18 September, 2018

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Respect The People’s Mandate, Adopt The 19th Amendment: Friday Forum

The Friday Forum has today called upon all parliamentarians to act in the public interest and support the passage of the 19th Amendment and the anti- corruption drive.

Prof. Savitri Goonesekere

Prof. Savitri Goonesekere

Issuing a statement the Friday Forum said; “We call on all our fellow citizens, irrespective of political differences, to remind our parliamentarians that the constitution-making process has to be solely for the public good and not for championing of narrow political goals. The people’s representatives must not, and cannot, support any subversive agenda that is seeking to undermine or derail these critically important initiatives to regain the peoples’ rights. If they do so, history will surely judge them as having betrayed the nation and the people.”

We publish below the statement in full;

The 1978 Constitution of our country has a passage in its Preamble which refers to the obligations of parliamentarians elected by the People. It says that “WE THE FREELY ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PEOPLE OF SRI LANKA, in pursuance of the mandate, humbly acknowledging our obligations to our People and gratefully remembering their heroic and unremitting struggle to regain and preserve their rights and privileges so that the Dignity and Freedom of the Individual may be assured,…do hereby adopt and enact this Constitution”. It is our duty as citizens today, and always, to ask whether and how far the actions and behaviour of the representatives of the People in Parliament fulfil those obligations.

The recent Presidential elections of 2015 gave President Sirisena a clear mandate to introduce Constitutional reforms that would dismantle or, at a minimum, dilute the powers of the Executive Presidency created by the current Constitution. The dismantling of the Executive Presidency had become an unfulfilled promise to the People given from 1994 by successive Presidents.

This mandate also clearly required an urgent response to corruption and abuse of power that had become rampant in an environment where the 18th Amendment had removed checks and balances to limit the wide presidential powers given by the Constitution.

The 19th Amendment that is before Parliament and the current procedures initiated in respect of grave allegations of corruption and abuse of power under the previous regime, represent the fulfilment of promises made to the People at the Presidential elections and cannot be delayed or set aside. It is therefore deeply disappointing that the interests of narrow party politics and what is seen as political advantages to particular political parties, now seem to obstruct the adoption of the 19th Amendment and the implementation of the anti-corruption drive.

The 19th Amendment may not be perfect. It has its limitations. Nevertheless it is a crucial step towards a system of governance that is democratic and respects the rights of the People. It has incorporated key provisions that have repealed the worst aspects of the 18th amendment. It has set limitations on the Presidential term of office, reintroduced the concept of independent Commissions such as the Human Rights, Public Service, Police and Elections Commissions and seeks to eliminate provisions that encourage the erosion of democracy and the rights of the People.

The 19th Amendment incorporates the right to information, an initiative that has been advocated for many years as essential to protect the public interest. We hope that this constitutional guarantee will be strengthened by the proposed Right to Information Act. Public responses and discussions held recently raised many concerns regarding an initial draft, and we hope they have been addressed in the Bill. It is unfortunate that the Bill is being presented as an urgent Bill as this has prevented further scrutiny before it is presented in Parliament. We understand that the Bill has been referred by the President to the Supreme Court and hope that this will provide an opportunity to address any limitations in the final Bill.

The 19th Amendment has already been subject to review by the Supreme Court, which has expressed its views on its constitutionality. Any limitations or problems created by the 19th Amendment can in this same spirit, be debated in Parliament, with a view to improving the Amendment. Parliamentarians should use this opportunity to debate the Amendment and produce a good consensus document that conforms to the decision of the Supreme Court.

It is for these reasons that the Friday Forum calls upon all parliamentarians to support the President in his efforts to have the 19th Amendment enacted into law without delay. The public interest demands that political parties should not bargain for various terms and conditions in return for their support for the Bill. It is unthinkable that a responsible opposition can set conditions for support of an Amendment that is seeking to do what the People of this country have been demanding ever since the 1978 Constitution was adopted.

The demand that the 19th Amendment should accompany the proposed 20th amendment on electoral reforms reflects the narrow concerns of political parties in regard to what is most helpful in increasing their vote banks. Electoral reforms must address the realities of the People’s concerns and cannot be rushed through in hasty legislation. President Sirisena has stated in public that he will ensure that the next elections will be held only after electoral reforms, and we urge all parties to engage in this participatory process of electoral reform after passing the 19th amendment.

The Friday Forum also urges Parliamentarians to rise above adversarial politics that obstruct our collective interest in eliminating the cancer of abuse of power and corruption. What democratic country in the world can tolerate the spectacle of members of Parliament engaging in a ‘sit in’ within the legislative assembly, demanding that senior politicians should not be summoned before the appropriate courts and tribunals investigating such allegations? Recent news reports referred to police prosecution of children for petty thefts. Can the average citizen avoid questioning or arrest by law enforcement authorities, or spend time in a national hospital when required to spend time in prison pending investigations? All citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection under the law. Those who are entrusted by the people to make laws and whose duty it is to ensure the upholding of the rule of law cannot demand that any or some should be treated differently. Situations where members of Parliament obstruct the process of the law and violate court orders with impunity are simply not acceptable. The Friday Forum expects all political party leaders to strictly refrain from nominating persons who have engaged in such illegal acts for the forthcoming general election and calls upon the people to reject such candidates in the event that the party leaders fail to do so.

The Friday Forum calls upon all our parliamentarians to act in the public interest and support the passage of the 19th Amendment and the anti- corruption drive. We call on all our fellow citizens, irrespective of political differences, to remind our parliamentarians that the constitution-making process has to be solely for the public good and not for championing of narrow political goals. The people’s representatives must not, and cannot, support any subversive agenda that is seeking to undermine or derail these critically important initiatives to regain the peoples’ rights. If they do so, history will surely judge them as having betrayed the nation and the people.

Prof. Savitri Goonesekere                                Bishop Duleep de Chickera

on behalf of the Friday Forum

Prof. Savitri Goonesekere, Bishop Duleep de Chickera, Dr. Deepika Udagama, Mr Saliya Peiris, Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Dr. G. Usvatte-Aratchi, Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda, Prof. Camena Guneratne Ms. Damaris Wickremesekera, Mr. Faiz-ur Rahman, Mr. Ahilan Kadirgamar, Mr. Danesh Casie Chetty, Mr. Tissa Jayatilaka, Mrs. Manouri Muttetuwegama, Ms. Suriya Wickremasinghe, Prof. Gameela Samarasinghe, Mr. Pulasthi Hewamanna, J. C. Weliamuna, Priyantha Gamage, Suresh de Mel, Ms. Shanthi Dias, Mr. Chandra Jayaratne, Mr. Anton Jeyanathan, Prof. Arjuna Aluwihare, Mr. Javid Yusuf, Ms. Selvy Thiruchandran, Dr. Ranjini Obeyesekere, Rev. Dr. Jayasiri Peiris, Mr. Ananda Galappatti, Dr. Devanesan Nesiah.

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Latest comments

  • 11
    1

    The problem is “Prof” GL Peries whom has put a spanner in the works with his absolutely silly interjections.

    GL Peris insists independent commissions need reps from the Parliment! Then why have a commission at all? Why not solve the work of commissions inside the Parliament?

    The idea of independent commissions is borne out of the need for a party of experts independent of Parliament scrutinize things. A second set of eyes looking at the issues from another angle.

    GL Peries is an absolutely useless MP. The guy totally destroyed the reputation of SL over last 6 years as external affairs MP. I have seen his “debating skills” in Parliment. Its incredibly low quality. He needs to resign.

    • 7
      1

      GLP the Devil’s advocate has become the Devil now! What blight on our country! Will the ordinary folk ever again look upto a person with his qualifications and background? He has the scrawny , mean and hungry look of a man that Shakespeare avers to as one not to trusted in His play, Julius Caessar.

      I regret making this personal comment on GLP, a practice I generally avoid. Circumstances urge me to do so.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 4
    3

    What the Friday Forum says is as relevant to Sri Lankan politics as what Kim Kadarshian’s views on global warming. Who cares ? The sheer arrogance of these jumped up NGO types. Remember, Eelam is never going to happen and the west and its influence is truly a last century construct.

    • 2
      0

      The four satanic thumbs up vs 1 thumb down for Observer’s comment proves 80 percent of Sri Lankans need tuition in English language. Observer, you are evil.

  • 6
    1

    Prof. Savitri Goonesekere

    RE: Respect The People’s Mandate, Adopt The 19th Amendment: Friday Forum

    Yes. Join the Rally in Support of 19A.

    ” The Friday Forum has today called upon all parliamentarians to act in the public interest and support the passage of the 19th Amendment and the anti- corruption drive.”

    Some of them are Liars, Crooks and Robbers. Do not expect much from them.

    Appeal to those with Common sense.

  • 4
    0

    LAWMAKERS, you shall RESPECT THE SEPARATION POWER notion, a fundamental rule in the concept of Democracy. The people have vested only the Legislative power in you and you should know that you have no business with the other organs of the Government, the Executive and Judiciary.

    The Constitutional Council shall always consist of learned people with wisdom and knowledge, the well-respected legal luminaries, who have been recognised in the field of Administration of Justice.

    You should know that People have had a bitter experience under the President Mahinda Rajapakse who abused the Executive power to appoint his own men to the Superior Court System, who ridiculed the People’s Judicial power and Trust and Confidence placed in the Judiciary.

    Therefore You shall realise the People’s desire for a VIBRANT and INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY with judges appointed to the Superior Court System on the recommendations of the properly constituted CONSTITUTIONAL COUNCIL, sans the judges who had openly betrayed PEOPLES JUDICIAL POWER to please the autocrat PRESIDENT RAJAPAKSE

    AND therefore, please be realised that you are now under noble duty to make the 19th Amendment Bill the LAW of the land, with necessary alterations made to the Transitional Provisions (Article 54), which effectively violates the provisions of Article 3, 4, and 105 of the Constitution, as it permits the Judges in the SUPREME COURT and the COURT OF APPEAL, arbitrarily appointed purely according to the whims and fancies of the President Rajapakse, to continue to hold such office, FORCING the people to accept and condone them, some of whom have performed their office in a manner adversely affecting the people’s trust and confidence placed in the Superior Courts [(Article 4 (c)], undermining the sovereignty vested in the people (Article 3).

  • 3
    0

    Thank you Nagananda for the points you have advanced to correct and balance the limitations on the scope and purpose for the adoption of the 19Amendment, if it is to serve the larger interests of freedom and democratic principles that the people and the country badly need at this point of time.

  • 2
    0

    ” If they do so, history will surely judge them as having betrayed the nation and the people.”

    One of the fundamental aspects of democracy is the protection of human rights especially in this case the right to freedom of conscience and freedom of opinion, as well as the right to association with any form of political stand.

    The people and members of parliament have the right to vote against the 19th amendment without being retaliated against or called unpatriotic.

    The best hope for the country is a freely elected parliament, with all political views not disallowed by law, are represented. Let the parliament debate and reach a compromise. In a democracy we are commited to political compromise, whether such a compromise is always the right one is another matter, however if there is sufficient debate, and debate leads to understanding, then reason will prevail.

    Most of all, the public has not seen the 19th amendment in its latest amended form: how can they decide?

    I do not think the time is right. If MS is such a great president let him continue.

  • 3
    3

    Our unelected Prime Minister’s very first appointment to the most important job in town, sorry the whole nation was not that crash hot…

    After rewarding the SI Lan income stream which earns 3 percetage points more than the market rate for 30 years, the appointee is gone missing.

    And the UEPM appointed a committeee of his own UNP stooges, sorry, I mean eminent Lawyers, who gave a clean bill of health to the appointee and the UNEPM as well..

    How cool.

    Under 19 A, our UEPM will be appointing not only the Bank Chief but also all the other Chiefs to look after our inhabitants .

    Just imagine how many Mahendran’w will get Gigs if the stupid MPs are dumb enough to obey our Bo Tree Hugging Buddhist President.who is the only elected one.

    But even he was rejected by the great majority of the inhabitant population to the tune of 5.8 Million.

    • 1
      0

      Sumane, you are so transparent a MaRa shill, you are wasting your time writing comments to CT articles. The gullibles you need are not reading CT. Send your garbage to some other place.

    • 0
      0

      To expect the Sumaney’s of this world to appreciate the irony of the fact that the rules THAT HIS MAXIMUM LEADER, MAHINDA RAJAPAKSA, PUT IN PLACE were, in fact, used against the acolytes of its authors is too much to expect from such a pea-brain, I suppose!
      That said, isn’t it time that the Friday Forum platitudinists simply stopped issuing condescending (to readers) and self-righteous statements from on high?

  • 1
    1

    Well said words of the wise

  • 1
    0

    It is encouraging see more and more acamadecians are getting involved in discussiuons of this nature Comments are well received Both Dr Pettiagoda and Savithri a batch mate of mine are known to me

  • 0
    0

    The recent SIT-IN in Parliament by MPP Dinesh,Vasu,Wimal etc was essentially a GOING-DOWN PARTY,similar to the old days at Peradeniya.Perhaps,they do realise that,after the next Elections,they need to find Jobs!

    • 2
      0

      Dinesh,Vasu,Wimal and many others are professional pimps for Mahinda Rajapaksa, his sons and brothers, even today.

  • 2
    1

    I too cannot understand why PM Ranil to retain those Judges appointed by MR at his free will in the Supreme Court, this not what people of this country wants.

    By signing Mohan Peiris’s so-called Opinion, pleading Rajapakse to contest for a third term, these people have deceived and betrayed the people’s trust kept in the Supreme Court.

    In my view all these spineless judges must go. They have proved their unworthiness.

    Any judge who had signed Mohan Peiris’s so-called opinion don’t have moral right at all to be the Judges in the Supreme Court.

    • 0
      0

      Sagarica:
      You are dead right.
      It is a matter of urgency for the judiciary to be cleansed of those that will continue to destroy what’s left of justice in this country if they continue to wield the authority that the previous regime gave them precisely because they were lackeys and not jurists.

  • 2
    1

    Sumane,

    What have you got to say about the UNEDUCATED,TSUNAMI FUND SWINDLER TURNED STATE PLUNDERER’S appointments ?

    Then let’s talk about the unelected PM’s appointments.

    May I help you with some, PACHORIS, VAAZ, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR, ETC ETC.

    Where are these Rogues of MARA? some are not even traceable…, Need to seek interpol assistance to find them, at least Mahendran is still here.

    • 0
      0

      Ansar,

      You got a point mate….

      He appointed Bathdeen, who bashed the Tamil magistrate,

      Hakeem another dubious dude.

      Assath Sally the Jihadi

      Half Brain Duminda. and not forgetting Dr Kudu Mervyn.

      Now your unelected PM has given them not only promotions but made them Yahapalana dispensers as well.

      BTW, Mahendran has to be there to cash the pay checks… Right.

      Just imagine e how much that would be , if Telecom Sira is on 12 Mil a month.with performance bonuses.

  • 0
    0

    What went wrong with BASL, the purport body of blackcoats?

    They raised their concerns against immoral appointments made by President Rajapakse to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court and educated people on these abuses, which it termed as undermining of the independence of the Judiciary.

    However, now it seems that there is a ‘deal’ entered between the BASL and these Rajapakse loyal obedient servants of Rajapakse now exercising people judicial power.

    President Sirisena and PM Ranil cannot ignore this at all.

  • 2
    0

    Don’t waste your precious time talking about the utter waster GLP, who is an insult to other learned people.

    This sub-servant of MARA should be dealt with a severe blow for destroying the Parliamentary Democracy in this country.

    • 0
      0

      The best punishment that can be meted out to GLP is to call him a moron and pervert every time his name appears in print. If for a moment Yahapalaya can be suspended, the GOSL should arrange for the label “MORON&PERVERT” to be tattoed on his forehead.

  • 0
    0

    PROF. SAVITHRI gOONESEKERA, THE PEOPLE GAVE A MANDATE TO THE pRESIDENT AND NOT TO THE PARLIMENTARIANS WHO HAD BEEN ELECTED SEVERAL YEArs ago on a different mandate & purpose. The parlimentarians should not act in the public interest as they have no business to do so.

    THEREFORE, 19A SHOULD HAVE GONE BEFORE A REFFERANDUM.

  • 0
    0

    Thondamannar.

    A VERY VALID POINT.

    If a referendum was held,chances are that the Executive Presidency would have been abolished Lock,Stock and Barrel Hammer and Sickle! President MAITHRI?

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