Some constitutional proposals

30 January 2008

The following PDF document is a compilation of constitutional and legislative proposals for Sri Lanka from several sources: Some constitutional proposals for Sri Lanka

Readers who have read the original APRC majority report may find a few of the proposals familiar while others are wholly unconventional (e.g. the Department of Government Invigilation and the method of electing the Regional Council).

Table of Contents of the document 

1. Explanatory Notes

1.1. The nature of this document
1.2. Principles
1.3. Notes on the Parliament
1.4. Notes on the Executive
1.5. Notes on Regions
1.6. Notes on Regional Governor
1.7. Notes on the Civil Service
1.8. Notes on Revenue
1.9. Notes on the Department of Government Invigilation
1.10. Notes on the Concurrent Exercise of Powers by the Central and Regional Governments

2. Nature of the State

2.1. The Republic
2.2. Language

3. Fundamental Rights & Limits to Government

3.1. Laws
3.2. Life
3.3. Property
3.4. Universal Suffrage
3.5. Religion, Beliefs and Ethnicity
3.6. Freedom of Speech
3.7. Privacy
3.8. Transparency
3.9. Separation of Powers

4. The Legislature

4.1. The Parliament

5. The Executive

5.1. The President

6. The Judiciary

7. Regions
7.1. The Nature of Regions
7.2. Regional Council
7.3. Governor
7.4. Regional Courts

8. Elections

8.1. Conduction of elections

9. The Police

9.1. The Police Commission
9.2. Regional Police
9.3. The Central Police Agency

10. Taxation

10.1. Collection of Taxes

11. The Civil Service

11.1. Appointments

12. The Department of Government Invigilation

12.1. Purpose
12.2. Appointments
12.3. The Office of Records
12.4. The Auditor’s Office
12.5. The Office of Public Evaluations
12.6. The Office of Investigations
12.7. The Office of Prosecution
12.8. The Office of Operations

13. A Partial Legislative Program for the First Administration

13.1. Departments
13.2. Need based subsidies
13.3. Motor traffic
13.4. Littering
13.5. School accreditation
13.6. School maintenance and funding
13.7. Tax voting
13.8. Crime

14. Concerns Pertaining to the Proposals

Note that this is not a final document and that implementation details (especially numbers) may vary depending on practicality and conditions prevailing. Authors do not expect some proposals to be politically feasible in the near future.

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Prohibition of Liquor and Tobacco

29 July 2007

Sri Lankans have yet to learn a lesson in Prohibition. That the sale and consumption of liquor/tobacco is legal in Sri Lanka is a great blessing: the industry is mostly in the hands of law-abiding citizens (in fact the tobacco and liquor industry leaders are exemplars of good business management). Habitual drinkers/smokers need not hide their habits and therefore are known to their friends and families, which makes it easier for them to receive help. Prices are not hugely inflated due to concealed production, trafficking or “protection”. There is no exponential addiction chain (as in drugs, where addicts finance their own addiction by becoming dealers themselves, pushing the drug to new, younger markets).

The effects of Prohibition are not hypothesis: America experienced it during the Prohibition Era. During that period, when the possession and production of liquor was banned in the US, the liquor industry looked just like the drug “industry” looks today. The huge surge of organized crime during that period–often dramatized today in “gangster” movies–was a direct result of the liquor ban. The very measure that was meant to reduce crime, gave birth to more of it.

The Law may prohibit CRIMES, but not VICES. Prohibition of a PERCEIVED necessity creates business for organized crime. For some, smoking is a necessary vice; for some drinking is a necessary vice; for the drug addict, his dose is absolutely necessary. The government has no right to pass MORAL judgment on its citizens, only LEGAL judgment. Caesar may not do God’s job. Drunk driving is a crime. Drinking is not. Pushing drugs is a crime. Taking them is not. Smoking in a poorly ventilated public place is a crime. Smoking is not. It is ludicrous for a government to pass laws to protect people from themselves: few entities harm people more than governments do.

The recent legislation against smoking in public is disturbing. It is a clear case of government stepping over lines of authority and may be an omen of more to come. As said before in this blog, politicians are the last group on earth who should be preaching morals, let alone enforcing them.

The government should repeal all alcohol/tobacco related regulations except the following: driving/performing risky operations under influence; sale to minors; smoking in a private establishments (e.g. restaurants) with no-smoking signs.

It would be good if even drugs can be legalized: prices will drop drastically, organized crime would lose business and the addiction chain would be broken; it will be easier to track and help addicts. Unfortunately, this is not a realistic option today. First, no one would accept this solution and second, no single country can do it in isolation. Drug trade is an international “industry” and any single country that were to legalize drugs would immediately become a hub of operations for the drug cartels in other countries. Drugs may be a problem too far gone to correct by deregulation.