Friday, November 14, 2014

Ranil’s House Of Tards - A response to Indi

Indi has written something more on the election, specifically on what appears to be the opposition's main platform-the abolishing of the executive presidency.

He highlights an issue that also worries me "Nobody is going to put themselves out of a job to see some other mutton-chop get it. "

This is a real danger. Power, once tasted is rarely given up. Remember that CBK  promised to abolish the presidency when she campaigned in 1994? She then went on to serve both presidential terms. What guarantee do we have that even if an opposition candidate wins, the presidency will be abolished?

No real guarantee at all. If it is a joint candidate or a coalition pushing for the abolishment there is a slightly better chance- the coalition partners or alliance will have to hold the incumbent to the promise-and the deed will need to be done in the white-hot heat of the immediate aftermath. Any delay will be fatal.

As an added safeguard, the steps or the process that will be followed to abolish the presidency must be made public as part of the campaign. it may include the formation of a constitutional committee, perhaps with international observers to guarantee that its objectives will be met.

People will then understand that there is a serious process in place to which some thought has been applied, not simply an electioneering slogan or gimmick.This will naturally add weight and substance to an opposition campaign.

An interim option could be that the 1978 Constitution be repealed entirely immediately on the change, restoring the 1972 constitution.  My personal preference would be for the restoration of the 1946 constitution, the only truly good one that we had but it is politically impossible - the name of the country, the position of Buddhism being two of the issues that no politician will contemplate touching. The next best thing is the 1972 constitution. Flawed though it is, it is better than what we have.

Under the 1972 Constitution the office of the president will still remain, but in a purely ceremonial role.  This will also have the added benefit of abolishing the evil provincial councils and banishing the horrible creatures who inhabit those bodies to eternal political limbo.

The constitutional committee can then either make amendments to the 1972 one or have the fresh on drafted. I wonder if the UN or some other body has a template of a constitution that can be adopted rapidly with few changes?

Any further thoughts on this?


maf said...

Have you read Tisarnee Gunasekera's piece Another Term of This Madness...

I think you have hit the nail on the head. Maybe we should collectively ask ALL of the candidates for a dated resignation letter from the post of President affirmed before the Chief Justice and to be published in every newspaper... not sure how else we collectively are going to get someone from holding on to power.

Another thought that crossed my mind was - what stopping a Jack Point from running for Parliament (at least). It would be so nice to have someone with intelligence actually in the representative body..a court for the Court Jester :)

Rohan Samarajiva said...

Seriously, the 1972 Constitution? One of the worst Constitutions ever. No judicial review, no fundamental rights? National Assembly all powerful? Never thought I'd live to see somebody drag that dog out to hunt.

Jack Point said...

Thanks for the comment Mr Samarajeewa.

I admit that I have not analysed the 1972 constitution in detail, but it is surely better than what we have? Better an all powerful assembly than an almighty president?

Jack Point said...

maf - ha ha a court for the court jester, that is a good one.

The advantage (I think) in a two chamber system is that eminent people who can't be bothered running (or cannot be elected) can be appointed to sit in the upper chamber and ask sensible questions that the MP's have missed.

Never thought about running for office seriously, maybe I should give it some thought?

Anonymous said...

I think he real problem with abolishing exc. presidency right away is not a constitutional one.
The political and economic landscape today is totally different from 1948 or 1972(even 1994).. The whole political and economical mechanism today is corrupted than ever before. in one hand, president Rajapaksa's "country-bumpkin" ruling style had caused a serious damage to already wounded political system. on the other hand, elite businessmen and media moguls like maharaja's rajamahendran have gone to the extend of puppeteering country's main opposition party (Raynor de silva would do the same to SLFP, if rajapaksa was defeated)... This country stays stable in the moment, only because the powerful presidency... if we go back to parliamentary system, those media mefia would easily move MPs here and there like pawns in chess board to force government to do what they want. So, if we are going to abolish the presidency, we should be careful to introduce radical changes in other areas like cross-media ownership... Even a bad president who was elected by people is better than rule of some businessmen.

Jack Point said...

Thanks for your comment Anon.

I agree that media can play a role in influencing people, although they do not do not play a big role at the moment since it is pretty much under the control of the Government.

It is only Maharaja's and the Wijewardene/Sunday Times group that are not directly controlled, but even they are subject to heavy influence through pressure of advertising budgets (the state and crony businessmen connected to the state are heavy advertisers if they displease the state advertising is cut back). Thus these outlets also do not take a very critical approach.

In the case of the Sunday Times/Daily Mirror they have installed editors who are sympathetic to the regime so they are little more than "yes" men.

Changes in media ownership laws may help but perhaps the best way to minimise the media influence would be to liberalsie ownership?

Issue new licenses to enable alternative media channels to emerge?

Any thoughts?