Just over a year after the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka (NOCSL) introduced term limits to promote good governance and avoid concentration of power around a few individuals, the local body wants to revert to the old system which allows the President and Secretary General to stay on without restriction.
The existing constitution allows two four-year terms to the President and Secretary General.
If ratified and adopted at the next Special General Meeting (SGM) set for June 1, 2019, a new amendment will allow the two top slots in the institution to hold office from “cradle to grave”.
This is among several other amendments being proposed and requires a two-thirds majority to go through.
NOCL now has 32 members with two new members to receive membership at the scheduled SGM.
Those backing the move to remove term limits say it will help Sri Lanka garner international support to develop sports in the country.
“I will not do anything shortsighted,” says NOCSL chief Suresh Subramaniam, the man who replaced Hemasiri Fernando who ended a 20-year term in 2018.
“Without international backing, you cannot do anything and you need experience and contacts to get into these international bodies. This is why we want to change this and allow people to continue."
The move even contravenes the Sports Law which sets a two-term limit for the top two posts in any national sports association. But Subramaniam claims they do not come under that legislation.
“We are not governed by the Sports Law but by the Olympic Charter,” he says.
But critics say term limits will make officials accountable, usher in fresh views to shake up static power structures, mitigate an incumbent’s advantages and give the membership its fundamental right to elect their choice of officials.
Removing it will deal a death blow to the fundamental rights of the members.
Even though the Olympic Charter requires NOCs to preserve their autonomy and resist all pressures of any kind--including, but not limited to, political, legal, religious or economic pressures which may prevent them from complying with the Olympic Charter--it also requires member associations to operate in accordance with both the rules of the Olympic Movement and the laws of the land.
The NOCSL constitution was amended in 2017 after nearly five years of deliberation.
The incumbent Secretary General was in power for the last ten years with four years--from 2013-2018--serving unelected.
The NOCSL recently wrote directly to the Attorney General to demand exemption from audit by Government auditors but Sports Minister Harin Fernando last week said that NOCSL should audit their accounts through the Government auditors, as NOCs falls within the ambit of Sports Law.
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