Constitutional Amendments: What the Public must demand from the Government
Posted on May 24th, 2022

Shenali D Waduge

  1. Electoral System must be changed before 2025 General Elections

WHY: This is a key area that will clean up the Parliament from corrupt. A criteria to accept nominations, voting system changed to FIRST PAST THE POST system, seat allocation for province revisited & allocated as per population representation. This must include no dual citizen can be PM, or MP or even hold senior public positions even as consultants/advisors.

  1. Repeal 13th amendment together with PC system

WHY: 13th amendment was introduced under duress by India via the Indo-Lanka Accord, it was not what people of Sri Lanka asked for or wants. It has been proven a den of corruptions and wastage. The local government authorities can continue to do what is being duplicated by the PC system at a colossal cost to the state. If Presidential system is to be abolished, the 13th amendment should be abolished first in view of it being interlinked via the appointment of the Governor to act on behalf of the President. Executive Presidency cannot be abolished without abolishing 13th amendment as PC councilors will have no reporting line.

  1. Abolishing Executive Presidency

WHY: There is public opinion generated that the President has undue powers, though none of the Presidents have used such powers except President Mahinda Rajapakse who declared war against LTTE & ended LTTE in 3 years. However, if the President is having excessive powers, transferring that to a Prime Minister should be equally unacceptable. The 21a proposals aim to transfer Executive President’s powers to the Prime Minister and NOT TO Parliament. Therefore, 21a is only removing the President’s Executive Powers & transferring that to create an Executive Prime Minister. If the first is unacceptable, the PM holding executive powers has to be unacceptable as well.

In this particular instance, a caretaker government & its PM are proposing 21a, to transfer the powers delegated by 69lakh people to the PM who was rejected by the voters and came in through the national list to Parliament.  To transfer powers delegated by 69lakh people to a person who could not secure 10,000 votes is undemocratic & unethical and should not be allowed.

  1. National List MPs cannot become a PM leading to chair of President in the event he resigns or is removed (even temporarily)

WHY: A national list MP is not representative of the People & therefore should not be appointed as PM as the next step is President in the event the President resigns or is removed. This is unethical democracy. Democracy is what the People want not what politicians want.

  1. National List cannot include politicians who have stood for elections previously, or rejected MPs who are brought in via national list

WHY: Every party releases its national list & depending on the allocation names are selected to Parliament. However, instead of following numerical order of names given, parties have inserted rejected politicians & brought them into Parliament from the backdoor (present PM is an example)

  1. National List should be ONLY PROFESSIONALS & not MPs

WHY: If we are to maintain the 225 seat Parliament within a new Parliamentary system sans Presidential System, then the 29 National List seats should be allocated to Professionals but they should not be made MPs as they are not representatives of the People. They are not required to sit in Parliamentary sessions but are included into Parliamentary Select Committees to obtain their expert advice. They should be changed annually with their nominations being made via Industry Chambers & State Universities with the PM, Opposition Leader and Speaker deciding their selection.

  1. Abolishing Executive Presidency cannot result in creating an Executive Prime Minister 

WHY: Within the shortcomings and loopholes that exist, it is unwise for 21a to go ahead without dealing with the nuances first. If the Executive Presidency is to be abolished, governance will reduce from 3 pillars to 2 (Legislative + Judiciary). Undue powers cannot be vested in the Prime Minister. Therefore, powers must be separated with checks and balances in place.

  1. End cross-overs

WHY: We cannot have a hung parliament. Therefore, electoral system must be changed to enable a strong government. Provision that allowed dealmakers and kingmakers that resulted in turning Parliament into an auction house, must stop. Anyone is welcome to leave his party and the person with the next highest votes will enter.

  1. Insertions of laws, regulations & procedures regarding Tender process/Procurement/Foreign investments/National Assets & Resources in particular sale of land to foreigners & land ownership after marrying foreigners

WHY: Every constitutional amendment has conveniently ignored to include procedures, processes and safeguards to protect the national resources & assets of Sri Lanka, resulting in siphoning off these via corrupt practices, overlooking weak procedures or ignoring calling for tenders as well as giving tax holidays and freehand to investors (local or foreign). This is the key area for corruption & Secretaries or Public Officials involved should be investigated by the Ombudsman & charged & jailed.

  1. Legal action by People against Government/Cabinet during term as custodian of the State

WHY: A government is only elected for a term of office. A government is only custodian of the State. As custodian a government is bound to protect the interests of the People, the Sovereignty of the State, the National Resources & National Assets. Violating these should result in the People’s ability to file FR against the PM and his Cabinet for any violations to the mandate given to them. If the President was liable to have FR cases filed against him, the PM and Cabinet should be held equally accountable

If, Political parties are concerned about the people, they must address the above.

If so-called civil society & BASL are also concerned about the People, they would not waste our time recommending repeal of Presidential Commissions and expunging of recommendations but would strive to pinpoint where the problem lies & offer solutions for them. As in all cases, a calamity is an opportunity & calamities are often externally induced & opportunities are given by external parties to ensure solutions are not sought!

Let’s be a little wiser and learn from our mistakes.

Shenali D Waduge

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