The following are comments received in the BT- Second Curve Poll on the Presidency and Parliament. The poll was conducted on the streets of Colombo and via email. Its results are on Page 1. The two questions asked, which required a Y (Yes), N (No) or U (Undecided) response were: (1) The presidential system of [...]

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Good governance abandoned as politicians chase power

BT-Second Curve Poll

The following are comments received in the BT- Second Curve Poll on the Presidency and Parliament. The poll was conducted on the streets of Colombo and via email. Its results are on Page 1.

The two questions asked, which required a Y (Yes), N (No) or U (Undecided) response were: (1) The presidential system of government should be scrapped: (2) Parliament is supreme with the Prime Minister becoming the head of Government unlike now when this position is held by the President.

Comments from the street were fewer than before with many respondents saying that they were ‘fed up’ with politicians from all sides who were causing a lot of damage rather than contributing to the country’s welfare and development.

Here are comments from the email poll conducted by the BT:

  •  In a situation where the PM is the head of the government the PM can be changed with a no confidence motion with simple majority. But to impeach a President you need 2/3 rds. So the PM system is much better for democracy.
  •  The presidential system, carrying so much power, is corrupt, (despite the 19th amendment), and should be abolished forthwith. Personally, I feel it is undemocratic, for one single person to have the power to turn tables, willy nilly, as and when he fancies. We need to limit the number of terms an individual can serve as PM like in the case of the President. Maybe two or three.
  •  The Executive Presidency MUST be scrapped! Former Finance Minister Dr. N.M. Perera pointed out its inconsistencies in 1979.
  •  The Presidency should be retained but bring safeguards to protect the Constitution from a mentally unstable occupant.
  •  Parliament must be made supreme once again and the Prime Minister should be the head of government.
  •  There should be proper checks and balances between the “Executive” and the “Legislature”.
  •  The PR electoral systems should remain; do not go back to FPP (first-past-the-post) system.
  •  Presidential system should be scrapped by/before the next election.
  •  Presidential election and parliamentary election should be held on the same day.
  •  I am not certain whether it is Parliament or the Constitution that should be supreme.

    File picture of dry rice fields affected by a drought. Politicians are far removed from farming communities, making promises before an election and after that conveniently forgetting it.

  •  I hope replied to both questions with a “Yes” in the hope that there will be a shift in the near future. True the parliament is supreme but not with this outfit of so-called Parliamentarians. For the Parliament to be supreme the parliamentarians must be supreme.
  •  For that to happen, we need a paradigm shift. No superficial shift from green to blue and blue to red; that we’ve seen and endured for 70+ years. Let’s throw in the towel ….and get new thinkers who make things happen….not more orators and theoretical economists.
  •  My humble opinion about this poll is that the Presidential system is disliked by most of the clientele of your newspaper. Therefore conducting an opinion poll on this matter is baseless by this newspaper. (Note by Business Editor: Thank you for your comment but this poll was also conducted on the street to get a working class view).
  •  Having answered ‘Yes’ to both of the questions – these decisions must be within a suitable Constitutional framework/system of Government and I am unclear as to which system will work best…where there has to be a much better ‘checks and balances’ process and NO ONE has unfettered power.
  •  On an unrelated but pertinent issue – no crossings or pole vaults should be allowed by MPs. If as a properly franchised voter, I choose a man/woman and a party based on their avowed policies – say capitalist for UNP and socialist for SLFP as an example only – then if there is wholesale ‘crossing of the aisle’ by the chosen members, I say that my rights have been violated, since my selected candidate has done a pole vault to the opposite camp thereby leaving behind the very policy (fundamentally moving from capitalism to socialism or vice versa) on which I decided to vote him/her in. This creates a fundamental anomaly as to the premise on which I decided to vote for him/her. This should be made illegal by the legislature in this country.
  •  To clean up our country, we should impose jail sentences for lying! A tiered approach where the poorest are shown greater leniency than the more financially/socially privileged. Leaders in politics and business must be imposed the most severe penalties. For example – politicians lying should get life imprisonment. For example to what party does Mahinda Rajapakse belong?? Is he SLFP, UPFA or SLPP?? Can he as a member and patron of the SLFP also belong to the SLPP? The same question applies to all those who crossed over and formed the SLPP without renouncing their membership in the SLFP/UPFA. Isn’t someone lying? And to what end? To cling on to the seat they were voted to by US (the voter)! Does the law of our land allow such chicanery?
  •  Yes, the ideal situation is that the power should be held by the cabinet of ministers headed by the PM.
  •  A proper checks and balances system should be introduced for both arms (President and Prime Ministers) which should also minimise conflicts with each other.
  • n My personal opinion is, and it is proven beyond doubt, that no Sri Lankan living in Sri Lanka should be given excessive power be it as a President or Prime Minister. No individual should be above the law at any given time.
  •  I disagree. The Executive and the Legislature have different roles in serving the people which help to keep both sides in check.
  •  Parliament has its checks and balances and so the Prime Minister cannot take arbitrary decisions. Right now the President is taking decisions based on a unilateral personal agenda rather than looking at the country’s needs.
  •  Executive power shouldn’t be held by an individual who can go make rash decisions and create havoc just like what we saw on October 26, and continues to do so.
  •  The inherent negative implications of this (Presidential) system have all been clearly defined in the last couple of months!
“No point talking on this issue”
Here are comments from the street poll conducted by Second Curve:

  •  There is no point talking about this issue. 
  •  Necessary power should be with the President otherwise there could be a possibility of a resurgence of terrorism. The Prime Minister should not be given such powers. 
  •  The Prime Minister will sell more of the country’s assets if he becomes the head of government. No one will like it. 
  •  Gotabaya will be the people’s choice for the next President or the Prime Minister. 
  •  Mahinda should be the next President. Presidential powers should be maintained as it is. Otherwise there will not be a proper control in administration. 
  •  Everyone is the same when they become rulers. Therefore scraping the executive Presidency will not change the system. 
  •  The present system of an executive Presidency should be continued as the country has undergone a prolonged war. 
  •  Good persons should be elected to power to make the country supreme. 
  •  We don’t like to talk about politics because it doesn’t change anything. 
  •  In Sri Lanka no one can expect good governance as all the politicians are going after money. 
  •  If a good person is elected as President, then it’s good for the country. Everything depends on the person who will be elected to power. 
  •  Talk about something useful as these matters are useless for me. 
  •  The Prime Minister and the whole cabinet should be held responsible and share responsibility in a changing structure.

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