PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS 21ST AND 22ND AND THE RIGHTS OF SMALL POLITICAL PARTIES
Posted on January 12th, 2020

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

I read variety of opinions on the proposed amendments of 21st and 22nd to the constitution by Mr. Wejedasa Rajapaksa in weekend newspapers of 12.01.2020. The editorials of some newspapers, politicians, and analysts in newspapers have expressed views on the proposed amendments and the vital matters regard to the proposed amendments are district votes cut off point, the executive power of the president and the power of parliament. Ordinary people of the country may have not read the comments published, but they are very vital issues for the country.

The 15th amendment to the constitution changed the District Votes Cut Off point, most probably amendment was based on opinions of influential people or political strategists, to 5% from 12.5%.  The original constitutional reforms in 1978 introduced the Executive Presidential System, and a new election system which was aimed at giving proportionate representation to parliament and what was the underhand had elements of the changes were not clear to ordinary people of the country, but I heard many people were talking that the underhand elements of the proportionate representation were UNP to be in power forever and ever, and the future elected parliaments to limit the power to a less than two-third majority, which reflect the inability to amend the constitution.  I felt that the opinions of rural people were accurate to a certain extent and the operational pattern of the constitution clearly reflected the positively working the underhand elements as poor people in rural area thought.

The district election votes cut off point has been a vital concept since the 1988 general election and the concept based on the change had positive aspects at the time it was introduced. The main positive point was giving an opportunity to represent in parliament by small parties especially JVP and LTTE which took weapons in hand with an intention to achieve their aims.  However, the aims of both JVP and LTTE were not the aim of the entire nation and minor parties represented a small pace of population. According to the conditions of the constitution of Sri Lanka individuals and groups of people have rights that are not giving accede to deprive others’ rights to have own opinions. The experience in respect of the behavior of Marxist and Communist parties demonstrated that the prime strategy of them was to bereave the opinions of other political parties and insisting these Marxist and communist parties show that they have the right only for them.  I observed this situation when I was studying at university. There was not deviating objectives of elements of LTTE and JVP and all were in the same boat. However, someone can point out that JVP had not an aim to divide the country or to create a separate state challenging the unitary status of the country.

When I was studying at the university, I observed that ideas of small parties were extremely vicious and there is no point giving them an opportunity to destroy our society in the name of democracy or the rights of people.  Therefore, I believe, going back to the original proportionate representation with a district cut off point at 12.5% is the right amendment in a situation where people are struggling to become a developed nation. The system of working proportionate representation in Sri Lanka seems that it is a challenge to the sovereignty of people as the system included appointing representative without direct going to votes to gain the authority from public. People observed bullshits of opinions of small parties, which were established with vicious elements or intensions to show that they respect the rights of religions, racial intentions, and caste dictions, which support to divide society than uniting people as human being. What is the use of allowing such political parties work in society if they have intension destroy or take harmful action?  

Because of the diversity in society, it is not a right to destroy the right of others and the proposed amendment 22nd focuses to give justice to everybody without deviating based on various elements.  Democracy is a misunderstood concept in Sri Lanka.  We can clearly see in the Western countries, although they highly respect democracy they do not allow political parties based on different elements. Small groups can join with major parties and if they are democratic and objectives of them reflect the justice, the policies of them could include in major parties if minor parties can make a difference.

The proposed amendment of 21st to the constitution focuses on strengthening the power of the executive president. The editor of Sunday Times attempted to show that the proposed amendment of 22nd to the constitution by Mr. Wejedasa Rajapaksa is an attempt to strengthening the hands of the executive at the expense of parliament to revert pre-2015 era. The truth is that people clearly saw that in the absence of executive power by the president Sri Lanka suffered, and the parliament of Sri Lanka showed that it is an institution with self-centred people and the case of Mr. Ranjan Ramanayake showed that members of parliament go beyond the limits of authority and attempted to influenced the judiciary , which is an independent institute as believed by people. The actions of the executive president are approved by people than the dirty behaviour of the representative of parliament.

People of Sri Lanka had the experience they were under Kings and Queens, who exercised executive power from the beginning of Sri Lanka state before Christ to the early 1930s. People are used to executive power the president than a parliament democracy, which represents members, who have intentions with contradictory opinions, purposes and intentions, and the executive power of the parliament has destroyed the expectations of people. The directly elected president by votes of people is the preferred nature of executive power in Sri Lanka. The 19th amendment to the constitution killed the expectation of people and people responded with opposition to the 19th amendment in the presidential election in 2019.

The idea of poorly drafting the 19th amendment is a proof that it is wrong action of parliament or misleading public to give the authority to a prime minister who unable to win the consent of people to be the executive president.                

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