Why the infamous National List should be scrapped?
Posted on June 25th, 2020

Dr. Sudath Gunasekara

Provisions for this so-called National list were introduced by amending Sec 62 of the1978 Constitution by the14th Amendment on 28.5.1988. Sec 62 of the 1978 Constitution provides only for 196 MPP. This was an increase of 28 from 168 seats representing 160 electorates in 1970.

After I year of making the 1978 Constitution it was amended and 196 was increased to 225 by the 14th Amendment which states.

  Artcle 62 of the 1978 Constitution is hereby amended by the repeal of (1) of that article and the substitution of the following paragraph therefore. 

‘There shall be a Parliament which shall consist of two hundred and twenty-five Members elected in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution” (Note 225 elected). Although it is said here, the 225 are elected, actually there were only 196 elected members. The balance 29 came through a new invention called the National List introduced in article 8 of 14th Amendment. Under this Amendment provision was made for the EC to appoint another 29 members to Parliament from the lists submitted by the respective parties at the time of nominations going by the number of votes polled by each party at the election.  Since they were taken in only from lists submitted outside the nomination list to contest elections by the parties and they were never elected by the people at the election, it is not correct to say all 225 were elected as stated in the 14th A. This was a willful violation of the country’s Constitution enacted a year ago. Instead it would have been better and more appropriate to have them called the 29 appointed members, thus calling a spade a spade.

The said amendment enacts by declaring that these 29 candidates submitted by political parties at the time of handing over nominations for the election the CE shall apportion them among the political parties or Independent groups in the same proportion which the number of votes polled by each party enabling them to be members of Parliament, although they were not physically elected by the people. This is a fabricated lie. The process adopted here is a devious and mischievous attempt by JR, only to give legitimacy to an illegitimate process designed by him to enable the political parties to send their faithful to enter Parliament through the back door bypassing the sovereignty of the people given to them to elect their representatives. This is another dirty political trick by JR to increase his power and consolidate his authority in the House as if the 196 elected by the people is not enough to carry out the functions of the House.  This was an increase of 57 members over the 1970 number and it constitutes the first additional burden imposed by JR on the heads of the tax payers, with no benefit to the people at all. Accordingly the introduction of the National list was malafide ipso facto.

 If you look at the National Lists submitted by various political parties this time you will find the ugliness of this system and to what sad levels it has been brought to by self-seeking political party leaders. This comment is particularly relevant to the SJBV list of Sajit led by Tissa Attanayaka, who can never win a seat anywhere in the country at this election. Added to this insult is Harin Fernando. Going back to the UNP list we see John Amaratunga, at the top of the list as if he is the most important and indispensable law maker who should be in Parliament of Sri Lanka. What a miserable selection t0 head a list of a national party. The SLPP list appears to be different this time.

One wonders as to what contribution these jokers have made to public life in this country in their long stay in politics other than making their own purses fat and supporting their leaders in parliament to ruin the country over the years.

Unfortunately this aspect has never being contested by anybody either inside or outside the Parliament, except a brief comment by Chandani Kongaha made last week in Kandy. Therefore it has opened the doors of the so-called August Assembly for undesirable 29 more parasitic political henchmen to get in to Parliament, thereby adding further burden to the tax payers, only for the benefit of politicians, converting the government to be a government by the politicians, for the politicians and of the politicians, fundamentally the opposite of what democracy is supposed to be. The idea of a National list I think finds its roots in the 6 Nominated MPP under the Soulbury Constitution and it continued up to 1977 with mixed results, both positive and negative. Jennings made provisions for it for a different purpose, invariably bona fide. That is to find representation for those elements not represented in Parliament through the elected. At the initial stages all appointed MPP were white men .Subsequently it changed to trade union leaders and minority representatives  to woo their vote rather that their capacity to improve the quality of law making.

The National list of JR on the other hand was shrewdly and cunningly designed entirely for accommodating their kith and kin and favorites who cannot come to Parliament through elections, first in order to enable them to enjoy the luxuries of political plums and second for party leaders to have a set of MPP reliable MPP in Parliament to provide against a rainy day who will not be answerable for recalling at subsequent elections or before even If they act against the public will  and also who will vote in favor of any legislation presented by their party leaders as they depends entirely on them for their political survival.  These backdoor intruders were heavily used by JR to bring in 16 Amendments to the 1978 Constitution within 2 years of its enactment, all passed for the benefit of the  UNP and broadly for politicians only.  Look at the enhanced benefits and privileges like increased salaries and perks such as full pension benefits in 5 years  that is passed on to their wives as well, duty free vehicles, liquor bars, petrol sheds Government contracts and other financial benefits like the DCB money, often misused, disbursed through them in the Districts and so on.  

President Sirisena misused this provision in 2015 to get the number of his SLFP votes in Parliament increased unconstitutionally and unethically by appointing even those who were rejected by the people at the 2015 elections. Few cases in point were S.B Disanayaka and Vijitamuni Zoysa. By doing so he not only violated the Constitution but also murdered the fundamental principles of all democratic values.

What is worse is these henchmen are not answerable and responsible to the people but only to their Party leaders who have put them there, made democracy a real joke and an open mockery in this country. These law makers under these circumstances only look after the interests of their leaders and their own. Under this situation democracy needs to be redefined in a new context in this country where universal franchise was granted even before the UK did it..

One can see further deterioration with this parachute list when you look at the list of political rejects submitted by the parties to fill I this time. Usually the names that appear at the top of the lists depend solely and entirely on personal considerations that has nothing to do with law making for the good of the people. This reference applies particularly to the UNP and the Jana Bala Wegaya of Sajit Premadasa.. The only way to prevent these nefarious elements coming to Parliament is to not to cast a single vote to these parties in protest so that these jokers will not find entry in to Parliament. Thereby the voters can do a  very big job to save democracy in this country.

As for me I am vehemently opposed to this undemocratic, anti-national and waste full national list that serves no purpose at all to the country or the people but only breeds corruption and erosion of democracy in this country. T

Therefore I strongly recommend that the next Government scrap this nuisance at the first opportunity it gets after the election under a new Constitution for this country and also even the number of MPP in Parliament should be reduced to about 150 so that we have a pruned Parliament affordable to the country instead of having a white elephant Parliament, a virtual paradise for politicians, as we have it today. I am sure such action on the part of the new Government will tremendously increase its popularity among the masses for decades to come, as they see that at last a people friendly government has emerged after 72 years of independence and 205 years of repressive foreign colonial rule in this country.

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