Our dream parliament

  • 27 Mar 2010 17:26:58 GMT

    [Time was when it was a treat to listen to parliamentary debates in which titans clashed in a gentlemanly manner]

    Those.... were the days!

  • 28 Mar 2010 04:49:52 GMT

    [We need a parliament with MPs who safeguard the national interest desist from plundering public wealth carry out their fiduciary and other duties efficiently without being swayed by sinister influences, both internal and external maintain transparency in all their affairs, refrain from abusing their privileged position to rise above the law and from betraying the trust voters repose in them and, above all, conduct themselves in a civilised manner without scaring away school children in the public gallery.]

    Dream or Pipe-dream?

  • 28 Mar 2010 14:56:52 GMT

    [Dream or Pipe-dream?]

    Nothing but a Pipe Dream, with the preferential voting system.

  • 28 Mar 2010 18:02:12 GMT

    This is an article from a former Surveyor General During J.R.J time . Worth reading .

    [Whither Inalienable Sovereignty?

    Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise. But, can we as a nation flourish, if we all choose to remain in a fools paradise? I, for one, do not think so. But what about other Sri Lankans?

    Responding to an article re Machiavellian techniques employed to increase the UPFA s parliamentary majority a Sri Lankan responded by asserting that Any Sri Lankan, even with an iota of feeling for the country and its people, would ever be grateful to President Mahinda Rajapaksa for the so-called Machiavellian techniques that helped save the country from that megalomaniac mass murderer Prabhakaran and his blood thirsty gang of murderers.

    A senior Minister, answering a question fielded by a correspondent said It is just a myth that the government will be dictatorial if it gets a two third majority in the General Election. He reminded that the government under President J.R. Jayewardene got five sixths majority and still it was not a dictatorial government.

    A senior cross-over Minister, when asked if it was not unethical for candidates to enter parliament through one party and then cross sides subsequently to enjoy the perks and privileges of office , said There are many who think so. The present Constitution contains various short-comings. The cross-over clause, can be addressed as part of the overall changes that need to be effected.

    But all is not lost. At least one explicit view has been expressed that The most curious aspect of this government s general election campaign is that President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government are asking for a two-thirds majority to change the Constitution, neglecting to state what the future constitution would look like. This is akin to asking a lady to agree to a contract of marriage without having seen or spoken to the prospective groom. There is still time for the President and his administration to spell out the nature of Constitutional changes contemplated before the April 8th poll. A separate document extraneous to the manifesto is called for in terms of what is contemplated as constitutional reform. In the absence of such, a two-thirds majority for a blank cheque is certainly a bit much to ask for.

    In any state sovereignty (i.e. Supreme authority in a State) is vested in the Institution, person, or body having the ultimate authority to impose law on everyone else in the state and the power to alter any pre-existing law.

    Sovereignty that had, from time immemorial, been vested in our Rulers , was for the very first time vested in the People by the Autochthonous Constitution of 1972. It provided that Sovereignty is in the People and is inalienable , and that this Sovereignty shall be exercised through a National State Assembly of Representatives freely and fairly elected by the people, established as the supreme instrument of state power to exercise: (a) the Legislative power of the People directly, (b) the Executive power of the People through the President and the Cabinet of Ministers , and (c) the Judicial power of the People through Courts and other institutions created by law enacted by their duly elected representatives.

    The transition from a free Sovereign and Independent Republic to the status of a Free, Sovereign, Independent and Democratic Socialist Republic under the 1978 Constitution, was effected by the 2nd Amendment to the 1972 Constitution. Whereas the Legislative and Judicial power of the People were vested in the Parliament consisting of duly elected representatives of the People, the Executive power of the People including the defence of Sri Lanka was vested in the President of the Republic elected by the People. To execute all such acts and things, which the President was required or authorised to do, not being inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution or written law, the President was granted limited immunity from suit, by Article 35 of the Constitution.

    The 1st Executive President, H.E. J.R. Jayawardena, who claimed to be the 196th Head of the Sri Lankan State, used (and often abused) the extensive powers vested in the President. He even authorised and directed the Attorney General to appear, in the Court of Appeal on 5.3.1981 in the Land Reform Commission vs. Grand Central Ltd. case, in his private capacity as an ordinary Attorney-at-Law. Fortunately for Sri Lanka, the President s own sibling, H.W. Jayawardena Q.C. raised objections to this and the Court of Appeal upheld this objection, for the reason that the Attorney General holds an unique position endowed with wide powers, onerous duties and special rights in regard to matters involving the exercise of the Sovereignty of the People which, unlike in England where the Queen is the Sovereign, in the Republic of Sri Lanka, Sovereignty is in the people and the Attorney General represents and acts for the People of the Republic .

    Notwithstanding this clear message that Sovereignty vested not in the President but in the People, the flagrant abuse of Presidential authority continued unabated, under cover of the immunity purportedly granted by Article 35 of the Constitution. However, on October 20, 1983 the limit of this immunity was conclusively determined by the Full Bench of 9 Judges headed by the President s own appointee as Chief Justice, Neville Samarakoon, Queen s Counsel, in the Visuvalingam Vs. Liyanage Case. One of the issues raised for decision was Is the President s act of making a fresh appointment of the Judges an executive act not questionable in a Court of Law?

    It was contended on behalf of the Attorney General that the personal allegiance which the Judges owed to the Sovereign in the days of the Monarchy is continued to the present day where the allegiance is owed to the President as representing the State. The Chief Justice responded stating, This is a startling proposition. Sovereignty of the People under the 1978 Constitution is one and indivisible. It remains with the People. It is only the exercise of certain powers of the Sovereign that are delegated under Article 4. Fundamental Rights and Franchise remain with the People and the Supreme Court has been constituted the guardian of such rights. I do not agree with the Deputy Solicitor General that the President has inherited the mantle of a Monarch and that allegiance is owed to him .

    It was held by this 9 Judge Bench, inter alia, that: Actions of the Executive are not above the law and certainly can be questioned in a Court of Law. Article 35 of the Constitution provides only for the personal immunity of the President during his tenure of office from proceedings in any Court. The President cannot be summoned to Court to justify his actions. But that is a far cry from saying that the President s acts cannot be examined by a Court of Law. Though the President is immune from proceedings in Court, a party who invokes the acts of the President in his support will have to bear the burden of demonstrating that such acts of the President are warranted by law the seal of the President by itself will not be sufficient to bear that burden .

    Abuse of the five-sixth majority in Parliament, by J.R. Jayawardena, was curtailed, not by choice but by the fierce independence of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Regrettably however, the Supreme Court, constituted as the guardian of the people s Fundamental Rights and Franchise, has been slow to act in terms of this unambiguous interpretation by the 9-judge Bench, the validity of which has never since been questioned and/or considered by a Bench of 9 or more judges of the Supreme Court. Perhaps emboldened by this reluctance, the abuse of Presidential power rapidly escalated culminating in the infamous Wayamba P.C. election in 1999. The People were so enraged by such flagrant abuse of their executive power, delegated to the President, that in September 2001, their elected representatives in Parliament, with only one solitary abstention, passed the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, explicitly revoking certain executive powers delegated to the President. This was certified by the Speaker on 3rd October 2001 and duly incorporated in the 1978 Constitution.

    The 199th Head of State reluctantly complied with the restrictions imposed by the 17th Amendment, except that she intentionally violated the Constitution by refusing to appoint the Elections Commission in 2002. However, the present incumbent has consistently acted in violation of the Constitution by refusing to appoint the duly nominated members of the Constitutional Council and arbitrarily appointing his selectees to the posts of Chief Justice and Judges of the Supreme Court, the President and Judges of the Court of Appeal, Members of the Judicial Service Commission, the Attorney General, the Auditor General, the Inspector General of Police and the Secretary General of Parliament. For rather obvious reasons, the only provision in the 17th Amendment being complied with by the President is the transitional provision in Section 27(2) of the Act which enables Mr. Dayananda Dissanayake to continue as Commissioner of Elections for 8 years after reaching retirement age.

    As cogently stated by a fervent supporter of the 200th Head of State, the question before Sri Lanka is Who are we and what kind of state are we evolving into? What is at stake, he says, is Do we or do we not belong to the system of representative pluralist democracy? Do we or do we not intend to play by the rules of the game? It was one thing to defend liberal democracy from the armed JVP and the Tigers, and another to damage or fail to restore that liberal, pluralist democracy ourselves. It is one thing to resist the West when we must, and another to brush off constructive advice from all and go it alone, filled with self-righteousness .

    The reported creation of a Special Police Unit to protect the good name of Rajapakses , the transparently ruthless suppression of any dissent and the demand for a two-thirds majority in Parliament are tantamount to a naked attempt to lawfully vest in the President the inalienable sovereignty which is presently vested in the People. History is likely to repeat itself to the extent that the Attorney General (who has been appointed to that post by the President in violation of specific provisions in the Establishments Code as well as the Constitution), will predictably support such action. Sadly, however, there will be no objections raised by the numerous siblings of the President who are actively supporting his every move.

    The Judiciary is our last bastion. Keeping in mind that the objectivity of their approach itself was in issue, in a spirit of detached objective inquiry, which is a distinguishing feature of Judicial Process, the Supreme Court, in 1983, in the full consciousness that it was their solemn duty and obligation to uphold the 1978 Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, proceeded, objectively and impersonally, to discharge their duty without fear or favour, affection or ill-will . In the exercise of the Executive power of the People vested in him, the 200th Head of State has effectively wrested from Parliament our Legislative Power and seems to be making inroads into our Judicial Power as well.. As of today, the last of the Independent Commissions has ceased to exist effectively giving a green light to Bribery and Corruption. Our legitimate expectation is that the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court will rise to the occasion and repeat their performances of 1981 and 1983, and restore de facto sovereignty to where it lawfully belongs in the people.

    The lady who agrees to a contract of marriage without having seen or spoken to the prospective groom is virtually agreeing to the irreparable loss of her virginity. The rape of our Sovereignty is manifested by the blatant intentional violation of many Constitutional provisions. We cannot willingly be seduced to barter away our Sovereignty by an illusory though unspecified bright future. The one and only tool still in our hands is this ballot. This could well be our last opportunity to discharge our obligation by future generations of Sri Lankans to retain inalienable sovereignty in us, the people.

    Elmore Perera, Past President OPA

    Founder and Vice-President, CIMOGG


  • 29 Mar 2010 22:40:38 GMT

    [We need a parliament with MPs who safeguard the national interest desist from plundering public wealth......]

    Now that`s what I would call.....

    [Our dream parliament]