Democracy, demography and the JHU
The JHU this week submitted its political proposals to the All Party Representative Committee (APRC). Following are some of the highlights of the proposals;
Nature of the state
|“...Buddhism should be
upgraded to State Religion”
Sri Lanka should be described as a “free, independent, sovereign and unitary state” in its Constitution. The unitary character is an essential ingredient of the Sri Lankan Constitution considering a) its unique Sinhala civilisation, b) small extent, and c) the emergence of secessionist trends in the recent past. Any attempt to convert Sri Lanka to a federal state should be roundly defeated since there is no historical or geographical basis for establishing a federal state.
Buddhism should be upgraded from “foremost place” to “State Religion” in the Constitution.
- People’s representation
The JHU proposes to introduce a four tier system of people representation, namely: Grama Sabha, Local Councils, Parliament and Executive President directly elected by the people
- Executive Presidential System
The JHU endorses the continuation of the Executive Presidential system with amendments. We are of the opinion that the executive presidency provides stability required by an economically weak, politically volatile, militarily threatened and socially divided country.
We further propose to hold Presidential election and Grama Sabha election simultaneously to avoid unnecessary expenditure on elections and hostile relationships between the president and the Cabinet of Ministers.We are of the view that the President should be answerable to Parliament and subject to the judiciary writ of criminal and civil jurisdiction.
- Size of the Cabinet
Restrict the size of the Cabinet by introducing a Constitutional provision for upper and lower limits. The ideal range for the Cabinet of Ministers is no less than 20 and not more than 25. Abolish non Cabinet Minister posts and limit Deputy Minister posts to 30.
Members of the Parliament will be elected through an election to be held for the Grama Sabha. Local Councils will exercise limited legislative power over the subjects in the Local Council List and Concurrent List in the Constitution subject to Parliamentary powers.
There shall be a Grama Sabha for every Grama Niladhari Division (GND). The GND shall be further divided to wards by the National Delimitation Commission considering extent, population and other geographical and demographical factors. A representative from each ward will be elected to the Grama Sabha.
(Pradeshiya Sabha and Municipal Councils)
Local Councils will consist of Pradeshiya Sabha and Municipal Councils. Boundaries of the Pradeshiya Sabha and Municipal Councils will be re-demarcated and 200 local councils will be established. Urban Councils shall be absorbed into Pradeshiya Sabhas or converted to Municipal Councils considering extent, population and revenue. The existing boundaries of Pradeshiya Sabha should be redefined considering extent, population, resources and other geographical and demographical factors.
The Parliament shall consist of 270 members. The composition of the Parliament shall be as follows. Chairpersons of Local Councils (200); National List (40); Professional and Trade Union representation (22); Minor party representation (05) and Minority community representation (03).
Chairpersons of Local Councils
All chairpersons of Local Councils will automatically be members of Parliament. Although they have been elected by members of the councils by simple majority vote, a 75% majority will be required to remove them.
There are 40 seats allocated for appointments from the national lists of political parties. These seats will be allocated among the political parties and independent groups based on number of votes polled by them countrywide at Grama Sabha elections. * Professional and Trade Union representation.
There will be 5 parliamentary seats allocated for the largest trade unions. There will be another 17 seats allocated for professional bodies whose opinion is crucial in policy making and implementation.
Since there are 245 seats allocated for political parties and independent groups, any group which has received more than 0.4% of the total votes is entitled to at least one seat in the parliament.
Minority community representation
It is proposed to allocate one seat each to the Malay, Burger and Veddah communities to be appointed by the Prime Minister elect.
We firmly stand for independence of the judiciary and totally reject the concept of establishing a Constitutional Court consisting of non judical members which will dilute the supremacy of the Supreme Court.