Thursday, January 12, 2006
I ain't no constitoosion scholar.
We had both 1972 and 1978 constitutions at home when I was a kid.I never bothered reading them ,and it bored me to death when I tried.On the other hand I actively seeked out the US constitution recently.I just had to compare both preambles to see the superiority of a document that was drafted more than 200 hundred years ago(ammended 27 times) to a one that is only 27 years old(amended 17 times).
My sudden interest in the constitution was partially due to several articles (0,1 ,2,3)by Prof Rajiva Wijesinghe . It is inevitable that we have to make some changes to the constitution within next couple of years.Why ?There could be 3 possible outcomes from current chaos.
1.Establishment of Ealam
2.A settement with power sharing
3 No war -No peace current situation continuing for ever.
Since possiblity 3 is highly unlikely it will be either first or second option. In either case there will be some changes to the way we will be governed.So I thought of listing what I would like to see in the new constitution.
1.Seperation of Temple(Church,Mosque) and State completely.No prefered status to any religion.
(I was planning to write a post about this, specially about a column I saw in Lakbima by Champika Ranawaka on what happened during last Diyawadena Nilame race )
2. Executive Presidential system is good .Keep it.
(In a multi ethnic society, it is healthy to have the executive elected by all the communities rather than leader of a party who represent one electrorate).
3.Seperation of Executive branch ,Legislature and Judiciary for real.
For instance have a fixed number of cabinent position and let the president appoint them from outside parliament.If they are in the parliament, they have to resign.I think prof .Wijesinghe suggestd this in one of the articles as well.IMO the best thing about this that it will reduce the cronyism a little bit .Another plus is government pork going only to a handful of areas depending on whether you have a powerful minister as your MP will stop.Since the president can look outside the parliament may be he can get real talent to run important ministries.
4.Let's have a Senate or a house of lords (or whatever it is called.How about council of elders?).
Professor also suggests this.We can limit the number to 50 like he says.I think he comes with a model of 7 members to represent each province.What about 2 members for each district for senate and we go back to the old model of 1 member one seat in the parliament and cut down 225 to a reasonable number. We had a senate earlier .It was scrapped in 1972 I think.Social studies text books (year 10 ,11) teaches that having a Senate is not good democracy and I thought that for sometime ,too.A senate could act like a control mecanism for parliamnet and we can get real diversity (close to 60-40 majority-minority) in the numbers.(For instance if we go by district model we will probably have Tamil /Muslim members from Jaffna2,Killinochchi2,Vauniya 1,Mannar 2,Mullative 2,Trincomalee 2,Batticalo 2 ,Ampara 1,Puttlam 1,Colombo 1 ,N'Eliya 1,Badulla 1,May be one or two Muslim/Tamil members from the rest of the districts which put the number close to 20 out of 50) .For every piece of law passed,there should be majority of 2/3 from senate so that any legislation that is unfair to minorities passed by parliamnet can be stopped . (if that some sounds unfair, some clever mechanism should be deviced so that the majority cannot abuse power)
5.Independent Police ,Election(we already have one) and Civil Service commisions.Also a fixed date for elections so that no astrologer cannot pull the date out of his ass.
If the above sounds a lot similar to US system ,you bet it is.What we need is a secular document with good check and balances.