Posted on August 8th, 2022


The concept of a people’s congress has been related to political administration in socialist countries and they functioned to consider the ideas of people regarding any work. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, many socialist countries had a people’s congress that was a similar constitutional institution to a parliament which is elected by the votes of citizens. The system of Sri Lanka has three institutions a legislature, the executive and the judiciary, the major criticism about the three institutions is they are subject to corruption and they are not functioning for the needs of the public. This is an idea of people associated with ARAGALAYA.  During the ARAGALAYA in Sri Lanka, it was a talking point about establishing a people congress and whether could it regard as an institute free of corruption when there is a trend in corrupt practices by selected people in an institution.

There was no clear idea of how it should be established, the role of the proposed congress and the functions of the congress. Nobody knows who presented the idea and it needs to understand that the current parliament is not performing the role expected by people who want an institution that works for the wishes of the people and scrutinize the work of the current parliament. Honestly speaking any council or congress is a material device and after establishing the proposed congress may be relegated to a corrupt institution.  

My feeling is this idea came because young people related to ARAGALAYA had a feeling that the parliament of Sri Lanka consist of representatives, who do not know the role they should play and they associated with irrelevant motives. People of the country may support the proposal because representatives of the parliament don’t know the role of the parliament, in addition, they have no required qualifications and experience to represent the parliament and legally take decisions. When examining the role of current representatives of the parliament it appears that they are playing a selfish role than the functions expected by elected people from them. The establishment of a political authority after 1970 contributed to the feeling that parliament is not doing the role supposed to perform and it worked for politically motivated people. For example, when I completed my university education, I was independently selected for a job, nevertheless, my appointment was expunged as I was not a supporter of the ruling party and even I had not the eligibility to vote in an election.  

Establishing a People’s Congress is a complex role within the existing constitutional framework and a debate should establish to gain views from the public. The best constitutional reform is to limit the elected members of the parliament to 100 and another 100 for the people’s congress. The members of the parliament are appointed by electors and the people’s congress should be appointed from various areas like the cabinet subjects but the role of the people’s congress is to advise the government as an honorary service without pay and other payments such as telephone, travelling and many others. Another point that should think about is leaders of Aragalaya had an idea to abolish the current parliament and legalize the proposed people’s congress.

The proposed peoples’ congress may function like an upper house or senate in the parliamentary system and if the members of the people’s congress perform a similar role what is the use of the proposed institution? One thing that needed to understand in Sri Lanka is that since the British invasion Sri Lankans talk about constitutional reforms and many changes in the administration system nothing could be achieved for the benefit of the country. 

A people’s congress may be suitable to secure the right of minorities but will it be useful to the Sinhala community is a question when critically evaluating the role and functions of a people’s congress. 

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