An Open Letter to President Maithripala Sirisena, Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe and Former-President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga
Posted on April 26th, 2015

By  ‘The Collective of Concerned Citizens and Academics’, 14 April 2015

(1) Immensely Positive Change on 8 January 2015

We congratulate you two Gentlemen and Lady for bringing about the change of 8 January 2015. You were supported by others such as Mr. Wijedasa Rajapakse, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and others far too numerous to mention. We too worked behind the scenes to the best of our ability. We of the ‘Collective of Concerned Citizens and Academics’ are heartened by the possibility of a wholesale change in Sri Lanka’s political culture. We support the formation of the Yahapalana ‘National Government’ before the next General Elections. We understand the political imperatives that compelled you to bring SLFP parliamentarians into the new Cabinet. We support the creation of a National Government after the next General Elections as well.

We support your anti-corruption measures, the formation of the independent Commissions, the plans for Economic development and the plan to create 1 Million jobs. We wish you all success and look forward to supporting your National Government now and after the next General Elections. (Note: however, we wish to caution Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe about the way plans often fall by the wayside. For example, after the electoral victory of December 2001 you planned on the basis that the UNP government would run for a full 6-year term. This was a serious miscalculation on your part. Especially when you knew that the President could dissolve Parliament anytime after December 2002. In any event by mid-2002 serious dysfunctions had begun to emerge and by April 2004 your government ceased to exist.)

In this Letter we are not going to discuss or analyse the Proposed 19th and 20th Amendments to the Constitution. The 19th Amendment is under-going modifications; very little is known about the 20th Amendment other than it is a new Electoral System. As and when necessary we will present our analyses of the above at later dates. The issues we raise below, however, are relevant whatever the final agreement reached about the 19th and 20th Amendments, and whatever new Constitution (if any) comes into being in the future. We are not allied to the JHU, SLFP, UNP, NFF or any other Political Party.

(2) We are Seriously Concerned about the Attempt to Weaken the Executive Arm of Government

We are, however, extremely worried about the ill-thought attempt to weaken the Executive Presidential system and replace it with a Westminster or modified Westminster-type Prime Ministerial system. We write this Letter to warn you and the People of Sri Lanka of the very great dangers ahead if these measures were to be implemented. Consider the following example of a terrible mistake made in the 1978 Constitution. It is in the light of such examples that we write to warn the political leaders and the people at large of the very real dangers ahead if we make mistakes in the forthcoming Constitutional Reforms. This warning is necessary now if we are to avoid making appalling mistakes far worse than the one discussed below.

Sri Lanka must learn from the Past. Consider the mistake in the 1978 Constitution which  made the District the ‘electorate’ that an MP (Member of Parliament) had to deal with. Thereby compelling him/her to mount an election campaign encompassing the entire District. Simultaneously, the Preferential Voting (Panaape) system was also introduced. In 1978, who asked how are MPs to get the funds to campaign throughout a District?” Where are the newspaper articles which anticipated and analysed the nexus that would emerge between aspiring MPs, Drug Smugglers, Policemen, and very senior Political Leaders? Reflect on the corrosive effects this one ill-thought measure – there are many more in the 1978 Constitution – has had on Sri Lankan society and tens of thousands of its people, including thousands of drug addicts. In 1978-1979 who are the Constitutional Lawyers, Politicians, Political Scientists, Social Scientists and Historians who anticipated the horrible results that were to emerge in the years after 1978? Yes, there was a great deal of opposition to the Presidential System. A great deal of this was primarily due to the antipathy towards Mr. J.R. Jayewardene. But where are the analyses of the above Electoral System change? In our assessment the introduction of the Executive Presidential system was a very timely and necessary measure. But Mr. Jayewardene concentrated far too much power in the Office of the Executive President and also did not pay adequate attention to the potential opportunity provided for the systematic Abuse of Power by a sitting President. We now have the incontrovertible empirical evidence from the period January 2010 to January 2015.

What we now need to do is to trim the powers of the Executive President; embed a clause within the Constitution which makes it compulsory for the President to accurately Report all government expenditure to Parliament; make the violation of the above clause an Impeachable Offence by the Executive President; introduce the Independent Commissions; introduce a new Electoral System; introduce and implement other measures of the Yahapalanaya government; and move on.

Yes, we agree that Abolish the Executive Presidential System” was a slogan used during the Maithripala Election Campaign. This was a mistake. Similarly, too, the ‘100 days’ time-table too was a mistake. That mistake was done by 3-4 ‘strategists’. And now the entire Yahapalanaya popular movement is potentially at risk due to this mistake. This mistake can be corrected by asking the people for another 100 days. Remember that Ven. Sobitha Thero, the originator of the popular movement against the Rajapakse Regime said more than 1 year ago that the new government can take 6-months to accomplish its tasks”. He did not say anything about a ‘100-day’ time-table.

The ‘Abolish the Executive Presidential System’ slogan too was/is a mistake. But it is a mistake which is qualitatively more complicated and far less easy to correct than the ‘100-days’ timetable. Yes, we accept that a great number of genuinely democratic persons including Ven. Sobitha Thero are of the opinion that Abolishing (Ahosi-kireema) of the Executive Presidency is the main action that the new Yahapalanaya government must do. This mistake needs to be corrected. Ven. Athureliye Ratana hamuduruwo can do this is a few hours.

Concurrently, the dangers of (an inherently weak) Prime Ministerial system (see (3) below) needs to be explained to the People and to many politicians and activists. The Champika Ranawaka-Athureliye Ratana wing of the JHU (and some others as well) had a correct position before the Election but unfortunately they were not properly understood nor were they even heard by the near-hysterical cacophony raised by the Abolitionists”. Politically, this cacophony may have been necessary for the mobilisation of the anti-Rajapakse movement. ‘Abolish the Presidential System’ could be read (and misread) as a political-synonym for ‘Abolish the Rajapakse Presidency’. And, prior to 8th January 2015, the main issue on the political agenda was to defeat Mr. Rajapakse and for Mr. Sirisena to win.

In any event now the Election has been won and this mistake can be corrected and we can move forward. Educate the People and bring them into your Confidence.

(3) Why Sri Lanka Needs a Executive President whose Powers have been Correctly Trimmed

(3.1) The powers of Sri Lanka’s President are far too Dictatorial: This is a well analysed issue. We will not reiterate the reasons in this Letter as we assume Sri Lanka’s political leaders and adult population are aware of the critiques. The period after the 2010 Presidential Elections and the 18th Amendment to the Constitution the dangers were clear for all to see.

(3.2) We recommend an Executive President who’s powers are correctly trimmed: The powers of the Executive President must reduced from that which prevailed before 8 January 2015. We are in complete agreement with that position. The Executive President’s Powers can (and should be) democratised. This Option has been consistently and correctly articulated very coherently by Minister Champika Ranawaka and the JHU. But reduced” does not mean always having to act on the ‘advise’ of the Prime Minister”!

(3.3) In a Westminster or modified-Westminster system the Prime Minister is a Hostage to the majority in Parliament: The Majority in Parliament can change in a day or in an hour (see 3.6 below). This insecurity is a fact. This cannot be wished away by whatever arguments the Abolitionists” present. If we make the mistake of bringing (or, more accurately, entrapping) the Executive Leader within Parliament, the political stakes to topple a government will become immensely higher than they are at present. Consider how the UNP and JVP conspired to topple the then government in 2007. And the sense of insecurity felt by that government in spite of the fact that the then President’s control over the Executive would have remained untouched. Consider the way cross-overs took place before the 8th January 2015 Elections. Such types of situations will be a weekly or monthly occurrence in a Prime Ministerial system.

When there are crucial policies at stake – for example, when the Unity and Security of the State is threatened – there will be numerous opportunities for several smaller parties to conspire with each other, bribe a few dozen MPs from the larger parties (see 3.6 below) and topple any government.

Will the proposed Legislation to ‘Stop/Abolish Cross-Overs’ solve the above problem? No, it will not. First, it’s Constitutional validity is highly dubious. It will be challenged in the Supreme Court. Second, even if the above measure is embedded in the Constitution (and therefore the Supreme Court will not question its validity), the above provision cannot prevent a government losing a vital Vote, if, suddenly, just a few minutes before a vital Vote, between 30 to 50 MPs cross-over to the Opposition. At that point in time, the government stands defeated. And fresh parliamentary elections have to be held in due course. Whether those MPs are ejected from Parliament or not is a separate matter. Third, the above Legislation assumes that it will have a deterrent effect because MPs want to remain in Parliament. But, that does not consider the very real possibility that there will be numerous MPs who would be prepared to permanently say goodbye to Parliament once they have received a bribe of many hundreds of millions of Rupees or even a Billion Rupees (See 3.6 below). With Rs. 1 Billion they can begin entirely new businesses and careers.

We have heard rumours of Proposed Legislation (or even a Constitutional Provision) that prevents a President from dissolving a government that has lost a vital Vote. That a parliament, once elected, cannot be dissolved for 4 years and 6 months. Will such a measure solve the above problem? No, it will not.

First, such a Constitutional Provision or Law is totally absurd. It is politically unsustainable. After a government is defeated in an important Vote, every subsequent meeting of that Parliament will degenerate into a yelling match between the Opposition (the Majority) and the government (the Minority). Consider the situations that have developed in Provincial Councils in the recent past when the above has happened. Further, all subsequent efforts by Parliament to pass Laws will be frustrated and opposed. The governance of the country – and, most important of all, the economic development programmes – will grind to a halt. Many tens of thousands of government decisions – both large and small – will be stalled and remain stalled for months at a time. Government servants will gradually stop obeying their Ministers and the leaders of the Government. Foreign investors will avoid Sri Lanka.

Second, such a Law or Provision goes against all tenets of Constitutional Law and Political Science. What is the political legitimacy of a government that does not have a majority in Parliament? How does it square with the Sovereignty of the People? On what basis does such a minority government strive to enact new Legislation? True, the allegation will be made that the Opposition won the Vote through bribery and corruption. But that will have to be proved in a Court of Law before the government can eject such MPs and bring new MPs into Parliament. Proving such charges will be immensely difficult and in any event will take months if not years. In the meantime, however, the People of Sri Lanka and the international community will see that within Sri Lanka’s Parliament a majority of the MPs do not support that government. Politically, that is the crux of the issue and it can be resolved only through fresh parliamentary elections. Therefore, we can anticipate an endless stream of parliamentary elections (the history of the parliaments of Italy and Japan should be studied to get an idea of what could happen in Sri Lanka).

We wonder how and why this absurd measure is being considered? It is our deduction that this is, yet again, a result of Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe’s intervention. President Kumaratunga’s dissolution of Mr. Wickremasinghe’s government in 2004 is probably the underlying reason for this absurd measure. Is Mr. Wickremasinghe trying to embed an Insurance Policy within the Constitution on behalf of a future government where he will be the Prime Minister? If this is the case, then, yet again, Mr. Wickremasinghe is placing his personal interests and the UNP’s interests ahead of the interests of a viable and stable Sri Lanka.

(3.4) If the present PR system remains, then the vulnerability of the Prime Minister is very high: The present UNP – which says that it is the single largest political party in Sri Lanka – may try to gamble that, with Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe as its Leader, it will be able to form a stable government. Even if that is the case, Mr. Wickremasinghe and those UNPers who support his view must be warned that they are playing with fire. The new Constitution and/or Constitutional Reforms that we make in the near future cannot be tailored to fit Mr. Wickremasinghe or the UNP immediate needs.

As of 12 April 2015, Mr. Wickremasinghe’s backroom machinations and tactics from 10th January to early 12 April 2015 have created a huge amount of confusion and suspicion amongst the ordinary Voters and Supporters of the Yahapalana government. These are Voters from many political parties – UNP, SLFP, JVP, JHU, and members of other parties as well. They are confused and disappointed. Concurrently, the Pro-Rajapakse groups have got somewhat strengthened. Mr. Wickremasinghe must bear 100% responsibility for causing this damage to the Yahapalanaya Movement. However, the Supreme Court’s recent judgements are excellent lessons to Mr. Wickremasinghe. We hope he learns from these. And, if necessary, more such lessons are in the pipeline. (Note: President Sirisena and Former-President Kumaratunga, it is incumbent upon both of you to debate these matters with Mr. Wickremasinghe and oppose these machinations.)

(3.5) Will the situation be improved if a new Electoral System which incorporates a mixture of PR and First-Past-the-Post system is introduced (i.e. the 20th Amendment)? Allegedly this Amendment is based on the mixed” system incorporated in the Dinesh Gunewardena Report.

In our assessment: ‘No’. The Reasons are:

(a) As it is, this proposed new system is a HYBRID that is quite heavily weighed towards PR. Therefore, immediately the insecurity mentioned in (3.4) above makes its entrance.

(b) What will finally emerge after a long and gruelling debate will, most probably, be even more weighed towards PR. We of the ‘Collective of Concerned Citizens and Academics’ are not opposed to this PROVIDED the Executive President, as in (3.2) above, is retained. We call upon all thinking Voters to analyse our arguments and Support our View.

(c) Smaller Political parties have already begun to mobilize to retain the PR system or to retain as much of the PR system as possible. Upcountry Tamil political parties have already begun politically mobilizing for the PR system. They say that a great injustice would be done to them if PR is changed. They make no mention of the Executive Presidential system. They give the distinct impression that they do not care, as long as their ability to gain elected office remains as high as they can possibly make it!

(d) The JVP, JHU, SLMC, Peratugami Party, etc are all small parties. They too may clamour to retain as much of PR as possible in the new Electoral System. And eventually because of the clamour of all these parties Sri Lanka may end up with a hideous HYBRID system which is 60%-70% PR. And that will open the door to endless machinations, intrigue and cross-overs.

(e) If the Yahapalanaya government insists on a Westminster type system, then Abolish the PR System. Or, at the very least, like Germany, have a high ‘cut-off’ percentage of 12.5% of the Votes cast. According to very well known principles of Political Science a governmental system cannot have a strong and secure Prime Minister while, concurrently, having a PR system which opens the floodgates to a  multiplicity of Parties in Parliament. If you want a Westminster type system, then reconcile yourselves to shutting out small parties like the JVP, JHU, Upcountry Peoples Party, Peratugami Party, and Independent Groups. (Note: even with the abolition of the PR system the Prime Minister will not be secure in Parliament. Refresh your minds with the constant crises which beset SWRD Bandaranaike’s government (1956-1959); Mrs Bandaranaike (1960-1965. During that time she had to have three Cabinet re-shuffles. And even then was defeated by a cross-over); and Mr Dudley Senanayake (1965-1970).

But, if you consider it important to include the above mentioned smaller Political Parties within Parliament then you must have a separately elected (and adequately powerful) Executive President.

Consider the Israeli system. The Israeli Prime Minister is in a permanent state of insecurity.   The ONLY reason why Israel manages to function is because of the larger Threat it faces from ALL its Arab neighbour states. The Israeli system also breeds extremism and brinkmanship within the Prime Ministers’ Office itself (a similar situation can easily develop in Sri Lanka as well). Look at the way Netanyahu used the most extreme slogans to appeal to right-wing voters in the recent Parliamentary Elections in Israel. He and his aides assessed that he had to do so to be able to win the capacity to build a coalition.

(3.6) The Impact of US $ 1 Billion of Bribery Money on Sri Lanka’s Parliamentary System

In the public discussions in Newspapers, TV and Radio we have not seen any mention of the havoc that will be created in Parliament through the bribery of MPs. We wish to draw the attention of Sri Lankan voters, Political Leaders, Academics, Newspaper Editors and Political Analysts to this very real threat.

Within the context of the Government Budgets of rich Countries in the World how much does one (01) Billion US Dollars matter? In alphabetical order consider: China? France? India? Iran? Kuwait? Maldives? Pakistan? Qatar? Russia? Saudi Arabia? UAE? UK? USA? Funds from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE can be channeled via Pakistan, Maldives and/or India.  (Note: Due to the need to keep this Letter as brief as possible we request the reader to please access the Internet and find out for themselves the Government Budgets of all the above countries, and what percentage 01 (one) Billion US Dollars is, of those Budgets.)

One Billion US Dollars is equal to Rs.130 Billion (at the present Rate of Exchange). This is Sri Lanka Rupees 130,000,000,000. Any one of the above mentioned Countries (or a group of them together) can operate within Sri Lanka. They will operate via covert local network(s) of Sri Lankan citizens who may pose as political ‘power brokers’ and/or political party leaders and/or political party members and/or pretend to be ‘businessmen’. There can be more than one such covert group deployed in Sri Lanka, each unaware of the existence or work of the other(s).

Let us assume that the total Budget for such a Covert Intervention in Sri Lanka’s Parliament is Rs.130 Billion for a period of, say 2-3 years. Let us assume that an MP can be offered a Bribe of Rs.1 (one) Billion. Such a scenario will enable the change of allegiance of 130 MPs over a period of 2-3 years.

Furthermore, why should we assume a Budget of US Dollars 1 (one) Billion? Why not 2..3..or even 5  Billion US Dollars? If the stakes are high enough what is the value of being able to control the destiny of the Country of Sri Lanka via its Parliament?

(4) A Brief Analysis of the Political Movements and Individuals who wish a Total Abolishing of the Executive President. 

A wide range of Political Parties, citizens groups, opinion makers and individuals are involved in the Campaign to completely abolish the Executive President. When taken together they constitute a veritable witches brew of disparate groups. Some are genuine (but naïve) democratically minded citizens; others are have a blind hatred of J.R. Jayewardene; others are simple-minded souls ignorant of the basics of political science and comparative Constitutional Systems; others seem to have sinister plans to capture State power from a weakened Sri Lankan Executive in the future.

(4.1) Hatred of Mr J.R. Jayewardene: The hatred towards Mr Jayewardene is a significant factor in the present cacophony of Abolish, abolish, abolish the Presidential System”. Politicians and academics of such diverse origins such as Vasudewa Nanayakkara, Dr. Rajitha Senaratne, Mrs Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, Dr. Wickremabahu Karunaratne, and Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne say with pride that we were against the 1978 Presidential System from 1978 itself”. But merely having opposed the Presidential system from 1978 does not make their position coherent. We too agree that there was/is a great deal that was wrong about J.R. Jayewardene’s formulation. So let us rectify these mistakes – as mentioned 3.2 above –  and move forward without destroying the main Executive backbone of the Sri Lankan governmental system.

(4.2) A Section of the UNP: A section of the UNP have now jumped the Abolish, Abolish” bandwagon. Among them are Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe, Minister Kirielle and a whole host of opportunistic UNPers who want to hold high Office in the next (supposedly UNP dominated) National Government, and therefore want to be on Mr.Wickramasinghe’s good books.

 (4.3) A Section of the SLFP: Some in the SLFP too are making statements about totally abolishing the Executive Presidency. Our assessment is that these people too want to ensure high Office in the next (supposedly UNP dominated) National Government, and therefore want to be on Mr.Wickramasinghe’s good books.

(4.4) The JVP: The JVP is for totally abolishing the Executive President. It has implacably articulated this position from 1978, and from the Elections of 1994 onwards. There are two possibilities for the JVP’s position. First, that the JVP is naïve and unable to understand the political virtues of the Executive Presidency. The JVP reiterates ad nauseum about the need to strengthen democracy and therefore the need to abolish the Executive Presidential system. If this is the reason, then well and good. But the second possibility is far more sinister and potentially destructive. Which is that the JVP wants a weak Executive branch in the Sri Lankan governmental system to facilitate an extra-legal attempt to capture State Power in the future. Only time will enable us to tell which was the real reason.

(4.5) The Peratugami Party: Basic positions similar to the JVP, above. With the added ambition of trying to woo as many JVPers to join its ranks.

(4.6) Individuals Such as Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Devasiri, Professor Chandragupta Thenuwara, J.C. Weliamuna, Mr Gamini Viyangoda, etc: These are, by and large, well-intentioned opinion makers from ‘civil society’. They are mistaken when they advocate the total abolishing of the Executive Presidency. It is hoped that they will study the issues at stake and change their views. Or that their flawed counsel will not be heeded by President Sirisena, Former-President Kumaratunga and Mr. Wickremasinghe.

(5) Our Recommendations To President Sirisena, Former-President Kumaratunga and Mr. Wickremasinghe

(5.1) Get the Issues Regarding Weakening The Executive Clarified in Your Minds: Examine the post-World War II history of the Italian parliament: to date more than 60+ governments. Examine the post-WW II history of the Japanese Parliament: many Dozens of governments. During the last 6-8 years alone approximately 7 Prime Ministers.

Talk and Debate with Minister Champika Ranawaka, Rev. Athureliye Ratana Hamuduruwo and Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke. We have identified these three individuals as having very deep and accurate assessments of the dangers created by a weak Executive. Meet them one at a time. Or meet them all together. (Note: we have deep and fundamental disagreements with Dr. Jayatilleke’s assessment of the Rajapakse Regime and his continued support of that cabal. But, that should not blind us to the very accurate assessments that he makes of the consequences of the weakening of the Executive arm of Sri Lanka’s Government.)

(5.2) A Closed-Door Debate: President Sirisena, Ex-President Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Wickremasinghe,  consider holding a Debate between yourselves on the one hand, and Minister Champika Ranawaka, Rev. Athureliye Ratana Hamuduruwo and Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke on the other. A one-day Debate with the above three individuals would be very productive. Dr. Jayatilleke may not wish to sit along with Minister Ranawaka and Rev. Athureliye Ratana, and vice versa. That can be easily accommodated. They can sit separately and it can be a 3-cornered Debate. This Debate must be held behind closed-doors. It must not be a public debate. If that were to happen then the discussion and debate will not productive as the first issue on the minds of each person will be the impression he/she is making on the watching national audience. Te main purpose of this Debate is to get all the issues clarified in the minds of all the participants. Allow the main participants to bring a selection of their aides. For example, from the government side Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne, Minister Wijedasa Rajapakse and others. Similarly, allow Minister Champika Ranawaka, Rev. Athureliye Ratana Hamuduruwo and Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke to bring a selection of their aides and secretaries.

An ideal venue would be the Presidential Secretariat. The entire Debate could be video filmed but the Video footage should be kept under the personal control of President Sirisena. The programme need not be broadcast immediately. An Embargo of 3-5 years or more may be placed on the Video Film. Or if there is consensus, it may be broadcast in a few days, weeks or months time. In any event, video filming of the Debate should not be allowed to displace the main purpose of the Debate. If done at all, it should be done for the purpose of historical Record.

(6) Other Miscellaneous Issues Relevant to the Yahapalana Government

(6.1) Begin Working Immediately on Economic Development: The countries economy has not witnessed any appreciable economic up-turn after 8 January 2015. Yes, we understand that it is still only a few months after the victory. But the peoples’ expectations are very high. You have to make an effort and be seen by the people to be doing so. We have done, and continue to do surveys by ourselves. small scale industrialists, hardware merchants, general grocery owners are already beginning to grumble that the Yahapalana government is only talk, talk, talk about Constitutional Reform. And that their Economic woes are becoming worse. There is a great deal of truth in the above.

We suggest the appointment of a dynamic MP such as Dr. Harsha De Silva. Stop him from having to attend countless TV talk shows. Limit it to one talk show every 2 weeks. He should be given a good staff and should get to work. On the day of the Election victory itself the Volkswagen Chairman was seen on TV discussing with Dr. De Silva. That was the last we saw of the Volkswagen CEO.

(6.2) Discontinue Arjuna Mahendran as Governor of the Central Bank: This issue has done considerable damage to the Yahapalanaya Government. Arjuna Mahendran is terminally damaged. There is no way in which he can work as the Governor in the future, whatever the findings of the investigations Committee. President Sirisena and Ex-President Kumaratunga, you will need to draw the line on this matter if Mr. Wickremasinghe is unable or reluctant to act on this matter due to intra-UNP politics and personal friendship with Mr Charlie Mahendran, former UNP Ambassador and Arjuna Mahendran’s father.

(7) Conclusions: The Jury is Still Deliberating. History Will Judge”

(7.1) President Maithripala Sirisena, Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe and Former-President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, the three of you have re-democratised Sri Lanka in a manner which was unthinkable 6 months ago. You have done a tremendous service to Sri Lanka.

(7.2) But this is just the beginning – there is a great deal of work to be done. The Rajapakse cabal is organising. Some among you have given ammunition to the Rajapakses. If mistakes pile up one upon the other, the whole Yahapalanaya movement could get derailed. You have still not accomplished even 10% of what the people expect from you. The Jury is still out. History will be the judge, and if you mess it all up History’s judgement will be very harsh. Take another 100 days to finish the 1st Phase of the work that must be done before the next General Elections. Don’t allow the UNP’s rush you into a quick election – the UNP is under the impression that it will emerge victorious. Don’t allow the UNP to stampede the Yahapalanaya Movement into a fatal error.

(7.3) Former President Kumaratunga, you have played a remarkable role in facilitating the rejuvenation and revitalisation of the SLFP. The role that you played in persuading Mr. Sirisena to risk all is quite outstanding. But its vital that you – and the other 2 top leaders realise that a great deal remains to be done. You have to ‘read’ Mr Wickremasinghe very carefully. Of the three of you he is the one who can upset the whole Yahapalanaya Project.

(7.4) Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe, during the last 3 months you have showed your very considerable administrative and governmental skills and capabilities. But you have also given ammunition to the Rajapakse cabal as well. Of the three Leaders it is you who could – in your haste to give the UNP a winning ‘edge’ in the forthcoming Elections – inadvertently pave the path for the destruction of the Yahapalanaya movement.

(7.5) Lastly, and most important of all, President Sirisena. There is a huge Responsibility on your Shoulders. YOU are the Person we Elected. YOU are – as at present – the best President we have ever had. YOU are the person to whom we gave an Unquestionable Mandate.

We request you to kindly consider the following:

  • Do not allow the Executive Presidential System to be weakened beyond the necessary degree. (What that necessary degree” can be determined. Pay close attention to Minister Champika Ranawaka, Ven. Athureliye Ratana Thero and Dr Dayan Jayatilleke.
  • There will never be consensus and complete agreement between Mr Sampanthan, Mr Sumanthiran, Vasudewa Nanayakkara, Dr Rajitha Senaratne, Mr. Rauff Hakeem, Mrs Kumaratunga, Ven. Sobitha Thero, Dr.Jayampathy Wickremaratne, Champika Ranawaka, Ven. Athureliye Ratana Thero, Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke, J.C. Weliamuna, etc etc.
  • At some point a Leader must decide. Must draw the line. And that Leader is YOU. You have to prepare yourself for this challenge which will surely come in the future.
  • Sirisena, Stand for a 2nd Term as President.

Mr. President, it is our assessment that you running for a 2nd Presidential Term would be greatly beneficial for Sri Lanka and the changes that were begun on 8 January 2015. These changes have only begun; there is a great deal more to be done. These changes need to be firmly established within the political culture of Sri Lanka. That will take years. The deleterious effects from 1978 onwards, and more seriously, from 2010 onwards cannot be neutralized in a few months. Therefore, your hand on the Rudder of the Sri Lanka State will ensure that the Yahapalanaya movement keeps to its correct path. 

If you insist on not running for a 2nd Term, then you risk the possibility of rapidly becoming a ‘Lame Duck’ President. By 2018 and 2019 politicians will begin to start thinking and plotting about who the next President could be. That is something the Sri Lanka cannot afford. Therefore, whatever your qualms and personal preferences, give the Country the stability of your Leadership for the period 2020 to 2025.

Complete you 1st Term in January 2020. Then put yourself forward to as a Candidate for a 2nd Term. We hope that you will be able to win that Election. Your 2nd Term will run till January 2025. Then we an be assured that your mature and solid Leadership will be available to the Country till 2025. By that time we would have been able to put behind us the deleterious effects of the previous Regime.

Thank you,

‘The Collective of Concerned Citizens and Academics’

8 Responses to “An Open Letter to President Maithripala Sirisena, Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe and Former-President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    I take exception to the view that a strong president is needed. This country did well without an executive president. UPFA should make a counter motion to abolish the executive presidency altogether. With executive presidency and peace, minority parties are the kingmakers. Without it, elected MPs who are accountable for their action can rule the country democratically.

    It was brought to our attention that President Sirisena has appointed Nimal Lansa as one of his organisers. This is in addition to SB Dissanayaka in his government. These moves are a great betrayal of voters.

  2. Independent Says:

    Dilrook,
    If 13A is scrapped there is no need for any Executive, but with Paaalth Sabhaa and looming Ranil PMship it is necessary to keep it.

  3. Dr.K Says:

    To the Collective of Concerned Citizens and Academics’

    Feel very sorry about you people for wasting so much of your time to advice President Maithripala.

    (5.2) A Closed-Door Debate: It’s really a joke to hold a close door debate on an ongoing issue for the purpose of historical records.

    You are trying to make him further stuck in the trap set by many parties who supported him to win the election. It does not help the Sri Lankans to achieve any good.

    Open your eyes wider and see what’s happening in Sri Lanka under ‘ Yahapalanaya’ theme. It’s just a sheep skin that helps tiger to hide and raise its head again.

  4. Ratanapala Says:

    Has one overlooked that abolishing the executive presidency should go hand in hand with the abolition of the 13th Amendment and thus the provincial councils. Without an executive presidency the formation and unilateral declaration of independence of Eelam will not be far away. Muslims will have their “istans” in due time. Already the father of UDI – for Eelam Varadharaja Perumal is in Jaffna.

    Sri Lanka is in for very trouble times in the coming days!

    Personally I cannot see anything good coming out of something where Choura Ragina is involved as the writer or writers seems to suggest. She is pure scum!

  5. Metteyya_Brahmana Says:

    What a bunch of horse crap, and who is “The Collective of Concerned Citizens and Academics”? Let’s have some transparency so we know who is REALLY writing this crap in our newspapers.

    Maithripala is a JOKE – a front guy for Ranil. Everyone who is paying close attention knows this, so this BS the author of the above article is trying to push that Maithripala has some sort of power over Ranil is a pure fantasy.

    Chandrika is even worse, and is destroying the SLFP just to settle a personal family score with Mahinda. The weakening of the SLFP only benefits Ranil and the UNP, not the country.

    Whether we have a an Executive President or and Executive Prime Minister makes no difference to the outcome of public policy. All of this attention spent on shifting the power of the president to the prime minister is just a shuffling of the seats, not real reform needed to improve the democracy in Sri Lanka. If you really want democracy in Sri Lanka, follow the Switzerland model and let the people vote directly on legislation that affects them. If you are not willing to move in that direction, you really are not a democrat.

    All of these FAMILIES, whether it is Ranil’s, Chandrika’s, Premadasa’s, or Rajapaksa’s are feuding unnecessarily with each other rather than focusing on the people’s business. Who cares if one or several of these families has any power but them? The people of Sri Lanka sure don’t care, and are more interested in moving the country forward, especially economically. The recently deceased Singaporean leader ruled with an iron fist for 30 years, and Singapore went from one of the poorest countries to the richest, so we know one-family rule can work if the family is competent and has popular support among the electorate. This is what the authors of the article just don’t get – they are slaves to what they ‘think’ is progressive ideology without critically evaluating the effect of this ideology on the welfare of Sri Lankans and what the country needs now to move forward.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Whilst the subjects to cover are vast, some Points to Ponder :

    (1) Whilst there are merits to a toned down Presidency, there are demerits too. Swift decision making was done re the LTTE under the correct type of Presidency under MR, and the LTTE was taken down. In the end, I think it were the Tamil people who really benefitted from the removal of the LTTE. The people who died to take down the LTTE were the Sinhala /Buddhists, mainly. Today, this group remains the ‘convenient fall guy’ for some people.

    At present, a toned down Presidency may suit Lanka.

    (2) We object to the way in which the country is governed at present. The present govt does not command the respect of People due to :
    (a) Cheated elections.
    (c) Forming an entire new govt when the mandate was to select a President. Also using Bribes & Fear to get MPs cross over to new govt.
    (d) Bringing in Failed politicos from the past to high posts, particularly RW & CBK. Both have some sort of ‘axe to grind’ with the majority group in Lanka, CBK in particular, as her father & husband were assassinated under rough times by members of the majority group.
    (e) International Money Market very unstable.

    To counter some of the negative aspects , we suggest :
    (1) Spread the word of Goal of SELF SUFFICIENCY to garner energy in a positive way and create positive emotions. Would like to see govt money toward this end.
    (2) Keep instructions as simple as possible to masses of Lanka. Message of NO RIOTS important.
    (3) Do not formulate new Laws until European elections are over. India & Lanka are both being used as tools for strenghtening sagging econo/political systems outside.

  7. helaya Says:

    I agree wihDr.K and Brahmanaya. What a bunch of bull crap. They do not listen to you academics. They listen to only West and India.

  8. veddah Says:

    Sri Lanka is a world leader in many important things. The first recorded hospital was in Sri Lanka. The first time the teachings of the Buddha were written down was in Sri Lanka. Now why don’t we have a Tuesday modern democracy. A leader is only necessary when there is disaster. Sri Lanka is not in a disaster. Even then we are probably better off with a co-ordinating officer.
    Nearly all voters have mobile phones. We do banking with our phones. So I think security and authentication cannot be an obstacle.
    why don’t we ask the people to tell the president what they want. The president can be like a co-ordinating officer.
    Another first?
    Perhaps not popular because the presidential entourage will dissappear?

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