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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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EC: HC judgment won’t bar Premalal from contesting

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… former, present polls monitors differ

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Election Commission (EC) Chairman Mahinda Deshapriya yesterday (3) said that the recent Ratnapura High Court ruling, in respect of the 2015 January Kahawatte killing, wouldn’t bar SLPP candidate Premalal Jayasekera from contesting the parliamentary polls on August 5.

 Deshapriya said so when The Island asked for comment on the Ratnapura, High Court sentencing the SLPP candidate, along with two others, to death, over the killing of a person backing the then common candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

At the time of the incident, Jayasekera held the post of Deputy Minister in the SLFP-led UPFA government.

Deshapriya said that there had never been a similar case before though there had been cases of elected lawmakers being unseated after being found guilty by courts.

 “We’ll discuss the issue at hand after the election and decide what to do,” Deshapriya said, adding that there was no change in the status quo as a result of the Ratnapura HC ruling.

The EC consists of Mahinda Deshapriya, Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole and Nalin Abeysekera, PC.

CMEV (Center for Monitoring Election Violence) spokesman Manjula Gajanayake told The Island that the top SLPP leadership should have considered all aspects before accommodating the former lawmaker on the Ratnapura nomination list. The SLPP could have easily avoided what Gajanayake called unnecessary complication by fielding another in place of Jayasekera, Gajanayake said. The polls monitor pointed out that the SLPP was aware that the Kahawatte case had been heard and the ruling was pending.

Responding to another query, Gajanayake said that the EC as well as political parties, especially those represented in parliament would have to address the issue.

Ratnapura District SLPP list comprises Vasudeva Nanayakkara (leader), Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi, Janaka Wakkumbura, John Seneviratne, Premalal Jayasekera, Dunesh Gankanda, Akila Ellawala, Sanee Rohana Kodituwakku,  Ranjith Bandara, Gamini Waleboda, Muditha Prishanthi, Hettiarachchige Lakshman Premaratne, Athula Kumara Rahubadda and Miyuru Bhashitha Liyanage. SLPP’s 14 candidates, include six former lawmakers. Of them, Dunesh Gankanda was elected from the Ratnapura district on the UNP ticket at the last parliamentary polls in August 2015.

 The SLPP should blame itself for the crisis, Gajanayake said.

 On Feb 26, 2019 four suspects who had been charged with killing of an individual in Kahawatta during the 2015 presidential polls campaign were acquitted and released by the High Court of Ratnapura. However, Jayasekera and two others remained as accused.

 Executive Director of PAFFREL (People’s Action for Free and Fair Election) Rohana Hettiarachchi told The Island that at the time Jayasekera received nomination he hadn’t been found guilty by High Court of Ratnapura. Therefore, there couldn’t be an issue in voters exercising their franchise for Jayasekera tomorrow, Hettiarachchi said. However, the EC would have to seek legal advice before Jayasekera received oaths as a member of parliament. 

 The police arrested Jayasekera in the Beruwela police area while he was hiding after the high profile Kahawatte killing.

 CaFFE (Campaign for Free and Fair Elections) head Ahamed Manas Makeen told The Island that the electorate should exercise their franchise for those who had clean records. Those who abused women and children or encouraged such practices, bribery and corruption and engaged or promoted violence or extremism shouldn’t be encouraged. Makeen said that the CaFFE stand was relevant to all districts not only Ratnapura where a candidate was sentenced to death.

 However Makeen’s predecessor, Rajith Keerthi Tennakoon, in a letter dated Aug 2 addressed to the EC, on behalf of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) said that in terms of the Article 89 of the Constitution a convicted murderer is automatically deprived of the right to exercise his franchise. Therefore, Jayasekera couldn’t vote at tomorrow’s general election, Tennakoon said, pointing out that in terms of Article 91 of the Constitution, a person disqualified to vote at the general election couldn’t contest. Tennakoon urged the EC to advice the Returning Officer of Ratnapura accordingly without delay.

 Keerthi functions as the SJB representative at the EC.

 SLPP Chairman Prof. G.L. Peiris said that they were watching the situation.

 

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Police initially believed in what Sampayo told them about Negombo Prison

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Image grabbed from video footage of Sampayo speaking to the media on Sunday at Kurunegala

by Norman Palihawadane

The Negombo Police, probing the alleged links between prison officials and inmates serving time there for drug offences, said that there had been numerous complaints about drug cartels operating from the Negombo Prison but former Superintendent (SP) of the Negombo Prison, Anuruddha Sampayo, always told them that there were no such rackets.

SP Sampayo was of the opinion that some elements were spreading such stories to tarnish the good name of officers attached to the Negombo prison.

Sampayo, who was evading arrest after being issued warrants, surrendered, on Sunday

Following directions of the Attorney General, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) on July 22 obtained arrest warrants, from the Negombo Magistrate, on Sampayo and three other officials of the Negombo Prison .

Sampayo is the first suspect in the case filed over committing irregularities in the Negombo Prison. The three other suspects in the case – Chief Jailor of the Prison Upali Sarath Bandara, Second Tier Jailer Nishantha Senaratne and Jailer Prasad Kalinga Kaluaggala – surrendered to the police earlier and they were remanded until Aug 04 by the court.

Police Media Spokesman Senior Superintendent of Police Jaliya Senaratne said Sampayo had been handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department after recording a statement.

 

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President says he will build people-centric economy

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President Gotabaya Rajapaksa says he will build a people-centric economy. The government’s goal, he says, is to create a national economy that would help the local entrepreneurs, instead of selling national resources and country’s assets to foreigners.

Rajapaksa says it is important to come to terms with the harsh economic reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economically empower the people instead of talking about the cost of living.

The President made these remarks at rallies he attended in support of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna in the Hambantota District on Sunday (August 02).

The President attended a meeting at the Mahinda Rajapaksa Shopping Complex, Middeniya, and inquired from the public about their needs. The gathering was organised by the SLPP candidate Kapila Dissanayake. In response to a request for repairs to the roof of a building in Middeniya Maha Vidyalaya, the President ordered the Army Commander to look into the matter immediately.

The President also heeded a request by the public to develop the Middeniya Hospital.

Maha Sangha present at the public rally in Walasmulla Public Playground requested the President to carve out a Pradheshiya Sabha area for Walasmulla. The rally was organised by the SLPP candidate Lionel Subasinghe.

Some issues pertaining to the Walasmulla Hospital, bus stand and market were brought to the President’s notice. People requested the President to convert a school closed down in the Yahamulla, area for want of students, into a factory.

President Rajapaksa was warmly welcomed at a public rally near the Beliatta Pradheshiya Sabha organised by the SLPP candidate Namal Rajapaksa.

The President also attended a public rally, organized by candidates Namal Rajapaksa and D.V. Chanaka, near the Tangalle Municipal Council, and inquired from the crowd about their needs.

That was the last public gathering President Rajapaksa attended in the country-wide election campaign in support of the SLPP candidates, contesting tomorrow’s general election.

 

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