The Executive President Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse, during the short time he was elected did an excellent job, first by appointing an equally excellent Defence Secretary, and then by stages eliminating terrorism from Sri Lanka, and by carrying out an extensive infrastructure development projects. The roads, the harbours, water dams, electricity production, agricultural development will remain to the credit of the Executive President.
The position of the Executive President in the possession of a person who is dishonest, not dedicated to the country and its people , bowing to the western powers would have been a Dictatorship, feared by a helplessly suffering people.
But Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse had not at any stage of his assuming the Presidential position shown any dictatorial disposition. On the other hand he turned out to be a father figure, simple, unassuming, extremely religious, tolerant, calm and collected under all circumstances. The prestigious position of President of Sri Lanka fits him like his clean white National dress.
His unblemished face with a delicately shaped moustache, his winsome smile over pearl white teeth, makes him a stately graceful father of the Nation. His past Kamma has perhaps resulted in shaping him according to the sublime teachings of cause and effect to be the President of Sri Lanka.
All that is not to make of him a ceremonial figure, sitting on a throne to put his signature on to what ever documents put before him by an executive Prime Minister , and to receive stately VIPs from the Western Nations.
Sri Lanka wants him, as well as his Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse to hold on to the reins of their present positions for some time to come as the dangers to which Sri Lanka could plunge once again in to troubled waters is not yet over. There is much more to do for the development of this country and we cannot let either of them go with the work half done.
It is only the opposition to progress, and development, through ill meant advise of the foreign governments and selfish desire of the individuals to caste their nets when the time is ripe to gather profits for themselves that want the provision for the appointment of an executive President removed from the Constitution.
Of course if the UNP is to hold the position of the Executive President, the people of Sri Lanka will not see the same of progress and development they are fortunate to see now.
We have already experienced its ill effect under JR Jayawardhana of UNP who introduced the Executive President, for him to remain in power for a considerable period of time. The UNP did not then or immediately after JR Jayawardhana’s demise saw the necessity to remove the provision for an Executive President. Why, one could ask, is the UNP now so keen about its abolition when the present President Mahinda Rajapakse uses his executive power to the benefit of Sri Lanka and its people as a whole ?
Those who demand the abolition of the Executive powers of the President, claim that the President misuses his executive power in not implementing the 17 Amendment to the Constitution. These ill informed members of the opposition either do not know the implication involved in the implementation of the 17 Amendment which as it is, is an unworkable piece of legislation. The 17 Amendment to the Constitution requires radical changes, if it is to be implemented for the benefit of the country.
In terms of this Amendment, apart from the President not being a controlling source he merely places his signature , or makes appointments which have to be ratified by the Constitutional Council.
In this Amendment, the indicated method of appointment of the ten members of the Constitutional Council is rigged with anomalies, without providing provision for disagreements and failure in arriving at an agreement or consensus in making recommendations for appointments.
The ten members of the Constitutional Council consists of the Speaker, the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. And another member is recommended for appointed by the President.
The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition recommends five others in consultation with the leaders of the Political Parties and Independent Groups in Parliament. Of the five, three are recommended to represent the minority Communities. These three are selected by the Parliamentary Members of the minority parties. One more is recommended by the President in agreement with the majority of the members of the Parliament belonging to parties other than those of the Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition, and those representing independent groups . There are no provisions in case of disagreements
The President may have foreseen these anomalies, and thus he had avoided possible failures in the system. The Government should not go headlong into action, if it would encounter insoluble problems. Therefore, what is essential is to amend the Constitution first, before facing conflicts later.
There was already a problem with the former Chief Justice, who made judicial orders to remove road blocks, apparently to cover his amorous escapades, without concern to possible transport by the terrorists of bombs and suicide cadre to the south. Not even the President could intervene to stop the Chief Justice’s decisions.
The executive Prime Minister is nothing new, in the British Parliamentary system the Prime Minister is already an Executive. If appointing an Executive Prime Minister is to have a titular President, it would serve no purpose, as it would only be an unnecessary extravagance.
It is not necessary that we should follow the British system. The British democracy has become an anomaly to democracy, by its Ministers taking undemocratic initiatives to interfere into the affairs of other Sovereign States.
The British democracy would be an example worthy of emulating, if it does not over step its authority and take undemocratic actions outside UK. We cannot forget that the withdrawal of the GSP+ by the EU was not opposed by the UK representative. That was an undemocratic act what ever the reasons they had given for its withdrawal.
Diplomacy is a word coined by the West to suit their purposes. We need not adhere to their diplomatic principles when they undiplomatically interfere in to out affairs.
All in all the abolition of the Executive Powers of the President is not a wise move at present, but instead the changes to the Constitution would be more appropriate. If it is considered that the executive powers of the President are excessive, then it would be worthwhile considering the establishment of a second Chamber as suggested by the President. It would then be used like the Senate of America, to ratify the appointments made by the President.