By a Tamil Intellectual-
Abolish of Executive Presidency, Repeal the PTA and Return to Normalcy
Firstly, It is necessary to repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). PTA affects democracy in broader sense. Interestingly in the present political discourse, TNA has taken the position that they demand the repeal of PTA. We all talk about creation of a democratic space but as long at PTA remains as a statute, there is no space for democratic discussion.
Democracy is called a mob lose. In democracy 51 rule a 100. Why should the 49 be agreed to be ruled by 100? Because the next time, 49 might become the 51. In a democratic set up, it must be ensured that there is a possibility that 49 become 51. Contribution of PTA to prevent the 49 becoming 51 needs to be examined. It should be noted that the PTA is used to silence voices against the regime and repress political uprisings.
Today there is no uprising in the country but the government still argues that PTA has to be retained. It has been stated that though war is no longer, the separatist sentiment has not completely died down, and therefore PTA should remain and military should be present and actively involves in civilian activities.
In the North and East, there are no civilian rights. In school functions in the North, the presence of military is necessary. If there is any social event, military should be present. If a public officer applies for a transfer, sometimes sanction of the military is sought. Divisional secretaries, for transfers and appointments, seek sanction of the military. It is in this context that we demand the creation of a democratic space. Returning to the normalcy of civilian life should be given the priority.
In the South the executive presidency created a moral decay. In the North and East, violence, the war, created a similar moral decay. People can be dictated and silenced. People are apathetic. Bribery and corruption are accepted. This has to be addressed secondly.
However that executive presidency should be abolished first for several reasons. Executive president is the head of the state, the cabinet and the government, the commander in chief, leads a political party and he is also the minister of defence. Further, Article 35 of the Constitution grants immunity so broad that any law can be violated. Executive president can expel the members from the political party and dissolve the parliament without giving reasons. All parties at this point are getting together and there is a realization that executive presidency should be abolished. It has been proved to be myth that this system facilitates minority rights and minority control.
Another issue is the judiciary. Constitution is interpreted by the Supreme Court. President can appoint anyone to the Supreme Court. This discretion renders challenging a bill useless.
It is time for us to consider and reconsider the situation and join hands with different sections and ensure that the system is abolished. Discussions with various political parties are important. We should demand from the presidential candidate to abolish the PTA. Further, no one is willing to bet on a losing horse. Therefore the issue of who the common candidate is needs to be dealt with carefully. It needs to be someone who can firstly win and secondly, deliver.
From INSD Conference Report:Sri Lanka – Democratisation – Options and Challenges INSD report Nov 2014