Posted on November 19th, 2014

Lakshman Keerthisinghe ,LLB, LLM.MPhil, Attorney-at-Law-Courtesy The Daily News 

Not that I loved Caesar less but I loved Rome more -William Shakespeare-Julius Caesar-Homeland
President Mahinda Rajapaksa

In recent times, especially after the unanimous determination of the Supreme Court enabling President Mahinda Rajapaksa to contest for a third term in office, there has been a great deal of discussion in Sri Lanka about abolishing the Executive Presidency.

The disgruntled critics of the present regime having failed in their attempts and arguments to debar the incumbent President from contesting for a third term, which the President richly deserves due to his unstinted courageous untiring efficient service to our motherland, now venture to put forward a weak argument that the Supreme Court had delivered only an opinion and not a determination and therefore it is not binding. But, be that as it may, the fact remains that President Rajapaksa is entitled under the law to contest for a third term and the grateful majority of our countrymen would undoubtedly return the Incumbent President to power for a further term. With this inevitable fact in sight the frantic critics are now aiming at the abolition of the executive presidency.

The President has already said that he would abolish the executive presidency as his regime has the necessary majority in Parliament to do so. But the patriotic citizens of our motherland must pause to consider whether this is the right time to do so.

LTTE terrorists

The President had clearly stated that the executive presidency would be abolished when the Eelam cry is no more. Most Sri Lankans agree that many aspects of our current system need to be reviewed and ultimately corrected, but it is contended that the corrections can only be done at the right time. Thus if an attempt is made at the wrong time to abolish the executive presidency, even if it is for the right reasons, such an attempt will only produce harmful effects. The following undisputable reasons would demonstrate that this is not the right time to abolish the Executive Presidency.

Supreme Court complex

Firstly, Sri Lanka has not yet reached a point of complete stability since the LTTE terrorists were defeated in 2009, although Sri Lanka is on the right path in terms of reunification of the country; and it is on the right path in terms of economic reconstruction; infrastructure development and modernization and also on the right path in terms of growing into an era of personal freedom and opportunity for all citizens.

Although on the right path, Sri Lanka is still very vulnerable and at this crucial moment in our country’s evolution, Sri Lanka needs a strong leader who can unify all of the elements at play in our very unique rebuilding process. Thus, to take away the strong leadership provided by the Executive Presidency will only make Sri Lanka more vulnerable to an array of negative influences, both internal, and external. It is only the Executive President who can say “no,” much in the same way the President of the United States can exercise his veto powers when deemed necessary.

Secondly this is not the right time to abolish the Executive Presidency as it is evident that both the TNA and the Muslim Congress are not yet willing to commit fully to one country/one nation policy or for safeguarding the sovereignty and recognition of Sri Lanka as one nation. Both of these political entities still wish to create separate ethnic states or districts or regions giving rise to separatism, which will completely undermine the progress Sri Lanka has made towards national unity in the last eight years.

Until these ethnically-identified entities are willing to put aside their ethnic egos, with their ethno-centric, separatist demands for land of their own, Sri Lanka is not in any position to abolish the unifying element of the Executive Presidency. If anything, Sri Lanka needs to strengthen its global alliances in all directions, but this can only be done if Sri Lanka remains as a unitary state and at the present time, united behind our Executive President.

Thirdly, Sri Lanka needs to safeguard the Executive Presidency in order to protect our motherland from foreign interference, a recurring problem that Sri Lanka has dealt with for centuries from the time of the ancient kings; which should never be forgotten or underestimated.

Disparate political parties

It is only a strong, competent, and diplomatic leader that can stand up to threatening overseas powers and navigate through the treacherous waters of hidden agendas and grand foreign designs that have plagued our motherland for many generations.

There is at present a political movement in Sri Lanka which desperately hopes to create a coalition of many disparate political parties that would introduce a so-called Common Candidate who could run against our current president in the upcoming elections.

A strong national leader among the coalition parties that have joined forces has not yet emerged, and it is near impossible to think of a name that could rally the country to a popular majority. At any rate, even if the Common Candidate won the election, that unfortunate individual would still face a two-thirds majority against him or her in Parliament. A situation like this does not make a strong leader; it only guarantees his or her failure at home, and on the international arena as well.

Certainly, there are many elements in our current constitution that need to be changed. The most prominent one is the system of provincial parliamentary elections, which was established in former President J.R. Jayewardane’s constitution.

Constitutional provisions

This is a system that has each party’s candidates come from “at large” in each Province – instead of having each candidate represent a smaller electoral district. This very flawed system sets the stage for corruption, party in-fighting, negative campaigning, fiscal waste, and a situation that prevails of “may the richest man win.” It should be changed back to the way it was before, where the smaller electoral districts elect the candidate that truly represents the needs and desires of the people that live in those smaller districts. A candidate from an electoral district of 30,000 people, for example, should not be expected to compete for the votes of an entire Province of one million people. This is a tempting recipe that leads to disaster which has been observed at the present time.

There are other parts of the present constitution that needs revisiting, and possibly revising. The best and most responsible way to do this is for all of the parties concerned to bring their views to the central government, make their case in Parliament, and come up with better solutions that work for the good of all citizens at every level.

Constitutional reforms are needed as times change as constitutional provisions have been for a particular time and for particular reasons that were relevant to that time. Constitutional provisions, realistically, were made to serve the people, and were meant to be examined and changed when they have served their purpose and might have become out of date.

The Executive Presidency has been useful for the conditions of our time. When it is no longer useful, and the conditions of today have passed away into the conditions of the future, then it can be changed or even abolished, if it is appropriate for that time. Until then, we need to work within the framework of our legal system to keep our motherland unified as one, and steady on its path of progress.

One must not jump the gun” and abolish something that has brought Sri Lanka from the terrible jaws of civil conflict to the salubrious gates of safety, prosperity, and freedom.

Only time and the conditions prevailing at the time can dictate if or when the Executive Presidency has to be abolished. Until, such time Sri Lanka needs to safeguard the Executive Presidency and not fall prey to power hungry political vultures, who are adept at stirring the emotions of the innocent people of our land. Let these frantic critics heed the statement of Willian Shakepeare in Julius Caesar quoted at the outset and place their country first before their hunger for political power as our President has always said firstly the motherland, secondly, the motherland and thirdly the motherland.

– See more at: http://dailynews.lk/?q=archives/2014-11-17#sthash.TqJfB1w7.dpuf


  1. SA Kumar Says:

    The President had clearly stated that the executive presidency would be abolished when the Eelam cry is no more.- to whom MR fooling ???

    We Tamil never ever give up our 1,000 years old ( since Elara ) TE day dream .. Naalai pirakkum TE !!!
    (I know you Sinhala Bro & sis are so proud about our TE determination even after 2009 Mullivakkal incident)

    only EP can protect 13A that is alternative for TE ( indo-SL agreement) to United Mother Lanka !

    13A is untouchable .

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    Latest news is MR using his presidential powers has released 5 convicted Tamil DRUG DEALERS.

    He violates his OWN country’s law! Can you expect his deputies to respect law and order.

    Lets clap and cheer him.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    Why is the JHU not DEMANDING the REPEAL of the 13th Amendment instead of DEMANDING the Executive Presidency be REMOVED, a new 19th Amendment be ENACTED, and the 17th Amendment be RESTORED, all designed to clip the Executive Presidency?

    The Presidential form of government with an Executive Presidency has been adopted on a PERMANENT BASIS in many powerful Western Nations, for example USA and FRANCE, as more stable than British-style Parliaments, and better able to respond to threats against their nations? Why is that unsuitable for Sri Lanka that emerged only 5 years ago from a 30 years of separatist conflict? When the nation continues to be STILL threatened by Neocolonialist Western Powers and internal and external Separatists, why do these ASININE “PATRIOTS” demand that the EXECUTIVE PRESIDENCY be REPEALED? Why? As RATIONAL people, we MUST QUESTION their MOTIVES.

    I think the JHU has changed to a different mindset since Victory was achieved in 2009, enjoying the perks and profits of Ministerial power in the UPFA government, and the Provincial Council positions they have held for 5 years. When their people were demoted recently to lesser positions with smaller budgets they could use for political patronage, for lack of PERFORMANCE in their duties, they decided that it was NO LONGER WORTH IT for them to support the President. Ergo … the resignations just-in-time on the eve of an election …. to exert MAXIMUM LEVERAGE! If that is not putting one’s personal greed for power, prestige and wealth before the security and progress of one’s own Motherland, what is? Clearly, the JHU has changed in character.

    Now, the JHU considers that it is MORE IMPORTANT to retain and exercise those powers, and enrich themselves, than to fight in the National Interest of the Sinhala Buddists by demanding that the 13th Amendment be REPEALED! If the 13A is REPEALED, they like many other Provincial Council Ministers will LOSE THEIR CUSHY POSITIONS in the PC System. Therefore, 13A is NO LONGER AN ISSUE, and instead has become something to be PRESERVED, for these FIERY PATRIOTS of FIVE YEARS AGO!

    Dilrook, take a moment away from your defense of the JHU, and PLEASE EXPLAIN TO US WHY the JHU has forgotten the 13th Amendment, that threatens to destroy the nation pitting its communities against one another, and does not demand it be REPEALED NOW? Pray tell me … WHY?

  4. Marco Says:

    I too will be interested in Dilrook’s analysis of why JHU or for that matter MRGOSL stance on repealing the 13th Amendment as it appears that readers at Lankaweb are of the view the current crisis of Resignations and and the abuse of /or curtailing Executive powers is to do with the 13th Amendment.

    Moderator – I assume this comment does not contravene Lankaweb policy for it not to be published as some of my previous comments are still in “cyber space” or deleted. Do wish you would be consistent with your moderation.
    If you do not wish me to comment any further please feel free to say so, i will happy to withdraw.- Thank you
    Moderator’s Reply:- You don’t have to repeat same point again and again. Then it will looks like mud slinging and Mahinda bashing activities. We are happy to include any factual comments.

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    Would the ALLEGED allocation of 4 out of 7 berths at Hambantota Port to China amount to the “Establishment of a Chinese Naval Base”? I THINK NOT …for it could be purely COMMERCIAL.

    Report on establishment of a Chinese naval base stirs Sri Lanka parliament

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Nov 19, Colombo: A report in a Namibian newspaper that China is planning to establish 18 naval bases in in various Indian Ocean regions including Sri Lanka has caused a stir in Sri Lankan parliament today.

    Tabling the report in today’s The Namibian newspaper in parliament, Sri Lanka main opposition parliamentarian Dr. Harsha de Silva questioned whether Sri Lanka has signed any such agreement with China.

    Citing Chinese media reports, The Namibian said Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port is one of China’s planned naval bases in the northern Indian Ocean in addition to bases in Pakistan and Myanmar.

    MP de Silva, tabling a document that described an agreement signed by the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority with the Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Sri Lanka in September 2014, sought an explanation from the government on the agreement.

    “What does it say? It provides four berths in phase 2 of the Hambantota Port to a Chinese company. No one is aware of all this,” he asked.

    The MP said when the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority was questioned he said that the Chinese agreed to provide concessions on the loans that were obtained if they are given four of the seven berths at the Hambantota port.

    However, the Director of the Media Centre of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya speaking to News 1st has refuted claims that plans were afoot to establish a Chinese naval base in Hambantota.

    He has said that a Chinese naval base could not be established in secret, and added that anyone could see for themselves whether such construction is underway at the Hambantota port.

    In western Indian Ocean China will establish bases in Djibouti, Yemen, Oman, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique and in the central South Indian Ocean in Seychelles and Madagascar, according to the Namibian news report and Namibia’s Walvis Bay will be one of the 18 naval bases that will be established by China in various regions.

  6. Dilrook Says:

    I have explained how JHU actions relate to and go towards repealing 13A. It is solely my view.

    Basically the parliament can initiate action to repeal 13A anytime. However, as the president is not answerable to parliament (and essentially controls it), and has given assurance for the full implementation of 13A (in 1987 and in 2010), it cannot be repealed for all practical purposes.

    A change in this regard will pave the way for its removal.

  7. Nanda Says:

    “You don’t have to repeat same point again and again. Then it will looks like mud slinging and Mahinda bashing activities. We are happy to include any factual comments.”

    Thank you dear Moderator. Good that you gave us the rules. Now I know the rules. I am a good girl now. please let me talk to my friend Lorenzo and Senevi. I also refrain from talking back to my ex friend Ananda and honourable writer Callistus ( Noor Nizam). Thank you.

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