Sri Lanka needs the Executive President -Gammanpila
Posted on January 4th, 2015

Nadira Gunathilleke

Cdn-2012-tag---Future-Visio.jpgPeople who talk against the Executive Presidency do not have even an iota of knowledge about it. In my opinion, we should retain the Executive Presidency forever, not only for another five or 10 years. The Executive Presidency is the most modern and most popular system of government in the world at the moment. There are 91 countries that have adopted different models of the Executive Presidency. But there is no resistance against the system in any of those countries. The Parliamentary system which is not as attractive as the Executive Presidency has been adopted by countries with monarchies or former colonies. A lot of countries in the world have already shifted from the Parliamentary system to the Presidential system.

The US has been under the Presidential system for 216 years. If this system is undemocratic or oppressive, it is the US citizens who would have protested against such a system more than any other nation. But, not even one opinion has been expressed against this system in the US or in any of the other countries where the Executive Presidential system is followed, former Western Provincial Council Minister and Leader of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) Attorney-At-Law Udaya Gammanpila told the Daily News during a recent interview. Gammanpila is a graduate of the Monash University, Australia. He scored the highest marks in Sri Lanka at the Advanced Level Examination (Commerce Stream) in 1988.

Former Western Provincial Council Minister and  the Leader of the Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) Attorney-At-Law Udaya Gammanpila


Q: Comment on the efforts made by the International pro LTTE elements publicly to bring President Mahinda Rajapaksa before the International Criminal Court if he is defeated at the upcoming Presidential election.

A: Although Sri Lanka is not a party to the International Criminal Treaty, the United Nations still has the capacity to appoint a special Tribunal to investigate the alleged war crimes that took place during the last phase of the humanitarian operation and hold President Rajapaksa responsible for them. They have already taken several steps towards achieving this target, such as, former UN Human Rights Commissioner Navaneetham Pillai’s visit to Sri Lanka, appointment of two panels on two occasions and bringing in various UN Resolutions against Sri Lanka from time to time. They have already commenced their ‘work’.

The common Presidential candidate of the opposition is openly backed by the separatists in Sri Lanka and abroad. He represents the separatists and if he comes to power, he will corporate with the local and international elements to bring President Rajapaksa before the International Criminal Court. This is because they are the powers which sponsored the common candidate. He is obliged to agree with them. Therefore there is a big risk which everybody should be aware about.

Q: The opinion of the majority, especially the scholars is that Sri Lanka needs the Executive Presidency (at least for another five years). Your views.

A: Unfortunately, those who are opposed to the Executive Presidency do not have the slightest idea of what the Executive Presidency is. In my opinion, Sri Lanka should keep the Executive Presidency forever and not only for another five or 10 years. The Executive Presidency is the most modern and most popular system of government in the world at present. There are 91 countries in the world which adopt different models of the Executive Presidency and there is no resistance against this system in those countries. The other alternative is the Parliamentary system which is not attractive as the Executive Presidency and is adopted by countries which are monarchies or former colonies. A lot of countries in the world have already shifted from the Parliamentary system to the Presidential system.

The US has enjoyed the Presidential system for 216 years and there have been no protests or a single opinion expressed against this system by its citizens. There have also been no protests against the Executive Presidential system in any of the countries in the world that have adopted this system. Any opposition or protests against the Executive Presidency only exists in Sri Lanka. We have to ask ourselves why?

The Executive Presidency was introduced to Sri Lanka by the UNP in 1978 abolishing the Parliamentary System. Since then, there has been resistance against the Executive Presidency and the reason was it abolished the Parliamentary system. This is the birth and progress of the resistance against the Executive Presidency in Sri Lanka.

The 1978 Constitution has many undemocratic features and unfortunately the persons who protest against the Executive Presidency have misunderstood this. Now they think these weaknesses are the weaknesses of the Executive Presidential system. But these weak and undemocratic features are not essential features of the Executive Presidency. Those features are unique to the Sri Lankan Constitution. In this backdrop what we should do is reform the Executive Presidency while eliminating those weaknesses instead of abolishing it. For instance, the current Sri Lankan President has powers to appoint all 225 Members of Parliament as Ministers and we can amend this power by introducing a minimum and maximum number of Ministers that can be appointed. This can be done by amending the Constitution.

There is a huge misconception that Sri Lanka has the world’s most powerful Executive Presidency. But it is not so. We do not have a full Presidential system unlike the US, and what we have here in Sri Lanka is a semi Presidential system similar to that of France. In this system, no matter who the President is, the person who holds the majority in Parliament rules the country. In the past, only the Presidents who had the majority in Parliament ruled the country without any problem. When he or she lost the majority in Parliament, the person who held the majority in Parliament became the defacto President.

We, Sri Lankans have three instances in the past where the person who held the majority in Parliament became de facto Presidents. In 1994, there was a UNP President in power and the majority in Parliament was the People’s Alliance (PA). Thereafter, the UNP President became a puppet and the PA leader (former President) ruled the country.

In September, 2001, the PA President lost the majority in Parliament because the SLMC crossed over to the Opposition. The President then signed an agreement with the JVP which had 10 members in Parliament at that time and regained the majority in Parliament. Those 10 JVP members had full control of the (then) President and they made the President dance to their tune. The President had to limit the Cabinet to 25, brought the 17th Amendment and stopped building the new Presidential Palace caving into the JVP demands.

Without being able to bear the pressure mounted by the JVP, the President dissolved Parliament and the Opposition (UNP) captured power in 2001. It was called ‘The Probationary Government’. Again the President was controlled by the UNP Prime Minister who signed the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) with the LTTE. By doing so, he enjoyed power which he did not have as per the Sri Lankan Constitution. It is the President who declares peace in Sri Lanka. In 2003, the then Prime Minister called for an international donor conference in New York without consulting the President. The President remained in Sri Lanka in silence while the international community decided the destiny of Sri Lanka in New York.

If the common Presidential candidate becomes the President, he will have to dance to the tune of the former President, the UNP National Leader, the TNA Leader, the SLMC Leader and the few Parliamentarians who support to the former President. This is because he does not have his own majority in Parliament. He could not get the support of any Parliamentarians from Polonnaruwa on his side. He will not be able to govern the country even under this existing semi Presidential system.

Q: Some Government MPs have crossed over to the Opposition pledging their support to the common Opposition Presidential candidate. Will this have an adverse impact on the UPFA’s vote base?

A: As you know, nearly 60 members from the United National Party (UNP) have crossed over to the government from the UNP since 2005. If they were able to bring UNP votes along with them, there cannot be any UNPers left by now. But it was not the case. The recent elections had very clearly shown that the crossovers of the UNP member/leaders have not affected the UNP vote base. This is the case vice versa as well. Therefore, because some members’ crossover without any policy issues, nobody can expect others to follow them. The crossing over of some MPs will have no impact on the UPFA vote base whatsoever.

Q: Do you think that there is genuine unity and understanding in the Opposition together with a proper strategy for the country’s future?

A: The only common factor that brought all opposition politicians into one camp is their hatred towards President Rajapaksa due to personal reasons. Their personal grudges led them to unite with others who are hell bent on removing President Rajapaksa from office. They complain that they had been ill treated by the government. There is no other common factor, objective, program or projects that bound them together. Their Presidential candidate wants to become the Sri Lankan President no matter what.

Just because of the strong desire to become the President, the so-called common Presidential candidate has already promised to implement contradictory policies. For instance, he has already promised Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thera to completely abolish the Executive Presidency while promising Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thera to reform and protect the Executive Presidency. But he cannot do two entirely contradictory things at the same time. How can he abolish and protect the Executive Presidency at the same time? By saying he will reform it and protect it, he admitted that the Executive Presidency will remain. There are a number of similar contradictory policies which he had agreed to.

The most important fact that should be included in any election manifesto is the unitary status of the state. It is very clearly mentioned in President Rajapaksa’s election manifesto and it should be the most important thing that should be included in the common presidential candidate’s election manifesto, because he is supported by all types of separatists, such as Sinhala Nationalists, federalists, Eelamists, Muslim extremists, etc. But unfortunately, there is nothing about the country’s unitary status mentioned in his election manifesto. He will be in deep trouble if he is forced to support all of them at the same time.

If the common Presidential candidate wins, his camp will not last even for 100 days and it will collapse within a few days because they are not in a position to implement one coherent policy.

Q: The Opposition alleges that the government offered bribes and money to attract Opposition MPs to the government while some Government MPs crossed over to the Opposition at the same time. How do you respond to this allegation?

A: The government can offer Ministerial posts to opposition members who crossover to the government. The Ministerial posts are very limited and a few opposition members crossed over to the government. The opposition has nothing to offer other than money. Recently, the opposition became super rich all of a sudden. It is now an open secret that a lot of negotiations and transactions had taken place in Singapore. Now the talk of the town is that huge amounts of money had been offered to persons who crossed over to the opposition. Therefore, their decisions to crossover were not made on political issues or policy differences. That is why none of them have concrete facts/topics to talk about. They only talk about their personal grudges and grievances.

Our main issue is that how did the opposition attract members from the government without offering them anything. The opposition does not have Ministerial positions or other portfolios to offer other than money.

In this background, it is now crystal clear that Western and European forces are behind these crossovers. They can be foreign embassies in Colombo, INGOs or NGOs. It is further evident by the presence of the former President who is a darling of Western countries and INGOs/NGOs.

Q: Do you have any special message for the public at this juncture?

A: The main theme of the Opposition for the Presidential election 2015 is good governance. But if you look at the leaders of the Opposition and their election campaign, it is led by persons who have the worst records for good governance in Sri Lanka’s political history. On the other hand, all separatists, Eelamists, federalists, etc. are in their camp. Therefore, this is an implementation of separatists’ agenda under the guise of good governance. They have no capacity whatsoever to implement good governance. They supported the separatist movement in the past and the re-emergence of separatism in Sri Lanka is very much possible. Therefore the Sri Lankan people should be very careful when casting their vote on January 8th. This is because there is a danger that the country can be pushed back into the dark era where bus bombs, train bombs, etc went off killing thousands of innocent civilians, wounding many others and creating mass destruction.

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One Response to “Sri Lanka needs the Executive President -Gammanpila”

  1. Christie Says:

    Chandrika is a puppet of the Indian Empire like her father. India, Indian colonial parasites and vermin are prepared to spend what ever the amount is to maintain the Empire be it in Fiji or Guyana or Ceylon.

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