Needed: 21-A
Posted on May 2nd, 2018

The Editorial Courtesy The Island


Twenty seven State and Deputy Ministers were sworn in, yesterday, before President Maithripala Sirisena, who seems to think that he can usher in good governance by reshuffling the Cabinet. Nobody knows how many more ministers will be appointed in the coming weeks. It looks as if an MP could become a minister by threatening to leave the government or rebelling against the leaders of either the SLFP or the UNP. That may be the reason why some UNP backbenchers are staging protests and criticising the party leadership openly.

With those sworn in, yesterday, now we have 114 ministers, including 42 in the Cabinet and 45 in the provincial councils for a population of only 21 million. If India were to adopt this ratio, god forbid, it would have at least 7,000 ministers at the Centre and in the states.

Indians are lucky that the 91st Amendment (91-A) to their Constitution prevents the number of ministers either in the union government or in state governments from exceeding 15 percent of the total number of members of the Lower House of Parliament or the state legislature respectively.

The yahapalana leaders’ predilection for Indian models is only too well known. Strangely, they don’t seem keen to take a leaf out of India’s book anent the number of ministers.

Meanwhile, it does not make sense to have as many as 225 MPs, because there are nine provincial councils with 441 members. The number of MPs should be drastically reduced.

The JVP has proposed the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, seeking the abolition of the executive presidency. This move has gone down well with some political parties and civil society outfits. Let the Rathu Sahodarayas be urged to propose another amendment, modelled on India’s 91-A, to limit the number of ministers, without provision for increases on any grounds.

12 Responses to “Needed: 21-A”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Sri Lanka can never have law and order as long as there is executive presidency.

    The executive president is above the law and he/she can pull anyone out of criminality. Mass murderers and rapists have been given the title of ‘Justice of the Peace’ by our EPs. Ununiformed politicians were made army Generals. Those who were never in the judicial service were made Superior Court judges. Criminal cases of politically associated criminals were let off the hook by EPs. Drug dealers were not only released from investigations and prosecution but also embraced by EPs. They have also shared liquor licenses among family members. Separatist provincial councils have been protected by EPs (except Premadasa) by sitting on powers vested in the position. If not for them, the Supreme Court would have taken action. Two EPs have given international commitments to retain and fully implement 13A.

    Except JR, all other EPs (5 of them) were unable to gain tertiary education before entering politics. Two of them gained tertiery education by political association while 3 of them had none whatsoever as they failed to complete schooling.

  2. nilwala Says:

    We need the Executive Presidency WITH institutionalized checks and balances that rein
    in runaway Parliaments in which members are bought and sacked ad hoc….and Cabinet
    reshuffles remain nothing but a regular re-dealing of the pack to keep the drama going
    and the public entertained.
    All these antics have hopefully generated a consciousness among the people of this nation
    that democracy can live up to expectations ONLY with active public participation. When
    disgust and frustration lead to apathy on the part of the public, it is just what the
    parliamentarians want. Alternately, frustration leads to rioting and the whole country
    is brought to shame engineered to suit an external agenda as well.
    The Middle Path which is our great civilisational heritage is abandoned. The slowness of “change”
    that is necessary for maintenance of balance is what humankind needs to sustain itself and
    the environment that supports Life on Planet Earth. Rapid advancement yields a negative balance
    sheet that in the end leads to extinction of Life through war and pestilence.
    Do we really want it??

  3. Dilrook Says:

    Middle Path and executive presidency don’t go together. EP is extremist in power, immunity, nepotism and corruption. It is an insult to the Middle Path. Between the two extremes of EP and a powerless centre, the middle ground is a powerful parliament without an EP.

    Separatist PCs can be dissolved the separatists punished by the 6A. There is no need for an EP. In fact, EPs have protected separatists, mass murderers of Buddhist monks, attackers of Dalada Maligawa and even terrorists (some INTERPOL wanted terrorists) since 2000.

  4. nilwala Says:

    Dilrook:
    Please note that I said “The Middle Path which is our great civilisational heritage is abandoned.”

  5. nilwala Says:

    In response to Dilrook who says:
    ” Between the two extremes of EP and a powerless centre, the middle ground is a powerful parliament without an EP” .
    If the current Parliament is considered to be the Middle Path, he must be kidding….and if he considers the Parliamentary system more desirable than the EP, he must be off his top!
    HAS HE FORGOTTEN????
    The EP protected this country in the worst of times which Dilrook seems to have forgotten so easily. Change that can be wrought by simply abandoning what protected the nation is FOOLISH CHANGE. CHANGE must only only be brought about SLOWLY and with WISDOM. Stability does not come with rapid change that satisfies theorists who care little for the masses or for the ground realities. STABILITY is what we need right NOW! No investor worth his salt will touch Sri Lanka in its current unstable fiscal situation, and the economy will remain stagnant until the next elections which will again be postponed for as long as possible. Hopefully will bring some REAL & WELL CONSIDERED, MEANINGFUL CHANGE.
    Ditching the EP is only another act in the continuing drama of a crumbling Govt.with its cunningly designed 19th Amendment that was
    designed to put certain people into power, economic theories into place, and others out of Parliament forever if possible. But it is the 19A that has brought everything in governance to a standstill. Until the PM or the Prez leaves their posts, things will stay put until the 4 1/2 yr is over or something explosive happens in the interim that will shatter the inert situation into revolutionary change, BUT it is NOT what is wanted for this country that has suffered enough already.

    The EP must STAY, and the PM must RESIGN in the way it was expected to happen at the NCM. Even MACHIAVELLIAN CUNNING HAS ITS LIMITS, and it is time Sri Lanka returned to SANE government, NOT SHAM government.

  6. NAK Says:

    If not for the president even he is a ‘pothola’ President,this country would have already been thrown to the wolves by those who are in the parliament who get sold like commodities.

  7. Dilrook Says:

    War was not won by EP. Mahinda provided political leadership to war. EP or not he would have won the war. There were 3 EPs before him and one after him. None of them could win the war. EP has little contribution to national security. USA has the oldest EP system and loses every war it fought since WW2. Clear proof EP doesn’t contribute to winning wars. It is personal convictions that matter. EP system makes sure such a person is kept away from power as much as possible.

  8. nilwala Says:

    Dilrook is ignorant of the the partisan nature of Parliament in

    It was the EP with the country support that MR had as Prez that made possible the ability to withstand the much touted slogan that it was an “unwinnable war”, to move with determination to end the terrorist scourge. If it had been a PM as head of Govt, the country would have remained divided between the party in power and the Opposition, with no ability to move beyond into resisting the internationals. It was this ability to withstand the pressure that MR showed courageously with his team, without which the LTTE would never have been beaten. No doubt that MR and his team have been made to pay a price for that victory, by the UNHRC et al., but the alternative would have been so much worse in the suffering that would have been fraught on Sri Lanka’s lives and treasure.

  9. nilwala Says:

    Sorry…the 1st sentence should read: “Dilrook is ignorant of the the partisan nature of Parliament and how it works in a system where the PM from the party in power cannot move independently without Opposition support…. e.g., as in a war situation, bereft of a President who is voted in with the entire country’s support”. It is the peculiar situation of Minority politics in Sri Lanka that brought on the 19th Amendment which has messed up the system.

  10. Dilrook Says:

    @Nilwala

    That is not true. All other EPs had the same power but nothing was achieved. Mahinda could have achieved the same outcome without EP. Mahinda did not use any executive (only) powers during the war. Everything he used was available to the Prime Minister.

    In fact, if there was no EP, Sri Lanka would have won the war much earlier as there is no need to be overly concerned about minority voting impact.

    At least 6 EP candidates tried or actually received LTTE support. USA is an indisputable example of how a strong EP system loses all wars. If you didn’t know, Mahinda supports abolishing EP. Hope you are not going to teach him otherwise!

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    Lanka’s Exec Presidency saved Lanka from the ruthless LTTE, the terrorist organisation formed during Cold War times, trained in INDIA.
    A highly PATRIOTIC & able Exec Presidency or its equivalent (suggest 5-8 proven PATRIOTS leading the country), is needed with checks & balances, as stated by Nilwala.
    Sri Lanka is very vulnerable due to nearly 500 yrs of colonisation, divisive politcs and also due to small size and strategic position in the Indian Ocean, proximity to INDIA (and earlier breakaway sub-state, Tamil Nadu), diverse population, etc. and must be protected on a forever basis.
    We suggest that PATRIOTISM ought to be taught in all schools.
    Present Parliament & present Exec PM (the ‘Crash & Sell’ Exec PM), could do with some classes in PATRIOTISM too.

  12. nilwala Says:

    Dilrook: The Presidency gives rights and the strength to represent the entire country, not like a PM who represents just a political party, a coalition, or a so-called “Unity Govt” or even a real National govt formed by the clobbering together of several parties. Conceptually, it is an entire country giving a democratic right to an elected PERSON, to represent the country especially in foreign affairs.
    MR (where other Presidents before him had vacillated), used that strength to resist external opposition in order to do away with the scourge of terrorism for which the UN also, through Resolution 1373 had indeed afforded the right to States.
    ——————-
    Thank you Fran Diaz for your comments on th importance of Patriotism which has become propagandized into becoming a bad word these days. While every other nation sings its National anthem with fervor, the Sinhala Sri Lankan majority have been made to feel ashamed to express the patriotic spirit that a people naturally feel for their Motherland. This, among other cynically strewn politically generated factors, have divided the Sinhala majority in order to bring about disunity and confusion, under a label of a so-called “Unity Government” which is the biggest misnomer of our political history since Independence

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