It is based on my general understanding of political systems quite confirmed by Sri Lanka’s experience. Of course, the previous parliamentary system in Sri Lanka also had many weaknesses and deformities and that is the major reason why JRJ proposed a more authoritarian presidential system. You have not clearly explained why you want to retain the presidential system (of course in a reformed form). It is possible for you to reject the idea as a red herring, but it is not clear why you say that. You have given the example of South Africa. But South Africa is not really a presidential system. It is essentially a parliamentary system because the President could be removed through a simple majority in parliament in addition to many parliamentary aspects. I am sure you know why Thabo Mbeki resigned in 2008. Of course you can say that let’s have that system, but why? I also don’t think that it is a good idea to draft a new constitution keeping in mind a particular person in mind. Unfortunately that has mostly been the practice when presidential constitutions are drafted. But in drafting a parliamentary constitution you go by the principles and not by personalities.

          • 2
            0

            Dear Prof. Laksiri,

            Since leaving the academia in 1988, I have served as a senior executive in several large companies. I have been effective and successful because I had the authority and flexibility to make decisions and move things forward within the ambit of the rules operative within a company and nationally. I have also witnessed instances, where the Chief Executive was ineffective, because he sought to seek a consensus of those who worked under him, to make decisions and generally this led to enfeebling and delays in what needed to be done. Such CEs were ultimately failures. I , in my retirement, am yet frequently called out to solve problems in the companies I had previously worked, because of my ability to get things done, without flouting company policies and rules.

            From this experience and what I believe is a positive aspect of my make up, a limited bit of dictatorship – which I would call a single minded approach to get what is right and needed done- is important in governance too. Our country, by its nature, which is demonstrated by its post-independence history, needs a strong and strengthened hand at the steering. This of course is not the type of unbridled power JR wanted and his successors have enhanced,

            What is needed is accountable power, that is held within bounds of constitutional propriety by the parliament and the Supreme Court. The Executive should also be answerable to the laws of the land. He should be impeachable by a parliament that is designed to be independent. However, the position should not be unnecessarily hobbled, in a manner a Prime Minister would be. Further, the country should elect an individual directly for the position of Executive President, based on his program, ability, proven track record and history. The process leading to the selection of a candidate for the presidency must be rigorous and it should scrutinise all aspects if his life, in the public spot light. This happens in the USA to a very large extent,

            I also strongly believe we need a brand new , but well thought out constitution as soon as possible. We should not be burdened with the present monstrosity for long, it is beyond tinkering and a paint job. It should be designed to fit the present needs of Sri Lanka, while defining a long term and enduring vision.

            Dr.RN

            • 1
              0

              Dear Dr Rajasingham,

              It is undoubtedly an interesting experience and explanation. What reminds me is the system in Hong Kong where the head of the government is actually called the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The intention of China is to run the city as a company. This derives from China’s meritocratic principles. However, this is far far away from what I aspire as democracy and good governance. I believe the natural human proclivity is the same. The demarcation between “bit of dictatorship” and “unbridle power” would be extremely thin. I don’t think the analogy between a business company and a polity is correct. What might be correct is the application of business management principles (or your experience) in the public sector, to mean the state bureaucracy. However, many business excellence models today, as far as I know, including Malcolm Baldrige, go for good governance practices. These are my short responses. By the way, what you have outlined as principles for a new constitution were already there by and large in the 1978 constitution before the 18th Amendment (not practiced though) and are quite different to the South African constitution.

              Laksiri

              • 1
                0

                Dear Prof. Laksiri,

                Thanks for your thoughts.

                I happen to think the corporate model of management should be increasingly adopted even to national governance in the 21st century. Singapore has adopted this model to suit its circumstances.

                We pay for the services the government renders. It is government revenue that supports the so called ‘Free services’. Unfortunately they are not managed efficiently in economic or quality of delivery terms.

                There is much waste and coruption in our governance, the root cause of which are our politicians and a pernicious political system. The public servants of course have no alternative but to make hay while the political Sun shines on them. The quality of the public service cannot improved through modern corporate management systems and techniques, when those who make policies – our politicians- are a bunch of nincompoops at best and despicable humans at the worst. Unless we force a change in the political system and tighten all the screws, we will not have better governance in this country.

                In Tamil there is a proverb which says the Water Lily will be on as tall as the water level ( “Neeralawe Aahumaam Neerambal”). We have to set our standards high and demand that those who we elect and appoint meet these standards, if we ourselves are to progress.

                The political system has to be redesigned to elevate one person to provide leadership and a renewed vision to our nation at intervals of 4-5 years. It is very rarely the parliamentary system produces such a leader. Party leaders, usally better at demoguery and manipulations become Prime Ministers. Where as a presidential system can be designed to elevate any outstanding and capable citizen to the Presidency.

                JR, Premadasa and Mahinda Rajapakse stand for everything that is wrong with the present type of Executive Presidency and DS,SWRD & Sirimavo stand for everything that is wrong with the previous Prime Ministerial system.

                Dr.RN

                I hope our discussions in these columns will stimulate a wider discussion among the intelligentia primarily and the wider society subsequently.

                Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

              • 1
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                Dr Fernando @,

                why is that President to focus on Pshenuka and Sajin while other senior diplomats being marginaliised from active diplomatic activities ?

                Anyone with a bird brain would feel that senior diplomats are the greater assets in a country#s external issues. They are the key source for the valuable info. But making them angry and keeping them sided can bring nothing towards the progress of diplomatic relationship. THis Jayantha Dhanapla and late Dr Guruge would explain clearly. Can you please elaborate on this topic ? Why even if MR is so stupid to have reacted this unwise ?

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            Drr RN/LF,

            You both have very good commodities on board suitable for the consumption of constitution drafters and policy makers. I think KJ was proposed for CC purely on the idea of a neutral character acceptable to all. But the problem with him is his past sin of deserting the party. The proposition of RW wins here because HE was the lonely crusader with a few other faithful comrades who protected UNP from total disintegration and death. On RW we can still count. But on KJ it is still anybody’s guess. If runs and elected, election manifestos aside, KJ would be the EP who would answer to nobody! But here we have RW with a proven track record of democracy proneness, statesmanlike, well connected to all democratic forums in the world, experienced, simple in character and noble in vision, no joker, no thief, no nepotism, educated, updated in current knowledge on the subject matter, seeking and having knowledge on various governance and constitution methods, been a PM etc. etc. There is no question, doubt or concern whatsoever as to who should be the presidential candidate except RW. This is a very simple matter to understand.

            But the real problem is whether it would be RW, KJ or anybody MR would not give up power whatever the outcome of the election! The whole population of SL is on the verge of being dealt with the worst blow of their recent history. The election is definitely going to be rigged. There is no question about it. He has done it twice, one by bribing the Tiger, second robbing presidency from SF! Third time would be the same!

            All MARA wanted was to run for the 3rd and subsequent terms if he lived that long. He got Shirani B to pass that damned 18A but then he realized there was an inherent flaw in 18A which SB hid from him. That was why he chased SB. The greatest fear of MR is this constitutional disqualification. As discussed and brought to light these days the flaws like 18A not being enacted specifically as retrospective legislation, not going for referendum, questionable 2/3 majority through bought over candidates which really does not carry peoples actual wish and mandate, undermining the very constitution and its founding principles by illegally brining in constitution-cidal legislation like 18A and others, 18A is still challenged and negated by other existing constitutional sections like 3rd amendment pointed out in a previous comment… can be used to build a strong case against MR running for 3rd term.

            I propose a simultaneous/multi-pronged attack on MR. The first requirement is the strongest opposition party UNP prepares itself to face either a GE or an EP election. RW runs as the CC and all others must support him. An election manifesto covering not just the abolition of EP but other key elements of governance and solutions to burning issues of people must be published. Also it is not a good idea to consider and talk of continuing with any form of EP because people are so fed up with it now and fringe parties would be more easily mobilized at the idea of its demise. And the JVP campaign which seeks to challenge 3rd run of the incumbent must be robustly fought with more support and points that I raised above. The clown Election Commissioner must be sued for allowing illegal conduct of EP election. MR and EC must be sued in courts although the verdict is a foregone conclusion. If possible this illegal election conduct must be taken to international courts. Instead of EP election, its abrogation must be demanded. Unabated, if the regime still pursue with EP international mediation must be sought to conduct the election under UN supervision. Finally, people must take arms against the thugs of the regime like kanine Joniya, Raththaran, Sarana, Arundika…. who are instrumental in implementing the autocrat’s obnoxious acts.

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              Strategist,

              could you answer the following queries , if you can

              1)Why does RW want an early PE ? (Tissa A publicly declared)
              2)Why doesn’t RW support JVP/SNS legal issue ?
              3)why doesn’t RW demand for LLRC (17A)implementation prior to PE ?
              4)didn’t RW let go 18A by declaring Parliament is supreme ?
              5)Why does RW want to run for the PE this time by obstructing the CC notion ?
              6) Why did RW sideline Gen SF after his illegal imprisonment ?
              7) how come there are not there any potential leaders in the UNP ?
              8)What is the possible justification for keeping long john A as the chief opposition whip ?
              9) what is RW’s stand on UN investigation against MR and his junta regime ?
              10) what is RW ‘s stand on continuous monumental blunders ( giving away 1/3 of port city to Chinese , Mihin air , Air lanka ,Hambanthota white elephants , Ajith Cabral’s magic numbers , CJ mohan P’s performance , IGP’s inaction , GLP’s dismal performance , mega corruptions on development projects , Drug menace etc etc ) it’s worth mentioning here that we all know RW is very good at issuing mere statements , is that what a credible opposition leader supposed to do ?

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            srilal,

            What the hell are you talking about? These silly questions have been asked and answered for numerous times yet you keep hanging on to your old stereotyped last straw as if you just dropped yourself on to this earth from Indian Parippu plane in a Parippu bag! Do me a favour. Please post along with your question the course of action RW should have taken according to you and the benefits it would entail while posting the harm/effects the non-following of same has caused.

            Your frog in the well croaks cannot meet with or face the political realities out there. Wherever you see the two letters RW you go nuts and bolts as if you are congenitally allergic to RW letters! [Edited out]

            My house is on fire or rather set on fire by the Rajapakshas. I am going to lose everything I earned and aspired. I don’t have a single second to waste with you over silly nonsense [Edited out]

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              Strategist ,

              you don’t live up to your name , show me the answers for the above queries , why try to hide behind silly excuses , the fact of the matter is , you have no answers , RW is doing every thing possible for MR’s victory , Ranil along with Sajith are on MR’s payroll. Ranil’s stupid followers are day dreaming with their imaginary statistics, facts and figures , wait and see MR will declare again as the winner in 2015.

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            MARA is preparing the turf to suit his batting style hence his apple cart must be shaken to spoil his plans.

            Let us lay the foundation to defeat MARA and collectively build that foundation from input from all concerned.

            The passage of 18A, taking every arm of governance, judiciary, legislature, law enforcement and the machineries and mechanisms of election and social services dispensation under his wings, price reductions, opening North-bound Train Service, many many opening ceremonies and foundation stone layings are the surest manifestation that MARA will conduct the EP election in near future and SHALL RIG the election because he knows he would not get the 50% + 1 vote. He has mastered the art of fake election conduct and election rigging.

            Even though a CC or RW can mount a winning challenge to MARA it is unlikely that MARA will give up power. In defeat Gota will use military power to chase away/lockup the winner/rig the election. The safest and surest way to defeat MARA is to pursue the cause of MARA’s disqualification and illegality to run for the 3rd time. By now the points standing against 3rd term have been raised by various entities and those points are extremely strong and can form an iron wall and an iron will to defeat the roguish MARA and his gluttonous family.

            I invite M/s Kumar David, Thisaranee, Laksiri, Hema, Emil van der Poorten, Native, Gamini, Amarasiri, Rajasingham and many other gentlemen and gentlewomen not mentioned here to build this case of SUE MARA, SUE CLOWN COMA, SUE CJ, CUE HR COMMISSIONER, SUE SOLI. GENERAL, SUE ALL THE BUGGERS AND BEGGERS EATING DANKUDA OF WALAWUWA.

            1. A faction from within UNP must support the JVP’s cause of MARA Can’t 3 Times Movement and soon all UNPers and everyone against MARA must join that movement. Their demand must be not the conduct of premature EP election but the abolition of same as MARA has already promised. They must also demand: Rs. 10,000/- pay hike, 6% for education, restoration of 17A, abolition of Urban Development Authority in its current form and withdrawal of military from civilian space completely, implementation of 13A and LLRC recommendations, closure of countless bars, gambling dens, heroin smuggling with exposure of true facts of heroin usage like school children being victimized, and many many more issues that other resource persons can contribute here.

            2. When the country is completely engulfed in such a “No 3rd time” campaign the subconscious psychological target of the average voter would be his iconic MARA who hitherto lived in his mind as a father/God/Savior figure and thoughtlessly as well as gratitude gave their vote for him. However, now with the new facts pouring on his eyes and ears, prices and difficulties of life and living hitting his nadir and belly and with the cries and grumblings of his children, wife and the “blackshop mudalali” they are going to decide enough is enough, he has been there twice, no one has done it thrice, we need to change it now! So the people of the country would be looking for a new president. Now whom will they vote then? Gota the white van goon? Basil the 10% now the 30/40/40% komis kakka? Siripalas or the Sirisenas who occasionally hangs their heads out from the burrow? No way! This is THE vulnerability of MARA and the gang. It is only MARA who still carries the remnants and bits and pieces of war victory trophies in the minds of uneducated and racist voters. On the other hand MARA’s war victory counterpart SF will be on the other side of the campaign and they would be obliged to do justice for him by way of incarceration compensation and trophy for the bowel-out contribution for the war victory. This of course would be as a synergetic effect and not having his own way which will leave the voter nonplused with reversed synergy results and disaster. The MARA can’t movement can render MARA’s election gilmarts and gimmickry completely disarray, astray and panic button pressed. The superstitious silly bugger would be more worried that his most and last auspicious time would pass amidst chaos and clamor. He would have to withdraw his gimmickry or rush through it hoping come what may and I will rig it. By this time there would have been created a great anti-Rajapaksha mentality in the country. With the announcement of elections if a good portion of the government benches are made to change their allegiance to opposite benches that would be another death blow to MARA and would serve the final nail on the coffin. The synergy would be set in motion overtly and covertly with renewed vigor and defiance of the autocrat. But remember he still can rig the election! I think therefore, if such rigging cannot confidently and successfully be faced with preplanned measures, it is better to wait for the outcome from Geneva next year. Of course, in the meantime all these anti Rajapaksha elements can go to Geneva with all sort of allegations and demands! And this would definitely provide ample fuel to actors in Geneva to burn the Rajapaksha curse. Post Geneva, UN will be behind Rajapaksha opposition! How about a team of university students seeks political and education asylum in Geneva or elsewhere that matter from Rajapaksha tyranny?

            3. In the meantime, let the perpetrators of crimes, goons, extrajudicial criminals, illegal election campaigning state servants etc. be photographed, listed, tabulated and data based. Let them be publicly warned in these forums of the dire consequences they and their family members would have to bear. They would be blacklisted, civil rights striped of, disqualified to hold recognized employments in public and private establishments, their ill-gotten money and wealth would be confiscated, and please add your own punishments.

            4. Let these dogs in police uniforms known that they would be photographed, leads would be pursued to their households and the students they attack at universities would be made constables, OICs, Inspectors, DIGs of this country under the next government and one of their first duties and responsibilities would be to pursue those who taught them the first lessons of law enforcement!

            Please contribute.

            Mr. Amarasiri,

            I wish I could be that author counterpart Thomas Paine, who wrote a Common Sense pamphlet. What I could do was to come up with the above idea which also need contributions from others.

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    And they’ve gone and elected Evo Morales for a THIRD term as President in Bolivia. Vladimir Putin was trusted with a third term after having served as PM, and is more popular now than he ever was before. The electorate WILL decide even in Sri Lanka, UNLESS we’d prefer a Chalabi, Kharzai or even a Rudrakumaran to be helicoptered in as fancied by the US.

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    Dr. Laksiri.

    I applaud your common platform for Governance.

    Cheers.

  • 1
    4

    20,000 plots for the Dalits in Killinochchi to build little houses, and give proper shelter to their Kiddies.

    More to come in Mullative, Pudduthikurrupu, Nanthikadal and even in Raiappu Diocese.

    That is if the Prez gets another Term, unless he has already planned to hand over them also before the Election.

    They even can collect their Thalis pawned at Bank Prabakaran, not that they would have had any heavy ones to pawn.

    Colombo Elite and Anglicans watch Lionel Richie on Saturday Night singing how cool Sunday is..

    Isn’t Lucksiri happy about both Dalits and the Anglican Elite having a good time,at the same time, to be so mean to deny the President a Third Time ?..

  • 1
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    First solution is, Ranil must not contest as the common candidate. Then only the people can ensure the defeat of Rajapakse.

  • 0
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    [Edited out]

  • 0
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    These immature comments these government trolls write explains why we as a nation in the current state of affairs. Coming up with opposite views should be welcomed but not the child’s play. Good article Prof FDo. Can we expect any justice from law is this legal issues are taken to the courts? May be highly unlikely as the CJ and many powerful judges are in the pockets of the government. TO do anything productive, despite who comes to power as a country we will have to make a ground swell to demand, the executive and judicial branches be devoid of political cronies, and instate the meritocracy. I am sure right now some UNP and all the other party cronies are polishing their shoes to have ride the next wave. So getting rid of cronies is a must! I have never seen corruption of this historic proportion from top to bottom by government affiliated people in my life.

  • 0
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    An excellent piece as always by Prof.Laksiri.Hope his one time student Dayan Jayatilleke reads it and digests it too !!

    But I have just two points to make.Firstly by passing the 18th amendment in the manner it was done ,many call it an un democratic step.Secondly, if the people who are the ultimate arbiters of democracy in any country reelect the current incumbent,then surely the 18 the amendment stands legitimized .The 3rd term would also stand legitimized.It would reduce all the moral and legal arguments to mere words and nothing more.

    So how will the people decide ,IF they are given the free choice to do so would be the BIG question.It would determine our ability to decide correctly as a people.

  • 3
    1

    .
    Let’s talk about the 4th term……..can he contest in 2020?

    :-)

    • 1
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      ha ha good one, seriously.
      He can. And anyone else in the future can too.

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      aratai

      Why bother with periodical ritual of elections. Make him a life president, hopefully that will solve many problems, including election violence, bribery, ballot rigging, … etc and spare the voters of uncertainty.

    • 0
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      Aratai

      What about the fifth term in 2025?Should we not start to plan for that now itself with a common opposition candidate.It is sickening to think that after a quarter of the 21st century is over our target of USD 2 billion per year of FDI will still not be reached.This year we are at 1.3 billion so far.Who will risk their money in a country where the Chief justice is a Cheap justice.In 2025 also the people are going to be grumbling that they can’t eat the highways,airports and ports.When we ask them in 2025 why they voted for him in 2020 they will say that there was no alternative as ranil took him on in 2015 and sajit in 2020.In 2025 i think we should take Sobitha’s coffin around as the common opposition candidate to abolish the presidency within 6 months.

  • 0
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    The stolen sword from museum?

  • 0
    0

    “If it ain’t broken, do not try to fix it”. The country is doing well economically and there is peace thanks to the President. Of course TNA, Tamil diaspora are against the President since he did what was regarded as the impossible by decimating the Tamil Terrorists. UNP and a few Christian associates alongside Columbians are against MR as he is not seen as sufficiently posh to be at the top. Thatcher had four terms, Rooseveldt had three terms, John Howard had four terms: goes to show people were behind them. MR has the support base to win again. That’s people power. There is more to be done for the country. The country needs MR and there is No Other person worthy of the top post. MR, please stay on, do your duty and deliver! For those unhappy about the inevitable result, I suggest they pack their bags and find a refuge elsewhere.

    • 0
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      @ Lal.

      U are right the people were BEHIND Roosevelt and Howard but the thing is MR is in FRONT of his people who are following him blindly as they have followed all other so called leaders before him with amazing subservience.

      That contrast is also the distinction one could make between western democracy( where the voter makes a studied judgement and choice) and democracy in the unique Sri Lankan style ( where the voter falls easy prey to the well told lies and gimmicks of politicians )It speaks volumes for the intelligence of the Lankan people isn’t it?

      Ohoma yang Lal putha!!!

  • 0
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    Rajapaksa has drawn the country further down into a culture of corruption, impunity and crime solely for the benefit of himself and his family members. The others who stand and wait get the crumbs. It would be disastrous to give them a third and final term devoid of any accountability. Bensen

  • 0
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    There is not a political assessment by Pandit of political theory in the Sri Lanka society by that complex class development of Democracy society and its forces last 68 years.

    Needless to say that ‘Elites’ politics has lost their vision and constutinatioanl deliberation become banckprcy since several years before. Which is due to the unfinished task of Democratic Reform or Revolution that power dominated by Neo-Liberal policies had been undermine central task of nation Development and Democracy vital interest of our nation.

    The nation unaccomplished task turn into new democratic era and by and large after defeated LTTE ruthless power of Terror by MR ruling Parties alliance in 2009 May.
    Immediately after end of war, that intital urgency to rapidly improved life of all section of PEOPLE become priority of Democratic agenda of Ruling party in Power.

    MR ruling party has carry out such mission and engaged economic development by main role of the Govt. of SL; which rapid economic performances and the livelihood of people has been improved , that carry out large scale infrastructure projects. While stagnated economy turn into path of development by period of 4 years short time since 1948 Independence.

    In fact MR ruling alliance had given mandate by large majority votes by people 2010 Elections…. President and Parliament. Such valid mandate has change terms of President more than two term by 18th Amendment of Republic Constitution. That is basic test of democratic order of the day.

    This democracy legitimacy has been challenge by so-called ‘Elites politics’ of Trotskyist or ex-Trotskyists, Anarchist of Terror Groups in South & North Separatist, Neo-liberal outfits, anti-sovereignty caucuses and extreme religion forces, that opposed that proposed Third term of President Rajapakse.

    Who are these forces behind this ideological campaign and what is the motive of this movement bring into political development of future for the of People Sri lanka?

    By and large this will created to be recruitment of new set of Elites to lead the formation of de-demarcation state power network will lead to de-sovereigntation of our country ,nation and people by vested interest of Global Power games.

    Is obvious understood this will be counter reform that step against ongoing path of sustainable Development and Democracy of Capitalism that led by National forces which MR ruling alliance and undermine re-elected Govt.
    People wish and verdict they denied by the anti-People’s ‘Elites politics and their moribund classes attempted back to power by new line of politics under the slogan of “Democracy and social justice”.

  • 0
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    Sentence should be correct as ‘ lead to the formation of
    de-democratization of state power will lead to de-sovereigntation of our country..’

  • 0
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    What if MR goes for Referendum ?

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