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The Alternative Democratic System of Governance [is] referred to.

Sie. Kathieravelu

Main Suggestions

Redefine the earlier Village Headman Divisional boundaries and the Provincial boundaries as they existed on 04.02.1948 (the date of independence) with slight adjustments here and there so as to define the boundaries on ground visible to the naked eye of the people of the area, as natural and definite say at least by a bye-lane, stream, [boundary] etc, so that it does not divide a house into two Village Headman Divisions or two Provinces.
Create four regions by grouping the existing provinces as given below:

A. Northern + Eastern Provinces - North-East Region
B. Southern + Western Provinces - South-West Region
C. North Central + North Western Provinces - North-Central Region
D. Uva + Central + Sabragamuwa Provinces - South-Central Region

Expand the present parliament of one chamber to one of seven chambers. These seven chambers would have different and distinct functions of the present parliament distributed amongst them in the manner described below and thus inter-linking all of them to form a chain parliament for the proper governance of the country. The ‘Councils’ suggested are for the present area of one administrator as defined and as given below: -

A. Legislative Council - National level (for the country as a whole)
B. Executive Council - National level (for the country as a whole)
C. Regional Council - Regional level (for the proposed regional area)
D. District Council - District level (area of one G.A.)
E. Divisional Council - Divisional Level (area of one D.S.)
F. Sub-Divisional Council - Village Head-man Level (area of one former V.H.)
G. Grass-root Council - Grama-Sevaka level (area of one G.S.)

Functions of the above councils: The functions of the various Councils shall not overlap but linked in a chain well defined by regulations with the limits specified. Every Council must be made accountable to all the Councils below it in the ladder. A broad outline of the functions of these ‘councils’ is given below.

A. Legislative council as the word implies would enact Legislations and lay down policies (foreign and internal) and all connected there-with in the interest of good governance, with the concurrence of all four Regional Councils, so as to evolve a just and fair administration with transparency to maintain a clean and democratic society in this country where law and order with natural justice would prevail.

B. Executive council as the word implies would be responsible for the proper execution of the functions conferred on it by the Legislative Council adhering to the legislations enacted and policies approved by the Legislative Council. The functions would include the preparation of the national budget and connected activities in consultation with the Regional Councils, administration of finance, postal, railway and other functions not confined to a Region and that cannot be specifically assigned to the Regional Councils. But the implementation of these functions must be through the administrative set-up that is functioning in the regions concerned and through that Regional Council without a different administrative set-up of its own. The prior approval of the Grass-Root Council concerned has to be obtained directly before taking action for the implementation of any proposal within the area of that Grass-Root Council.

C.Regional council would be responsible for the proper administration and development of the region, lay down the policies specific and special to the region, such as preparing the regional budget, making byelaws and such other matters and directing the district councils within the region for the proper execution of all works within the district for which funds have been allocated by the Regional Council or provided for by the Executive Council in addition to its important duty of evaluating and where necessary suggesting amendments, approving and confirming the legislative enactments forwarded by the Legislative Council.

D. District councils would be responsible for initiating the necessary planning for the execution and administration of all works within the district initiated either by it or by the Executive Council and other functions allocated to it by the Regional Council. These councils would be the executive wings of the Regional Council.

E. Divisional Councils would be responsible for the supervision and monitoring the progress of all works being implemented by the District Councils within its (Divisional Council’s) area.

F. Sub-Divisional Councils would be responsible for coordinating with the Grass-Root councils in the preparation and evaluation of all proposals for the development of its area and for submission to the District Councils for approval and implementation.

G. Grass-Root Councils would be responsible for the preparation of proposals for the development of its area and evaluating any proposal submitted by any other body for the development of its area and submitting these to the Sub-Divisional Councils for further scrutiny, acceptance and onward transmission for necessary action. All development proposals that have either an impact or in respect of its area must have its approval.

Election and Composition of members of the various Councils would be 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 an ethnic minority if they form more than 10% of the eligible voters. The members so elected would be considered as independents even if nominated or supported by a political party. The number of elected members in a given Council – other than the Legislative and Executive Councils – would vary from Region to Region depending on the number of sub-administrative areas in that region.

A. Legislative council would consist of ten members elected from each District Council area, plus hundred members elected on trade basis from among those who are in and practicing that trade. (one member for each trade or group of trades, to be defined) plus fifty members appointed by the respective political parties in proportion to the total number of votes received by each candidate supported by that party without any cut-off points making a total of four hundred members.

B. Executive council would consist of fifteen members elected collectively by the members of the various Councils within that Regional Council area from among those residing within that area and not having stood for election to any Council, making a total of 60 (4 x 15) members.

C. Regional councils would consist of four members elected from each Divisional Council area within that Region.

D. District councils would consist of three members elected from each of the Sub-Divisional Council areas within that District Council area.

E. Divisional Council would consist of two members elected from each of the Grass-Root Council areas within that Divisional Council area.

F. Sub-Divisional Councils would consist of three members elected from each of the Grass-Root Council areas within that Sub-Divisional Council area.

G. Grass-Root Councils would consist of five members elected from among those residing within its area.

The Heads and Deputy Heads of the Councils to be elected as described below. The Head and the Deputy Head shall not be of the same gender, age or ethnic group in any Council provided there are more than 10% of eligible voters of any one ethnic group within that area. The Deputy Head has to be assigned sufficient powers and duties to make that office meaningful and would act for the Head in his/her absence. Their actions shall have the prior approval of the respective Councils.

A. Legislative Council: by the members of the Legislative Council from among them-selves and would be known as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively.

B. Executive Council: elected by the members of the Executive Council from among its members and would be known as the President and Vice-President respectively. The President with the concurrence of the Vice-President would appoint the Council of National Ministers from among its members. All actions of the President would be in consultation with the Vice-President. The National Ministers – in equal numbers for each Region and not exceeding five for a Region – shall be fairly distributed among the regions. The Ministers for the different ministries shall be changed every year and be filled by members of another Region, in rotation. The President and in his absence the Vice-President would preside at all meetings of the Executive Council and the Council of Ministers.

C. Regional Councils: collectively elected by the members of the various Councils in the Region together with the members elected to the Legislative Council from that Region and would be known as the Governor and Deputy Governor of the Region respectively. An Assistant Governor has to be elected to act for the Deputy Governor in his/her absence and who shall not belong to the same ethnic group as that of the Deputy Governor and where possible, different from the ethnicity of the Governor as well. The Governor in consultation with the Deputy Governor and Assistant Governor would appoint the Council of Regional Ministers – minimum of one and a maximum of two from a District – from among members of the Regional Council. All actions of the Governor would be in consultation with the Deputy Governor and Assistant Governor.

D. District council: collectively by the members elected directly to that District Council and members of the Regional council and Legislative Council elected from that District Council area and would be known as Chairman and Deputy Chairman respectively.

E. Divisional Council: collectively by the members elected directly to that Divisional Council and members of the members of the Regional Council who have been elected from that Divisional Council area and would be known as Chairman and Deputy Chairman respectively.

F. Sub-Divisional Council : collectively by the members elected directly to that Sub-Divisional Council and the members who have been elected to the District Council from that Sub-Divisional Council area. They would be known as the Coordinator and Assistant Coordinator respectively.

G. Grass-Root Council: directly elected by the voters of that Grama Sevaka area in addition to the members of that Council. They would be known as the Head and Deputy Head.

The Head of State: The Governor of one Region will act as the Head of State with the Deputy Governor of another Region as the Deputy Head of State for a period one year with the Governors and Deputy/Assistant Governors of the other Regions taking their turns in rotation. If the Deputy Governor of one Region happens to belong to the same ethnic group as that of the Governor who is acting as the Head of State then the Assistant Governor of that Region would act as the Deputy Head of State. The Head of State and his/her Deputy would be guided by the Legislative 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 Legislative Council.

Salaries/ Allowances to the members elected to the various Councils

From the above it would be seen that there would be
1 No. Legislative Council with 250+100+50 = 400 Members
1 No. Executive Council with 4x15 = 60 Members
4 Nos. Regional Councils with 324x4+12 = 1308 Members
25 Nos. District Council with about 7500+ members and in addition a further number of Councils – Divisional Councils, Sub-Divisional Councils and Grass-Root Councils – with a large number of members (168,000), the grand total of which would be a staggering figure (about 177,000+), which would naturally raise the immediate question of a payment of a large sum of money by way of salary, allowances etc. considering the present way of payment to M.PP. It is suggested that these members be not paid any salary since they had come forward to serve the people and not to earn or make money. They may be reimbursed the actual expenditure incurred by them monthly, which shall not exceed the maximum salary drawn by a SLAS Class 1 officer for the National Minister, and the others substantially lower.

In the case of the Heads and Deputy Heads of the Councils, the reimbursements shall not exceed the salary of a Class 1 officer in the judicial service for the Heads of the Legislative Council, Executive Council and the Regional Councils and substantially lower for the Heads of other Councils. No traveling allowances are payable except the actual ordinary bus-fares, if there are no train services available. Foreign trips, if it becomes absolutely necessary, only economy class airfare on the national carrier plus 50% of the most economical travel fare that might have been actually incurred within that country shall be provided. All other expenses including board and lodging shall be borne by the persons concerned.

No person shall be eligible to contest or to become a member of a Council if he had been a member of that council within the last two years immediately preceding the date of election. He 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

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. It is suggested that nominations be called in the month of August and elections be held in the month of September, and the new members assuming office in the month of October with a minimum of seven days for transition, as there are no significant religious events in these months. A line of succession shall be formulated as in the U.S.A. to fill in any vacancies in the offices of Heads or Deputy heads of Councils or Assistant Governors that might occur in between election dates. The person who was next in line in the last election shall fill in the vacancies caused by persons directly elected by the voters.

To preserve the continuity of the Councils, a system of retiring by rotation, as in the Board of Directors of limited liability companies may be considered, as that system might be more beneficial to the country.

The responsibilities, function and duties of the National Executive Council would be defined as those that cannot be properly distributed exclusively to a particular region such as Postal, Railway, Currency, National Budget, Import, Export, Immigration and Emigration, Foreign, Affairs etc, etc,. All other functions such as education, police, land, ports of entry etc., etc., shall be entrusted to the Regional Councils. But all development works within the area of the District Council concerned shall be entrusted to that District Council for execution.

Other suggestions

Articles for the following purposes have to be incorporated into the Constitution (a) that the environment is the foundation of economic growth and poverty reduction, and that the government is legally responsible for providing a clean and healthy environment for its citizens, (b) provision for public interest litigations on the lines that is available in India against any body or personally against any official of a body for actions taken or not taken or delaying to take action that would adversely affect the interest of anyone, during the course of his/her duty, even if done in good faith, if it could have been avoided had he/she taken an alternative course of action (c) a “Right to information Act” similar to what is available in India be enacted to enable the ordinary person to obtain any information that he/she wants which shall include photo copies of minute sheets or the like provided such information will not hamper the security of the country (d) discrimination on any grounds by anyone shall be made a punishable penal offence similar to what is available in Canada and a greater punishment if that person happens to be a public servant (e) for controlling the exploitation of our natural resources including fishing on the high seas within our boundary, by the multinational companies as is being done in China (f) devolving the decision-making powers over the use and management of natural resources to the local communities – Sub-Divisional Councils – as it would create greater food security and more equal power relationship, (g) civil society organizations that represent public interest to be given the due place in legislative and budget policy debates and where necessary in other matters as well.

a. No Law shall be initiated, amended or repealed by the Legislative Council and the
Regional Councils and become operative until a 2/3 majority in all the four regional councils has accepted it.

b. No laws, motions, bylaws, regulations that affects it’s minority shall be deemed to have been accepted by a Regional Council unless a three-fourth majority of the minority members in that Regional Council supports it.

c. No loan can be negotiated by the Executive Council for any purpose without the prior approval of all four Regional Councils.

d. Regional Councils shall not be permitted to obtain loans except from the Executive Council but be permitted to negotiate directly with foreign institutions to obtain aids and grants for the development of their Regions.

The District Councils would be responsible for the submissions of development proposals for its area to the Regional Council, in consultation with the Sub-Divisional Councils within its area, for consideration and if approved request for the allocation of necessary funds for the implementation of same.

The Regional Councils would be responsible for the submissions of the proposals for the development of their Region to the Executive Council for approval stating the source of funds through which it is intended to be executed be it allocation, loan, aid, or grants.

A person while holding a ‘post’ in the government or government controlled institutions or public limited liability companies quoted in the Colombo Stock Exchange shall not be eligible to seek election to any Council.

Three months before the date fixed for election in the constitution, canvassing of any nature shall be forbidden including the announcement of any beneficial programs and the incumbents in any Council shall not in any way assist the contestants for any Council or in the alternative if the date of election is not fixed in the constitution and the incumbents are permitted to contest, then a caretaker government shall be in office on the Pakistan and Bangladesh model – consisting of persons not directly involved in party politics, with the Chief Justice as the Head of the State and elections be concluded within a period of six months at the maximum

Independent Commissions shall be appointed for the administration and control of the various services that have to function independently according to laid down procedures. These commissions are accountable to the Head of State. No interference of any kind by anyone including the Heads of Councils shall be permitted.. Every commission shall consist of one member from each of the Regions elected jointly by the members of the Regional and District Councils of each Region. The members of the Executive and Legislative Councils shall elect the 5th member of any Commission, who shall be the Chairman, jointly.
a. The administrative set-up would be region-wise in all matters save and except that cannot be entrusted to a particular region due to its particular national character and are of concern to the entire country – e.g. postal, railway etc.
b. Regional Councils and other Councils would have the freedom to interact and formulate policies on matters assigned to the Regions or to the Executive Council or for any other purpose they deem necessary thus preserving the indivisible nature of the country.
c, When a voter becomes ineligible to contest an election by having been a member of a Council during the preceding two years then that ineligibility shall also apply to his/her immediate family, his/her parents immediate family including their grand parents and grand children

It is earnestly requested that the learned persons who are advising the government in drafting amendments to the constitution, take into consideration the main basic suggestions – the system of governance and mode of representation – contained herein and build on it in the wider interest of the country at large. It is accepted that many other important issues have not been given thought to or mentioned herein due to the length of these suggestions and my limited capacity.

Comments, constructive criticisms of any defects in this proposed system, and where possible with any suitable remedies to overcome them, are most welcome and may please be addressed to the undersigned.

Sie.Kathiravel

Postal address: 217, Station Road, Vavuniya,

Telephone: 024-2220524

E-mail address: < eskayvavuniya@yahoo.co.uk >

If undelivered please return to:
Sie. Kathieravelu,
217, Station Road, Vavuniya

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