I refer to the article under the heading by the Columnist Vishwamithra in the Daily Mirror of January 3. It is a true and objective analysis of the state of affairs and the degradation of the Sri Lankan Nation during the 60 years period, since gaining Independence. Vishwamithra states “ Politics has destroyed the soul and eaten up the character”. Here the word “politics” is used in a general sense, which means Government. But the word politics cannot be divorced from Political Parties.
Politics and Political Parties are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, in a positive and direct sense, it means that “Political Parties has destroyed the soul and eaten up the character”. Political Parties, in my sincere opinion, is the cause of all the ills of the Country. Political Parties is a curse that bedevils the country. It is clear as day light to all, the educated and the knowledgeable, that Political Parties is the root cause of the disease afflicting the nation, yet helpless to cure it by ridding the cause.
- Only educated, talented intellectuals and Professionals could enter Parliament free from bondage to Political Parties
- A Government without political Parties is the only true National Government
- In the interest of the country, the Political parties based elections should be abolished
- The Cabinet will be restricted to a small number – 25 Ministers and an equivalent number of Deputy Ministers
- There is no chance for the Business community or foreign countries with vested interest to meddle in elections
Genesis of Political Parties
A struggle followed to regain our independence. So a National Movement was born to unify all forces to achieve independence from colonial Rule, which led to the formation of the Ceylon National Congress. Without such a political organization, with unity and cohesion, it would not have been possible to launch a movement to regain our independence. This is the genesis of the Political Party system. Thus the political Party, called the Ceylon National Congress, played a valid and significant role in the transformation to self-government. But the initial spirit of patriotism of the Political Party evaporated after attainment of Independence.
During the early stages of history of elections, some Independent Candidates contested elections. In this connection, I advert to the view expressed by Lacille De Silva in his article under the heading “Is Sri Lanka becoming Man-eating- Man Society” in the Daily Mirror of December 25, where he says that “We must salute the youth of Balapitiya for their courage and determination to come as independent candidates to contest Balapitiya Pradeshiya Sabha”. But can individuals with no Political Party membership win an election, in competition with those nominated by the Political Parties, which have resources at their command for election campaigning? Even if they win, what can be achieved. Can they be part of the Government; certainly not. On the other hand, if they join the Government side, they have to compromise their independence.
Political Parties should be dissolved and Elections held under an Independent System
In the interest of the country, the Political parties based elections should be abolished. Nomination to contest election should emerge from the Constituency itself. Of course, there should be stipulated eligibility qualifications, particularly a minimum University Degree or equivalent professional qualification to seek election to Parliament. Even Professional bodies could nominate persons, provided they resign from any other vocation, on winning the election.
Religious and ethnic politics will lose its relevance. Monks/Priests to be debarred from contesting elections
The proposed system of election
The proposed method is not a revolutionary one. It is practiced by all Voluntary Associations. If Professional bodies, Associations and other Corporate entities could elect their Presidents/Chairman, Executive Committees and Office Bearers to run their Affairs, why cannot the State, being an association of people, elect the most talented and educated persons to govern the country. The critics will say this is preposterous, chimerical and an impractical ideal. I think, it is possible, if there is sincerity of purpose and will.
The Formation of the Government
1. A higher non-refundable Deposit should be fixed to discourage all and sundry contesting election.
2. Election will be wholly on the basis of “First past the Post” system only, and either to single or double member constituencies.
3. All elected representatives will meet on an appointed date at the Parliament with a Pro-tem Speaker in the Chair, guiding the proceedings. The Members of Parliament shall propose and second persons for following Office. If more than one person is proposed, then elected by vote.
(a) The Speaker and Deputy Speaker
(b) The Prime Minister
(c) Non-Executive President .Two names of eminent persons from outside Parliament, proposed by the Speaker and the Prime Minister. It would be more democratic and desirable, if elected by vote of all members of the Parliament and members of all Provincial Councils.
4. The Prime Minister will have the sole discretion to choose his Cabinet of Ministers from among all the MPs and allocate the Ministerial Portfolios and appoint Deputy Ministers. The Cabinet will be restricted to a small number – 25 Ministers and an equivalent number of Deputy Ministers. The positions of State Ministers to be abolished. The Appointment of Ethnic minority members as Cabinet Ministers to reflect the plural character of the country will result in power sharing at the Centre by different ethnic communities. This will contribute to communal harmony, national unity and Sri Lankan consciousness.
5. All the remaining MPs - more or less in equal numbers - to be appointed to Executive Committees, corresponding to the number of Ministers, by the Prime Minister. Thus all MPs will participate in the governing process, like under the Donoughmore Constitution. Each Executive Committee to be headed by a Minister. Members of each Executive Committee can be allocated specific Department/Institution coming under each Minister.
6. The Executive Committees to meet periodically and deliberate, presided by the Cabinet Minister. The Minister of each Executive Committee to submit periodic progress Reports to the Cabinet of Ministers, on the work of each Executive Committee.
7. A formal Opposition will be totally redundant. This does not mean there will be no Parliamentary debate, discussion, expression of different views and criticism. Decisions will be taken on majority vote. Confrontational and adversarial Party politics will die a natural death.
8. The Cabinet of Ministers would prepare an Action Plan of work to be done for the ensuing period of its tenure, duly approved by a majority of all Members of Parliament. Pre-election Manifestos, under the Political Party system will be replaced by a Post election Action Plan, which will be presented by the President at the Inaugural meeting of the Parliament. This should be available in print for the Public for evaluation of the performance of the Government and their representatives at the end of its tenure of Office
9. The same system of election and attendant procedures will apply to all other local bodies as well.
The change is only in the process of election of representatives to Parliament and the method of forming the Government. All else, will remain the same, such as proceedings of the parliament ,such as Standing Orders, Standing or Select Committees, procedures and practices, Motions , Resolutions etc.
Elections should be open to any eligible person to contest and become an MP, without being enslaved by Political Parties
Benefits of the proposed system of Government
1. The so-called coalition Governments which are referred to as National or Unity Government is a misnomer. A Government without political Parties is the only true National Government.
2. The simplification of the system of Elections.
3. An end to confrontational and adversarial Party politics .
4. Only educated, talented intellectuals and Professionals could enter Parliament free from bondage to Political Parties.
5. Political Party rivalry, violence and murders will cease.
6. There is no chance for the Business community or foreign countries with vested interest to meddle in elections.
7. Ensures political stability.
8. End to coalition Governments, Political Party crossovers and scheming.
9. No space for ethno-religious centric Parties. Leads to national integration, unity and Lankan consciousness
10. Family control of political parties will end. Therewith, family control of Government.
11. Elimination of Wasteful cost of election. No Party propaganda through Cut-outs, posters, Political meetings, with loud speakers, musical shows, party flags and decorations, on roads and public places.These eye sores will be removed.
12. End to Political Parties leading Trade Unions .Unions will have their own leaders. Manipulation of trade unions by Political Parties to cause strikes, protests, demonstrations will cease.
13. The candidates contesting election can only do house to house canvassing, with leaflets of their profile, his voting Number, and explaining his case and plans/ proposals, for the welfare, progress and development of the constituency and the country.
14. Religious and ethnic politics will lose its relevance. Monks/Priests to be debarred from contesting elections. Temple premises will cease to be political dens of activity. They should instead, be preoccupied with spirituality than politics.
15. Main focus will be social and economic development of the country.
16. Immense cost saving to the country. No Post of Opposition Leader, Less Ministers and Deputy Ministers. No Ministers of State. Therewith, reduction in Perks. Vehicles, Security etc. Executive Committee Members only be financially remunerated without perks as Vehicles etc. Security cover for Ministers/Deputy Ministers to be at the barest minimum, for utility than for ostentation and ego of Ministers.
This is only a skeletal conceptual framework, which needs to be polished and refined and improved upon and developed by constitutional experts, to be a workable system.The country is virtually tyrannized by Political Parties, their supporters and their families. Good men of integrity, principles, morals, honesty, the talented and educated shun partisan politics. Therefore, space must be provided for them to enter Government. A Meritocracy, instead of a pseudo-democracy, should be established. Elections should be open to any eligible person to contest and become a Member of Parliament, without being enslaved by Political Parties, and participate in Governance. Economic prosperity, social justice, political stability, peace and harmony will usher in for all sections of our plural society.