- Acknowledges concentration of power undermines democracy
- Says Executive Presidency poses “serious threat”
- Calls on P’ment to commit to abolishment
- Malik says must act without delay
United National Party (UNP), which created the Executive Presidency in 1978, yesterday endorsed the fact that concentrating so much power in one single office is dangerous for democracy and the country at large.
Assuring the nation that all efforts will be taken to further dilute the executive powers of the President and abolish the Executive Presidency, a task which began with the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which proved its importance during the constitutional crisis.
UNP lawmaker Malik Samarawickrama, explaining the UNP’s official position, held that the Executive Presidency does not lead to a stronger State, it does not strengthen the unitary State of the country, nor will it lead to a more stable Government.
“We must bring priority to this Parliament, the elected representatives of the people. It is clearly apparent from this crisis that the Executive Presidency is posing a serious threat. All of us members of this Legislature need to double down and commit to abolish the Executive Presidency. We commenced through this path through the 19th Amendment, which drained the absolute powers of the Executive and brought more power to Parliament. Form the last 51 days, you can see how vital this Amendment was. Now it is time to complete the job abolishing the Executive Presidency,” said MP Samarawickrama.
According to MP Samarawickrama, abolishing Executive Presidency was a corner stone of the Yahapalanaya Government’s plan, which was guided by the late Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha Thero, and the time has come to recommit to that goal. “It is safe to say that it has never been clearer why we need to abolish the system of Executive Presidency. The events of the last 51 days, in our country should leave us in no doubt that the concentration of power in one office is a recipe for disaster,” he said.
After having seen the ill effects of the Executive Presidency, the lawmaker held that the UNP cannot turn a blind eye but act without a delay. “We have seen how this august House, the parliamentary branch of the Government, functions to uphold democracy and due process. Despite the high-handed act of the Executive, we have seen how this Speaker courageously upheld due process. We have seen how the Judiciary upheld the supreme law of the land; our Constitution amidst the attack by the Executive,” said MP Samarawickrama.
Highlighting the danger in concentrating power on one office, MP Samarawickrama held that Sri Lanka will be democratically strong if a meaningful distribution of power between the three branches of Presidency, Parliament and Judiciary is met.
“It is about making sure that one person doesn’t wield all the authority. And as we saw during the last 51 days, that held the country hostage. The Executive President must go. The argument that has been put forward for a while is that a strong State requires a strong Executive President. But look at the last 5 days. What kept this State strong was its Legislature and the Speaker. And the strong and independent Judiciary, but not the Executive. In fact, the actions of the Presidency weakened not strengthened it. Weakened it economically and weakened in the international community,” added MP Samarawickrama. (AH)