| by S.L. M Rifai
( December 21, 2014, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) The political manifesto of Maithri has been released. I shall share some of my own reflection on some aspects of this manifesto. Unlike Mahinda Rajapaksa and his cohorts who have been milking the government coffers for the last ten years, Maithri has make some solid promises in his manifesto. This manifesto is a collective political thinking of some of the major political parties in Sri Lanka. Many small political parties along with UNP have drafted this political manifesto. Maintaining law and order, wiping out fraud and corruption, establishing pubic enquiry commission and treating all communities’ equality without bias and discrimination are some of the main points of this manifesto. Here I’m not going to deal with each and every aspects of this comprehensive manifesto. I could say that this manifesto is one of the best political manifestos that has been written in the history of Sri Lanka. I will shed light on some aspect of this manifesto particularly on proposed political reformation of this manifesto.
Main theme of this manifesto is to propose some radical changes into our political system. What are those changes and how does Maithri team plan to implement those ideas as stipulated in the manifesto.
1) The first and foremost element of this manifesto is to reform and rectify the executive power vested in the present presidential system. We all know that today our president has been vested with unlimited executive power. For the last ten years, this power has been misused and manipulated by president almost like a king in olden time. He misused the power, manipulated constitution, accumulated wealth and money in an unprecedented manner in our history. No previous president has misused power as this president has done. This president almost managed to fool all our academics, intellectuals and professionals through the power vested on him by our constitution. According to new political system proposed by Maithili we will still have president and yet, his powers will be limited and reduced to some extent. We would not have a ceremonial president as some countries have for instance In Indian political system the president does not have any power and yet, his post is a ceremonial. We would not have such a ceremonial president rather we will have a full-fledged presidential system and yet, president will have limited power.
Under new system proposed President will not have executive power to fool 20 million Sri Lankans. He would not be able to keep many ministerial posts as he likes, He would not be able to remove any minister as he likes, he would not be able to control judicial system as he likes. Moreover the terms of presidential post will be limited to one term and he would not be able to a president for the second, or third term. He will have power to appoint minsters and yet, he would not have power to remove ministers as he likes. It would be up to parliament to propose motion against any MP.
Yet, He will have some limited power. He will not be able to dissolve parliament at his discretion. Today president has power to dissolve parliament as and when he likes. Even president could have resignation letters of MPs in our system today. He would bully any MPs today. He could punish any MPs in today’ system. He could do favour any one he likes. That is why we see some unqualified MPs holding some posts in parliament today.
A crafty stratagem is employed today by president to hold election even though there are more than two years to expire his term. He craftily manipulates his power to stay on power for ever. This loophole has been removed from the proposed political reformation. Ironically this present system is a self-destruction to all of us. It was drafted by JR for his personal interest. It is outdated system .It is different from UAS system. In USA although president is vested excessive power he is controlled by many public institutions and fair system of judiciary.
Under new system president will be responsible for the defence of country. He will be responsible to protect the integrity, sovereignty and overall guardianship of this country. He could keep with him the post of defence ministry. He will be president for all communities in that he will be accountable for the welfare and protection of all Lankans not just for his own community. Thus, excessive power of president will be limited and yet, he will enjoy some limited power as head of state. Yet, he would not be able to interfere in day to day activities of ministers as today president does. Thus the dignity and integrity of minsters will be protected. Ministers will be able to take their own decisions on their own without any unnecessary in interference of president as we see today. Today Rajapakse family puts its Norse in each and every minister’s internal affairs. It is said that MR even wants to know what happens inside the houses of his ministers.
Today under prevailing political system our minsters have to bow down to president. They have to obey to president whether he is right or wrong in his policies. That is exactly what happened today in Sri Lanka. Our president today has not got good academic or professional background to lead our nation in a good direction. He was lucky enough to become president. He managed to become president coincidently for some political reasons. He accumulated all powers in his hands and kept more than 60% of cabinet posts in his family. What more is no MP dare to oppose him in his policies? He wasted a huge amount of public money in recent years in some unsustainable mega projects in Sri Lanka. Yet, he was immune from any accountability. He and his cohorts of political hooligans managed to rob the national resource of this nation in pretext of power vested on him
2) According to new political reformation proposed, Presidential and General elections will be held on the same day: This will reduce unnecessary wastage of public money. This could save the time and energy of our people. People are accustomed to waste time and money in repetitive elections. Election violence creates a lots of hatreds and enmity. This could be reduced.
3) No more than 25 ministers will be appointed. According to proposed political reformation, there will be no more than 25 duty ministers. This is one more benefit of this manifesto. This will save a huge amount of public money at all levels. Today we have hundreds of ministers and deputy minsters. A huge amount of public money has been spent to run those ministries. A small country like Sri Lanka does not need such huge ministerial cabinet. What happened today is President to appease MP and seek their support to his party created a jumbo size cabinet. Today president does not care about national interest or public money but rather he wants to protect his chair. To that end he uses all these loopholes in his favours.
4) There will be some changes in election process. The electorate or constituency system of selecting MP will be re-introduced as it was before 1977. We have inhabited Westminster system to elect local MPs. This system was replaced by JR in which people had preferential voting system in each province. People in each province had right to vote any candidate within broader boundaries of province. Under the new proposed system Sri Lankan will choose 160 MPS from 160 electorates. Yet 50 more MPs will be elected from politically and ethnically minority groups and parties. This will give wider political participation of all communities and parties. Thus electorate and proportional system of electing MPS will be mixed up. I think that that there must be some change in provincial council system as well. It costs lots of money. Provincial council system is unnecessary to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a small country we could do better if our local MPs perform well. If we have good system of MP’s surgeries in each localities.
5) There will be some changes in voting and counting system:
Today we have a lot of loopholes in our voting and counting system: Even dead people’s votes are used by people in ruling parties. It is reported that ID of people who work in abroad are used to seal votes. Today more than 2 million people work in foreign countries, if the ID card of those people are used to steal votes it would have a huge effect on the out of the election. Moreover, cheating takes place in counting system today. Moreover, ballet boxes are changed, avoid this pooling stations will be changed into counting stations so that pooling and counting could take place in the same place in the same day. This would save money and time. This would protect the integrity of election in our country.
6) The independent public enquiry commission will be set up.
Today president over rule many decisions taken by judges. Even president instructs judges what to do and how to make decisions. Judges and law enforcement agents do not have freedom to act independently: There must be separation of power between executive power and judicial system. Politicians should not be allowed to perverting the course of justice. Judiciary should function independently of political system. This political manifesto propose to set some public enquires commissions to stop fraud and corruption in many areas.
Today in politics corruption is wide spread. One of the reasons for corruption is that politicians are bound to spend millions of pounds in politics to win any election. In return if they win the election they will steal pubic money to cover their cost in election. I think that this loophole can be rectified if honest and patriotic people are nominated to stand for election.
These are some elements of proposed political reforms. These are done not protect Maithri rather these are done in the greater interest of nation. All parties are involved in this process except those corrupted political hooligans of MR and co.
How could Maithri do this? He could do this if he wins with support of all parties. It is reported that he will set up a national government for two years. During this time he will be able to implement this proposal with support of all MPs in parliament. He would seek the support of opposition if he wins this election to implement these proposals. If opposition does not want to support this he would dissolve the parliament and hold general election. I’m sure with such comprehensive manifesto people will support him and his party to win the general election. He will be able to get two third majority to implement this proposal.
It is in the interest of all Sri Lankans to support such comprehensive manifesto. MR would not have such manifesto at all. He is like drug addict in his power. His manifesto will have a lots of loopholes to hold his grips on his power. Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims all should read carefully Maithri’s manifesto. All those who love to see prosperous mother land should support Maithri to win this election. It is not in his interest rather in our national interest we should support him this time. IF you support him you are really supporting democracy, equality, freedom and communal harmony. Otherwise if you support MR you are supporting dictatorship, corruption, nepotism and fraud. These are some aspects of Maithri political philosophies. It is in the hands of public if they want to support him or not. It is public who makes up its mind on this issue.
I will suggest that Maithri should set some qualification and characteristic check-up for those who are nominated from the national list. Today we see all sort of cheats are in politics. Qualified people do not come forward to stand in election. We should have some mechanism to elect some qualified and honest people from all communities.