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The country requires a strong Executive Presidency to navigate the Post-Covid world says Milinda Moragoda

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Milinda Moragoda, former Cabinet Minister and founder of the Pathfinder Foundation spoke about the need for Sri Lanka to be fast and agile in order to face the economic, social and international challenges of the Post-Covid environment.

 

He stated that:  ‘there is no disputing the fact that the country benefited from having strong executive decision-making during the early stages of the pandemic. And as a result, many lives were saved.

 

Disappointingly, no major political party has yet put forward a coherent governance and governing structure for the nation in their policy platforms.

 

‘Each has been predictably very chameleon-like when addressing issues related to constitutional and governance-structure related matters in their manifestos. This is especially unfortunate in light of the dysfunctional relationship that now exists between the Executive and the Legislature and the proven potential for gridlock, both a result of the enactment of the 19th Amendment.’

 

Against this backdrop, without any coherent or credible proposals thus far having been presented by any major political  party, Moragoda proposes that all thoughtful Sri Lankans take up the following points for their consideration, discussion and if appropriate advocacy :

 

A. The establishment of a strong Executive Presidency that can act decisively and yet be ultimately accountable to Parliament. After all, the presidency is the only office elected by all Sri Lankan voters. Thus, the individual occupying this post will be implicitly accountable to all citizens, be they from Kankesanturai or Dewinuwara.

 

B.  An independent legislature that will promulgate legislation and act as a

 

      responsible check and balance to Executive excess. This legislature

 

      should be elected on a first-past-the-post basis with a small percentage

 

      of members being chosen through a proportional representation system.

 

      This change should lead to a stable parliament where most members are

 

      directly accountable to their constituencies and citizens. The preference

 

      vote system which has only created chaos and in-fighting should be

 

      dispensed with.

 

C. The Provincial Councils should be abolished and empowered local

 

     councils set up to address the day-to-day issues of the citizenry.

 

D. An empowered Senate should be created to represent minority and 

 

    regional interests. 

 

Moragoda further pointed out that ‘Forty-two years have passed since the establishment of Sri Lanka’s Executive Presidency and that all those who criticize this form of government have still not been able to convince Sri Lankans of any better option. Notably, when the opportunity for abolishing the presidential system presented itself in 2015, the then government was unable or unwilling to conduct a referendum to abolish the presidency. And, as we are now on the verge of facing the most challenging period in our post-Independence history, the need of the hour is a strong executive.’ 

 

To lend further context to his point he noted that: ‘The first conception of a Presidential system was forged in the late 18th century after the American war of Independence against the British. Extensive debates surrounding the extent of the powers of an Executive Presidency took place during the drafting of the American Constitution. One of the founding fathers and authors of the US Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, argued for a strong Executive leader making the point that:

 

” ‘A feeble Executive implies a feeble execution of the government. A feeble execution is but another phrase for a bad execution, and a government ill-executed, whatever it may be in theory, must be, in practice, a bad government.’”

 

‘In the final analysis Sri Lanka cannot afford to have a crippled government especially at this critical juncture where a large number of lives and livelihoods are at stake.



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Six nabbed with over 100 kg of ‘Ice’

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By Norman Palihawadane and Ifham Nizam

The Police Narcotics Bureau (PNB) yesterday arrested six suspects in the Sapugaskanda Rathgahawatta area with more than 100 kilos of Crystal Methamphetamine also known as Ice.

Police Media Spokesman, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Ajith Rohana told the media that the PNB sleuths, acting on information elicited from a suspect in custody had found 91 packets of Ice.

A man in possession of 100 kilos of heroin was arrested in Modera during the weekend and revealed that a haul of Ice had been packed in plastic boxes.

The PNB seized more than 114 kilos of Ice from the possession of a single drug network.

According to the information elicited from the suspects, more than 100 kilos of Ice were found.

The PNB also arrested six persons including two women with 13 kilos of Ice, during an operation carried out in the Niwandama area in Ja-Ela on Sunday.

DIG Rohana said the ice had been packed in small plastic boxes and hidden in two school bags.

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PM intervenes to iron out differences among coalition partners

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By Norman Palihawadane

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday said that he was confident that differences among the constituents of the SLPP coalition as regards the May Day celebrations and the next Provincial Council elections could be ironed out soon.

Leaders of all SLPP allied parties have been invited to a special meeting to be held at Temple Trees with the PM presiding on April 19.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa said it was natural for members of a political alliance to have their own standpoints and views on matters of national importance. “This is due to the different political ideologies and identities. It is not something new when it comes to political alliances world over. In a way, it shows that there is internal democracy within our alliance.

The PM said: “As a result of that the allied parties may express their own views on issues, but that does not mean there is a threat to the unity of the alliance. An alliance is more vibrant and stronger not when all the parties think on the same lines but when the member parties have different ideologies.”

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Thilo Hoffman remembered

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A copy of the book “Politics of a Rainforest: Battles to save Sinharaja” was handed over to Dominik Furgler, the Swiss Ambassador in Sri Lanka by the author of the book, Dr. Prasanna Cooray at the Swiss Embassy in Colombo last Tuesday, to be sent to the family of the late Thilo Hoffman in Switzerland.

Hoffman, a Swiss national, who made Sri Lanka his second home for six decades, was a pioneering environmental activist who led the battles to save Sinharaja from the front in the early 1970s, abreast with the likes of Iranganie Serasinghe, Kamanie Vitharana, Lynn De Alwis and Nihal Fernando of the “Ruk Rekaganno” fame. That was the era when the trees of Sinharaja were felled for the production of plywood by the then government. Hoffman was also a livewire of the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society (WNPS) for a long time. Hoffman died in 2014 at the age of 92.

The book includes a chapter on Thilo Hoffman.

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