Why Executive Presidency Must Go to Save the Nation
Posted on April 25th, 2017

Dilrook Kannangara

Those who supported SLFP candidates in 1994 (Chandrika), 2005 (Mahinda) and 2015 (Sirisena) have no moral right to oppose the abolition of executive presidency. Abolishing was a key promise of all three presidents since 1994. However, morality is absent not just among politicians but also their voters. Deception and lying is accepted as right. Having tasted limitless powers, Sirisena too has fallen in the same honeypot his predecessors were in. It is not just the president, his/her entire family and relatives depend on executive powers. This is why it is always forgotten after winning power.                   

Lame Excuses to Keep It            

There are lame excuses to keep it. One is to retain the ability to dissolve a provincial council. There was only one instance of dissolving a provincial council by the president when it came close to violating the Constitution. Alternatively, the Supreme Court could have done it. However, dissolution of a provincial council trying to forge into an independent nation achieves nothing in post-war time. If an errant Northern Provincial Council is dissolved, elections will have to be called. The same party wins the election. It is the same story for the Eastern Provincial Council. Other provincial councils don’t plan to create separate nations. Therefore, this lame excuse doesn’t stack up any longer.

Political stability is another naïve excuse to retain executive presidency post-war. However, the executive president is the main source of political instability. If there was no executive president, the parliament will be unchallenged. Suppressing people’s will just for the sake of political stability makes no sense. It worsens the situation. Sri Lanka had very stable governments before the introduction of executive presidency.

Foreign investment is another daft excuse given by those who support executive presidency. There is no co-relationship. Countries without executive presidency get more FDIs than Sri Lanka.

Therefore, these lame excuses fail the sanity check.

Executive Presidency is the Reason for Lawlessness             

All executive presidents misused their power to save hardcore criminals. Any criminal can save himself if he can align himself with the political needs of the executive president. The president can use legal, illegal, moral and immoral means and manipulation of any ministry or law (with impunity) to save a criminal of political worth. From Gonawala Sunil to Central Bank bond fraudsters, all presidents have saved top crooks of all criminal dispensations. Even terrorists have been baptized into saints by executive presidents.

A certain popular political commentator supports retaining executive presidency on dubious grounds was given an executive presidential pardon in 1987 under the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord. He, along with a few others, was in self-exile in India. Therefore his personal circumstances supporting executive presidency are understandable.

Manipulating the Supreme Court has been a favourite pastime of executive presidents. All of them did it. How can the country have law and order if a person is above the law and he/she can manipulate the law and the legal system to save anyone and turn a crime to a non-crime?

Executive Presidency is the Reason for Tribal Kingmakers             

Tribal political parties cannot form a government in Sri Lanka as they have only 6% of the vote, nationally. However, they become kingmakers at presidential election. Their voters are block voters. Driven by ultra-racism, they vote enbloc to a candidate specified by the leaders of their ultra-racist mono-ethnic parties. Presidential candidates of both major parties go after this 6% as it can determine winning or losing the presidential election.

This is not the case with parliamentary elections. A party can win the required 113 seats or form a stable government with a lesser number of seats disregarding these parties. Some of them join any government (friend or foe) thereafter. However, they make sure they are available for bidding and auctioning at the next election!

Executive Presidency is the Reason for Indian Manipulation

Surrendering national interests is a crime by the Constitution. However, the executive president is above the law and he/she can surrender national interests at will. The remedy is a joke. The president, if violate the Constitution, can be impeached. A two thirds of parliament is needed along with Supreme Court approval. However, the president allocates ministries. By offering ministries to his supportive MPs, the president can easily get the numbers needed to defeat the impeachment!

The president  also appoints Supreme Court judges. Getting supportive judges ensures they will not help the impeachment.

Therefore, the remedy is not effective at all. As a result all executive presidents have surrendered national interests. If not for executive presidency, any and all MPs can be impeached for the violation of the Constitution by a simple case filed at the Supreme Court. This is another reason why a popular pro-Indian political commentator strongly supports executive presidency. If not for executive presidency, 13A would never have been passed. The President herded MPs and their families into a few hotels, obtained undated resignation letters from them and compelled them to vote for 13A or else face retribution.

Policy Inconsistency              

There were two instances of a SLFP president and a UNP Prime Minister. In both cases, the nation, its defences and the economy suffered as these two parties have different views. The parliament is common to all democratic countries hence the parliament is not at fault. It is the fault of the executive president there is policy inconsistency. According to the Constitution, governance policy is the business of the parliament (where people’s right of self determination and sovereignty is exercised). The president has no right to exercise people’s right of self determination and sovereignty. There cannot be any power above parliament that is the custodian of people’s right of self determination and sovereignty.

However, party politics has made this invisible to most Lankans. UNPers want the president gone and SLFPers want the prime minister replaced. No one cares about the nation.                      

Conclusion                 

Most pressing problems of Sri Lanka today can be traced to executive presidency. However, petty party politics has turned people against facts. Greedy politicians thrive in this atmosphere. The ultimate prize for their greed is executive president post they all dream about. However, this does not mean executive presidency must be abolished along with good parts of the constitution. Throw the dirty bath water (executive presidency) but leave the baby (useful parts of the Constitution). Sirisena and Ranil are trying to throw the baby with the bath water. They have no such mandate. Their only mandate is to abolish executive presidency. Voters have been asking this since 1994 and all presidents have promised it since then. Can we have some honesty please.

17 Responses to “Why Executive Presidency Must Go to Save the Nation”

  1. AnuD Says:

    Any system is as good as the people who run it.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    I AGREE minorities are kingmakers in presidential elections BUT this is NOT the time to SCRAP it. We don’t want RUN-NIL to be in charge of the country.

    But even without OFFICIAL POWER Run-nil is in charge. Sirisena is only a RUBBER STAMP.

  3. ranjit Says:

    Sira or Run-nil don’t have backbone to take decisions on any issue concerning our country. You saw him what he did when he was engaged to Chandrika in 2002. He did all crazy things ignoring our country’s principles and acted like an english knight singing “yes sir, yes sir three bags full” to Solheim and the gang of LTTE sympathisers. Now too he is acting in the same way. These two creatures playing with our lives and the sovereignty of our land. Nobody knows which way they are going. Not a single united statement about our future or country from these two evil rulers.
    This President cannot go over Run nil because he is there in that position because of him today so he don’t have guts to pass Run nil and take decisions. He is a spineless leader with no charisma or a vision for our country. They must make SINHALA Buddhists happy before do or change anything in this Sinhala majority country. We cannot allow other races to destroy our lands or culture and demand separate lands and power to suit their own selfish agendas. SRI Lankans are all same and should be given the same treatment to everyone as one nation,one law and one flag. This president must use his presidential powers and stop this crazy man Run nil before he pawn or sell our motherland to Indian parasites and the western goons. Stand with the majority Sinhalese and solve the problems of all including minority citizens. Save our homeland before it’s too late.

  4. Hiranthe Says:

    I quite agree with Lorenzo!

    At a time most of the countries are thinking of changing to Executive powers, why are we going to go backwards. Because of this EP system we won the war and did all the developments which MR did. Parliament is just a Tug of War place with full of fools and uneducated thugs who do not understand the legislations at all.

    We should not ditch the EP… please wait and see, Indians will go for it soon. Modie might do the change.. If India has to be a real big player in the world they will choose the EP system. Any leader with a vision will need unhindered approval and progress to his development drive. With the Parliament it can not be done.

    We have already diluted our EP powers and we can now see My3 has become a puppet and Run-Nil is going to sell the country if not our brave union guys threatening with the strikes.

    JO has no power as they are not the opposition. Sambandan is just waiting to get the Ealam.. not thinking as a whole country and effectively we do not have an opposition.. Run-Nil can sell anything of Mother Lanka.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    Agree with Lorenzo, Hiranthe & ranjit.

    ——

    The EP should stay !
    It is NOT the EP that is faulty, it is the strange ‘Cold War type’ times we live in and the “INDIAN & some international bullying” of Sri Lanka with Tamil leaders game play for Separatism, plus local foreign Agents.

    MR was removed because he was too good a Prez !
    See how RW was made Exec PM – who would have thought that possible after all the negative things he has done in Lanka.

    Lanka’s strategic position in the Indian Ocean as well as proximity to INDIA (Tamil Nadu, cheap labor) appears to be a curse. This is what causes real trouble for Lanka. Trinco Port in particular is a vulnerable area. Unfortuantely, we cannot tow Lanka away from Tamil Nadu & INDIA. Imagine if Lanka was situated far away from INDIA with NO strategic ports as such – no problems then !

    Lease/Hand over Trinco Port to the UN Security Council for Peaceful Purposes ONLY, or shut it down ?

  6. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    ALL THE PAST PRESIDENTS WHO USED THE SLOGAN **EXECUTIVE PRESIDENCY** WILL BE ABOLISHED, TO WIN THE ELECTION, ARE BLOODY LOW LIFE LIARS. ONCE THEY CAME IN, THEY HELD ONTO THE EXECUTIVE POWERS LIKE A NURSE HOLDING A NEW BORN INFANT. THEY HAVE LOOKED STRAIGHT INTO THE FACES OF THE PEOPLE OF THIS COUNTRY AND LIED. THEIR FORTE IS **LIES AND DECEPTION.**

    WHAT HAVE ALL THESE PRESIDENTS DONE ? ROBBED THE COUNTRY OF FINANCIAL RESOURCES, AND CONTINUE TO ROB WITH IMPUNITY, PROMISED TO STOP DAMNING **NEPOTISM**, CONTINUE TO APPOINT EVEN DOMESTIC SERVANTS INTO HIGHLY ADMINISTRATIVE JOBS. ALL THEIR RELATIONS AND FAMILY MEMBERS ARE IN TOP JOBS, WITHOUT ANY QUALIFICATIONS, LIKE THE UNEDUCATED SUCKERS IN PARLIAMENT, EXCEPT FOR A HANDFUL. WHAT IS THE PRESIDENTS EDUCATIONAL QUALIFICATION ?? ONE DOES NOT NEED A QUALIFICATION TO ROB. BLOODY GANGSTERS. THEY ALL COME FOR EVENTS IN EXPENSIVE CARS, AND GET DOWN TO FACE TV, WHILE A LAP DOG,POODLE, OPENS THE DOOR FOR THEM. REAL **THATHVAYA**MAHAN THATHVAYA**BORU SOBANEY**HORA YAKKU.

    ALL THESE SUCKERS HOLD THE LADLE AND SERVE THEMSELVES A FULL PLATE, LEAVING THE PEOPLE TO PICK UP THE CRUMBS, AND LIVE ON PLAIN TEA.

    PRESENT PRESIDENT DID NOT CARE A FART “F” TO SPEND RS600,000,000 MILLION EACH, TO IMPORT TWO CARS FOR THE SON AND DAUGHTER. HOW MANY HOUSES COULD HAVE BEEN BUILT FOR THE VOICELESS POOR PEOPLE OF MEETOTAMULLA GARBAGE FAME, BEFORE THEY GOT KILLED BY THE GARBAGE SLIDE ???? A CURSE IS ON ITS WAY.

  7. Dilrook Says:

    I’m disappointed by commentators’ (except Susantha) lack of deep understanding of what goes on. Most Lankans supportive EP only see the hand that commits the offense, not the brain behind it. They think the cat’s paw is at fault but the man behind is cleaner and saner!

    None of the brazen violations of the Constitution since its inception would have happened if not for the executive presidency. His immunity from legal action covers not only him, but also anyone carrying out his actions. Those who signed the CFA, various dubious deals with India, protected accomplices in Batalanda, Central Bank, etc. did so with the president’s immunity. If executive presidency is abolished, they will dare not do any of these things.

  8. DR M D P DISSANAYAKE Says:

    Dear All
    We are already seeing the worst of passing 19 amendment. Currently we have lost Corporate Governance Compliances, Integrity and Accountability Standards. Control Buttons are scattered, policy directions are not uniform. Masses have no respect for the President, Prime Minister etc. There are too many Cabinet Spokespersons. This is a cocktail government, lacking Accountability. If we did not have Executive Presidency, by now: Sri Lanka is disintegrated failed state, Three Prime Ministers for Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims, War is still active, Sinhalese marginalised, Buddhism restricted to temples.

    Malwatee Mahanayakes previously supported abolition of EP. Now they fear, if new Constitution is implemented, even on the main Articles Buddhism would appear to be given the same place as it is now, Ranil will have some Article, Section, Sub Section in the new constitution to nullify the spirit of the main constitutional arrangements. Now rightfully, Malwatte want only amendments to Constitutions,( which Ven Sobhitha totally opposed) and reject the concept of new Constitution. Politicians may come and go, but we need a Country and One Country and we need to preserve the place for majority Sinhalese. Above all, place for Buddhism should be further advanced.

    EP should not be abolished under any circumstances, we should repeal 13A and 19. We should never allow Ranil, Sambandan to enact a new Constitution.

    This is the only way to maintain supremacy of Sinhalese and the rightful place for Buddhism in Sri Lanka and ensure unitary character of governance of Sri Lanka.

    In short, there is too much DEMOCRACY in Sri Lanka. We are too early for that Luxury

  9. Dilrook Says:

    Executive presidency has made Sinhalas irrelevant post-war. During the war it was a different story. After 2009, all politicians trying to get EP into their camp go after Tamils and Muslims. Those who vote for TNA at parliamentary elections vote for the most separatist candidate at the presidential election. TNA’s 4% is what determines who wins and loses the presidential election. SLMC and ACMC are also kingmakers.

    It is a fact since 1947 that Sinhalas are divided as with the majority of any other country. It is not their fault. It is a fact of life. Governance systems must take this fact into account and not the other way round.

    The next executive president will be either Ranil or worse. Minority support is a must to win the presidential election post-war. 2010 was different as the war victory hype was sufficient to win the election. It won’t be the case in 2019.

    This is why India, USA, Singapore and others finance presidential election candidates and not parliamentarians.

    EP must be abolished as promised by all SLFP presidents Chandrika, Mahinda and Sirisena in 1994, 2005 and 2015. There is no excuse. The new constitution is a different matter. Sirisena has tied the two issues together knowing very well that abolishing EP is popular but the federal constitution is unpopular.

    2000 Federal Political Package, 2005 PTOMS (recognizing de facto rule of LTTE in the north and east), 2012 LLRC (enhanced federal features and demilitarization of the north and east), 2017 open federal constitution and many other instances of division were to work of executive presidents. Parliament and supreme court managed to suspend some of them. EP can get away even creating Tamil Eelam as per the constitution but no parliamentarian can.

  10. Ananda-USA Says:

    I COMPLETELY AGREE with Hiranthe, Fran Diaz and particularly the arguments advanced by Dr. DISSANAYAKE, in favor of retaining the EXECUTIVE PRESIDENCY with both 13A and the 19A REPEALED.

    I will very soon submit a much more detailed comment refuting Dilrook’s arguments for eliminating the Executive Presidency, perhaps further exacerbating Dilrook’s disappoint with us.

    Those of us who support the Executive Presidency are supporting it because of its the greater benefits while being well aware of its drawbacks.

    Those same considerations have compelled most countries confronting external and internal threats, like the US, Russia, and France to adoPT the Executive Presidential form of government.

    Most recently, Turkey has joined that group with a referendum that approved an Executive Presidential form of government to replace the existing Parliamentary form. The reason given by Erdogan, the current Prime Minister who will become the new President, was that Turkey was facing many threats from both its Kurdish separatist minority, minority, external terrorists such as the ISIS which incidentally Turkey itself initially supported against Syria, and diaspora political factions operating from Western countries, primarily the USA.

    Turkey’s situation should sound very familiar to us Sri Lankans!

  11. DR M D P DISSANAYAKE Says:

    Dear Ananda

    As I have said before, as soon as Prez MR back in power again, there will be pundits wishing to solve all problems within 24 hrs. Prez MR too has learned his drawbacks when in power. The Communist Party Raja Kollure is leaving JO. Vasu will have to either fall in with Sinhalese or fall out. Let Communist Party, NLSSP of Vasu be with JVP. They all wil get 2.9 percent votes.

    MR will prove he has and will integrate nation. No need of 13A. No need of 19. Outporing Sinhalese need to give marching orders to Maithree, Ranil, Rajitha, Chandrika, Champika, Chathura, Mahinda Amaraweera, SB Dissanayake etc etc.

    MR has learned his lessons. He is a fighter. He set the Agenda. We don’t have to tell Prez MR ” how to suck an Egg”.
    We need MR as EP without 19 and 13A, more importantly to build a special Prison like Changi Prison to put anti Sri Lankan, Anti Sri Lankan Buddhist, Anti Sri Lankan Sinhalese, behind bars for the rest of their lives, for the grave injustice done to majority Sinhalese.

    This was how a tiny island like Singapore was built and ever progressing.

    I think Singapore is a great country. I travelled there in last November and last week. In few months even regular travellers cannot find Singpore, because it has changed in 4 months.

    Bring back MR with full Executive Presidency,

  12. Dilrook Says:

    Mahinda cannot become EP again. The Constitution bars it.

    The Constitution can be changed (to allow a third term for a defeated caniddate – 2 parts must be changed) only with 2/3 (if president approves). Mahinda has only 51 MPs out of 225. He needs another 99 which is impossible. Unless abolished, a presidential election is due in 2019. Surely, Mahinda cannot contest it. Someone else will win. If he is from a rival camp, he will not allow Mahinda (assuming Mahinda wins 2/3 of parliament in 2020) change the constitution.

    Minorities will have a huge say in electing the next president with election fraud (which will be much higher than 2015), ETCA, massive number of Indians in the island even without ETCA and very high Tamil and Muslim population growth (refugee visas have dried up for Tamils causing over one hundred thousand more Tamil voters). Tough election monitoring outside the north-east means close to 1 million mostly Sinhala expats in the Middle East will be shut out completely.

    Amassing Sinhala votes sufficiently to overcome all these is theoretically possible if a nationalist promises to abrogate 13A and other tough choices along with a huge economics package. But I see no one hinting so in the horizon as we come close to 2 years to the next presidential election.

    The largest party in the winning camp of the presidential election in 2019 will win the parliamentary election in 2020.

    This is what we are facing. We need well grounded plans to champion Sinhala interests, not wishful thinking. EP worked well during the war as most TNA voters were shut out. Not anymore.

  13. Fran Diaz Says:

    The Sri Lanka Constitution has been mauled over many years to accommodate the wishes of Cold War/foreign players.

    Among other items to weaken the Constitution of Sri Lanka :
    * The 13-A, imposed by INDIA under Duress, (therefore illegal), on the JRJ govt is still with us.
    * An unpopular Exec PM is now in power.
    * Pres MS announced a few days before the elections that he would NOT appoint MR as the Exec PM, thus confusing the voters.
    * The National List altered according to whim and fancies of Pres MS.

    Etc etc.

    Yahap now trying to add :

    – Sea tunnel to Tamil Nadu
    – ETCA
    – 5,000 acre lots on 99 yr leases to foreigners
    – New Constitution – what might that bring ?
    – Bond Scam : shoving it under the carpets !
    – Govt held STATE LAND : “Crash & Sell” of Lanka State land ?

    DEMOCRACY & THE CONSTITUTION OF LANKA : GONE & LOST !

    Consitution of Lanka – my foot !

  14. Fran Diaz Says:

    Agree with Dr Dissanayake. Thank you.

    ——

    First, remove the 13-A & the 19-A, both items imposed from outside.
    Move On from there.
    Secure the Country. Bring in a sense of Security and Wellbeing for ALL, in particular the much maligned Sinhala/Buddhists of Lanka.

  15. Ananda-USA Says:

    The Opposition Strategy shold be to Elect Gota as President and MR to be appointed as Prime Minister.

    The Election Platform should include REPEALING both 13A and 19A, and others such as REJECTING the ETCA, renegotiating the Hambantota Port agreement with China so that it reverts to the original agreement negotiated by the MR/UPFA govt, regaining the Oil Tank Farm from India and operating it as a Sri Lankan enterprise, rejecting Avamangala Samaraweera’s UNHRC agreements and confronting the war crimes allegations HEAD-ON, sending a special mission to the USA to plead Sri Lanka’s case with President Donald Trump, etc.

    In the longer term, Sri Lanka’s administration should be completely reorganized to ELIMINATE Provincial Councils in favor of DISTRICT Administrations governed by District Governors, to prevent the rise if separatist regions, to arrest the continued growth of the PARASITIC BURDEN of the Palath Sabha system, and to REMOVE Provincial Barriers to National Development that cuts across Provincial boundaries.

    National Integration should be adopted as an ACTIVE National Policy of Sri Lanka with the aim of eliminating communal concentrations and achieving a UNIFORM ethno-religious distribution of people throughout the country as a preventative measure against separatism.

    ONE system of LAW should enacted to encompass all areas of human life and activity throughout the nation eithout exception, and aberrations like Thesawalamai law, Muslim Law, Kandyan law should be outlawed and eliminated.

    With regard to foreign policy, in the light of Sri Lanka’s past midnight ed experience with the global super power blocks, Sri Lanka should remain NON-ALIGNED with a policy of friendship with ALL nations who wish to be friendly towards Sri Lanka. The sole EXCEPTION to this broad policy should be Sri Lanka’s policy towards INDIA, which in view of ADVERSE Indian Military, Political and Diplomatic interference in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs should be REDUCED to a level of GUARDED TOLERANCE to PREVENT India from gaining an DOMINANT economic, political, demographic and even MILITARY foothold in Sri Lanka. As Sri Lanka’s closest neighbor, despite relations spanning millenia, India has proven itself also to be the source of most of Sri Lanka’s pain and continues to be so. Therefore, steps should be taken to REDUCE India’s influence on Sri Lanka, and India should be PREVENTED from acquiring a DOMINANT position on Sri Lanka that it keeps trying to gain under every possible PRETEXT.

  16. Dilrook Says:

    13A was enacted and protected, and is sustained by executive presidential commitments. The parliament has never made any commitment to continue with the 13A! It is essential to abolish EP to abrogate 13A. Trying to abrogate 13A while keeping EP is a violation of presidential commitment to implement 13A made to India, the UN and the UNHRC in 1987 and 2009, repeatedly upheld in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 to the UNHRC.

    By definition, there is no executive prime minister. All MPs (including the PM) is answerable to parliament and are below the law. There are many court cases pending against the current PM clearly proving that he is not above the law. The Constitution cannot be changed to create an executive PM post as it contradicts with the Constitution. An MP is an MP, nothing more and nothing less. Ranil has been enjoying EP powers in 2002 and since 2015 thanks to the president willingly allowing him to do so. If not for EP, Ranil stands exposed for repeated violation of the Constitution.

    This is why midwifes of 13A are in pain now. All of them came together to support 13A and the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord despite grave danger to their lives! Since then they have dispersed into main political camps and pretend to be opposed to each other. In fact, they are on best of terms secretly. Today, UNP, SLFP and JO have one key 13A midwife each. They will ensure 13A is safe and EP (mother of 13A) is safe.

    Mahinda supports abolishing EP. I hope he will boldly participate in May Day rally in Galle Face today and Sirisena will have enough guts to remove Mahinda from the SLFP. That will give Mahinda the freedom to launch his own party than remain a slave of Chandrika and Sirisena within the SLFP. The SLFP is now dead when Sirisena turned it into a bonded slave of the UNP and TNA. If EP is abolished, Sirisena loses SLFP leadership. Mahinda can regain it, as most party members want Mahinda to become the SLFP leader. He must not let 13A midwifes mislead him, again.

  17. Fran Diaz Says:

    INDIA, which country forced the 13-A illegally on Lanka, made sure that successive leaders kept it. Or else ….
    Recall the training of the LTTE in Tamil Nadu, IPKF take over in the North, etc.

    INDIA’s largest trade partners at present are China & USA.
    Yet, INDIA pretended to object to China and the west coming in as Lanka’s trade partners !
    INDIA (which country has maligned Lanka for many year) wants to be the biggest trade partner for Lanka.

    It was INDIA that called the moves in Lanka.
    Now that a lot of the past has been exposed and examined, we hope it is time for Lanka to be allowed to MOVE ON.

    PS : Who pays for the cost in lives, mental/physical ongoing suffering, loss in funds, property lost in nearly 30 yrs of LTTE terrorism ??

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