Why Sri Lanka must say NO to 19th amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution
Posted on April 6th, 2015

Shenali D Waduge

If arguments of foreign-funded regime change holds true, the 100-day program appears a replica of similar programs introduced to nations under foreign tutelage by ‘experts’ offering slogans for ‘Democracy’ and ‘Good Governance’. These were the very slogans used in all the hand-picked nations of Western geopolitical interests which ended up dethroning leaders and replacing them with US ‘friendly dictators’ while constitutions were tweaked in such a way that weakened the nation thus leaving it open to designs and mechanisations of foreign predators. The people must now determine whether this is the change they want.

The current status quo in Sri Lanka is cause for concern. Dramatic changes, contradictions and lack of clear policy at every level has resulted in both citizens, foreign investors, traditional allies and virtually the entire world counting the days for Sri Lanka to fall. The peace that the nation enjoyed for the past 5 years has today left people conscious of breaches to national stability and anxious that the nation’s national security is at risk. It is definitely nothing to take lightly. With the volatile situation many wonder why there is a hurry to steam roll constitutional changes unless it is part of the plot of regime change to make Sri Lanka constitutionally weaker. Adding insult to injury is the mischief at play seen in the manner the gazette notification of the 19th amendment and the one presented in the Order Paper/SL Parliament differs questioning who has the 19th amendment that is to be actually passed and what its real contents are! It calls to mind the 2002 ceasefire agreement signed between the same Prime Minister and the LTTE contents of the agreement still unknown to the Sri Lankan public.

Clauses of the 19th amendment leave a wide gamut of doubts even to the ordinary public and would naturally become hot spots for experts giving rise to various speculations as to who is pressing for these constitutional changes and why.

  • TNA a party that sources its roots to LTTE, with proven LTTE-ties and separatist notions openly displayed joins a bandwagon of other factions that promote 19th This itself is indicative of being cautious of actually going ahead with changing 1/3 of the Constitution through one amendment.
  • Aim is to weaken a very powerful Presidency and dilute powers to a PM reliant Parliament which will through weak electoral system enable the minorities to hold a upper hand and by virtue of the current political parties that make up the minority vote base with their past record of separatism and mono-ethnic demands nullifies any positive opportunities for peaceful co-existence.
  • President turned into a mere puppet acting on the advice of the PM. What time will be wasted for decision making when Parliament will have to be referred to if the President doesn’t agree and eventually the President will have to agree if the Parliament decides so and if it doesn’t the will of the PM prevails. There is nothing related to what happens if the President doesn’t listen to the PM or Parliament because no court will have jurisdiction to hear a case brought against the President  – all these portends to chaos
  • For most of us the prospect of 19th amendment being passed is frightening. When there are provisions which require the constitutional council to consult the Bar Association when appointing judges of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal it means that even senior judges end up begging before the Bar Association and this Association has been run of late by officials of USAID.
  • Article 2 of 19th amendment attempts to replace Article 4 (b) of the current Constitution which provides the President executive powers of the People including defense. This has to be read alongside Article 33A of 19th a which claims the President must act on advice of the PM or a Minister authorized by the PM. Thus though 19a says through Article 2(b) that executive powers are with the President, in reality it is negated by Article 33 A (2) and (3) which gives executive powers to the PM and not to the President. This is a violation of the legal maxim ‘delegatus non potest delegare’ which in other words means delegated power cannot be delegated (thus the President cannot delegate powers given to him to the PM) – ‘shall’ is used as a mandatory requirement for the President in the 19th amendment (Articles 33A (2) and (3) reduces the President to a mere puppet in the hands of the PM and questions the duplicity in including a clause that says the President exercises the People’s power.
  • The aim of 19a using Article 33a (2) is to slyly transfer power from the President to the PM and thereby remove the President prerogative under Article 154 and 154L to dissolve a provincial council/Parliament take over powers of the Provincial Council – it enables a step closer to the current speeded up efforts to declare a separate state on behalf of those supporting those presently in power.
  • When power shifts from President to PM he derives executive powers while being a member of the legislature, Article 80(3) imposes a ban on Supreme Court from reviewing a law after it has been passed and no court or tribunal can inquire into it, this nullifies the claims that the judiciary should be independent for Article 80(3) bars the Supreme Court from checking the role of the legislature. Under the current system the legislative can reduce the powers of the President via Article 49(2) defeating the budget or even impeach the President and remove him from office. However under 19th amendment there is no mention of how the PM can be removed though such provisions prevail in Article 47 of the present Constitution. In other words 19a sets out an ugly precedent of being unable to remove the PM or his Cabinet for the entirety of the Parliament.
  • There is a Right to Information Act under the 19a but the contents of that Bill has not even been publicized and ridicules the nature of the people called Right to Information!
  • The 19th amendment by way of being flawed in terms of definition, process and even content needs to be relooked with greater attention instead of hurriedly passing it through simply to claim it was included into a 100 day program. Who is benchmarking when what is more important is the safeguards and safety to the nation and its people. Amending the constitution especially when the 19a attempts to change 1/3 of the current constitution requires a 2/3 majority plus a referendum. This cannot be surpassed using technicalities and by buying over opposition members to gain the required 2/3 majority.
  • An elected President who the People elect to be the People’s representative cannot end up having to function on advice of a Prime Minister who cannot be removed until Parliament term is over.

Much is at stake for Sri Lanka. What must caution us at this decisive juncture is to return to the volatile period of 2002 and decipher the impasse that led to an all out onslaught to create eelam. We cannot be naïve that this objective is far from over and Prabakaran was a mere tool in a larger gameplan that involved the very nations that first created LTTE (India) and the later day sponsors (US/UK and Western Christian nations) that is exploring creating a base after dividing Sri Lanka to later plan for the balkanization of India on its way to end station China. These factors cannot be omitted from consideration in looking at the new ‘government or ‘US friend dictator’ now in the mantle while everyone believes they elected a President on 8 January 2015.

While it is not our concern who the President, Prime Minister or Political Party in power is what is our concern is that none of them together or individually be allowed to carve out, hand over pieces of territory that belong to Sri Lanka simply because of notions of reconciliation, political correctness or ideologies like federalism, devolution etc. We do not need to be misled into falling for nomenclatures that pretend to keep the country as unitary while subtly replacing the word with united which has no legal basis of argument.

The mischief must stop. The country has suffered 30 years of terror. We just managed to enjoy freedom for 5 years and now we are again left in a very anxious state far more dangerous as we do not know who our enemy / enemies are. Previously we knew it was LTTE and Prabakaran and could even point out their supporters. Now it is a whole new ballgame and it is time the country and its citizens in particular leave aside allegiance to politicians and political parties and realize that we are in a very dire situation and we do not require constitutional changes to add to the mounting blunders and mishaps taking place.

Shenali D Waduge

 

5 Responses to “Why Sri Lanka must say NO to 19th amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Charm-paka and Ratana are TOTALLY MAD. These 2 clowns don’t know what they are doing.

    I was the FIRST to expose their TWIST in 19 amendment. In 2012 they proposed a 19 amendment to SCRAP 13 amendment. GOOD. But they proposed another 19 amendment in November 2014 to reduce executive powers of the president. OPPORTUNISTIC.

    (But I still maintain MR should have SCRAPPED 13 amendment so that these losers would not have stood a chance!)

    Now they OPPOSE their own 19 amendment. What the hell is going on?

    19 amendment MUST be DEFEATED. No 2 words. But what is these 2 clowns are doing?

    Charm-paka & Ratana = DUMB & DUMBER!

  2. Independent Says:

    Lorenzo,
    You are being totally dishonest now.
    Please read both 19th amendments, one by UNP ( now being discussed) and the one JHU proposed in November or October.

  3. L Perera Says:

    Debating the 19th amendment, talks of a white revolution by the Agriculture minister and other lofty plans being bandied around is of absolutely no use, if as stated by the opposition leader , the Government coffers are EMPTY.

  4. nilwala Says:

    THERE ARE FUNDAMENTAL CONTRADICTIONS AND THIS AMENDMENTM AND IT SHOULD BE VOTED WITH AN OUT AND OUT “NAY” TO CONVEY THE EXTENT OF REFUSAL TO RUSH THROUGH SUCH AN IMPORTANT PIECE OF LEGISLATION THAT DOES NOT CLARIFY, AMONG OTHER ITEMS, THE POWERS OF THE PRESIDENT V. THE PRIME MINISTER.

    HOPE OUR PARLIAMENTARIANS WILL ACT JUDICIOUSLY AND RESPONSIBLY AND THROW IT OUT!!
    THEY WILL BE DISHONORING THE FRANCHISE THAT BROUGHT THEM INTO PARLIAMENT. THEY MUST BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE!!

    LEST THEY BE MADE ACCOUNTABLE AT THE COMING ELECTION….THE PEOPLE ARE NOT FOOLS!!

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    Shenali, so good to have you back at L’web ! Thanks for your great articles.

    ——-

    Sri Lanka today is a ‘lost country’, floundering without trustworthy leadership. The 19-A is a piece of hoodwink to neo-Colonise Lanka. Throw out the 19-A or make reasonable, CLEAR ALTERATIONS TO IT. Led by CBK & RW (both flawed leaders from the past, NOT elected at present by the People) in the guise of Reconciliation etc., the People are witnessing the downing the country to some kind of Fascism with Westward Ho ! tied to it !!

    We totally agree with Mr Udaya Gamanpila who says :

    “PM, CBK take crucial decisions now: Gammanpila
    April 7, 2015 06:40 pm – Adaderana

    Pivithuru Hela Urumaya (PHU) General Secretary and Western Provincial Councillor Udaya Gammanpila on Tuesday (7) charged that those who assisted to form the new government take crucial decisions about the island nation, but not the President.

    Gammanpila made the observation at a press conference held in Colombo.

    Gammanpila said that the Prime Minister and former President Chandrika Kumaratunga have taken control and it is them who make vital decisions about the country.

    “There is a strong call to recall former President Mahinda Rajapksa to the political arena, but there are no such invitations to Kumaratunga,” he added.

    Gammanpila also went on to say that he would urge to table a no confidence motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe over the Central Bank bond issue, if there is a strong opposition in the Parliament at the moment”.

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