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‘Naya Qanoon’ and the 19th Amendment

Photo courtesy Bloomberg The draft 19th Amendment reminds me of the story ‘Naya Qanoon’ (New Constitution) written by the late Saadat Manto, regarded by many as the finest writer of short stories in Urdu and as the greatest South Asian writer of the 20th century. Set in pre-independence Lahore of the 1930s the main protagonist […]

The President in the Nineteenth Amendment

Photo courtesy Maithripala Sirisena website The Maithripala Sirisena manifesto promised to implement a programme to stabilise the country in two stages, and the first of those stages is the Hundred Day programme which would be devoted to solving urgent issues. Among those matters that were signposted for reform during the first stage is the abolition of […]

A Tale of Two Chief Justices: From Process to Principles – Part II

AFP PHOTO/ Ishara S. KODIKARA, via The Malaysian Insider By Luwie Ganeshathasan and Sanjayan Rajasingham. Read Part I here. A Broader Analysis The legality of Mr. Sirisena’s decision to reinstate Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake through executive order was questionable, though not strictly illegal.[i] This is largely because it stemmed from a unique situation. This involved the initial removal […]

THE POLITICS OF HATE, THE POLITICS OF HURT, AND THE POLITICS OF THE HAUGHTY: THREE THREATS TO CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM IN SRI LANKA

Photo courtesy Maithripala Sirisena website “To give freedom is still more easy. It is not necessary to guide; it only requires to let go the rein. But to form a free government; that is, to temper together these opposite elements of liberty and restraint in one work, requires much thought, deep reflection, a sagacious, powerful, […]

An Eastminster for a New Sri Lanka: The First XI Institutional Reforms for a Parliamentary State

Photograph courtesy Article 14 blog “Vous l’avez voulu [You asked for it], George Dandin” mischievously exclaimed the Soulbury Commission’s report 70 years ago implying that their recommendation of the British parliamentary system was at Ceylonese instigation if anything went wrong. The report quoted French playwright Molière’s 1668 comedy Dandin, and defended their counsel that Ceylon […]

A Whistleblower Protection Act needs to Accompany the proposed Freedom of Information Act

Image courtesy Transparency International By S W R de A Samarasinghe & Tissa Jayatilaka The presidential election results of 8 January suggest that a significant segment of our electorate concurred with the assertion of the then common Opposition that bribery and corruption that tainted the administration of the incumbent president Mahinda Rajapaksa which, in turn, […]

IMPLEMENTING THE THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT: THE FIRST STEP OF A LONG JOURNEY

Photo courtesy Sri Lanka Guardian “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu In his first trip abroad to India, the new Foreign Minister has stated that the new government is committed to implementing the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Similarly, in his first address to Parliament after the formation […]

DONOUGHMORE, BUNDESTAG, WESTMINSTER, OR ‘YAHA PAALANAYA’? AN ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL FOR THE REFORM OF THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE SYSTEM

Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images, via Huffington Post According to President Maithripala Sirisena’s timetable for his 100-day reform programme, the Standing Orders of Parliament are to be amended on 20th January to reform the parliamentary committee system. According to the 100days.lk website, “The Standing Orders will be amended and, in terms of Proposal 67/10 now […]

‘The Jewel of the East yet has its Flaws’ – The Deceptive Tranquillity surrounding Sri Lankan Independence

Image courtesy Sumith Wickramasinghe. For a wider examination of the issues covered in this article see my recently published book A Political Legacy of the British Empire – Power and the Parliamentary System in Post Colonial India and Sri Lanka, London: I. B. Tauris, 2013 Prologue The just concluded presidential election saw the election of […]

WHAT DO WE DO WITH MOHAN PEIRIS?

Photo courtesy Asian Tribune Among the countless blows struck by the Rajapaksa regime against the Rule of Law over the last decade, perhaps the most egregious was the illegal impeachment of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and her replacement with a lackey of the Brotherhood known as Mohan Peiris. His behaviour in office in the last […]

On backing Maithripala Sirisena: Beyond critical support and resigned endorsement

Photograph via VOA News The irony of the present political moment in Sri Lanka is that it appears the message of both Mahinda and Maithripala is essentially the same: ‘there is no substitute’. Both build their politics on how dangerous the other is, seeking to thrive on a politics of anxiety. And for these reasons alone […]

The political need of the hour: Transformational approach to constitution making

Photo courtesy the Daily Beast A long awaited concerted action has now been initiated by the opposition parties in their identification of a common candidate for the upcoming presidential elections, and the agenda for action. Understandably, the opposition needs a simple yet mass rallying slogan for their campaign. The abolishing of the executive presidential system […]

Critically Supporting the Anti-Regime Campaign

Photograph via VOA News It had to happen that way, and the break was only possible with a serious split within the regime. The moment had come for members of the SLFP to take the plunge. And when finally Vasantha Senanayake, MP, crossed over (the first member of the brave ‘suicide squad’) and mentioned that […]