Home » News

Say, “Damn it! No!” to the Exec-PM trap

[Lakbima News, Sunday, 1 August 2010 09:53 No Comment]

What’s wrong with the normal, plain vanilla prime ministers DS, Dudley, Sir John, Banda, Dudley again, and Mrs B? Some were below par, some mediocre, and a few on balance were not bad at all. For sure, and on average, our pre-1977 prime ministers were cut above the dreadful presidents we have had to suffer since. OK maybe, again on average, they were higher calibre individuals than latter executive presidential junk; however another important, or more important reason is that the prime ministerial system was superior to the curse that diabolical JR visited on our heads. Plain vanilla prime ministers had a great deal of executive power; they used it, they answered to parliament, and they went home gracefully when parliament told them to pack their bags. Compare with the state of affairs under JR, repeated today, when a monopoly of power vested in one person, breeds monstrous abuse. No damn it, no Executive PM, whatever that double barrel term means – like fatty-obesity!

Plain PMs and Exec-PMs

Since no one I consulted could provide a non-inane account of what iniquities the Exec-PM label is designed to conceal, I think its time to ask some hard questions.

a) Will the bloke who becomes Exec-PM be elected to parliament along with, and like, any other MP?

b) Will the Exec-PM be deemed to have fallen from office if the government suffers defeat in a finance bill, a vote of no confidence, or the other familiar ways in which parliament sends governments packing? (In the present system the president boxes on even when an opposition government is formed – the Chandrika-Ranil saga)

c) If the Exec-PM is not fired when the government falls, why not?

d) Who will be the Head of State to exercise certain reserve powers, for example dissolution of parliament – on such occasions, unseating our Exec-Machang among others? (Naturally, dissolution will take account of, but not be bound by the views of Exec-Machang).

e) Will the ceremonial Head of State be the formal commander in chief of the armed forces and symbolically represent the nation on high occasions?

f) What will be the relationship between the Head of State and (i) the Supreme Court, (ii) the High Authority of the public service (new-PSC), and (iii) the elections commission, as distinct from the relationship of these bodies with the Exec-PM?

g) Will the Seventeenth Amendment be within the purview of the Head of State? (The prime minister will have the right to recommend appointments and advice actions).

h) If there is to be no ceremonial Head of State, why not?

i) Will the powers of all future Exec-PMs be the same as those of the first?

j) If not, why not?

k) Is the constitution being fudged and tailored for one chap’s benefit or is it to be designed as a document for posterity? The US Constitution has survived for nearly 225 years because it was not fudged. Haven’t we learnt an excruciatingly painful lesson by tailoring the 1978 Constitution to suit one megalomaniac’s ambitions?

I have a few more questions about the relationship between the Exec-PM, and presumably, two legislative houses (parliament and senate), the provincial assemblies (Who can dissolve them? This is crucial for the North and East), and the cabinet system. However better not get tied up in detail just yet.

If the answers to these questions are wise and proper, then we will have a normal prime ministerial system, so why all this ‘Executive’ mumbo-jumbo terminology? If deceitful, then join me in declaring: “Damn it! No Exec-PM dublicity!”

The unholy trap

You can call me cynical and suspicious – who wouldn’t be cynical after the antics of the last five years – but I think the Rajapakse game plan is as follows. A third-term extension of the presidency is out, at least for now unless Delhi beats the TNA into submission in exchange for 13 crumbs. So the plan is to keep Rajapakse at the helm for another term – and his relatives feeding at the trough for god knows how much longer – while retaining for him as many as possible of the current presidential powers that the brain dead UNP and a somnambulant public will let them get away with. The Exec-PM concept is simply a swindle to achieve this. The Exec-PM device involves no high principle of governance, just chicanery and goddamn political profiteering; this is why I oppose it.

The letter sent by Tissa, DEW and Vasu to the UPFA leadership where they declared themselves opposed to presidential term extensions revealed a little bit of leg under the hemline and I quote: “The first prime minister (that is the present president) under the proposed amendment could even be invested with certain special powers but without immunity for his executive actions”. This is a dangerous escape clause and gives away the show. It opens the door to smuggling in the whole authoritarian arsenal through the back door; it implies that this state of affairs will run through the tenure of the first executive prime minister (presumably 2016-2022).

[Full Coverage]

(For updates you can share with your friends, follow TNN on Facebook, Twitter and Google+)

Comments are closed.