14 August, 2018

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Three Pillars Of Democracy 

By Upatissa Pethiyagoda

It is said that the edifice of Democracy of the people rests on three pillars – The Executive, Judiciary and the Legislature. For proper functioning, these three should be exclusive and they should not be confrontational but co-active while each retains its integrity and function. The Legislature formulates Laws, the Executive implements them and the Judiciary intervenes when either of the other two is seen to be in default.

It is unfortunate that because of the Head of State being styled “The Executive President”, I tend to believe that there is confusion. Since The President is properly part of the Law making process, he should therefore reside within the Legislature. Since to “execute” means to “do”, ”perform” or “give effect to”, the Executive should properly be what we now term the “Administration”. It would be interesting to see the reaction of the Political Scientists, Constitutional Experts and the like think of this. To me, this is much more than a mere name change.

For one, it emphasizes the equal status of these arms of governance, their need to resist, or respect each other’s integrity, eliminating persistent argument on who is superior to the other. In the worst case, if the Legislature (Parliament through the Speaker) finds itself in conflict with the Judiciary – on whether its pronouncements, are binding on Parliament or not. 

Ever since the Executive Presidency was created by the Constitution of 1978 with sweeping powers, unfettered by legal accountability, a monster was created. Here was an office endowed with extraordinary powers to do all “but create a woman from a man” – as was vividly expressed by the first incumbent. Quite understandably, the official acts of the incumbent were insulated from legal challenge. However, to extend this immunity to cover all acts whether in an official or private capacity, is indefensible. We have not been fortunate enough to have any incumbent who by freedom from blemish, has justified the extraordinary power attached to this post. 

The Executive (The Administration) has been severely debilitated by sustained interference by the Legislature. At Independence in 1948, we had a public service which was the envy of our neighboring states. The services were competent, efficient and incorrupt. They, led by the Civil Service of that time, were fiercely independent and truly a help to the Legislators, who were not always equipped to manage the tasks of day to day governance. The rot started in about 1956, when MP”s started interfering more and more and in about 1960, brashly demolished the standard-bearer the CCS and replaced it with the wider and more malleable SLAS. Today, the Administration is a poor caricature of a distinguished past. It has the character of a subservient, shameless, corrupt and insensitive behemoth. 

While the superior Court judges, by and large have maintained their stature and honour, the accessory structures such as the Police, the Prisons and the Attorney-General have reached dismal depths. The Police for example have been called the most corrupt Department. The Prison service cannot be far behind. The most urgent reforms, if such are honestly desired, must begin with the Administration, which of the three pillars impacts most with citizen needs. The disastrous effects of insular linguistics have very seriously also impacted on the quality of a service which has been denied access to a massive storehouse of information accessible only through competency in a World language.

A subservient and corruptible Public Service is invaluable for crooked Politicians. Although the blame for illegal and dishonest acts are usually laid at the door of political figures, it has to be remembered that embezzlement of any notable size, could not be effected without the complicity or collusion of public officers, who themselves are not averse to skimming off something for themselves. Corruption is a virulent and rapidly spreading contagion – a fact of which we have been made painfully aware of, with each passing day. Apart from the moral dimension, corruption must have disastrous consequences for the economy, because it constitutes an expense without concurrent service.

*Dr Upatissa Pethiyagoda – former Ambassador to Italy

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Latest comments

  • 5
    4

    This Democracy in Lankawe is doing wonderful things for the Public…
    Didn’t Our Judiciary Hang Somarama.
    And the let the Military Coup Leaders go Scot Free…?..
    How cool was that when it comes to their Independence ?.
    At least one Dude in the photo made some solid investments on behalf of the Public , which the other Two are now selling off to Indians and packeting the Commissions..
    What more cooperation the Executive and the Legislature can have?.
    Now the Legislature is trying to sack the Executive in case the Executive goes Troppo.
    And the Legislature is going to get a 250 % pay hike , to expedite the castration of the Executive and divide the Country in to enclaves..
    This is on top of the Yahapalana Car Permits to the tune of up to 34 Million Ruppiah each.
    Wonder what the Judiciary is going to do next..
    This Democracy sounds so cool .

    • 1
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      KASmaalam K A Sumanasekera

      “Didn’t Our Judiciary Hang Somarama.”

      The weeping widow hung him by his b***s and neck until his death. She was the main beneficiary of the assassination, its like many billion rupees worth of insurance policy paid out to her on the public racist’s death.

      Did you know he was baptized as a Christian by an Anglican priest?

      “And the let the Military Coup Leaders go Scot Free…?..”

      Since then the Christians, Muslims, Tamils, Hindus, ……………… were never selected to the forces as per weeping widow’s orders. Hence some of them joined the LTTE perhaps the JVP.

  • 2
    0

    Poor enforcement of law and order is the biggest drawback in this country. People are not scared to rob or to break the law.

    The three revenue collecting agencies are the worst. The Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise Departments are a shocker.

    Police are henchmen of politicians and the judicial system is much to be desired.

    Get these institutions properly structured and everything else will fall into place.

  • 3
    1

    I like the article but not the picture attached to this article. I got a shock when I saw the heading and the three who were in the picture. My first thought, until I read the article, who would call Mahinda Rajapakse a Pillar of Democracy? That prompted me to read the article in full. Colombo Telegraph should be cautious as this type of publishing may give the wrong impression.

    • 2
      1

      Whats the difference between mahinda and other two with regard to democracy? Ranil is a serial killer isnt he?

      • 0
        1

        Ryan: Tell me. What is the difference between ‘serial killing’ and ‘mass killing’.

        • 0
          0

          K.Pillai

          Both are killings but serial killing is the most dangerous.

          Some engage in both killings; LTTE, ISIS.

          • 0
            0

            War Crime & Genocide are wiping out an entire race like Rapist Army did and accused in UNHRC’s OISL report.

        • 0
          0

          The terms are self-explanatory: ‘serial killing’ is done one at a time, ‘mass killing’ is done on large numbers at the same time.

  • 0
    0

    Over the years they made the system work for them and not fo the country. Just read articles publihsed by media. Every one including the president, PM and all others that inclusive the Jackol Oppositiion with many aliases working in the, profiting from the system that are chaing everyday for them. Corruption and self aggrandise is part of the game. I see for the first time, one writer criticize the people still did not talk about the system that they are utilizeing and have setup to benefit them and the need to change. the system and the people working inside have been so corrupt now they exploit and manipulate people in the open media. What I can not believe is how do they plunder the system to feed their families while most are poor and struggling.

  • 0
    0

    What Rajapkses did are not discussed well. They di dbig projects which helped some countries but not the public. They never spent billions to upgrade or rebuilt any of the dilapidated and/or destroyed manufacturing sites. Instead, they leased some resources which could have been used to produce value added products. Eppawala Appatite, Illamanite are examples. Right now Illamanite is as soil is exported to Japan. They send Titanium paint compounds to sri lanka which we pay extra. I think big proejcts would have helped him win the votes and commis make foreign countries happy because they get connections they want, they can send more cars, machinery etc.,

  • 0
    0

    There are no three pillars of democracy. Executive and the legislature have setup an extremely corrupt system that work for them as well as that destoy them. So, always they use carrots such as luxury cars, contracts, minister posts, salary increases, many perks and benefits and in behind drug trade, Liquor sales too. They have made AG, Judges, Lawyers, businesses and higher officials all very corrupt. Auditor General explained if every official were presecuted the way LAlith ‘Weeratunga was prosecuted, 50% of the High rank gove officials would be in the jail. Every department or ministry has a political authority. which does not allow people to work. Higher officals are appointed by the minister. IT is well known even the judges are corrupt and work for politicians. Recently, they began highly politicised Local govts, That can not be set up as it is politicised. Take the example of Colombo Mayor what she said and was doing. IT is theft at grand scale.

  • 0
    0

    What a nonsensical statement is this from a yahapalanaya political moron Manapperuma.
    PM & Prez will nor permit a 215% pay rise to the Parlimentarians.
    Who will permit a pay rise to the looters ?

    If the looters are to be given a 215% pay hike, entire work force in the country must come out to the street demanding a similar % in a pay rise.
    Bad enough the Prez & PM are scratching each others backs after looting the CB/EPF and latest 10b from the BOC by Gihan Amaratunge a Malik lackey sans a colateral or a gurantee.

    Burrowing from China $1b @ 5.25% LATER THIS YEAR. For what? For pay hikes?????

    Ryan: Rani is a psychopath……….. enjoyed the torture at batalanda

  • 0
    0

    “failures are pillars of success” the quote says.
    Sri Lanka has 70 pillars of failure , one for each year since independence,. ….but there is no success in sight…keep failing Sri Lanka one day you will succeed when the people wake up eventually.

    • 1
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      Dear Rajash,
      You have omitted the 70 pillars of success for Sri Lanka. Every year there was a success in the progress of genocide without the Tamils calling for outside help. The tribal leaders shown above are masterminds in pleasing the Tamils and continue with their tribal warfare with success. Who cares how Sri Lanka works. Do we need to know anything about Judiciary, Legislature and the Executive. We three can do it all!

      • 1
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        Richard

        “Who cares how Sri Lanka works.”

        We don’t, rightly so.
        However I just thought I better remind you the following poem:

        “First They Came for the Jews”
        By Pastor Niemoller

        First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

        Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

        Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

        Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.

  • 0
    0

    Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda,
    Here is what I had requested on your previous article. ‘I am right behind you. Please lead’. Yes, start to lead.

  • 0
    0

    Having gone through seven decades of “Democracy”, the “Building” we erected after “Independence”, time has come to TEST the PILLARS on which that “Building” stands as at date, because we have found enough of evidence that those ” PILLARS” have and are being made of “CYCLAMATE” The best of the TESTS. I could suggest is to withdraw all the REMUNERATIONS & PERKS and make them to work purely on a VOLUNTARY basis. If needed, an “ALLOWANCE” could be paid. No PENSION; No CAR PERMITS and NO security escorts. So let us do all these and watch how soon this “CYCLAMATE” (synthetic compound an artificial sweetness) of “PATRIOTISM” peel off in no time and perhaps, if any REAL compound of hard and everlasting sweetness of “PATRIOTISM” remains. That would leave us the opportunity to put in place the real SWEETNESS to DEMOCRACY.

    • 1
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      Douglas

      Can I jog your memory as to the pillars,
      Citizenship Act 1948
      Sinhala Only Language Act 1956
      First post independence riots 1958
      The First Female Prime Minister of the Universe, Galaxy, Milky Way, Black Hole, ….
      The first mass killing of innocent people in 1971
      Followed by misuse of censorship, state power, state resources, … in the name of corrupt Socialism, destruction of Cooperative Movements through out the island, introduction of large scale corruption, institutionalized racism, Chapter II, ……

      ……
      …..
      ….
      ….
      Then the dawn of constitutional tyranny since 1977.
      ….
      ..
      I am bored. Please continue.

  • 0
    0

    The law and order in this country is a joke ably corrupted by the unaccountable politician. In which country do they arrest senior police officer for high profile murders except in Sri Lanka. So is the Police a Police or a criminal organisation?. over to you Mr President and IGP

    • 1
      0

      vas

      “The law and order in this country is a joke ably corrupted by the unaccountable politician.”

      Is that why the constitution provides extraordinary level of protection for Buddhism in case the corrupt politicians and police steal it and sell it to outside buyers?

  • 0
    0

    ‘Free Press/Media’ (aka Fourth Estate), was rated as necessary to uphold democracy. The advent of the internet has clouded this. By products have become outlets for hate speech, fake news and manufactured news. The forgotten Goebbels has woken.

  • 0
    0

    A democracy has three branches of government. Beyond the three, there are unofficial or additionally official branches too exist. We know in most of the Muslim and Buddhists countries the religious leaders (Iran, Lankawe, Burma) play additional control. In these countries, quickly, army too learns a way to exert it into it. Pakistan, Burma and Lankawe are classic examples of these. In some African and South American countries, military leaders out rightly control the government. These days Eastern Europe is trying to catch up with West. Their cultural & Geographical closeness to West is expediting this process. In contrast, in Lankawe, the Amude wearing Benz and Landover driving 8th graders and Thavani wearing Ayatollahs are quickly discounting those Democratic norms as Sutha’s divide rule or Sutha’s favoritism(depending on the circumstances, whichever would work for the occasion). There, everyone, seem to accept no democracy as democracy. We expect the so called democracy to deliver just and fair ruling. So we depend on multiparty election system to achieve this. We all know that is not a guaranteed mechanism. China, Iran, Syria are also other countries have election. But these days China has locally achieved better fair and just ruling than many countries like Pakistan, Lankawe like failed States.
    We talk about benevolent dictators too. So the just and fair ruling doesn’t need all three branches. But as we said their existence attempt to guarantee the fair & just rule’s existence. In Lankawe, for example when Ceylon started with Soulbury constitution, all three existed. In addition Privy Council too existed. But the ruling rogues immediately felt getting rid of Privy Council which as a watch dog against their racketeering. They succeeded on that. Quickly JR used the learned lesson to destroy the local Supreme Court and Parliament. So now, stronger president, Ayatollahs, Military and weak Parliament and court are our pillars.

  • 0
    0

    The truth has been presented in logical & almost clear terms & a dead end.

    Nowhere to go

    A blast/an explosion of people to be expected?

  • 0
    0

    “While the superior Court judges, by and large have maintained their stature and honour ……..”
    Is that so? That is news to me!

  • 0
    0

    Native Vedda: I told you how those “PILLARS” failed the test of times and also way to test whether we care to keep it serving the purposes. That is history and thanks for jogging my memory. Now I am waiting to see the possible creation of another history. Will those 225 “Legislators” go on a STRIKE demanding PAY HIKE in line with the Judges of High Courts?. According to Speaker no final decision has yet been made. According to the Minister Lakshman Kiriella, no Party Leader, including JVP AKD “OBJECTED” to the proposal. According to President: “I will not allow even a 5 cts. increase” . Don’t you think, these 225 must resort to “STRIKE ACTION”. If that takes place, the PEOPLE can issue all of them with “VACATION OF POST” notices unless reported to work within a stipulated time frame of 3 days. With that NOTICE going out, perhaps get “CHAMP’S” help to get Wimal Weerawanse to stage a “FAST UNTO DEATH” outside the “King’s House” at Diyawnnawa. We can prevent anyone going to offer him “Orange Juice” or any other “Juices”, so that he can have “Peaceful Ending” and the PEOPLE can assure him a place in the History of that even to be FIRST in our Democracy. This will also provide you to “Update” your records. Can you talk to “CHAMPA” and see whether he/she could organize it as an “Advance Preparation” for that “GREAT FAST UNTO DEATH EVENT”. The PEOPLE of this country need that more than anything else. Thank you for supporting that “STRIKE ACTION”, because we need to REPLACE those ageing PILLARS.

  • 0
    0

    At some stage governance was supposed to be in the hands of the clergy, the Nobility and commoners. Later press was added (aka the Fourth Estate).
    When democracy became the vogue, the pillars were the Executive, Judiciary, the Legislators and the Media. The media is changing as never before and has been taken off the role to protect.
    Judiciary cannot work if there is no ‘Law and Order’. The Legislators (supposedly mandated by voters) have started to meddle with ‘Law and Order’. Corruption/nepotism/impunity has started to take hold.
    The Executive have become order takers.
    .
    Ideal democracy is not found anywhere.
    We have lost our way! We are in a state of denial

  • 0
    0

    In the1st place what is the reasons to increase the salaries of the Supreme Court judges 3 fold is it for postponing cases for about 8 years and dismissing them or for not using article 126(5) which states a petition filed in the Supreme court should be completed within 2 months of filing such petition . The idiom for such a situation is thus ” while the Executive, the legislative and the Judiciary are playing the flute we the people and our country are burning, with apologies to Rome is burning while Neru is playing the flute

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