Alarming Proposals Made by the Joint Opposition (JO) to Remove the Concurrent List from the Constitution
Posted on September 2nd, 2016

Sri Lankan Solidarity Movement

The Members of Parliament representing the SLFP in the Joint Opposition, JO have submitted to the Steering Committee headed by the Prime Minister, their proposals for the proposed new Constitution, which inter alia includes a proposal to remove the existing controversial Concurrent List in the 13thAmendment as a measure Appropriate” to fulfill the so called aspirations of the minority communitiesvide paragraph 5 of the JO’s proposals. This now allows Provincial Councils to act more autonomously which is great threat to the Unitary status of Sri Lanka.

Number of Civil organisations critical on JO’s untimely controversial move. The National Joint Committee has issued following Media Brief on the JO’s unpatriotic stance.

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31st August 2016

Statement of the National Joint Committee on the proposal made by the Joint Opposition to remove the Concurrent List from the Constitution

Members of Parliament representing the SLFP in the Joint Opposition have submitted to the steering committee headed by the Prime Minister, their proposals for the proposed new Constitution, which inter alia includes a proposal to remove the existing Concurrent List in the 13th Amendment as a measure Appropriate” to fulfill the aspirations of the minority communities (vide paragraph 5 of the said proposals).

In the year 2000, the SLFP headed by former President Ms. Chandrika Bandaranayaka Kumaranathunga who unsuccessfully placed before parliament a Bill to replace the existing Constitution, too omitted the concurrent list, limiting the distribution of powers to the reserved and provincial lists. However, Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse after he was elected as President in 2005 did not follow the policies of his predecessor Ms. Kumaranathunga.

Since the enactment of the 13th Amendment in 1987, one of the major demands of the separatist forces had been to remove the concurrent list from the Constitution. The joint opposition has now, it appears, acceded to this separatist demand. No explanation is offered to the people of this country by the leaders of the SLFP group in the joint opposition for this sudden change of policy. We note with regret that even the other affiliated parties of the Joint opposition have not disassociated themselves from these proposals presented by the SLFP group in the joint opposition.

The Concurrent List enables both the Central and Provincial governments to exercise powers with regard to important subjects that have a direct impact on the day to day affairs of the people. The importance of this concurrent list is felt much more today specially under the aggressive provincial administrations carried on in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. It is through this concurrent list that the Central Government is able to at least protect, to some extent, the rights of the regional minorities. Even our closest neighbors India and Pakistan have incorporated a concurrent list in their respective constitutions. Similarly the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa promulgated in 1996 also provide for concurrent powers.

It may be relevant to quote Deshamanya H.L. De Silva President’s Counsel on the relevance of concurrence list which he expressed so eloquently in an article titled Concurrent Powers Revisited” written in July 1998 in response to the draft proposals of 1997 of Ms. Kumaranatunga’s Government.

He says to imagine that by eliminating the Concurrent List and providing only two lists of exclusive powers is to fail to take account of the reality of overlapping powers. Furthermore to assume that the success of devolution depends on expanding the degree and area of autonomy of a region is to fail to recognize that the paramount consideration is the general welfare of the country as a whole for which the primary responsibility lies with the Centre in co-operation with the region”.

Therefore it is necessary that the Joint Opposition clearly declares its policies and stand on the nature of the State before they seek the support of the people of this country. We, the members of the National Joint Committee, reject the proposals of the Joint opposition to remove the concurrent list from the constitution as long as the 13th Amendment or a similar contrivance distributing the powers of the State is incorporated in the Constitution. We believe that the 13th Amendment has resulted in administrative chaos and should be done away with. However since it is part of our Constitution at present, it would be unwise, to put it mildly, to do away with concurrent list at this stage and place the regional minorities of the Northern and Eastern minorities in real peril.

Yours sincerely,
Dr. Anula Wijesundera
Col. Anil Amarasekera
Joint Presidents of the National Joint Committee

Dimuth Gunawardena
Hony. Secretary

Ms. Ranjini Ratnapala
Hony. Treasurer

Manohara R. de Silva, President’s Counsel
Member of the National Joint Committee

On behalf of the membership of the NJC.

One Response to “Alarming Proposals Made by the Joint Opposition (JO) to Remove the Concurrent List from the Constitution”

  1. S.Gonsal Says:

    No way ! How dare JO ask to remove concurrent list ? They should demand removal of 13A altogether !
    Why ? Who is behind this ?

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