UNP MP Karu Jayasuriya has called for the Opposition parties to unite to abolish the Executive Presidency saying it was the singular enemy of Sri Lanka.
Here is the full text of Jayasuriya’s statement:
Everything that presently ails Sri Lanka hinges on a single factor – the Executive Presidency that concentrates all power in the hands of a single individual who can at his whim and fancy, systematically undermine and destroy every other institution of governance in the country. This system in the hands of this administration, which has managed to bring about the 18th Amendment that further erodes democracy in this nation and places more power at the disposal of the all powerful President has become a scourge that the public and even politicians must suffer.
Having endured the bane of this system four times before, Sri Lanka is once more living the nightmarish reality of an all powerful president. The executive presidency has rendered parliament, the highest democratic institution in the land, redundant. Laws are now being made and imagined at will, there is state of terror that pervades all aspects of life in Sri Lanka, despite the defeat of the LTTE that belies the government’s promise of waging war for the sake of peace. The intimidation of the press, the harassment of political detractors and the impunity with which the regime conducts itself can all be traced directly back to the tragic flaws of our presidential system which affords absolute power. Every aspect of life, whether it is judicial independence, the rule of law, media freedom or the economy is shaped and determined by the will of one all powerful man. Until one individual can no longer lay claim to such absolute power, none of these issues can be put right and Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans will continue to suffer the insane policies derived by its all powerful rulers for their benefit and theirs alone.
I believe that the time is opportune for all Sri Lanka’s political forces who are opposed to the tyrannical course this presidential system has set for this country to come together to preserve the future of this nation. That Sri Lanka is in the midst of a crisis is now understood well, by politician and public alike.
Sri Lanka stands alone in the world, with no obligation to adhere to the accepted norms of civilised conduct towards her citizenry. Students are dying at the hands of law enforcement, media organisations are being torched, infants and toddlers are dying from mosquito borne diseases, the cost of living escalates on a daily basis, and still the government continues to do as it pleases, assured of no repercussions or consequences.
As a member of the UNP, the country¬ís single largest political party, I believe that the time is right therefore to call upon my fellow members of opposition to unite in shedding our differences, letting go of old wars and seemingly insurmountably diverse ideologies, in order to unite and emerge stronger than ever against a common enemy. For the executive presidency is not just the enemy of the UNP or the JVP or the TNA or even the SLFP in its all pervasive, destructive omnipresence it is the singular enemy of Sri Lanka. And so our agenda, as a common opposition, would be a worthy one and one that will win the support of all Sri Lankans. Personalities and ideologies must take a backseat to identifying and exploring ways in which to change a political system in this country that has brought us all only suffering and discontent. Through the years, the executive presidential system has taught us many bitter lessons. As political parties we are poorer because of it, and this is something that one time champions of the Executive Presidential System – UNP Stalwarts Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Dissanayake also came to realise in time. Too much power concentration in one person, can only hinder and not advance democracy in a country. This is the reality we are all living today, whether politician, journalist or citizen. The only way to change that is to make it the one common stand of a united and strong opposition.
I urge my colleagues in the collective opposition to unite behind this banner – to abolish the executive presidency and never again allow absolute power to rob this nation and its people of everything it can be. Let us stand together for democracy and against the dangerous autocratic trends that threaten to be our collective undoing.
I believe that together, we can put an end to the tactics of repression that are inherent in the presidential system and lead the people of this country to fight for the kind of peace and prosperity they truly deserve.