By Arun Kumaresan –
MR’s pledge in Jan 2015 – “..I will take action to formulate a new Constitution..”
Recent callous utterances of a ‘uncivilized and barbaric’ nature, threatening to bomb the parliament and kill those engaging in the democratic process of constitutional reforms and fear mongering to the extent such persons will be dishonorably cremated similar to the era of anarchy in 1988/89, needs serious attention. It is no doubt that the government has the absolute mandate as they had pledged the agenda for the constitutional reform process both in the January and August 2015 election to bring in a new constitution, which they won.
However, in the heat of this debate, we have unfairly discriminated the population who voted to the then President Mahinda Rajapaksaha (MR). A cursory glance into the Chapter 2 of the election manifesto Mahinda Chintana – Path to Success; the vision of MR; he too has pledged the same. In order to be precise to the word, the relevant paragraphs have been reproduced below.
“A Wide Political Reform – A New Political Culture
We have been battered for 36 years by the 1978 Constitution which was thrust upon our people and country, without an appropriate debate or discussion. We must also collectively acknowledge that our Constitution is now further distorted due to the various amendments over the years, some of which are not consistent with others.
Therefore, instead of amending the Constitution further with piece-meal changes, I will take action to formulate a new Constitution that reflects the peoples’ ideas, aspirations and wishes, within a period of one year. The entire Parliament will be formed as a Constitutional Council consisting of peoples’ representatives belonging to all political parties, which will identify the peoples’ expectations and aspirations in order to formulate a new Constitution.
I will appoint a Citizens’ Advisory Council consisting of representatives of political parties who are not members of the Parliament, representatives of the youth parliament, Constitutional experts, intellectuals and professionals, in order to seek citizens’ views and recommendations for the new Constitution. I will first submit the Draft Constitution which will consist of the proposals of these groups, for the Parliament’s approval in accordance with the Constitution. Thereafter, I will present the Draft Constitution to a referendum seeking the approval of the people.
I will also ensure that the discussion on the new Constitution covers all sections, including the present executive presidency, the present election system, the rule of law, the powers of the judiciary, and the governance structures. I have patiently listened to the merits and de-merits of the debate on the executive presidency.
Accordingly, by eliminating the weaknesses of the Parliamentary system while retaining its satisfactory elements, I will amend the present executive presidency system, according to the decisions of the Constitutional Council….”
This pledge by MR too gained acceptance by those who voted for him. In keeping of the above salient features mentioned, it is clear the government is taking forward the constitution making process on the same template suggested by him: To amplify,
- Establishment and functioning of the Constitutional Assembly.
- Establishment of Public Representations Committee On Constitutional Reform headed by Mr Lal Wijeyanayake (conforms to the MR’s pledge of establishing Citizens’ Advisory Council. – Final report read here )
- Constitution Assembly also appointed subcommittees consisting all political parties to further study different areas and report has now been handed over to the said assembly to commence a debate prior preparing the draft constitution. ( Compilation of subcommittee reports )
As at now, it is very clear the constitution reform process is to repeal the present constitution, which even in the view of MR; made us to be “battered for 36 years by the 1978 Constitution which was thrust upon our people and country, without an appropriate debate or discussion.” Hence, it is pertinent to see the numbers – who gave their ‘nod’ for a BRAND MEW CONSTITUION.
It is clear 97% or nearly 12 million voters have given a clear mandate to repeal and save the nation from the curse and battering over a period of four decades due to JR’s 78’ constitution – also popularly referred as the ‘Bahubootha Vivasthave’.
Hence, all the legislators have the legitimate right augmented by the unprecedented people’s mandate to take forward and spearhead the act of creating a new constitution to honor the will of 12 million people; in the name and for the sake of reestablishing liberal democratic governance in our cherished motherland.
A ‘Plea’ To Constitutional Assembly – Condem And Deplore
Giving due cognizance to the mandate by 12 million voters; may the Constitution Assembly during the next scheduled sitting on Oct 31st; unanimously adopt a resolution deploring and condemning the unprecedented threats made in public to bomb the very legislature and kill anyone for their freedom to act consciously in the conduct based on established norms of legitimate democratic process.
“THOSE WHO MAKE THREATS ARE MESSENGERS OF EVIL; THEY REJOICE IN ESTABLISHING A STATE OF ANARCHY”