CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS
Posted on September 21st, 2016

Janaki Chandraratna

 Constitutional Reforms is the hot topic of the day. The government is fast tracking this agenda to be in line with the timeline prescribed by UNCHR, as constitutional reforms are considered to be imperative to implement the Geneva resolution. Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in his last visit to Sri Lanka, informed Sri Lanka of the need to pass the new constitution before the end of 2016, in order to hold the referendum in January 2017. Although the government had not shed any light on this timeframe or answered the relevant parliamentary questions, it had set the ball rolling on constitutional reforms agenda since late last year.

In December 2015, a Steering Committee comprising of five sub committees was set up under the direction of the PM with the approval of the Cabinet to deliberate on the five main aspects of the new constitution (i.e. Fundamental Rights, Judiciary, Law and Order, Centre Periphery Relations, and Public Finance). Despite the government having a 2/3 majority in Parliament, steps were taken to convert the parliament to a National Assembly for the purposes of passing the new constitution. In addition, a 20 member Public Representation Committee (PRC) was appointed with nominees from political parties and NGO representations to obtain public submissions for changes to the constitution.

The final report of the PRC with recommendations was presented to the PM in May 2016. This report included several options for government consideration, some of which were on sensitive matters such as nature of the state, power sharing and devolution. People have learnt from snippets of information in the newspapers that the Steering Committee sub committees have also given their respective reports to the PM and the draft constitution will be presented to the parliament before the end of 2016.

The government no doubt is enthused by the passage of the Office of Missing Persons Act (OMP) without debate or a vote. Apart from the deplorable undemocratic process followed for this bill, it was ironic to note that even the parliamentarians that supported the bill like the JVP were unaware of its contents. Yet, the bill appears to have seen the light of the day as the law of the country. Needless to say the undemocratic processes followed, the silence on the OMP and Constitution reforms bills, the FCID activity targeting only the opposition members, the disregard of alleged criminal activity of the pro government parliamentarians and the indirect gagging of the press have generated a considerable mistrust against the government in recent times. People cannot be faulted for speculating on the outcomes of constitutional reforms, in the absence of any clarifications from the PM and the President. People fear that the outcome of constitutional reforms will be inimical to the State’s integrity as a sovereign country. Although motherhood statements such as ‘Nothing untoward will happen to the sovereignty of the country’, is convincing to Ven. Malwatta, Thero, they do not offer any consolation to the general public. These statements only intensify the skepticism of the average citizen. The occasional quips by the PM on the irrevocable devolution of power to the North and East through constitutional reforms have also aggravated the situation.

The engagement of NGOs and the lack of participation of the country’s intellectuals in the constitution reform process are a concern to the average citizen. Declarations of Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu that foreign funded NGOs had led to a disproportionate interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states have added to the fears of the nation. People are also apprehensive of the latest approach of the President and PM to fast forward the marketing of national reconciliation and power sharing strategies through constitutional reforms. Newspaper snippets indicate that NGOS have already organized a marketing strategy at the district levels in readiness for the referendum. As far as the average citizen is concerned however, the new constitution is still being drafted and if that is the case they query the need for a marketing program before the drafting of the new constitution is completed. There is speculation that the constitution is already been drafted by foreign funded NGOs that support the division of the country. Against this background, it appears that the opposition has a daunting task of informing the public of the possible dangers that need to considered, for the referendum, in particular, if there is power sharing at the periphery without adequate controls in the center to prevent any division in the country by separatist movements. This task is becoming difficult by the increased FCID investigations against opposition members.

The government can be expected to invest heavily on a marketing campaign for constitutional reforms as the defeat of the referendum would be a ‘do or die’ outcome for the government similar to Brexit for the British government. It is envisaged that there would be an overload of information and a barrage of propaganda from both the government as well as the opposition leading up to the referendum. The only way out for Sri Lankans is to examine the potential impacts of both the letter and the spirit of the proposed laws marketed as constitutional reforms so that informed decisions can be taken at the referendum. It is also essential that people undertake a conscience vote and not be distracted by party politics if they are to safeguard the country for future generations.

3 Responses to “CONSTITUTIONAL REFORMS”

  1. plumblossom Says:

    When looking at Sri Lanka’s history, it is extremely obvious that from 600BC to around 1400AD there were three kingdoms, all Sinhala Buddhist, Ruhuna, Pihiti or Rajarata and Maya or Malayarata. Rajarata encompassed today’s North Central, North Western, Northern and even the Central Province. Ruhunu rata encompassed today’s Uva, Eastern and Southern Provinces. The Kandyan Kingdom from 1400AD encompassed most of the island inclusive of today’s Northern and the Eastern Provinces except for the Jaffna Peninsula. Even the Jaffna Peninsula was invaded and occupied by force by Aryachakravarthi (Pandyan) and actually did belong to Rajarata earlier and later the Kandyan Kingdom.

    Today’s provincial boundaries were drawn up by the British colonialists as per their divide and rule policy and the Sinhala people were not consulted when drawing up these provincial boundaries. In the meantime, most Sri Lankan Tamils of today were actually brought over during Dutch and British times to the Jaffna Peninsula and elsewhere to work on tobacco and indigo plantations which were planted extensively in all the colonies since they were much sought after and made a lot of money for the colonialists. Therefore they are recent arrivals and cannot claim homelands or separate states whatsoever.

    The usual practice when a colonial power hands over their former colonies is to hand it over to its original owners. Therefore the British colonialists should hand over the Kandyan Kingdom to the Kandyan Sinhalese from whom they took it by force. Since the Kandyan Kingdom encompassed the North and the East, these provinces too should be handed over to the Kandyan Sinhalese who are its rightful owners. Even the Jaffna Peninsula should be handed over to the Kandyan Sinhalese since it was part of Rajarata and was forcefully occupied by Aryachakravarthi (Pandyan).

    Since this has now been done already, the TNA and other separatist terrorists or the US, UK EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden and India cannot demand that present day Northern or even the Eastern provinces be provided any more powers or be made into federal states since this is totally going against the history and archaeology of the island and totally going against the rights of the Sinhala people who also have fundamental rights to claim the entire island inclusive of the North and the East as their homeland first and foremost. Therefore, the TNA , the separatist terrorists, the US, UK, Norway, Sweden, Canada and India has to respect the history and archaeology of the island and accept that the present day provincial councils are more than sufficient to run the affairs of the provinces. Sri Lanka must be a unitary state and no more powers should be provided to the provincial councils. In fact, when talking about the 13th amendment, the concurrent list subjects must be included in the national list. The provision where two provinces can merge should be deleted. The bogus claim of the North and the East being the homeland of the Tamil speaking people should be deleted. The entire island should be declared the homeland of all its peoples.

    Sinhala people should be resettled in the North in quite a large number if there is to be peace and harmony within the island since Sinhala people have every historical right to live in the North as well as the East. It is only due to ethnic cleansing of the North of Sinhala people by the LTTE and the other separatists that Sinhala people are not at present living in the North. Many thousands of landless elsewhere in the island especially Sinhala people should be provided land in the North since most of the vacant land in the country is in the North and in the East since both these provinces encompass over 28% of the land area of the island. Then only will there be peace since when people mix, there is more harmony. This is the only way towards peace and development in the island.

  2. plumblossom Says:

    Apart from highly commending you for taking legal action against the treacherous CBK (Chaura Rejina) regarding the defamatory and utter lies she keeps repeating to defame her rivals, legal action should be taken against her for stating that she will definitely devolve more powers to provincial Councils within the new constitution. Does this evil woman CBK think she owns Sri Lanka and that she is the one who is going to draw up the new constitution of Sri Lanka (according to the wishes of the imperialistic US, UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden, India, the racist TNA and the separatist terrorists)? The constitution of Sri Lanka should satisfy first and foremost the majority of people of this island i.e. the Sinhala people and the Sinhala people firstly do not want to draw up a new constitution nor do they want any more powers whatsoever be provided to the provincial councils especially land, police and fiscal or to illegally merge the North and the East.

    Someone has to go to the supreme court and take action against treacherous CBK for suggesting that she will definitely devolve more powers to provincial councils within the yet to be drawn up constitution since this means the treacherous Ranil, Sirisena, CBK and Mangala have already drawn up a constitution to satisfy the imperialistic US, UK, EU, Canada, Norway, Sweden, India, the racist TNA and the separatist terrorists which is illegal.

  3. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Traitor chief die hard catholic token Buddhist pol pot ponil wickramaSinhalakiller ruling Sri Lanka today. He is
    anti Sinhalese, anti Buddhist of course, anti Sri Lanka. He promised a new country for the traitor tamil, mussie,
    catholics and the Sinhala modayas. So he will not just create new country. He is planning 3 new countries. One
    for traitor foreigners tamil’s drealam, for the other traitor foreigners, the baby machine mussies mussiesthan.

    Batalande Wadakaya is always Sinhalese-blood thirsty. He tortured and killed Sinhalese youth at Batalanda
    camp with his catholic buddy policemen. No punishment of course. Then he gave half the country to his
    catholic buddy hitler pira(mala)paharan. No punishment of course. Then he sent millennium city intelligent officers
    to catholic tigers of tamil drealam bullet to expedite the creation of drealam. No punishment. Then he robbed CB
    of 5000 billion with his catholic buddy maha horandran. No punishment. He stopped teaching history at schools
    when the traitor chief was education minister. Not a word was uttered to criticise the traitor chief. Soon as the
    murderous Pathala Man PM became the ruler last year, stopped state pension. Now the pensioners will have to
    beg on street when they retire. Still no criticism. The traitor monster’s treachery list is endless.
    There hasn’t been a treacherous, murderous, pathalogical liar
    of his caliber in Sri Lanka ever. Sinhalaya famous for being modayas still vote for the monster.

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