As a person with a great passion for peace and good governance, a new concept of a truly democratic system of governance with transparency has been devised that would not only contribute towards a lasting and positive peace in this country but also towards the much needed real progressive development of the entire country through good governance. This new concept is people-friendly and development oriented – the need of the day to this country as well as to all developing countries – the so-called Third World countries that intent to tap the doors of the First World
This alternative democratic system provides for the continuous participation of the people and that too in very large numbers, by expanding the present one segment parliament into a seven segment parliament functioning through a set of ‘councils’ at six different levels – as different links of a chain – sharing the different and distinct functions of the present parliament.
The members to these councils would be elected on the UN principle of one member for one country or as in the US electing two members per state irrespective of its size or population. In this new system it is, ‘an equal number of members from similar administrative areas to the same or similar council’ to provide an opportunity for representation of the people on the basis of gender, age group, trade, political ideologies and ethnicity – in the true spirit of democracy.
This new concept of representation is a refined and practical form of true democracy – true to the correct meaning of the word.
The basic salient features of the suggestions are:
1. The expansion of the present parliament of one chamber to one of seven chambers through a set of councils at six different administrative levels each with a different set of members elected from different defined and distinct areas of administration
2. Each of these Groups (Councils) would deal with one or more distinct and defined functions of the present parliament but are connected to achieve the desired aim in operation as a distinct and different links of a chain.
3. The 3rd Group (known as Regional Council) would, in addition to other functions, act as the 2nd chamber found in most countries that have a two-chamber parliament.
4. The members to these chambers (councils) would be elected on the accepted UN principle of one member for one country irrespective of the size or population of the country (administrative area). In this proposal it is an equal number of members from similar administrative areas to the same or similar chamber (council) so to provide an opportunity for representation on the basis of gender, age, trade, political ideologies and ethnicity – in the spirit of true democracy..
People must be made to realize that the installation of a truly democratic system of good governance with transparency would strengthen the economy, preserve nature and discourage fraud and mismanagement and thus benefit everybody and the whole country.
It is accepted that an ideal state of good governance cannot be achieved because there is no perfect world but to achieve an adequate level of good governance we must aim for the ideal situation. \\
This alternative democratic system provides for the continuous participation of the people through a set of ‘councils’ at six different levels – as different links of a chain – sharing the different functions of the present parliament on area basis. That is, the present parliament is expanded to accommodate seven chambers, of which the 1st and 2nd Groups have one unit each at National Level, 4th and 6th Groups have thousands of units at Village level, the 7th Group has 325 units at Divisional Level, the 5th has 25 units at District Level and the 3rd Group known as Regional Council has four units. These four units would also act like the upper chambers functioning in most countries.
The members to all these councils would be elected on the UN principle of one member for one country irrespective of its size or population. In this new system it is ‘an equal number of members from similar administrative areas to the same or similar council’ to provide an opportunity for representation of the people on the basis of gender, age group, trade, political ideologies and ethnicity – in the true spirit of democracy – with the expectation that the elected representatives would serve the people with devotion, thus ensuring the much needed peace, prosperity and happiness.
This new concept of democracy is a great deviation from the prevailing and accepted form of democracy that is in practice. Though it is difficult to change old habits, people could be persuaded to see the benefits of the new system through proper awareness programs conducted effectively and efficiently since a wide consensus of opinion is necessary to give the final touches to the envisaged new concept of a truly democratic parliament. This new concept does not encourage dictatorial attitudes of any single or group of persons, but is people-friendly and development oriented, which is the need of the day to this country as well as to all developing countries – the so-called Third world countries that intent to tap the doors of the First world.
PEACE – Some Suggestions for Discussion
SOME WAYS AND MEANS TO HELP THE PREVALENCE OF PEACE
GOOD GOVERNANCE IN SRI LANKA
Current wars have to be ended and new wars have to be prevented. To achieve this goal the present system of Democratic Governance has to be changed to one that is really democratic in its true sense.
The present so-called ‘democratic system’ is a fertile ground for corruption in various forms wherein only the powerful persons with – a flair for inflammatory speech, money and muscle power – can aspire to join the “ruling class” to suppress or convert all others as their “subjects”.
In my opinion “Corruption” includes any kind of waste, neglect and every form of malpractice, dishonesty, abuse, misuse, unreasonable exercise of power, failure or refusal to exercise power, anything and everything left undone which results in the right of the people being denied or impaired.
Without a “just society” in existence much talked about “terrorism” cannot be eradicated. For the creation of a “just society” there should be “good governance” in the country. For the creation of “good governance” in the country “corruption” in ALL its forms must be eradicated. And to eradicate “corruption” of any form the present democratic system of governance, where full power to make the final decisions ultimately rests in the hands of one person, must be changed.
So the only way to salvage the country is to change the present system of governance to one that is truly democratic where the final decision-making power will NOT be in the hands of ONE person BUT shared by as many people as possible and thus restricting any hasty decisions of an individual or of one group, that might lead to trouble everywhere.
In my humble opinion to achieve peace and good governance with transparency and accountability in any country, the system of governance must be made truly democratic. The powers of the Parliament (the decision making supreme body of a country) should be split and separated and each of the separated powers must be handled by different groups of persons specifically elected and empowered by the people for the purpose of handling each set of the separated powers or duties as the case may be, so that no single group has the full power. All the groups together will make the whole. The country is not divided but the powers of parliament are divided or separated.
Different groups have to be elected for such purposes as administration, fiscal management, planning, implementing, policy and law making, auditing and for any other function that may be deemed necessary.
The group that is entrusted with the power to make laws and regulations shall not be given the duty/power of implementing/administering the laws and regulations..
Particular care should be taken to see that all powers and particularly important powers are not concentrated in one place and that they do not overlap and there must not be a secret budget to be handled by a single person bye-passing the Parliament.
All transactions should be transparent including Diplomacy which has to be diplomatically transparent.
One set of powers dealing with the development of the country should be given to the set of representatives at the village level since they know best about their requirements. The people of each and every village must be empowered to determine their way of life (lifestyle). The life-style of a village with its lands and resources is sacred to them.
All plans of development of a village or that remotely/indirectly affects the village must have the concurrence of the people of the village concerned.
It has to be ensured that people are treated equitably regardless of their gender, race, colour, ethnic or national origins, age, difference in ability, socio-economic background, religious or political beliefs and affiliations, marital status, family responsibilities, or other inappropriate distinction;
The decision-making powers with regard to as many subjects as possible must be spread through-out the country.
With such system in practice discrimination, injustice, bribery and corruption, the four pillars of an Evil society can be eradicated. When the above four pillars of Evil are eradicated, the people would be living under a system that would guarantee sustainable peace, prosperity and a pleasant living with respect and dignity to every individual in the country.
Since all political and other powers flow from the sovereignty of the people, it is proposed herein that these powers be not given to any one set of representatives but distributed among different sets of representatives (groups) of the people elected on different area basis (village and villages grouped) to perform the different, defined and distinct functions of one and the same institution – the Parliament – like the organs of our body – heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, nose, ear etc. – performing different and distinct functions to enable us to sustain normal life.
In these suggestions the powers of Parliament have been so separated and distributed among different sets of people’s representatives in different areas so as to dilute the powers of an individual representative or that of a set of representatives in any area. (Dilution is better than Devolution)
The set of representatives elected and empowered to perform a function in an area by the people of that area must be restricted to that function only and in that area only and must be forbidden from interfering with the functions entrusted to another set of representatives similarly elected and empowered.
Say a set of representatives elected and empowered to enact laws for the smooth administration of the country must be forbidden from interfering in the functions of the set of representatives elected and empowered to administer a region within those laws or in the functions of the set of representatives elected and empowered to implement approved development projects in an area, or with the functions of the set of representatives elected and empowered for the fiscal management of the country or with the functions of the representatives elected and empowered to plan the development of an area and so on and so forth in respect of other functions of the parliament.
Through this system of representation and empowerment – different sets of representatives in different areas elected and empowered by different groups of people to implement different ‘distinct and defined’ functions of one and the same parliament – “corruption” in any form and at any level cannot easily arise. If there is no “corruption” then the Rule of Law will prevail making way for peace and good governance in the country, which is the need of the inhabitants of a country.
In my humble opinion this new concept of democracy while delivering good governance would preserve the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country and guarantee the due respect and dignity of the people – both collectively and individually, who are, under the present system, treated as their “subjects” by the “ruling class”.
To be more explicit the concept is explained below:
1. A group elected and empowered or entrusted to enact laws for good governance, taxation and connected affairs (One Group functioning at National level and elected on district basis).
2. A group elected and empowered or entrusted to generally manage the finances of the country including collection and disbursement of revenue on the basis of the laws enacted by another group, national planning and connected affairs in consultation with other groups. (One Group functioning at National level and elected on regional basis).
3. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted to administer different regions of the country and approve project proposals submitted (Groups functioning at Regional level and elected on divisional basis).
4. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted with the functions to prepare and submit project proposals for confirmation (Groups functioning at Village level and elected on village basis).
5. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted to implement approved project proposals (Groups functioning at District level and elected on sub-divisional basis).
6. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted to coordinate and confirm project proposals submitted (Groups functioning at Sub-divisional level and elected on village basis).
7. Groups elected and empowered or entrusted to monitor the functions of all groups for transparency, accountability and irregularities with an eye on the elimination of corruption. (Groups functioning at Divisional level and elected on village basis).
All the above groups and individuals in the Groups enjoy parity of status as they are part and parcel of one and the same institution – the Parliament.
There is a line of thought that there are too many elections in this concept, forgetting the fact that even in the present system we have many elections. We have elections to elect an Executive President, a Parliament, nine Provincial Councils and a large number of local government institutions.
But there is a difference between the elections that are being held now and the elections proposed. In the existing system, elections are being held for four different institutions or four different establishments with the functions overlapping and connected vertically with one above or below the other – Executive President, Parliament, Provincial Councils and Pradeshiya Sabahs – and while one institution controls another, it is dependent and/or is a competitor to the institution next or all others. But in the new concept it is entirely different –different groups are elected on different area basis to perform different functions – of the same institution, the Parliament – that do not overlap and all these groups enjoy parity of status since they are connected horizontally and are part and parcel of one and the same institution – the Parliament.
There would be only one institution – the Parliament – that would satisfactorily govern the entire country and thus reduce the financial burden and cumbersome bureaucracy while increasing all round efficiency coupled with streamlined speedy development, resulting in the thunderous prosperity of the country with a pleasant and happy living to all its inhabitants
Election and Composition: Every area would be a multi-member electorate electing a minimum of two members. Members of the various Councils would be elected from among those residing within that area on “first passed the post” basis subject to gender and age group conditions being fulfilled and where necessary and possible trade, political ideologies and ethnicity being considered. The number of members of any one gender or age group shall be a minimum of 20% of the total to be elected from an area to a Council and at least one member from other ethnic minorities if they form more than 10% of the eligible voters. The members so elected would be considered as independents.. The number of elected members in a given Council – other than Groups 1, 2 & 4 – would vary from Region to Region depending on the number of sub-administrative areas in that region, governed by the principle of equal number of members to the same or similar councils from similar areas – irrespective of the size and population of the area concerned. (Same as the principle applied in the election to the Senate in the US – two members per State and in the UN one member per country).
Eligibility: No person shall be eligible to contest or to become a member of a Council if he/she had been a member of that council within the last two years immediately preceding the date of election. He/she shall be eligible to contest to any other Council. This clause shall apply to all members of his/her immediate family and only one member of a family can seek election to any of the councils at any one time. A person cannot serve for more than two terms and in more than two councils during his/her life-time.
A person while holding a ‘post’ in the government or government controlled institutions or public limited liability companies quoted in the Stock Exchange shall not be eligible to seek election to any Council.
The term: (period) of all councils shall be four years and elections should be held only once in every four years and dates to be fixed in the constitution itself as in the U.S.A. with a succession clause to fill any vacancy that might occur in between election dates.
Responsibility: Any person or group or groups of persons violating the constitution shall be personally held responsible for same and dealt with suitably.
Independent Commissions: shall be appointed for the proper administration and control of the various services that have to function independently according to laid down procedures. These commissions are accountable and answerable to the Head of State. Interference in the functions of any Commission in any way by anyone including the Head of State, Heads of Councils or any member of any Council shall be considered as a violation of the Constitution and be dealt with suitably.
Composition of Independent Commissions: Every commission shall consist of one member from each of the Regions elected jointly by the members of the Regional and other Councils of each Region. The members of both National Councils (Groups 1& 2) shall jointly elect a member of any Commission, who shall be the Chairman.
The Head of State: The Head of one Region will act as the Head of State along with the Deputy Head of another Region as the Deputy Head of State for a period one year with the Heads and Deputy Heads/Assistant Heads of the other Regions taking their turns in rotation. If the Deputy Head of one Region happens to belong to the same ethnic group as that of the Head of Region who is acting as the Head of State then the Assistant Head of that Region would act as the Deputy Head of State. The Head of State and his/her Deputy would be guided by the Executive Council in their actions and would have the powers and responsibilities similar to that of a Head of State of a country where the Parliament is supreme. (India and Malaysia might be quoted as examples.). The Head of State is accountable to the Executive Council (Group 2). In any Region, the Head of Region and the Deputy Head of Region shall not belong to the same ethnicity IF that region has a population of more than 10% belonging to other ethnicities. (This provision is slightly different from the provisions in the South African Constitution for the members of the Cabinet).
The constitution has to be amended to include the above suggestions as modified.
Please feel free to comment or request for any clarifications. Many suggestions that need consideration have been left out herein but would be included as the discussion proceeds.
Comments, objections, constructive criticisms of any short comings or defects in the above suggestions and suggesting suitable remedies to end present wars and prevent future wars are most welcome and may pleas be addressed to firstname.lastname@example.org
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The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership….a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures.” – William Fulbright
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I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something,
And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do,
What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the Grace of God I will do.
— Edward Everett Hale (1822 -1909)