To the members of the Bar Association
Posted on May 10th, 2022

Jayantha Gonsalkorale CPA A concerned citizen

Suggestions and recommendations have been made to settle the current stalemate and to bring normalcy to Sri Lanka. The country is in an abyss and the biggest losers are the innocent people whose livelihood is dependant on a daily wage and often do not have savings to live through periods of unemployment, the students and our future generation

The Proportional Representation system of electing Members of Parliament needs to be abolished. This system has devastated the social fabric of Sri Lanka and created politicians who are at the mercy of businessmen of various calibre from honest law abiding socially astute to absolute rogues who are engaged in businesses such as drug running, prostitution and unethical business practises.

PR system

Elections held under the PR system members are elected in multi-seat constituencies through proportional representation system where each party is allocated a number of seats from the quota for each district according to the proportion of the total vote that party obtains in the district.

What does this mean. If simplified, the system makes possible for a Party to nominate more than one candidate for an electorate. There can be multiple nominees/candidates from each party and the one who will ultimately represent the electorate will be the person who gets the highest votes or Manapa”. This person can be someone who does not live in that electorate and as such has no clue of the issues and aspirations of the people in that electorate and cannot be held accountable.

The person who received the next highest also plays a role in establishing the final count for the party and I will not go into that as the issue I am addressing is the unwanted competition between nominees of the same party.

Competition between candidates

The inter-candidate competition within the same party is what leads to corruption. It makes honest politicians dishonest as they get the flavour of making money without any effort. An election campaign around 2005-8 cost a candidate around Rupees 5.0 million. None of these candidates are millionaires prior to entering politics. These election expenses are funded by businessmen from all walks of life from the honest to those in drug running and prostitution just to name two extremes. On winning elections, these funded” MPs become slaves of these businessmen and more often than not, have to provide favours which involves the turning of a blind eye to any illegal activities or providing favours like large contracts. Both these activities lead to a domino effect of corruption and an interdependency between the politician who is supposed to serve the country, to one who serves the businessmen. They end up serving the businessmen and not the people who voted them in. They are in other words accountable to the businessmen who provided funding for the election campaign.

Change needed in the electoral system

One party should only nominate one candidate for an electorate and should be from the electorate. On winning an election, the person will be answerable to the people of the electorate and will be held accountable to the people who voted.

Any infighting between candidates of the same party will cease.

All election campaign costs should be provided by the party funds and any donations made to the party should be disclosed to the public and subject to an audit by the Auditor General.

An electorate with predominantly of people from a different ethnicity will often be represented by a MP of the same ethnicity. Again, this will lead to a greater understanding of the cultural needs of the people.

The cost of Government will be reduced drastically with the reduction of the number of MPs .

I make these suggestions in the interest of the people who have been led up garden path by all Governments since 1977 thanks to the Constitution introduced by our former President late Mr JR Jayawardena.

Politicians prior to this hailed from the electorates who mingled and lived amongst the people who appointed them to the Parliament as a result the people of the electorate were truly represented in the highest decision-making institution of the country, the Parliament. Hence, they were respected.

We need to bring accountability back to the Members of Parliament if Sri Lanka is to progress and rise as a nation again.

Thank you

Jayantha Gonsalkorale CPA

A concerned citizen

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