A Stable Government Need of the Hour – Patali | Daily News

A Stable Government Need of the Hour – Patali

MP Patali Champika Ranawaka
MP Patali Champika Ranawaka

In an exclusive interview with the Daily News, former Minister and SJB stalwart Patali Champika Ranawaka says the formation of a stable Government is essential at this juncture.

“If we abolish the Executive Presidency and go back to non-executive ceremonial type Presidency, there are two or three things that need to be changed. The first thing is the current election system, the preferential and proportional election system. We need a stable Government. This current electoral system should be changed into the old system or a new system. The winning political party should be able to form a stable Government. Now Members of Parliament crossover for money,” he said.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: The Opposition Leader and the JJB Leader have said they would accept the Premiership only if the President steps down. What do you think about their stand?

A: The people's demand is that the President should step down immediately but as per the Constitution, there should be a complete action plan on how to do it. If he resigns right now, it may create anarchy in the country but if he resigns as per the Constitution the Prime Minister will be the temporary President of the country and after one months’ time, the Parliament should select the President through a secret ballot. That is the Constitutional procedure. But now there is no Cabinet yet, although a Prime Minister was appointed. Therefore, there should be a kind of action plan and a timeline on how to achieve this political transformation. Otherwise, it may create problems.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) has presented a set of proposals and a timeline but it is not acceptable for the protestors and for the entire country. But there should be an action plan and a timeline. The most important thing right now is that there should be a consensus and have an all-party Government representing the Government and the Opposition covering all political parties without the Rajapaksas. This will satisfy the people’s demand and protect our country’s reputation in the international arena. We need a kind of Government that can be trusted and can attract international players such as the IMF, World Bank, ADB and our bilateral partners as well.

Q: There are sections such as the Jathika Sanvidhana Ekamuthuwa which oppose the BASL proposals saying that abolishing the Executive Presidency will pose a threat to the country's unitary status. Please comment.

A: Those sections did their part and brought the current President into power. But now the entire country is opposing it and it is a failed attempt. There is a problem about the Governorship. If we abolish the Executive Presidency and go back to non-executive ceremonial type Presidency, there are two or three things that need to be changed. First thing is the current electoral system, the preferential and proportional election system. We need a stable Government. This current electoral system should be changed into the old system or a new system. The winning political party should be able to form a stable Government. Now members of the Parliament crossover for money.

The other thing is the Provincial Council system and the Governorship. There should be a kind of Constitutional provision to establish how to appoint a Governor to control executive powers of the Provincial Councils like in India. Otherwise, the Chief Ministers will act in an undemocratic manner and sometimes they may act with separatist elements and try to carve out this country like Vardharaja Perumal did in 1989. The Governorship saved the country at that moment. So we need that badly as well. There are various other aspects.

Now all agree on cutting down the executive powers of the President and first of all we badly need to establish the Rule of Law. The Judiciary should be an independent entity. This includes the appointment of judges etc. The second thing is that the Police Force and State missions should be independent. The Election Commission should be empowered in order to perform their duties as an independent entity. Unfortunately, the 20th Amendment did away with all those things. There should be a clear-cut independence for the Armed Forces and our Intelligence Services. Otherwise they will be used as a kind of political arm. The Intelligence Services should not be politicized, they should be independent and should only be focused on National Security. We need independent Armed Forces in order to protect the country and not to protect certain individuals, families etc.

VIPs should be given security for their official residencies. All former Presidents have their own official residencies. Adequate security should be provided for those residencies and not to other places.

Q: What are the basic steps that should be taken in order to bring the country’s economic, political and social situation to normal?

A: There should be political stability and then transformation. First of all there should be an all-party Government without the Rajapaksas. There should be a political agenda and how to cut down the President’s powers, how to achieve the President's stepping down and appointing a new President. There should be a time frame, there should be the 21st Amendment or whatever to bring back the 19th Amendment etc.

There should be an economic plan. We presented one on January 23 through our 43rd Brigade. We should present a new budget. First of all, we have to inform the people of this country what the real situation is and what measures we are going to take.

Ministers should not be given an official residence, an official vehicle etc. and they have to set an example to others on how to address this issue. We should give priority to end all shortages of essential items and we should forget carpeting of roads etc. We have to focus on how to protect poor people who suffered a lot during the pandemic and the economic crisis.

There should be some kind of transparent financing system while holding elections. This is because now all are criticizing politicians’ wealth etc. The media should be independent. At the moment the media is biased towards some candidates. There should be restrictions for financing election campaigns of politicians who contest in elections and also financing political parties. The Independent Election Commission should be given powers to control the financing of candidates and political parties and the behaviour of media during elections. These things should be done before we hold any election.

Q: What do you think about the violence that erupted across the country last week?

A: There should be a law. The mobs should go. The Police and the Armed Forces should protect all civilians. Arson is taking place. Houses had been demolished. We should not tolerate this kind of violence. We ask all protestors and anti-Government agitators to adhere to the democratic principles and non-violence.

Q: How did the Opposition Leader get attacked when he visited Galle Face while some leaders of other political parties were not attacked?

A: There were two things. The first thing is that there were camouflaged STF soldiers with the Opposition Leader. There were some other individuals around him. The protestors misunderstood all of them as the former Prime Minister’s supporters.

The second fact is that some politically motivated people were also there. They really tried to attack the Opposition Leader. They are anti-SJB, politically affiliated to other political parties.

 


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