Political Principles and their Practice in Sri Lanka – Law and its Institutions We have looked thus far at Parliament, the legislative branch of government, which is supposed to pass laws and also monitor the work of the executive. Then we looked at the executive, the active functioning branch of government, and considered the various duties it should perform, Third we should consider the judicial branch of government, which was considered the only ...

Good Governance 12 – A Code of Conduct The manner in which the President’s manifesto has been by and large ignored by those entrusted with implementing it is quite shocking. The collegiality pledged with regard to the Cabinet and the National Advisory Council was flouted, and nothing was done about the pledge to strengthen Parliament through amendment of Standing Orders. These were pledged for January and could have ...

Political Principles and their Practice in Sri Lanka – Avoiding Majoritarianism Finally, in this Chapter on Democracy and Representation, I look at how countries can avoid the impression that their governments look after only particular sections of society. Making it clear that government is inclusive, and bears equal responsibility for all groups in a country is an important part of ensuring the unity and thus the sovereignty of any country. Avoiding ...

Good Governance 11 – Collegiality One of the biggest problems Sri Lanka faces is the absence of consultation between political parties. The manner in which the Reform Agenda of the President was nearly destroyed because of a failure to see it as a national need is typical of what is wrong. The Prime Minister decided that this was an enterprise for which the UNP had ...

Political Principles and their Practice in Sri Lanka – Democracy, Representation and Devolution III In this section I look at how Democracy has evolved in the modern period, and glance at the methods by which people choose their representatives. Democracy in the Modern Period During the Renaissance, when classical (that is, Greek and Roman) learning was revived in Europe, there were a few Italian city-states that practised some forms of democracy. But these too ...

Good Governance 10 – Appointments to public positions When we were discussing electoral reform at a meeting of all parties chaired by the President, I was astonished at the general incapacity or unwillingness to conceptualize. The principal exception to this was the JHU representative, Asoka Abeygunasekera, whose few interventions went straight to the core of the problem. A week later, at the launch of his book on the last ...

Political Principles and their Practice in Sri Lanka – Democracy, Representation and Devolution II To ensure that Parliament is composed proportionate to the will of the people, while at the same time allowing for constituencies that had individual representatives, the Germans developed a system that combines features of both the simple-majority system and the proportional representation system. In the German system, half the seats in parliament are occupied by candidates elected on a constituency ...

Good Governance 9 – Ministerial Perks Minister Mangala Samaraweera’s defence of his taking a young man with him to New York was entertaining, but it was also very sad. Instead of concentrating on the problem of public funds being spent on private predilections, he engaged in a defence of what he evidently thought was a slur, if not on his character, on that of the young ...

Political Principles and their Practice in Sri Lanka – Democracy, Representation and Devolution In Political Principles and their Practice, which Cambridge University Press in India published some years back, the 3rd chapter (after chapters on the State and the Powers and Functions of Government) was about the Law. However I thought that I would leave that till later, and move on to Chapter 4 because of current concerns about changing the electoral system. ...

Good Governance 8 – A Responsible Media I have been arguing for the last few months that the basic principle this government was elected to fulfil, namely reducing the power of an over mighty executive, requires the establishment of alternative centres of power. The Wickremesinghe recipe of transferring all power to the Prime Minister, by giving the latter freedom of action and placing the President firmly under ...

A Reform Agenda 9 – The Electoral System the Government Promised I come now to what seems a contentious issue, unnecessarily so. The manifesto on which the President won the election clearly pledged that ‘An all party committee will be set up to put forward proposals to replace the current Preference Vote system and replace it with a Mixed Electoral System that ensures representation of individual Members for Parliamentary Constituencies, with ...

Good Governance 7 – Guarding the Guardians I make no apologies for coming back to the excellent paper prepared by Nagananda Kodituwakku about the measures needed to restore public confidence in the Justice system. Previously we looked at the systems that need to be put in place to ensure the swift dispensation of justice. Now I shall look at ways in which we can promote confidence in the ...

A Reform Agenda 8 – Environmental Protection Sri Lanka needs a National Environmental Policy that can be effectively enforced to deal with current threats. We should not only react, but should develop and implement policies that will reduce risks. In fact the Disaster Management Centre, together with the National Building Research Organization, has developed plans in some sectors. But these institutions need to be strengthened, and given ...

Amendments for the committee stage – 22 April 2015 April 22nd 2015 The Secretary General Parliament Dear Secretary General I have now had a chance to go through the consolidated version of the draft 19th Amendment, which was given to us by the Hon Prime Minister yesterday. The amendments he has included, which will I presume be introduced at the Committee Stage, assuage some of my worries but others ...

The present government has made a complete hash of the Cabinet. Whereas we talked in terms of a Cabinet based on rational principles, we seem to have adopted the rag-bag approach instead, with ludicrous combinations such as Home Affairs and Fisheries (whereas District and Divisional Secretariats should obviously have been part of Public Administration) or Minister of Policy Planning, Economic ...

Amendments to the draft 19th amendment at the Committee State April 10th 2015 The Secretary General Parliament Dear Secretary General Further to the amendments I have already proposed to the draft 19th amendment to the Constitution as it was gazetted, I wish to also propose the following amendments at the Committee State Delete Sections 95 to 99 of the Constitution and replace with 95 (i) Within one week of Sections ...

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