SHIFT OF EXECUTIVE POWER FROM PRESIDENT TO PRIME MINISTER OR  PARLIAMENT : A QUESTION
Posted on March 7th, 2016

Sugath Samarasinghe

Now that the draft proposal for the formation of the proposed Constitution Assembly is almost agreed upon, I have a question bothering me. I am sure the same may be problematic to others too. This is my problem. At present the President of Sri Lanka who is the repository of executive power is elected through the individual vote of voters throughout the country, some voting for, and some voting against. The candidate who polls 51% or more, is elected to this top position to wield executive power on behalf of the people. Even though 49% of the voters may have disagreed with his election, the entire country has had its say. To be elected President, he requires the votes of the minorities too. Therefore he would represent the most no. of people as could be practicable. Thus he has secured people’s mandate to exercise executive power on behalf of the people. The election of the present incumbent is the best example of this, though he too does not hesitate to violate the Constitution for his advantage when necessary, despite having taken an oath to abide by it! But he is also the head of the political party and of his allies, and his actions are generally partisan.

It is also accepted that power in the hands of a single person tempts him to abuse, and therefore dangerous. An alternative that is being considered is to shift this power to the Prime Minster, as a possible remedy because he will be directly accountable to Parliament. Now the MP who becomes the Prime Minister is the leader of the political Party that had obtained the largest no. of seats or who can command support of others to be able to form a government. Yet he remains only another candidate who won just a single seat representing a limited electorate unlike the President. Hence, is he qualified to exercise executive power, being a candidate who is elected by a people limited to a particular electorate, more than the person who was elected by the entire country consisting of different shades of opinion and interests? Cannot such power be abused by the Prime Minister too, given the opportunity, a glimpse of which we see in the performance of   the present incumbent? He is going round threatening dissent opinion, seeking to act arbitrarily.

The other option is to give the executive power to Parliament. Let us not kid ourselves imagining that this Parliament is of the Westminster tradition. At least many of them are no more than political Kalaveddahs” (courtesy Field Marshal Fonseka)! Some of them jump from side to side depending on the type of personal advantage that may accrue to them from time to time. And now some of them are not even those elected by people, having entered Parliament through the back door. Can they be allowed to exercise the executive power of the people?

I also do not understand the mechanism by which Parliament will operate exercising the Executive power as a body, especially during an emergency situation where quick decisions become necessary. Thus to me, it appears that people are faced with a Hobson’s choice. Am I right?

Sugath Samarasinghe

3 Responses to “SHIFT OF EXECUTIVE POWER FROM PRESIDENT TO PRIME MINISTER OR  PARLIAMENT : A QUESTION”

  1. LANKAPUTHRA Says:

    Sugath, sorry to say, your arguments are naïve. Why it is because you formulated your argument after MR was defeated and Sirisena President came to power and changed constitution. This put the Election Commissioner as the head of the government. You got used to it and did not question the system, All you did was to adhere to Mahinda HORA PALHORA! I blame MR for the confusion, and why? MR did not listen US state Department warnings. He went ahead and was going to the UN to vote on setting up a Palestinian state. (What has the Palestinians done to mother Lanka? Apart from arming and giving monitory support to LTTE and JVP) Jordan told MR not to do it Israel told him not to do it. He invited Abbas to Colombo. So, Obama ordered CIA to get rid of MR. That is why MR stopped campaigning 3 weeks before the end date. Why was he not at the train opening ceremony? Only the INDIAN High Commissioner was present?

  2. Dham Says:

    Sugath,
    You say “I also do not understand the mechanism by which Parliament will operate ..”

    This Mechanism is called “mateship”. This was mechanism introduced mainly by previous president.

    Regardless of how many seats won by who, once you have the executive power, you offer the “mateship” to whoever you want. Then that “mate” will crossover from opposition to government and will become a minister. This is why number of ministerial positions sky rocketed to an unbearable number for a nation living on money borrowed from abroad and local rich ( with above market interest , the extra goes back to the executive president).

    After the last presidential election which saw defeating of executive president, the elected legitimate government was probably sold to opposition leader by the previous president. This kind of strange procedure happened for the first time in the world. Except for the ministries held by the president, all other ministers were appointed by the previous president and are from the wining party of the previous general election. The government was not defeated. New president is not able to appoint a PM form the loosing party but he did. It happened after a discussion between the previous president and the opposition leader, incoming president was not even involved. Loosing president, after loosing the election has no power whatsoever but this happened.
    Thus an illegal PM and illegal government was set up by the new president. Strange thing is the Prime Minister and 70 odd ministers did not even protest. Looks like the Sri Lanka’s president personally owns the government.
    Therefore the current owner of Sri Lanka is this tiny man , ex village headman.
    There is no constitution in Sri Lanka. It is a con-institution. “Cons” have been institutionalised to run the country.

  3. LANKAPUTHRA Says:

    Dham, I totally agree with you. MR bought these members of Parliament with MINISTRIES. There is no constitution right now. RANIL can play it any way he wants, but not with Chinese.

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