A reality check on the common candidate’s pledges
Posted on November 28th, 2014

By Neville Ladduwahetty  Courtesy Island

The coalition that Mr. Sirisena represents has diverse interests. The formulation of the new Constitution has to be undertaken by this diverse group. Therefore, it would be reasonable to expect the process of formulating a new Constitution to take more time than the 100 day time frame he has pledged if he is to repeal the Executive Presidency. This was the case too with others who ran for this office and who had pledged to repeal the Executive Presidency.

The intended nomination of Mr. Maithripala Sirisena as the common candidate of a coalition to challenge President Rajapaksa at the forthcoming Presidential Election represents a coalition of political objectives and aspirations. Despite claims by some that there is a need to change the current political culture in the name of good governance, law and order and corruption, it has to be granted that others seem not to be driven by such prospects, but by the raw thirst for political power that has evaded them for some time, and yet others by the prospect of seizing this opportunity to further their political aspirations.

This collection of coalition forces have zeroed in to repeal the Executive Presidency as the most significant of its common goals. However, in the pursuit of this endeavour, it must be appreciated that repeal of the Executive Presidency being one of the fundamental pillars of the Constitution, cannot be achieved without introducing concurrently, an alternative political formation as required by Article 82 (2) of the Constitution.

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Maithripala Sirisena

This Article states: “No Bill for the repeal of the Constitution shall be placed in the Order Paper of Parliament unless the Bill contains provisions replacing the Constitution and is described in the long title thereof as being an Act for the repeal and replacement of the Constitution”.

The above Constitutional provision requires the yet unnamed coalition to format a new Constitution to accompany a Bill to repeal the present Constitution since the Executive Presidency is a “fundamental component” of separation of powers that the 1978 Constitution embodies. If the Executive Presidency is eliminated the Executive functions of the People need to be assigned elsewhere. This is so fundamental to the 1978 Constitution that its repeal would amount to a repeal of the whole Constitution. In the absence of a clear indication as to the shape and form of what the new Constitutional provisions would be, it is unrealistic to expect the electorate to support Mr. Sirisena at the forthcoming Presidential election. Anyone who votes for Mr. Sirisena would be doing so in the misguided hope that the unknown would be better than what currently exists.

MECHANICS of COALITION POLITICS

The coalition that Mr. Sirisena represents has diverse interests. The formulation of the new Constitution has to be undertaken by this diverse group. Therefore, it would be reasonable to expect the process of formulating a new Constitution to take more time than the 100 day time frame he has pledged if he is to repeal the Executive Presidency. This was the case too with others who ran for this office and who had pledged to repeal the Executive Presidency. It was not a case of reneging on a pledge, but rather the practical inability to formulate an acceptable alternative that would have the backing of a 2/3 majority in Parliament. Therefore, however well intentioned Mr. Sirisena may be, the practical impossibility of formulating a new Constitution that is acceptable to a 2/3 majority in Parliament is the reality that he has to confront.

Furthermore, Mr. Sirisena would, if elected as the Executive President continue to function as such. And whether Mr. Ranil Wichramasinghe could be appointed Prime Minister would depend entirely on the composition of the Parliament in case of the election of Mr. Maitripala Sirisens as President. If the composition of the Parliament is such that Mr. Wickramasinghe does NOT command the confidence of the majority of MPs, he cannot be appointed the Prime Minister.

The 2/3 majority required to repeal the Executive Presidency could only be brought about by the crossover of over of 80 plus members joining the current 65 in the Opposition. Since most of the 80 plus crossovers would be from the SLFP, the SLFP would be the rump in the coalition. In such an eventuality, Mr.l Wickramasinghe would not be in a position to command the confidence of the coalition in Parliament. Under the circumstances, for Mr. Sirisena to pledge that Mr. Wickramasinghe would be appointed the Prime Minister appears to be another wish he cannot promise to fulfill.

If on the other hand, the current Parliament is dissolved soon after Mr. Sirisena is elected President, there is every possibility that no single political party would secure a 2/3 majority. This is evident from the fact that even after militarily defeating the LTTE and restoring the territorial integrity of the country, the UPFA as a coalition could not by itself secure a 2/3 majority at the 2010 election. In view of this reality, to expect a 2/3 majority at a Parliamentary election in the event of Mr. Maithripala Sirisena becoming President is not to realistic. Therefore, the reality is that securing a 2/3 majority to formulate a new Constitution and have it passed by Parliament as well as to concurrently repeal the existing Constitution presents a challenge that is near impossible to overcome. It is the acknowledgment of this reality that the voters of Sri Lanka have to accept.

As long as an alternative to the current Executive Presidency remains on the drawing board, Mr. Sirisena would, if elected on January 8, 2015, continue to function as President under the current Constitution. Mr. Wickramasinghe’s future as Prime Minister on the other hand would depend entirely on the composition of a transformed Parliament made up of crossovers, or even a newly elected one. The end result would be that the status quo would remain. It is just as well, because it would be impossible for a new Constitution to balance the countervailing aspirations of the North with the security concerns of the South. In view of this reality, the only pragmatic option would be to reform the existing Constitutional provisions, starting with Electoral Reform and the introduction of a 19th Amendment that contains the key features of 17th and 18th Amendments.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The events of the last week have demonstrated a need to acknowledge that bread alone is not enough. While the government has performed exceptionally well in regard to post-conflict development, restoration and reconstruction, there is a need to address governance issues as well. In this connection, the government should seriously attempt to do the following:

1. Introduce Electoral Reform while it still has the 2/3 majority as demonstrated during the Budget debate. This measure by itself would minimize violence during elections and contribute immeasurably to meet the democracy deficit it is being accused of.

2. The President should initiate action to repeal the 17th and 18th Amendments and introduce a 19th Amendment that retains all the key features of the 17th Amendment while revising the composition of the Constitutional Council to a workable form with one exception; that being to include the “No Term Limits” feature in the 18th Amendment. This is a democratic feature that would give the people the opportunity to make the choice rather than restricting their options. The common malady with the two term option is the tendency to address issues that could be accomplished during their period in office. Consequently, long term issues are neglected; a perspective vital at this stage of Sri Lanka’s development.

The current administration should implement both recommendations before its 2/3 majority evaporates. It would in the process not only consolidate his position as President but also dent the challenge presented. The foray by Mr. Sirisena into the Presidential race is bound have an impact on forthcoming Parliamentary elections to an extent that 2/3 majorities even for his coalition may not be possible. Therefore, the President should seize the moment and seriously consider the recommendations suggested.

CONCLUSION

History of coalition politics has shown that the process of Constitution-making is an endless process in the absence of a single minded coalition as was made clear in 1972 and 1978. Since such formations are not likely to be in the near future all that would be achieved by the election of Mr. Sirisena as President would be “regime change”. Perhaps this was all what this exercise was meant to do and nothing else. But with the right strategy, even well crafted efforts to destabilize could be exploited to advantage.

 

19 Responses to “A reality check on the common candidate’s pledges”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    IF MS cannot win 2/3, he will be the president. What’s wrong with that?

    We should LEAVE UNP WORRIES to the UNP. Lets NOT worry about UNP worries.

    There is also a difference between REGIME CHANGE and CHANGE OF RULING PARTY.

    Only NORTH KOREA and LTTE controlled Vanni had a PERENNIAL LEADER. SL has no such history.

  2. Vimutti Says:

    Everyone who is part of the government coalition should READ this article that rather convincingly ties the UNHRC investigators to GEORGE SOROS – the Jewish American Billionaire who has been bankrolling the Arab Spring around the world.

    Soros and his assortment of NGOs, especially Open Societies Foundation, and International Crisis Group, have been meddling in the internal affairs of every country where they operate, and have been propping up “opposition” groups they control to initiate regime change.

    Google: “Pillay’s panel from the shadow of George Soros”

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    Vimutti,

    Thanks for the link.

    But it takes me to a DAILYNEWS SL article. Dailynews SL has NO credibility. The writer is a good writer but pro-MR.

    IF George Soros wants to regime change SL like he did with Suharto (Indonesia), Thailand and destroyed the economies of some ASEAN countries, all he has to do is his USUAL BUSINESS – currency manipulation.

    It is VERY EASY for him because SL borrows like a bottomless pit and prints money on a daily basis. IDEAL conditions to collapse the VERY LITTLE FOREX reserves we have.

    With only +$11 billion in export earnings and -$20 billion foreign loans, SL is a liability for George Soros!

    He goes after Arabic, etc. countries that have LITTLE OR NO DEBT (Libya perfect target) and MASSIVE export earnings.

    (He need not go through UNHRC which is subject to VOTING by RICH countries that cannot be manipulated as easily as SL can be manipulated.)

  4. Vimutti Says:

    Lorenzo – there are just TOO many people on the UNHRC investigative team that are connected to Soros to take this lightly.

    And the funding of the Opposition common candidate should be watched VERY closely, as Soros has a history of using his NGOs or funding local ones to influence elections.

  5. Vimutti Says:

    Lorenzo – here is another article that is obviously not pro-MR that makes the same point about Soros’ influence over key UN institutions, including the UNHRC.

    Google: “A Soros-Made “New World Order” Takes Shape at the UN”

  6. Ratanapala Says:

    If one were to go by the happenings around the world – a la Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria and Christian West’s appetite for Regime Change world will be doubly careful.

    As the saying goes ” If you are warm and comfortable even under a pile of dung – Don’t shout”

    It would be utter folly for Rajapakses to continue on the present path oblivious to the nation’s sentiments and not utilising the power of the 2/3 majority he has, to get through the necessary changes to the Sri Lankan constitution, for the long term good of the nation. To not do so will be clear cut treachery and confirming the opposition assertion that his only intent is to cling onto power for himself, his family and his much discredited cronies.

    I hope even at the last hour he will have the wisdom to listen to his actual well wishers, to get out of the clutches of his new friends – which includes the Christian / Catholic Church, who are intent on taking him down the garden path to his political and historical doom – going from hero to zero! .

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    Vimutti,

    Those moves are NOT against SL. As I said before SL is not worth for GS because DOLLAR LOANS are MORE than annual export earnings. Almost double!

    GS is trying hard to get UNHRC clowns drop their ANTI-ISRAEL stand.

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    That is my wish too Ratanapala.

    But those CROOKS have surrounded MR already. TOO LATE.

  9. Vimutti Says:

    Ratanapala – I think the president has to get Modi to trust him first before abolishing the 13th Amendment, and I think this what these release of fisherman gestures and other concessions are about. After Modi understands that Sri Lanka is no threat to India’s security despite its growing relationship with China, and that he truly is interested in promoting the interests of ALL Sri Lankan citizens, not just Sinhala Buddhists, the 13th Amendment is history.

    Bashing on Christians and Tamils would be counterproductive in such an effort and only raise Modi’s suspicions. If Modi thinks Sri Lanka is trying to oppress Tamils through the abolishment of the 13th Amendment, then the adverse reaction of India could cause Sri Lanka a lot of REAL problems as its number one trading partner, and economic development of Sri Lanka can’t be compromised or all of the post-war success would be negated.

    Don’t worry, the government coalition will INCREASE its 2/3rds majority in the next General Election, and the Ranil/Maithripala disaster in January (do you really think unknown and unproven Maithripala will get more votes than General Fonseka did in 2010?) will help produce this result.

  10. Lorenzo Says:

    “If Modi thinks Sri Lanka is trying to oppress Tamils through the abolishment of the 13th Amendment, then the adverse reaction of India could cause Sri Lanka a lot of REAL problems as its number one trading partner, and economic development of Sri Lanka can’t be compromised or all of the post-war success would be negated.”

    The ADVERSE THINGS of 13 amendment is MUCH MUCH worse than that. We cannot live according to Endia. We are an independent country. Because of Endian pressure MR is not signing the FTA with China which can MASSIVELY benefit SL.

    This is loser mentality of the govt. People had enough of this Endian servant mentality.

  11. Vimutti Says:

    Lorenzo – FTA with China gets signed in 2015 – guaranteed. They are working on the final details as we speak.

    No Indian servant mentality, just patience and relationship and trust building, which is what all leaders of nations do.

    And, no, Rajapaksa is not going to implement the provisions of the 13th Amendment, especially police and land powers. He knows the danger of the re-emergence of terrorism very well and will guard against it at all costs.

  12. Vimutti Says:

    >>Lorenzo Says:
    November 28th, 2014 at 2:58 am<<

    Soros is not just about money these days – he has already banked 25 billion USD so far.

    The point of the articles was to show how he is shaping the agenda of certain UN institutions and the US State Department, and this agenda DOES include Sri Lanka. Soros is also famously anti-Chinese, and so the plan to push the US China Containment policy in Sri Lanka makes perfect sense.

  13. Lorenzo Says:

    Vimutti,

    It is this FEAR of Endia that will DROWN the Rajapakshas.

    No. The FTA will NEVER be signed. It has been postponed since 2008.

    IF MR cannot scrap 13 amendment for fear of Endia, how can he sign the FTA with China. Endia can take scrapping 13 amendment but NOT a FTA with CHINA.

    US citizen Milinda Moragoda is doing the discussions with China! What an insult to the Chinese delegation.

  14. Lorenzo Says:

    Yes. Soros is anti-China because he CANNOT MANIPULATE Chinese currency (state controlled).

    But tell me who signed the 2007 defence treaty between USA and SL?

    (Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) Signed March 5, 2007)

    How many JOINT MILITARY EXERCISES SL has held with USA since 2009? 3.

  15. Independent Says:

    Gents,
    Can I join with you sensible people with some questions?

    Anyone knows who is Mathivadan ( I did not hear the name clearly)? Champika claims he is the one behind coal cheating. This man is a very close friend of the ruling clan, it seems. Now we can see how our heroes have “deals” with Tamils.
    He said Pavitra has already withdrawn her statement in the parliament itself. He says “you bring one file I will bring 100 files”.
    Another question.

    Why should LTTE say they will hang the President openly. That will be an advantage to the President. This means they prefer him to come to win.

  16. Vimutti Says:

    If you think the US controls the Rajapaksas, then you are hopeless. Perhaps you should Google: “Andrew Mann, US Embassy” and get a clue.

  17. Vimutti Says:

    Actually here is a better article on Andrew Mann:

    Google: “Andrew Mann – Deputy at US Embassy (Colombo) can make rough for Sri Lanka”

  18. Vimutti Says:

    On the China FTA being signed in June of 2015 according to MR, Google: “China-Sri Lanka FTA to be signed in June 2015”

  19. Independent Says:

    Vimutti,
    USA is also controlled by the group who run the world( you have identified some names already. George Soros is bigger than USA. He makes use of USA. If we go to this subject it is too complicated.
    At the moment the President might be controlled by too many foreign powers (not USA alone) because of his unnecessary fear or war crimes rubbish. After releasing drug fishermen on death row now he is asked to released the boats too. Are we a sovereign country ?
    In the nineties USA ask Singapore not to cane USA citizen Michael Fay. Singapore rejected and caned him, despite being dependant on USA for security. If the leaders are firm , not corrupt ( relatively) they can do wonders.

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