If Sri Lanka is to maintain a balance between the ruler’s powers and duties against the rights and obligations of the ruled, then there is a need to have a true equality in governance. Achieving this balance will enhance the degree of fairness in administration and improve people’s perception of the country’s system of rule as being fair and impartial. For Sri Lankan experience of governance since independence in 1948 show that the people were more inclined to voluntarily fully comply with their obligations. Unfortunately it was the rulers who went off the track without following the constitution that had checks and balance to ensure the rule was fair and impartial. If that was not enough, they began openly tampering with the first constitution and then went on to replace it with a draconian republican constitution. Then to meet their whims and fancies of the rulers it was amended most number of times that made it fit to serve none other than the rulers themselves that allowed them to manipulate the judiciary and the legislature to serve their own personal political agendas.
The unitary status of the country and prominence now given to Buddhism would have happened with time even with the first constitution considering that 65% of the population are followers of the faith and if the checks and balances in the first constitution were observed properly there would have been a true equity governance under a holistic rule embracing all communities in the country and the civil war that lasted three decades would have never happened. Unfortunately, the rulers for their own benefit removed these checks and balances that led to many uprisings and a civil war; the rulers turned to its tri forces to suppress it all. Today people are paying the price due to absence of a holistic rule, even though the war was brought to finish in 2009. Thus the excess presence of tri forces in the war torn regions of the country is the Reflections of time – the effect caused by the rulers well reflected in the photo above taken on 2019 Independence Day ceremony on A9 Highway held early this month in front of the Jaffna District Secretariat. Excess presence of Security Personnel in previous war zones is the effect, caused by bad rule.
Earlier, the 2015 Wind of Change gave a New President to bring a new beginning of democratic governance, mooted by the will of the majority of Sri Lankans led by none other than the Ven. Madulwawe Sobhitha Thero. Thanks to the President the 19th Amendment to the Constitution became law, which brought back a two-term limit on the executive presidency, shortening each presidential term of office to five years from six. Real power was injected into the independent commissions such as the Judicial Services Commission, Police Commission and Public Service Commission to bring independence to the judiciary, police and public service at large. The powers of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers were enhanced in line with other modern parliamentary democracies. Executive actions of the president became subject to judicial review. Most importantly, the Constitutional Council – a critical check and balance was brought into what was once an unrestrained power of the President to appoint persons of his sole choice to critical judicial and government posts.
Earlier, when this government came to power, it took upon themselves to draw up a new constitution and converted the legislature into a constitution assembly full of corrupt legislators with the past mindset unchanged. Now as the same corrupt legislators are preparing with the present outdated draconian republican constitution that favours their existence to face the General Elections due in 2020. To their credit the President and the Prime Minister have acknowledged that there is no possibility to submit a draft constitution to the current Parliament the term of which will expire in August 2020. Further the President has indirectly acknowledged the bitter truth that with the corrupt legislators have failed to produce a workable constitution in the four years given to them at a heavy cost to the people, as the draft would have only produced another biased constitution not fit for the whole country.
As more reforms are needed for good governance to occur in the country, a fact well appreciated by the President, who will not be contesting in the 2020 General Election the best option as the Head of State is to rise up above party politics and convince the people that the present constitution needs to be replaced to solve all ills in the country as it is inadequate for a corruption free rule. To work towards a corruption free one nation the President must appoint immediately a Presidential Commission made up of civil minded people from people organisations; but certainly exclude all political parties and the present set of corrupt legislators to draw up a new constitution that enable more people to participate in the decision making process in regard to the issues of public importance, rather than as at present restricting only to the legislators. Which in itself as a first step in their journey towards a corruption free rule would induce all political parties to field corruption free candidates at the 2020 General Election.