People's will, the bedrock of a Constitution
The stability of Government is a sine qua non for development and
rapid economic progress. A classic example is Singapore. Singapore has
been successful due to political stability. Lee Kuan Yew served as Prime
Minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990.
In 1783, the Treaty of Paris left the United States independent and
at peace, but with an unsettled governmental structure. The Second
Continental Congress had drawn up the Articles of Confederation in 1777,
describing a permanent confederation, but granting to the Congress - the
only federal institution - little power to finance itself or to ensure
that its resolutions were enforced. In part, this reflected the
anti-monarchy view of the Revolutionary period and the new American
system was explicitly designed to prevent the rise of an American
However, during the economic depression due to the collapse of the
continental dollar following the American Revolution, the viability of
the American Government was threatened by political unrest in several
states, efforts by debtors to use popular government to erase their
debts and the apparent inability of the Continental Congress to redeem
the public obligations incurred during the war.
The Congress also appeared unable to become a forum for productive
cooperation among the States encouraging commerce and economic
In response, the Philadelphia Convention was convened, ostensibly to
devise amendments to the Articles of Confederation, but which instead
began to draft a new system of government that would include greater
executive power while retaining the checks and balances thought to be
essential restraints on any imperial tendency in the office of the
Individuals who presided over the Continental Congress during the
Revolutionary period and under the Articles of Confederation had the
title ‘President of the United States in Congress Assembled’, often
shortened to ‘President of the United States’. However, the office had
little distinct executive power.
With the 1788 ratification of the Constitution, a separate executive
branch was created, headed by the ‘President of the United States’. This
new Chief Executive role no longer bore the duties of presiding over
Congress in a supervisory role, but the title ‘President’ was carried
This title was a major understatement of the actual role empowered to
the office by the Constitution and this choice of words can be seen as a
deliberate effort by the Founding Fathers to prevent the Head of State
position from evolving toward becoming a monarchical position, with the
accompanying potential for abuse of such power.
Executive privilege gives a President the ability to withhold
information from Congress and federal courts in matters of national
security. George Washington first claimed privilege when Congress
requested to see Chief Justice John Jay’s notes from an unpopular treaty
negotiation with Great Britain. While not enshrined in the Constitution,
or any other law, Washington’s action created the precedent for the
When Richard Nixon tried to use executive privilege as a reason for
not turning over subpoenaed evidence to Congress during the Watergate
scandal, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683
(1974), that executive privilege did not apply in cases where a
President was attempting to avoid criminal prosecution. When President
Bill Clinton attempted to use executive privilege regarding the Lewinsky
scandal, the Supreme Court ruled in Clinton v. Jones, 520 US 681 (1997),
that the privilege also could not be used in civil suits. These cases
established the legal precedent that executive privilege is valid
although the exact extent of the privilege has yet to be clearly
According to the Twenty-second Amendment, no eligible person can be
elected President more than twice.
The Twenty-second Amendment also specifies that if any eligible
person who serves as President or acting President for more than two
years of a term for which some other eligible person was elected
President, the former can only be elected President once. Scholars
disagree whether anyone no longer eligible to be elected President could
be elected vice president, pursuant to the qualifications set out under
the Twelfth Amendment.
Franklin D Roosevelt was elected to four terms before the adoption of
the Twenty-second Amendment. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (January 30, 1882
– April 12, 1945), commonly known by his initials FDR, was an American
statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd President of the
A Democrat, he was elected four times and served from March 1933 to
his death in April 1945. He was a central figure in world events during
the mid-20th century, leading the United States during a time of
worldwide economic depression and total war.
A dominant leader of the Democratic Party, he built a New Deal
Coalition that realigned American politics after 1932, as his New Deal
domestic policies defined American liberalism for the middle third of
the 20th century. The term of office for President and Vice President is
four years. George Washington, the first President, set an unofficial
precedent of serving only two terms, which subsequent presidents
followed until 1940.
Before Franklin D. Roosevelt, attempts at a third term were
encouraged by supporters of Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt;
neither of these attempts succeeded. In 1940, Franklin Roosevelt
declined to seek a third term, but allowed his political party to
‘draft’ him as their Presidential candidate and was subsequently elected
to a third term. In 1941, the US became involved in World War II, which
later led voters to elect Roosevelt to a fourth term in 1944.
After the war, and in response to Roosevelt’s shattering of
precedent, the Twenty-second Amendment was adopted.
The amendment bars anyone from being elected President more than
twice, or once if that person served more than half of another
Harry S. Truman, who was President when the amendment was adopted,
and so by the amendment’s provisions exempt from its limitation, also
briefly sought a third (a second full) term before withdrawing from the
Since the amendment’s adoption, four Presidents have served two full
terms: Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W.
Bush. Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush sought a second term, but were
Richard Nixon was elected to a second term, but resigned before
completing it. Lyndon B. Johnson was the only President under the
amendment to be eligible to serve more than two terms in total, having
served for only fourteen months following John F. Kennedy’s
However, Johnson withdrew from the 1968 Democratic Primary,
surprising many Americans by stating, “I shall not seek and I will not
accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”
Gerald Ford sought a full term, after serving out the last two years
and five months of Nixon’s second term, but was not elected.
Singapore is a classic example of economic and democratic success by
political stability. Singapore has been successful due to political
stability .Lee Kuan Yew served as Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959
An unusual position has arisen in Sri Lanka where more opposition
members have extended their support to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The
people from the West, South, North and the East have repeatedly
acknowledged the leadership of this remarkable President who has the
charisma to convince even his strongest opponents.
In defence of 18th Amendment to the Constitution: The 18th Amendment
to the Constitution is a brilliant move for political stability. Even in
Singapore, there were criticisms by disgruntled politicians about Lee.
But time has proved that it was effective having the same Leader over
a period of time. President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the only leader in Sri
Lanka at this moment who could direct the Nation towards economic
prosperity and development.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, through the experience he gained through
many political tidal waves and his survival to become the Leader of the
He thinks very hard before he makes decisions, once made he will
justify his cause with his skills of advocacy which has won over his
Never in the political history of any country has so many Opposition
members joined and supported the President whom they once opposed.
Amidst the turbulent waves of politics and the intricacies of
conspiracies by vested interests President Mahinda Rajapaksa was
re-elected as the President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri
Lanka for a second term.
The Victor is President Mahinda Rajapaksa.He is justified to seek a
third term by virtue of the 18th amendment to the Constitution. The
victory was inevitable due to the patriotic deeds of the President and
the victorious are the Nation as a whole.
Saviour of the Nation. Thousands of men, women and children driven
from their lands have returned home.
The demands of an outraged community have been met. We have achieved
a victory for a safer world, for our democratic values and for a
stronger Sri Lanka.
We fought and liberated the people held in hostage, what we achieved
and what we have to do now to advance the peace and together with the
people, forge a future of freedom, progress and harmony. This can be
done only under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The terrorists were the cause for men of all ages separated from
their loved ones killed and forced to join the terrorists, children made
to watch their parents die; a whole people forced to abandon in hours
communities their families had spent generations building.
Liberation. When our diplomatic efforts to avert this horror with the
LTTE were rebuffed, and the violence mounted, the President took
Now the people are free, the roads that were closed for years have
opened, the people have been liberated.
The schools have been re-opened, they have freedom to shape their
destiny. No more nights of hiding in bunker cellars, wondering if the
next day will bring death or deliverance.
Now, all communities must join hands in unity and assist President
Mahinda Rajapaksa to continue the development work. Finally, we have
averted the wider war this conflict might well have sparked
. Now, we’re entering a new phase - building that peace - and there
are formidable challenges, the foremost among them is the stability of
leadership and the Government.
We must build and develop our country. For that to happen, the
European Union must plan for tomorrow, not just today. Our friends the
United States, China, India and the United Kingdom must assist us in our
endeavour. They must provide most of the resources for this effort, but
it is in Sri Lanka’s interest to do our part as well.
We must pave a path to a prosperous shared future, a unifying magnet
more powerful than the pull of hatred and destruction that has
threatened to tear us apart.
Tolerance and freedom
President Mahinda Rajapaksa represents tolerance and freedom, not
repression and terror.
As such every person or group which transgresses these ideals should
be dealt with by the Laws of the land. We have sent a message of
determination and hope to the entire world. Think of all the millions of
innocent people who died in this bloody century because democracies
reacted too late to evil and aggression.
Because of our resolve, the past is gone not with helpless
indignation, but with a hopeful affirmation of human dignity and human
rights for the 2010.
In a world too divided by fear among people of different racial,
ethnic and religious groups, we have given confidence to the friends of
freedom and pause to those who would exploit human difference for
Sri Lanka still faces great challenges in this world, but we look
forward to meeting them. We must stand united as Patriots of Sri Lanka
to support and defend President Mahinda Rajapaksa and support the 18th
Amendment to the Constitution.
The writer has experience in legal profession, having practiced as a
Barrister and Solicitor in Australia, as a Solicitor of England and
Wales, an Attorney in Sri Lanka and the United States and a lecturer in
several universities here and abroad.