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Do we need an all powerful president

2018-09-13 00:00:24
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It’s politicians like Rajapaksa who through their greed for abusing  power made the post of president look like something disastrous and  harmful to the country (Photo AFP)

 

  • If one turns the pages of time, the president who abused his portfolio the most was Mahinda Rajapaksa
     
  • This is a country which encounters opposition on the way to establishing any change, whether its for the good or the bad
     
  • This amendment was all about arming the president with absolute power
     
  • President Sirisena was able to put a stop to certain questionable decisions by the Government ministers because of the executive powers bestowed upon him
     
  • The question arrises what if there comes to power a politician who wishes to follow in the footsteps of former President Rajapaksa?


 

Nine years after the ‘bloody’ war and three years into the Yahapalana Government, Sri Lankans are still scratching their heads and looking for ways of putting this nation on a strong footing. 

The country’s citizens have tried both the leading parties-the United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party- and now seem to realise that even a Government comprising members of both these parties has not delivered in keeping with the expectations of the people. 

In this context the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) believes that the solution to all these ills the country is plagued with has been caused by the title of executive president. JVP’s parliamentary member Vjitha Herath was quoted in the Daily Mirror this week stating that the post of president has caused for much damage to the country. According to Herath, the JVP has proposed the 20th Amendment to the Constitution which, if passed, will restrict the role of the president.  

True. If one turns the pages of time, the president who abused his portfolio the most was Mahinda Rajapaksa who not only weakened the opposition, but also the judiciary and the media. He took the best advantage of being the executive president and initiated the passing of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. This change allowed anybody to be the president of this country any number of times. This amendment was all about arming the president with absolute power. It’s politicians like Rajapaksa who through their greed for abusing power made the post of president look like something disastrous and harmful to the country. 

Just for the record, most of the past presidents of this country, including Rajapaksa, and even the incumbent head of state Maithripala Sirisena stressed the fact that they wished to abolish the presidency once they were voted into power. But these promises have never been kept and the presidents in power did realize as they served in this capacity that having so much power also made their task easier. 

President Sirisena was able to put a stop to certain questionable decisions by the Government ministers because of the executive powers bestowed upon him. The scrapping of the decision taken to allow women the opportunity to purchase liquor and annulling of the decision taken to increase the salaries of Government ministers by some 200% were done with the speed of snapping a finger, thanks to the powers vested upon the executive president.  

But still a large percentage of this country’s citizens believe that the powers vested upon the president is excessive. This nation might not have a president like Sirisena forever. The question arrises what if there comes to power a politician who wishes to follow in the footsteps of former President Rajapaksa? This is why people fear the powers that the executive president of this country exercises. 

JVP’s Herath has said that he believes that present President Sirisena would extend his support for the enacting of the 20th Amendment

The JVP has now proposed the 20th Amendment to the Constitution and presented it to the Constitutional Assembly with the view of reducing the powers of the president. According to JVP’s proposal, the 20th Amendment will restrict the president’s role to that of overseeing the Provincial Councils. Herath has said that the proposed amendment was to reduce the powers of the president, but not to abolish the post in its entirety. 

 

JVP’s Herath has said that he believes that present President Sirisena would extend his support for the enacting of the 20th Amendment

 

The JVP claims that it has had discussions with the UNP and members of the opposition regarding the proposed amendment. The party believes it can obtain enough support to enact this amendment in parliament. 

This is a country which encounters opposition on the way to establishing any change, whether its for the good or the bad. We have seen in the past how motorists reacted aggressively when new traffic laws were imposed to discipline drivers. This is how people, representing what’s bad, respond to change. There is always opposition to something good that’s to be introduced like a factory or a hotel in a village; projects which generate so much jobs and offer benefits. 

JVP’s Herath has said that he believes that present President Sirisena would extend his support for the enacting of the 20th Amendment. President Sirisena, after being sworn in as president, affirmed that Sri Lankans had got used to a slave mentality during the past regime and added that they should get used to the new freedom that he wished the country would embrace. But he warned that the slave mentality was one that is hard to break free from. 

The Yahapalana Government is in the process of drafting a new Constitution and presenting it to Parliament. But all signs point towards this process taking some time before the law makers get to see this draft. The only thing discussed by law makers about this new Constitution is how it defines the status given 
to Buddhism. 

Sri Lanka needs to prune the powers of the executive president and enhance the authority of the premier. There are cries from the opposition that such a move would lead to Federalism being established in the country. Pivithuru Hela Urumaya’s Udaya Gammanpila has already filed a petition in Supreme Court asking for a referendum if the 20th Amendment is to be passed.   

Given that Sri Lanka doesn’t see any future leader being groomed to take over as president of this country, it seems wise to get the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution passed in Parliament and see the face of politics in the island change for the better.


  Comments - 5

  • amila Friday, 14 September 2018 16:38

    MR Stealed L T T s Gold.

    Reply : 11       17

    Sunil P Friday, 14 September 2018 16:57

    Yes

    Reply : 5       16

    Sangaralingham Sunday, 16 September 2018 10:04

    If a right person is in the ballot don't vote boycot the elections

    Reply : 1       6

    PLP Bands Sunday, 16 September 2018 14:45

    We should have a all powerful President or Prime Ministry to clean up the mess created by so many, like JR. Our Nation needs a real leader like Mahathir or Lee Kuan and rule it for at least 10 years and to make sure everything is in line and prune the number of MPs. We might as well could live with 24 MPS instead of 225!

    Reply : 0       6

    Sam Monday, 17 September 2018 11:12

    Wonder why on earth he had the Pres elections prior to the fixed date of elections where he lost?

    Reply : 0       2

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