Hidden dangers
Posted on December 4th, 2018

The Editorial Courtesy The Island


We are without a government! The Court of Appeal has restrained the newly appointed PM and ministers from functioning pending a final determination on the petitions before it. Paradoxically, the country has come to be dependent on the Executive President, who is mainly responsible for this unfortunate situation, to ward off anarchy. He is now running a one-man show to all intents and purposes.

The Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna, yesterday, moved the Supreme Court against the Appeal Court interim order and now the matter is before the learned judges and it is best left to them.

What we are struggling to grapple with had the look of a political issue, initially. If President Maithripala Sirisena had not sacked Ranil Wickremesinghe as Prime Minister, nobody would have made an issue of the flaws in the 19th Amendment and the glaring constitutional ambiguities they have given rise to. But, today, what started off as a political battle has got eclipsed by a host of legal and constitutional issues.

President Sirisena reiterated, yesterday, at an SLFP convention in Colombo, that he would not reappoint Ranil Wickremesinghe Prime Minister, come what may. Thus, the political problem which has led to the present crisis is bound to persist in spite of legal remedies to be found.

The country is now within a hailing distance of anarchy. Some political observers insist that it is already there. However, on the bright side, the current crisis has led to a public discussion on the Constitution and the questionable aspects of the 19-A have come to light. The public has evinced a keen interest in constitutional affairs at a time efforts are being made to write a new Constitution.

The current Constitution contains some serious flaws, which can be attributed to certain sections which were either badly drafted or incorporated on the sly by way of amendments. It took several decades for even veteran politicians to realise that the constitutional provisions, governing the National List, had been altered surreptitiously, after being ratified by Parliament, to enable defeated candidates to be brought in as appointed MPs. Last year, a Bill was stuffed with sections sans judicial sanction in the most despicable manner at the committee stage before being passed with a two-thirds majority to postpone provincial council polls and, thereby, deny the people their franchise, enshrined in the Constitution.

‘Jilmaat’ is a term the late JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe gifted to Sri Lanka’s political lexicon; roughly rendered into English, it means ‘fraudulent act’. What was done to the Provincial Councils Elections (Amendment) Bill, last year, can be called a jilmaat in that it has made a mockery of the people’s franchise. Those who introduced and backed that Bill are fighting for democracy, today!

What one gathers from the ongoing debate on the 19-A is that some vital powers of the President have been transferred to Parliament and fundamental changes effected to the Constitution without being referred to the people at a referendum. Some legal experts are of the view that, today, the executive presidency is not a shadow of its former self owing to the 19-A, which has caused a severe erosion of the executive powers of the President. Chief Architect of the 19-A Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne himself has gone on record as saying that the President cannot even sack a deputy minister. If so, how come this radical changeover has come about without the consent of the people, in whom sovereignty is said to reside?

If a constitutional amendment, passed with a mere two-thirds majority, can take away the executive powers of the President, derived from provisions which cannot be changed without a referendum, then there is the possibility of the same modus operandi being adopted, in the future, to amend other such provisions, whose amendment or abolition require referenda besides special majorities in Parliament. Will such amendments, making inroads into even entrenched clauses, gain legitimacy and judicial sanction and help the architects thereof advance their hidden political agendas in violation of the people’s sovereignty?

One Response to “Hidden dangers”

  1. Nihal Perera Says:

    Agree with the article 100%, especially re: 19A.

    People are beginning to realise how Ranil and his 40 thieves (with the help of TNA, JVP, etc.) have been hijacking the constitution. 19A is a total fraud masterminded by Jayampathy Wickramratne – one of the biggest thieves in the country, who got kicked out for trying to cheat exam papers, when he was a student at the University.

    The voters need to understand this cunning politician, Ranil, who is trying to hoodwink the country using buzz words such as “Democracy, Constitutional rights, etc.,” with the help of his backers in the West.

    He is an extremely poisonous snake in the grass, and the voting public should be fully aware of his cunning tactics….

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