25 September, 2018

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New Constitution A Must: Friday Forum

The peoples’ verdict at the Presidential election of January 2015 reflected the mandate of the people for a new constitution to remedy democratic deficits in Sri Lanka’s governance arrangements, nearly 40 years after the enactment of the current constitution. A year later, after the Parliamentary election of the same year, the process for the enactment of a new constitution was initiated on 9th March 2016 with the passing of the Framework Resolution for the appointment of the Constitutional Assembly. This assembly was a representative body consisting of all 225 members of Parliament sitting as a committee to draft proposals for a new constitution, chaired by the  Speaker.

The Constitutional Assembly appointed six sub-committees composed of Parliamentarians to submit draft proposals on the topics – Fundamental Rights, Public Service, Judiciary, Public Finance, Law and Order and Centre Periphery Relations. In contrast with the undertaking of the government in the Framework Resolution, there was very poor public information and engagement about the subsequent process of drafting, raising serious concerns about both its transparency and legitimacy. By end 2016, all six sub-committees had submitted their draft proposals. The Constitutional Assembly also appointed a Steering Committee, chaired by the Prime Minister, which is widely representative of all political parties. The mandate of the Steering Committee was to present a draft proposal for a new constitution to the Constitutional Assembly.

A profoundly important feature of the ongoing constitutional process was the open and participatory process with which it was initiated. Even prior to the passing of the Framework Resolution, a Public Representations Committee for Constitutional Reforms (PRC) was nominated by all political parties and appointed by the cabinet of ministers to seek the views of the people on the contents of a new constitution for Sri Lanka. Members of the public and interested groups were  able to make direct representations at the sittings of the PRC in every district of the country and also at the sittings of the sub-committees in Parliament. This open and participatory process is in stark contrast to the passing of the 1972 and 1978 Constitutions, drafted by the political parties which had won election victories, enabling them to enact constitutions of their choosing. The public responded actively to this unprecedented opportunity, and the subsequent report of the PRC and the sub-committee reports did reflect the range of views held by Sri Lankan citizens on key elements of a future constitution. It is very regrettable that following the publication of the PRC report there has been little clarity about how the views of the people of this country have informed the subsequent process. 

It is of great concern and disappointment that this process appears to have reached an impasse. The six sub-committee reports were supposed to have been debated by the Constitutional Assembly in January of this year but this was postponed indefinitely. Thereafter little or no progress has been made in resolving the outstanding issues.  Developing tensions between the two factions of the so-called National Unity Government also appear to be hampering the process. The initial time frame for the Constitutional Assembly to debate the draft constitutional proposals is long past and no definite deadline has been set for this process. In the meantime some political parties and prominent Buddhist clergy have publicly taken the position that a new constitution is unnecessary. It is extremely disheartening  that these groups seek to override the will of the people.

Contentious issues to be resolved in the draft constitution include the abolition of the Executive Presidency and the extent of power sharing between the centre and the provinces. There has been a long-standing need to replace the powerful Executive Presidency with a more democratic Parliamentary system that ensures the sovereignty of the people through the undisturbed parallel functioning and the separation of powers of the three pillars of government, i.e. the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. Strengthening the independence of the judiciary is an absolute necessity, and must include provisions on the appointment and dismissal of judges. We also must not overlook the need for an equally independent, fearless and professional public service that must have the capacity to run the country without being subject to the direction, oversight and control of ministers and without interference from them. The powers of the ministers must be limited to policymaking, and implementation of policies must be left to professional public servants. Further, meaningful power sharing and strengthened human rights is critical for rebuilding the political structure of the country, and is long overdue, nearly eight years after the end of the war. The new constitution must fulfill the need to ensure good governance, rule of law, the dignity of every citizen, national unity and meaningful reconciliation.  The supremacy of the constitution and the sovereignty of the people must be embedded in its provisions.

A new constitution has been mandated by the people and law makers must give it the highest priority.  Any attempt to subvert this process for cheap political gain by those elected by the people, cannot and must not be tolerated. We urge the Prime Minister and members of the Steering Committee to ensure that the draft constitutional proposals are put before the Constitutional Assembly within the next three months at least, and are also made available to the public. We also urge all representatives of the people in Parliament, both in government and the opposition, to consider the proposals positively and in the best interests of all the people of this country. We acknowledge that the task of drafting a new constitution is not an easy one, given the multi-ethnic-religious constituency of the island nation. It is nonetheless imperative that the process is followed through to the end, and the voice of the people, made clear at the last two elections, be heard. 

Mr. Priyantha Gamage and Bishop Duleep de Chickera

On behalf of the Friday Forum:

Dr. A.C.Visvalingam, Prof. Savitri Goonesekere, Mr. S.C.C.Elankovan, Mr. Faiz-ur.Rahman, Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris, Mr. Danesh Casie-Chetty, Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda, Mr. Pulasthi Hewamanna, Mr. Chandra Jayaratne, Mr. Ananda Galappaththi, Prof. Gameela Samarasinghe, Mr. Javid Yusuf, Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare, Mr. Dhammapala Wijayanandana, Mr. Prashan de Visser and Ms. Shanthi Dias

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Latest comments

  • 1
    0

    Ma Lanka is weary of constitutions.
    She would have been content if the provisions of at least one of them had been implemented to the letter without partiality towards language and religious groups, and the law applied equally to all citizens.
    As things are, this will never happen.

    It is said that 84 law makers are O Level failures. This may recur, as educational qualifications to contest elections are not laid down, and such a legislature will never insist on this requirement.

  • 1
    0

    Not only the government must honour the mandate given by the people in both presidential and general elections but also step forward from the suicidal nature of the present constitution. The consequence of the present constitution is that communities fight among themselves and the people get poorer and poorer which leads the country to borrow loans from outside to the extent that future generations will inherit an unbearable burden. What is also equally important is that the country is seen from outside as undemocratic, corrupted and commit crimes that were outlawed by international community..

  • 2
    0

    FF states the following:
    The peoples’ verdict at the Presidential election of January 2015 reflected the mandate of the people for a new constitution to remedy democratic deficits in Sri Lanka’s governance arrangements, nearly 40 years after the enactment of the current constitution.

    CBK too got a mandate to change the constitution. It was RW who mocked and tore it up……what a loser we ended up with

  • 0
    0

    Ma Lanka is weary of constitutions.
    She would have been content if the provisions of at least one of them had been implemented to the letter without partiality towards language and religious groups, and applied equally to all citizens.
    As things are, this will never happen.

    It is said that 84 law makers are O Level failures. This may recur, as educational qualifications to contest elections are not laid down, and such a legislature will never insist on this requirement.

  • 5
    3

    Friday forum is hyenas for sure. What thes group of hyenqas say is let us just destroy Sinhale.

    • 2
      1

      You have about as much brains as an African Dung Beetle!

  • 3
    2

    Friday Forum Has lost all credibility. To say that an election was about a single issue is disengenuous. Its minipulative and only pushing their agenda to say that the government has a mandate to do XYZ because they were elected.

    They also ugnore that the constitution assembly no longer includes all 225 members of parliament.

    This Forum say silent about not holding elections for two years. How do they have any credibility on good governance.

  • 3
    1

    One big thief is caught. I read amazing statements. Galleon Ravi saying Lalith Athulathmudali was devouring whole ships and no body could find anything and that means, Penthouse Ravi di dnot dothat kind of thefts. Another jouranalist indirecctly saying that they know present govt’s UNP polticians are stealing from public because those politicians could not have anything much for 20 years. So, they are “poor”. Now, this Friday forum – mostly those who seek destruction of Sinhale and those who were destroying Sinhale are upset because, one theif who was cooking the pot while fooling a buddhist monk and he is caught though he is not in the jail. three more thieves, particularly the leader is trying his best to escape, so these people are upset that they lose what they want. that is why all these wijedasa Rajapakse removal is important.

  • 1
    0

    Who in, all heaven’s name, is ‘Priyantha Gamage’?? Never heard of the chap.

    Are anonymous characters also linking themselves to the FF? Seems to be a ‘has beens’ group which appears to do nothing else but go around issuing statements in the vain belief that someone listening to them!

    • 1
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      Pandu
      I too wondered as to whether or not Mr. Priyantha Gamage and Bishop Duleep de Chickera sent the item on behalf of the Friday Forum

  • 1
    0

    Why didn’t these guys protest when Maithripala Sirisena indicated that he wanted to contest again?

    Soma

  • 1
    1

    These people do not represent the country. Most of them are hankering after appointments from Yahapalanya and nobody pays any attention to their periodic awakenings from slumber. They pretend to sleep when the yahalapalanayas are robbing the country and appointing family members to high positions in public life. The Sirisena brothers who never had 5 cent piece to scratch their backside, are now all billionaires. What does FF have to say? Why do they want a new constitution? For the Yahalapalanayas to rob the country more Z.?

  • 0
    1

    2/3 in the present Parliament has been secured by bribing the MPs with ministerial positions created exceeding the number stipulated in the Constitution as well as appointing defeated candidates and therefore not morally valid for the a lofty purpose such as enacting a new constitution for a country.
    Soma

  • 4
    2

    A new constitution is a must? A must? None of the Sinhalese want a new constitution. Only coolies who are paid by NGOO make a noise unless otherwise they will lose their pay cheques.

    Nobody gave a mandate to the President to bring in a new constitution. He was given the mandate to run the country which was only partially fulfilled by him.

    This country doesn’t belonging to the people who elected the government. There are other citizens too. 220 in the Parliament have no right to change the constitution or bring in a new, ignoring the objections by 15 million.

    The Government should listen to the majority not to NGO funded traitors of the nation. Bloody despicable idiots.

  • 2
    0

    The country thanks to the politicians is a failed state. The public services are a mess, Police have given up policing, the IGP is a disgrace, Lawyers are corrupt tothe core, Doctors no better, Politicians lets not even talk about them, they are a disgrace. Changing the constitution is not going to be the answer. Friday forum should promote a decent , honest , leader with the intellect and vision. There is no one in the present lot who are capable leaders.

  • 2
    0

    Its time to burn the damn constitution and right a new one for new times. Making sure, to include the clause, that Politicians who have been an MP/ a Minister or held any office for more than 2 terms cannot ever enter parliament again.

    • 0
      0

      even the west did not write new constitutions but borrowed it for very good reasons.

  • 1
    0

    The new constitution should embody improvements in the following.

    1.property rights- switzerland ranked no 1,srilanka 61

    2.intellectual property protection 1.switz 44.srilanka

    3.diversion of public funds 1.NZ 66.srilanka

    4.public trust in politicians 1.singapore 89.srilanka

    5.irregular payments and bribes 1.finland 78.srilanka

    6.judicial independence 1.finland. 51. srilanka

    7.favouritism in decisions of government officials 1.singapore 88.srilanka

    8.wastefulness of government spending 1.qatar 51.srilanka

    9.burden of government regulation 1.singapore 56.srilanka

    10.efficiency of legal framework in settling disputes 1.singapore 42.srilanka

    11.transparency of government policy making 1.singapore 81.srilanka

    12.business costs of terrorism 1.lesotho 2.uruguay 3.finland 49.srilanka

    13.business costs of crime and violence 1.UAE 53.srilanka

    14.organized crime 1.finland 65 sri lanka

    15.ethical behaviour of firms 1.sweden 56.srilanka

    16.strength of auditing and reporting standards 1.south africa 52.srilanka

    17.efficacy(ability to produce a desired result) of corporate boards 1.new zealand 58.srilanka

    18.protection of minority share holder interests 1.south africa 2.finland 45.srilanka

    19.strength of investor protection 1.singapore ,NZ,HK. 4.malaysia 49.sri lanka

    points 15 to 19 relates private sector institutions,but if the private sector are not doing it right then the government has to intervene with legislation to bring it on par with the best in the world.

    why can’t our legislators get the copies of the constitutions of the countries mentioned here and see whether our constitution matches theirs and copy the shortfalls.Then they can plug the gaps.Also even if our constitution has the same as theirs we have to also look at the implementation too.For example you can have all the rules like for example stop at a red light but what do you do to a guy who disregards the rules?Culture and mindset has to change too.

    PS.The irony is in point 8 qatar a rich country with massive oil and gas reserves is no 1 .We one of the poorest without any natural resources are no 8

    • 0
      0

      the last sentence of my comment should be no 51,not no 8.

    • 0
      0

      20. Search for sex in google: Sri Lanka 1st………………
      You missed this important past time, with SL going in for GS5!

    • 0
      0

      Shankar,
      This, and even the previous government never cared about its image in the international community.
      If they had, they would have been more circumspect about political decisions affecting the economy & the citizenry.
      Our politicians care two hoots what others think about them and about the country as a whole..
      Corruption, which is now more or less official, overrides all other considerations, chief of which is political survival, which if lost, means loss of the lifestyle politicians in power, and to a lesser degree, even of those in the opposition are used to.

      If possession of wealth beyond means is a crime under the law and thus implemented, most politicians will be in jail.

      In Tamil Nadu, a chief minister and her chief deputy went to jail for this.

  • 6
    5

    Let’s get one thing clear; PEOPLE DID NOT VOTE FOR A NEW CONSTITUTION! Mainly, people voted for jobs, salary rise, wi-fi, good governance, ‘Samurdhi’ allowance, housing, child support, fertilizers, etc, etc. Cunning ‘Yahapalana’ buffoons put ‘New constitution/ constitution amendment’ sneakily on the election manifesto. Those who demand a new constitution are NGOs, traitors, Kallathonies, Homos…, foreign governments and some washed-up Marxists (libtards) .

    Anyway, proposed new constitution is just another political gimmick to shut the unruly Tamil brats up . Previous political leaders had gimmicks as well, e.g; SWRD’s ‘Banda-Chelva pack’, Dudley’s ‘Dudley- Chelva pack’, ‘JR’s 13th Amendment’, Chandrika’s ‘Thawalama’ – ‘Sudu Nelum’ and ‘The Package’, Mahinda’s LLRC report, and Ranil’s ‘new constitution’. Take a look at the idiotic members of the constitutional assembly which will assure you that the new constitution bullsh1t will not take off the ground.

    Sri Lanka’s parliament is very weak, there are too many ethnic minority and Marxist MPs , any culprit can easily become a MP, there are too much tension between political parties and politicians, there are MPs with separatism agendas (ethnicity based voting blocks) , there are districts with no native Sinhala-Buddhist representation, etc. So, that’s why the parliament needs a Sinhala-Buddhist executive president.

    Just remove the 13 amendment and implement the 6th amendment!!!!!!!!. And after that, enough of talking about “constitution business”, just focus on REAL MATTERS (e.g; infrastructure, jobs, education, research and development, healthcare, national security, environment, agriculture, renewable energy, garbage disposal, housing, natural disasters: droughts- landslides- floods , crime, etc, etc, etc).

  • 2
    2

    Friday forun though they write their titles at front, they never said something that is worth while for the ccountry. IT looks they are for the agenda of some hidden group. It looks the Friday forum is simply minority interests such as Tamil, muslims, christian, LSSP, NGO. Sri lankan needs changes but the not the changes that These Hyenas are asking. It is Ranil and LGBTQ – boy Mangala, most probably CBK who wanted the new constitution because LTTE rump in Britain wanted it. That is how initiated it. Now some one eplained it. How foolig Tamils began with the Banda -Chelva pact. Good for Tamils. I think now the country has come to a breaking point. JVP could not do it. Some one else should turn around this.

  • 0
    2

    I support rights for sexual minorities; including removing the law that criminalizes gay sex, and providing protections for homosexuals and third gender. My main priority is that human rights are upheld. This would probably mean that a minimum level of freedoms and protections are protected by the Supreme Court against abuse of police and authority.

    In terms of the conflict between Tamils and Sinhalese, I want to see a solution which would provide the Tamil Lanka some decision in policy making that would ensure that language and culture does not get forcibly assimilated by majority Sinhalese votes.

    And on the greater viewpoint. I do not trust Indian media and politicians to stop being racist against South Indians. I mean, Sri Lanka has enough trouble with race and skin color as it is. But I want to see some economic and cultural integration into India.

  • 1
    0

    The Friday Forum’s campaign for a new constitution is well founded. Unfortunately an irrational importance is attached to numbers.
    Friday Forum can invite local and international personalities to join them.
    Not every one may not agree to “the dots and crossing ts” but agreement on the gist is possible.
    Friday Forum please go for a signature campaign – start with Desmond Tutu but NOT Aung San Suu Kyi – she is a prisoner held by the old Burmese Junta!

  • 1
    2

    Allegedly, Yahapalanaya signed several secret pacts with various special interest groups before the elections.

  • 1
    2

    We know that Chickera is a vocal UNP stooge, but who the hell is Gamage? As for the rest of FF they have all passed their “use by” dates and could go back to sleep.unfortunately the govt is broke so they will not receive payment for their “kuliyata kahina” efforts !

  • 0
    2

    Sri Lankan entered a War phase of political uncertainties late 1970tees , as the country went through an amazing chaos during 30 years, that War led by LTTE-Terrorist and TNA’s proxies of Tamil- Homeland. The unconventional style of anti-establishment politics of Tamil (TNA & LTTE) has Not accepts existing order of Democracy framework, but together with people that Tamils voted for to MS to gain ” good governances and rule of law”. It is hipcoracy of the Capitalism of Tamil democracy.
    By Given wide margin voted a Right-wing government in office,2015 January 8th now Tamil-TNA demand for power devolution and Federal statues in Provincial Councils by lager power base for the
    Right for self-determination for Tamils.???. …. North -Eastern province?
    These proposed New Constitution demand for three possible courses;
    1 Reverse Republic Constitution power of Unitary character of State…… Tamil-Federalism.
    2 Stay North Council that more Police and Land power only for Tamils, but No Right to live Sinhalese Race in Specially in North soil what ever the reasons
    3 Divided or partition an Island by New Constitution by Racial Basis to demarcated Sri Lankan to be an easy for build a Tamil nation homeland for Tamil speaking in the World…… north part in Island.
    This come under sever pressure ——New Constitution -from USA UK some EU countries and govt. of Indian. and locally Tamil emerging classes.
    We Sri Lankan run out of this so-called ‘New’ Constitution an options of the choice, which risk of our Nation will lost Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of our Land. By Tamils asking to surrender our Territory also it fall on this civilization to carry that great load of history by sacrificed shake of minority Tamils to occupy entire Sri lanka.

  • 2
    0

    The country needs to move forward. A Constitution that will stand the test of time is the need of the hour.Some of the comments here are that a new Constitution will pave the way to dwarf the the Sinhalese community! What arrant nonsense!

  • 1
    0

    Humbug, a gang of Anti Buddhist have come to defend the pretentious Buddhist leader’s ploy. Ranil is not a BUDDHIST , so lets not make any mistake about it.

    French say “ Tirer les marrons du feu,” meaning to act as someone’s dupe or, deriving from that, to benefit from the dirty work of others. English version is ‘a cat’s paw’,

    Uncle and nephew are masters of using “A cat’s paw” to achieve their objectives. In 1953 J.R.Jayawardene engineered 1953 Hartal to achieve his political objective; to get rid of Dudley Senanayake. He used the cat’s paw; LSSP lead by N.M.Perera. J.R used budget of 1953 for this purpose.

    Today his nephew Ranil Wickramasinghe has used the same tactic with regard to destroying Sinhala-Buddhist nation by attempting to introduce a new constitution. His cat’s paw this time is the rotten leftover of LSSP rump; lead by Lal Wijenayake and Jayampathy Wickramaratne.

    Isn’t that a irony that LSSP driven by atheists have always come forward to help uncle and nephew. Buddhist must wake-up and not let Ranil to succeed this time, if he succeeds this time with the help of LSSP atheists (sworn enemies of any established religion), the result will be worse than that of 1953 Hartal.

    Luckily the Maha Sangha of our nation understood the objective of the devious plan of Ranil Wickramasinghe. We the Buddhists must understand this impending peril and rally around our mahanayake theros to protect and preserve our Sovereignty and Unitary status and above all our Buddhist nation.

    Readers must also know this forum too represents the rotten rump of Anti Buddhists.

  • 2
    0

    The fundamental issue is not the constitution. Whether it is a new constitution or not, the attitude of Sinhala Buddhist politics did not change for the past seven decades and I am confident that under this government or any other future government there is no chance for new attitude change. The foreign invasion and particularly the British occupation and its policy of divide and rule helped the Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism to establish a Buddhist Sinhala only Nation. The democratic principle created power competition between two capitalistic British influenced political opportunistic Buddhists and they used Buddhism as a means of power gaining game. They knew that they can play with Tamils rights to win the power. 1958, 1977, 1983 ethnic genocide was the result of this competition. Not only genocide but they also needed changing the constitution to do that. The 1972 & 1977 constitutional changes are part of this and the talk of new constitution will end of with another massive genocide of Tamils & Muslims.
    At the same time, I also would like to warn poor Sinhala masses that British influenced westernised Sinhala politicians have no mercy over true Buddhist Sinhala masses. At times, they will not tolerate if there is a threat from public to their power as they did in 1970 & 1989. On the whole, their target is traditional inhabitants of this land are their prey.

  • 0
    0

    We do not want any form of New constitutional changes due to that lost Right to Vote for local councils elections last three years by current regime.
    The ‘Rainbow revolution’ has promised bring rule of law and good governances by MS regime?
    Their are more corrupted than previous MR alliance regime?
    I do not understand how is that an Elites think and asking that we are do NOT have basic Right to Vote of people and have being suppress MS Ranil.. Wicks and CBK regime are going enlarged and enrich sphere of democracy by proposed “New” Constitutional changes?
    There is some thing wrong of their line of thinking . Only proposed “New” Constitution is going to partition of Island for Ethnic basis one for Tamil-Terrorist in North.
    Even now LTTE has regain terrorism in new Names back by TNA political leaders?
    We have to demarcated between Democracy and Terrorism is paramount issues of Democracy?

  • 0
    0

    If team of wise men and women having any sense of simple politics that UNP led Ranil Wicks and MS of President has violated that basic Norms of ongoing Constitutional democracy?
    1 Indefinitely postponed all local council elections and proposed not to having PC elections due date.
    currently PC election postponed Bill in Parliament for debate.
    2 No majority members of Parliament-house has been appointment Leader of Opposition TNA-16
    and JVP organizer of Parliament having 6 members in house. The 51 members are not eligible leaders of
    Opposition? Is this what type of “Democracy”. ….
    .TNA and JVP are anti-national -anti-establishments out-fits, can their be guarding of Democracy ?
    3 Central Bank Bonds scam was initiated by UNP key leaders, Ranil Wicks, Malik Samarwickrma, Ravi .K….
    Dr Kabir Husan of ISIS ideologist of UNP; that allied with ex-CB governor– Arjun M.. and Prenuptial
    Treasuries Arjun Aloyasis has not been summons to any enforcement authority of CID FCID or
    Attorney General even to take simple declaration .Where is Rule of Law in our country by UNP?
    Do you believed this culprits of leaders can bring New Changes of Constitution for future of People?
    4 By selling all national wealth for foreign countries by UNP led governance, they know that sovereignty
    Economy that we are loosing? The democracy foundation will loosed. Such leaders can bring better
    future and well do economy in Sri lanka?
    5 2015 January 8th UNP -Ranil Wicks has been assume as Primer having 44 members in Chamber .
    But majority rule democracy denied in fact that minority rule of dictatorship or rule of Authoritarian
    has been accommodated by MS of President of SL? In deeds current regime not yet follow rules of
    democracy ? Can they work better new path of Democracy by raped simple logic of Democracy?
    They not followed and Practices Democracy can they able give us that New Outlook for Constitutional changes?

  • 0
    0

    No constitution will make Sri Lanka a better place.

    We need to change the culture of people for us to be better.

    First, get the Buddhist Monks out of politics.

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